Aunt Jeanette’s Luscious Lemon Tart

This tart is all about the lemon, so don’t be shy!

Anyone who knows me, knows I love lemons! To me, my idea of lemonade is freshy squeezed lemon juice and water, that’s it! I was delighted when I realized that all three of my grandchildren loved to suck on raw lemons since they were babies.

Lemon genes

            My mom was also a lemon lover. One of her favorite tarts to make was my Aunt Jeanette’s lemon tart, only Mom always topped it with meringue, probably because my aunt never did and they were a bit competitive in the kitchen.

 Let’s simplify here

In my aunt’s original recipe, a classic French tarte au citron, she mixed the lemon juice, sugar, and eggs together over heat until thickened, then added the butter (tediously I’ll add here), one pat at a time, mixing until melted. Since I make my lemon curd by tossing all this in the pan at once, and this is essentially a lemon curd with just a bit more body, I simplified the steps and time considerably with no difference in texture. 

Always make it the way you like!

            Aunt Jeanette’s recipe used more sugar; I’ve reduced the sugar because I like it that way, more tart than sweet, but as with everything else I tell folks, if you like it sweeter, add more sugar! You can add up to a third cup more sugar. It’s always about what we like, and when we are creating our own dishes, we can tailor it to our own taste. She also sometimes beat some whipped cream and folded it into the lemon to make a kind of lemon chiffon pie, very delicious.

            You can use another citrus here, but lemon is the best! If you want a bit less lemon zing, use a bit less of the zest.

            I used an all-butter crust here, but any favorite crust will do! This recipe is for the holidays, and I didn’t even try to make it less decadent, it just wouldn’t be worth it. It’s rich, and you only need a very small slice! Very small, trust me.

Now, pucker up!

Aunt Jeanette’s Luscious Lemon Tart

  • 1 ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Grated zest of three large lemons
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup superfine sugar
  • 1 ½ sticks of unsalted butter (12 tbsp.) 
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 10” prebaked tart crust, cooled

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. and place rack in the middle of oven. Have your 10” tart pan ready for action.

Zest the lemons and then squeeze them using whatever type of reamer or press you like. While I find the hinged lemon presses everyone uses these days handy, I find the old -fashioned reamers do a little better job of extracting all the juice, but use whatever you like.

Cube the butter, and separate the four egg yolks, reserving the whites for another use. Maybe an egg white omelet the next morning to make up for the rich night before.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine all the ingredients at once and place over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, keep stirring until the mixture is thickened; a whisk is handy here to keep everything smooth. When ready, you will want it to be the consistency of a thick pudding, and while it won’t be boiling, there will be big plops of curd bubbles breaking through like it wants to start really boiling. 

Put the curd through a wire mesh strainer, pressing as much through as possible, and don’t forget to scrape what is left on the bottom of the sieve. This step removes the zest and any unpleasant pieces of egg white that may have congealed.

Pour into your baked shell, and smooth it flat. Bake for about 10 minutes, just to finish setting the tart. 

Cool completely, overnight is best, with a thin film of plastic wrap set directly on top to prevent a skim from forming. When ready to serve, sprinkle with powdered sugar. 

You can also top this with whipped cream, or use this as a base for a luscious lemon meringue pie like my mother.

And by itself, the filling makes a lovely curd for muffins and scones, so it’s an all-purpose lemon delight!

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79 Comments Add yours

  1. Gail says:

    Buttery crust and Lemon. I think I’m getting weak. 🍃🍋🧈🥧

    1. I know! Swoon worthy for us lemon lovers!

  2. brwbmm says:

    It’s a shame to eat such a beautiful pie! Would you serve this at Thanksgiving or do you have another pie tradition for this holiday (besides pumpkin)?

    1. Our pie tradition is that everyone gets their favorite, so I make at least five pies (some folks love the same ones!). When I make this for Thanksgiving, I top it with meringue because that is what my mom did, and The Holiday is all about tradition!

  3. jama says:

    I’ll be right over to taste this! I LOVE lemons too, and your tart looks absolutely scrumptious. Thanks for sharing the recipe. 🙂

    1. The tea kettle is on, and you’re in luck, there’s a bit of tart left from last night!

  4. I love this lemon pie. I was thinking of adding a bit of coconut to this pie recipe. I wonder how you would handle adding it or if you think it works.

    1. I bet it would taste delicious. It would change the texture of course, but coconut and lemon are good friends!

  5. TaMara says:

    Looks so yummy and I love lemon tarts.

    1. Thank you TaMara! Lemon is one of the divine flavors!

  6. NativeNM says:

    I saw in your comments that you sometimes make it a meringue pie which is how my mom always made hers. Either way I so love the vintage pies! And I especially love lemon, it’s one of my favorites! Beautiful pie Dorothy, thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Jan! Mom loved making meringue, and she loved topping this with mounds of it that she tucked in the oven until the tips were very brown. She always had to do things a little different than her sister!

  7. My husbad would love this tart. Lemon is his favorite flavor.

    1. It’s so vibrant! Wakes you up every bite!

  8. Sheree says:

    My fork is hovering

      1. Sheree says:

        Thank you, I love tart lemon tart!

