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  • Jenica Barrett

Zero Waste Lemon Bars (with the rind!)

If you're looking for a yummy treat that saves you money (and reduces carbon emissions), do I have the thing for you! And yes, I am serious that these lemon bars can do both of those things. We waste one-third of the food produced worldwide so using up every bit of your lemon rind is quite the accomplishment.

Eliminate Food Waste

Wasting one-third of the food produced for consumption takes quite the chunk out of our paychecks. Although some food is wasted along the agricultural chain, ~40% of the food waste occurs in our own homes. That quantity of waste also adds up to a sizable amount of greenhouse gases. Approximately 8% of global emissions can be attributed to wasted food. It's imperative then that we look for ways to use up everything in our fridge.

Expiration dates don't mean what you think!

whole lemons in lemon bars
Don't let your lemon rinds go to waste! Use them up in your recipe and avoid unnecessary food waste.

Use up the Lemon Rinds!

Lemons, for example, are a frequent ingredient in baked goods that leave behind a seemingly inedible rind. Those rinds are thrown into a landfill where they don't break down and contribute to the production of more greenhouse gases like methane. If you think about the resources that went into growing those lemons (like the 77 gallons of water per pound), it's simply wasteful to not consume it.

So we've put together this delicious recipe for homemade lemon bars - zero waste style! The recipe calls for the whole lemon (minus only the seeds) and doesn't let anything go to waste. They have a kick to them that is so much better than any boxed version and will leave you craving more!

Skip the Parchment Paper

Although almost all recipes for lemon bars call for a layer of parchment paper on the pan, I skip it. Parchment paper is just another resource that most of the time you don't have to consume. If you are worried about perfect presentation, make sure to butter the pan well before pressing in the crust. And as a last resort, just make sure to compost your parchment paper in your compost bin!

This recipe was adapted from David Lebovitz.

whole lemon bar crust
There is nothing quite as satisfying as hand pressing dough into a crust pan...

Zero Waste Lemon Bars (with the rind!)


  • 1 cup flour

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 8 Tbsp. melted butter

  • 1/2 tsp. salt

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract


  • 1 large whole lemon

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 3 eggs

  • 4 tsp. corn starch

  • 1/4 tsp. salt

  • 3 Tbsp. melted butter

How to make zero waste lemon bars:


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a 8x8 pan with butter.

  2. Mix the flour, sugar, butter, salt, and vanilla extract together until combined. Press into the greased pan until even.

  3. Bake for 25 minutes until it just begins to brown on top.

  4. Remove the crust from the oven until filling is ready to be poured on top. It can be poured over immediately if ready!


  1. Cut the lemon into fourths and take out the seeds. The seeds are the only part of the lemon that you'll need to compost!

  2. Place the lemon, sugar, egg, flour, and salt into a blender. Although a food processor will work, the smaller the attachment the better for grinding up the lemon rind.

  3. Blend until relatively smooth with minimal chunks. Some small chunks of lemon rind are expected and will just add to the flavor.

  4. Pour the filling onto the hot crust. Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees and cook for 25-30 minutes.

  5. Let the lemon bars cool before cutting into them. They will set up more while cooling so don't panic if they are just a bit jiggly.

Enjoy your zero waste lemon bars! Ready to try making a banana peel cake next?

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