Passion Fruit (Lilikoi) Shortbread Bars

December 7, 2011

in Bars, Cookies, Fruit, Fruit, Passion Fruit, Recipes, Shortbread

The first time anyone tastes something new, the moment can become etched in memory. This is true, of course, if it’s a “Wow, I want more of that” event or possibly quite the opposite.

My Wow Moment happened in Hawaii when I bit into a passion fruit bar, a riff on the classic Lemon Bars: A smooth custardy tart/sweet filling baked atop a shortbread crust and dusted with powdered sugar—homey yet sophisticated.

Passion fruit’s flavor and acid notes keep luring me back again and again. I’d never tasted anything like it—not mango, not papaya, not star fruit—and when I’m in Hawaii I always seek it out at farmers’ markets. 

The fruit grows wild on vines and has a thick shiny shell. The kind I’ve found is green at first and turns to a lemon yellow when ripe. As the fruit ripens more, the shell shrivels and puckers, but the fruity insides are perfectly fine to eat. The fruit in the basket shows fruit in various stages of maturity. I wound up using all of them for the recipe.

The inside of the fruit is filled with a seedy pulp, and it’s all edible. The green fruit is much tarter than the yellow, but I use both ripe and unripe fruits in baking because sugar mellows the acidity.

For baking, I need a seedless pulp. A 30-second whirl in the blender turns it into juice and leaves the seeds intact. I pass the combo through a fine-meshed wire strainer and voila!,  I get a lovely orange-colored juice. The ¾ cup of juice came from 12 lilikoi.

Passion Fruit (Lilikoi) Bars

These are best served cold. Store the pan of baked bars in the refrigerator and cut and dust them with powdered sugar just before serving. If you want to make lemon or lime bars, substitute either for the lilikoi juice.

Brown Sugar Shortbread Crust

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry measuring cups to overflowing and level off)

½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

1 ½ sticks (6 ounces) cold unsalted butter, sliced into 12 to 15 pieces

Passion Fruit (Lilikoi) Filling

4 large eggs

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

¾ cup fresh passion fruit juice

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Powdered sugar for dusting

Adjust an oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have ready a 13 x 9 x 2-inch ungreased baking pan.

For the shortbread crust, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, and salt and add the butter slices.

Work the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingertips or a pastry blender until the butter is broken up into medium-size pieces, about ¼-inch. If your kitchen is warm and you find the butter getting too soft while you work it, put the bowl into the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Pour the crumbs into the ungreased baking pan.

Press firmly and evenly on the bottom to make a compact layer. You’ll see pieces of butter here and there.

Bake for 20 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.


While the crust bakes, whisk the eggs in a medium bowl to combine well. Add the granulated sugar and whisk in well. Add the lilikoi juice and flour and whisk until smooth. Try not to create large bubbles. Pour over the hot crust and return the pan to the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees and continue baking until the filling is set, about 30 minutes.

The odd spots here and there are from large bubbles that popped during baking. Not to worry, they’ll be hidden under a dusting of powdered sugar.

Cool the pan completely on a wire rack, then refrigerate for an hour or two until cold. If you want to serve the next day, cover the pan tightly with foil and refrigerate.

Loosen the sides of the dessert with the tip of a sharp knife, going around the pan more than once if necessary. The top of the filling is sticky. To make cutting easy, I rub soft butter on the blade of my knife. It cuts through the bars without tearing. I make 24 bars.

Remove bars from the pan, dust with powdered sugar, and serve.

Final Note

How do you get unsweetened passion fruit juice or puree if you’re not in Hawaii? I’ve found several sources, and all come frozen. Goya brand is the least expensive, and Hispanic markets often carry it. Check the package to see if any sugar has been added. If it has, decrease that amount from the recipe. Passion fruit is also known as Maracuja or Maracuya, so check for that name, too. Whole Foods markets, I’m told, carries frozen passion fruit juice or puree. Call first to make sure. is also a good place to search for passion fruit puree. Click on the Groceries & Gourmet food link and type in passion fruit puree. You’ll find several pricey sources because it’s frozen and must be shipped overnight. 



