Grapefruit Coconut Bars

By beckysue from Baking the Goods.

Grapefruit Coconut Bars by Baking The Goods

Grapefruit Coconut Bars by Baking The Goods.

I’m a bitter person. Not the jealous, sullen, begrudging type. I enjoy bitter things, like coffee, Campari and witty wry humor – a much more pleasant side of bitterness. I am sure I’m just like the next guy and have plenty of valid reasons to hold grudges against people who’ve done me wrong over the years. But why? I just don’t have space in my life for that, I’d rather move forward, share a cup of coffee and be rid of the weighty feelings that harbor bitterness altogether.

Sourness needs sweetness, in life and in baked goods. These Grapefruit Coconut Bars are a testament to the balance between the bitter and the sweet. They’re like lemon bars but better! Blurring the lines between puckering-ly tart and severely saccharine. As I said before, I lean bitter but for these Grapefruit Coconut Bars I was focused on the sweet side instead of allowing my bitterness to get the best of me.

I was able to find sweetness within the bitter and round out the more astringent edges with the natural sweetness that comes from shredded coconut. The crust for these Grapefruit Coconut Bars bakes up in a 9″ x 13″ cake pan. It’s a simple press-in buttery shortbread base with textural, naturally sweet, shredded coconut and a little tickle of warmth from a bit of ground ginger. The shortbread crust bakes up first making a sturdy base for the light and airy, tart grapefruit filling on top.

Once these Grapefruit Coconut Bars have baked up and the zingy grapefruit filling has set, I like to add a bit of texture to that smoothness by sprinkling on some more shredded coconut. Just as we want the sweet with the bitter, we need a little texture to break up all of that smoothness. Texture adds depth, keeps things interesting and adds a story. Things can’t always be smooth and glossy, my Grapefruit Coconut Bars certainly weren’t, but the texture is where the magic lies.

These Grapefruit Coconut Bars are easy to make but full of complexity. They bring brightness, bitterness, sweetness, texture and heart, like the memory of an old friend you’ve been meaning to call but your pride has been standing in the way. Letting go of bitterness and letting in a little sweetness can be cathartic in life and in baked goods. So bake up a batch of these Grapefruit Coconut Bars, make that call and break through that bitterness by sharing something sweet, you’ll be so glad you did.

Ruby Red Grapefruit for Grapefruit Coconut Bars

These Grapefruit Coconut Bars get a double hit of the bittersweetness from these Ruby Red Grapefruits when freshly juiced and the finely zested peel.

Grapefruit Coconut Bars shortbread ingredients

The base of these Grapefruit Coconut Bars is a simple shortbread crust with chewy, shredded coconut and a little punch of warming ground ginger.

Grapefruit Coconut Bars shortbread dough

When mixing the shortbread dough, you don’t want to over-mix. It should be crumbly and just start to stick together so when you turn it out into the 9″ x 13″ pan, it’s easy to spread out and press into the pan.

Grapefruit Coconut Bars shortbread dough pressing

For a press-in shortbread dough with an even thickness and smooth top, use the bottom of a measuring cup to press the dough in evenly. I also like to line the pan with parchment paper to keep the bars from sticking and easy removal.

Grapefruit Coconut Bars - mixing filling

When mixing the grapefruit filling for the Grapefruit Coconut Bars, you want to first whisk together the eggs, flour and sugar until smooth, then pour in the zest, grapefruit juice and a bit of salt.

Grapefruit Coconut Bars - filling pour

Pour the grapefruit filling right on top of the par-baked coconut shortbread crust baked in a 13 x 9 cake pan, then bake it all together.

Cutting Grapefruit Coconut Bars

Once the Grapefruit Coconut Bars have baked, allow them to cool in the pan before slicing them neatly into squares.

Grapefruit Coconut Bars on wire rack

These Grapefruit Coconut Bars have about a 1:1 ratio of coconut shortbread base to grapefruit filling for a perfectly balanced bar. Once cut, I transfer them to a cooling rack before adding the shredded coconut.

