Introduction: Lemon or Lime Tart -- Not for the Faint of Heart

Picture of Lemon or Lime Tart -- Not for the Faint of Heart

I mean this literally: this tart is loaded with butter and eggs, so if your cholesterol is already high, beware! As an occasion indulgence it is well worth it. The crust is quick and easy to make, and it is crumbly but still holds its shape. The filling has a strong, smooth, and invigorating citrus flavor, with great texture. Active preparation time is only about 1 hour, and it can be made ahead of time with no last minute preparations, which makes it ideal for dinner parties.
Here are the ingredients for both the crust and filling:

2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 pinch salt
1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 large eggs at room temperature
3 large egg yolks at room temperature
1 cup regular (granulated) sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice (about 4 lemons or 5 limes)

Special equipment:
Double boiler
Pie pan with flat removable bottom (optional, but very handy for cutting and serving without breaking the crust)

Step 1: Pie Crust

Picture of Pie Crust

Preheat oven to 350°F

Melt one stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter and let cool

Combine melted butter, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar and pinch of salt and blend with a spoon.

Gradually add flour till you form a smooth, soft dough with a consistency similar to cookie dough

Place in center of pan and press down with fingertips as evenly as possible on bottom and sides of the pan

Bake in the center of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, till it's lightly browned. You do not need to prick or weigh this crust.

Step 2: Pie Fill

Picture of Pie Fill

While the pie crust is baking,

Cut one stick of butter into 8 pieces.

Combine eggs, egg yolks and sugar in double boiler.

Place over simmering water. The top pan should be just above, not touching the simmering (not boiling) water.

Whisk, and watch the mixture transform. It will start bright yellow and grainy. As the sugar melts it become more liquid, paler, and frothy on top. After about 8 to 10 minutes it will thicken and become pale lemon colored.

Add butter, one piece at a time, letting each piece melt before adding the next.

Add the lemon or lime juice. When I use lime I also put in a bit of green food coloring, just so people eating the pie will know what flavor to expect. Continue whisking until the mixture is thick and custard-like and the first bubbles appear -- but do not let it boil. This will take about 3 or 4 minutes.

Step 3: Finish!

Picture of Finish!

Pour the filling into the pre-baked pie crust, and smooth with a spatula.

Leave it to set for a minimum of 30 minutes. Although you can put it in the refrigerator (it will help it set) serve the tart at room temperature.


WakeUpWolfgang (author)2012-03-03

I just tried it but mine never got to that texture when you pored it into the crust. It was still really runny. I was at it for over 30mins waiting for it to get there. I just put it in the fridge to let it set and hope for the best. Instead of using the crust for a pie that might not set i used cupcake holders so each person gets one and use the crust for another pie.

What could I have done wrong for it to never set and get the right texture?

belsey (author)WakeUpWolfgang2012-03-04

I'm not sure what happened, I've never had that trouble. Perhaps you added the butter too soon? It needs the thicken BEFORE you add the butter, then you need to add it slowly. Otherwise maybe your eggs were too fresh, or too old, or organic, or not organic? I have a milk frother, for example, which makes perfect froth with regular milk, but the organic kind stays flat. I've never been able to figure it out. So maybe this recipe requires a certain type of egg? I always buy eggs from free range chickens fed with vegetarian feed (besides the bugs they might swallow), and I try to buy organic when I can afford it. Sorry I can't be of more help....

WakeUpWolfgang (author)belsey2012-03-04

Ok I added the butter too soon. I did add but butter slowly but I started almost right away. I might give it another try today. Thanks for the advice. Your pie looks really good so I really want to try it

ps. I let it setup over night and it still is very runny

rgillies (author)2011-07-08

It took a little longer to set up than the instructions stated. That was probably all me, not a baker. Turned out delicious!

belsey (author)rgillies2011-07-19

Glad it worked in the end...

rgillies (author)belsey2011-07-20

Tried again and it was even better. used orange juice. when the whipped cream went on it was like orange creamsicle pie. Thanks for posting this.

Morrighan (author)2011-01-20

Nice instructable but.... (you might think I'm stupid) when did you use the 1 1/4 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour???? I have not seen it in your instructable after the first step... (maybe I'm blind, but I was looking for it and I didn't see it) O.o

spanner1969 (author)Morrighan2011-01-20

step 1Pie crust
Preheat oven to 350°F

Melt one stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter and let cool

Combine melted butter, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar and pinch of salt and blend with a spoon.

Gradually add flour till you form a smooth, soft dough with a consistency similar to cookie dough


Morrighan (author)spanner19692011-01-24

OK OK I just only ask, I didn't see it, I was reading quickly. Please, forgive my mistakes, your majesty.

spanner1969 (author)Morrighan2011-01-24

whao!!!!!!!!! Hold on there with the sarcasm sunshine!!

