These lemon brownies add a bit of sunshine to any day. I know most people prefer lemon treats in the spring and summer, but I actually like them best in the winter when I need to engage my senses with bright smells, tastes and color. These lemon brownies check all those boxes for me.
Another thing I like about this recipe is that you can make them with whole white wheat flour (like I do) OR you can make them with all purpose flour if that is more your thing. I will share instructions for what to do with both types of flour as well as what you can do to tone down the lemon flavor.
My daughter LOVES lemon and she wants that flavor to shine through in her desserts, so with her (and all the other lemon loving ladies) in mind, I made sure to pack a lot of lemon flavor. Now I KNOW that not everyone wants that strong burst of lemon flavor so I have suggestions for how to tone that down too.
You really can't go wrong any way that you do it. These lemon brownies are a GREAT make ahead treat because they taste best a day later and chilled. More about that in the recipe below.
Let's begin by zesting our lemons. I used 2 large lemons for this recipe.
When you are zesting your lemons, use a light hand on the zester. If possible, avoid getting the white pith because that part is more bitter and might add bitterness to your dessert. For the first lemon, I zested pretty much every surface. On the second lemon, I didn't zest it quite as thoroughly as this one.
Once you have zested your lemons it's time to juice them. Every time I have made this recipe I have used a little bit different variations on the amount of lemon juice. The important thing to keep in mind is that the more lemon juice you use, the longer it will have to bake because the batter is so moist.
Now it's time to mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl.
Then add all the wet ingredients.
And gently mix just until everything is incorporated. My batter is dark because of the whole white wheat flour I used. If you use white flour, it will be a bit lighter in color. I know some people might think it's weird to use wheat flour in a lemon dessert. I wanted to try because lemon is a strong flavor and when I add the wheat flour to other strong flavors (pumpkin, chocolate) you don't even taste it. So, I decided to give it a try. You know what, it works! BUT you have to let it set up and chill in the fridge to get that perfect flavor. I tried a taste when they were warm out of the oven and the wheat and lemon flavors were competing for center stage.
Now it's time to pour the batter into an 8 x 8 pan that is covered in parchment paper that has been lightly sprayed. Using the overlapped parchment paper in the pan makes it SO easy to pull out to cut into pretty little squares when the time is ripe for serving these little lovelies.
Bake until the brownies are firm and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs. Make sure you see the notes in the recipe to see how long to bake it for the different types of flour. Also, if you use your lemon juice in the batter, you will need to bake it longer.
Once the lemon brownies have had a chance to cool down for about 15 minutes you can pour the glaze on top. Then you will want to chill them in the fridge for at least a few hours and I think it's even better if you can chill them overnight. Then you just lift the brownies out using the parchment paper as handles. Cut into little squares and ENJOY!!
Lemon Brownies Recipe
Lemon Brownies Ingredients
1 c whole white wheat flour. I love to use this brand for ALL my recipes with wheat flour. You can also use white flour but check notes for cooking time if you do.
3/4 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp lemon zest (I used the zest from 1 and 1/2 lemons)
1/2 c (8 Tbsp) melted butter (make sure it's cooled before adding to other wet ingredients)
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
3-5 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (I used 5 Tbsp because 1) I wanted it to overpower the wheat flour and 2) my daughter LOVES a strong lemon flavor. If you are using white flour and/or have less enthusiastic lemon tasters I recommend using less.
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c powdered sugar (sift if you don't have a whisk or blender to mix the glaze. You don't want lumps of sugar in the glaze.)
4 Tbsp lemon juice (again, you can use less if you want a more subtle lemon flavor. You could start with 2 Tbsp and taste test it before adding more.) We happen to like a really strong lemon flavor. If you don't, you can change it to your liking!
1 tsp lemon zest or remaining zest from the other 1/2 lemon that wasn't used in the brownie batter.
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8 x 8 baking pan with parchment paper that hangs over a bit to easily remove brownies later. Spray the parchment paper with cooking spray.
2. Wash your two large lemons and zest them. I like to zest the first one really well and then lightly zest the second one. Use a light hand so that you avoid getting pith into the mix. It's very bitter and won't taste very good in your sweet dessert. Divide out the zest for the batter and glaze.
3. Next you will juice the 2 lemons and place them to the side. If you think you will want less lemon juice, you may only need to juice one lemon. Divide out the lemon for the batter and glaze.
4. In a mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and lemon zest.
5. In a separate bowl (I use the same one I melt butter in) mix together the cooled butter, eggs, egg yolk, lemon juice and vanilla.
6. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together gently until they are combined. I like to do this by hand so that I don't overmix.
7. Pour the batter into your 8 x 8 dish. It will be a fairly liquid batter-especially if you use the whole 5 Tbsp of lemon juice.
8. Bake for 32-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out a just a few crumbs. The center should be firm but spring back lightly if you press your finger to it.
9. Allow the lemon brownies to cool for about 15-20 minutes.
10. While they are cooling you can make the glaze. Whisk together the powdered sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest until they make a nice, smooth glaze.
11. After the brownies are cooled, spread the glaze over them. Put the baking dish into the fridge to cool and allow glaze to set up completely. I recommend a minimum of 2 hours but overnight is even better!
12. When the glaze is set up, lift the brownies out of the pan to cut into neat little squares.
13. I keep the lemon brownies stored in the fridge because I think they taste best that way.
If you are using white all purpose flour and or less lemon juice you will significantly cut down the baking time. I would recommend checking it after 20 minutes in the oven and watching it closely. If you are in doubt, the toothpick in the center is the best test. Baked goods always cook from the outside in so the edges might look like they are finished and the middle could still need time. Be patient and you will be rewarded.
Are you crazy about all things lemon like my daughter? Did you try making this recipe? Let me know in the comments below. I'd also love to see a picture of your finished product on Instagram #peachtreedr
For more dessert recipes, check out my unfailing chocolate chip cookies recipe. It's an all time favorite at my house.