Sweet and tart with a slightly nutty finish, these Pistachio Lemon Shortbread Bars are the perfect combination of all your favorite sweets. The buttery shortbread crust gets an upgrade from punchy green pistachios while the tangy lemon curd and powdered sugar topping create a perfect balance. These are perfect cold or at room temperature and are easy to take along to picnics, barbecues, and bake sales.

Small plates with pistachio lemon bars next to powdered sugar.

Classic Lemon Bars With A Pistachio Twist 

Bright, summery, and sweet, there’s something magical about biting into a fresh batch of lemon squares. Who knew that such a sour fruit would be the star of one of the best desserts around? What makes this recipe even better is that you don’t have to worry about shaping the cookies ahead of time.

Bar cookies can be popped out of their pan, cooled, and then chopped into whatever shape you like! They’re so easy, but so impressive. 

Over here, we love lemons and pistachios. My husband goes crazy for these flavors so I thought it would be fun to take a classic lemon bar recipe and turn it into something a little extra special. I mixed the crushed pistachios into the buttery shortbread base and throughout the entire bar. It gives a little extra texture to each bite while also making them sturdier for handheld eating. Who hasn’t fallen victim to a too-gooey lemon bar? 

While they’re sweet, they aren’t going to give you a toothache. The salty pistachios and buttery crust mellow out the sugary filling and powdered sugar coating. I recommend using fresh lemon juice for this recipe so that the lemon flavor really shines through. When working with lemon desserts, using fresh lemons makes a world of difference.

You’ll sprinkle powdered sugar on top once they’ve cooled or you can add an interesting design.

A tray of lemon bars with a grid design on top.

If you want to really wow the lemon lover in your life, this lemon chess pie and lemon chiffon pie are a must for your dessert list. If you prefer more buttery cookies, try my orange shortbread or chocolate chip shortbread

What Kind Of Lemons Should I Use? 

When you think of lemons, do you think about “regular” lemons or Meyer lemons? That seems to be where any distinction ends, but they actually are pretty different! Meyer lemons have a thinner, more delicate skin and are much sweeter than your standard lemon. You can absolutely use Meyer lemons for this recipe, the flavor may just be more on the sweet side. The acidity of a standard lemon is what helps balance out all the sugar in this recipe.

I think you’ll find that while these are sweet, they are not overly so. Salty and sweet are a great combination.

Why These Are The Perfect Lemon Bars

  • Golden Brown – The shortbread gets a lovely golden brown color that’s full of yummy caramelized butter flavor. 
  • Creamy Lemon Filling – As bright yellow as it is tasty, the lemon filling is creamy and soft while the added pistachios add a surprise texture. 
  • Simple Recipe – Don’t let the ingredients list fool you! Shortbread and lemon curd filling are so easy to make that you’ll start whipping these up for every event. 

Ingredients For Lemon Shortbread Bars

Ingredients for the shortbread.
Gather the ingredients for the crust..
The ingredients for the lemon filling.
Gather the ingredients for the filling.

​Shortbread Dough

  • Pistachios – I recommend getting salted, shelled pistachios to save you time.
     
  • Dry Ingredients – Flour, salt, and confectioners’ sugar, which is also known as powdered sugar. 
  • Butter – Shortbread calls for cold butter, cut into small pieces. 

Lemon Filling

  • Eggs – All good custards have them! 
  • Sugar – You’ll need both granulated and confectioners’ sugar for this part!
  • Flour
  • Lemon Zest – Grab your microplane and get to work! 
  • Lemon Juice – Fresh lemon juice makes all the difference. 
  • Pistachios – Finely chopped. 

How To Make The Best Lemon Bars

Step One: Preheat and Prep

Preheat oven to 350º. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper. This makes getting them out of the pan a breeeze.

Step Two: Make Shortbread

Place pistachios in a food processor and process until finely ground, but not so much that it turns into butter. Add flour, white sugar, and salt and process to combine. Add cold butter and process.

Ground pistachios in a food processor.
Grind part of the nuts.
The shortbread ingredients in a food. processor.
Add sugar and cold butter.

Firmly press into the bottom of the prepared baking pan, you can use a measuring cup to evenly flatten the dough.

The shortbread dough in a baking pan.
Add the shortbread to a pan.
Shortbread dough patted into a baking pan.
Tap down with a measuring cup.

Step Three: Bake Shortbread

Bake until lightly browned, 15-20 minutes.

Baked shortbread in the baking pan.
Bake until lightly browned.

Step Four: Make Filling

In a medium bowl, whisk together the filling ingredients. When the crust has baked remove from the oven and pour the filling into the pan.

Chopped pistachios on a cutting board.
Chop the nuts.
The lemon filling in a mixing bowl.
Combine the filling ingredients.

Bake until set.

Baked pistachio lemon bars in the baking pan.

Step Five: Decorate

Let cool completely. Place a wire rack over the bars and lightly dust confectioners’ sugar on top. It’ll leave a fun grid design that’ll stick to the filling. 

A rate over the top of lemon pistachio bars.
Place a grate over the top and dust with powdered sugar.
A lemon bar with a powdered sugar design on top.
Carefully remove the grate.

Tips For Easy Lemon Bars

  • Like any baking project, try not to overwork the dough! 
  • It’s okay for there to be chunks of butter in your shortbread dough! It’ll melt and leave delicious buttery bursts in each bite. 
  • Grate extra lemon zest and sprinkle on top with the powdered sugar for a little extra decoration. 
A lemon bar with a bite taken out.

How To Store Leftover Lemon Bars

These pistachio lemon bars don’t need to be refrigerated, but they can be for a longer shelf life. 

In The Fridge: Store them in an airtight container and they will keep for up to a week. 

In The Freezer: When stored in an airtight container, they can last several months! 

Pistachio Lemon Shortbread Bars

Sweet and tart with a slightly nutty finish, these Pistachio Lemon Shortbread Bars are the perfect combination of all your favorite sweets. The buttery shortbread crust gets an upgrade from punchy green pistachios while the tangy lemon curd and powdered sugar topping create a perfect balance. These are perfect cold or at room temperature and are easy to take along to picnics, barbecues, and bake sales.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 16
Calories: 173kcal

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1/4 cup salted pistachios shelled
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter cold, cut into pieces

Filling

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup salted pistachios chopped
  • confectioner’s sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350º. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper. S
  • Place pistachios in a food processor and process until finely ground, but not so much that it turns into butter. Add flour, white sugar, and salt and process to combine. Add cold butter and process.
    Firmly press into the bottom of the prepared baking pan, you can use a measuring cup to evenly flatten the dough.
  • Bake until lightly browned, 15-20 minutes.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the filling ingredients. When the crust has baked remove from the oven and pour the filling into the pan. Bake until set, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely and dust with confectioners’ sugar.
  • Let cool completely. Place a wire rack over the bars and lightly dust confectioners' sugar on top. It'll leave a fun grid design that'll stick to the filling.

Notes

  • Like any baking project, try not to overwork the dough! 
  • It’s okay for there to be chunks of butter in your shortbread dough! It’ll melt and leave delicious buttery bursts in each bite. 
  • Grate extra lemon zest and sprinkle on top with the powdered sugar for a little extra decoration. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 173kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 36mg | Sodium: 90mg | Potassium: 68mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 219IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @easy.southern.desserts or tag #easysoutherndesserts!

I first published this recipe for Lemon Pistachio Bars on my Southern food blog Butter and Baggage.

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