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Lemon Meringue Bars

It's as easy as pie to make bars from smooth, tangy lemon filling and fluffy meringue atop a buttery zest-flecked crust.

  • Yield: Makes 12
Lemon Meringue Bars

Source: Martha Stewart Living, July Summer 2005

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 6 large eggs, plus 4 large egg whites
  • 2 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Make crust: Put butter, flour, confectioners sugar, 2 teaspoons lemon zest, and the salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until well blended.

  2. Transfer mixture to a 9-by-13-inch rimmed baking sheet. Press batter evenly into baking sheet. Chill in freezer 10 minutes. Bake until golden, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

  3. Make filling: Whisk together whole eggs, 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, the lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons lemon zest. Pour over crust. Bake until filling is set, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Keep oven at 350.

  4. Make meringue topping: Put egg whites and 1/2 cup granulated sugar in the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form.

  5. Using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon, spread meringue over filling, swirling to create soft peaks. Bake until meringue begins to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool completely. Cut into bars. Bars can be refrigerated in an airtight container, up to 1 day.

Reviews (40)

  • Julia Boyd 9 Dec, 2013

    I see this time and time again with respect to getting fillings to set. Adding thickeners like flour and cornstarch are not preferred- what makes a custard set is eggs. If your Pecan Pie is a bit too loose- you need to add another egg. NOT flour. The same principle works here.

  • Jessica Anne 3 Nov, 2013

    These are absolutely delicious! I made these exactly as the recipe calls. A few tips for perfect results:
    1. Use a deep-rimmed baking sheet.

    2. When pre-baking the crust set your oven rack to the 2nd highest level (assuming you have four levels), so that there is more concentration on setting the top of the crust, thus preventing seepage.

    3. To stretch the batch or to add elegance, cut each of the 12 squares into diagonals.

  • lindseymw 15 Aug, 2011

    I was hesitant to try these after reading the mixed reviews, but my bars turned out perfectly. I was worried the filling wouldn't set, but it did so, and beautifully. For the people that had problems, did you pre-bake your crust and let it cool completely before pouring on the filling? Those are the only problems I can think of that would result in the problems most people reported. These are an impressive dessert, and completely worth the time if you are a decent baker.

  • LJFJones 26 May, 2011

    I tried this recipe today and also considered adding gelatin or corn starch. Instead, I decided to try the recipe "to the letter," although I divided it in half because there are only two of us and we could never eat all of that in one day. It turned out well, but I'll never make it again; I don't have that kind of time! Baking, cooling, baking, cooling, and baking one more time. Meringue without cream of tartar was questionable, but I did it anyway. Bars are good, but not worth the effort.

  • momto2under3 13 May, 2011

    After reading the reviews I hesitantly made these bars. When I got to the point of pouring the filling onto the crust I knew the VERY liquid filling would simply soak into the crust and ruin all of my had work!
    So I cooked the filling like I have for traditional lemon meringue pies, and then only baked it for 10 minutes. Thankfully it all worked out because I would have been really disappointed.
    There is definitely something missing in this recipe.

  • vailima 16 Mar, 2011

    The answer to the filling problem is that it needs flour. Try to make the recipe again and add about two tablespoons of flour, that sould be enough to make it solid.

  • Lemmin 8 Aug, 2010

    It would be helpful if somebody could actually answer the questions asked. I want to know why the discussion on cornstarch when it is not listed in the ingredients...would that have made the filling solid enough not to go through the pastry base? A few people have asked what they have done wrong and noone has tried to answer them. My filling went through the base too...gorgous pud but I did want a bar...is cornstarch in the filling the answer?
    Thanks.

  • joannagerst 30 Jun, 2010

    Don't know if it was my oven or if I did something wrong, but I had to bake the filling for almost 30 minutes before it set. But it did turn out great.

  • denisetollefson 30 Jun, 2010

    I don't know what happened to mine, but the filling was soaked up by the crust. I had no layers. Didn't bother making the meringue, so put cool-whip on it. Tasted okay, but disappointed. Didn't look anything like the picture. Will make my lemon meringue pie next time. Bummer.

