Simple, French, Perfect Tarte au Citron, or Lemon Tart

Lemon tart - Maria Zihammou

When I went to Paris, I learned once and for all that there is a difference between the tarte au citron (lemon tart) and its American cousin, Lemon bar. What is the difference? Well, the tartes are French, and therefore slightly better in every way. Here's how you make them. This lovely recipe is excerpted from French Bistro: Restaurant-Quality Recipes for Appetizers, Entrées, Desserts, and Drinks.

PS: want to read more about my overseas adventures? Here's a roundup of my last trip to Paris.

French Bistro Maria Zihammou

Lemon tart

Lemons are always in my kitchen at home—a favorite ingredient that I just can’t do without. They have a wonderful, fresh sourness that’s lovely in a creamy tart that might otherwise be too heavy and sweet. Delightfully delicious, citrusy lemon tart that simply melts in your mouth. Mmm. . .

6-8 people


  • 7 tbsp (100 g) butter, room temperature
  • 1½ cups (350 ml) wheat flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp cold water


  • 5 eggs, preferably organic
  • 4 organic lemons
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • ½ cup (100 ml) whipping cream
  • ½ cup (100 ml) granulated sugar
  • powdered sugar, for decorating
  • whipped cream, for serving, optionally


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Start by making the dough. Mix the butter, flour, egg yolk, powdered sugar, and water. Knead together with a light touch to form a smooth dough. Press out the dough in a spring-form pan, about 9½ inches (24 cm) in diameter. Pre-bake the crust for about 10 minutes until it’s a light golden color. Take it out and let it cool.

  2. Meanwhile, make the filling: whisk together the eggs in a bowl. Squeeze in the juice from the lemons, and grate 1 tbsp of lemon zest into the bowl. Add the whipping cream and sugar, then whisk thoroughly.

  3. Fill the cooled crust with the lemon cream and cook the tart for about 30 minutes, until the cream has set and feels a bit firm. Allow the tart to cool, and decorate it with the powdered sugar. Good on its own, or with whipped cream.

Excerpted with permission from French Bistro: Restaurant-Quality Recipes for Apetizers, Entreés, Desserts, and Drinks by Maria Zihammou. Photography by Åsa Dahlgren. Copyright 2014, Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.