This layered, summery blueberry-lemon tart is as stunning as it is delicious. Naturally sweetened, this tart recipe features a vibrant lemon curd layer followed by a perfectly-sweetened blueberry filling.
Table of contents
Where the Recipe is From
I’ve had my nose stuck in the new America’s Test Kitchen cookbook, Naturally Sweet: Bake All Your Favorites with 30% to 50% Less Sugar (America’s Test Kitchen) since mid-July when I received it from America’s Test Kitchen.
This Blueberry–Lemon Curd Tart caught my eye from the very beginning; I kept getting drawn back to its stunning colors and striking layers. And although it takes a few hours to make, it’s fairly easy to prepare and is so refreshingly delicious, delightfully tart, and perfectly sweetened. Honey is used in both the lemon and blueberry layers, pairing well with both fruits. Sucanat is used in the tart crust and offers a deep sweetness with just a touch of molasses.
Having interned at ATK during the summer of 2014, I knew this book, like all of their others, was going to be amazing. Packed full of both classics and new favorites, this book of foolproof recipes was bound to deliver. And did it ever!
Not only is each recipe developed using only natural sweeteners; they are also developed to be lower in sugar content (30-50% lower than their traditional counterparts). And honestly, I was a bit skeptical about the book before I received it.
I assumed that if the recipes were lower in sugar they must be calling for sweeteners like Splenda, Stevia, or Monkfruit; sweeteners I would rather not use due to their flavor and extensive processing. I was pleasantly surprised to find that wasn’t the case, which makes these recipes that much more impressive. The editors at ATK had to completely re-think the baking and cooking process of recipes utilizing sugar.
Baking with Natural Sweeteners
To really understand the extent of this recipe development it’s important to know how sugar affects different recipes, specifically in baked goods. Sugar is not only used for sweetness, it is largely used for structure, texture, and color, just to name a few.
When creating a low-sugar baked good, one cannot simply decrease the amount of sugar used because the structure and crumb will greatly suffer if other ingredients or processes are not modified. Likewise, natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, or Sucanat cannot simply be swapped out for granulated sugar in baking due to various melting points, moisture contents, and absorption capabilities. Thus, ingredient ratios and processes were completely reanalyzed for this book.
As you work your way through Naturally Sweet, the editors at ATK walk you through their thought and development processes, and explain why the recipes were developed in the way they were. They take note of what tasters liked and disliked, give justifications for which sweetener they used, and explain what conventional cooking and baking processes they had to rethink.
This book challenges those hard-fast laws of baking and cooking, giving us cooks the courage and power to question our habits in the kitchen. After all, isn’t that the beauty of cooking? Isn’t that the art of it? Unlike many aspects of our lives, the rules in cooking are meant to be challenged, pushed, and broken.
How to Make a Tart Crust
- Pulse dry ingredients together, scatter butter over top and pulse until a coarse meal is formed. Add yolk and cream mixture and pulse until a dough comes together.
- Turn dough out onto a work surface
- Form dough into a disk and wrap tightly with plastic wrap; chill 1 hour.
- Roll dough out then press into bottom of pan and up sides; freeze until form, about 30 minutes.
- Blind bake crust until starting to brown and dry to the touch. To blind bake, line the unbaked tart crust with foil, fill with baking weights (or beans) and bake.
How to Make Homemade Lemon Curd
- use fresh lemon juice and zest
It’s absolutely necessary to use fresh lemon juice. The fresh tart flavor is incomparable to the bottled stuff. It’s also important to use fresh lemon zest—yes, ¼ cup is the correct amount. You’ll strain it out before serving, so don’t worry, you won’t be picking zest out of your teeth.
- cook the lemon curd
Whisk yolks, egg, honey, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt together in a saucepan until smooth. Cook lemon curd mixture over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until mixture has reached 165-degrees and mixture has thickened, this should take 5 to 8 minutes.
Using an instant-read thermometer takes all the guesswork out of making lemon curd (and candy, meat, fish, etc.) This is my all-time favorite instant-read thermometer.
- remove from heat and stir in the butter
Remove saucepan from heat and stir in butter until melted. The butter is important for adding flavor and creating a silky smooth texture. Be sure to use unsalted butter!
- strain the curd
This step is important for two reasons. First, it strains out all of the zest we added at the beginning. And secondly, it acts as a failsafe by straining out any specks of cooked egg (occurs when the mixture is heated too quickly without being agitated or stirred).
