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A sweet and creamy lemon cheesecake filling bursting with blueberries sits atop a lemon shortbread crust with lemon shortbread crumbles on top.
If there was one iconic recipe I had to pick from my website that embodied the whole journey of my career here as a recipe writer, photographer, and baking instructor, it’s this blueberry lemon bar recipe. Hands down.
While I do classify myself as a dessert blogger in general, I tend to say I specialize in cakes and cupcakes. In fact, the two online courses I offer are a cake decorating and cupcake decorating one, and my cookbook is buttercream-centric.
But these blueberry lemon bars? They have stood the test of time, proving that while folks love chocolate + peanut butter, mint + chocolate, and sprinkles in a lot of things, the blueberry + lemon combo is HOT.
And it hasn’t ever gone anywhere since I first published these lemon blueberry crumble bars (and originally called them blueberry lemon pie bars) in summer 2014 when my website was merely one month old.
Thanks to these cuties going viral on Pinterest, these lemon blueberry shortbread bars have graced so many ovens, my own included MANY times, and have gotten so many 5-star reviews. Can you see why they are so iconic to the Fresh April Flours lineup?
WHAT’S IN THESE BLUEBERRY LEMON BARS?
These blueberry lemon bars are quite simple. They start with a basic shortbread crust that is kicked up a notch with lemon zest. The filling is made with a base of cream cheese, giving the filling a cheesecake-y texture, but not quite classifying these bars as cheesecake bars.
Also in the filling is a whole lot of fresh lemon flavor and plump, juicy blueberries. The best part? These lemon blueberry bars lend well to frozen blueberries, so you don’t have to worry about only making them when blueberries are in season.
And while lemons are technically in season in the winter, I mostly associate them with the summer, so really… You just need to save this lemon blueberry bars recipe for any time the craving hits.
In fact, I originally made these bars with Meyer lemons, so honestly, whatever kind of blueberries or lemons you can get your hands on, these bars should be on your list! Got it?
As mentioned, these lemon blueberry squares start with a shortbread crust. This crust is made of melted butter, sugar, vanilla extract, salt, lemon zest, and all-purpose flour.
For the filling, we start out the cheesecake-y situation with cream cheese which we’ll sweeten with sugar. We’ll bring lemon flavor with the zest of an entire lemon, two eggs, yogurt (which can be any flavor you want– plain, vanilla, or lemon), fresh lemon juice, flour to keep it all together, and then lots of blueberries (again, fresh or frozen).
You will also see there’s a bit of a crumble on top, and that’s just reserved shortbread crust, so easy peasy lemon squeezy– that’s your entire ingredient list!
HOW TO MAKE LEMON BLUEBERRY PIE BARS
These bars are really simple. The crust comes together in a snap, and while it bakes, you can get the filling together.
MAKE THE CRUST
Since this lemon shortbread crust uses melted butter, you can mix all of the ingredients together in one bowl right away. Once it’s all together, you’ll remove ¾ cup of the crust which we’ll sprinkle on top.
Be sure to reserve ¾ cup of the crust, and not ¾ of the whole crust. I have had folks make this mistake and it’s no good! This portion of the crust will go in the fridge so the butter can firm up before you’re ready to use it.
Press the crust into the bottom of an 8″ or 9″ square baking dish and let it bake while you prepare the crust.
MAKE THE FILLING
If you’ve ever made cheesecake, you’ll recognize the filling for these lemon blueberry cheesecake bars is very similar to a cheesecake filling.
Beat the cream cheese and sugar until it’s smooth, then start adding in all of the other ingredients, keeping everything smooth and free of lumps. Since cheesecake doesn’t usually have flour in it, that’s how this filling differs from a traditional cheesecake filling.
The flour will help bind the bars together, since we’re then going to load it up with tons of blueberries.
As I mentioned, I have used both fresh and frozen blueberries. In fact, I sometimes use a mix of both, because I love how the purple color of the frozen ones rubs right off into the off-white filling giving it some small purple swirls.
ADD THE CRUMBLE AND BAKE THE BARS
Once the crust has been pre-baked and the filling is ready, you can pour it right on top of the crust. Then, add your shortbread crumble topping.
Since it will have sat in the fridge, even for a short time, it will have firmed up enough that you can use a fork or your hands to break it into crumbles. I prefer the fork because it makes some tiny crumbles and also keeps my warm hands out of the mix.
Use your hands to drop chunks of the shortbread crumble right onto the top of the bars, add in a few extra blueberries, and then bake to perfection!
HOW DO I KNOW THE BARS ARE DONE?
Over the years, I have had folks tell me that their bars never set up. But I am here to tell you that they WILL set up if you bake them long enough. It always takes mine 55-60 minutes in my own oven, but when I bake them in my best friend’s oven in Utah, it takes more like 75 minutes, even at the correct temperature.
Go by the toothpick test and make sure you bake them until it comes out clean. You’ll also want to be sure you’re baking them in the middle of the oven, not at the bottom or the top.
ALLOW TO COOL THEN CHILL BEFORE CUTTING
You’ll need to let these bars cool on a wire rack completely before you chill them in the fridge. While several hours is my preference for chilling, you only need at LEAST one hour before you can cut them.
I tell you my preference because I have made these so many times, I have cut and tasted them in all different stages of chilled. I find them easiest to cut when they’ve chilled for longer, but again, it is totally your preference.
These truly are one of those recipes I can almost 100% guarantee you will love. If you enjoy lemon blueberry desserts, this is one of the best I’ve ever had. While I like blueberries, I don’t typically reach for them as a snack or in a dessert.
But in these lemon blueberry cheesecake bars with shortbread crust? I’ll reach for them every time.
Blueberry Lemon Pie Bars
- 1 cup (227g) unsalted butter melted
- ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- the zest of one lemon
- 2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour be sure to measure properly
- 8 ounces (225g) cream cheese softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- zest of one lemon
- 2 large eggs
- 5 ounces (150g) yogurt or sour cream1
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (60g) all-purpose flour
- 3 cups (300g) blueberries fresh or frozen; if using frozen, do not thaw
- Position a rack in the center position of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (177ºC).
- Line an 8″ x 8″ (or 9" x 9") baking pan with foil. Leave an overhang on the sides. Set aside.
- Stir the melted butter, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, salt, and the lemon zest together in a medium bowl. Add the flour and stir until combined.
- Reserve ¾ cup2 of the shortbread crust and place in the refrigerator or freezer until needed.
- Press remaining crust evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 18 minutes while you prepare the filling.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a medium sized bowl with a hand mixer, beat cream cheese on high until smooth. Add the sugar and lemon zest and beat until smooth. Add the eggs, and continue beating until completely incorporated. Add the yogurt, lemon juice, and salt and beat again. Finally, add the flour and beat one more time until just combined. Scrape down the sides as necessary before adding the blueberries, then gently fold in the blueberries with a large spatula.
- Pour filling into prepared crust and add a few blueberries on top of filling. Remove reserved crust from refrigerator and crumble over top of the filling (you may need to separate into crumbs with a knife or fork). Sprinkle with additional sugar or course sugar, if desired.
- Bake bars for 55-60 minutes minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow bars to cool at room temperature on a wire rack. When completely cool, chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- When bars are completely chilled, lift out of the pan using foil overhang and cut into squares. Top with lemon zest before serving, if desired. Bars can be stored covered in the refrigerator up to 5 days. Bars freeze well, up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
- Yogurt or sour cream: you can use any kind of yogurt you like. I have used lemon, plain, and vanilla. I have no preference. Sour cream works great as well.
- Reserved crust: be sure to reserve a measured ¾ cup and not ¾ of the whole crust.