Basil-Lemon Bars


Grandma might step aside when you bring these bars to the next family gathering.

Basil-Lemon Bars
Photo: Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Christine Keely
Active Time:
20 mins
Bake Time:
1 hrs
Cool Time:
1 hrs 20 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 40 mins
16 bars

These are not your Grandma's lemon bars. While we love the classic, homemade lemon bars that we grew up eating, these Basil-Lemon Bars bring a sophisticated twist to the timeless dessert.

If you've ever had an herb-infused lemonade, you know how wonderful the combination of tart lemon with bright herbs can be. Basil and lemon? A clever, creative, and complementary duo. This herb-and-citrus combo is hard to beat in savory or sweet dishes, but these lively lemon bars might just be our new favorites. Basil infused into the crust of these lemon bars brings a note of freshness to the buttery pastry, complementing the smooth, tart flavor of the lemon curd. While this recipe works wonderfully with regular basil, it's even better with lemon basil, which is easy to grow and available at many nurseries and greenhouses. Not a fan of basil? These bars would also be great with mint.

These Basil-Lemon bars look particularly beautiful when garnished with a dehydrated lemon slice and a sprig of basil. Cut into squares and serve on a pretty platter, just like Grandma would.


  • 25 large fresh basil leaves (1 cup loosely packed)

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest, plus ½ cup fresh juice (from 3 lemons), divided

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, divided

  • 2 ½ cups granulated sugar, divided

  • 1 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed

  • 4 large eggs

  • ½ teaspoon baking powder

  • Powdered sugar

  • Thin lemon slices and small basil leaves, for topping (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place basil, salt, lemon zest, 2 cups of the flour, and ½ cup of the granulated sugar in a food processor; process until basil is very finely chopped, about 1 minute.

  2. Add butter cubes to flour mixture in food processor; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 15 pulses. Line a 13- x 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; lightly coat with cooking spray. Firmly press flour mixture into bottom of pan.

  3. Bake in preheated oven until light golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven (do not turn oven off); let cool completely on a wire rack, about 20 minutes.

  4. Whisk together eggs, baking powder, lemon juice, and remaining ¼ cup flour and 2 cups granulated sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Pour over cooled crust in baking pan; gently tap pan on counter 2 to 3 times to release any air bubbles in lemon curd.

  5. Bake at 350°F until lemon curd is set, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven; let cool completely on a wire rack, about 1 hour.

  6. Sift powdered sugar over top of bars. Cut into 2-inch squares. Top with lemon slices and basil leaves, if desired. Cover and refrigerate up to 3 days.

Related Articles