5 Ingredients or Fewer

Lemon Bars With a Salty Olive Oil Crust

April 22, 2021
35 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Serves One 8- by 8-inch pan (16 bars)
Author Notes

An almost-classic lemon bar. The sweet, tart lemon curd is thicker than usual and the shortbread crust has a little secret: There’s no butter. Instead, we use fruity, savory olive oil, plus a generous amount of salt. —Emma Laperruque

Test Kitchen Notes

This is one of our Big Little Recipes. Read more here: 5-Ingredient Lemon Bars Are a Classic With a Lil' Twist. —The Editors

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Lemon Bars With a Salty Olive Oil Crust
  • Crust
  • 2 1/2 cups (320 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup (161 grams) olive oil
  • Lemon curd
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups (350 grams) sugar
  • 7 tablespoons (56 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (240 grams) fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 lemons, zested (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. Heat the oven to 325° F. Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment. The easiest way to do this is to cut a roughly 11- by 11-inch square. Now cut slits inward from each corner—this will help the paper fold into place. Place the parchment inside and smooth out with your hands.
  2. Make the crust. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Mix with a spoon to combine. Add the olive oil and mix again until a lumpy dough forms. There should be no dry spots, but it won’t come together into a single mass—don’t overmix!
  3. Dump the olive oil dough into the lined pan and use your hands to pat it flat. Use a fork to prick the dough—figure 15 or so times, evenly distributed.
  4. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, rotating halfway through, until puffed and golden-brown.
  5. Meanwhile, mix the lemon curd. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth.
  6. When the shortbread timer goes off, re-whisk the lemon mixture if it’s been sitting around awhile. Use oven mitts to gingerly pull out the oven rack. Carefully pour the lemon mixture onto the hot crust. Even more carefully, push the rack back and close the oven. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the edges of the lemon bar are slightly puffed and the center barely jiggles.
  7. Cool at room temperature until just warm to the touch—at least 30 minutes—then chill in the refrigerator completely. Use the parchment to remove from the pan, then cut into 16 squares.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Michelle Tam
    Michelle Tam
  • Antoinette Di Ciaccio
    Antoinette Di Ciaccio
  • MattieK
  • Jean Marchione
    Jean Marchione
  • helicopterina
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

