Desserts

Lemon Lavender Bars

Citrusy, sweet, with a hint of floral. These lemon lavender bars make the perfect spring and summertime dessert. A creamy filling made with fresh lemons, aromatic lavender bitters, and a nutty shortbread buttery crust that s sure to please a crowd.

I’ve only made one lemon bar recipe and loved one recipe my whole life- This one! It was the first dessert I made when I was a little girl with my mom. We had acres of citrus trees, and when that first smell of the blossoms wafted through the windows, you knew lemon bars (and all things lemon) were getting close

Through the years of making these tangy treats, I have never messed with perfection until this year. A little twist with lavender bitters infused into the filling and the crust created a subtle floral flavor. But you could simply omit the lavender and stick to the classic lemon.

These lemon lavender bars have the perfect crust-to-filling ratio, which to me, is key! A sturdy buttery crust and a lot of custardy lemon filling. One bite, and you’ll be humming and doing a little happy food dance- yep, that’s a thing!

Bowl of lemons and fresh lavender

Ingredients, Notes, And Substitutions

Lemons ~ fresh lemons! None of that sore-bought juice concentrate!

Lavender ~ Instead of making lavender sugar, I used lavender bitters, like an extract. It is also great for drinks and cocktails too. When shopping for dried lavender, look for culinary lavender, which is usually found in most farmers’ markets or at cost-plus work markets. OR there is always Amazon!

Eggs ~ large.

Sugar ~ balances out the lemon juice and the lemon zest.

Butter ~ for the crust

Flour ~ used in the filling and for the crust

Cream cheese ~ full-fat cream cheese works best and makes the filling extra creamy.

Powdered sugar ~ A little for the crust and a little for the top

Walnuts ~ you can substitute any nut you like or leave out.

Ingredients for lemon lavender bars

Tips And Suggestions For Perfect Lemon Lavender Bars

  • Chilling the bars is super important! The longer, the better. I always make them the day before or the morning of.
  • If you LOVE your lemon desserts more tart than sweet, add more lemon zest. I don’t recommend more juice as it will alter the liquid ratio and may result in a more runny filling. Also – when juicing the lemons, I only fish out the seeds and leave the pulp for extra zing!
  • Zest the lemons before juicing…believe me; you’ll thank me later. And when zesting, I highly recommend a Microplane; it makes the zest the perfect size, so there is no need to chop it further, not to mention it’s an amazing kitchen tool for other purposes!
  • For a thicker crust, you can use a smaller size pan. I have used a 9×11. You’ll need to increase the second baking time with the filling by about 7 – 10 minutes. Ovens vary, so be sure to start checking at 30 minutes.
  • Use this lemon filling in a tart and top with berries!
Lemon lavender bar on a plate

How Do I Make Lemon Lavender Bars

Below is the full recipe card with ingredients and instructions, but here is a quick run-through!

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and spray a 9×13 baking pan with non-stick spray. Alternatively, you can line the baking pan with foil and spry for easier cleaning.
  2. Start by making the crust. Cream the butter until smooth, then add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Continue beating until well mixed. Gradually add the 1 and 1/2 cups of flour. ( 1/4 cup is for the filling) Mix until just combined and stir in the nuts. Press the dough firmly and evenly into the 9×13 pan.
  3. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes; you are only par-baking and will bake again with the filling. Remove from the oven, and set aside.
  4. Now make the filling. Using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar in a medium size mixing bowl until well blended. Add the 1/4 flour and eggs. Continue beating until smooth, and there are no lumps of flour.
  5. Lastly, stir the lemon juice, lavender bitters, and lemon peel. Pour the batter over the crust and bake for 30 minutes until set. The top should not jiggle when slightly shaken. Remove from oven and cool completely in the pan—place in refrigerator to chill and firm up before cutting into squares. Sprinkle powdered sugar and dried culinary lavender.
Filling being poured onto the crust

Freezing And Storing Lemon Lavender Bars

YES! You can freeze these lemon treats…I only recently discovered this fantastic trick after I shared a batch with a neighbor. I tried it, and WOW! They taste just as delicious and defrost beautifully. My favorite, though, was eating them frozen. Think of a creamy ice cream popsicle! Ohh, yessss, you must try. Here’s what you do…

The fastest and easiest way is to freeze it whole. First, make the lemon lavender bars as instructed, and cool them completely. (I like to store it in the fridge for a few hours before freezing). Once completely cooled, remove the bars from the pan (if the pan was lined with foil); otherwise, wrap the whole pan in plastic wrap and then foil.

You can cut them into squares, wrap each bar, and then place them in a freezer-safe container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Serve frozen, or allow to defrost at room temperature or in the fridge.

Lemon lavender bars can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5- 7 days.

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Lemon Lavender Bars


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  • Author: Teri Wallingford

Description

Citrusy, sweet, with a hint of floral. These lemon lavender bars make the perfect spring and summertime dessert. A creamy filling made with fresh lemons, aromatic lavender bitters, and a nutty shortbread buttery crust that’s sure to please a crowd. 


Ingredients

Units Scale

For the crust

  • 1 3/4 cups flour, divided. You will use 1/4 cup for the filling.
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter softened.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon lavender bitters (optional)
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, or any nut preference

For the filling

  • 3 eggs
  • 8 ounces (1 package) softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of lavender bitters
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • powdered sugar for dusting


Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and spray a 9×13 baking pan with non-stick spray. Alternatively, you can line the baking pan with foil and spry for easier cleaning.
  2. Start by making the crust. Cream the butter until smooth, then add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Continue beating until well mixed. Gradually add the 1 and 1/2 cups of flour. ( 1/4 cup is for the filling) Mix until just combined and stir in the nuts. Press the dough firmly and evenly into the 9×13 pan.
  3. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes; you are only par-baking and will bake again with the filling. Remove from the oven, and set aside.
  4. Now make the filling. Using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar in a medium size mixing bowl until well blended. Add the 1/4 flour and eggs. Continue beating until smooth, and there are no lumps of flour.
  5. Lastly, stir the lemon juice, lavender bitters, and lemon peel. Pour the batter over the crust and bake for 30 minutes until set. The top should not jiggle when slightly shaken. Remove from oven and cool completely in the pan—place in refrigerator to chill and firm up before cutting into squares. Sprinkle powdered sugar and dried lavender.

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