– Have you made any desserts for the blog you wanna get rid of?  

– Nah. Try me next week.

That’s how a conversation with my neighbour goes every so often.  She knows I don’t particularly like scarfing down sugar covered sugar with a dollop of caramelized sugar so she’s always at the ready in case I’ve made a dessert for my blog that I want to get rid of.  It’s fun to be my neighbour.

Just the thought of super-sweet desserts, in fact, makes me feel nauseous.  Imagine eating sidewalk barf.  That’s how I feel about pecan pie.

I think that’s a perfectly classy segue into discussing the very delicious lemon tart I’m about to introduce you to today!

Skip right to the recipe.


Give me a tart, lemony dessert  instead of an overly sweet, caramel covered pile of sacchariferousness any time.  Summertime especially, seems to call for lighter, citrusy after dinner treats.  I started making this dessert a couple of years ago after reading about homemade lemon curd in Signe Langford’s cookbook Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs. It’s one of the kazillion recipes I use from her book.  Signe, a former restaurant chef,  has chickens and with the help of my friend photographer Donna Griffith she created a cookbook about keeping backyard chickens and what to do with ALLLLLL of those eggs.  The very first Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs recipe I tried was Signe’s lemon curd recipe which I used in the birthday cake I made for Betty’s 80th birthday.

naked cake lemon curd recipe

The Naked Cake.  Decorated with raspberries, amaranth and lemon verbena leaves.  Honestly though?  I’d have been happier eating a bowl of plain lemon curd.   Which I have done on many occasions. Often without the aid of a spoon.

The secret to this lemon curd is using the entire egg, not just the yolks.  It. Is. Spectacular.  Since I started to feel weird about answering the door with a plain bowl of lemon curd in my hands and a huge wooden spoon sticking out of my mouth, I started to think maybe it would be a good idea to figure out a more socially acceptable way of getting my fill of lemon curd without having to make an entire birthday cake.

Enter the Lemon Drop Tart.  Aptly named by me because it tastes like a ……  O.K., honestly if I have to tell you what it tastes like we’ve got some serious issues here.  It tastes like a lemon drop.  Just enough sweetness to make you sidewalk barf eaters happy and just enough tart to make the rest of us purse our lips in pleasure.

You can’t get away with using RealLemon lemon juice in this recipe though because you WANT the zest. The zest makes all the difference in the world, so you need to use actual lemons.  Normally I sub with RealLemon juice all the time, but you want the ZEST this go around.

If you want things to be exceptionally accurate when baking you really should weigh your ingredients as opposed to just measuring them.  6 Tablespoons of butter = 85 grams.  I cut off what I *thought* was 6 Tablespoons of butter, but after weighing it I saw that I was 25 grams light and had to add some more.  That’s why you weigh.  It’s accurate.


This recipe calls for 1/2 a cup of lemon juice which is the juice of one large lemon if you have the strong, strong squeezing hands of a retired bricklayer.


This lemon tart is a quick and easy dessert perfect for a summer night.
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Author: The Art of Doing Stuff / Signe Langford


  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup 1 stick chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup chilled lard or solid vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 5 tablespoons or more ice water
  • ½ cup 120 mL vanilla sugar
  • ½ cup 120 mL freshly squeezed citrus juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon or other citrus fruit
  • 4 free-run eggs
  • 6 Tbsp 85 grams butter, at room temperature, cut into chunks


