This pistachio lemon meringue tart is the perfect dessert for a spring picnic. It starts with a buttery, sweet shortcrust base and is filled with a rich layer of pistachio cream and a bright, tart layer of lemon curd. It’s finished off with a layer of perfectly toasted, fluffy Italian meringue.
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With spring around the corner, I’m dreaming up bright, cheerful desserts perfect for sunny picnics and afternoon tea. This pistachio lemon meringue tart fits right in. It’s sweet and indulgent, with a citrusy burst of flavor thanks to the lemon curd. I’ve made it 3 times in the past month, and it’s been a hit every time!
How to make a pistachio lemon meringue tart
There are 4 components to this tart – the tart shell, pistachio cream, lemon curd, and Italian meringue.
- Sweet shortcrust tart shell – the shell is made using pâte sablée, a sweet crumbly tart dough. It’s buttery and rich, perfect for this dessert.
- Pistachio cream – the first layer of the tart is a pistachio cream made of ground pistachios, butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla extract. It is baked directly with the tart shell.
- Lemon curd – the second layer of the tart is a smooth lemon curd made on the stove and then poured on top of the baked pistachio layer.
- Italian meringue – the final layer is a fluffy Italian meringue made with a heated sugar syrup that helps cook the egg whites. A blow torch is used to lightly toast the meringue and finish off the tart.
Let’s walk through how to master each of these components.
How to make a sweet shortcrust tart dough
Pâte sablée is made with a few simple yet delicious ingredients – flour, baking powder, sugar, butter, and egg. I prefer to make the dough in a food processor, but if you don’t have one you can also make it by hand.
- Mix together your dry ingredients – mix together your flour, baking powder, and sugar in a bowl or food processor.
- Add your butter – if your using a food processor, add cold butter and pulse until the texture resembles sand. If you’re not using a food processor, you’ll gently rub the butter into the flour with your fingers until large crumbs form.
- Mix in an egg yolk and water – Slowly mix in the egg yolk and water until the dough comes together. Knead together and form a disk.
- Chill – place the dough in the fridge for at least 1 hour
Tips for making pâte sablée
Here are tips to make sure your tart shell turns out perfect:
- After adding the butter, the texture of the mixture should look like coarse sand. The butter should be evenly distributed among the flour but not melted in.
- Don’t overwork the dough – knead only enough so that the mixture comes together. Overworking the dough can lead to a tough pastry.
- When rolling out the dough, make sure to do it on a well-floured surface or on parchment paper. Periodically make sure that the dough is not sticking to the surface before continuing to roll.
- If the dough breaks when transferring to the tart tin, don’t worry – you can easily patch any holes by pressing dough over the gap. No one will notice!
How to make pistachio cream
This pistachio cream is inspired by frangipane, which is traditionally made with almond flour.
- Prepare ground pistachios – I use unsalted, roasted pistachios and blend them in my food processor until they have a fine texture. If you don’t have a food processor, you can use or a mortar & pestle or smash them in a ziploc bag with a rolling pin. Either works!
- Beat together room temperature butter and sugar – cream together the butter and sugar
- Mix in egg and flavorings – add a whole egg and vanilla extract to the butter and sugar
- Fold in the ground pistachios – mix in ground pistachios until a thick batter forms
Tips for making pistachio cream
- Make sure the butter and egg are at room temperature. The cream is smoother if you use room temperature ingredients, since they blend more easily.
- Don’t overbeat the mixture – if you’re using an electric beater, be careful not to overmix since this can introduce too much air into the mixture.
How to make lemon curd
The lemon curd is quite possibly my favorite part of this tart because it’s absolutely delicious. It uses both lemon juice and zest to give the ultimate citrus flavor. The recipe uses mostly egg yolks, and we’ll save the whites to use in the meringue later.
