The classic lemon bars are elevated to a scrumptious new level with fresh strawberries swimming atop the lemon filling. The sweet but tart taste and added texture of the cooked strawberries enhance the citrusy layer of goodness. All of this rests on a light and buttery crust that serves as the base for a delicious summer dessert. I give you Strawberry Lemon Bars!
One of the BEST parts of summer is the “you pick berry” farms where families can spend hours together rummaging through rows and rows of strawberry patches. It is a treasure hunt while searching to find the reddest, ripest and biggest berries hiding amidst the beautiful greenery.
If you’ve ever been berry picking, you know what I mean when I say it truly is the highlight of a Saturday morning. Not only can you eat as many strawberries as your little heart desires while there, but the bushels you take home make way for strawberry jam, strawberry shortcake, homemade strawberry ice cream, strawberries and pancakes and of course, these strawberry lemon bars. The possibilities are endless.
Why I Love these Strawberry Lemon Bars:
The sweet yet tart taste of the strawberries is a wonderful complement to the lemon filling. I’ve always loved just plain old lemon bars that my grandma used to make but there is something magical when you add a layer of these ripe berries on top. Strawberries and lemon have always been a beautiful blending of flavors.
The filling layer is thicker than most regular lemon bars. When I sink my teeth into a lemon bar, I want the filling to be thick and creamy and I want it to give me a mouthful of lemony delight. This bar definitely gives me that desired result.
The crust is light, buttery and not too thick. It holds together well as the base of all this yumminess. I want a crust that has some substance to it, that doesn’t fall apart when you pick up the bar. But I want a foundation that is subtle and not overbearing where you don’t get a mouthful of crust with a little bit of filling. It is the perfect thickness.
Strawberries add a lovely twist to these Lemon Bars
The addition of strawberries to this classic recipe brings a lovely twist that I think you’re gonna love. There’s a good amount of strawberries (two pounds to be exact) to a 9×13 inch cake pan, giving this dessert a boost of berry flavor. This recipe is not limited to strawberries though. You could use blueberries or raspberries and they would work just as well (although I wouldn’t cook either of those).
Simmering the Strawberries
The strawberries need to be sliced and prepared before the crust is ever made. They need to be cooled and drained and ready to top the lemon filling as soon as it is poured over the warm crust. I sliced the strawberries fairly thick because I didn’t want them to turn to mush when I cooked them. Using lemon juice and sugar as a base, I simmered the berries for only five minutes. I wanted to draw out some of the juice so they didn’t make my lemon bars watery but I still wanted to retain their shape.
Draining and Drying the Strawberries
Once the strawberries are simmered, gently drain them in a wire strainer. Let them sit over the strainer for a good 10-15 minutes while the crust is sitting in the refrigerator. I went an extra step and laid the cooked strawberries out individually on several paper towels to remove all their moisture. It’s definitely an extra step, but worth it in the end.
You definitely want to hold on to this drained syrupy juice. It makes a wonderful type of simple syrup for a strawberry lemon mojito or a summertime lemonade. It can be stored in the refrigerator for about two weeks.
The Crust – The Foundation to these Strawberry Lemon Bars
The crust itself is extremely simple with only three ingredients: flour, chilled butter, and powdered sugar. All of this goes into a food processor, pulsate 8-10 times until it becomes like coarse meal with buttery specks running through. So simple. If you would rather not use the processor, throw everything together in a medium-size bowl. Use a metal pastry blender and cut the butter into the flour and powdered sugar until, again, it has a coarse consistency.
“To grease or line with parchment paper,” that’s the question. I experimented with two batches of lemon bars. One with greasing the pan and the other with parchment paper. Although the greased “only” pan worked okay, I did have issues especially trying to get out the first couple of lemon bars.
For the parchment paper, I cut a large piece of the paper that extended about three inches on each side of my 9×13 inch cake pan. With the paper sitting on the pan, I cut into each corner of the paper, up to where the pan starts. Watch this youtube video and I promise it will make more sense. I was concerned that when I lifted the entire pan of baked lemon bars that they would fall apart but the truth is, it worked like a dream.
