Lazy Mary's Improved Lemon Tart

March 10, 2011
6 Ratings
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

Fear of crust making has led me to take the coward's way out...premade dough from grocery stores and bakeries! Then, I found an old recipe written in my Great Aunt Evie's (gone for 40+ years) handwriting. I gave it a try and have since become a "born again" crust maker. For this recipe, I added lemon zest to the dough to give an additional bite of fresh Meyer lemon to the tart. As to the filling; I am as lazy as ever! - dymnyno —dymnyno

Test Kitchen Notes

Why improve on perfection? I wondered when I saw that Mary had tweaked her Meyer lemon tart. I'm an expert on this recipe, having prepared it about half a dozen times since it was first posted. I have to agree though with her revisions, adding the zest to the crust only further enhances the lemon flavor. I served it at a lunch party and it was all eaten before I could snap a photo. I still use less sugar than the original recipe and used 2 lemons as my Meyers were a bit small. I zested the lemons with my rasp. Thumbs Up! —Lizthechef

What You'll Need
  • Fancy Crust
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) cold butter, cut into slices
  • 1 whole egg
  • 6 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Meyer lemon, for zest (I used a box grater)
  • Lazy Mary's Tart Filling
  • 1 large Meyer lemon cut into pieces (1 1/2 - 1/3/4 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cups superfine white sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Mix flour, butter, egg, cold water, vinegar and salt together with a heavy fork. Or, use a food processor with a large bowl. Don't bother to totally break down the butter.
  2. Since this recipe makes enough for two crusts, divide the dough and form into two disks. Add the lemon zest to the lemon tart dough and wrap and save the rest.
  3. Place the dough in the middle of the tart pan and spread it out and up the sides of the tart pan with your fingers. (Use a tart pan with a removable bottom.)
  4. Blind bake the tart shell for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees.
  5. Remove the tart shell from the oven and pour in the filling . Return to the oven and bake for about 30 to 40 minutes. Check to see if the filling is set and the top is turning golden.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Shannon Jilbert
    Shannon Jilbert
  • Wendall
  • dymnyno
  • Bevi
  • drbabs

