lemon curd tart

After the lemon cream tart, I was pretty sure I was done with lemon cream. With thirty tablespoons of butter in the whole tart, there is no reasonably sized serving. And then there’s my favorite lemon tart, which uses the whole lemon, peel and all. But I was making this for my mom, and I had a feeling she wouldn’t enjoy the pucker of that one quite as much as I do. There’s a third option for lemon tarts, probably the most classic version, and that is filled with lemon curd.

The ingredients in all three are the similar – there are eggs, lemons, sugar, and butter, but the ratios and the method for combining the ingredients differ. Only the tartest lemon tart includes heavy cream, but the most important difference between the recipes aside from that is the amount of butter – 21 tablespoons in the filling for the lemon cream and 8 tablespoons in the tartest make the four tablespoons here (plus what’s in the crust of course) seem downright skimpy.

The lemon cream manages to hold 21 tablespoons of butter in only 4 eggs and ½ cup of lemon juice because it’s emulsified when the butter is slowly added to the other ingredients.  The tartest tart is the simplest, in that the ingredients are just thrown together and blended, then baked, like lemon squares. For the curd, the ingredients are mixed in a double boiler. (I seem to have added all the ingredients at once instead of slowly stirring the butter in after the other ingredients heated. It apparently worked.)

This curd reminds me of why lemon cream, to me, isn’t worth it. Yes, it’s smooth and balanced and so, so good, but this lemon curd tart is so, so good too. It’s different from the cream, yes, but not worse. My favorite lemon tart is still the tartest though – I love that bitter hint from the lemon peel. This, however, is a crowd pleaser.

One year ago: Casatiello
Two years ago: Soba Salad with Feta and Peas

Printer Friendly Recipe
Lemon Curd Tart
(adapted from Joy of Baking)

Serves 6 – 8

tart crust for a 9-inch pan, completely baked and cooled (I used Dorie Greenspan’s)
3 large eggs
⅓ cup fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
¾ cup (5.25 ounces) granulated white sugar
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon lemon zest

1. In a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until blended. Cook, whisking constantly (to prevent it from curdling), until the mixture becomes pale in color and quite thick (like a hollandaise sauce or sour cream) (160 degrees F or 71 degrees C on a thermometer). This will take about 10 minutes.

2. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted. Add the lemon zest, cover, and let cool to room temperature before filling the pastry crust. (Note: The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Covering the lemon curd with plastic wrap prevents a skin from forming on the surface.) Serve plain or with softly whipped cream and fresh berries.


  1. Thank you for such a detailed discussion on lemon tarts. I have always loved your descriptions and focus on detail ever since the beloved white cake comparison post. I think I will try out this tart along with your favorite one. Lovely photos, Bridget!

  2. What a stunning tart! I love the way you garnished it. Lemon curd is so ridiculously dangerous for me to have around. I have zero willpower – I can do serious damage with a spoon!

  3. I adore lemon curd, and recently found myself in possession of a bowl of leftover lemon curd and wasn’t sure what to do with it. I ended up smearing it on every kind of cookie in my house (Gingersnaps + lemon curd is excellent btw) but this would have been a much better choice.
    Definitely noted for next time. 🙂

  4. Oooh my I love lemon curd! I’m always looking for a less butter and sugar filled recipe — this one looks great!

  5. I love your muse on the differences between lemon cream and lemon curd tarts. Are you opinionated about food? You should definitely listen to the Sporkful podcast. It’s so much fun!

    Wei Wei

  6. Your lemon curd tart is beautiful. I bet your mom loved it. Such beautiful presentation!

  7. Agreed — lemon cream is like lemon curd with butter I would rather save for something else. Or like Hollandaise sauce gone wrong in a good way? Then again, I have weird food preferences with many things, so it might just be me. And you.

  8. Huge fan of lemon curd. I think I’ll try this one out and then if it’s not tart enough I’ll go for the tartest. Usually I like something in the middle though so this sounds perfect for me!

  9. Lemon curd is one of my favorite things ever. I never think to make lemon tarts. Thanks for reminding me to make one soon!

  10. My husband will love this

  11. I love lemon tarts. I can”t believe a tart with 21 tablespoons of butter exist. That is too much even for the biggest butter fiend. I love a really tart and not so sweet lemon tart.

  12. I adore lemon tarts. And yours look simply gorgeous 🙂

  13. Very beautiful tart. I love the way you’ve placed the strawberries along the outside rim of the tart. I’m amazed at the amount of butter in the lemon cream tart…30 tbsp? Wow!
    I love my lemon tart to be just that…tart and not too sweet. This one looks like it will fit the bill.

  14. Love the way you compared all the tarts. That much butter is simply not worth it, I’m going to try this one!! Looks amazing 🙂

  15. deeaimond says:


    I followed your recipe for lemon curd and used it to top a cake. It was really really yummy. You can see the pictures on my post here if you are interested. 🙂


  16. Kayla says:

    Looks delicious! Love the strawberries.

  17. avril kay says:

    Sorry I’m confused re the butter this says 4 tablespoons/ 1/2 ounce, but when I look it up 1 tablespoon = 1/2 ounce – so do I need 2 ounces for this tart? – many thanks Avril

  18. bridget says:

    avril kay – Sorry, that’s a typo. I’ll fix it. It’s 2 ounces.