  • mykele 27 Jun, 2010

    vickymacd, WHEN IN DOUBT ALWAYS FOLLOW DIRECTIONS. TRY IT
    YOU WILL ACHIEVE WONDERS..................mykele

  • dqrox 27 Jun, 2010

    These are fabulous! My mother makes the BEST Lemon Meringue Pie ever, and since I don't make pies, this is the closest any recipe has come to duplicting the taste of Mom's Lemon Meringue Pie. Love it! Thanks Martha!

  • Einie 26 Jun, 2010

    O-K, people! This is a desert! Yes, it has 6 eggs (lemon curd!!!!)

  • vickymacd 25 Jun, 2010

    I am no novice to baking, but these were a joke! I had leftover lemon batter since I
    chose a pan that I "thought" they were referring to. I wish I would have gone with what "I" thought. I wasted so many ingredients and refuse to make any more Martha Stewart recipes! This was the last straw. Very disappointed yet again.

  • Marthafan4years 25 Jun, 2010

    thank goodness we have not completely fallen into the low cal, make it from a box, give up flavor for ease world of cooking completely...ok, so if you ladies who think this is a difficult or excessive recipe dont like it then im sure there are easier recipes that taste so..but im glad there are the Marthas still left that understand that baking sometimes calls for richness of ingredient and thought and effort and love..just saying :)

  • HolJen 25 Jun, 2010

    Wow ! ! ! Six eggs?? Way over the top for me. Anyway to change this up, I guess with egg beaters?? Have cholesterol so I need to change this, otherwise this sound yummy.

  • Gloriousjean 25 Jun, 2010

    I just made these absolutely lemon meringue bars. They were every bit as good as I knew they would be. To all of you who are compllaining about too many ingreduents, then you do not know what it takes to make a good desert. One that you are proud to share with family and friends.

  • pnksweethrt 30 Apr, 2010

    My family LOVED it! I thought it was fairly easy to make. The crust was delicious. Altogheter, a fairly easy, completely yummy dessert!!!

  • HobartGirl 10 May, 2009

    My filling seeped thru the base also, not sure what went wrong. Also far too sweet.

  • CarolinaDesigna 14 Mar, 2009

    I made these yesterday. I found that the lemon mixture and the pastry seeped into each other and went a bit gloopy, maybe that was my fault. Might be better with more of a lemon curd tho. My other problem was that they were way too sweet! I don't think a dessert with a sweet filling and a sweet meringue on top really needs a sweet pastry. I might try again with a normal pastry. Like the idea tho!

  • pxedust 8 Feb, 2009

    These are wonderful. I have made them several times. I have had a problem with the meringue weeping but as it goes it has been rainy the days I made them. Husband loves them.
    Honey

  • SmithB 28 Dec, 2008

    This is a recipe for Lemon "Meringue" Bars, not Lemon Bars - leaving off the meringue defeats the purpose - and any good cook can EASILY find a way to use the extra yolks. The comments criticizing the recipe are uncalled for - this recipe cost less than 2 Starbucks Lattes. I highly recommend it.

  • cindyccm 5 Dec, 2008

    1 stick of butter is = 8 tbsp, so 16 tbsp is 2 sticks of butter

  • cuznvin 26 Nov, 2008

    These tasted good, but I screwed up something bad. I think the crust was undercooked and the lemon filling made it turn to mush when I baked it. I wont give up though. Try, try again!

  • anniequinn 18 Nov, 2008

    LyndaDean - 16 tb is 1 cup or if you prefer, 227 grams. Hope that helps. I've made myself a chart at home and broken down the weight for butter from 1 ts to 2 cups. Now I don't even need to dirty up measuring cups or spoons, I place whatever bowl I need over my kitchen scale and measure. I've done the same with all my different flours and sugars. Cuts down on dishes and time.

  • LyndaDean 16 Nov, 2008

    could the butter requirements be termed in weight!
    goodness, imagine anyone spooning out 16 tabs!