44 Reviews

Shannon J. March 15, 2022
I love this lemon tart. But I don't use meyer lemons, just regular ones. I do extra work to remove the pith, but it is worth it. everyone always raves about it.
Margaret November 28, 2020
How do you make the filling? do you beat butter and sugar and then add an egg and vanilla? Wat do you do with the lemon?? HELP!
cynthia August 15, 2018
There's no info on how to make the filling! Just combine in a food processor? Unclear! :(
dymnyno August 15, 2018
That’s it!!! Too easy! Just blend and pour.
LM May 7, 2015
Calli February 18, 2015
I don't understand the rave reviews...made this with a Meyer lemon and it was so bitter I threw it out immediately. I followed the recipe to a T. (And yes, I know what a Meyer lemon looks/smells/tastes like - I didn't use the wrong kind of lemon.)
dymnyno February 18, 2015
There is so much sugar in this recipe I don't know how it could have tasted bitter, even with a non Meyer lemon!
drbabs February 18, 2015
Calli, I feel compelled to jump in because I've made this recipe so many times and truly love it. There is a small trace of bitterness from the pith--I think that's actually what makes this tart so fabulous--that it hits sour, sweet and bitter--not easy to do with a fruit tart. But since it was inedibly bitter to you, it makes me wonder a few things. Could your lemon have had a thick pith layer? I've only used lemons with really thin skin. And is it possible that you're a supertaster? If so, you're going to be extremely sensitive to the little bit of bitterness. (And you probably don't like broccoli or other brassicas very much). If you're interested, there's a test you can take to find out: Sorry you didn't like the tart. I wish I could have taken it off your hands!
Greenstuff February 19, 2015
I have also made this tart many times, and it's one I frequently suggest to beginning bakers. I agree with drbabs about the pith. Because my lemons come from a variety of people's back yards, I sometimes have lemons with a lot more pith than I think will work. In those cases, I don't just throw the whole thing into the mix. I cut off the peel, remove some of pith, and then proceed.
Calli April 9, 2015
Perhaps there *was* too much pith? If I try this again (still hesitant, it was SO bitter!), I'll give this method a try. Thanks!
Calli April 9, 2015
DrBabs, hmm...I have an insane sense of smell and I can hear things most people can't (so weird, and annoying!) but since I love broccoli and kale and mustard and coffee, I don't think I'm a supertaster. Or maybe I just like bitterness in those things, but not in desserts? Hmm.
Wendall February 18, 2014
Thanks so much! We get lots of tart mandarin type fruit here..(they have green skins and never go orange)
I wonder if mixing some of that with lemon juice would replicate the flavour? What I need, of course, is an American to come over and taste test!
dymnyno February 18, 2014
I wish I could say that I am on my way!!!
dymnyno February 17, 2014
Most would describe the Meyer as a hybrid between a lemon and a mandarin or regular orange. It is more lemon than orange, but is a milder sweeter lemon. I think that others have used a "regular" lemon for the recipe. I would remove as much of the bitter pith as possible, however.
Wendall February 17, 2014
Please help a poor colonial.... What is the difference between an ordinary lemon and a Meyer lemon?
I live in Malaysia (having moved from the UK) and was very excited to discover our normal limes are your Key Limes, which I'd always longed to try. Now I need Meyer lemons, but they're not for sale anywhere. What can I do, or use instead?
Jenn September 20, 2013
I made this tart with a meyer lemon cookie crust. Just about 2 cups of crushed Meyer Lemon cookie thins and 1 stick of butter. Blend together, then press into tart pan and bake in a 375 degree oven for 5-10 min. Let cool, add the lemon filling and bake the tart. It is outright delicious this way!
Lynnie August 10, 2019
Like this riff on the crust. Was wondering if cookie crumb crust was a possibility so I am glad to hear it worked. Thank you!
judyst February 25, 2013
what size tart pan? can I make this a day in advance or is it better to make the same day as we re going to eat it?
gardenchickens January 1, 2013
I just tasted why this recipe get raves. I used a 4-ounce fruit, apparently a good choice, a tad smaller than a tennis ball. This recipe is a keeper and a repeater, as well as a good reason to take special care of that young "Improved Meyer Lemon" tree.
gardenchickens December 31, 2012
My Meyer lemon tree is finally producing (hooray!) so I need to pick just the right fruits for this recipe. Most fruits are more than an ounce and a half; should I be sizing in pounds? I don't really know what a large lemon compares to. Thanks!
kstallbe August 21, 2012
Thanks for sharing this! I've made it a bunch of times (albeit with Paule Caillat's crust), and they've asked for the recipe each time. I really don't think there is a better compliment than that!
rrcooks March 29, 2012
I have made this quite a few times now and it's a sure-fire winner. Thinking of tinkering with the pastry a bit - I found that the butter leaked out. But otherwise - so easy and so delicious!
Bevi February 24, 2012
I made the tart yesterday - so delicious and the perfect balance of tart and sweet.
Angela T. January 18, 2012
What do you do with the lemon mixture??
DJ C. January 10, 2012
I made this yesterday. It was delicious, but really oozing butter from the finished tart. I had to cook it almost an hour to get the middle set and it was still a bit gooey. Wondering if anyone else had this problem. Anyway, I love the uniqueness and simplicity of this recipe, the idea of using the whole lemon, the rustic appearance, everything. Thank you !
Tess28 December 24, 2011
I've made the lemon tart twice now. Love the result. I had to make some substitutions. I used 1 cup sugar and a regular lemon from which I removed almost all of the white pith, though I did keep the lemon zest for the filling (as well as lemon zest from another lemon for the crust). Love it! But I do feel a bit concerned about the amount of butter. It smells wonderful baking and tastes wonderful, but I'm wondering how much less we could use and still have it be spectacular. BTW, please excuse the previous 2 posts made in my name by my youngest daughter while my back was turned. : )
dymnyno December 24, 2011
If the amount of butter is a worry, just use your own favorite crust recipe that doesn't use so much butter. The "improved" crust was my great aunts' recipe . She was a dairy daughter who couldn't get enough butter!
Tess28 December 24, 2011
*i mean is there anything i could do to have the butter in the crust not melt
Tess28 December 24, 2011
there is a lot of butter in this, the butter in the crust was literately melting but i followed the recipe