Whole Lemon Bars


I never thought this day would come- it’s finally March! Every winter season I tell myself that all I have to do is get through January and February and then it’s smooth sailing through Spring! Even though March may very well be just as cold and dreary as the earlier months of the year, my birthday a week in and the slightly warmer weather seems to make all the difference. (And lucky for me, I’ll be in Europe for 2 weeks of the month so it’s pretty much the best month EVER.)

It seems to me that the first day of March warrants something bright and sunny don’t you think? Nothing screams sunshine to me quite like a bright and tart lemon bar. This recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is especially wonderful because you can make the entire thing in a food processor. Given my dishwasher-free existence- I am an instant fan of recipes that are dish efficient- and this one is just that.


Awhile ago, the lovely folks at KitchenAid sent me a 13 cup Food Processor to review and I’ve been waiting for a chance to really put it to the test. I figured it’s high-powered blade could would be perfect for puréeing an entire lemon right? One of the cool features of this particular appliance is that in addition to the normal bowl there is another small bowl/blade that nests into the top. I made the crust in the top one and then tossed that into the sink and made the filling in the main bowl. (Nothing is more annoying to me than having to wash dishes mid-recipe. )

I really love this machine and found it easy to use and super smooth while running. Another feature I’m excited to try is an adjustable  slicing. Though I have a mandolin, (a wedding gift I have yet to use,) it seems like an easy way to slice thin apples or other fruits/veggies!

PicMonkey Collage


I wasn’t so sure how these bars would taste with the whole lemon in there, (skin, pith and everything,) but I was so pleased with the taste! They were perfectly tart and also sweet, with a creamy texture and a thick shortbread crust. They came together in no time and I’m sure this is a classic recipe I’ll be making again and again!


Disclaimer: KitchenAid sent me a food processor to review, but the opinions written are entirely my own!

Whole Lemon Bars

Yield: 9 -16 bars
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes


For the crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 cup 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon, unsalted butter, cut into chunks, plus extra for greasing pan

For the filling

  • 1 small-to-medium-sized lemon, about 4½ ounces, or about 3 inches long
  • 1-1 1/2 cups sugar*
  • 1/2 cup 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt


  1. Place a rack in middle of the oven and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut two 12- inch lengths of parchment paper, and trim each to fit the bottom of an 8- inch square baking pan. Press the first sheet into the bottom and up the sides of your pan in one direction, then use the second sheet to line the rest of the pan, running it perpendicular to the first sheet. Lightly butter or spray the exposed parts of parchment. Set the pan aside.
  2. Make the crust. Blend the flour, sugar, and salt together in the work bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is powdery, but if firmly pinched, will hold together. Turn the dough crumbs into the prepared baking pan and press the dough evenly across the bottom and about ½ inch up the sides. Prick the dough all over with a fork and bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Should any parts bubble up, gently prick them again with a fork. Leave the oven on.

For the Filling:

  1. Cut your lemon into thin rings and discard any seeds. Toss the lemon rounds in the bowl of your food processor, add the sugar, and run the machine until the lemon is thoroughly puréed, about 2 minutes. Add the butter and again run the machine until the mixture is smooth, scraping down the sides of the work bowl as needed. Add the eggs, cornstarch, and salt and pulse the machine in short bursts until the mixture is evenly combined.
  2. Pour the lemon mixture over the crust and bake it for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the filling is set, slightly jiggly and a bit golden on top.
  3. Let the pan cool completely on rack or in the fridge. Gently cut around the outside of the parchment paper to make sure no sides have stuck, then gently use the parchment lift the bars onto a cutting board and cut into squares.


*I only used one cup of sugar- but the original recipe used 1 1/2 cups. If you like your bars nice and sweet- use the full amount. Before using your lemon, you have to do a test to make sure the white part of the skin isn't too thick. (If so the bars may be too bitter. ) Cut your lemon in half- is the white part of the skin especially thick? If the widest part of the white is ¼ inch thick or less, your lemon is good to go. If any part of it is thicker than ¼ inch, however, remove the skin from half the lemon- a little less skin will help to even out the flavor! Recipe slightly adapted from: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 9 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Unsaturated Fat: 0g

Did you make this recipe?

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  1. I’m totally with you on this…keep counting down the days until spring…and now it feels like we are SO CLOSE. happy almost birthday love! can’t wait to hear what you make/do to celebrate. :) And these lemon bars – swoon. I’m all for citrusy desserts!

  2. I just got a food processor myself and I’m pumped to try these! I’ve messed up lemon bars THREE times already (overbaked them each time, so embarrassing) so I need to redeem myself.

    P.S- Your pics are totally gorgeous! So bright and sunny!

  3. I am definitely trying this recipe. I LOVE lemon bars and even though I have a dishwasher, I am whole-heartedly against running it if it’s only half full. Using the food processor will definitely reduce the number of supplies cluttering up the counter.

  4. I was just looking at a lemon brownie recipe to make this weekend but now am leaning towards this one. I love lemony desserts now just need some Sun to go with them.

  5. I LOVE lemon bars!! Those are gorgeous! That is such a good idea to have separate compartments for a food processor-there is nothing more annoying than having to wash mid-recipe!!

    Happy early birthday and I’m so jealous of your Europe trip!!

  6. These look soooo good and love the idea of everything in the food processor. Just bought a bag of lemons and now I know what to use some of them for.

  7. Oh wow, I love the idea of having two bowls within the food processor! Such a neat idea! I love mine but when it comes time to replace it I’m looking for that feature :) Anyway, these lemon bars look lovely – so perfect to brighten up these lingering gray winter days.

  8. I had this recipe marked to try in my copy of the Smitten Kitchen cookbook, so I think your post is a sign that I should make it today! I have a kitchen aid food processor and it’s the best (I had 2 different brands previously). It’s so powerful – I made peanut butter in it last week.

  9. I have seen a few recipes now that use the whole fruit. It sounds so interesting. If only I had a food processor that could handle this kind of stuff, that and room enough in the kitchen to keep it :P

    These bars looks beautiful!

  10. I’m sorry, stupid here: just the pulp of the lemons or the peel also?

  11. I’m pretty pleased to find this page. I need to to thank you for your time for this wonderful read!! I definitely loved every little bit of it and i also have you bookmarked to see new stuff in your web site.

  12. Superb post however I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this subject?
    I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit more. Kudos!

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    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Fantastic job.
    I really enjoyed what yoou had tto say, and more than that,
    how you presented it. Too cool!

  14. Made this recipe tonight. I was fabulous! Real crowd pleaser, and no waste! I used abit less butter and an egg yolk, turned out delicious! Thankyou!

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