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Crazy for Crust

Feb 11

Lemon Gooey Bars

You’re not surprised I made another gooey bar, are you? No? Good.

Because this lemon version is my favorite gooey bar EVER.

Lemon Gooey Bars | | Hands down, these are my FAVORITE gooey bars of all time!

Hi, my name is Dorothy and I have a gooey bar addiction.

I have about 3,453 versions on this site. Chocolate, Funfetti, Peanut Butter, Pumpkin, and the list goes on. Okay, so not quite 3,453…but if you could see inside my head, you’d know I wasn’t exaggerating…much.

They are my favorite bar for so many reasons:

1. They’re so easy to make. Cake mix, butter, egg, and sweetened condensed milk. DONE.

2. They’re infallible. Pretty much you can’t mess these up, I promise.

3. They taste amazing. Like cake…but gooey and bar-like.

4. There are so many different flavor combos it’s mind boggling.

Maybe I should change my name to Crazy for Gooey Bars.

Right now? I’m crazy for lemon gooey bars.

Lemon Gooey Bars | | Hands down, these are my FAVORITE gooey bars of all time!

I first made these last June for my sister-in-law’s birthday. She looooooves lemon. I always make her some sort of lemon dessert for holidays and celebrations.

I broke the food blogger cardinal rule last June when I made them: I didn’t photograph them. It was a last minute bake and there was no time to cut and take pictures.

(There is only one hard and fast rule about gooey bars: they need to chill and set before you cut them. I KNOW. It’s hard, but if you want pretty bars, you gotta do it. Or, just attack the warm pan with a fork. Whatevs.)

I finally re-made them at Christmas. I made a lot of things at Christmas and when asked what her favorite was, my SIL said “THOSE LEMON BARS!”

I figured it was time to share!

Okay, so let’s rundown the gooey bar in case you’ve never made them.

  • Cake mix + egg + butter forms a thick dough. Don’t use the box directions. Just use the cake mix powder and follow my directions.
  • Press about 2/3 of the batter into a pan. You don’t have to use foil, but I highly recommend it for this recipe. Sweetened condensed milk is sticky. Spray it well with cooking spray.
  • Add whatever mix-ins you like. White chocolate + lemon is amazing, but coconut would also be fab in these.
  • You break up the remaining chunks of dough and place it on top of the bars. I like to break off about 1/2-1 tablespoon size pieces and drop them over the top, then lightly press with my hands. Some of the SCM will show through.

Once they’re baked, cool and chill to set, then cut into bars. These freeze well, as long as they are in a single layer. They’ll stick to each other and whatever you put in between the layers.

But if you have any left to freeze I kind of don’t understand you. How is that even possible? Are you related to my husband?

Lemon Gooey Bars | | Hands down, these are my FAVORITE gooey bars of all time!

These are my favorite gooey bars yet. Lemon goodness, people!

Lemon Gooey Bars

Yield: 16

Total Time: 45 minutes

These Lemon Gooey Bars are SO EASY and so so good. Start with a cake mix and fill them with super lemony flavor. They're gooey and sweet and perfect lemon bars!


  • 1 box lemon cake mix
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk (I use fat-free)
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9x9 baking pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Mix butter with a mixer (hand or stand) until smooth. Mix in cake mix and egg; beat until combined. Note: if you use a hand mixer it will take a long time to come together. Just keep on mixing until you get a thick cookie dough.
  3. Press 2/3 of the cake mixture in the bottom of the prepared pan. Sprinkle white chocolate chips over the top and drizzle the sweetened condensed milk over the top of the chocolate. Break up the remaining dough and crumble it over the top of the bars. Press lightly to seal.
  4. Bake for 28-33 minutes, until slightly browned. Cool completely before cutting. (It helps to refrigerate them after they’ve reached room temperature.)
  5. Note: you can do this in a 9x13 pan by using the whole can (14 oz) of sweetened condensed milk and 1 cup of white chocolate chips, but the bars will be thinner. Baking time will also need to be adjusted.

White Chocolate Lemon Bars

White Chocolate Lemon Bars (9 of 11)w

Brownie Mud Hen Bars

Brownie Mud Hen Bars by Crazy for Crust | A gooey brownie topped with a crunchy sweet meringue!

Funfetti Gooey Bars

funfetti gooey bars (1 of 5)w

Sweets from friends:
Chocolate Chip Gooey Bars by Pillsbury
Peppermint Patty Gooey Cake Bars by Inside BruCrew Life
Better than Anything Caramel Stuffed Brownies by Something Swanky
Lemon White Chocolate Gooey Bars by Life, Love, and Sugar

120 comments on “Lemon Gooey Bars

  1. Pingback: lemon gooey bars - Simple Everyday Food

  2. Could I use frozen or fresh blueberries as my mix- in?


    • Dorothy Kern replied on April 24th, 2015 at 10:01 am

      I don’t see why not Nikki! I bet that would be fabulous. Just make sure that if you’re using frozen berries, that there are no clumps of ice. I know that happens sometimes – they’re in the freezer awhile – so just make sure to rinse off any chunks and pat them dry. You don’t want too much extra water in the bars! Enjoy!


  3. I am making these for teacher appreciation.  They are having a dessert day.  I may need to sneak one out of the batch to try them…strictly for quality control of course.  🙂


    • Dorothy Kern replied on May 5th, 2015 at 6:51 am

      Enjoy! And good luck just sneaking one! haha 🙂


  4. Pingback: 75 Lemon Dessert Recipes

  5. Just discovered your website today and soooo glad I did! I came across your recipe for Gooey Lemon Bars and decided to make them right away. I didn’t have any white chocolate chips so I went with your suggestion to use a 1/2 cup of coconut. OMG these are so delicious!!! moist, gooey and oh so yummy. Thank you for posting such an easy and great recipe. This is a keeper!!! I can’t wait to try more of your recipes.