  • ccema 15 Nov, 2008

    Wow!! My daughter and I just made this recipe. It is so wonderful. Decadent...yes! But, you can make your own substitutes to make it healthier or kinder to your wallet. I like having it in the pure form recipe so you can make your own recipe from this one. Thanks Martha. I'm off to hide the left overs :)

  • ChristyGonzalez 10 Nov, 2008

    I made this recipe yesterday and I thought it was relatively easy. One thought though....when baking the crust....if its UNDERcooked, will it taste floury?? I think I undercooked it and it tasted a bit floury and not so much buttery, but I couldve been loose with the hand, so I wanted to see if it happened to anyone else...

  • ChristyGonzalez 10 Nov, 2008

    I made this recipe yesterday and I thought it was relatively easy. One thought though....when baking the crust....if its UNDERcooked, will it taste floury?? I think I undercooked it and it tasted a bit floury and not so much buttery, but I couldve been loose with the hand, so I wanted to see if it happened to anyone else...

  • nancythebaker 9 Nov, 2008

    i made these today. The recipe is amazing, simple and delicious. the ingredients are minimal and the instructions very easy to follow. Im adding this to my Thanksgiving dessert menu

  • terryrohslan 9 Nov, 2008

    Hey...I spelled desserts wrong but you get the idea. Still like to do DESSERTS the old fashioned way.

  • terryrohslan 9 Nov, 2008

    Hey... Looks like fun to do to me. I have grandkids that love to cook and help with lemon zest. Some people just need to stick to deserts that come in a box and you just add water. Old fashioned and happy about it.

  • grammababy 9 Nov, 2008

    Ah, memories of Kingsford Cornstarch. The company that makes Argo SWEARS when they bought Kingsford they didn't change the recipe ... but with Kingsford I always had crystal clear lemon meringue pies ahd Argo doesn't cut it.
    This recipe sounds like much fun to try. Am sure I'll use extra lemon as we like it to make you pucker. Anyoe out there ever fiind Kingsford? Grammababy

  • DebbieDurham 9 Nov, 2008

    My goodness! I've never seen a site with as many negative, whinny woman as this! If you don't like the ingredient list there is a very simple solution - DON'T MAKE THEM!!!!!

    I too have recipes that are easier to make with fewer ingredients and my family loves them. However, I CAN'T WAIT TO TRY THESE!!! THEY MIGHT JUST LIKE THEM BETTER!!!

    GET A LIFE ALREADY!

    Or better yet, delete this site so you won't receive any more EXCESSIVE RECIPES!

  • debbiedarling 8 Nov, 2008

    I don't think that this is an excessive recipe. I have made others with lesser ingredients; they tasted lesser! I agree: if YOU CAN'T AND SHOULDN'T THEN DON'T!. My family and I loved this one. To each their own ;that's why there are different recipes.

  • pemasiera 8 Nov, 2008

    I'm thankful for this recipe. I never knew how precious a box of Kingsford cornstarch was till I didn't have one and couldn't buy one. Not one of my cookbooks nor the local brands of cornstarch has a really good clean tasting lemon curd. Thanks Martha. And squares; who would'a thunk. I'm after the curd not the pastry anyday.

  • patcash 8 Nov, 2008

    I agree with mykele. I have several recipes for lemon bars that don't call for half as many ingrediants and the only difference is I don't put meringue on top of them but sprinkle with powdered sugar. They are delicious and often requested by friends and family.

  • lovemarthashow 8 Nov, 2008

    If you think it's excessive, just cut the recipe in half, use a smaller pan, and make smaller squares. The good thing about this recipe is that it is nice and rich like a lemon bar should be. Sometimes they can be light on taste and then they just taste like firm pudding or thick jello. Blah!

  • mykele 8 Nov, 2008

    Another recipe of excess....almost 1 dozen eggs!! half a pound
    of butter!! over 2 cups of sugar.....I have made a lemon bar
    recipe using half of these ingredients and they were delicious.
    In these money tight days, this recipe just is excessive.....

  • SQL1234 8 Nov, 2008

    Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • waldo34 8 Nov, 2008

    Dessert

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