- Mix eggs, sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a pot
- Heat until the mixture thickens and starts to bubble, whisking constantly
- Immediately remove from heat and mix in butter, which will help create the smooth silky texture
- Pour onto your tart while still hot
Tips for making lemon curd
You want your lemon curd to be at the perfect consistency where it will pour easily but then set up once it’s cooled down.
- Whisk constantly and keep your eye on the stove – it’s important that the mixture heats evenly and doesn’t overcook. Whisk constantly, making sure to get the edges of the pot as well as the middle. Once it starts the bubble, immediately remove from heat
- Strain the curd – I always strain the lemon curd so that it’s extra silky smooth
How to make Italian meringue
The final step of the tart is a fluffy, marshmellow-y Italian meringue. Italian meringue is distinct in that egg whites are mixed with a hot sugar syrup.
- Heat up sugar and water to 240F
- Whip egg whites until foamy, then gently trickle in the hot syrup while mixing on high speed
- Continue whipping the egg whites until medium stiff peaks form
- Pipe onto the tart and toast with a blow torch
What’s the difference between Italian, Swiss, and French meringue?
The difference between the 3 different types of meringue lies in how the sugar is prepared.
The most common meringue is a French meringue, where sugar is slowly added to egg whites and beaten until peaks form. While a French meringue is the least fussy to make, it’s not a good fit for this recipe because the egg whites are not heated and potentially may not be safe to eat.
In an Italian meringue, the sugar is heated with water to create a syrup that is then mixed into the egg whites. The hot syrup makes the meringue safe to eat without additional baking. I decided to go with an Italian meringue because the texture is super smooth and light. However, making an Italian meringue does require a thermometer, so if you don’t have one, you can make a Swiss meringue instead.
In a Swiss meringue, the sugar is added to the egg whites and then they are heated in a double boiler until the sugar melts. The hot egg whites and sugar are then whipped until peaks form. Similarly to an Italian meringue, the eggs are safe to eat.
Tips for making an Italian meringue
- Be careful separating the whites from the yolks – even a trace of fat can prevent the meringue from whipping up. I like to crack each new egg in a separate bowl. That way, in case I puncture the yolk, it won’t contaminate the whites that I already have separated.
- Use a food thermometer – the temperature of the sugar syrup should be between 240 – 244F. If you don’t have a food thermometer, follow the notes in the recipe to make a Swiss meringue instead
- Whip until medium stiff peaks form – you want to strike a balance when whipping the egg whites. Too soft, and the meringue won’t hold. Too stiff, and the meringue will taste bubbly. I beat the meringue just until stiff peaks form, but the tip of the peak still bends downward.
- Use a blow torch – I find that a blow torch gives the best control when toasting the meringue. I like to use this blow torch. In a pinch, you can use the broiler on your oven. However, every oven is different and I find that broilers can easily burn the meringue or tart. Use with caution!
This tart is possibly my favorite spring dessert and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Other spring dessert recipes to try
- Ruby and white chocolate chewy matcha cookies
- Cardamom pistachio shortbread (Small batch)
- Matcha strawberry cream bars
- Orange cardamom bread with almond cream
If you make this recipe, please let me know! I always love to see what my readers are baking. You can comment below or tag me on Instagram @halicopteraway.
Pistachio lemon meringue tart
- Mixing bowl
- Rolling Pin
- nine inch tart tin with removable bottom
- food processor (optional)
- small pot
- Stand or hand mixer
- piping bag and tips (optional)
- 1 cup + 2tbsp (150g) all purpose flour
- 1/8 tsp baking powder
- 1/3 cup (75g) granulated sugar
- 5 tbsp (75g) unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tbsp cold water
- 1/2 cup (60g) unsalted roasted pistachios, shelled
- 4 tbsp (60g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 cup (60g) granulated sugar
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 whole egg
- zest of 2 medium lemons
- juice of 2 medium lemons
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 4 tbsp (60g) unsalted butter, cubed
- 3 egg whites
- 3/4 cups (150g) granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp (40g) water
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
Make the tart dough
- In a food processor, add the flour, baking powder, and sugar. Pulse to combine. See notes for how to make without a food processor.
