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Pistachio lemon bars

Updated: Tue, 12 September, 2023

Lemon and pistachio shortcrust bars are unbelievably easy to make but that doesn’t remotely compare to how easy they are to eat.

pistachio lemon bars

Square your bars and slice them

Bars, squares or slices are simple confections, usually featuring a shortcrust base with gooey topping. However you call them, they are an awesomely good concept: cut into pieces for ease of handling, rather than for restraint in consuming.

I must admit I’d not paid much attention to bars/slices/whatever before. Millionaires, rocky roads, bakewells and angels with icing seemed all too processed, too evenly square, too much boring icing on boring sponge.

I know that when I first saw a panettone, I knew I wanted to try baking it at home. Peanut butter cake bars never incited such emotion. I wouldn’t want to copycat them any more than I’d like to make boiled sweets at home. Just. Not. Appealing.

lemon and pistachio squares

The appeal of pistachios

It was the pistachios that attracted me in this recipe, featured in NY Times Cooking.

My daughter who often visits with the sole aim of checking on what I’m baking, had recently dumped her nut allergy sufferer boyfriend.

Since then she has been asking if I was baking anything nutty. She can’t get enough after years of abstemiousness through not keeping a single almond at home. I’m pleased to indulge her: the allergy was the only interesting feature of the boyfriend.

Thus, looking for nut-baking inspiration I found these bars and now I’m converted. Since, to be honest, quite a few cakes can be cut into rectangles and called ‘slices’, it opens a new world of possibilities.

And if my inner baking snob is not happy with bars or slices I can always keep the thing whole, serve it in tranches with forks and call it a tarte.

lemons and pistachios

How to make the shortcrust base

Yes, it needs to be blind baked, i.e. prebaked briefly before the filling goes in, but it is the easiest recipe for shortcrust I know.

All you do is either blitz in a food processor or simply mix with your finger the flour, sugar, diced butter and chopped pistachios. The only difference between food processor or hand processor is that in the handiwork, the pistachios should be chopped a little finer, naturally.

That powdery mass is poured into the tin lined with parchment and packed in by pressing down on it with the flat bottom of a tumbler or your fingers.

It should bake for about twenty minutes until barely coloured.

shortcrust base

How to make the (divine, amazing) lemon filling

Just as easy, if not easier: by whisking everything together, the eggs, the lemon zest and juice, sugar and pistachios with a little flour and a pinch of baking powder.

lemon filling

This mixture goes over the prebaked base and returns to the oven, for another twenty minutes. And that’s it done.

baked lemon filled pastry

When it’s completely cold, cut it into squares or bars, or triangles or completely irregular slices. No matter how cut, they will be incredibly delicious.

The base melts in your mouth but is good to handle in your paws without dissolving into crumbs, and the lemon topping is rhapsodic.

It isn’t just lemon curd, like on some lemon slices. It is cakey rather than wobbly-gooey which I personally prefer. And it’s very difficult to have just one of those bars and stop there.

lemon bars with pistachios

More bar and slice recipes

Date and nut squares, with chunks of Medjool dates and a mix of almonds, pecans and pistachios in rich, chewy batter. There’s a reason why these are called ‘food for gods’.

Maple shortbread bars with almonds and pistachio. This recipe is a variation of maple pecan squares, with almonds and pistachios replacing pecans. Maple shortcrust slices are easy to make and delicious dessert bars.

Pecan Linzer bars from NY Times with easy, nutty shortcrust pastry and jam filling are one of those ultimately comforting sweets: a posh version of jammy shortbread bars.

lemon curd and shortcrust base squares

More pistachio recipes

Pistachio morning buns, a treat for breakfast, with a cardamom scent and toasted pistachio and sugar crunch. Made from enriched bread dough on tangzhong milk starter.

Pistachio and cherry tart based on Ottolenghi’s recipe, with pistachio paste frangipane filling studded with glace cherries. It’s bliss. It’s the queen of tarts.

Sicilian pistachio cookies, Italian macarons made with ground pistachios. These are delicious, meltingly soft pistachio cookies made from just three base ingredients.

lemon pistachio slices

Pistachio lemon bars

Servings: 16Time: 50 minutes


  • For the shortcrust base:
  • 125g (1 cup) plain flour
  • 30g (14 cup) icing sugar
  • 14 tsp fine salt
  • 115g (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, diced
  • 30g (14 cup) shelled unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped
  • For the filling:
  • 2 eggs
  • 200g (1 cup) caster sugar
  • 15g (2 tbsp) plain flour
  • 12 tsp baking powder
  • zest grated from 1 lemon
  • juice squeezed from 1 lemon (4 tbsp)
  • 40g (13 cup) shelled unsalted pistachios, whole
  • icing sugar, for dusting


1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Line a 20cm/9 inch square tin with parchment.

2. Blitz the crust ingredients in the food processor until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Pour it into the tin and press down firmly with your fingers or with flat bottom of a glass or a cup.

3. Bake for 20 minutes until barely coloured.

4. For the filling, whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl. Remove the crust from the oven when baked, pour in the filling and return to the oven for another 20 minutes, until set. Cool completely in the tin.

5. Remove the pastry onto a chopping board with the parchment, dust with icing sugar and cut into squares with a serrated knife.

Originally published: Wed, 4 April, 2018

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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