Easy French Lemon Tart Recipe – Tarte au Citron (Refined Sugar-free)


The best lemon tart recipe ever also happens to be super easy! Learn how to make classic French Tarte au Citron that tastes like it came from a French patisserie! 

overhead shot of a healthy French lemon tart decorated with whipped cream and fresh berries

Looking for the best Lemon Tart recipe? Try my easy version of a Classic French Tarte au Citron! 

Who doesn’t want to be that person that ends a dinner party with a homemade lemon tart and wows everyone? Such a classy way to end a meal and about the safest choice ever. A slice of French lemon tart brightens up any season, lifts the grumpiest moods, impresses even the pickiest eaters. 

side view of a classic French lemon tart (tarte au citron) topped with whipped cream and berries

Some lemon tarts are on the sweet side while others are rather tart and sour. I like mine somewhere in the middle. Rich, not too sweet but not too sour either, with a nice silky, creamy finish. 

This lemon tart filling uses a small amount of cream to counterbalance the acidity and it is so sunny, rich and luscious that you will want to lick the bowl. The lemon flavor comes from a mix of the juice and the fragrant zest of lemons. Once cooked, the warm filling needs to be passed through a strainer immediately to make it as smooth as possible. In goes that delicious butter. 

Save time by making Coconut Oil Tart Shell instead of Shortcrust Pastry! 

What makes this tart recipe so stupid easy is the pastry. Major time saving here. I forego making a classic butter shortcrust pastry (pate au sucre) and go with my homemade coconut oil crust instead. It is SO easy to make, no chilling needed, zero shrinking and it hasn’t failed me yet. It’s delicious, sturdy, and I find the subtle coconut taste goes particularly well with the tangy lemon topping. For a tart shell without any coconut flavor, use refined coconut oil. 

side view of homemade classic French Lemon Tart topped with whipped cream and fresh berries

Serving suggestions and toppings for French Lemon Tart: 

The lemon curd filling does not go all the way to the top of the tart, which is perfect if you plan on topping it with whipped cream. If you want the filling to go all the way up, multiply filling by 1,5. 

If not, I recommend whipping cream or coconut whipped cream.  One could just pipe the whipped cream on it or pile it into the middle, as I did. Another great way to serve this is with meringue. Got a blowtorch? Why not wow your guests with a bruleed topping? 

a slice being cut out of a classic French Lemon Tart with coconut crust

The secret to the best lemon curd tart filling? 

As I like to keep things on the healthy side, I use monk fruit sweetener instead of sugar but regular sugar is obviously the classic French way to make this. 

Now, a word on the butter. I usually don’t like too much butter in my lemon curd, but here I add quite a bit. I find it helps to tone down the acidity without muting the lemon flavor. You could lower the amount and stir some 10 % thick Greek Vanilla yogurt into the room temperature curd, then fill the tart shell. Or, be more French than the French and add up to 50 g (3 tbsps) more. 

Make sure to whisk the filling for quite some time when adding the butter to it. These couple of minutes of whisking will make it light and airy. You can whisk the lemon curd by hand, using a whisk, or use an immersion blender. Add the butter to the lemon mixture and blend, adding a few cubes of butter at a time, until completely smooth.

overhead shot of an easy French Tarte au Citron topped with whipped cream and berries

Can I make this French Lemon Tart ahead of time? 

Yes, and you should make it a good 6 to 8 hours before you are planning on serving it! The lemon curd tart needs to chill for several hours before serving or the filling will be too runny. After enough chilling time, the lemon curd will firm up and will cut into sliced beautifully.

I find that this tart au citron holds up pretty well and the coconut crust will not get too soggy once stored in the fridge. So go ahead and make it ahead of time. Whip the cream just before serving though. Freshly whipped cream looks prettier.

side view of a classic French lemon tart topped with cream and blueberries with one slice cut out

Pastry Chef Tips for making French Lemon Tart:

  • Serve with berries and whipped cream if you like. I whip about 1 cup (200 – 220 ml) of cream for 1 tart. Make sure not to over whisk the cream and add 1-t tbsp of icing sugar and some vanilla to it.
  • I use Swerve powdered Sweetener in the crust for a sugar-free version
  • We use lemon zest in this recipe! Make sure you remove pesticides from your lemons – I also do this with organic lemons. All you have to do is fill a large bowl with 4 parts water to 1 part plain white vinegar. Soak your lemons in the mixture for 20 minutes. Rinse with water.
  • If you want a really bright yellow color, you could possibly add just a couple drops of food coloring to the lemon filling!
  • Lemon curd can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week or can be frozen for up to 2 months. To thaw, place overnight in the fridge. Whisk the mixture to smoothen it before using it.
  • I use salted butter for this recipe as it helps with the acidity. If using unsalted, add a big pinch of salt to the filling. 