51 Reviews

Rut October 19, 2023
Hands down the best lemon bar recipe I have ever followed, made, devoured. No chance any other recipe I’ll be used. Ever! I made exactly as written. But I know have one question - can arugato olive oil be used or would that
Rut October 19, 2023
The one question after multiple tech fails - can Agrumato olive oil be used or would that destroy the savory olive oil flavor? (That is to say, no chance any other recipe will be used)
Julie E. August 10, 2023
Hello! Any suggestions on how to make this recipe with less sugar?
Sarit February 19, 2023
By far the best lemon bars I have ever made. This recipe is fuss free and came out perfectly. Not too sweet, and hits the lemony tarte craving perfectly.
Highly highly recommend <3
laineyb92 July 2, 2022
I love this recipe! the first time I made it I cooked the crust for 55 min which was way too long and it burned, I did 45 min this time and next time im going to do 40 min for a bit of a softer crust.
L February 17, 2022
I make lemon bars for my birthday every year & this is my new favorite recipe! The crust is incredible - tender, crisp, a little savory & so delicious with the lemon curd. For my own personal taste, next time I’ll probably either halve the crust or double the filling because I like things extra lemon-y. This time I made the recipe as is but baked it in a 9x13 and turned out amazing! Not thin at all, which I was afraid of in the bigger pan.
Dana February 27, 2022
I’ve never seen a curd recipe call for whole eggs only yolks. How do you find the taste and texture compared to normal yolk curd?
osborns August 24, 2020
I made this recipe yesterday, and it was delicious! Mine looked more the the picture at the top of the article (where they have a slight skin on top) than they do at the video. Is there a reason for this, or just
lighting? Mine also cracked when cooling, but I think that’s because I removed them from the pan too soon because I needed the pan immediately. I substituted Bob’s Red Mill 1-1 Gluten Free Baking Flour in the shortbread and filling and it turned out perfectly.
swanbianca February 17, 2021
I used King Arthur GF flour blend for the crust. I also added 1/4c of water, because I know gf flour blend tend to need more moisture than regular AP flour. My crust came out pretty tough.
Michelle T. May 5, 2020
Hi Emma! Made these and love them! Thanks for the recipe. Just a question: I zested 3.5 lemons but otherwise followed the recipe to the letter. A taster said it was good, but felt there was a bit of a ... soapy? taste and we can’t figure out if it’s the extra zest, or the EVOO, or the fact that we use citrus detergents a lot and are thereby confused lol, etc. Do you have any insights? Thanks again!
Emma L. May 6, 2020
Hi Michelle, so glad you enjoyed the recipe! Sorry to say I'm not sure what that taste might have been...maybe the extra zest?
Michelle T. May 8, 2020
Hi Emma! Yes, it was roundly enjoyed, will be making one more after bestie loved the slab I sent her, thanks again! I found that what helped was baking the tart again till the base was more crumby + the curd looked more like yours, which took an extra 90mins in my small electric oven, haha. Though that could be because it spent a night in the fridge after the initial time in the oven :) Was much happier with the result and the slight soapiness disappeared after that!
jmoo October 24, 2019
These are so good and bloody easy! I used Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free All-Purpose flour (for a wheat intolerant friend) and they came out great. I added thyme to the lemon mixture. It set-up beautifully. I would personally like it a little bit more zingy (I love VERY tart bars), but this is going to be my go-to lemon bars recipe from now on! Thank you!
Antoinette D. October 23, 2019
I can’t wait to try this crust! Emma, do you think it would work with my already made and stashed in the freezer lemon curd? How might you modify your recipe, if necessary.
Emma L. October 23, 2019
Hi, yay! Hm that's a tricky one, since in this case, the lemon curd bakes directly on the crust. The easiest route might be simply baking the crust completely, cutting it into squares while warm (just like shortbread), then serve these with your lemon curd alongside for dunking. Not quite a lemon bar, but it'll still be fun and delicious (and then you won't risk ruining your already-made lemon curd!).
MattieK September 29, 2019
Possible to freeze or refrigerate the dough ahead of time?
Emma L. September 30, 2019
Yes, you can definitely refrigerate it! Just make sure it's wrapped well.
SandraM July 9, 2019
I was preparing to cook the curd while the crust baked.....😏. Joy!!! No cooking needed, just stirring!
I was already thinking about making these again, before I'd even finished the first batch.
The crust is crumbly (and savory) a perfect contrast to the lemon curd. That curd is so dang good! I still can't believe how easy this was to make. I had visions of cutting into a jiggly mess, but the texture held up and looked good.

