These lemon berry blondies are one of my favorite summertime baked goods — bright, sweet, and chewy, they're perfect for summer pool parties and picnics. And since you can use fresh or frozen berries, you can enjoy them all year round.
So why am I telling you about them in November? Because as much as I am a cool weather person, sometimes even I want a hint of summer once fall rolls around. (Yes, I currently live in L.A. where the weather is gorgeous all year long, but when it comes to cooking and baking with what's in season, even we start gravitating toward your standard fall ingredients.)
I was tired of pumpkin and cinnamon and I had bags of frozen berries in my freezer from summer so here we are. Bright and sunny lemon berry blondies, my way of channeling that summertime sweetness even though it's fall.
The base for this recipe Mark Bittman's basic blondie recipe from How to Bake Everything as a base, and though he includes two variations for lemon and lemon-strawberry blondies, I took a slightly different approach for my twist on it.
I didn't want whole berries, and I didn't want to make a lemon curd. Busting out another pot or pan to heat up jam also felt like too much work, plus it would've meant another pot to clean. Besides, I'm not really a jam person, so it's not an ingredient I always have on hand.
I just wanted to take my berries and get them into my blondies as quickly and efficiently as possible. And that's what I did.
Bittman's recipe says it can be made in an 8" or 9" square pan. I have a 9" pan and find this recipe makes pretty thin blondies. If you only have a 9" pan, go ahead and use it. But if you're looking to buy a pan to make these, get an 8" pan with sharp corners, not rounded ones.
how to make lemon berry blondies
Start by preheating your oven to 350F and preparing your baking pan. You can either grease your pan or line it with parchment paper AND grease the parchment paper (both sides). By greasing both sides of the parchment paper you help the paper stay in place in the pan and prevent the blondies from sticking to the paper.
To make your blondie batter, start with soft, room temperature butter. The butter should be very soft, but not melted. If you press a finger into it, you shouldn't meet any resistance.
Beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer (using the paddle attachment) on medium to medium-high speed for a full 2-3 minutes until extremely light and fluffy.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the egg, vanilla, and lemon zest. Beat on medium to medium-high speed for another 2-3 minutes, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed, until the mixture is extremely light and fluffy and has almost doubled in volume.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl again. Add the salt, mixing on a low speed to combine. Then add the flour and stir just until combined — do not over mix here.
In a separate small bowl toss your berries — frozen or fresh — with 1 teaspoon sugar and lemon juice. If you want small berry pieces, slice them in halves or quarters first, then mash with a fork or muddler to break them down further. If you want large pieces of berries, that's fine too. Slice them to the size you want, then toss with the sugar and lemon juice.
When you're ready to bake, right before you put them in the oven, add the berry mixture to the batter. To get a marbled effect, use MINIMAL STIRRING to combine.
The more you stir the less marbling you'll see in the end. If you're after a more cohesively pink colored blondie (a pinkie, if you will) stir until no streaks remain. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and immediately place it in the oven.
Depending on the size of your pan and accuracy of your oven, your lemon berry blondies may need an extra 5 minutes in the oven.
As Mark Bittman notes in How to Bake Everything, blondies are better slightly under baked rather than over baked. If they're still a little gooey or liquid in the center at 20 minutes, that's okay.
They should look mostly set, but they'll continue baking a little in the pan once they're out of the oven. If they're very liquid and jiggly at 20 minutes, give them another 2-3 minutes and check again — they may need up to 25 minutes to be done.
a few quick notes
- For the blondies in these photos I used about ¾ cup mixed frozen strawberries and blackberries, pulverized with a muddler. You can use up to 1 full cup of any assortment of berries. I like blackberries because they break down easily, while strawberries leave some whole pieces behind.
- Let your lemon berry blondies cool completely in a pan on a wire rack before slicing and serving.
- Dusting with powdered sugar before serving is optional. I mostly did it for the photos, tbh. If you do want to add a snowy dusting of powdered sugar, make sure the blondies are completely cool first. If the blondies are even slightly warm, the sugar will melt and disappear.
lemon berry blondies
- 113 grams unsalted butter (8 TBSP, softened)
- 156 grams sugar (¾ cup)
- 1 large egg (room temp)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon salt
- zest of ½ a lemon
- 120 grams flour (1 cup, loosely packed)
- 1 cup fresh or frozen berries (see notes)
- juice from ½ a lemon (for the berries)
- 1 teaspoon sugar (for the berries)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease or parchment line and grease an 8x8" or 9x9" square baking pan.
- Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Then, with the mixer running at low speed add the egg, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest. Increase speed to medium-high and beat an additional 2-3 minutes until glossy, airy, and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed, and when finished.
- Add flour all at once, then mix the batter at low speed, just until combined.
- In a small bowl, toss berries with 1 teaspoon sugar, and juice from ½ a lemon. Mash with a fork or muddler to help the berries break down. (If you want whole berries or larger berry bits, don't mash them too much.)
- Add the berry mixture to the blondie batter. For a marbled effect, stir minimally with a spatula. For a more consistently pink-colored blondie, mix until no streaks remain.
- Pour batter into prepared baking pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. Check at 20 minutes — blondies are better slightly under baked than over baked.The center should still be a bit jiggly when you take them out of the oven; they will continue to bake as they cool.
- Remove blondies from oven and cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before slicing and serving.
- For frozen berries: You can work with berries right out of the freezer, but depending on what kind of berries you use you may want to let them defrost a little first. Cut them as small or as big as you want (or leave them whole!), but if you want to mash them up, I've found slightly defrosted berries are great for mashing without completely losing their structure.
- For denser, less gooey blondies, you can use up to 150 grams of flour.