- stir in the cream
Adding just a splash of cream creates a silky smooth, luscious curd. The addition of cream to homemade lemon curd is not traditional and can easily be left out but it is delicious.
Tips for Making the Perfect Lemon Blueberry Tart
- Be sure to use a 9-inch round tart pan. If you use a smaller pan you’ll end up having too much filling, and if you use a larger pan you won’t have enough filling.
- Use eggs labeled as “large.” This is essential as it will determine how much lemon curd you end up with.
- Make sure you strain the lemon curd before pouring it into the tart. This will strain out the bits of lemon zest. The zest has already imparted all of its flavor into the curd and by straining it you’ll get a super smooth curd.
Blueberry–Lemon Curd Tart
Classic Tart Crust
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ cup (1 ⅓ ounces) Sucanat or ⅓ cup confectioners' sugar*
- 1 ¼ cups (6 ¼ ounces) all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces and chilled
- ¼ cup lemon zest + ½ cup juice (4 lemons)
- 1 large egg + 5 large yolks
- ⅓ cup + ¼ cup honey
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces and chilled
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 10 ounces (2 cups) blueberries
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water
- Whisk egg yolk, cream, and vanilla together in bowl. Grind Sucanat in spice grinder until fine and powdery, about 1 minute. Process flour, ground Sucanat, and salt in food processor until combined, about 5 seconds. Scatter chilled butter over top and pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, about 15 pulses. With process running, add egg yolk mixture and process until dough just comes together, about 12 seconds.
- Form dough into 6-inch disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Let chilled dough sit on counter to soften slightly, about 10 minutes. Roll dough into 11-inch circle on lightly floured counter. Loosely roll dough around rolling pin and gently unroll it onto 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom, letting excess dough hang over edge. Ease dough into pan by gently lifting edge of dough with your hand while pressing into corners and fluted sides of pan with your other hand. Run rolling pin over top of pan to remove any excess dough.
- Wrap dough-lined pan loosely in plastic, place on large plate, and freeze until dough is chilled and firm, about 30 minutes.
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375ºF. Set dough-lined tart pan on baking sheet, line with double layer of aluminum foil, covering edges to prevent burning, and fill with pie weights.
- Bake until crust is golden brown and set, about 30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Remove weights and foil and let crust cool.
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350ºF. Measure out 1 tablespoon lemon juice and set aside.
- Whisk remaining lemon juice, lemon zest, egg and yolks, ⅓ cup honey, and pinch salt in medium saucepan until smooth. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with rubber spatula, until mixture thickens slightly and registers 165ºF, about 5 minutes.
- Off heat, whisk in chilled butter until melted. Strain lemon curd through fine-mesh strainer into bowl, then gently stir in cream with rubber spatula.
- Pour warm lemon curd into cooled tart crust. Set tart on baking sheet and bake until filling is shiny and opaque and center jiggles slightly when shaken, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Transfer tart with baking sheet to wire rack and let cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, process blueberries in a food processor until smooth, about 2 minutes. Strain purée through clean fine-mesh strainer into medium saucepan, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible (you should have about ¾ cup); discard solids.
- Whisk in remaining ¼ cup honey and ⅛ teaspoon salt. Whisk cornstarch and water together in a small bowl, then whisk into strained blueberry mixture. Bring to simmer over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, and cook until thickened slightly and registers 170ºF, about 4 minutes. Off heat, whisk in reserved 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
- Pour blueberry mixture evenly over cooled lemon filling. Tap pan lightly on counter to release any air bubbles, then refrigerate until blueberry mixture is set and shiny, about 2 hours.
- To serve, remove outer ring of tart pan, slide thin metal spatula between tart and tart pan bottom, and carefully slide tart onto serving patter or cutting board.
- Original: 42 grams sugar New Recipe: 27 grams sugar
- *don’t have or can’t find sucanat? You can use ⅓ cup confectioners’ sugar (aka powdered sugar) instead. Skip the grinding step of the sugar and add the confectioners’ sugar right to the food processor with the flour and salt. You can also use ¼ cup coconut sugar—you’ll need to grind it as instructed in the recipe. If you use coconut sugar the crust will come out darker and slightly less sweet.
- Dough Make Ahead Tip: Dough can be wrapped tightly in plastic and refrigerate for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month. If frozen, let dough thaw completely on counter before rolling.
- Dough Make Ahead Tip: Dough-lined tart pan can be wrapped tightly in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.
