Pucker Up! These sweet and tangy Honey Lemon Bars made with fresh lemon, lemon zest and honey and a whole wheat shortbread crust are a little lighter than traditional lemon bars, but are so tasty and hard to resist.
Honey Lemon Bars
I love a good sweet and tangy lemon treat. Some of my other favorite lemon treats are Lemon Cheesecake Yogurt Cups, Pink Lemonade Confetti Cupcakes and Lemon Cranberry Scones.
These lightened bars use far less butter and sugar than traditional lemon bars. Honey is a natural way to sweeten these lemon treats but it also darkens the color of the bars compared to traditional version. But no worries, they taste so good you really won’t care. The only problem with these bars is that I find myself making excuses to eat another, so I suggest making these only if you have some friends to share them with!
I first posted these in 2012, and noticed some people had issues with the lemon topping running under the shortbread. So I tested them again a few times and perfected them.
Tips for Perfect Lemon Bars
- Use a glass or ceramic baking dish. I find using a glass or ceramic baking dish is best to avoid a metallic taste.
- Make a sling for easy removal. To easily remove the bars from the baking dish once ready, make a sling with parchment paper. Line the pan with the 2 long sheets of parchment paper placed perpendicular to each other in the pan. They should be long enough to hang over the sides to use as handles to lift out the baked lemon bars before cutting.
- When making the crust, make the sides higher to prevent spillage. Add the flour mixture to the baking dish pressing into an even layer and up the sides of the dish about 1/4-inch so the filling doesn’t spill out.
- Let the crust cool once baked before mixing the ingredients for the topping.
- Don’t add the powdered sugar until ready to serve.
- Use a clean hot knife for cutting. Clean in between cuts.
How To Make Lemon Bars
Honey Lemon Bars
For the crust:
- 6 tablespoons white whole wheat flour
- 6 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar, not packed
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits and chilled
- 1 tablespoons 0% Greek yogurt
For the filling:
- 1/3 cup honey
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons white whole wheat flour
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, for dusting on top
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Prepare an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish pan by lightly spraying the inside with baking spray.
- Make a sling: Cut 2 sheets of parchment paper 15 x 15 inches each. Fold them in half so they are 7 1/2 x 15 inches, which will make them sturdier.
- Line the pan with the 2 long sheets of parchment paper placed perpendicular to each other in the pan. This is so you can get the bars out after they are cooked, so don't skip this step. They should be long enough to hang over the sides to use as handles to lift out the baked lemon bars before cutting.
- Spray the inside of the parchment with baking spray.
- For the crust: In a food processor combine the flours, brown sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, baking powder and salt and process until well combined.
- Add the butter and yogurt to the flour mixture at once and pulse at least a dozen times before turning out into the prepared pan and pressing into an even layer and up the sides of the dish about 1/4-inch so the filling doesn't spill out.
- Bake until evenly browned about 30 minutes. Shut the oven off and cool the crust on a metal rack for at least 20 minutes.
- Once cooled, heat the oven to 325°F.
- Prepare the filling in a medium bowl by whisking together the eggs, honey and lemon zest. Add the flour 1 tablespoon at a time, and the salt and mix well. (this is best to prepare just before baking)
- Stir in the lemon juice and pour over the cooled crust.
- Bake until filling is set, about 22 to 25 minutes.
- Cool completely before lifting the bars out of the pan with the parchment. For best results, refrigerate overnight for a firmer topping.
- Cut into 12 squares using a clean hot knife, clean in between slices.
- Dust with confectioners sugar just before serving.
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Can be made a day ahead.
Photo credit: Jess Larson
114 comments on “Honey Lemon Bars with Whole Wheat Shortbread Crust”
The honey seemed too rich for this and the crust was too thick. Wouldn’t make it again but my family still ate them all. Ha. So 2 stars it is.
Is there a way not to make it lemon flavor, if so, how? Thanks.
Can this recipe be frozen? I’d like it for this weekends Thanksgiving (Canada) but need to make it ahead of time.
