Is there anything better than freshly picked strawberries? I am a lover of all things seasonal, and these strawberry lemonade bars are a new take on an old favorite recipe. These strawberry lemonade bars are filled with sweet strawberries and fresh lemon zest and juice. Chewy, soft and really the perfect little bite to welcome summer. The sweet strawberry glaze on top adds the perfect bright sweetness that complements the bars perfectly. Add these strawberry lemonade bars to your recipe list this summer. You won’t regret it!
Fresh Strawberries in Strawberry Lemonade Bars
This recipe calls for fresh strawberries in these strawberry lemonade bars. Strawberries have a high water content, which adds more moisture to the batter. Overly wet batter can quickly become “bready” instead of the chewy/cakey texture we are going for. To combat this issue, we start by dicing the strawberries small. Add a teaspoon of sugar to the strawberries, mix them up and let them sit for about 10 minutes. This maceration helps the strawberries release some of their juices and adds some sweetness to the berries. While the berries sit, mix up the batter. Take a fine mesh strainer and strain the juice away from the strawberries, reserving the juice to use in the glaze later on. Mix the strained strawberries into the batter with a gentle hand before filling the pan and baking.
Freeze Dried Strawberries for Strawberry Flavor
One of the best kept secrets in strawberry flavored bakes is using freeze-dried strawberries. Freeze-dried strawberries taste delicious but in order to use them in baked goods, they need to be ground down to very small pieces or a powder-like consistency. If you add the freeze-dried berries without this step, they turn chewy and the texture is not good. I like to take my bag of freeze-dried strawberries and open the top a bit to let out the air. Then I re-seal the bag and roll over it a few times with a rolling pin, getting the berries as crushed as possible. You can substitute the fresh strawberries in this recipe for freeze-dried “powder,” just a few Tablespoons should do the trick. I also like the addition of freeze-dried strawberries in the glaze on these strawberry lemonade bars. They add the perfect strawberry flavor.
Adding Fresh Lemon Juice and Zest
Fresh lemon juice and zest really makes these bars stand out. Don’t think about using the store-bought lemon juice. Store-bought lemon juice is too acidic and will ruin the flavor of these lemonade bars. Zest the lemons right into the batter and reserve just a bit of lemon zest for the glaze. After zesting, juice the lemons to add to the batter and glaze of these strawberry lemonade bars. If you just want a little lemon flavor you can decrease the lemon juice and zest used in the recipe. I love the tart and sweet combination of these strawberry lemonade bars as written, but you can adjust based on your personal preferences.
Baking Tips for Strawberry Lemonade Bars
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees before making the batter. Line an 8 by 8 pan with parchment paper. Place a piece of parchment paper over the pan and cut out the corners (as seen in the video below). Gently spoon the batter into the pan and bake for about 20 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the pan to check if the bars are finished baking. If the toothpick comes out without any wet batter on it, the bars are finished. Let the strawberry lemonade bars cool before topping with the strawberry lemon glaze.
Chewy Strawberry Lemonade Bars
Chewy and soft at the same time, these lemonade bars are the perfect little summer treat. The zing from the lemon strawberry glaze complements these brownie-like bars. You can adjust the tartness by decreasing the lemon juice and zest in the batter, but I love how tart they are. Strawberry lemonade bars taste good at room temperature, but they are also delicious chilled in the fridge for an hour or so. Cut them into 16 pieces or even 24 if you’d like a two-bite treat. I hope you enjoy these as much as we do during the summertime!
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Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I crush freeze dried strawberries before baking with them?
Freeze dried strawberries taste great on their own, but when added to baked goods they often get chewy. Instead, crush them up into a powder and add a few teaspoons or Tablespoons to your baked goods. You will have that delicious fresh strawberry flavor without affecting the texture of your baked goods.
How should I store strawberry lemonade bars?
Strawberry lemonade bars can be stored at room temperature for 24 hours or chilled in the refrigerator for a couple days. Enjoy the bars chilled, straight from the fridge for a special treat.
How tart is the lemon in the strawberry lemonade bars?
These are full of lemon and strawberry flavor. The fresh lemon is definitely on the tart side. If you prefer your lemon bars sweeter, decrease the lemon juice and zest just a bit.
I don’t have lemons. Can I use store-bought lemon juice instead of freshly squeezed lemon?
Please don’t do this. Store-bought lemon juice is too acidic and will ruin the flavor of these lemonade bars. If you only have one or two lemons on hand, just add what you can. The lemon flavor may not be quite as pronounced but they should still taste delicious.
Strawberry Lemonade Bars
Strawberry Lemonade Bars
- 1 cup diced strawberries liquid squeezed
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 Tablespoon lemon zest from 1 large lemon
- 3 Tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Strawberry Lemon Glaze
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons strawberry juice reserved from strawberries
- 1 teaspoon crushed, freeze dried strawberries optional
Strawberry Lemonade Bars
- Dice the strawberries and add them to a liquid measuring cup or small bowl. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sugar over the diced strawberries and mix together. Let strawberries sit for 10 minutes to release some of the juices.
- To a bowl, add the melted butter and granulated sugar. Mix. Add the eggs and mix until combined. Zest one large lemon directly into the mixture (about 1 Tablespoon), then add the lemon juice and vanilla extract. Mix well until combined.
- To a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Pour the flour mixture on top of the wet mixture and mix until just combined.
- Take the diced strawberries and strain the juice out of them, reserving the sweetened strawberry juice for the glaze. Add the strained strawberries to the batter and mix gently. Spread the batter in the parchment-lined pan and bake for about 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean (no streaks of cake). Let cool completely before topping with glaze.
Strawberry Lemonade Glaze
- Whisk together the powdered sugar with 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 2 teaspoons of the reserved strawberry juice. If the glaze is too thick, add a little more lemon or strawberry juice to the glaze. Zest about 1/2 teaspoon of lemon into the glaze for more lemon flavor. Mix until combined. For a more pronounced strawberry flavor: crush up freeze-dried strawberries into a powder and add a teaspoon of freeze-dried strawberry powder to the glaze.
- Spread the glaze over the cooled bars, using an offset spatula to spread as needed.
- After the bars are glazed, let glaze set. Enjoy room temperature or refrigerate and enjoy chilled.