Lavender Lemon Bars

Look, I’m a simple girl with simple needs. I like my slippers fuzzy, and my gossip magazines trashy. I like my water cold and my chocolate hot, unless we’re talking about showers and ice cream, in which case, you should reverse that. And often, I like my desserts with a whiff of the flower garden about them.

Lavender Lemon Bars | From SugarHero.com

The fact that I’m a sucker for floral flavors has been discussed on this blog too many times to count. We’ll put down our sticks and leave that poor horse to rest in peace. But that’s not going to stop me from continuing to cram lavender, rose, and violet flavors into other desserts, because they’re amazing,  they deserve to be added to every dish, and I shall not be persuaded otherwise.

Lavender Lemon Bars | From SugarHero.com

Ever since coming up with these Passion Fruit Bars last year, I haven’t seen a need to make plain lemon bars. Why bother, when passion fruit is 65% more delicious and 100% more fun to say? Well, last week I had a lack of passion fruit puree, a surplus of lemons, and a wicked craving for tart, creamy bars, so it seemed like it was finally time to revisit the old classic.

Lavender Lemon Bars | From SugarHero.com

I gave my lemon bars a twist by making one little substitution: I swapped the regular sugar with lavender sugar. Lavender sugar is super simple to make—you basically just blend lavender buds and granulated sugar together in a food processor until the lavender is in small pieces. (Don’t be fooled by the picture below—the lavender flowers are just for looks. You’ll be using regular culinary lavender buds, the kind you can buy in the spice section of the market.)

Lavender sugar is such a lovely ingredient. It’s very aromatic, with a woodsy, vanilla fragrance and a mildly herbal taste. I made some for Christmas gifts a few years ago, packaged in purple jars. (Pinterest wannabe, party of one.) It’s a great pantry item because it keeps for ages and is a wonderful addition to hot drinks, lemonade, or cookie recipes.

Lavender Lemon Bars | From SugarHero.com

In this Lavender Lemon Bars recipe, lavender sugar is used in both the shortbread crust and the lemon filling. The cookies are noticeably different from your typical lemon bar, but I suspect most people probably wouldn’t be able to guess that lavender is the secret ingredient. If anything, I thought that they had a strong vanilla taste, even though there was just a bit of vanilla in the crust and none in the filling. The lavender gives them a light, fresh quality that perfectly matches the bright lemon flavor. They’re a good way to say goodbye to spring, and I think they’ll be showing up at our barbecues and potlucks all summer long!

Lavender Lemon Bars | From SugarHero.com

 

Lavender Lemon Bars
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 20
Ingredients
For the Lavender Sugar:
For the Crust:
  • 8 oz unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • ½ cup lavender sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 cups (9 oz) all-purpose flour
For the Filling:
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1¼ cups fresh lemon juice
  • 2¾ cups lavender sugar
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • Powdered sugar, for serving
Instructions
To Make the Lavender Sugar:
  1. Place the dried lavender in the bowl of a food processor and blend it for 10-15 seconds to chop it into small pieces. Add 1 cup of granulated sugar to the processor and blend well, for 15-20 seconds, until the lavender is finely ground and mixed into the sugar. Whisk the lavender sugar together with the remaining 2¼ cups sugar until the lavender is well dispersed.
To Make the Crust:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9×13 pan with foil so that it extends up the sides, and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the melted butter, lavender sugar, vanilla, and salt. Once mixed, add the flour and stir with a spatula until it is combined and no streaks of flour remain. Scrape the dough into the pan and press it into an even layer. It might seem a little greasy—this is normal.
  3. Bake the crust for 25-30 minutes at 350 F, until it’s golden brown on top. While the crust is baking, prepare the filling so it’s ready to go as soon as the crust is done.
To Make the Filling:
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, lemon juice, lavender sugar, and lemon zest. Sift the flour on top of the egg mixture, and whisk it in as well.
  2. When the filling is done baking, slide the rack part-way out of the oven. Pour the filling over the hot crust and slide it back into the oven. Reduce the temperature to 325 F and bake for 25-30 minutes. It’s done when the center barely jiggles when you tap the pan.
  3. Once done, remove the pan from the oven and let it cool until it reaches room temperature. For the cleanest cuts, refrigerate the bars and cut them when completely cold. To cut, remove the bars from the pan using the foil as handles. Use a large sharp chef’s knife and wipe it off often between cuts. Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar before serving, and add a few lavender buds on top if desired. Store Lavender Lemon Bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Notes
Dried lavender can often be found near the spices in the baking aisle of the market. I have had good luck finding it at Cost Plus World Market, if you have one nearby. I like to top my bars with non-melting powdered sugar, which (as the name suggests) won't melt into the bars due to condensation. You can buy non-melting sugar at King Arthur Flour. This crust recipe is from Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert.

 

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47 Responses to Lavender Lemon Bars
  1. Danguole says:

    Were you popping in to visit my brain this weekend? Because I definitely bought lavender and plan to do fun stuff. I mean, I love it, but really haven’t cooked with it much–I think it’s because I tried to grow it on my windowsill once and it just didn’t yield much. So. <–cool story about how I'm gonna be all up in lavender's face on the blog this summer!

    Also, these are just downright lovely. Want!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Yep, just made a quick pit stop in your brain before making my weekly recipes–that’s how we brain twins operate, you know! Cannot WAIT to see what you come up with this summer! We are going to lavender all the things up!

