Our Best Lemon Desserts Are Sure to Brighten Your Day

lemon custard tart martha bakes tarts
Mike Krautter

When life gives you lemons, make our favorite lemon dessert recipes. From crowd-pleasing sheet cakes to the petite Lemon Custard Tarts pictured here, our best lemon desserts offer a bright bite at the end of any meal. When choosing lemons in the grocery store, they should offer just a little bit of resistance when you squeeze them. If they're too firm, it will be difficult to juice them. Another way to maximize their juice is by storing whole lemons at room temperature; they'll be softer to the touch and will release more juice than if they're pulled straight from the refrigerator. Be sure to stock up on a combination of Meyer lemons and regular lemons, as both varieties are used in these fabulous recipes.

While many lemon desserts are perfect for summer picnics or backyard barbecues, our lemon desserts are fitting year-round. Try making Meyer-Lemon Shortbread Wreath Cookies during the holiday season; there's tart lemon flavor in both the cookies and the glaze. Plus, the combination of fresh herbs, nonpareils, and pearl sprinkles give them a festive finish.

There are plenty of recipes ideal for feeding a crowd here, too. Lemon-Glazed Sheet Cake is perfect to take to a potluck party and is low-maintenance to prepare. Rather than decorating layer after layer, just decorate the top of the cake with lemon glaze and candied lemon zest. Another surefire winner is this showstopping Lemon-Mascarpone Crepe Cake. The lemon flavor comes in the form of a luscious curd filling made with the juice of five lemons.

These sweet and stunning lemon dessert recipes are sure to make you pucker (in the best way possible).

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Lemon-Glazed Sheet Cake

lemon glazed sheet cake
Alpha Smoot

The perfect dessert to bring to a potluck or picnic, this sheet cake serves a crowd and can be made in advance. In our book, that's a win-win!

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Glazed Lemon-Ginger Scones

lemon ginger scones on plate next to butter dish
Mike Krautter

Gone are the days of dry, bland scones. Enter: these bright, spiced scones with flaky layers offering refreshing lemon flavor.

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Meyer-Lemon Shortbread Wreath Cookies

meyer-lemon shortbread wreath cookies
Mikkel Vang

Lemon doesn't just shine in summery desserts. Extra-special Meyer lemons flavor buttery shortbread—and the delicate glaze—for these festive Christmas cookies.

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Lemon-Olive Oil Cake

lemon olive oil cake
Paola + Murray

This isn't any regular cake—olive oil contributes major moistness and a rich flavor that takes it into slightly savory territory. Macerated berries add texture and color, and the lightly whipped mascarpone topping completes the picture.

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Meyer-Lemon and Hazelnut Tart

meyer lemon hazelnut tart
Robin Stein

Toasted ground hazelnuts take the place of flour in the crust for this tart, so gluten-free guests can indulge in a slice, too. The luscious filling has the perfect balance of tart-but-not-too-tart flavor.

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Meyer-Lemon and Coconut Layer Cake

meyer lemon coconut cake
Johnny Miller

Is there any better combination than coconut and lemon? We don't think so, which is why we've created a multi-layered treat made with coconut cake and coconut-lemon curd. The cake is garnished with even more coconut flakes and candied lemon slices for a hint as to what's waiting on the inside.

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Lemon Tassies

lemon tassies
Victor Schraeger

If you're hosting a more casual gathering where guests will be mixing and mingling, these individual bite-sized tarts are perfect for passing around.

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Lemon Shortcakes with Basil Berries


This isn't any old-fashioned strawberry shortcake. Lemon zest perks up the basic biscuits, and a few tablespoons of lemon juice cut the sweetness of macerated berries.

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Lemon Pound Cakes with Candied Lemon Slices

lemon pound cake
Clive Streeter

With a delicate, moist crumb and pretty garnishes, everyone will want a taste of this lemon pound cake. Whether you serve it for breakfast, a snack, or dessert, it's sure to be a star.

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Vanilla Sheet Cake with Lemon Cream-Cheese Frosting

Vanilla Sheet Cake with Lemon Cream-Cheese Frosting

Did someone say summer? Instead of making a fussy layer cake, bake this low-maintenance, but super delicious sheet cake. It's decorated with a creamy, bright frosting, plus lemon zest and juicy blueberries.

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Lemon-Date Bars

Marcus Nilsson

Medjool dates have a deep caramel flavor and chewy texture that is a delight to bite into in this riff on classic lemon bars. Date paste is spread over a homemade crust, then topped with a creamy lemon filling and light dusting of powdered sugar.

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Lemon Honey Cake

lemon honey cake
Johnny Miller

Honey and light brown sugar collaborate on sweetness in this mild lemon cake. Don't fancy lots of frosting? The bare sides and creamy lemon curd feel just right here.

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Sparkly Lemon Cookies

sparkly lemon cookies dusted with sanding sugar
Lennart Weibull

Give these lemon cookies the finishing touch they deserve with a sprinkling of coarse sanding sugar. The crunchy topping is a delightful contrast to the cakey texture of the cookies.

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Upside-Down Lemon Meringue Pie

Ryan Liebe

This cake is not for the faint of heart—and that's why it's so fantastic. A lemony filling made with eight egg yolks and a cup of heavy cream is plenty rich and indulgent. And it just so happens to be one of Martha's favorites.

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Lemon Cornmeal Cake

Lennart Weibull

A combination of raw ground almonds, cornmeal, olive oil, and almond extract put this cake in a league of its own. With just a dusting of powdered sugar for the topping, it's a casual dessert that's perfect for a party.

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Pear-and-Lemon Pie with Pate Brisee Crust

Kate Mathis

Instead of making an apple pie for Thanksgiving this year, try this unexpected dessert made with pear slices, candied lemon peel, cinnamon, and perky lemon juice.

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Meyer Lemon Upside-Down Cake

meyer lemon cake

One of the secrets to this mesmerizing cake is incorporating the egg yolks and egg whites separately. The yolks add richness and body while the whites create a luscious, light texture—it's pure heaven.

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Lemon-Basil Custard Pie with Red Berries

Jonathan Lovekin

Three kinds of vibrant berries—strawberries, raspberries, and currants—are mixed and macerated together to top this rich lemon custard. It's a juicy contrast that works so well.

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Lemon-Mascarpone Crepe Cake

Lemon-Mascarpone Crepe Cake
Jonathan Lovekin

Want to create a dessert that will truly wow? Nearly two dozen crepes, stacked on top of each other between layers of a light lemon curd, should do the trick.

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Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake

meyer lemon coffee cake on pink stand
Mike Krautter

Perk up your morning with our sweet, crumbly coffee cake. Sliced Meyer lemons are baked into the batter of this cake for an unexpected tart flavor in each bite. If that's not enough, we've incorporated Meyer lemon juice into the glaze as well.

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Lemon-Cranberry Meringue Pie

lemon cranberry meringue pie
Christopher Testani

Take a gander at this beauty. On top of our buttery, flaky pate brisee is a double layer of tart goodness. The first layer is a creamy lemon filling that then gets topped with a thin cranberry gelée and is chilled until set.

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Lemon Curd Souffle Tart

lemon curd souffle tart topped with powdered sugar
Emily Kordovich

We've upgraded a basic lemon tart with a light, mousse-like filling and an all-butter crust. A generous dusting of powdered sugar is the finishing touch.

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