These easy Passion Fruit Bars feature a buttery shortbread cookie crust and a gooey and rich passion fruit curd filling. This tropical twist on the classic lemon bars tastes just like a much-needed vacation!
🌺 What Is Lilikoi?
These Passion Fruit Bars were inspired by my recent trip to Hawaii, where the fresh fruit can be found in abundance! For more Hawaiian-inspired meals, you can try my Hawaiian Mac Salad with Tuna, Spam Musubi with Egg, or Hawaiian Garlic Butter Shrimp Kabobs.
Lilikoi, the Hawaiian word for passion fruit, thrives in sub-tropical climates. And it's a good thing too - the sweet and tart citrus flavor is absolutely refreshing in hot and humid areas!
The name "passion fruit" originates from the flower it grows on, the Passiflora vine. The fruit itself is small and round with a tough rind and juicy seedy center. The seeds are edible but the pulp is where the true treasure lies. The tangy, fragrant, and romantic flavor is delicious in drinks, desserts, marinades, and more!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Easy: With only 6 ingredients and a 5 minute prep time, these Lilikoi Bars couldn't be easier to throw together.
- Unique: Passion fruit is an underrated tropical fruit! Feature its delicious flavor by creating this fun twist on lemon bars.
- Crowd pleaser: These fruit cookie bars are great for a party or gathering. They would also be perfect for picnics, bake sales, baby or bridal showers, holidays, and potlucks.
- Butter: I prefer using unsalted butter over salted so I have more control of the final seasoning. However, you can use either one. Just make sure the butter is at room temperature so it's easier to cream.
- White sugar: For both the crust and curd - it works with the eggs to set up the filling. You can adjust the sugar based on how tart your lilikoi is.
- All-purpose flour: For both the shortbread crust and the filling to provide structure.
- Salt: If using salted butter, you can skip the salt.
- Eggs: Provides an ultra rich, luxurious base for our filling. Use room temperature eggs when baking, always.
- Passion fruit: For convenience, I use frozen seedless passion fruit purée. Simply microwave it in 30 second intervals until liquid and let cool before incorporating it into the custard.
- Powdered sugar: For a light dusting on top, if you'd like. But I actually prefer it without any additional sugar!
Where Can I Find Passion Fruit?
I get my frozen seedless passion fruit purée from Whole Foods. I simply microwave it or let it thaw in the fridge until it's liquid. Not only is it super easy, but it's already seedless and 100% passion fruit. The flavor is strong and tart.
Other brands of frozen pulp, like Goya, can be found in Latin, Asian, or Caribbean markets. I would not recommend using juice as it usually has additional fruit flavoring (like pear) and the consistency is too thin.
If using fresh passion fruit, cut a ripe, wrinkly one in half and scoop the seeds into a food processor. Lightly pulse a couple times to pull the pulp away from the seeds. Pour into a strainer on top of a bowl, and use the back of a spoon to press on the seeds to extract the pulp. You'll need about 5-6 lilikoi for ½ cup juice.
🥄 How To Make Lilikoi Bars
First, preheat the oven to 350°F and line a 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper or foil. Then add the softened butter and sugar to a food processor. Cream until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Then add the salt and sifted flour, and pulse until the dough is crumbly. Press onto the bottom of the pan and bake for 12-15 minutes. The edges should be lightly golden brown. Let cool.
While the shortbread crust is cooling, start on the liliko'i filling. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and passion fruit.
Then gradually whisk in the sugar until dissolved.
Next, gradually whisk in the sifted flour until there aren't any lumps.
Carefully pour the filling into the pan and bake for 25-35 minutes. The edges will look firm with a golden crust but the center should still be a little soft. Let cool on the counter for an hour, then let set in the fridge for minimum 1 hour.
💭 Top Tips
- Make sure to leave a generous amount of overhang with your parchment paper or foil. If there are any holes, replace it as the custard will be very difficult to remove if it sticks to the pan. I usually oil the pan, followed by a foil lining.
- Sift your flour. This is especially important for the lilikoi filling, as it will allow you to incorporate it better with less lumps.
- When mixing the filling, slowly pour in the sugar while whisking and let it fully dissolve or incorporate. Then repeat with the flour. Gradually adding in the dry ingredients will prevent lumps and make it fluffy.
- You'll know the lilikoi bars are done when the edges are set with a golden brown crust. The center should still be soft and jiggle slightly when you shake the pan, but it shouldn't look raw or liquidy. If the center still looks underbaked after 30 minutes of baking, turn the temperature down to 325ºF and continue baking until set.
- Try non-melting powdered sugar, especially if making these for a party or event. Instead of dissolving into the desert, it'll maintain a powdered look and stay pretty for longer!
- To make clean cuts, use a sharp chef's knife. Clean the blade after each cut and try not to sig-saw too much. Just one clean swipe is needed!
🥡 Storing & Freezing
Storing: Store these fruit cookie bars in a gallon-sized zip-top bag in a single layer or tightly covered in plastic wrap. Keep them in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Freezing: Place cut Lilikoi Bars on a baking sheet with a little space between each one. Freeze for about 1 hour or until firm. Then individually wrap each bar and store in the freezer for 3-4 months.
Make Ahead: You can make these dessert bars up to 3 days in advance.
📖 Recipe FAQs
It has a very sweet and tart citrus flavor. It reminds me of tropical fruits like pineapple, but tastes more like a cross between a mango and a lemon.
They can available all year round, especially in Hawaii. However, they're in season from mid-summer to mid-winter.
Anything! Fresh lilikoi tastes great in smoothies or on top of salads, ice cream, or yogurt. You can also use the pulp in cocktails, marinades for grilled meat, or a delicious jam or jelly.
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Passion Fruit (Lilikoi) Bars
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil and line an 8x8 baking dish with foil or parchment paper, making sure to leave a generous amount of overhang.
- In a food processor or stand mixer, cream butter and ¼ cup sugar until pale and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Then add sifted 1 cup flour and salt. Pulse until the dough is crumbly and the size of small pebbles, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Transfer the dough to the lined baking dish. Use your fingers to gently flatten dough along the bottom of the pan and slightly up the sides. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until edges are very lightly golden. Let cool.
- While the crust is cooling, whisk eggs and passion fruit juice in a large bowl until frothy and homogenous. Whisk constantly while gradually adding in the 1½ cups sugar, followed by the sifted ¼ cup flour.
- Once the crust is done, carefully pour the passion fruit batter into the pan. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until edges are set and center is still a little jiggly. Let cool on the countertop for an hour, then place in the fridge for 1-2 hours, best if overnight.
- Remove the bars from the pan and cut into 2 inch squares. Option to sprinkle powdered sugar over the top. Serve chilled.
- Passion fruit: For convenience, I use frozen seedless passion fruit purée from Whole Foods. Simply microwave or thaw in the fridge until liquid and let cool.
- Various brands of passion fruit purée can be found in Latin, Asian, or Caribbean markets.
- I don't recommend using passion fruit juice as it can contain other fruit flavorings and the consistency will be too thin.
- If using fresh passion fruit, cut one in half and scoop the seeds into a food processor. Lightly pulse a couple times to pull the pulp away from the seeds. Pour into a strainer on top of a bowl, and use the back of a spoon to press on the seeds to extract the pulp. You'll need about 5-6 lilikoi for ½ cup juice.
- If using salted butter, skip the added salt.
👩🏻🍳 Products I Used
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