  • Preheat oven to 425 and place a metal baking sheet in the oven.
  • For pie dough, mix together flour, sugar and salt in food processor.
  • Add butter and lard and pulse until crumbly. Your fat pieces should be around the size of a pea.
  • Dump contents into a bowl and add ice water. Mix with a fork. Add more ice water (1 teaspoon at a time) until the mixture holds together when you clench some in your fist.
  • Divide dough in 2, press into flat circles, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hr.
  • Roll dough out and fill a full sized or individual tart pans with dough. Chill for another half hour. (this helps prevent the dough from shrinking as you bake it!)
  • Prick dough with fork, line with 2 sheets of aluminum foil then weigh down the foil with either ceramic pie weights or dry beans.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 400F then place shell on preheated baking sheet to cook for 10 minutes. Edges will be golden and bottom of the dough shouldn't look raw.
  • Remove shell from oven and remove foil and weights.
  • Return shell to oven to cook until done - another 15 minutes apx.
  • Once golden and cooked remove the pie shells from the oven and cool.
  • Into the top part of a double boiler or bain marie whisk together the sugar and juice. The water in the bottom pan should be simmering gently.
  • DON'T let the water get too hot or you'll end up with scrambled eggs, not lemon curd.
  • Add the eggs and whisk for the next 15 minutes or so. Remember to scrape down sides.
  • Once the mixture starts to seem like curd (around the thickness of Greek Yogurt) whisk in the butter one pat at a time, and the lemon zest.
  • Transfer curd from hot pot to bowl and allow to cool a bit.
  • Once cool to the touch but not completely cooled, spoon the curd into tart shell, refrigerate and enjoy once completely set.

I know the recipe looks long, but if you already have a favourite pie crust recipe, just do that.  In fact, if you want, just use a frozen crust.  Who the hell cares.

By the way, did I mention that I’m also featured in Signe’s book, Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs?  ‘Cause I am.  And this isn’t like the time that I told you I was dating Idris Elba when I really wasn’t, because we had already broken up.  This is for real.  I’m in the book.

This Lemon Drop Tart is made for warm summer nights on the porch, bare feet up, listening to the sound of Cicadas and the click clack of a far off push mower.

Tonight when my neighbour asks me the question  “Have you made any desserts for the blog you wanna get rid of?”  I will happily and honestly tell her, Nah.



  1. Susan says:

    Hi Karen,
    Love your site. I made your mini pavlovas last week and the lemon curd recipe from my Vitamix book, except I used up the egg yolks from the pavs in the curd, instead of using all whole eggs. OMG, the curd was so good (but a bit too sweet) and so easy. So if you have a high-speed blender, the curd is a cinch to make. But I agree that the Vitamix recipe calls for too much sugar – 1.5 cups sugar to 5 eggs, compared to your 4 eggs to 1/2 cup sugar. Thanks again. My friends and I learn so much from your site.

  2. Wilma says:

    Meyer lemons are pretty amazing until sugar, eggs, butter and zest make a divine delight. I’m savoring every drop that didn’t fit into the 8 and 4 ounce mason jars. The curd is like liquid sunshine on a winter’s night. Thank you Karen.

  3. Chris says:

    1st off – YUM! I can’t wait to make this tart!

    2ndly – I love your silver pattern! I would love to know the name.

  4. Lauren B says:

    This lemon curd changed my life. I have the per (free run) chickens and the side effect of that condition is more eggs than I can eat or give away. What I CAN give away are jars of lemon and lime curd. It. Is. So. Good. The lime is my favorite, but the lemon is also divine. This recipe is also super easy to make- I use a Pyrex bowl on a sauce pan and it comes out perfectly. Thank you!!

    • Karen says:

      I’m glad you liked it Lauren! The only problem I’ve had with it (for real) is that I CANNOT stop myself from eating it. I seriously just eat it until it’s gone right out of the bowl. :/ ~ karen!

  5. michelle says:

    I cannot wait to make this. Lemon and butter should be a religion.

  6. Lauren says:

    I have made this citrus curd 3 times in two weeks, once with lime and twice with lemon. I. Am. Obsessed. I’m the same in that I don’t care for sugary desserts but am all about anything sour
    (blech sugar iced cake, yes, please strawberry rhubarb pie). I cannot get enough of this curd. On the last batch I actually did accost the neighbors on their evening walk with a lemon curd and blackberry tart on puff pastry. Went something like this- “HEY MARY! Wait! (*scurries over, tripping over soaker hose and nearly landing ass over tea kettle in the tomatoes*), any chance you and your husband would like a lemon tart!? ‘Course you, do here you go!!”