      2. Then I know you would appreciate this one!

      3. Sheree says:


  9. Suzassippi says:

    Beautiful, and brings back memories. My grandmother made lemon chess pie.

    1. I haven’t thought about chess pie in ages! I had a neighbor who made them at every event.

      1. Suzassippi says:

        I only came to appreciate chess pie in my mature years. I have my grandmama’s recipe…perhaps I shall give it a whirl this year.

      2. Oh give it a try! It will be interesting to see if it still tastes the same to you!

  10. HI Dorothy, this looks very nice. My mom loves lemon.

    1. Thanks Robbie! She must have The Gene!

  11. I really love this

    1. Thank you! We really do too!

  12. Rehoboth says:

    Nice recipe

  13. Ronit says:

    Anything lemony, I’m in!
    This tart looks amazing. 🙂

    1. Thank you Ronit! One of our favorites!

  14. terrie gura says:

    Dorothy, in about 20 minutes you’re going to hear a knock on the door. It’ll be me, ready for my very small slice! 😁🍋

  15. gabychops says:

    It is perfect, Dorothy! Thank you!


    1. Thanks Joanna, I think so too!

  16. I love lemon, too! And your dishes are lovey, are they vintage?

    1. Yes, the platter is pink Depression glass, and it’s one of my favorites so I use it all the time! I have a few pieces of my grandmothers, and I added to the pink collection over the years.

  17. I love all things lemon and would especially enjoy your tart as you said it is not too sweet and that would be perfect as far as I’m concerned.

    1. Thank you Karen! I do not like any dessert that is too sweet, so this one fits the bill.

  18. Sound absolutely delicious! Looking forward to making it over the holidays

  19. BERNADETTE says:

    Yum. Do you think this recipe would lend itself into a bar cookie. Maybe shortbread crust?

    1. Absolutely! It is very versatile.

  20. You sure know how to grab a person’s attention. This looks absolutely amazing, and delicious too! 🙂

    1. Thanks Judy! It disappeared rather quickly!

  21. Sherry M says:

    i love lemons and always have them in the fridge! a good citrus tart has to be full of tang, and this sounds like it does.

  22. Sherry M says:

    my comment vanished. just saying i love lemons and i love a lemon-y tart!!

    1. Thanks Sherry!
      There seems to be a lot vanishing lately. I even found one of my own comments in my trash. Go figure.

  23. CarolCooks2 says:

    Like you. Dorothy I love lemons and this tart sounds delicious not too much sugar…Lily also loves to suck on a lemon or lime she always has since she was tiny…I have a lovely video of her face as she sucked on a lemon but kept sucking …

    1. I know it is so funny. Like hot stuff. My granddaughter would taste the hot salsa, squeal that it was hot, and then dive in for more!

  24. A lemon tart needs to be … well, tart! Love this recipe! 😗😋

    1. Ha, ha! I totally agree, and I had to restrain myself from using that….

      1. I checked the comments to see if anyone had posted that. It’s corny but so true. Gotta have that zing! 🍋

      2. In everything my friend!

  25. Jenna says:

    This sounds lovely, I wish I had a slice for breakfast, my mouth is watering!

    1. It’s perfect for breakfast. And afternoon tea. Oh, late-night snack too. And there’s always dessert!

  26. Lady A says:

    Lemon tart is the ultimate dessert for me.

    1. I’m with you, although dark chocolate cream pie is a close second!

  27. Gorgeous! One of my favourite desserts.

    1. Thank you! It’s really delicious, lip smacking good!

  28. Oh wow! Buttery and lemony delicious 😋😋 If you add also the meringue is a feast 🥧😋

    1. You agree with my mother! She was all about the meringue!

  29. Nancy says:

    Ooooooooo I love lemon tooooooo!
    This looks sooooooo good!
    And what a beautiful tart!
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Happy Thanksgiving to you too Nancy! Hope you have a wonderful day.

  30. Ally Bean says:

    It looks picture perfect. I suddenly feel like I need to buy some lemons.

    1. Lemons have that kind of power!

  31. petespringerauthor says:

    Lemons are a highly underrated ingredient. For me, they fall into the category of things that don’t taste good by themselves, but adding a touch of lemon adds to the flavor of most any dish.

    1. If a recipe tastes flat, it probably needs salt or a little squeeze of lemon juice!

  32. Christy B says:

    I’m with you that I like lemon desserts to be more tart than sweet. Aha, now I know that your love of cooking comes at least partly from your mom and aunt. How wonderful to know you’re keeping the family love of cooking and baking going xo

    1. They were great teachers Christy, since I was big enough to hold a wooden spoon!

  33. Amanda says:

    Another lemon lover here. Great that you can toss it all in the pan.

    1. That’s the dream part! So easy.

  34. nancyc says:

    This tart definitely looks luscious! 🙂 I’m a lemon-lover too, so I know I’d love this! 🙂

  35. Americaoncoffee says:

    So yummy looking! Goes well with a great cup of coffee. What a beautiful inheritance of family recipes! ❤️

    1. We all love lemon everything!

  36. sunisanthosh says:

    This tart is definitely scrumptious. 🍋

  37. Love lemon and love Aunt Jeanette’s recipe! Thank you for sharing it Dorothy!

    1. There are a lot of us lemon heads out there!

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