Honey Lemon Bars with Whole Wheat Shortbread Crust

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.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.

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.
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4.14 from 15 votes
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Honey Lemon Bars

6
6
6
SP
135 Cals 3 Protein 21 Carbs 5 Fats
Prep Time: 25 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 10 mins
Yield: 12 bars
COURSE: Breakfast, Brunch, Dessert
CUISINE: American
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.

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  • 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.

Video

Notes

Makes 12 bars.
Can be made a day ahead.

Nutrition

Serving: 1bar, Calories: 135kcal, Carbohydrates: 21g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 57mg, Sodium: 76mg, Fiber: 0.5g, Sugar: 12g
Blue Smart Points: 6
Green Smart Points: 6
Purple Smart Points: 6
Points +: 4
Keywords: best lemon squares recipe, healthy lemon squares, homemade lemon bars, Honey Lemon Bars, lemon squares recipe

Photo credit: Jess Larson

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111 comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Hi there! These were great! If I wanted to make the filling sweeter though what would you recommend? Thank you! 

  6. These were great! If I wanted to make the filling a bit sweeter what would you recommend? Thank you for all your great recipes!

  7. 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. 

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. Very tasty easy to make snack. My whole family loves it. 

  11. Delicious! 

  12. Really tasty. But after I took it out of the oven and it cooled, it cracked. Not sure what I did wrong

  13. Do these freeze well?

  14. 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. 

  15. 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).

  16. I used coconut oil instead of butter and it worked great!

  17. 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. 🙂

  18. 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! 

  19. I know i am a little late in the game here but I just made these and already ate 3! oops. Well I have been looking for a delicious lean bar recipe with tang, sweetness and a bit of salt and these nailed it. Mine came out with a great crisp crust and custard like filling. I hope they are just as good tomorrow! I added a twist to my honey by letting it simmer with culinary lavender while the crust baked for a hint of lavender! thanks 6by6klingercooking

  20. How do you think this would turn out using gluten free flour in place of the two flours? I love lemon bars but for health reasons have to stay GF.

  21. Can these be frozen?

  22. These were GREAT!Myfamily loved them 🙂 Thanks for the recipe! A perfect after dinner snack 🙂 I am coming back to this site daily from now on!

  23. What is the filling texture supposed to be like? Mine is runny. Hoping it turns out! Smells yummy. -)

  24. I'm not much of a baker, and I'm still trying to get these right, but the flavor is there. They're so delicious! I laughed when I read your comment about how you can't stop eating them, and even told myself I wouldn't do that. Totally had 3 in a row :-/

  25. Thank you Gina for great recipes and ideas! Everything we have tried has been wonderful! I am making theses for my husband this morning. He absolutely loves lemon! Keep up the great work!

  26. Hi Gina,
    I do not own a food processor or a kitchenaide mixer. I have a 6 speed hand blender. Can I use that or will that mess up the consistency? Thanks!

    P.s. love your site. have shared it will all my friends and they love it too 🙂 thanks so much for all the wonderful recipes and the work you put into your site.

  27. Thanks for this, I am in the mood for baking but don't need the temptation of full fat baked goods in the house.

  28. Definitely will have to give these a try. The honey and the lemon sound amazing!

    Thank you for sharing!

  29. I have always used foil for brownies, sweet breads, anything baked to make it easy to get them out of the pan. In addition it makes clean up easy.
    I am new to your site and love it. Thanks for sharing

    • I've never had a problem with aluminum foil getting "into my food." You just have to make sure it is smooth before putting the crust on it.

  30. Wow! These look terrific! My family loves lemon bars and usually I have made the Paula Deen recipe, but I think that these would be much healthier. I am planning to try them soon. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

    ~Susan

  31. These are great, super simple and delicious!!
    The parchment in the pan trick is genius! Is it possible to use the same trick for brownies? I always have a hard time getting them out of the pan!

    Thank you!!

    -Ally

  32. Lemon bars are my absolute favorite desert!!!! Thank you Gina for making me so happy while still allowing me to indulge. I cannot wait to try these!