- If you’re using this tart crust recipe for a different tart that calls for a fully-cooked tart crust continue baking, uncovered, for an additional 5-10 minutes until deeply golden brown.
More tarts to love…
I received a copy of Naturally Sweet: Bake All Your Favorites with 30% to 50% Less Sugar (America’s Test Kitchen) from America’s Test Kitchen, this recipe is used with their permission. This post contains affiliate links.
This looks amazing and so delicious. I will have to try this.
Thanks Virginia! It’s definitely one of my favorite recipes to date.
I made this for a church desert contest and tied for first!!! So fun to cook! an awesome challenge for this novice. Tasted Delicious as well!
Can the crust be made gluten free? Also can the honey be subbed with maple syrup?
Unfortunately I haven’t tried this with maple syrup. My only concern with swapping in maple syrup for the honey would be that it’s a thinner consistency. I worry the filling would be a little loose once baked.
I haven’t tested this crust with gluten free flour, but I would imagine it would work fine! I would add a 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum to the flour blend of your choice (if it doesn’t have xanthan gum added to it already). I hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions!
It is so hard to revisit a classic like the lemon tart but oh man, this one looks incredible! The colours are so amazing, I’m completely in love! This will be on my list to try 🙂
I totally agree, this is fun when you’re looking to mix things up! 🙂
Can i use bluberry jam instead of fresh blueberries
Hi Firas, I can’t say for certain as I have not tried that. If you try it with jam, I would recommend cooking as directed, leaving out the added honey, but still adding some fo the cornstarch, about 1 tablespoon. Hope that helps!
This looks great! I was wondering though, for the crust would there be anything that could be substituted for the sucanat? I was thinking maybe coconut sugar?
I haven’t tested it with coconut sugar, but I think it would work just fine! My only concern would be that it could create a bit of a crumbly dough since it’s a bit drier. However, I would recommend still grinding it up per instructions. If you’re looking to achieve the most similar outcome to sucanat, I would try sugar in the raw, but I get if you want to stay away from true sugar. Let me know if you have any other questions and I hope you enjoy it!
I’m having trouble finding sucanat. I’ve been reading that it has a more molasses flavor than sugar in the raw. Could you substitute brown sugar for the sucanat?
Instead of the sucanat I would recommend using 1/4 cup coconut sugar and still grind the sugar like the recipe calls for. You can also use confectioners’ sugar. if you do I would increase the amount to 1/3 cup (no grinding of the sugar required).
Hope this helps!
I used 3 tablespoons of light mascavado sugar and it worked great. You could also use caster sugar
My lemon curd is in the oven now and blueberry is waiting to be added a little later once it cools! Excited about this!! The lemon curd tasted awesome!!!
I just finished the last slice of this and am already thinking about when I can make another! One thing I did differently was use blackberries instead of blueberries to make the top layer, since they looked the best at my grocery store.
I wasn’t sure about using honey in place of regular sugar for the lemon curd, but I’m so glad I followed the recipe. It had the perfect amount of sweetness- not too much- so the sweet berry layer was balanced by the tang of the lemon. Delicious!
Thank you for this recipe! It’s definitely going to be my new go-to summer dessert!
Hi Jennie! So glad you enjoyed it! I love the idea of using blackberries, I can only imagine how dramatic they made the tart look. I will have to try that! Thanks for stopping by 🙂
Hello, I have the same question regarding sucanat, can i use brown sugar? I don’t think I’ll sucanat where i live
Looks fantastic! Can’t wait to try it. I have a question though, do you think i can use brown sugar instead of sucanat? I don’t think I’ll find it where i live.
For the crust, instead of using sucanat, I would use 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar. It will turn out a little lighter in color, but other than that, it should be nearly the same.
I hope that helps, enjoy!
thank you very much for this receipe. this looks beautiful and yummy. I would like to try
I have a question ? Why do you strain lemon curd ? What is the point ?
Great question! Straining is mostly included as a precaution should someone cook the lemon curd at too high of a heat and partially scramble the eggs. It also strains out some of the larger pieces of lemon zest. Not necessary, but just ensures a creamy lemon curd!
Hope that helps! 🙂
Hi, i come back here to tell you that I finally made your tart and it was delicious. Thank you very much for this incredible receipe !
Hi Beatrice, I am so glad you hear you enjoyed it! Thanks for stopping by ZK! 🙂
Thank you very much Lauren. It lights me up about it.