  2. Wow, those look great! I love flowery desserts too, I’ll have to try this variation sometime! :)

  3. Just lovely. I agree florals belong in desserts.

  4. These are so pretty! I love the lavender!!

  5. Medeja says:

    Elizabeth! They look so sunny and cute!

  6. Rebecca says:

    Love lemon bars and lavender. I would have never thought of putting them together but I can’t wait to try it!

  7. dina says:

    lavender is such a lovely variation to lemon bars!

  8. Marcia says:

    I can’t wait to try this! I too LOVE, baking with Lavender. I discovered this from Cooking Light. They have a great Biscotti recipe that uses lavender. “Biscotti with Lavender and Orange” I used the flower buds instead of the leaves the recipe calls for and I was so surprised at the delicate flavor. It’s amazing. And now I have a recipe that uses lavender in one of my most favorite bars ever!

    • Elizabeth says:

      That biscotti sounds amazing! Thanks for the recommendation. I think lavender + orange sounds delicious and I will definitely hunt down that recipe so I can give them a try. I’d love to hear what you think if you try the lemon bars–plus it will give you an excuse to make lavender sugar and I’m sure you’ll find a million uses for that!

  9. Liz says:

    What a luscious flavor combination! I need some lemon bars in my life ASAP :)

  10. CakePants says:

    I adore lemon bars, and the addition of lavender makes this version more delicate and quaint than ever! These would be so perfect for a bridal shower, don’t you think?

  11. Wendy says:

    I love floral flavors in food (sweet and savory). Lavender with lemon is a delicious combination and these bars are beautiful! A little lavender goes a long way. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that when I first purchased culinary lavender online. Turns out I have enough for a small army. I need as many lavender recipes as I can find!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Haha, you’re so right! It’s a shame they sell it in half-pound bags when most recipes require a spoonful or two. You’re going to be enjoying lavender desserts for a long, long time! Fortunately that’s not a bad thing. :)

  12. Gorgeous pictures! I love lavender but unfortunately never have good luck growing it. The combination of lemon and lavender is just perfect!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thanks Ashley! I don’t have a green thumb so I have to content myself with buying it…at least that way I can enjoy it whenever!

  13. This is so awesome that you incorporated lavender into these bars!! I want!!

  14. Johlene says:

    These just make me want to take a bite.. I swear if I could just grab one through the screen I´d be a very happy lady :-) :-) They look so good!!

  15. If you love floral desserts so much, have you ever tried those violet candies they sell in drugstores? They smell amazing. I still haven’t tried incorporating lavender in a recipe but I love the scent so I’m sure I’d adore it…especially in lemon bars!!!

  16. Hey girl, I always love stopping by here… your bright photos and header always puts me in a good mood! These lemon bars make me absolutely happy!

  17. Why does lavender flavored anything make me think of breezy white farmhouses, weeping willows, and retired nuns? All are peaceful – so maybe that’s why? If these things bring peace, I’m going to make them by the truck-load, because, after all, it IS summer break as of today, and we are off to a wham-bang start with the kids butting heads ALREADY. Do these invoke peace? DO THEY? If yes, I’m headed to the kitchen immediately, lavender in hand.

    • Elizabeth says:

      I know!! I always feel like I’m living in a beautiful beach catalog or something. :) I don’t know if these invoke peace, but maybe you can lock the kitchen door while you’re making them, crank the music up, and pretend like you’re home alone! That’s the second-best thing, right?

  18. Rachel says:

    Just wanted to let you know that I made these for a dinner party last night. Not only were they delicious, I had several people ask me for the recipe. These are GREAT! Definitely going to make them again. Thank you so much!

  19. The ultimate domestic project: Combining baking and gardening. :) I am so excited to try these, or possibly make them for my dad since 1). They’re his favorite, and 2). I’m heading back home this weekend for a while. So thanks for the inspiration! These are so dang pretty, too.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Yes! When will I get my domestic merit badge and start a garden? I am the laziest when it comes to that. :) Aw, I hope you’re able to make them for your dad, that would be so sweet! (groan-worthy pun intended.) I also think vanilla beans or a bit of rosemary would be awesome substitutes for the lavender. Thanks Meggan!

  20. Heather W. says:

    Just brought these to a food swap potluck and they were just lovely! I don’t usually love floral flavors but it was just the perfect amount of lavender to make them interesting- very summery and fun. I did try to pile them up on a cute platter and walk half a block which as they all began to ooze together and fall on my sidewalk and myself, I decided they are much too soft to stack! Luckily after a pile of wet wipes and a glass of wine, I recovered from this mistake. And there were still enough to share. Thanks for another delightful recipe Elizabeth!

    • Elizabeth says:

      So glad to hear you enjoyed them, Heather! I do think the final texture depends a lot on the bake time. It’s a tricky balance to get them firm enough to cut and serve at room temp, but not rubbery or hard…I’m glad they worked out, though! Thanks as always for your sweet comments. xoxo

  21. Leigha says:

    These look divine! Will these work in an 8x8in pan if I reduce the ingredient measurements by half?

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hi Leigha, You can definitely cut it in half and use an 8×8 pan! The baking times for the crust and filling might need to be adjusted, so just keep an eye on it in the oven, but otherwise you should be good to go!

  22. Amy says:

    Do you think I could substitute oil in place of butter? Or, is the butter really necessary~~

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hi Amy,

      I haven’t tried it with oil, so I can’t say for sure. My guess is that it would work okay. Coconut oil might be a nice substitute!

  23. Amy says:

    Thank-you!! Coconut oil was exactly what I was thinking….. these look fabulous. I am so happy to have stumbled upon your site!

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