For the crust:

1 ½ cups Graham Crackers/Ritz Crackers/Saltine Crackers crushed into crumbs

¼ cup granulated sugar               

¼ tsp salt                         

5 tbsp cold butter cut into cubes

For the filling:

2 whole lemons scrubbed clean

4 egg yolks                      

8 tbsp butter cut into cubes

1 cup granulated sugar               

¼ tsp salt                         

½ vanilla bean pod, split and scraped

For the meringue:

4 egg whites                    

1 cup granulated sugar               

½ vanilla bean pod, split and scraped

¼ tsp salt


Pro Tips:

  • Use all one type of cracker or mix and match. Each has its own unique flavor.  I enjoy a half graham and half Ritz cracker mix. An all saltine cracker crust is delicious and is famously what is used for the crust of an Atlantic Beach Pie. Don't be afraid to experiment and change it up!     


  • No vanilla bean? No problem, substitute 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract for each vanilla bean half.   
  • icon-serving
  • A bit of effort

Jennifer Bullard, Pastry Catering Sous Chef:

"In California,  every home I've lived in had some type of citrus tree in the yard.  Inevitably we had an abundance of oranges or lemons every winter. I'm one of five kids and I learned early that one of the gravest mistakes I could make was being the one to finish off a snack, resulting in the wrath of all my siblings. Subsequently there were tons of open half-finished packages of crackers in the house.

This recipe ties together the abundance of lemons my family had, while using those leftover crackers none of us kids wanted to finish. Bonus - by using a vanilla bean you can save the husk and either freeze it to later to flavour simple syrups or dry it out and grind to make vanilla powder. I like to add the vanilla powder to sugar for a fragrant addition to my recipes, or to enhance my morning cup of coffee."


For the crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F°, line a 2" deep 8" x 8" baking pan with two pieces of parchment trimmed to fit, going in both directions, with some extra hanging over for easy removal of the bars.   
  2. Place crackers into a food processor bowl and process to a fine crumb, there should be 1 ½ cups.    
  3. Add sugar and salt and process to combine.    
  4. Add the cold butter and pulse until mixture resembles a coarse meal.
  5.  Transfer to the prepared baking pan and press evenly into bottom and about 1" up the sides of the pan.
  6. Bake until lightly golden, about 10 minutes.  Set aside to cool as you prepare the filling.

For the Filling: 

  1. Trim the stem end from the lemons and discard.
  2. Cut the lemons into thin strips, removing the seeds.
  3. Place the lemons in the bowl of food processor, or in a high speed blender, and add the egg yolks, butter, sugar, vanilla bean and salt. Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.
  4. Pour into the crust and bake until set, about 35 minutes.
  5. It may bubble and turn brown unevenly, especially around the edges - have no fear, this is alright. It may also jiggle slightly but it will set as it cools.  
  6. Place on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. 
  7. Run a small, sharp knife around the edge to release it. Cool completely in the refrigerator or freezer.
  8. When completely cooled remove from pan, carefully remove the parchment and transfer to a baking sheet. 

 For the Meringue (one hour before serving):

  1. In a bowl, rub the scraped vanilla bean flecks into the sugar, set aside.
  2. Bring a small pot of water to a simmer.
  3. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the egg whites, vanilla sugar, and salt.  Set over the pot of simmering water.
  4. Whisk constantly to prevent the egg whites from scrambling and whisk until the sugar has melted and mixture is warm to the touch. 
  5. Remove from the heat and place on the mixer.  Use the whip attachment and beat on high speed until glossy and the meringue forms stiff peaks.
  6. Spoon over the cooled lemon bars and smooth with a spatula creating a swirling pattern.
  7. Using a kitchen blowtorch, or your oven's grill / broiler setting, lightly brown the meringue on top.
  8. Keep in the refrigerator until needed.

Serving Instructions:

Use a knife dipped in hot water to cut the bars into 2" x 2" squares, or whatever size desired.

Storage Instructions:

Store in a airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days