Does the red layer happen naturally because the blueberry mixes with the lemon? Or is there a secret red layer not mentioned in the instructions?
Hi Cate! That red layer of color naturally occurs between the lemon and blueberry layer. No secrets left out here!
I just made this last night and cannot wait to taste it! The colors are so beautiful and the little bits I stole while baking were delicious. Thanks for sharing such a pretty recipe 🙂
Hi Amanda! Yay! I hope you enjoyed it! This is one of my favorites 🙂
Can this be made in advance? And do you think it would come out alright if I used my own lemon curd? Thanks!!
This can be made up to 3 days in advance, just be sure to store it, covered, in the refrigerator. You could definitely use your own lemon curd! I would still follow the baking instructions in the recipe for the lemon curd in the tart crust, “bake until filling is shiny and opaque and center jiggles slightly when shaken.”
Hope that helps, enjoy!
Hello – I have some lemon curd in my freezer from a previous recipe. Do you know approx how much lemon curd is used in the tart? I have 2 cups already made.
This recipe makes a scant 2 cups lemon curd. You would be just find using what you already have on hand!
When baking the tart, the recipe calls to “line with double layer of aluminum foil”. Does that mean:
to line the baking sheet with two layers of aluminum foil or
line the bottom of the tart (dough) with aluminum foil or
cover the entire pan loosely with aluminum foil so foil is touching dough on the bottom then add the weights or
to cover the entire pan with aluminum foil after placing weights in?
Hi Pam, this means you’ll line the tart pan (that already has the dough in it) with double layer of aluminum foil. Then you’ll pour baking weights into the foil-lined tart pan. This step is blind baking the tart shell.
I hope that clears up the instructions for you!
My tart has been sitting about 2 hours and the blueberry layer has not set yet. Will it set overnight? If not, if I put it in the oven tomorrow will it set?
Sorry for my delay in getting back to you, I have been out of the office! The blueberry layer should set between 2 and 4 hours if the mixture was cooked to 170-degrees. If it is still not set overnight, you could try baking it at 375-degrees for 5-10 minutes. The only risk with that is that the lemon curd could get a bit too firm.
I hope it all worked out OK!
The recipe reads “3/4 cup of lemon zest.” Is that really the correct amount??
Sorry – I read it wrong, it’s 1/4 cup – but still that’s a lot of zest
Hi Dennis, yes, 1/4 cup is the correct amount. The recipe calls for straining the curd later in the process which will strain out most of the zest. The amount of zest is important for establishing a wonderful lemon flavor as the oils in the zest deliver the most flavor.
I’d like to make this ahead of time for some guests at our family cabin, is it possible to make it and freeze it, to be thawed and enjoyed a week later?
Hi Jessica! I wish I would have tested this so I could answer with 100% confidence! Since lemon curd freezes fine I think you could prepare the tart through the step of baking the lemon curd in the tart crust. However, cornstarch-thickened fillings don’t fare well in the freezer. So I would say you could freeze the baked tart crust filled with the lemon curd, but I would wait to make and add the blueberry filling until the day-of serving (I know, not ideal).
To freeze the half-filled tart, I would wrap in first in plastic wrap, then in foil. I would then let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator before adding the blueberry layer.
I hope this helps!
Loved every bite – set Perfectly !! Blueberry and lime curd is just the most amazing combo – Thanks for sharing the recipe !!
Yay!! I am so happy to hear you enjoyed it! 🙂
Unfortunately the cornstarch made the blueberry mixture lose its vibrance so I had to use gel food coloring to brighten it back up. :\ Next time I’m going to use agar-agar. Used coconut sugar for the tart crust and it tastes great!
Hi, in a process of making this delicious tart. One question, can I use ceramic pie form?
I recommend using a tart pan for ease of getting it out of the pan and for serving. However, you can definitely make it in a ceramic pie plate, just make sure to keep the edges of the crust somewhat short like a tart.
Do you think I should make any adjustments for an 11” tart pan?
Hey Emily! Great question! I would 1.5 X the recipe. You may have a little extra of each component but this will ensure you have enough dough to fill the pan and enough filling!
Hi! This recipe looks amazing!
I’m just wondering, in the picture the top of the tart looks powdery and not shiny like the layer cross-section; is there something on top of the blueberry layer?