    *I've lost 30 pounds so far using your recipes, so thank you!

  33. Just made these yesterday…all I have to say is YUM 🙂
    Thanks for sharing it with us.

  34. could i substitute the crust for graham crackers? how would this affect points? Seems like smashed graham crackers mixed with melted reduced fat butter could be a good substitute.

    • Has anyone made with regular whole wheat? that’s what I have and hate to buy another type whole wheat when I don’t use that often.

  35. for the food processor, do you use a dough blade? or would the regular blade work also?

  36. These are fantasticly yummy.. I LOVE lemon desserts and made them for a 4th of July party yesterday. I cut them into 16 pieces since they weren't the only dessert- not sure what the PP value is for that yet but OMG so good! Thanks for this :o)

  37. I took them to our 4th of July picnic today, but made them with limes instead of lemons since that was all I had in the house and they were AMAZING! Can't wait to try them the original way, with lemons, soon! Thanks for continuing to deliver amazing recipes! My husband and I have tried SO many and are never disappointed!

  38. Gina these were seriously AHH-MAZINGG!! My dad is a huge fan of lemon bars and always would buy them from the box >.< These are soo much healthier and REAL no artifical ingredients! Makes me feel great that there all natural PURE YUMMYNESS! These will diffently become a regular for deserts! I just want you to know that I truly appriciate all your hard work on this blog its the best out there and really has helped me become a great cook at my young age (16) Thank youuuu! 😀

  39. I'm not too big on the honey, do you think agave would also work?

  40. I made these today and they turned out great. I had to use all wheat flour because I did not have white flour in the house. I also used a pastry blender because I do not own a food processor. I was hoping it would turn out great because I didnt want to waste the honey. They are perfect – tart with a little sweet. Thank You !

  41. Wow! I just got done making these because I was craving lemons. The crust is sooo good! The filling hit the spot for my husband and I. Thanks so much for doing what you do!

  42. Made these last night and they were delicious! Need to add a little more zest next time, had no idea how little zest comes from one lemon haha!

  43. i am in the process of making these right now. Didn't have any yogurt on hand so i subbed sour cream. It smells SOOOO good right now, and I havent even made the lemon part yet! haha…

    I just got a job at a bakery and we make lemon bars, so I have a good comparison for this skinny version! Somehow I don't think this is going to turn out bad hahaha!

  44. Hi Gina! Thank you so much for this recipe! I love anything tart and citrusy and these look delish! Have you tried making a lightened up key lime pie? That is probably my ultimate weakness (my fave recipe has a coconut crust and is incredible) but I would love to be able to have it without the guilt. Thanks for your awesome blog-I checked it everyday and your posts are very often lifesavers!

  45. Questions here.. Is the use of kosher salt important or can you use table salt? Also is the only difference the size because the kosher salt I have is large and I'm worried that will affect the taste e.g. have pockets of salty taste. Thanks!

  46. Oh boy, I messed that up! First time I made it I used powdered and all whole wheat but I didn't care for it. So the second time I used brown sugar and half whole wheat which I liked much better.

    Either yogurt is fine, it's only a tablespoon. Sorry for the confusion.

  47. Did you use powdered sugar or brown sugar in the crust? The recipe says to use 1/3 cup of brown sugar, but the directions states powdered sugar. Thanks!

  48. Hi Gina! I am gluten free…would I be able to make these using 12 T gluten free all purpose flour instead of 6 T white whole wheat flour and 6 T all purpose flour? Thanks so much!!

  49. Gina…you know I'm like karina and love my chocolate…however, I love lemony desserts so much too. If you have any left I WANT ONE!!! Lol

  50. Yum! These sound delicious! I love that the filling is sweetened with honey!

  51. This recipe looks great, but I think there might be a typo in the ingredients/directions. The crust is listed as having 1/3 cup of brown sugar, but in the directions it states powdered sugar. I was just about to make these and wanted to check first.

