Coconut Oil Lemon Bars

I note the change of seasons mainly by the calendar, but if I pay close attention I see it in the cascading bougainvillea plant I walk past every day. Its fuchsia color intensifies come spring and it blooms the tiniest white buds from its core. Its petals carpet the lawn, a welcome concealment of the parched grass, and a pretty sight for our walk home. Everything about outside is so spring. The sun beams hotter yet the breeze is assertive enough to blow stray strands across my cheek and keep things pleasant. The birds chirp louder and we’re keeping even the lightest jacket in the closet. Really, I love spring. Almost as much as autumn. The market situation is also one to anticipate. I see the strawberries perk up and get sweeter by the pint. Yet signs of a fleeting winter is evident by the remnants of citrus still waiting to be used up. That’s where these Lemon Bars belong, in this transition.

It’s been a little while since I made them and I should revisit them. They are tart and sour yet sweet and soft. At their base is a shortbread-type of crust made with coconut oil, to keep things dairy free. Since I used unrefined coconut oil, it has a pronounced effect on the flavor, but we’re into that sort of thing here. You can use butter instead if dairy isn’t an issue. The citrus filling isn’t overly sweet, rather it strikes the perfect balance between lip-puckering sour and sugary. I reduced the sugar from the original recipe, as a way of course, so if you like your dessert on the sweeter side feel free to increase, just don’t reduce the sugar further. 

A handsome bite into the smooth, dense flesh yields a burst of flavor. The bar melts in your mouth and your left with a desire to revisit the texture and taste yet again. You know, bite after bite.  


adapted by Ina Garten

1 cup coconut oil

1/2 granulated sugar

2 cups flour

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

6 large eggs

1/5 cups granulated sugar

2 tablespoons lemon zest (from 4-6 lemons)

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup flour

confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350F. 

Prepare the crust by mixing the coconut oil and sugar in a stand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Turn the speed to low and add the flour and salt. Mix until just combined. Gather the dough into a ball and press into a 9x13 inch baking pan, building a 1/2 inch edge on all sides. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until very faintly golden brown. Let cool slightly. Leave the oven on.

For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature and dust with confectioner’s sugar.