lemon meringue bars

lemon meringue barsBefore we get into that lemony goodness above my heart needs to tell Shan how much I love her.  My innate nature is to help, to be that friend a person can count on.  My motto is “I’ve got this” and darn it I usually do.  But this, this is different…and I feel completely lost as to how to make it hurt less.  Words feel so trite when you try to comfort someone who is grieving.  Especially so when that hurt is in the heart of a mother missing her baby.  My bag of tricks is empty and I cannot fast forward time. (Not that I feel time heals so much as it gives space.)  All I have left is the one thing we always have to give – our hearts.  Mine is always with you Shan.  Your beautiful voice here will be missed but I, as I am sure so many others, completely understand your decision to step back and simply be.  Love you!

{In case you missed Shan’s post yesterday click here.}


Okay, now that I’m bawling my eyes out let’s talk about these bars.  There is a bit of a story as to how I landed on this recipe for today.  A few weeks back I asked my friend Vicki if she would show me how to make an angel food cake.  She agreed until I became sick and then banned me from her home.  I would have totally done the same.

Plan B was to bake a pie for Pi Day.  My first hiccup was that I pulled out pizza dough from the freezer instead of pie crust.  Not a big deal, I still had time to bake and shoot a pie the next day.  Sunday came and with my thawed crust in hand I searched for my pie dish.  It’s still missing at the moment.  I never bake pie so it probably fled to someone’s home where it will get more love and attention.

With no cake, no pie made I thought let’s do bars.  These are so amazingly delicious that I am glad all my other plans were foiled.  (Although I am still coming over for that cake Vicki!)

lemon meringue barsAs you may have guessed the pie I had planned on making for Pi Day was lemon meringue.  I have fond childhood memories of this classic pie.  My mom would whip one up on breezy summer weekends.  There was something so magical about that swirly golden dome piled high on top of an otherwise perfectly delicious lemon pie.  I’m almost certain it would be devoured in a day because I cannot remember ever having leftovers.

This is the closest I have came to making a lemon meringue pie myself.  My only regret about this recipe is that I am still in a cold/sinus yuckville state.  Therefor my tastebuds cannot fully enjoy the sweet and tart yumminess.  Regardless it was well worth the effort.

lemon meringue barsThe proportions of the layers are completely to taste.  I like a shortbread crust and I like it to be as thick as the filling.  As for the meringue, skies the limit for me.  But if you are not into thick crust, or a load of meringue simply cut both of those things in half.  You can also adjust the sweetness level in the meringue but cutting back the sugar.  This version is a little sweeter than I am used to, I might try to take it down a notch the next time.

lemon meringue bars lemon meringue barsOne thing about that meringue being as tall as a tower is that it is visually exciting.  In other words this is an “impress your guests” dessert.  It’s kind of like cake, I don’t always eat all of the frosting per say…but if it’s pretty my eyes will get a feast regardless of how much I send to my belly.

lemon meringue bars lemon meringue barsHere’s to childhood memories layered tall in sweet fluff, luscious lemon and buttery crumbly crust.






5.0 from 1 reviews
lemon meringue bars
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 12 bars
  • For the Shortbread Crust
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • lemon zest from 2 lemons
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼tsp salt
  • For the Filling
  • 6 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • For the Meringue
  • 1¼ cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup or simple syrup
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 6 egg whites, at room temperature
  1. Make the crust. Preheat the oven 350 degress. Line a 9X9 pan with parchment paper - be sure to leave some hanging over the sides.
  2. Place butter, sugar, flour, zest and salt in a mixing bowl in mix on low speed until it becomes a crumbly dough. Press into an even layer in pan.
  3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the crust is golden. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
  4. Make the filling. Beat yolks in an electric mixer with whisk attachment on high speed for 2 to 3 minutes (until pale and fluffy). With mixer still running very gradually add condensed milk and mix until light and fluffy (3 to 5 minutes). Stop mixer, scrape down sides and add lemon juice. Beat on medium speed for 30 seconds to a minute.
  5. Pour filling over cooled crust and back on 350degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool on wire rack to room temperature and then cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  6. For the topping. Combine 1cup and 2tbsp of sugar, water and corn or simple syrup in a small saucepan attached with a candy thermometer. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once boiling stop stirring and allow it to continue to boil until it reaches 240degrees.
  7. While the sugar is coming up to temperature use a mixer with a whisk attachment and beat egg whites until soft peaks form (about a minute). With mixer still on gradually add the 2 remaining tbsp of sugar. Turn mixer off at this point is syrup is not to temperature. Once syrup is ready set mixer to medium and slowly add syrup, allowing it to run down the side of the mixer bowl. When all added turn mixer to high until meringue is stiff, thick and cool. About 5 to 7 minutes.
  8. Now the fun part. Turn your oven broiler on high. Spread meringue on top of the lemon bars (I took the bars out of the pan and used the parchment paper to help me make "sides". Be sure to make a swirl pattern at the top for pretty presentation. Stick the bars under the broiler (I left about 6" between broiler and top of meringue) and absolutely do not leave it. Watch it until it turns the desired amount of brown (this will happen fast - if you miss it, it will burn). After your meringue has been toasted let it cool and then cut with a knife that has been dipped in warm water (for cleaner cuts). Keep left over bars in an airtight container in the fridge.


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4 Responses to lemon meringue bars

  1. Barb says:

    This looks simply wonderful. Can’t wait to try the recipe. Have lemon meringue. Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. These lemon meringue bars are just SO incredible. I am drooling over the images.. and that meringue height is just wow!

    • prettyplainjanes says:

      Thank you Thalia! They were so good and refreshing (for a really decadent dessert)! xo, brandy j