Not-Too-Sweet Meyer Lemon Bars

Difficulty Easy

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!

plates with lemon bars and forks and teapot on the side

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.

stack of 3 lemon bars with tea pot and more lemon bars in the background

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.

lemon juice in measuring cup with lemon zest in a plate and squeezed out lemons

How to make Not-too-Sweet Meyer Lemon Bars:

The method for these light, citrusy lemon bars can be broken down into 4 steps:

  1. Make the shortbread crust.
  2. Make the lemon “curd.”
  3. Bake.
  4. Chill.

Baking Tips:

  • 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:

lemon bars on top of parchment paper and cooling rack

Not-Too-Sweet Meyer Lemon Bars

The Subversive Table | Lis Lam
Sublimely tart, not-too-sweet, luscious Meyer Lemon Bars. Perfect for your not-so-sweet tooth.
4.89 from 17 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Cooling Time 2 hours
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 24 squares



  • 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.
    butter and flour in food processor
  • Dump mixture into the 9 x 13 inch pan. Using clean hands, evenly press the crust into the pan. 
    shortbread crust in baking 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.
    lemon bars on top of parchment paper and cooling rack


*The baking time varies depending on the oven and the material of your 9 x 13 pan. I used a non-stick, dark pan.
**DO NOT use parchment paper when baking these lemon bars! The filling will leak under the shortbread crust. Instead, butter the pan well before baking the shortbread crust and the lemon bars should release with no problem.


Serving: 0gCarbohydrates: 0gProtein: 0gFat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0gMonounsaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgPotassium: 0mgFiber: 0gSugar: 0gVitamin A: 0IUVitamin C: 0mgCalcium: 0mgIron: 0mg
Keyword Not Too Sweet Lemon Bars
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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  1. 5 stars
    I had the same experience as someone else here. The crust bottom was too soft and didn’t have the texture of shortbread. I baked the crust for 16 minutes and took it out of oven because the color seemed right, but it needed the full 20 minutes. The crusty edges on the perimeter were delicious though. I will make these again and try to perfect them. The filling was good. Nice and tart, and just sweet enough.

  2. 5 stars
    I haven’t made these yet, but will be trying these soon. I just made another lemon bar recipe that is so sweet, it hurts my mouth. And I reduced the sugar by a half cup. I was afraid to use less because I assumed it needed the sugar to hold it together. I’m definitely trying this recipe.

  3. Lexi Shackleton

    5 stars
    My crust turned out really doughy in the food processor. Did I use to much butter or do you think it wasn’t cold enough! Excited to try them when they come out of the oven!

    • Make sure to pulse so the butter doesn’t get too warm from the rotating blades. Also, if it’s a warm day, I recommend chilling the butter chunks in the freezer for 10 minutes first. Enjoy!!

  4. 5 stars
    These were perfect and exactly what I was looking for! So delicious. I think way better than the more surgery versions.
    I did a 1/2 batch.
    If you mix the cornstarch with the sugar 1st it dissolves better.

  5. 4 stars
    Super delicious! I’ll be making again but next time cooking the crust longer bc it tasted like a cake bottom😬I cooked it for 20min at 350 and the edges where crusty brown just on the perimeter but it prob needed another 5 min i think🤷🏽‍♀️ I also think I prefer a thicker middle so I prob do it in a 8×8 next time. Thank you for sharing the recipe🤗

  6. 5 stars
    Tried these and they are amazing!! Not too sweet which is perfect. Will be remaking them today!

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  9. Looks so goooooodd….

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