Strawberry Lemonade Bars
Strawberry lemonade is such a quintessential summer drink.
Bars that taste like strawberry lemonade are even better than drinking it.
The bars are what you’d get if you crossed a crumble-topped strawberry pie with a lemon bar. They’re sweet from the strawberries with some tart lemon flavor that peeks through. They’re soft, juicy, satisfying, and I love crumble–topped anything.
The bars are adapted from my recent Blueberry Pie Bars which was an instant reader favorite. There’s a soft yet crisp, buttery, shortbread-style crust. The crust mixture does double duty as the crumble topping. I love it when that happens so there’s one less step and one less bowl to wash.
There’s a creamy, sweet, lemony filling that tops the crust, which gives the bars a soft but dense texture. I used Sunkist lemons and they add so much wonderful flavor to sweets, In savory dishes, using lemons is a great way to reduce the need for salt. Check out the Sunkist S’alterntive for recipe ideas using lemons instead of salt.
Strawberries and lemon zest top the filling layer. The berries soften and release their juices while baking and the juicy berries help the bars stay very moist. I used a combination of fresh and frozen strawberries.
I generally bake with frozen fruit because it’s cheaper and available year-round, but it tends to be juicier. Therefore, I needed to add flour to firm up the strawberry layer. You may not if you’re baking exclusively with fresh berries. Baking time will vary based on if your berries are fresh, frozen, and how juicy they are.
Between the firm crust, soft filling, juicy strawberries, fragrant lemon zest, and sandy crumbles, there are so many wonderful textures and flavors in every thick bite.
They taste fancy enough to serve at a special event, luncheon, or brunch, yet are homey and comforting.
A perfect summertime treat.
Strawberry Lemonade Bars
Bars that taste like strawberry lemonade are even better than drinking it. The bars are what you’d get if you crossed a crumble-topped strawberry pie with a lemon bar. They’re sweet from the strawberries with some tart lemon flavor that peeks through. They’re soft, juicy, satisfying, and the crust mixture does double duty as the crumble topping. There’s a creamy, sweet, lemony filling that tops the crust, which gives the bars a soft but dense texture. The strawberries soften and release their juices while baking and help the bars stay moist. I used a combination of fresh and frozen strawberries and added flour to the strawberry layer. You may not if you’re baking exclusively with fresh berries. Baking time will vary based on if your berries are fresh, frozen, and how juicy they are. Between the firm crust, soft filling, juicy strawberries, fragrant lemon zest, and sandy crumbles, there are so many wonderful textures and flavors in every bite.
Crust and Crumble Topping
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
pinch salt, optional and to taste
1 large egg
1/2 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt; or sour cream (lite is okay)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 heaping cups diced strawberries (fresh or frozen; I used a combo)
1/3 cup granulated sugar (or 1/2 cup if berries are sour)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest, or to taste
2 teaspoons cornstarch
up to 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (if using fresh berries, you may not need any flour, and if using frozen berries you likely will need 2 tablespoons)
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray; set aside. Lining the pan will really help with cleanup and is recommended.
- Crust and Crumble Topping – In a large, microwave-safe bowl melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power.
- Add the sugars and whisk to combine.
- And the flour, optional salt, and stir to combine. Mixture will be very dry and sandy with some larger, well-formed crumble pieces.
- Set a heaping 3/4 cup crumble mixture aside.
- Transfer remaining mixture to prepared pan, and using a spatula or your fingers, hard-pack the mixture to create an even, smooth, flat crust; set aside.
- Filling – In a medium bowl, add the egg, Greek yogurt, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, and whisk to combine or beat with a handheld electric mixer until smooth.
- Add the flour and whisk to combine or beat with a handheld electric mixer until smooth.
- Evenly pour filling over the crust and jiggle pan to help distribute it or smooth it with a spatula; set aside.
- Strawberry Layer – In a separate medium bowl, add all filling ingredients except flour and toss to combine.
- Evaluate mixture and if it’s very thin, runny, soupy, or liquidy, add up to 2 tablespoons flour to help thicken it. If using fresh berries, you may not need any flour. Because I used half fresh and half frozen berries, I needed 2 tablespoons flour because my mixture was thin and soupy.
- Evenly distribute strawberry mixture over the filling, smoothing it lightly with a spatula.
- Evenly sprinkle with the reserved heaping 3/4 cup crust mixture. Before sprinkling, I squeeze the mixture in my palm to encourage bigger crumble pieces to form.
- Bake for about 60 to 75 minutes (place pan on a cookie sheet for insurance against overflow if your pan is quite full), or until edges are bubbling quite vigorously and there’s some bubbling in the center. Crumble topping should appear set and very pale golden. I used some frozen berries and the pan was very cold going into the oven and the strawberry layer was quite runny; I baked for 72 minutes. If using fresh berries, baking time will be reduced, likely right at the 60 minute mark, but start checking at 50 minutes. Watch your bars, not the clock, when evaluating doneness. Place pan on a wire rack and allow bars to cool for at least 2 hours (overnight is even better) before slicing and serving. After cooling overnight, I placed pan in the fridge 2 hours before slicing to ensure clean, neat cuts. If you try to slice bars before they’ve cooled completely, they’ll be extremely messy and could fall apart. Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, in the fridge for up to 10 days (they’re good slightly chilled if you like chilled pie and I store them in the fridge), or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Adapted from Blueberry Pie Bars
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