Meyer Lemon Bars
Meyer lemon bars are a burst of pure sunshine! Bright, sweet, and tangy custard sits atop a thick, buttery shortbread crust that melts in your mouth. And best of all, they’re made in one bowl with just seven ingredients.
Pure Citrus Sunshine
Whether you’re looking for a treat for a spring wedding or baby shower, a neighborhood gathering, or just for, you know, a happier weekend, these Meyer lemon bars are an outstanding idea. You’ll have:
- Thick, sweet, slightly tart lemon custard.
- A buttery shortbread crust that melts away lightly in your mouth.
- That gorgeous bright yellow color!
These are lightly adapted from Sally’s Baking Recipes, which I agree are the best lemon bars. Using Meyer lemons is simply a small twist to take advantage of this gorgeous seasonal specialty produce. Regular vs. Meyer lemons do have slight differences in consistency and taste, however, the primary being that Meyers are more naturally sweet. In my opinion this is an advantage, as it means you can have a delicious dessert with slightly less added sugar.
Ingredients & Common Substitutions
Here is a visual overview of the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe. Scroll down to the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for quantities!
- Meyer Lemons: The star!
- Butter: I prefer using unsalted butter, but you could easily use salted butter here. Just consider halving the amount of salt added separately to the crust mixture.
- All-Purpose Flour: You’ll use a bit in both the crust and the filling mixture.
- Granulated Sugar. Again, some goes in both the crust and the filling. One advantage of Meyer lemons: they are naturally sweeter than traditional lemons, so you can reduce the amount of refined sugar you add to the bars and still have an extremely delicious result.
- Eggs: Three whole large ones. No need to separate the eggs here!
- Vanilla Extract.
For a finishing touch, powdered sugar is highly encouraged!
What is special about Meyer lemons?
Frank N. Meyer, a United States Department of Agriculture explorer who traveled to Asia to collect new plant species, brought the Meyer lemon to the United States from China in the early 20th century. Meyer lemons are a sweet winter citrus that originated as a cross between standard lemons and mandarin oranges.
As a hybrid, Meyer lemons are sweeter and often more yellow-orange in color than Eureka or Lisbon lemons. They lack the bitter white pith that we avoid in regular lemons, and are absolutely lovely for cooking and baking.
When are Meyer lemons available?
In most of the United States, Meyer lemons are readily available in late winter through early spring. They typically ripen on trees between November and April.
Can I make this recipe with regular lemons?
Yes, but you’ll want to add extra sugar to the filling. Add 2-4 Tablespoons, to taste, for nearly 1 cup total in the custard filling. No other changes are needed.
Another alternative is to use a mixture of regular lemon juice and orange juice. This will give the bars a unique blended citrus taste and a light orange tint!
How To Make Thick, Creamy Meyer Lemon Bars
These bars are quick and easy enough to make with little helpers in the kitchen, or for a quick treat any day. You can use the same bowl for the crust and for the custard filling, which cuts down on the clean-up, too. Here’s the basic steps:
- Grab a small square baking pan. I prefer using an 8″x8″ glass pan for the most evenly-baked and thick bars. Be sure to line it with parchment paper or with foil, so you can easily lift out the bars when they are finished and cooled. It can be pretty messy to cut them directly in the pan.
- Make the crust by mixing melted butter, sugar, vanilla, salt, and flour in a medium bowl. The dough will be very thick. Press this mixture into a thick, mostly even layer in your lined pan, and bake for 16-18 minutes. The edges should be very lightly browned.
- Make the filling mixture while the crust bakes. Use the same bowl and whisk together the sugar and flour. You will need a large liquid measuring cup to measure out the lemon juice; simply add the eggs directly to the juice and whisk or stir very vigorously with a fork until well-combined. Pour this into the sugar-flour mixture and whisk until smooth.
- Pour filling over the warm crust, and return bars to the oven for about 20 minutes.
How to tell when lemon bars are done
The best way to tell when lemon bars are baked through is to very gently tap the edge of the pan. You’re looking for the center to be just set, without a jiggle.
How long to cool lemon bars
The hardest part of making lemon bars might be waiting for them to cool! For best results, bars should cool for 1 hour at room temperature, followed by another 2-3 hours in the refrigerator. This ensures they are thoroughly set and can be cut into clean, even squares.
How to dust powdered sugar
The simplest way to evenly dust powdered sugar over lemon bars or any other dessert is to use a small strainer. These are such great kitchen multi-taskers and affordable: you can set of 3 high-quality strainers for $12.
Meyer lemon bars keep well in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, but will absorb some of the powdered sugar, so hold off on dusting until ready to serve.
More Easy Fruit Desserts
Love bright, fresh treats using citrus and other fruits? Me too! Try my summer berry galette, our favorite key lime pie, strawberry rhubarb bars, or this blueberry nectarine crisp next.
Craving more lemon treats? These soft lemon sugar cookies always hit the spot, while lemon curd-filled lemon cupcakes are an elegant dessert!
If you try these Meyer Lemon Bars, don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. I love hearing how recipes turn out in your kitchen, and it helps other readers, too.
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Meyer Lemon Bars
- 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons, 1 stick unsalted) butter melted
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup plus 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice from about 6 lemons
- 3 large eggs
- powdered sugar to serve
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8”x8” baking pan, preferably glass, with parchment paper and set aside.
- To make the crust, add melted butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt to a medium bowl; stir to combine. Add flour and stir until thoroughly incorporated. The dough will be very thick. Use your fingertips to press the dough firmly and evenly across the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 16-18 minutes, just until the edges are very lightly browned.
- Meanwhile, prepare the filling. In the same bowl, whisk together the sugar and flour. In a large liquid measuring cup, whisk together the lemon juice and eggs, then pour them into the sugar-flour mixture. Whisk once again, vigorously, until everything is evenly combined.
- Pour filling over the warm crust. If there are any large air bubbles, pop them very gently with a toothpick. Return pan to the oven for about 20 minutes, just until the center is set and doesn’t jiggle when you tap the pan lightly. Remove from the oven and cool for about 1 hour at room temperature, then refrigerate for another 2-3 hours to set completely.
- When the bars are fully chilled, use the parchment edge to lift them out of the pan and set on a cutting board. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired, and cut into squares. Serve chilled.
- Bars keep well in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, but will absorb some of the powdered sugar, so hold off on dusting until ready to serve.
- Adapted from Sally’s Baking Recipes.