Hi Olivia! Great question, that powdery look is simply due to light reflecting off the top of the tart. There’s nothing on top of the blueberry layer, but you could certainly dust it with some confectioners’ sugar! Hope that helps! 🙂
What sort of adjustments would you recommend to make this as 5″ mini-tarts?
Hi Johnny! I haven’t tried to make 5-inch tarts with this recipe but here is what I would do:
– decrease the bake time of the crust to about 20 minutes (still blind bake them for some of the time), give or take 5 minutes, just keep an eye on them.
– bake the lemon curd layer for 5 minutes, then check on them, add more bake time in 2 minutes increments if needed.
Since this is a 9-inch tart, you’ll likely only get two 5-inch tarts with these measurements, so I would double or triple the ingredients as needed. If you do end up doubling the recipe, you may need to cook the lemon curd and blueberry layer on the stove top a few minutes longer.
Use these bake times I’ve suggested as that, just suggestions. I would rely more on the descriptions I give in the recipe. If after 5 minutes in the oven the lemon curd is still pretty jiggly, give it a few more minutes.
I hope this helps, let me know how they turn out, I am very interested!!
Wow!! I used the the tart shell and filling recipes to make mini tarts last night and they turned out better than I could’ve ever imagined. The tartness of the lemon curd is balanced perfectly by the sweet blueberry. LOVE this recipe. Will 100% make again.
yay!! I am so happy to hear that! I love that you made mini tarts, I bet they were gorgeous!
If I don’t have honey, can I substitute granulated sugar? How much?
For the crust, instead of using sucanat, I would use 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar. It will turn out a little lighter in color, but other than that, it should be nearly the same.
For the lemon curd, you can use 3/4 cup regular sugar instead of the honey. I haven’t tested the blueberry layer with regular sugar instead of honey, but if you like things sweet you could use 1/4 cup sugar instead of the honey, or for a more mildly sweet layer use 3 Tbsp. sugar.
Let me know how it turns out with regular sugar!
Thanks for sharing! So beautiful and tasty! What a perfect spring dessert!
Thanks Vanessa! I hope you enjoy it!
Can I use a frozen tart shell? I left mine in the oven too long and it’s looking a little too crispy
Sure! Do you have a full-size frozen tart shell? I would still blind bake it before adding the filling.
I just tried this recipe today and it was delicious! I am not an experienced baker, so it was a little hard for me (a lot more steps than a cake out of a box) , but it still turned out delicious.
I’m so glad you gave it a try Gabby! There are a lot of steps—but hopefully now that you’ve made it, it will be easier next time!!
Hi I have made this recipe and it was amazing, fruit and tart, pastry was perfect!
I was wondering would the top layer work using raspberries instead of blueberries?
Hi Laura! I think the top layer would definitely work using raspberries! There’s enough pectin in raspberries that I don’t think you’ll need to alter the cornstarch amount at all. Let me know how it goes, I bet it will be gorgeous!
Do you know if this is a low fat recipe?
If you’re doubling, watch the amounts in the text of the recipe. They don’t change automatically! My 2x lemon curd only had 1/3 cup of honey, very zippy curd :p
Oh wow! I was so intimidated to make this but it actually ended up being a lot easier than I expected. I made the crust on Friday night and finished the rest of it Saturday afternoon. Served that evening with some fresh blueberries. It was a hit! thank you!
Hi Carli! I’m so happy to hear it was easier than expected! The long instructions can look intimidating! Great idea to make it over a few days—makes the process much more manageable!
If you wanted to add a layer of whole blueberries on top of this how and when would you recommend you do that?
Hi Michael, great question! I would arrange a single layer of blueberries over the blueberry mixture right after it’s been added to the tart. (Tap the tart lightly against the counter right after adding the blueberry mixture to release air bubbles, then arrange the blueberries over top.) This way the blueberries will slightly set into the blueberry layer as it chills. Let me know how it goes!
I am dying to make this but I am shopping for a tart tin and I cannot seem to find one 9” with the removable bottom and short height! I have access to a 9.5” one, do you think any small adjustments could be made in order to work a 9.5” or a 10” pan?
Great question (and apologies for my delay)! If you can’t find a 9-inch I would go for the 9.5-inch or (if you can find it) and 8-inch. If you go for the 9.5 or 10-inch, I would consider one and a half timesing the tart crust recipe, just to make sure you can cover the entire pan with an adequate thickness of crust. Otherwise, just keep in the mind the filling may be a bit thinner!
I hope that helps.