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Lemon bars with salt and olive oil

4 votes, average: 3.50 out of 54 votes, average: 3.50 out of 54 votes, average: 3.50 out of 54 votes, average: 3.50 out of 54 votes, average: 3.50 out of 5


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Who knew lemon bars would love a little salt and olive oil?

First let me say, I love lemon desserts. In fact, I love a good lemon dessert even more than chocolate. And that is saying a lot. Unfortunately there are a lot of not so great lemon desserts out there. A good lemon dessert has to have a clean fresh lemony flavor and not be overly sweet. So when my friend Sophia sent me this recipe with the comment "These lemon bars are soooooo good!" I had to give them a try. And I agree, these lemon bars are fabulous.


This recipe was created by Melissa Clark and published in New York Times. I'm a big fan of salted desserts, but I would not have imagined salting a lemon bar. Neither would I have thought of using olive oil in lemon bars. All I can say is the salt and olive oil work.

Meyer lemons

It goes without saying that Meyer lemons make the best lemon desserts. My friend Jenny happened to have just given me a big bag of Meyer lemons about the time Sophia sent me the recipe. It was my destiny to bake these bars!

Olive oil

You want to break out the good stuff for this recipe. Look for a first press, fruity, extra-virgin olive oil.

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A genius trick

Melissa's recipe calls for lining the pan with parchment, leaving paper handles to pull the lemon bars out of the pan in one big slab. This works beautifully. No more sacrificing the first couple bars as you struggle to dig them out of the pan. That also means no more having to eat those first couple of scrunched up bars, because they are too messed up to serve. So you win some and you lose some. Seriously, this is a great technique that you can use for brownies and any bar-type baked good.



Lemon bars with salt and olive oil

This fabulous and unusual lemon bar recipe by Melissa Clark of the New York Times is truly delicious. Who would have thought olive oil and sea salt would make a better lemon bar? Make them with Meyer lemons for the best lemon bars ever.

  • Author: Something New For Dinner
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 16 bars 1x
  • Category: 30 minutes or less preparation, Baked goodies, fruit, Kid friendly, Make ahead, Requires chilling time, Sweets
  • Cuisine: New American



To make the crust

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 T powdered sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 t fine sea salt
  • 10 T unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1 T pieces

To make the lemon curd

  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (preferably Meyer lemons)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 t cornstarch
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 4 T cold butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/4 cup good fruity extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 T powdered sugar
  • Maldon sea salt


To make the crust

  1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9″ x 9″ baking pan with a piece of parchment, leaving a good size paper handle on each side of the pan (See photo). These paper “handles” will be used to pull the bars out of the pan.
  2. Put the first five ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the chunks of cold butter and continue pulsing until the dough looks like crumbly cornmeal.
  3. Transfer the dough to the lined baking pan and use your fingers to compress the dough into the bottom of the pan to form a uniform layer. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the crust is golden brown.

Prepare the lemon curd while the shortbread is baking.

  1. In a small saucepan whisk together lemon juice, sugar, whole eggs, egg yolks, cornstarch and sea salt to combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Once the curd comes to a boil cook it one more minute. Do not overcook or the curd will thin out. Remove from the stove and strain into a bowl, pushing the curd through the strainer with a wooden spoon. Whisk in lemon zest, cold butter and olive oil.
  2. When the shortbread is done, pour the curd into the hot crust and put it back in the oven. Bake until the curd is set, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for two hours, or until ready to serve.
  3. When you are ready to serve, take the pan out of the oven and using the parchment handles gently lift the pastry out of the pan. Sift the remaining powdered sugar over the top and sprinkle with Maldon salt. Cut into bars and serve.


Lemon bars need to be refrigerated for at least an hour before serving. These lemon bars are very tender and should be kept in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Did you make this recipe?

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  1. Melanie downs says:

    Hi, this recipe is missing 1 1/2 cup sugar in the curd. I made these yesterday following this version and ended up adding powdered sugar to the curd because it tasted awful. Today I reviewed Melissa Clark’s recipe and found the missing sugar that should be whisked with the lemon juice and corn starch. You may want to make the correction here.

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Hi Melanie,
      My apologies. The recipe has been corrected and now includes the corrected the recipe. Thank you for letting us know.

  2. Kate says:

    In honor of my mother’s favorite desserts (being anything lemon), I decided to make lemon bars to take to a Thanksgiving dinner. I knew any recipe that SNFD listed had to be great and was I ever right on that. After a rich meal the lemon was a huge hit and I cannot say enough about the subtle result from the olive oil…..none of the overbearing sweetness associated with most lemon bars. They were a huge hit

  3. Betsy King says:

    Incredible!! So tangy and lemony – the best lemon bars I have ever made! I added a little bit of oats to the crust in place of some flour to give a different texture…also, forget lining the pan! The best part is the crumbs left behind!!!

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Hi Besty, I love the addition of oats to the crust. I do the same in my Lemon Meringue Pie and it is wonderful. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Kay says:

    Could you please recommend a “ good fruity extra-virgin olive oil?”

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      HI Kay,

      I have been using Stone House olive oil for over a decade and love it. I stock a variety of their oils in my pantry and buy an “every day” extra virgin olive oil for cooking and marinades as well as a higher-end oil for finishing, bread dipping and some salad dressings. Additionally, I love their flavored oils, particularly their hot chili, blood orange, Lisbon lemon and Persian lime oils. For every day I buy either their House Blend or their Olio Santos, which has been the Barefoot Contessa’s pantry olive oil for decades. I buy this in 3-liter bags and then decant into a wine bottle with a pour spout. For my fancier extra virgin oils I use for finishing I buy different oils depending on what is fresh. They do sell out so I experiment with what is available. Olive oil flavors are very personal. Some people like strong, others like mild, some like grassy, some enjoy a little bitterness. You might purchase their sampler so you can taste a few and then decide which are your personal favorites. Note that I do not have a financial arrangement with Stone House olive oil. They are my go-to olive oil recommendation because I love their products and they offer enough variety for everyone to find something they love.

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