Lemon Bars With a Salty Olive Oil Crust

August 28, 2018

Test Kitchen-Approved

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

Food52 Review: This is one of our Big Little Recipes. Read more here: 5-Ingredient Lemon Bars Are a Classic With a Lil' Twist.The Editors

Serves: one 8- by 8-inch pan (16 bars)
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 1 hrs 20 min



  • 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
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
In This Recipe


  1. Heat the oven to 325° F. Line a 8- by 8-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 about 45 minutes, rotating halfway through, until puffed and softly 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.
  7. Lower the heat to 300° F. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the edges of the lemon bar are slightly puffed and the center barely jiggles.
  8. 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.

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Reviews (22) Questions (1)

22 Reviews

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!<br />
Author Comment
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.<br />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!
Author Comment
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?
Author Comment
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.
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.<br /><br />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.
Sue September 14, 2018
These Lemon bars are easy & deelish! I normally avoid making most recipes due to the labor involved in making the curd. So glad I tried these, and will make again! I'm going to attempt freezing - don't need that many Lemon bars. In my life!
Author Comment
Emma L. September 14, 2018
So glad to hear you liked 'em—thanks, Sue!
Francyn T. September 6, 2018
Hi!<br />Can we freeze the lemon squares?
Author Comment
Emma L. September 7, 2018
Hi Francyn! I haven't tried that myself, but a few of our community members seem to have done so successfully! More details on our Hotline: https://food52.com/hotline/28152-freeze-lemon-squares
Sweet A. September 10, 2018
Thanks for the tips on freezing the lemon squares!
Pamela September 6, 2018
What about doubling the recipe? Will I need to extend cooking times for either the crust or the curd?
Author Comment
Emma L. September 6, 2018
Hi Pamela! Doubling the recipe in one pan would roughly amount to a 9- by 13-inch dish. The baking time would likely increase, but I can't say for sure since I haven't tested that adaptation. If you give it a try, let me know how it goes! Another option is buying a couple of disposable 8- by 8-inch pans and using those—then you can follow the recipe as is and eliminate any guesswork. Hope this helps!
Cory B. September 6, 2018
These were so amazing!! Love love love.
Author Comment
Emma L. September 6, 2018
Thanks, Cory!!
Julia September 6, 2018
Would using a gluten free flour here work? Maybe one that is cup for cup equivalent to regular flour? Looks like a great recipe!
Author Comment
Emma L. September 6, 2018
Hi Julia, thanks! I haven't tried a gluten-free alternative with this recipe. If you do want to give it a go, a 1:1 flour blend (like Cup4Cup) is probably your best bet. If you try, let us know how it goes!
Terri September 5, 2018
Would EVOO be too strong for this or would a lighter olive oil be better. I have California brand in my pantry and a lot of lemons - can’t wait to try this!
Author Comment
Emma L. September 5, 2018
Hi Terri—I used EVOO! But you could certainly use a lighter variety if you want the flavor to be less pronounced.
Terri September 5, 2018
Thanks for getting back to me so quickly Emma. I prefer the flavor and depth of EVOO wherever possible. Happy to know that it will work well here!