Once the ingredients of the crust were combined, I pressed it into the bottom of the parchment lined pan and placed the crust in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before going into the oven. Using chilled butter and the refrigerator makes for a more tender crust.
Parbake the Crust
Once the crust has been chilled, it goes into the oven for about 20 minutes before pouring in the filling. Parbaking the crust ensures you don’t end up with a soggy crust. Baking it ahead of time gives it a sturdy texture to hold the lemony layer.
Prepare the Lemon Filling while the crust is in the oven
While the crust is baking in the oven, it’s time to prepare the lemon filling. Don’t wait until the last minute, because the crust needs to still be warm when you top it with the filling.
Beat the eggs and whisk them together with the sugar, lemon zest and juice. And please, whatever you do, use freshly squeezed lemon juice. Avoid at all cost the bottle that you grab off the grocery shelf. There is truly a difference of day and night between the two.
Mix the above ingredients only until combined. You don’t want to add too much air to the filling. To finish it off, stir together the flour and baking powder and add it to the egg/sugar mixture using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon. Pour the filling over the warm crust.
Adding the Strawberry Layer
Gently add the individual strawberry slices to the lemon filling to where they are just sitting on top. You don’t want them to sink to the bottom.
Baking the Strawberry Lemon Bars
I make my lemon bars thicker than normal. Because … why not? In my book, a thicker gooey, tart lemon layer is always better. And because of that, I needed to bake them longer than a regular lemon bar. I started out timing it around 40 minutes but ended up baking it between 50-60 minutes. It came out of the oven with a gold hue while the edges were a nice brown caramelization. In my estimation, the outside edges (just like brownies) are the most delectable part of the bars.
Letting the Strawberry Lemon Bars Cool Completely
Let the bars cool for 30 minutes in the pan. Then, using the parchment paper that is hanging over the sides, gently loosen the bars and pull them out of the pan. Set them on a metal baking rack to finish cooling. Let the bars cool completely before cutting into them. If you’re patient enough (which I am not), place them in the refrigerator to chill further.
The Dusting of Powdered sugar
The magic happens when you sprinkle these lovely lemon bars with a dusting of powdered sugar. And who cares if when you bite into them, you end up with a puff of this white powder all of your face and clothes. It is just a reminder of how perfect the added sweetness complements the tartness of the bars.
Cutting the Bars
Cutting the strawberry lemon bars can be a delicate task! The strawberries have a tougher texture than the lemon filling. To help with the cutting process, I used a really sharp knife and in between each cut, I ran hot water over the knife and wiped it clean. This seemed to help slice through them better. There were still some jagged cuts because of the strawberries. But honestly, who really cares once they end up in your mouth?
Storing and Freezing the Strawberry Lemon Bars
The bars can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. If you want to freeze them, cut them into individual bars but don’t sprinkle with powdered sugar. Place them on a large cookie sheet with about 1-2 inches between each bar. Place them in the freezer until frozen. Transfer to freezer ziplock bags. When you’re ready to eat them, remove bars and let them thaw. You may need to gently dab the tops with paper towels to remove any extra moisture. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy. They will last in the freezer for one month.
The beautiful blending of strawberries, lemon filling and a tender buttery crust is beyond description. I absolutely love a good old fashion lemon bar, but these with the added berries enhance the flavor to a whole new dimension. You’ve gotta try them. It’s a little more work than regular lemon bars, but I think you’ll be so pleased with the outcome.