I made a lot of recipes from skinny taste and they have all been great but this was a total fail.
The crust, can’t decide if it should be a bar, a cake or a crust. It ended up with an odd texture.
The filling was too sweet and not enough lemon. I won’t make it again.
I substituted the flours in the crust with 6 tablespoons oat flour and 6 tablespoons almond flour. I also used arrowroot flour instead of cornstarch. Worked out well. I would have subbed out the flour with arrowroot flour but my assistant (kid) was too fast on the draw. Next time! End result was great!
I used Bob’s Red Mill Paleo flour for this because…why not? I don’t know if this is a thicker flour but my crust to filling ratio was like 90% crust. Everything baked and tasted good but if I make these again with that flour (or any flour) I may not use all the crust or double the amount of filling.
Thank you for the recipe. These were delicious and I ate three at a time. I put toasted coconut on top. My hubby loves them too.
Hi there! These were great! If I wanted to make the filling sweeter though what would you recommend? Thank you!
These were great! If I wanted to make the filling a bit sweeter what would you recommend? Thank you for all your great recipes!
Skinny taste is the first website I go to when I’m looking for a good recipe. I have not been disappointed with all the various recipes I’ve tried, and have served to company and family. They Have all raves about the skinnytaste meals. This one, however, was disappointing. The base over powered the filling and the filling was very thin and dry. It lacked the tartness and the sweetness I desired. Since all the other reviews are five stars, perhaps it was something I did. But I just found everything to be quite lackluster in terms of flavor. Sorry Gina, as I truly love your recipes and tell anyone who listens about your website.
These were pretty tart, but in the best way possible. I made them for my parents, and they kept suggesting I make them for any event where I had to bring a dessert.
I looked up kcal online. It says it stands for kilocalories. It also says that 1 kcal = 1000 calories. Does a serving of this recipe =135 calories? If so, it doesn’t get my vote.
I really was asking: Does a serving of this recipes = 135,000 calories?
No, 135 calories per bar. Sorry for any confusion!
Very tasty easy to make snack. My whole family loves it.
Really tasty. But after I took it out of the oven and it cooled, it cracked. Not sure what I did wrong
Do these freeze well?
Yes they do freeze well
Hi I’d like to make these bars but all I have is oat flour, coconut flour, and AP. Would coconut or oat flour be a good replacement for the whole wheat? I’m thinking oat flour would probably be better than coconut but if you have any input that would be helpful!
Not sure if it will work.
I would google the difference in various flours and substituting them. Sometimes the variances are very little and perfectly ok to use/substitute with little adjustments needed. I ran into a problem a while back with whole wheat flour. Now that I know how to use the regular (Not white) kind I’m ok but I initially didn’t and had no idea why my banana bread I used it in wasn’t baking in the middle. You can find the answer you need.
I didn’t think I liked lemon bars (didn’t like them growing up) but just made these because they sounded good and HOLY cow, I’m in love! I have no idea if this is what all lemon bars taste like…but I don’t plan to find out. This recipe is a keeper!
Also I didn’t have regular all-purpose flour, so just used all white whole wheat flour and they still turned out great! Needing to find friends to share with ASAP so I don’t eat the whole pan (what’s left of it).
Thanks Natalie! Glad you enjoyed them!
I used coconut oil instead of butter and it worked great!
I made these yesterday and they turned out great! I followed the recipe exactly and had no issues. My only recommendation for those making in advance is to wait to dust the powdered sugar until just before serving so that it doesn’t get absorbed. 🙂
That’s common sense about the powdered sugar.
Hi Gina, I love this recipe! Just tried it out today in a Le Creuset baking dish and while the flavor was great, the consistency towards the middle of the dish was not quite set and slightly mushy. The edges were perfect though. Do you think this is because I used ceramic bake ware vs a cake pan? Also, there was some slight bitterness to the bars. I’m thinking maybe I used too much lemon zest. Either way, I’ll definitely be tweaking this for future use!