Brownies & Bars/ Classic Desserts/ Fruit Desserts

Lemon Bars

July 18, 2014

Classic creamy and tangy lemon bars with a sweet buttery shortbread crust.

The Best Lemon Bars

It’s been a long 6-month wait, but I finally got my wedding album! If you would have asked me a few years back if I believed I would find the man of my dreams and get married, I’d have said “No way!” You know what they say, though – eventually, it happens to all of us.

The day of my wedding was the best day of my entire life. That’s crazy, isn’t it? Although I’m usually not the emotional type, just looking at the photos and reliving that day makes me want to burst into tears. We were so happy that day.

To be honest with you, it doesn’t feel like we’re newly weds, rather as if we’ve been living together for 20 years. I mean that in a really good way, so don’t worry.

But what was it I actually needed to talk about? Oh yea, lemon bars! So let’s talk about that.

The Best Lemon Bars

These are classic lemon bars with a sweet, buttery, tender crust and a creamy lemon filling. Every bite is sweet, tangy, and refreshing. It literally melts in your mouth.

Recipes for classic lemon bars usually consist of a shortbread crust. The sugar used in the crust can be either granulated or powdered sugar, although the latter adds a more tender, melt-in your-mouth texture. Similar to my melt-in-your-mouth cookies recipe, 1/4 cup of the flour in the crust can be replaced with 1/4 cup cornstarch for an even better texture. Pre-baking the crust, such as in tart recipes, is necessary in order to prevent sogginess.

The Best Lemon Bars

Lemon fillings vary in the amount of zest and juice used in the recipe. These bars have a nice, strong lemon flavor. You can even use more lemon zest if you like. Flour, in addition to eggs, is added to thicken the filling. I like to reduce the amount of sugar in my recipes if possible. I find this recipe sweet enough for my tastes, but you can taste-test the filling and add more sugar if desired. Add up to 1/2 cup more (just to the filling, not the crust).

The Best Lemon Bars

Serving the lemon bars on the same day as baking is best – that’s when the crust is still crisp. By the second day, the crust will begin to soften slightly, but the bars will still keep in the fridge for 3 days.

4.75 from 4 votes
Lemon Bars
YIELD: 24 bars
Classic creamy and tangy lemon bars with a sweet buttery shortbread crust.

Shortbread Crust:
  • 2 cups (280 g/10 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup (80 g/2.8 oz) powdered sugar*
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks/227 g) cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Lemon Filling:
  • 2 1/4 cups (450 g/16 oz) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (about 3 lemons)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
  • 1/3 cup (47 g/1.7 oz) all-purpose flour
  • Powdered sugar , for dusting the top
  1. Note: The filling should be poured on a warm crust, so make sure that by the time the crust is warm, the filling is ready.
  2. Preheat oven to 325F/160C degrees. Grease or line a 9×13-inch pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving enough overhang on the sides for lifting the bars out of the pan after baking. Set aside.

  3. To make the shortbread crust: Process flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Add butter and vanilla and pulse until mixture becomes crumbly and resembles coarse meal. Alternatively, you can crumble all the ingredients together in a bowl using a pastry cutter. Sprinkle mixture into prepared pan and press firmly into an even layer. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the edges are very slightly browned. Allow to cool on a wire rack just until warm, meanwhile make the filling.

  4. To make the filling: In a large bowl, mix together sugar and lemon zest until well combined. Add eggs and whisk well until combined. Mix in lemon juice. Add flour and whisk until smooth. Pour into warm crust. Bake for 22-25 minutes, just until set and filling feels slightly firm to the touch. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack in room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours (preferably more or overnight) or until completely set. Then, lift the bars out of the pan using the parchment paper and cut into squares. Dust with powdered sugar.

Recipe Notes

*1/2 cup of granulated sugar can be replaced with powdered sugar. Powdered sugar results in a more tender crust.
-Bars are best the same day they are made (the crust will slightly soften after that), but will keep 3 days in the refrigerator.
-To halve the recipe use an 8x8-inch pan and halve each of the ingredients. Bake crust for 15-17 minutes, then bake bars with the filling for 18-20 minutes.

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  • Reply
    Angie (@angiesrecipess)
    July 19, 2014 at 11:23 am

    I am a sucker for all things LEMON! These bars look incredible.

    • Reply
      July 19, 2014 at 6:08 pm

      Me too! Thanks Angie 🙂

  • Reply
    Kathleen Siegle
    July 27, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    These look gorgeous. Im going to have to try your melt-in-your-mouth cookie recipe too!

