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Lemon bars dusted with confectioners' sugar and set on a table

Lemon Bars with Pistachio Shortbread Crust

  • Author: Lauren Grant
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cooling time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 9 bars 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking


These pistachio lemon bars are bright, zippy, nutty and buttery. A flavor upgrade from classic lemon bars, the crust features toasted pistachios, whole-wheat flour and a dash of cardamom. Why stop there? Use honey in the lemon curd to add a floral note that pairs well with the pistachios.



Pistachio Shortbread Crust

  • ¾ cup (100g) raw, shelled and unsalted pistachios 
  • ¼ cup (60g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (14g) confectioners’ sugar + more for dusting
  • ¾ cup (100g) white whole-wheat flour
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt 
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom 
  • 1 large egg yolk (20g)
  • 4 tablespoons (60g) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes  

Honey Lemon Curd

  • 5 lemons
  • 8 large egg yolks (150g)
  • 2 large eggs (100g)
  • ½ cup (175g) honey 
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced


Heat oven to 350ºF (176ºC) with rack set in middle position. 

Make foil sling for 8-inch square baking pan by folding 2 long sheets of foil to be 8 inches wide each. Lay sheets of foil in pan perpendicular to each other, fold extra foil over edges of pan. Push foil flush to pan, into corners and up sides. Coat with nonstick spray. 

Arrange pistachios in an even layer on a baking sheet. Toast in oven until fragrant and starting to brown, 5–8 minutes. Let pistachios cool completely. (I pop mine in the freezer for 10 minutes to quicken the process).

Process pistachios, sugar, and confectioners’ sugar in food processor until pistachios are finely ground, about 20 seconds. Add flour, salt and cardamom and pulse until combined, about 5 pulses. 

Scatter 4 tablespoons butter over top and process until mixture resembles damp sand, about 15 seconds. With processor running, add yolk and process until dough forms a rough ball, about 15 seconds. 

Transfer mixture to prepared foil-lined pan and press firmly into an even layer. Bake until crust is fragrant, golden brown all over, and dry to touch, 20–25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Let crust cool completely; at least 1 hour. 

For the filling, zest lemons using a microplane; zest should measure a packed ¼ cup. Juice lemons and measure out ¾ cup juice (195g). Add lemon zest and lemon juice to a medium saucepan with egg yolks, eggs, honey, and a pinch of salt; whisk together until smooth. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with whisk or rubber spatula, until mixture thickens slightly and registers 165–168°F, about 8 minutes.

Immediately remove saucepan from heat and stir in 4 tablespoons butter until completely incorporated. Strain lemon curd through fine-mesh sieve into a bowl then pour warm curd over cooled crust; slightly turn and rotate pan to even out filling in pan.

Bake until filling is shiny and opaque and center jiggles slightly when shaken, 12–16 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Let bars cool completely in pan, about 2 hours. Using foil overhang, lift bars from pan and transfer to cutting board. Cut into squares and chill until ready to serve. Dust with confectioners’ sugar (optional) and serve.


Storage: For the best quality, enjoy these lemon squares  on the same day as they’re made. I like to chill them once they have completely cooled at room temperature. Stored in the refrigerator, these will last up to three days. Stored any longer and the crust will start to soften and the lemon curd will start to weep.


  • Serving Size: 1 bar

Keywords: Lemon bars with shortbread crust, Lemon shortbread bars, Pistachio lemon bars

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