a classic French Lemon Tart topped with whipped cream and fresh berries

Recipe Variations: 

  • I made this French lemon tart recipe with orange juice, and lime juice and zest and with grapefruit and both worked out really well. Don’t overdo it with the lime zest though – it is more bitter than lemon so I recommend a mix of lime and lemon.
  • For an interesting twist, add a twig of rosemary or a cup of basil leaves to the lemon mix. Remove herbs when straining the curd. 
  • This easy recipe makes a regular 11-inch tart pan, but you could use mini tart shells as well. 

 

Did you make and love this easy French lemon tart recipe? Give it your review below! And make sure to share your creations by tagging me on Instagram!

side view of a French Lemon Tart topped with whipped cream and berries
5 from 2 votes
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French Lemon Tart - Tarte Au Citron

The best lemon tart recipe ever also happens to be super easy! Learn how to make classic French Tarte au Citron that tastes like it came from a French patisserie! 

Course Breakfast, brunch, Dessert
Cuisine French
Keyword easy lemon tart recipe, French Lemon Tart
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Calories 400 kcal
Author Kiki Johnson

Ingredients

For the vegan shortcrust pastry

  • 2 cups flour 260 g
  • 1 cup powdered sugar or powdered no-calories sweetener 110 g
  • 3/4 cups melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Lemon Curd Filling

  • 2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks or 3 whole eggs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar or monk fruit sweetener 150 g/5.3 oz
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice 120 ml - 2-3 lemons for both zest and juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons heavy cream optional
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter + 1 tbsps 125 g cut into small pieces

Instructions

Pastry

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a tart pan with a removable bottom and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the AP flour, melted cooled coconut oil, and powdered sugar until well combined. The dough will be stickier than your regular shortcrust pastry but fairly easy to transfer. Roll out and transfer to the greased tart pan and press evenly into the sides and the bottom of the tart pan.
  3. Place the tart on a baking sheet and freeze for 5 minutes, while the oven heats up! Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the crust is starting to have a gorgeous golden brown look. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Filling:

  1. To make the lemon curd: Start by zesting the lemons (about 2 whole lemons) directly into the sugar and rub the zest into the sugar. 

     In a medium heatproof metal bowl, place eggs, lemon sugar, lemon juice, a pinch of salt and heavy cream and whisk to combine. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (bain-marie).

  2. Cook on moderate heat, whisking constantly until the mixture becomes nice and thick. This can take a good 15 minutes. As a shortcut, you can skip the water bath and make it on the stovetop but be careful to not heat it too quickly.

  3. If you have a thermometer, the lemon curd should register 170°F/75°C when it's ready - it should coat the back of a wooden spoon and leave a clear pass if you run your finger through it. The curd will thicken more once cooled.
  4. Remove the curd from the heat and immediately strain the mixture through a sieve to remove the zest. Add the butter, a few cubes at a time, and whisk until completely melted and incorporated.
  5. Take your time with it - you want to whisk a couple of minutes to have the smoothest filling. Allow to cool to room temperature before filling the tart shell.
  6. Fill the tart shell with the lemon curd, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours until chilled. Top with whipped cream and fresh berries

Recipe Notes

  • I use Swerve powdered Sweetener in the crust for a sugar-free version
  • We use lemon zest in this recipe! Make sure you remove pesticides from your lemons – I also do this with organic lemons. All you have to do is fill a large bowl with 4 parts water to 1 part plain white vinegar. Soak your lemons in the mixture for 20 minutes. Rinse with water.
  • This recipe makes a regular 11-inch tart pan, but you could use mini tart shells as well.
  • I made this French lemon tart recipe with orange juice, and lime juice and zest and with grapefruit and both worked out really well. Don't overdo it with the lime zest though - it is more bitter than lemon so I recommend a mix of lime and lemon.
  • If you want a really bright yellow color, you could possibly add just a couple drops of food coloring to the lemon filling!
  • Lemon curd can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or can be frozen for up to 2 months. To thaw, place overnight in the fridge. Whisk the mixture to smoothen it before using.

 

 


2 Comments

  1. Marie-Charlotte Chatelain


    Love that you have a sugar-free option! That tart shell works like a charm and I love that it doesn’t shrink AT ALL!


  2. Simply amazing! The sweet and creamy filling words to great with that slightly coconutty crust!

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