    Mary and her husband are nice neighbors and they too loved the lemon curd. This will be a staple from here on out!

  7. chloe crofton says:

    About to make this tart and wondered if vanilla sugar is essential or whether I can just put sugar and then separate vanilla essence for the same effect? Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Chloe! Sorry, I’m probably too late with my reply but vanilla sugar definitely isn’t essential. It’s just a nice touch. :) No need to try to add in any vanilla extract. Just use regular sugar and leave everything else as is. ~ karen!

  8. Constance Williams says:

    What size tart pans to use??? Did I miss that info?

  9. Angela says:

    Karen you are hilarious, thanks for the laugh. Maybe i found it funny because I can so relate. A good use for pecan pie might be to caulk holes in the basement foundation. Would provide an airtight seal and any mouse that attempted to chew through would implode from all the sugar coursing through its veins.

    Lemon another story, curd already made and sitting in a bowl in the fridge ready to be enjoyed. Plus now I only have five dozen and a half eggs to use up. All the best.

  10. Heather says:

    Hi. I wanted to report back that I made this tart this weekend. So delicious! Thank you for the recipe!

  11. Mary says:

    I recommend trying the pecan pie recipe from America’s test Kitchen. Not overly sweet.

  12. Jeannette says:

    I love anything lemon & the more lemon-y, the better. Your recipe seems delicious, will definitely give it a try. I’m with your other readers who commented on your photography & the whisk; your photos are frame-worthy & the whisk is a work of art itself. Can you give us the source? Thanks for another fabulous post!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jeannette. Thanks! The whisk is my favourite. I tried to link to it but it’s no longer available anywhere. :( It’s Restoration Hardware and I got it at the beginning of spring. ~ karen!

  13. Sarah says:

    Yes yes, that lemon tart looks absolutely delicious, but what really has me drooling is that wood handled whisk! Wherever did you get such a beauty?!?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sarah! I love that whisk toooooo. I was going to link to it but I looked all over the Internet and couldn’t find it anywhere. It’s from Restoration Hardware and it has a sliver of brass inlay all around the handle and the actual whisk is gold, not silver. It’s beautiful! ~ karen!

  14. Jane S says:

    My favourite is lemon curd in merengue shells (I don’t have your aversion to sweetness). The creaminess of the lemon curd with the crunch of the merengue is perfect.

  15. Dan says:

    >Your fat pieces should be around the size of a pea.

    Not after eating these all summer :-)

  16. Him again says:

    Lemon Curd.
    Lemon Tart.
    Lemon Meringue Pie.
    Lemon, get this Karen, Cheesecake.
    Dipping lemon cookies into lemon curd.
    Unfortunately, due to “friends” oopsing on my order of top shelf tequila and substituting SourPuss every time we got together for an evening of 3Man or Kings, my ability to savour the tart, life affirming, jawcracking loveliness which is lemons, is much diminished, leading me to candied bourbon hickory everything. The sweetness is cloying, and vomit inducing, possibly even threatening of my health, but at least there is a reaction when I first imbibe them.

  17. Alena says:

    You are making me drool.
    I cannot stand sickeningly sweet desserts (into which category 99% of American or Canadian desserts fall in). My neighbour likes to bake but everything, and I mean EVERYTHING contains twice the amount of sugar than necessary.
    I love fruity and especially tart fruity desserts and when I do bake (even when trying a new recipe) I always use a lot less sugar than what the recipe calls for.

    The best lemon-y tasting dessert is the Cranberry Lime Tart (published years ago in the Bon Appétit magazine) that, as the name indicates, uses lime juice instead of lemon juice. I think it also calls for 1/2 cup but I always buy 6 large limes and squeeze every drop of juice outta them so that I end up with almost a cup (more is always better in this case). For anyone interested, the recipe is available on Epicurious.