If you’re looking for more summertime Recipes, check out the following:
Strawberry Lemon Bars
The classic lemon bars are elevated to a scrumptious new level with fresh strawberries swimming atop the lemon filling. The sweet but tart taste and added texture of the cooked strawberries enhance the citrusy layer of goodness. All of this rests on a light and buttery crust that serves as the base for a delicious summer dessert.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 60 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Yield: 24 2-inch bars 1x
- Category: Baked Goods
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
- 2 pounds fresh Strawberries
- 1/2 cup granulated Sugar
- 3 tablespoons Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
- 1 cup chilled butter
- 8 eggs
- 2 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoon zested lemon peel
- 3/4 cup lemon juice
- 8 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- powdered sugar for dusting
Simmering the Strawberries
- Slice the 2 pounds of strawberries fairly thick and place in a medium size pan. Add 1/2 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice. Heat over medium heat until hot and turn down to low. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and drain the strawberries in a metal strainer for about 10 minutes.
- For additional drainage, lay the strawberry slices out on paper towels. Let sit until ready to add atop the lemon filling.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Line a 9×13 inch cake pan with parchment paper. Cut a large piece of parchment paper that extends about three inches on each side of the cake pan. With the paper sitting on the pan, cut into each corner of the paper, up to where the pan starts. Press the paper into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Watch this youtube video.
- Add 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 2 sticks of chilled butter to the food processor and pulse 8-10 times until it becomes like coarse meal with buttery specks running through.
- Pat the mixture into the parchment paper lined pan and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Parbake the crust for 20 minutes until golden brown and soft to the touch.
The Lemon Filling
- Turn the oven down to 325°F.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the 8 eggs, 2 2/3 cups granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons lemon peel, and 3/4 cup lemon juice. Stir together the 8 tablespoons flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt and add to the egg mixture. Blend just until all is moistened. Pour over warm crust.
- Gently add the individual strawberry slices to the top of the lemon filling.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the lemon filling is set, lightly golden with very little jiggle to it.
- Let the bars cool for 30 minutes in the pan. Using the parchment paper that is hanging over the sides, gently loosen the bars and pull them out of the pan. Set them on a metal baking rack to finish cooling. Let the bars cool completely before cutting.
- Sprinkle powdered sugar generously over the bars. Store the strawberry lemon bars in the refrigerator up to 4 days or in the freezer (without powdered sugar) up to 1 month.
- Slice the strawberries fairly thick so they don’t turn to mush when cooked. Simmer them for only five minutes to draw out some of the juice but not too long in order to retain their shape.
- Let the strawberries drain over a strainer for a good 10-15 minutes while the crust is sitting in the refrigerator. To consider removing more moisture, lay the cooked strawberries individually out on several paper towels. It’s definitely an extra step, but worth it to prevent too much liquid in the lemon bars.
- If you would rather not use the processor for the crust, throw everything together in a medium-size bowl. Use a metal pastry blender and cut the butter into the flour and powdered sugar until it has a coarse consistency.
- Using chilled butter in the crust and sitting it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before baking makes for a more tender crust.
- Baking the crust ahead of pouring on the lemon filling ensures you don’t end up with a soggy crust.
- While the crust is baking in the oven, prepare the lemon filling. Don’t wait until the last minute, because the crust needs to still be warm when you top it with the filling.
- When mixing the eggs, lemon juice, sugar and lemon zest, mix only until combined. You don’t want to add too much air to the filling.
- Use a really sharp knife when cutting the bars. And in between each cut, run hot water over the knife and wiped it clean. This seemed to help slice through them better.
- If you want to freeze, cut them into individual bars but don’t sprinkle with powdered sugar. Place them on a large cookie sheet with about 1-2 inches between each bar. Place them in the freezer until frozen. Transfer to freezer ziplock bags. You may need to gently dab the tops with paper towels to remove the extra moisture once they’re thawed. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. They will last in the freezer for one month.
- Serving Size: 1 bar
- Calories: 277
- Sugar: 24 g
- Sodium: 57 mg
- Fat: 10 g
- Saturated Fat: 5 g
- Unsaturated Fat: 4 g
- Trans Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 45 g
- Fiber: 1 g
- Protein: 4 g
- Cholesterol: 82 mg
Keywords: lemon bars, strawberry lemon bars, baked goods, summertime recipe, desserts