  52. Can't wait til tomorrow–these are on the agenda even though it will be 95! Gina, everyone at my Weight Watchers meeting knows about you now if they didn't before. Thank you for your diligence! LOVE THE SITE!

  53. This..as so many other of your recipes, looks delicious! And your photography is great. Really helps to draw me to the recipe and including photos of the process is very special. Thank yo.

  54. Arrgh! I've been craving lemon bars lately, and finally broke down and bought some yesterday morning. (I figured a pack of 3 was better than downing a whole pan.) If only I could have waited another day!

  55. I think I'll try these also! They look devine!!! I want to try to cut the fat a bit though, maybe I could use something other than the butter? Butter is just so fattening. 🙁 Any suggestions? I usually use spray butter or Smart Balance when I cook, I wonder if that would work?

    • Just because the nutritional info for one spray is next to nothing…that does not apply when you use a lot of it. It's still fattening, and by the way, that would be disgusting. That's not real butter but processed chemicals. Research it. If you plan to have one, just cut your fat with your other meals.

    • You dont have to be so hateful. Perhaps the poster is new to healthy cooking and she asked a legitimate question. Niky, you might be able to use smart balance spread but not the spray. I'm not familiar with baking with it but I know others do. I'm sure you can google it to find out. Maybe sub half the butter with light butter. Or just make these when you have company coming over so they do not cause too much temptation. Thats my plan!

    • Just because I didn't pepper my statement with pleasantries and smily faces, does not mean I was being hateful. I am just direct when I type. Everything I said was true, plus it WOULD be disgusting…try making it like that and see how it turns out. And yet, I'm being hateful? Move on, please.

    • The butter is cut back tremendously, I wouldn't use any less. Perhaps Smart Balance would be an option but I don't think the light one would work here.

  56. hello – what is white whole wheat flour?

  57. These look absolutely delicious, but I was wondering if they could be made with a sugar substitute (i.e. Truvia) for those of us who are diabetic?

    • I haven't had the best luck swapping out brown sugar for Truvia, but you could try it and it'll turn out pretty decent. I'd recommend adding one or two extra packets and then a couple tsp of molasses.

  58. If you make them a day ahead (as the recipe says you can) do you need to store them in the refrigerator? Thanks!

  59. Yum!! I have yet to make lemon bars and these look delicious!!!

  60. Those look and sound delicious! I love lemony dessert – especially in the summer!

  61. Yum, I want to try and make this gluten free – thanks.

  62. I love it when a recipe is made up of simple ingredients I would have on hand. Thanks for the recipe!

  63. I had to make these right away! I had to substitute fat free sour cream for the greek yogurt, but it made no difference. They were FABULOUS! Another hit created by Gina!

  64. Wow, these look good, but that's a lot of points to use for 1 little bar 🙁

  65. You've answered my prayers!!!! The ones I make for hubby are waaayy to fattening 🙂

    THANK YOU!!!!!

  66. yummy! great pictures, thanks for the recipe! : )

  67. I'd never think to pair lemon and honey! Great recipe!!

  68. Seeing this post just makes me happy. Now, who can I foist these on to avoid eating the whole batch by myself…?

  69. Would love to make these with grapefruit!

  70. Ohh mama, these look awesome. I haven't had lemon bars in a while but these look so good — plus skinny! Right up my alley.

  71. I'm going to try these with lime – yum!

  72. These look great! Any recommendations for swapping out the yogurt for something else? Signed, lactose-intolerant sad lady. 🙁

  73. Can't can't wait to make them.THANKS!!

  74. YUM! I will definitely be giving these a try maybe with a multiple citrus combination. Lovely!

  75. Oh, perfect timing — I was just wishing for a skinny lemon bar recipe a few days ago!! Can't wait to try these out!

  76. These need to make an appearance at my house, soon!!

  77. Yum! These look delightful! I love anything lemon:) Also, saw your site (one of my favs!!) in my Fitness magazine this month! Congrats! I have turned on quite a few of my friends to your recipes! They are always fabulous!!! Keep it up!

  78. Love these! And since they're skinny I can eat twice as much now, right? 🙂