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Classic French Lemon Tart Recipe (Tarte Au Citron)

Classic French Lemon Tart Recipe (Tarte Au Citron)

french lemon tart recipe tarte au citron

The lemon tart (or tarte au citron in French) is one of the French’s favorite desserts (and mine as well!). It’s one of the most iconic French desserts that any bakery in France will have on offer. This delicious dessert is made out of a crisp buttery crust (pâte sucrée) with smooth tangy lemon custard. That is all you need to recreate this utterly iconic French dessert: the classic French lemon tart.

Even if, nowadays, you will find more meringue-topped lemon tarts in French bakeries, the original French “tarte au citron” is meringue-less. It’s a classic of the French pâtisserie that can be savored year-round. Here is my step-by-step guide to making the tastiest tarte au citron.

My French Tips For A Delicious Lemon Tart

  • The success of this recipe really lies in the quality of the ingredients. That’s why it’s important to have the freshest and best quality ingredients you can get (especially the lemons and butter). When it comes to making the recipe prefer organic lemons and French butter.
  • Do not use supermarket pre-bottled lemon juice but instead opt for freshly squeezed organic lemon juice. Choose the plumpest, juiciest organic lemons you can find.
  • You can use a store-bought pie crust if you wish, but I really recommend making the sweet shortcrust yourself. It’s very easy to do and the taste is incomparable.
  • Finally, there are many ways you can garnish and serve your French lemon tart. You can either keep it simple or you can pipe whipped cream on it or top it with meringue.

Tarte Au Citron: Lemon Tart Recipe

Here is the easiest (and the tastiest) French lemon tart recipe that I’ve tried. In this recipe, the lemon custard filling is poured into a pre-baked homemade crust, so there’s no need to worry about an undercooked crust or a curdled filling. Also, the lemony custard is made using the same technique as the pastry cream except that instead of milk the recipe uses freshly squeezed lemon juice.

french lemon tart recipe tarte au citron

Classic French Lemon Tart (Tarte Au Citron)

5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Resting Time 3 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine French

Ingredients
  

For the crust (pâte sucrée):

  • 120 g butter
  • 80 g powdered sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 25 g almond powder
  • 1 egg
  • 225 g flour

For the lemon filling:

  • 3 eggs
  • 120 g sugar
  • 10 g cornstarch
  • 3 organic lemons
  • 80 g butter

Instructions
 

For the crust (pâte sucrée)

  • In a large bowl, mix the butter and powdered sugar. Cut the vanilla pod in half, collect the seeds and add them to the mixture along with the almond powder. Add the egg and mix until homogeneous. Add the flour and mix until you have a smooth dough. Wrap in a plastic film and place in the fridge for 1 hour, minimum.
  • Preheat your oven to 175C (347F) or thermostat 5-6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 3mm thick and place it in a non-stick pie pan. Line the top of the crust with parchment paper and place pie weights or dried beans to keep the pie crust from puffing when baking. Bake for 15 minutes at 175C. Then, remove the parchment paper filled with weights and bake for 15 more minutes until the crust is golden.

For the lemon filling

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and the sugar. Add the cornstarch and mix again. In a medium saucepan, heat the juice of three organic lemons and take the zest of one. Slowly add the hot lemon mixture to eggs and whisk vigorously. Return mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat until thickened. Continue whisking steadily for several minutes until the mixture thickens to a thin custard consistency.
  • Add the cubed butter and mix the preparation until the butter is all melted. Pour the lemon filling into the tart shell. Using the back of a large spoon, smooth out the top of the filling. Cool to room temperature before serving (at least 30 minutes). Grate the zest of lime for the decoration.
Keyword lemon tart

Et voilà! I hope you enjoyed this french lemon tart recipe. If you make this recipe, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating, letting me know how you liked it. Merci beaucoup and bon appétit!

View Comments (6)
  • 5 stars
    Thank you so much for this amazing recipe! I made it yesterday and I think it’s the bast tarte au citron I have ever tasted!

  • 5 stars
    I made this last night- it’s easily the best tarte au citron I have ever tasted!
    I hope it freezes well, too!

  • Thank you for the wonderful recipe! It’s amazing! I was wondering though, how would you do it with meringue on top? In my search for a good recipe I came across two methods: baking it together with the filling or let it all cool and then just use an kitchen flamiéer to give it this typical look. I‘m not sure which way to do it is better.
    Thanks again!

    • I’m delighted that you found the recipe to your liking! When it comes to adding a meringue topping, the French method typically leans toward a more refined presentation. French meringue is usually made by whipping together egg whites and caster sugar until glossy peaks form. In France, it’s common to employ the kitchen torch to give the meringue a beautiful, caramelized finish. This technique not only allows for a more controlled appearance but also adds an exquisite, slightly toasted flavor to the meringue. If you have any more questions or need further clarification, feel free to ask 🙂

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