Meyer Lemon Bars with Greek Yogurt: No Grating Required
Sneak Preview: These Meyer Lemon Bars start with a coconut shortbread base. Layer a sweet custard flavored with Meyer lemons and creamy Greek yogurt over the cookie base. The recipe calls for using the entire lemon (minus seeds)–no grating or squeezing required.
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Are you a lemon bar lover but aren’t crazy about grating or squeezing lemons? This recipe has a secret for avoiding that job.
Do you ever find it challenging to get the first cookie out of the pan without messing it up? This recipe has a secret for that, too.
Do you have Meyer lemons in your possession but aren’t sure what to do with them? This recipe uses Meyer lemon juice for a milder version of classic lemon bars.
Are you a Greek yogurt lover (maybe you even make it at home) and need more ways to use it? You probably hear this recipe calling your name.
Have you tried Meyer lemons yet?
The tartness of a lemon + the sweetness of a Mandarine orange= a Meyer lemon. Perfect for these lemon squares made with a buttery shortbread crust. Meyer lemons are typically in season from December to May, so act fast.
Can I substitute regular lemons for Meyer lemons?
I do not recommend it. Regular lemons make a much more tart and intense flavor that only the most die-hard lemon lovers would appreciate. Fresh clementine oranges sold as “Cuties” or “Halos” are a possible replacement.
Even though I borrowed ideas from many places, this Meyer lemon square recipe has makes a lighter flavor and texture than classic lemon bars.
- The crust is adapted from the shortbread cookie base in Pam Anderson’s The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight & Eating Great (one of my favorite cookbooks). You’ve seen the same buttery crust before in my Toffee Bars Made Easy
- I read about lemongrass bars in a recent issue of Bon Appetit with coconut added to the shortbread base. I tried it and loved the flavor.
- Dorie Greenspan gave me the idea to use a blender to pulverize a whole lemon in her recipe for Tartest Lemon Tart published in Baking From My House to Yours. As a result of this revolutionary method, no squeezing or grating is required. Show me another lemon bar recipe like that!
- I wanted a creamy lemon layer instead of a clear, lemon pie-like filling. Since I always have Greek yogurt in the refrigerator, yogurt is the perfect addition to make these lemon bar cookies smooth and creamy.
Ingredients and substitutions:
- Meyer Lemons: This recipe is best with Meyer lemons. Regular lemons need lots more sugar to make them palatable.
- Flour: Use all-purpose bleached or unbleached flour. You’ll need a cup of flour for the crust layer but only 1 tablespoon of flour for the filling.
- Coconut: Coconut is optional. It will add a lot of flavor, though.
- Sugar: Use powdered or confectioners sugar in the crust. You’ll need a cup of granulated sugar for the filling.
- Eggs: I use large eggs in all of my recipes. This recipe calls for whole eggs.
- Greek yogurt: Yogurt adds creaminess to these lemon bars. If you can only get regular yogurt, use a strainer with a paper towel inside to drain some of the whey off until the yogurt is as thick as Greek yogurt.
When you make bar cookies, how hard is it to get the first cookie out in one piece?
In the past, I often used a spoon to dig out the first piece of any pan of bar cookies. Then, I felt compelled to eat that cookie because I didn’t want to spoil the looks of my pretty cookie tray. Not good.
I no longer have to eat ugly corner cookies because I have found a better way. Non-stick aluminum foil is my secret.
If you want to try out this secret, make these Chewy Coconut Pecan Bars or these Frosted Peanut Butter Cookie Bars Drizzled with Chocolate.
How to line the pan and prepare the crust:
Line your baking pan with aluminum foil to make serving sticky cookies neat and easy. It also saves clean-up time. This tip works exceptionally well for bar cookies, Rice Krispie squares, candy, etc.
I recommend non-stick aluminum foil. It’s the easiest. If you don’t have it, use regular foil and spray it with vegetable oil.
How to prepare the Meyer lemon yogurt layer:
FAQs about Meyer Lemon Bars with Greek Yogurt
Yes. The coconut adds extra flavor. But if you aren’t a fan, it won’t affect the crust to leave it out.
I don’t recommend it. The lemon filling is rather delicate. Better to eat them within a day or two. The batch is small, so that shouldn’t be difficult.
If you miss a seed, it will appear as a dark spot (looks like pepper) in the filling. Don’t worry. It won’t affect the taste.
Yes. The eggs and yogurt are perishable.
Parting Thoughts: The only downside to this recipe is the availability of Meyer lemons. Where I live, it’s limited to a few weeks in the winter/spring. But when I can find them, I can’t wait to make these special cookies.
If you have questions or suggestions, email me privately for a quick answer: Paula at saladinajar.com. Hope to see you again soon!
Meyer Lemon Bars with Greek Yogurt: No Grating Required
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- ¼ cup butter
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon table or sea salt
- ½ cup shredded coconut
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 whole Meyer lemon
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 large eggs
- ⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F (180˚C).
Preparing the pan:
- Prepare an 8-inch square pan by lining it with non-stick aluminum foil. Mold foil to the shape of the pan by turning it over. Use your hands to shape the foil. Then place the molded foil back inside. See the pictures in the post above. I highly recommend the foil, as the lemon filling can leak under the base and make removing the finished bars difficult.
Making the cookie layer:
- Melt ¼ C butter in the microwave for 50 seconds on HIGH in a quart-size glass dish.
- Add ¼ C powdered (confectioner's) sugar, ¼ t salt, and ½ C shredded coconut. Lightly mix with a fork until all ingredients are moistened. Add 1 C of flour and stir until moistened. Use your fingers and pat this mixture into your prepared pan.
- Bake in the oven at 350˚F (180˚C) for 20 minutes.
Making the lemon layer:
- Quarter one washed and dried Meyer lemon. Trim the center core and remove ALL seeds. (If you miss one, you'll have dark specks in your lemon layer.)
- Place the quartered lemon into a blender with 1 C sugar and pulse on high until the mixture is homogeneous throughout. Add 1 C flour, ¼ table salt, and ½ t baking powder, pulsing until mixed. Add 2 large eggs and ⅓ C Greek yogurt, pulsing only 3-4 times or until the batter is mixed and smooth.
- Pour the lemon mixture over the warm crust immediately after removing the crust from the oven. Put back into the oven and bake at 325˚F (170˚C) for 20-25 minutes or until the middle is set.
- When cool, place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours. Pull bars out of the pan with the foil still attached. Peel the foil away and cut into squares while cold. Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving. Serve chilled. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.
Paula Rhodes, author
I’m a retired home economist, wife, mother, grandmother, and creator of Saladinajar.com. I believe you don’t have to be a chef to find joy in creating homemade food worth sharing. Here you’ll find time-saving tips, troubleshooting advice, and confidence-inspiring recipes to make life in the kitchen more fun, appetizing, and satisfying.