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Whole Lemon Bars

January 19, 2012

I have to say that I’m really excited about this post. I’ve always been a fan of lemon bars and have tried other recipes in the past, but this recipe is truly exceptional. Thanks are in order to David Lebovitz for introducing me to what I consider the holy grail of lemon bars. Not only are they totally addictive and delicious, but also the method of using a whole lemon in the topping (pith and all) is just so crazy, it’s awesome.


After baking the shortbread crust, you make the filling by cutting up one whole lemon.

Side note: Since you are using the skins, definitely get an organic, unsprayed lemon. I kind of forgot to mention it in this post because I always buy organic, but if you’re going to be eating citrus peels, you want to go the organic route.


Once chopped, you kindly plop the lemon chunks in a food processor with some sugar and a little more lemon juice and blend it until the lemon has broken up. Then you add the rest of the ingredients, give the food processor another whirl, pour it on top of the crust, and bake.


After they have cooled, you can cut them into squares and dust them with some powdered sugar. There you have it! Super delicious, “Wow, there’s a whole lemon in these?” lemon bars.

Whole Lemon Bars
Adapted from David Lebovitz

Lemons vary in size, so just an FYI, I used a lemon that was 4 1/4 ounces and David used a lemon that was 6 ounces. If your lemon is around that range you’re good to go.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Lemon Topping:
1 lemon, organic or unsprayed
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 large eggs, room temperature
4 teaspoons corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Confectioners sugar, for dusting

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil, dull side up, smoothing it out as best you can.

In a medium bowl, mix all the crust ingredients together until smooth. Then dump the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan and use your hands to make the layer of dough smooth and even. Bake the crust for about 25 minutes, until it is a deep-golden brown color.

While the crust is baking, assemble the lemon topping. First, cut the lemon into chunks and remove any seeds. In a food processor or blender, pulse the lemon chunks with the 1 cup of sugar and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice until the lemon has completely broken up. Add the eggs, cornstarch, salt, and 3 tablespoons melted butter and blend until almost smooth (doesn’t have to be perfect).

After the crust is out of the oven, reduce the oven heat to 300 degrees. Pour the lemon topping on top of the baked crust and bake for about 25 minutes, just until the filling no longer jiggles and is barely set. Cool completely before removing the bars from the pan (by lifting up the foil). Cut into squares and dust with confectioners sugar before serving.

Bars can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days of frozen for up to a month.

Makes one 8-inch pan or 16 squares.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Irina May 31, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Hi! I made these last night and they taste scrummy! I had a problem with the baking time though: after 25 mins the lemon topping wasn’t even close to set and I kept having to put the timer on for 5 min intervals and checking it. I would say I did at least another 15 minutes! I’m not sure if the altitude here has anything to do with it- we are at 1500 metres above sea level. So while these taste great the crust is baked to über crispiness and is rather hard; the topping is still not perfect as the icing sugar melts right into it so it’s obviously too wet. Any suggestions for modifications? Thank you!


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