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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary Lovein December 7, 2011 at 4:40 pm

We have lots of lilikoi growing on our fence. I will have to try your recipe! I know they are crazy delicious.


gpatent December 7, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Thank, Mary. Wish I could grow them on my fence in Missoula!


Jean December 11, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Thank you for the recipe! Having tasted the ones you made I was looking forward to it. I’d just like to add that Auntie Lilikoi here on Kauai sells and ships many delicious lillikoi products. They may not ship the puree but if you fall in love with the flavor their lillikoi mustard is a prize winner and lillikoi syrup will transform not only a crepe but a margarita! Google them for more information.


gpatent December 11, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Thanks to you, I went to the Aunty Lilikoi shop in Waimea and bought a quart of the frozen lilikoi puree, wrapped it like a mummy, and zippered it up in checked luggage. It’s now safely in my freezer. You’re right, they won’t ship the puree, but they’ll happily send any of their other marvelous products.


Janine February 18, 2015 at 10:37 pm

I bought the frozen lilikoi puree from Aunty Lilikoi when I was in Kauai. All of their recipes specify passion fruit juice, not puree. When I used the same amount of puree, it was too strong. Do you know how I transform the puree into juice. Is it 1 cup puree to 1 cup water, for example? Thanks so much.


Greg Patent March 5, 2015 at 11:13 pm

The frozen lilikoi puree needs to be diluted with 3 parts water. So, for 1/4 cup “juice” you take 1 tablespoon puree and add 3 tablespoons water. I had the same problem you did, so i asked Aunty Lilikoi and she told me what to do.


Sea Peterson December 15, 2011 at 8:34 am

The Lilikoi bars were amazingly delicious! Mahalo


gpatent December 15, 2011 at 11:28 am

So glad you like them. I was able to buy a quart of frozen puree from Aunty Lilikoi in Waimea so I’ll be able to make more at home. Aloha.


regina December 24, 2011 at 5:23 am

Do you know how much I should decrease the sugar by if my passionfruit puree has sugar in it already?


gpatent December 24, 2011 at 5:59 pm

It depends on how sweet your puree is. I’d use half the amount of sugar to start, then add the puree and taste again. Add more sugar as necessary. Filling should be tart. Where did you get your puree?


Cheryl August 19, 2012 at 12:39 am

We just moved to a new house in Aiea and were delighted to find lilikoi growing on our fence. I made this recipe today and my family is in love with it. My hubby couldn’t get enough of these delicious bars.


Greg Patent August 19, 2012 at 8:13 am

Mahalo for writing. We’ll be back in Hawaii (Kaua’i) in November when I’ll be able to try my hand at more lilikoi experiments. Stay tuned.


Kurt September 22, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Aloha Greg , if you get to Maui we have Purple , Yellow , and Strawberry liliko’i here at Ulumeli Farms , Waikapu . We sell fruit , syrup , puree , and Liliko’i Butter at Launiupoko Farmers market , ‘E Komo Mai ‘, Kurt , Ulumeli Farms , Waikapu


Greg Patent September 22, 2012 at 9:18 pm

I had no idea there were so many different lilikois. What are the colors of the juices? We’ll be on Kaua’i and the Big Island later this year, but not Maui, unfortunately. But I’m very happy to have your information for when we next come to Maui.


Kurt September 22, 2012 at 10:07 pm

i read there are 400 varieties of the lilikoi, but maybe only 80 that fruit? The juice is from yellow to orange and tart to sweet. The purple and strawberry that we have are really sweet and orange colored inside. The yellow ones are more tart and need more sugar. We also make a fabulous lilikoi sorbet and liqueur. Can send recipe if you are interested. Kurt & Betsy


Greg Patent September 23, 2012 at 8:44 am

This is fascinating, Kurt. Reminds me of the multitude of avocado varieties we find on the Big Island. But when we shop on the mainland all we see are one or two. Do you ship frozen lilikoi juice?


