These mini lemon meringue tarts are made with a shortcrust (pâté sucrée) tart shell, sweet and tangy lemon filling, and topped with toasted Swiss meringue. They look like a slice of sunshine and are perfect for lemon season or as a Spring or Summer dessert.
Something about mini tarts is so precious. Mini tarts take a little bit longer to make - they are smaller but you're repeating the same steps several times - but once you get in the flow of making them, their cuteness is worth it. Mini 4" tarts are the perfect personal size or for sharing with someone else.
These mini lemon meringue tartlets always make me think of beautiful bakery displays with many little pastries. Cue me pressing my face up to the glass before deciding on my own personal-sized lemon tart. Now you can have that bakery feeling at home!
How these mini lemon meringue tarts are different from lemon meringue pie
Lemon meringue pie is generally made in a pie dish instead of a fluted tart pan. The pie crust is usually blind-baked (baked halfway without any filling) and then filled with lemon filling and topped with French meringue (the egg whites are not heated while making the meringue since it's going to be baked) before baking again to set the filling and toast the meringue in the oven.
In this mini lemon meringue tart recipe, I've opted to fully bake the tart shells and fill them with a no-bake lemon curd filling. The tarts are then topped with Swiss meringue (the egg whites are heated during the process so that they are safe to eat) and toasted with a kitchen blowtorch instead of in the oven.
I love the way these tarts look this way and breaking down all three components makes them a bit easier for me to handle especially if you make each component on separate days before assembling them together.
How to make mini lemon meringue tarts
These lemon meringue tarts have 3 separate components: the tart shell, lemon filling, and meringue.
For the shortcrust tart shell
In a mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat softened butter until creamy. Add in the powdered sugar and salt and mix on low until combined.
Mix in the egg and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined. Finally, add in the flour and mix on low until just combined into a dough that is soft and crumbly.
Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Use your hands to press the dough together into a flattened disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Let the chilled dough sit on the counter for 10 minutes before rolling.
Rolling dough about ⅛" thick. Use a knife to cut out a rough circle about 1" bigger than your tart pans. Re-roll the scraps for the rest of your mini tarts.
Place the sheet of dough into the tart pan and press the dough into the bottom and side ridges of the pan. Use your rolling pin to roll over the top edges of the pan to "cut" the excess dough off. Use a fork to prick some holes in the bottom of the tart shell.
Gently form a piece of aluminum foil into the tart shell and fill with pie weights or uncooked rice. Repeat with the rest of the mini tarts. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and weights and bake for another 10 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Let the tart shells cool for 5- 10 minutes before removing them from the tart pans to cool completely.
For the lemon curd filling
In a small pot, stir together all the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice.
Heat on medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens considerably into a custard consistency, about 15 minutes.
Stir in the butter, one cube at a time, until all the butter has melted and incorporated.
Transfer filling to a bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming while it's cooling.
Once the lemon filling has cooled to about room temperature, spoon the filling into each tart shell until full. Chill the tarts in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight until set.
For the Swiss meringue
In a pot, bring about 1" of water to a simmer. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the egg whites and sugar. Place the bowl on top of the pot of simmering water to create a double boiler. Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.
Heat the egg and sugar mixture while stirring constantly until all the sugar has dissolved, about 4 minutes. When you rub a small amount of the syrup between your fingers, it should be smooth without any grittiness.
Remove the bowl from the pot. Add in the vanilla extract. Use an electric mixer to whisk the egg whites on high speed until it becomes stiff peaks, about 5-7 minutes.
Transfer the meringue to a piping bag fitted with a piping tip of your choice. Pipe the meringue on top of the lemon filling. Use a kitchen torch to toast the meringue before serving.
Recipe Variations and Substitutions
- Tart shell - The shortcrust tart shell pastry can be replaced with a classic graham cracker crust for an easy and completely no-bake variation. You can try using the graham cracker crust in my No-Bake S'mores Tart recipe.
- Filling - If you're not a fan of lemon or just want to change it up and repurpose this recipe for other fillings, you can replace the lemon juice with orange juice, blood orange juice, lime juice, or even something like raspberry juice (after straining out the seeds) for delicious fruity variations on this meringue tart. You could go even further and fill these tartlets with chocolate ganache or a thick pudding for an entirely different but delicious taste.
- Mini tarts vs. large tart - I've used this recipe to make several mini 4" tarts but the ingredient amounts are also enough to make one large 8" or 9" tart with some extra.
Commonly Asked Questions
You can store mini lemon meringue tarts in the fridge for up to 3 days in a sealed container or gently covered in plastic wrap.
Yes, you can freeze lemon meringue tarts without the meringue topping for up to 3 months. Wrap the tarts well in plastic wrap and/or aluminum foil and freeze. Let them thaw in the fridge overnight. I would recommend adding the meringue topping right before serving. You can freeze the meringue too but the texture will change after defrosting.
I always recommend using a kitchen torch to toast meringue for the most control and best look but if you don't have a kitchen blowtorch, you can toast meringue in the oven by putting it under the broiler for 3-5 minutes. Keep watching it because it can burn quickly.
Yes! You can make the tart shells up to 5 days in advance and store them in the fridge or freeze them for up to 3 months. You can also make the tartlets and fill them with the lemon curd filling up to 3 days in advance and store them in the fridge or freezer. The meringue will look and taste its best if you add it and toast it right before serving the tarts.