These chewy honey and lemon shortbread bars are bursting with fresh citrus flavour, naturally sweetened with honey, and topped with a drizzle of sugar-free lemon glaze. Perfect with a cup of Earl Grey tea!
Whenever someone asks me to name my favourite dessert, I always struggle with the answer. My standard response is usually tiramisu – the combination of chocolate and coffee and the clever mix of textures gets me every. single. time. But the funny thing is that if tiramisu and a lemon bar were on the same menu, I would probably go for the lemon bar. Anything sour is my weakness (don’t even get me started on my obsession for mustard, you’ll be here all day). And it’s that love of lemon desserts and an evening cup of honey-sweetened Earl Grey tea that inspired this one-bowl Honey and Lemon Shortbread Bars recipe.
I know I live in England and I should frown upon those who can’t make shortbread that snaps, but honestly, the chewy crumbliness of these lemon shortbread bars is one of my favourite things about them. All cookie bars should be chewy with slightly crispy edges. Period. These bars deliver that texture in spades – partnered with the zing of fresh lemon and the natural sweetness of honey, I really can’t think of a better treat to have with your afternoon tea.
Now all you need is that English countryside garden with swathes of violet wisteria dangling overhead, amiright?
Tips for perfect one-bowl honey and lemon shortbread bars
Making the perfect lemon shortbread bar is so easy that you’ll only need one bowl! I suggest using an electric hand whisk in the recipe, but it can be done with a regular whisk. You’ll just get more of a tricep workout when creaming the butter and honey.
To achieve the crumbly texture shortbread is known for, you want to handle the dough as little as possible once you’ve added the flour. Mix only until all the flour is incorporated and then add it to the baking tray with a light hand. The more you work the flour, the more the gluten will develop and your dough will become less “short.”
For the best flavour, go fresh and local. Lemon and honey are the two key flavour profiles in this lemon shortbread bar recipe. Since we’re using minimal ingredients, why not splurge a little and ensure you’re baking with the best you can get. Freshly squeezed lemon juice and zest are far more flavourful than the bottled kind, and raw local honey not only helps out your community (and the bees!), but it also tastes way nicer than the imported commercial stuff.
When lining your baking tray, be sure to create a one or two inch overhang with the parchment paper. This will help you easily remove the bars from the tray once they’re baked. If you try and tip this bar upside down to remove it, it will likely crumble apart.
Keep an eye on the bars when they’re baking. Honey contains a much higher sugar content than refined sugar, which means these lemon shortbread bars tend to catch more easily. Have some foil on hand in case they start to brown too much.
How to make lemon glaze without icing sugar
Traditionally, lemon glazes are made with tons of refined icing sugar and a splash of lemon juice. While my version is (very slightly) more labour intensive, it is naturally sweetened with honey and still produces a sweet drippy glaze you can pour over cakes, cookies, tarts, or these Honey and Lemon Shortbread Bars.
Simply whisk together flour and milk over a low heat until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Then remove it from the heat and add honey, lemon juice, and a pinch of sea salt. Whisk it up, leave it to cool and thicken to a pourable consistency, and voila! Naturally sweetened drippy lemon glaze.
The best bit about this glaze is that it isn’t as sickly sweet as conventional icing sugar glazes, meaning you can flavour it any way you like without it ending up too cloying. I’ll show you what I mean by this in next week’s recipe!
If you’re also a lemon desserts lover, I know you’ll be just as addicted to these Honey and Lemon Shortbread Bars as I am! They’re just the right amount of sweet and tart, crumbly, and chewy. I also love that they’re a one-bowl recipe and only take about 30 minutes from start to finish!
Let me know you’ve made this recipe by snapping a picture and tagging me on Instagram @naturallysweet_kitchen. I love seeing your creations and sharing them in my Stories!
Looking for more naturally sweetened citrus recipes?
- Mini Lemon Lavender Cakes
- Orange Creamsicle Parfaits
- Grapefruit and Thyme Mascarpone Tart
- Frozen Margarita Tart
Honey and Lemon Shortbread Bars
These honey and lemon shortbread bars are naturally sweetened with honey and topped with a sugar-free lemon glaze. Perfect for tea time.
Lemon Shortbread Bars
- 226 g unsalted butter
- 170 g unpasteurised honey
- ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon zest
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- 250 g plain flour
Honey Lemon Glaze
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 75 ml milk
- 2 tbsp unpasteurised honey
- Pinch fine sea salt
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 170ºC (335ºF) and grease and line a 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8 in) baking tray with non-stick paper. Be sure to leave a bit of paper overhanging the sides for easy removal.
Using an electric hand mixer, beat together the butter and honey in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Alternatively, you can use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a manual whisk or wooden spoon.
- Add the vanilla, lemon zest and juice, and salt and beat to combine.
- Sift in the flour and mix just until all the flour disappears. Do not over mix.
- Ladle the batter into the prepared tin. Spread it out to the edges and level the top. Bake the bar for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Allow the bar to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling. Once the bars have cooled completely, glaze and slice into 9 or 12 equal squares.
Honey Lemon Glaze
- In a small saucepan, whisk together the flour and milk over a medium-low heat until slightly thickened. It should be able to lightly coat the back of a spoon.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and whisk in the honey, salt, and lemon juice. Strain the glaze through a metal sieve to remove any excess flour lumps. Allow to sit and cool to room temperature before drizzling the glaze over the bars.
These bars will keep sealed in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.