    The Cranberry Lime Tart recipe suggests using only egg yolks for the curd (and I don’t think I have ever seen the suggestion of whole eggs anywhere else but then again I don’t bake that much). Karen, what is the benefit of using whole eggs (except of having more curd, obviously).
    And just for fun, look up the recipe on and read the reviews. Those that complain it’s too way too tart make be ROFL (oh, and as usual, I use less sugar in this recipe as well. So, twice the amount of lime, maybe 60% of the suggested amount of sugar and people think the original is too tart. LOL

  18. Linda in Illinois says:

    That looks delicious !!.

  19. Ev Wilcox says:

    Yay! I’m not alone in the world of “No thanks”when offered a gloppy bunch of sugary awfulness!!! For years I have been the designated dessert maker and happy to do it. Just don’t expect me to eat it. Many years ago, in Monterey Ca, my daughter and I got to experience the most tart tarts ever. Jen worked parttime at “Sweet Elena’s”, a bakery owned and operated by a lovely French woman. Her lemon tarts were legendary-made your salivary glands ache terribly with every bite, but those tarts were wonderful. Never could copy them, either…sigh. I will be giving your recipe a try very soon. Thanks Karen.

  20. Mary W says:

    Free run eggs – all I could picture was a few little eggs with tiny feet, running a track with a sweat band around their middle. Used to have some free fun chickens but can’t now that I’m in the city – so sad. I know I can buy them, but just get the regular store boxed variety instead and remember that huge taste difference the first time I had eggs from my own chickens. WOW so I know your lemon tart must be delicious – my favorite flavor. What is it about lemons that even reading ‘lemon’ in your recipe can cause my mouth to water? (I do love sidewalk barf pie if it is made with mostly fresh pecan halves and not as much ‘barf’ filling. Fresh pecans are so different from store bought – in FL I can just walk outside and pick up some in the yard during the fall.)

    • Mary W says:

      Forgot – your ‘K’ on top is so cool – it would be fun to write a message or name when presenting it as a gift. Bet it was hard to life the paper without spilling the sugar or did you blow it off before lifting? (OK that didn’t sound right.)

  21. Ella says:

    Karen, can you please clarify the instructions…..does the zest get folded into the curd? Are we heating the cookie sheet for some reason? I am so glad for a curd recipe that doesn’t leave me with a gazillion egg whites!! Thanks!!

  22. This looks delicious and I love lemon almost as much as chocolate. Your photography is superb. I especially like the one with the lemon and egg. A feast on its own.

  23. Sara DeSeno says:

    I misread/miscomprehended the first sentence and thought you wanted to get rid of the blog for a moment there…for a very sad and dark moment. Don’t scare me like that!

  24. Katie C. says:

    You had me at lemon curd… *drools*

  25. danni says:

    Lemon is my favorite favorite flavor for dessert… I have an excellent tart recipe already, but never made curd… I will have to try this. Probably when making risotto, since I’ll be tied to the stove… mmmmmm risotto and lemon curd…..

  26. Sabina says:

    I. Love. Lemon. Period.

  27. Rosie Walsh says:

    How do you think this would be substituting lime. I love both, but lemons are silly pricey while I can get limes in my Hispanic grocery 7 for $1.

  28. Catherine Vosper says:

    My friends mother used to make a lemon meringue pie and the only sweet thing was the meringue, she put ZERO sugar in the lemon filling. After my eyes stopped spinning…it was the best lemon meringue pie I’d ever I’m with you on that sweetness thing!

  29. Ei Con says:

    This looks so fantastic. But one question. Does that cookie sheet really have to sit in the 450° oven for an hour and a half while waiting for all that dough-chilling to happen? Or can you start the oven just after you’ve put dough in tart pan(s)? That’d be a 30 minute preheat while the panned dough chills.

  30. Julia says:

    Phew, for one shockingly worrying moment, I thought it was the blog you wanted to get rid of…

    • Karen says:

      Ha! No. Not today. :) ~ karen!

    • MaryJO says:

      Hahaha, that’s what I thought, too, that she wanted to get rid of the blog! So glad you’re sticking with the blog because otherwise who would we turn to for inspiration when we want to swear, sweat, and do things.