- Add the cold, cubed butter and pulse 10 – 15 times until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
- Beat together the egg yolk and water. While the food processor is running, slowly trickle in the mixture. Keep the food processor running until the dough begins to clump.
- Turn the dough onto a floured surface. Gently knead together and form into a round disk about 1 – 2 inches thick. Be careful not to overwork the dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
Prep the pistachio cream
- Place the pistachios in the food processor and blend on high until the pistachios are finely ground. See notes how to prepare the pistachios without a food processor.
- Use a mixer or spatula to mix together the softened butter and sugar
- Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix until combined. The mixture should be fairly wet.
- Fold in the ground pistachios, being careful not to beat in too much air if you're using an electric mixture. Cover and set aside.
Prep the tart shell
- Remove the dough from the fridge and place on a floured surface or parchment paper
- Roll out into a circle about 11 inches in diameter. The dough will be crumbly at first – use your hands to gently push the dough back together. Periodically lift the dough to make sure it's not sticking to the countertop.
- Sprinkle the dough with flour. Use your rolling pin to roll the dough up and unroll onto the tart tin. Press the dough into the tart tin and level off the edges. If the dough breaks, patch it up with scraps of dough.
Add the pistachio cream and bake
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and place the tart tin on a baking tray
- Use a fork to poke holes across the bottom of the tart
- Pour the pistachio cream into the tart shell and spread evenly across the bottom. It should only come up about halfway
- Place the tart in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 20 minutes until the edges are a deep golden brown. If you see the pistachio cream puff up in places, pierce with a butter knife to release the air.
Make the lemon curd
- While the tart bakes, make the lemon curd. Separate the eggs, making sure to save the whites for later.
- In a pot, add the egg yolks, whole eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Whisk together and heat over medium heat until it thickens to a pudding-like consistency and begins to bubble. Whisk constantly.
- Remove from heat and immediately add the butter. Stir until the butter melts and is incorporated. Pour through a sieve to remove any lumps.
- While still hot, pour the lemon curd into the baked tart shell and spread evenly.
- Place the tart in the fridge for at least 1 – 2 hours to cool.
Make the meringue (see notes if you don't have a food thermometer)
- Whisk together the sugar and water in a small pot
- Bring the sugar syrup to a boil over medium heat, until it reaches 240°F. To get an accurate temperature read, make sure the thermometer does not touch the bottom of the pot.
- Just before the sugar i ready, whisk the egg whites at medium speed until they hold a soft peak
- While whisking at medium speed, carefully pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the whites
- Add the vanilla extract and salt. Continue mixing at medium-high speed until the meringue just holds stiff peaks. The tip of the meringue should still droop a little
- Place in a piping bag and pipe the meringue over the top of the cooled tart. Make sure to unmold the tart before piping.
- Use a blow torch to lightly torch the top of the meringue
- After adding the meringue, the tart is best eaten within a few hours but can be stored in covered containers and placed in the fridge.
- Make the tart dough without a food processor – Add the flour, baking powder, and sugar to a bowl and mix to combine. Add the cubed butter. Gently rub the flour and butter between your fingertips until coarse crumbs form.
- Grind the pistachios without a food processor – Place the pistachios in a ziptop bag and smash with rolling pin until finely crushed.
- Make a Swiss meringue instead of an Italian meringue. If you don’t have a food thermometer, use this method instead.
- Place the egg whites and sugar into a heatproof bowl
- Heat a pot of water to a simmer. Reduce temperature to low.
- Place the bowl on top of the pot, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.
- Whisk the egg whites and sugar until the sugar melts. You can test this by rubbing the egg whites between your fingers – you should not feel any sugar granules.
- Remove the bowl from heat and whisk until medium stiff peaks form