Kurt September 23, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Do yourself a favor : When you get to the Big Island look for purple liliko’i . It grows at higher altitudes but we have it here at 600 feet . I think Waimea will have it , they are about 1200 feet . You will love it , it makes the best hot tea or Arnold Palmer, Liliko’i/Lipton cold . We bought a Passion Puree out of Napa shipped in from So. America and it was so sour even sugar didn’t fix it . Our orchard is : 90 Lychee , 70 Mango , 3 each of Cherimoya , Grapefruit , Tangerine , Starfruit , some Papaya , Apple Banana , 12 different Avocado and 3 types of Lilikoi . We have 85′ of vines producing and 1,000 feet being planted this year . We do have some 2 cup frozen puree . We use the Omega VERT juicer , check it out online , it makes amazing puree – better than the Champion for Lilikoi . We talked to some people from the Mid-West and they buy canned puree from Kauai but we could not track it down . We are thinking of that but you would have a twice cooked fruit in your recipe . All of our recipes we bring the fruit to a boil one minute only for better flavor . Aloha , Kurt and Betsy


Cindy September 1, 2013 at 1:08 pm

I only have passion fruit frozen concentrate. How much should I use?


Greg Patent September 1, 2013 at 9:57 pm

This depends on how concentrated your concentrate is. Some concentrates are thick and need to be diluted threefold (3 parts water to 1 part concentrate). Others can be used with no dilution or just a 1 to 1 dilution. If your concentrate looks fairly watery, use as is. If a bit thicker, cut it 1 to 1. Is your concentrate bottled or frozen?


MJ January 14, 2014 at 11:08 pm

So glad I found your website & this recipe! I’m curious about other juices you can use …. Our favorite is lilikoi …. of course, & I am now going to try limes. But! What about; orange or fresh pineapple? Guava? Just asking as I’m not an experienced baker …. But was able to follow these directions of yours easily. This is an amazing recipe!
Aloha & mahalo


Greg Patent January 15, 2014 at 7:50 am

Any juice will work, but lilikoi is best!


jody wills August 23, 2014 at 6:03 pm

I have been looking for lilikoi for years as Mom and her sisters no longer go to Hawaii for the winter. Love lilikoi bars, but lilikoi pie is to die for. Any chance you have found an outlet here in the U.S. or especially Montana where it may be purchased. Do you ever see passionfruit in any of the stores in Missoula–we could make our own 🙂


Greg Patent August 23, 2014 at 10:07 pm

When I’m in Hawaii, I juice my own lilikoi, freeze it and pack it in my checked baggage. It will have thawed by the time I get to Missoula, but I refreeze it in 1/2-cup amounts and it lasts 2 years in the freezer. To order passion fruit juice (NOT syrup), visit I’ve ordered from her and she ships to Montana. The passion fruit (lilikoi) juice is bottled and will keep well in the fridge for a week or so after opening. Best to freeze what you don’t use right away. Check my blog for a lilikoi pie recipe. Thanks for writing!


Dan September 22, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Excellent recipe! I live in Hawaii and make this recipe this time of year when my lili’koi vines both yellow and purple, are fruiting heavily. The shortbread crust has a tendency to adhere to the pan so I am wondering if parchment or waxed paper will work as well?


Paris December 4, 2014 at 3:43 am

Aloha Greg,

Mahalo for the Lilikoi recipe. I live in Honolulu and I go hiking often. On a recent hike a friend and I found fresh guava, strawberry-guava and lilikoi. I picked and harvested so much that I was able to make puree from All. I made two batches of bars: a guava-strawberry guava-lime and lilikoi. 🙂


Greg Patent December 12, 2014 at 11:36 am

Lucky you to find such a treasure trove of guava and lilikoi. If you haven’t already, do check out my recipes for lilikoi chiffon pie and lilikoi cheesecake. You probably have enough juice to make them both!


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