I was being nice ...... No need to get all snarky on me mate.

Morrighan (author)spanner19692011-01-25

Ooopss , sorry if you understand that like sarcasm, I didn't mean that. I use to be sarcastic when I'm angry, but it wasn't. I'm not proud enough of my english level to feel anger if I'm wrong XDD

belsey (author)Morrighan2011-01-20

It's in step 1, in the pie crust. Mix butter, sugar, vanilla, then add the flour...

prickly vegan (author)2011-01-24

This looks great! Now I am curious if I can make a vegan/non-heart attack version.... will post back if successful!

PACW (author)2011-01-23

Lime Pie always reminds me of the book "Heartburn" by Nora Efron. (Ephron?) She has a great Key Lime Pie recipe and a funny Key Lime pie scene. I prefer a cooked filling like yours but hers is great for summertime and for not needing fresh ingredients.

And I think the cute boy in the back ground is showing remarkable patience!

I_am_Canadian (author)2008-08-18

I just made 4 mini pies out of this recipie: Its amazing! Not for the faint of heart, though, as you said. 5 stars!

belsey (author)I_am_Canadian2008-08-18

Thanks, I'm glad you like it. And now I know 4 different names for powdered sugar!

PACW (author)belsey2011-01-23

Martha refers to it as 10X sugar. (Or maybe 10X is a superior version?) I've heard that that refers to being sifted ten times, and I've also heard that it is a specific particle size. I personally think it's a food snob thing - C&H is good enough for me!

I_am_Canadian (author)belsey2008-08-19


baboonbrain (author)2011-01-22

I don't know about Canada, but by U.S. measurements a stick of butter is equal to 1/2 cup, not 1/4 cup. Two sticks of butter are one cup = 16 tablespoons = one ounce per tablespoon.

thepelton (author)2011-01-20

Wonder if this would work with kiwifruit?

belsey (author)thepelton2011-01-20

This is made with juice, not fruit, so I don't think you could replace the lemons (or limes) with kiwi. Gumbi8488 suggested using unsweetened cranberry juice, which I am eager to try, or else, maybe, you could try making this as is and garnishing the top with uncooked slices of kiwi.

thepelton (author)belsey2011-01-21

I have a Jack LaLanne Juice Machine.

Jeanette56 (author)2011-01-20

If you want to add an extra dimension to your crust add lemon or lime extract instead of vanilla and add the zest of one or two limes. The zest gives your crust little green or yellow speckles and even more flavor! Yum...
Zest for beginners - very, very thin strips of citrus peel. There is actually a special tool that is made for this very thing but you can also get a similar outcome using the smallest part of a grater. carries several zesters if you want to see what they look like.


roof rack (author)2011-01-20

Nice clear Instructable.  The pictures are great.  This is an excellent custard pie. The recipe I have, from a deseased great aunt, is almost identical.  It is one of my "comfort foods".  I seldom have the opportunity to get tree ripened lemons or limes where I live. So I use Trader Joe's Key Lime juice or Trader Joe's lemon juice. I've also made this pie with bottled cranberry juice.  Bottled cranberry juice has about the same pH as lemon and lime juice.  So it too is sweet-tart like this lemon/lime recipe.  I will try your version.  Thank you for sharing.

belsey (author)roof rack2011-01-20

What a great idea the cranberry juice is! I'm definitely going to try that. Thanks for commenting.

t.rohner (author)2011-01-20

Wow, i have to try this.

shigun (author)2011-01-18

Wow! Apparently it is very tasty. In the menu of one of the Hotel Togliatti saw something like that, but did not take .. very expensive. And the recipe is very simple I think.

caitlinsdad (author)2008-08-20

This looks like fun to make Oobleck pie.

I_am_Canadian (author)2008-08-17

This looks amazing, and Im definatly going to make this. For all those who are wondering, A stick of butter is equal to a quarter cup. Oh, and what is confectioners sugar? Can I just use granulated suger instead?

belsey (author)I_am_Canadian2008-08-17

confectioners sugar is also known as powdered sugar. I don't think it would work well with granulated sugar.

I_am_Canadian (author)belsey2008-08-17

Ok thanks!

PKM (author)I_am_Canadian2008-08-18

FYI: In "Commonwealth English" countries (as opposed to American English), it may be called caster sugar.

I_am_Canadian (author)PKM2008-08-18

I just figured out the name that all of canada calls it, Icing sugar.

aliceownsj00 (author)2008-08-17

omg yum... I love lime haha I want to try this out!

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Bio: I am a paper engineer, writer, maker and chemist wannabe. In addition to pop-up cards I design and build furniture, lights, costumes or whatever I ... More »
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