Sublimely tart, lusciously jiggly, not-too-sweet Meyer Lemon Bars. Perfect for your not-too-sweet tooth.
Confession: I’m not really a sweets person. I don’t crave candy. I’m not a choc-o-holic. I shy away from frothy, overly sweet drinks. As a kid, I rarely ate birthday cake at parties. As an adult, I still do.
And yet, I still like dessert. Just not overly sweet ones. Instead, I gravitate towards light and refreshing.
That’s where these Meyer Lemon Bars come in. They are perfect for my not-too-sweet tooth. Tart and citrusy. Bright and fresh. But without that cloyingly sweet aftertaste!
Essential Ingredient for Not-Too-Sweet Lemon Bars: Corn Starch
The sugar in lemon bars traditionally helps to thicken the curd. How could I make these not-too-sweet but still jiggly and luscious?
It took 7 tries to get these lemon bars just right. After considerable fiddling in the kitchen, I turned to a common Asian ingredients to thicken sauces and soups: corn starch!
Corn starch is the perfect ingredient for a non-traditional, less sweet lemon filling. Activated by heat, the filling will look woefully watery at first. As the lemon bars bake, they will thicken.
Why Meyer Lemons?
Meyer Lemons are aromatic and intensely floral. They are juicy with more depth and less sharpness than regular lemons. The difference is subtle but significant.
Meyer Lemons seem to be the mythical unicorn of the citrus world. Everyone loves and raves about them. Yet they can be difficult to find. I’ve seen them at Costco, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods. But I’ve yet to find them at standard grocery stores.
That being said, you can also use regular lemons for this recipe. The lemon flavor will be more crisp instead of floral. You may also need more lemons to produce 1 cup as Meyer lemons are super juicy.
How to make Not-too-Sweet Meyer Lemon Bars:
The method for these light, citrusy lemon bars can be broken down into 4 steps:
- Make the shortbread crust.
- Make the lemon “curd.”
- Use a food processor. Makes a flaky + easy shortbread crust in 5 minutes!
- DO NOT USE PARCHMENT PAPER! The filling is simply not thick enough. Parchment paper will create a soggy mess as the filling leaks under the crust.
- Instead, use a well greased, non-stick baking pan. This way, you shouldn’t have any problems releasing the lemon bars from the pan.
- Lemon zest + Lemon juice = BIG LEMON FLAVOR! Use both for bright, intensely citrus flavor.
- Check for doneness with the jiggle test. Shake the corner of the pan gently. The edges should be firm and set, the center a little jiggy.
- Chill for minimum 2 hours. The filling needs time to set. Chilled lemon bars are also easier to slice.
Other Not-Too-Sweet recipes you may enjoy:
- Matcha Coconut Pudding
- Instant Pot Cinnamon Creme Brulee
- Korean Strawberry Milk Popsicles
- Coconut Mochi Cake
- Gluten Free Chocolate Almond Cake
- Coffee Jello
Not-Too-Sweet Meyer Lemon Bars
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup cold butter cut into same size chunks
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup lemon juice about 6 lemons, preferably Meyer lemons (regular ones will also do)
- Lemon zest from 3 lemons
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp salt
To make the Shortbread Crust:
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan on the bottom and sides.
- Add dry ingredients into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse dry ingredients a few times. Scatter the cold butter chunks over the top. Process until the mixture looks like coarse sand. If there are large pieces of butter, keep going.
- Dump mixture into the 9 x 13 inch pan. Using clean hands, evenly press the crust into the pan.
- Bake until crust is done, about 18-20 minutes. When the crust is done, the texture should be the same as a shortbread cookie. The color will be pale with golden, crispy looking edges.
To make the Filling:
- Whisk the eggs and sugar in a large bowl until well combined. Add lemon juice, zest, cornstarch, and salt. Mix well, making sure there are no cornstarch lumps. The filling will look watery and loose.
- Pour the filling over the pre-baked crust. It's ok if the crust is still warm. Return the baking pan to the oven and bake for an additional 16-20 minutes. DO NOT OVERBAKE!
- The lemon bars are done when you give the pan a shake and the edges are set and firm but the center is a little bit jiggly.
- Chill in the fridge for 2 hours, minimum. Serve with a light dusting of powdered sugar.