  6. I accidently bought lemon bar mix not lemon cake. Do you think i can mix crust and filling together and sub it for the yellow cake? 


    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 27th, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      I’m not sure…I haven’t ever tried that. Theoretically…yes. I haven’t ever made those bars before (is it the Krusteaz mix?) so I’m not familar with how they work. I say go for it and see what happens!


  7. Do you think an 8*8 would work? I don’t want to go the 9*13/sacrifice top crust route….


    • Dorothy Kern replied on July 4th, 2015 at 7:34 am

      Yes, they’ll just be thicker. The baking time might be longer!


  8. Pingback: Spring Desserts & Treats - Raised Southern

  9. I told myself I wasn’t going to make any other gooey bars, but this recipe was a must. And my god. So. Good. I used two cake mixes so each layer was a complete layer (I did this with your peanut butter gooey bars too, but not on the funfetti – the funfetti didn’t turn out right).


    • Dorothy Kern replied on September 2nd, 2015 at 6:49 pm

      I’m so glad you like them! I’ve got quite a few more up my sleeve… 🙂


    • Jo Ann Allen replied on September 22nd, 2015 at 7:08 pm

      Would you explain the way you did these? Thank you!


  10. I have a friend who is an art teacher, and her favorite flavor is lemon. I have made several lemon recipes, but I will be trying this lemon bar recipe tomorrow. Thanks!


  11. what is the weight of the 1 box cake mix? 


  12. These sound delicious! I’m going to make them for a bake sale on Friday. Did you use salted or unsalted butter? Do you think it makes a difference? Thank you!


    • Dorothy Kern replied on March 23rd, 2016 at 3:39 pm

      For these, you can use either interchangeably. I think I used salted, but I’ve made other gooey bars since with unsalted and no added salt, so either one works!


  13. I have been meaning to comment for weeks; I made these bars for an Easter brunch and I cannot tell you all the compliments they received!  You have some new fans!  Great recipe Dorothy!


    • Dorothy Kern replied on April 13th, 2016 at 7:31 pm

      I’m so glad you liked them Tanya! <3


  14. Hi Dorothy, what would you add to “lemon up” a golden cake mix? Specific measurements would be so helpful!  Thanks! 


    • Dorothy Kern replied on April 29th, 2016 at 7:27 pm

      It depends on the recipe you’re making. I’ve found that lemon juice alone doesn’t really add lemon flavor to baked goods. It’s great for adding to frosting in place of (or in addition to) milk, but in baked goods your best bet is using lemon zest. For a cake, you could also add lemon extract and/or instant lemon pudding mix. For a regular cake mix making a regular cake, I’d add the zest of at least 2 lemons, 1-2 tablespoons of juice (you could use 1/4 cup juice and reduce the water/milk by that much). Then I’d also add either 1/2-1 teaspoon of lemon extract or one box (3.4 oz size) of instant lemon pudding mix.


  15. Daniel Mattock Reply

    Help an English guy out- how much is a ‘stick’ of butter?


  16. I had these open on a tab on my iPad all week last week so I wouldn’t forget that I wanted to try them. Finally yesterday (Saturday) afternoon I found the time. They did not disappoint!  For me lemon and gooey go hand in hand an wow these are amazing. I had to cut them into tiny squares to make sure my kids didn’t gobble them all in one sitting :). Thanks so much, next we are trying slow cooker brownie pudding. 


    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 19th, 2016 at 6:02 pm

      I’m so glad you enjoyed them!!


  17. I just finished cutting and storing this delicious lemon bar when a local native bird flew into my kitchen, landed on the foil and started eating the leftover crumbs!!  This recipe has now been fully endorsed by the local Australian wildlife. I even have a photo to prove it. 


  18. Can I double ingredient for gooey lemon bar and bake it in 9×13


  19. Hi Dorothy,
    Have you done anything with a Spice Cake Mix? If so, could you elaborate? If not, any fabulous suggestions from that gooey brain of yours? LOL


    • Dorothy Kern replied on August 21st, 2016 at 5:19 pm

      I haven’t but that’s such a great idea, it’s going on my list. You can totally use spice mix…might be good with apples in the middle, or caramel bits or Rolos!


  20. I think I’m going to add chopped candied lemon peel to these Lemon Gooey bars & & add creme de coconut to the sweetened condensed milk before drizzling it over the candied lemon peels… Lemon & Coconut YUM!


  21. I really like lemon and these don’t seem like they would be tart/tangy enough as the only lemon ingredient is the cake mix. I would definitely add lemon extract to the cake mix and lemon zest to the milk layer.
    You could swap everything ‘lemon’ for ‘orange’ and it would also be fantastic!


  22. Oh, I see that another comment address the lemon factor!


  23. I’ve had lemon bars with blueblerries in them before and they were great! If I add frozen blueberries to this recipe, do I need to change anything else to compensate for the moisture?


    • Dorothy Kern replied on November 22nd, 2016 at 7:52 pm

      I’d just make sure they are defrosted and drained well before adding them, then there shouldn’t be a problem!


  24. how is this for freezing?


    • Dorothy Kern replied on December 3rd, 2016 at 7:27 am

      You can freeze them for sure. I like to do them in a single layer in gallon size ziploc bags.


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