    • Reply
      July 28, 2014 at 8:48 am

      Thank you Kathleen! I hope you try them soon 🙂

  • Reply
    Amallia @DesireToEat
    July 28, 2014 at 11:49 am

    pretty cute lemon bars, nice pictures.

    • Reply
      July 28, 2014 at 12:10 pm

      Thank you Amallia!

  • Reply
    May 8, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    tank yiy=s muh muchs graca

  • Reply
    Miera Starling
    January 10, 2016 at 11:03 am

    My dad loves lemon bars and I decided to make these for his birthday. He loved them and make them every time I visit him. No offense but mine are tarter and more lemony…???

    • Reply
      January 11, 2016 at 3:58 am

      Thank you for your comment, Miera! So happy to hear that your dad loves them! And that’s perfectly fine, we all all different taste buds 🙂

  • Reply
    February 17, 2016 at 12:24 am

    Interesting recipe! May I know how long should I whisk the egg with sugar? I tried the recipe but the end result smell very eggy and not as yellow as your pictures showed. Wonder which step has gone wrong?

    • Reply
      February 18, 2016 at 11:45 am

      Hi Ashley 🙂 There’s no need to whisk the eggs for a long time. I whisk them with the sugar until well combined. The color may be a bit different due to editing/camera (although not extremely so). Unfortunately it’s hard to tell which step went wrong since there are many things that could happen, but I hope it would turn out better next time!

  • Reply
    April 27, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    Hi Shiran! This recipe is indeed delicious! I was pleasantly surprized that the recipe I have been using for years is almost the same, except I add 1 tsp of baking powder. Every time I make it, I get lots of compliments! Just wanted to point out that 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar is 300g, not 150g. Keep up the yummy recipes!

    • Reply
      April 28, 2016 at 8:46 am

      Hi Ed! Thank you so much for pointing that out! I really appreciate it, and I hope you will enjoy my recipes 🙂

  • Reply
    September 16, 2018 at 4:43 am

    Thank you so much for the recipe! I had to add maybe 50 more grams of flour to my dough and a little more to the lemon layer as well just because I was worried it’s not going to set. Other than that the flavor is amazing and the crust is so buttery and satisfying!

  • Reply
    May 1, 2020 at 8:35 am

    I made these bars last night, let them set in the fridge all night and just had one for breakfast! Lovely!! Will definitely make again. This coming from the girl who loves all things Chocolate. These were great exactly as directed.

  • Reply
    May 15, 2020 at 5:17 pm

    Hi! I love all your recipes! Going to try and make these tomorrow and was wondering, could I make these with limes instead with the same quantities? Thank you!

  • Reply
    February 5, 2021 at 3:20 am

    Thank you so much for the recipe. I just recently made them with Meyer lemons and they were delicious! Just one thing, the lemon curd was soft and sticky. I made the lemon curd first, let it sit then made the crust and baked it. I wanted to make sure I finished the lemon curd in time to pour while the crust was still warm. When pouring, the lemon curd was real liquidy. Is it suppose to be thicker?

    • Reply
      February 22, 2021 at 2:50 am

      It’s fine, the filling should be liquid. It will thicken as it bakes.

  • Reply
    February 8, 2021 at 11:01 am

    Loved the flavor of the crust and the lemon curd. The lemon curd was sticky, not quite set. Can you tell me where I went wrong and how to fix it? It was absolutely delicious and I want to make it again. Thank you:)

  • Reply
    February 18, 2021 at 5:48 pm

    These are soooo delicious, I’m definitely going to be making these often! But it was weird because when I took them out of the oven the eggs kind of set on top of the filling? Almost like an omelette texture. It didn’t change the taste, but it was just a strange consistency. Any tips?

    • Reply
      April 20, 2021 at 3:14 pm

      Hi Claire, it’s hard to know exactly why this happened, but it’s possible that something went wrong when the filling was mixed or perhaps the oven was too hot or the baking time was too long and the filling was overcooked.

  • Reply
    August 8, 2021 at 1:59 am

    Hello Shiran, I sooo want to make lemon bars BUT can I reduce the sugar in the lemon mix? I have type 2 diabetes and love baking and I love lemon recipes, so I do eat the occasional treat. I don’t use artificial sugar substitutes, I just reduce the sugar in any recipe to the minimum.
    Thank you, Sylvia.

    • Reply
      Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.
      August 8, 2021 at 11:07 am

      Hi Sylvia, I can’t say for certain because I haven’t recipe tested it myself, but if you simply reduce the sugar I think it’s safe to say it will affect how the recipe turns out. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be delicious!

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