Waste-Free Whole Lemon Meringue Bars

Stop food waste and use the entire lemon – peel, pulp, juice, and all – in these Whole Lemon Meringue Bars, created by Google Pastry Chef Jenn Bullard. Make a big batch of this no-scrap-left-behind treat and read the full article on Jenn’s approach to stopping food waste. 

Makes 9 servings   

For the crust:   

  • 1-1/2 cups graham crackers, Ritz crackers, or saltines crushed into crumbs  
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar  
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt  
  • 5 tablespoons butter  

For the filling:   

  • 2 whole lemons  
  • 4 eggs, separated  
  • 8 tablespoons butter  
  • 1 cup granulated sugar  
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt  
  • 1/2 vanilla beans*  

For the meringue:   

  • 4 reserved egg whites  
  • 1 cup granulated sugar  
  • 1/4 vanilla bean* split and scraped  
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt  

*Or substitute 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract for each vanilla bean half  



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.  

Place crackers into a food processor bowl and process to a fine crumb: there should be 1-1/2 cups. Add sugar and salt and process to combine. Add the cold butter and pulse until mixture resembles a coarse meal.  

Transfer to the prepared baking pan and press evenly into bottom and about 1″ up the sides of the pan. Bake until lightly golden, about 10 minutes.  Set aside to cool as you prepare the filling.  

Pro Tip: 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 used for the crust of an Atlantic Beach Pie. Don’t be afraid to experiment and change it up!  



Separate the eggs, use the yolks in the filling and reserve the whites for the meringue. Trim the stem end from the lemons and discard. Cut the lemons into thin strips, removing the seeds.   

Place the lemons in the bowl of a food processor (or 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. Pour into the crust and bake until set, about 35 minutes.  

The filling may bubble and turn brown unevenly, especially around the edges — have no fear, this is all right. It may also jiggle slightly but it will set up as it cools.  

Place on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Run a small, sharp knife around the edge to release it. Cool completely in the refrigerator or freezer.  

When completely cooled, remove from pan, carefully remove the parchment and transfer to a baking sheet.  


Meringue (one hour before serving)  

Bring a small pot of water to a simmer.   

In a mixing bowl, rub the scraped vanilla bean flecks into the sugar. Add the egg whites, and salt to the vanilla sugar, and set over the pot of simmering water. Whisk constantly to prevent the egg whites from scrambling and whisk until the sugar has melted and mixture is warm to the touch.  

Remove from the heat and use a mixer to whip on high until glossy and the meringue forms stiff peaks.  

Spoon over the cooled lemon bars and smooth with a spatula creating a swirling pattern. Using a kitchen torch, or your oven’s broiler setting, lightly brown the meringue on top. Store in the refrigerator until needed.  


To serve: Use a knife dipped in hot water to cut the bars into 2″ x 2″ squares, or whatever size desired  

To store the bars: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days  


Recipe by Pastry Chef Jenn Bullard