Whole Lemon Bars

One of my latest cookbook acquisitions is The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman.  I’m so glad I picked it up.  There are so many recipes that I can’t wait to make and share with you.  The first one I tried was this one for Whole Lemon Bars.  My husband had coincidentally picked up some Meyer lemons at the store, so I figured, why not?  These will be made again and again in my kitchen.

Whole Lemon Bars2

You’ll need:


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 8 tbs unsalted butter, cold, cut into chunks
  • Cooking spray


  • 1 Meyer lemon (or just regular lemon, if that’s all you can find)
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 8 tbs unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tbs cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut two 12-inch lengths of parchment paper, and trim them to fit the bottom of an 8-inch square baking pan.  Put the first sheet in the bottom of the pan and up the sides in one direction.  Use the second sheet to line the rest of the pan, running it perpendicular to the first sheet.  Spray everything with cooking spray.  Set the pan aside.

For the crust, start by blending the flour, sugar, and salt together in the work bowl of a food processor.  Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is powdery.  If you pinch the mixture with your fingers, it should hold the pinched shape.

Turn the dough crumbs into the baking pan and press the dough into the prepared baking dish, pressing the dough evenly across the bottom and about 1/2 inch up the sides.  Poke the dough all over with a fork.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until it is lightly browned.  If anything bubbles up during baking, just poke it down with the fork again.

For the filling, start by cutting your lemon in half.  If the white part of the skin is thick (i.e., 1/4 inch or more), you’ll want to peel the skin from half of the lemon before proceeding.  Otherwise it might be too bitter.  The second half can be used as it is.  If the white pith isn’t too thick, just proceed to the next step without peeling anything.

Cut the lemon halves into thin rings, removing any seeds you encounter.  Put these rounds–lemon flesh and peel–in the bowl of the food processor.  Add the sugar and run the food processor until the lemon is thoroughly puréed.  This will take about 2 minutes.  Then add the butter and run it again until the mixture is smooth.  Scrape the sides of the work bowl as needed.  Add the eggs, cornstarch, and salt.  Pulse until well-combined.

Pour this lemon mixture over the crust and bake for 35-40 minutes.  You can tell that the filling is set by moving the pan a little; it should only jiggle a little bit.

Let the pan cool completely on a rack or in the fridge.  Use a sharp knife to gently cut around the outside of the parchment paper to make sure nothing has stuck.  Use the parchment paper “sling” to gently transfer the lemon bars to a cutting board.  Cut it into 16 squares.  Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.


2 thoughts on “Whole Lemon Bars

  1. Pingback: Blood Orange Bars | A Nerd Cooks

  2. Pingback: Whole Lemon Bars – Updated! | A Nerd Cooks

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