Garnishing Grapefruit Coconut Bars

For a finishing touch and a tad more texture, I use a bench knife to block off half of the bars and sprinkle some shredded coconut giving the Grapefruit Coconut Bars a gorgeous garnish!

Grapefruit Coconut Bars in a row

These Grapefruit Coconut Bars, a dream team of bitter and sweet.

Grid of Grapefruit Coconut Bars

Which way do you lean, bitter or sweet? These Grapefruit Coconut Bars are pulling me in both directions.

Grapefruit Coconut Bars from Baking The Goods

Grapefruit Coconut Bars looking all pretty. They pair really well with a little bit of espresso

Grapefruit Coconut Bars close up

Balanced in bitter and sweet with a creamy grapefruit filling, a sturdy shortbread crust and a just enough coconut to add some chewy texture.

Grapefruit Coconut Bars on a pedestal

These Grapefruit Coconut Bars are so damn pretty, they belong on a pedestal. The 1:1 ratio of crumbly coconut shortbread crust to the delightfully creamy grapefruit filling is the perfect mix of flavor and texture.

Platefuls of Grapefruit Coconut Bars

This recipe makes 24 perfectly square Grapefruit Coconut Bars so there are plenty to share.

Grapefruit Coconut Bars

These Grapefruit Coconut Bars have a crumbly coconut shortbread crust, topped with a zesty and lusciously creamy grapefruit filling and a textural sprinkle of shredded coconut. 


  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup shredded coconut (- unsweetened)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (- at room temperature)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


  • 6 large eggs (- at room temperature)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1-2 large grapefruits, zested & freshly squeezed (you need 1 cup juice & 1 1/2 tablespoons of zest)
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup shredded coconut (- unsweetened)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9″ x 13″ pan with parchment paper or grease the pan with melted butter of cooking spray. 

  2. Whisk the flour, shredded coconut, ginger and salt together in a bowl. 

  3. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed for 3-5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Stop to scrape the sides of the bowl a couple of times. Add the vanilla and mix until just incorporated. 

  4. Reduce the mixer to a low speed and add the dry ingredients. Mix util the dry ingredients are just incorporated, it will come together quickly. You don’t want to over-mix, the dough should be crumbly so it’s easier to press into the pan.

  5. Pour the crumbly dough into the prepared pan and evenly distribute over the bottom. Lightly press the dough into the pan until even and smooth. You can use the bottom of a measuring cup to press the dough evenly into the pan. Then bake for 25-ish minutes, until the crust is golden and toasty.


  1. While the crust bakes, prepare the filling by lightly beating the eggs. Then whisk in the sugar and flour until smooth. Add the grapefruit juice, zest, milk and salt and whisk together until blended.

  2. Turn the oven temperature down to 325°F. Whisk the filling once more just before carefully pouring it over the warm crust. 

  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the filling feels firm when lightly touched. It should be slightly jiggly when you shake it but not runny. 

  4. Allow to cool at least 45 minutes – 1 hour at room temperature. Slice into a grid 6 x 4 grid for 24 squares and carefully transfer from the pan to a cooling rack or baking sheet.

  5. To create the straight edge design with the shredded coconut, use a bench knife or something with a straight edge & hold it just above one bar at a time, at an angle from corner to corner, while sprinkling shredded coconut over the exposed side of the lemon bars. Repeat with each bar. 

*This recipe makes 24 bars in a 9″ x 13″ pan.

*Use parchment paper to line the pan to keep the bars from sticking and for easy removal from the pan.

*You must allow the bars to cool completely before cutting to achieve sharp, square edges.

*You can use any variety of grapefruit, I used Ruby Red Grapefruit in this recipe. 

*Store the bars covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. 


Grapefruit Coconut Bars by Baking The Goods

Grapefruit Coconut Bars by Baking The Goods

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Grapefruit Coconut Bars