  31. JulieD says:

    Looks so delicious. I suspect it wouldn’t make it into the shell at our house.

  32. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    OMG Karen…this looks so good I want to lick the screen on my Kindle!!!…Unfortunately one of my cats sat their butt on it a bit ago so I think I will just have to make the tart…lol…Love lemon!

  33. Flash says:

    Can you please make a few. Freeze. Then quick mail to Anchorage? Thanks

  34. Valerie says:

    I am going to make this tart – it sounds fab. Karen.
    Step 17 in your recipe is a very important point that is also applicable to lemon meringue pie.
    Refrigeration for at least 8 hours prior to slicing specifically with the pie prevents the custard from moving outward to the plate. It may well be that everyone who reads your blog knows this already but it took me awhile and my creeping lemon pie slices to realize this simple step.

  35. Auntiepatch says:

    When do you add the lemon zest to the curd?

    • Ei Con says:

      I was wondering this too. K made quite a point about using zest, it’s in the ingredient list then .. no zest related instructions. Maybe fold it in after curd has cooled a bit to keep the heat from dispersing the lemon oils? Maybe spinkled on top after curd fully chilled?
      Karen. Help!

    • Karen says:

      Oop! That goes in at the beginning. I’ll add it to the recipe. Sry, my bad! ~ karen

      • Karen says:

        I lied to you, lol. It goes in at the end. I’m losing my mind. ~ karen!

        • Carrie says:

          You do say once the mixture looks “Curdy” to add butter and lemon zest at the end. But I could be seeing this after you added the step.
          Can’t wait to try this. I’m not a fan of chocolate or very sugary desserts,so this is right up my alley!
          Now if I can figure out how to prune my apple trees and why the leaves keep getting ugly brown spots everywhere and dry up……ugh!!
          Also have had a lime tree for about 7 years,no blossoms or fruit :-(
          Think maybe need to prune. Haven’t ever and looks more like a bush!

        • Karen says:

          If you look through the comments on my apple trimming post someone linked to a site that explains a GREAT way to protect your apples with baggies. Lime trees? I’m Canadian. I know nothing about growing citrus. :) ~ karen!

        • Carrie says:

          I’m a northern girl from Plattsburgh NY, obviously I know nothing of growing citrus either.
          But I’ll keep trying!😀👍

  36. sisi says:

    droooling. agree on hating the overly sweet, in deserts as in life itself haha.
    do you make the vanilla sugar, though?

  37. Isabella says:

    Ok, you win. I’m making this lemon tart which by the way is my favorite dessert flavor. Yummy lemon. But I’m really writing to tell you I hate kale. Like I was DONE with it. Forever. But then I read your recipe for kale salad and thought, oh heck, now I’ve got to try it again. But when I read that kale had ten times the anti-inflammatory properties of other veggies I knew I had to give it another try.
    My husband gets these shooting pains in his thumbs from arthritis and nothing relieves his pain so I am willing to try or re- try kale. By the way, he also hates it. Kale. Also the shooting pains.
    So long story short, I tried your recipe, massaged the dressing into it, waited twenty four hours and served it and he loved it, I loved it. So now we are back on daily kale. And we really hope that it will help with the arthritis and any other lurking inflammation. But I don’t think we can judge that for two or three months. But in the meantime thanks for a great recipe for kale that we actually like. You’re great yourself.

    • Karen says:

      That’s great! I recommend that salad allllll the time because I don’t like kale either! But I love black kale and I especially like it raw in this salad. It’s the kale for the anti-kalers. You’ll love the lemon tart. It’s SO good. I mean, if you really wanted to you could also just make the curd and eat it out of the bowl. I’m 100% behind that as well. ~ karen!

  38. Mark says:

    Looks fantastic! I will give this a try. (I only have one only lemony keeper recipe — a pretty fantastic pound-style cake…)

    Scale is the best, and it is faster too.

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