Highly recommend this for the lemon lovers.
Jean M. June 17, 2019
The best lemon bars ever! Easy to make also!
Emma L. June 17, 2019
Wow! Thanks, Jean :)
helicopterina May 5, 2019
Loved this! Thank you. If you have any tips re how to wrap for freezing and/or how long these can keep in airtight tupper in the fridge — am all ears. https://www.instagram.com/p/BxE6crcBMJB/?igshid=1h9m6v3a1se1w
lisa G. April 27, 2019
I made it with a passion fruit curd instead of lemon, just so yummy!
Emma L. April 29, 2019
That sounds wonderful!
Darian April 7, 2019
This recipe was SO easy! I followed the instructions exactly (pan size/shape, cooking times, etc) and they turned out very well. The crust definitely has a hint of salt that nicely counterbalances the rich tartness of the curd. Personally I liked the thicker layers of crust and curd than we usually find in lemon bars; the balance was perfect and the overall mouthfeel seemed more satisfying. Ironically, with olive oil instead of butter, I felt the crust more closely resembled a pie crust than a shortbread. As such, I did think it was a bit more crumbly than I would have preferred - more for neatness of eating rather than taste! My husband suggested a simpler solution - use a spoon instead of a fork ;-)
Francesca S. March 24, 2019
This looks like an amazing recipe... Do you have a suggestion For a pan size to make a larger quantity and still get the same thick square?
Emma L. March 24, 2019
Hi Francesca! Doubling the recipe would nicely fit into a 9x13-inch baking pan. I'm not sure exactly how much longer the baking times would be—I'd just start checking at the times in the original recipe and look for the same visual cues. Hope this helps!
Francesca S. March 24, 2019
Thank you so much I’m hoping to include this on our Easter brunch at Cherokee Tavern in West St. Paul, Mn
noa January 10, 2019
This was an amazing recipe that I enjoyed making and will over and over again! Everyone that tasted it love it. They came out exactly like the picture of recipe! The only thing that I prefer is a thinner crust so will probably use a rectangular pan that is a bit longer . I think it will produce more bite size type squares. Thanks again!
Emma L. January 10, 2019
Thanks so much—so glad you enjoyed!
Taylor October 27, 2018
This is a great recipe and a really interesting twist on a classic. My favorite thing about food is balance - I love dark chocolate and I'm not really into overly-sweet things like marshmallows unless they're balanced by cream etc. Naturally, lemon bars are a favorite of mine.
This recipe somehow manages to make lemon bars so much more summery. I made the recipe exactly as stated (using weight measurements rather than volume). Not only did it turn out perfectly (albeit with a 5min longer bake at each step), but it was so much easier than I was expecting (curd isn't precooked, crust is one-bowl simple). The crust turned out perfectly (no splitting or greasiness) and I loved that it was very thick (thin crust is a pet peeve of mine). The fruity flavors of olive oil (I used EVOO) enhanced the nuances of the lemon curd and added a savory undertone to cut some of the sweetness, which is part of why these are so refreshing. I personally found the lemon bar layer a bit too tall, although the texture was smooth, thick and tender (not at all gloppy like implied in the description). Overall a really good recipe!
Emma L. October 28, 2018
Thanks for reporting back, Taylor! It sounds like we have similar taste in desserts—I'm not one for overly sweet things either. So glad you enjoyed the recipe.
Kristen October 17, 2018
Where can I find the bakeware in the video?
Emma L. October 17, 2018
Hi Kristen! Not sure of the exact model that was used here, but something like this should do the trick: https://www.amazon.com/Ateco-3-Inch-Professional-Square-Baking/dp/B004VMGCXM/ref=sr_1_15?ie=UTF8&qid=1539797827&sr=8-15&keywords=baking+pans+8+x+8
katharine K. February 3, 2019
I think it was this pan — a USA pan. USA Pan Bakeware Square Cake Pan, 8 inch, Nonstick & Quick Release Coating, Made in the USA from Aluminized Steel https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0029JMMRE/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_IZNvCb773CZHE I could be wrong but in any case, I have six of their pans and they’re of high quality, clean easily, and bake contents evenly.
KB April 4, 2019
It must be either the Chicago Metallic or Calphalon pan, NOTE there is a line of metal rim that runs diagonally along the edge from one corner. It can't be Ateco because Ateco pan has handles on 4 sides for easy lifting. It can't be the USA Pan recognized by its darker color and iconic ridges. So, https://www.amazon.com/Chicago-Metallic-5237983-Uncoated-Textured/dp/B07JH2PR5S https://www.amazon.com/Calphalon-BW3208-Classic-Bakeware-Nonstick/dp/B0009EYITG/ref=sr_1_4 Hope it helps.
Amelia S. September 18, 2018
I'm afraid this recipe did not work for me. I love intense flavors and these sounded delicious. But my shortbread crust was way, way too liquid/greasy. Yes, I measured everything correctly (but I didn't weigh it, which could have been the problem, especially with the flour?). My dough never set. Not at 45 minutes, 50, 55, 60. No browning, nothing. So I went ahead and added the lemon curd, and some of the dough floated up into the curd. The curd itself set perfectly in 30 minutes (so I don't think my oven is the problem). And the curd tastes fine, but the crust, I assume due to the extra 15 minutes in the oven, is bitter. Not in a pleasant way. And no, it's not the oil itself, I tasted it before I added it to the flour mixture. So I really can't see what I did wrong.

What I should have done, of course, was add a couple extra tablespoons of flour when I mixed in the oil and saw that it didn't look like the description at all. That's on me. The recipe is well-written in that I knew what to look for at each step. Mine just didn't turn out.