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 bars

Lemon Gooey 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


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91 Responses to “Lemon Gooey Bars”

  1. Ashton posted on February 11, 2014 at 5:08 am (#)

    I think lemon cake mix is pretty much the bomb digigity. Like, I might like it even better than red velvet (shhh!)!! Great job :)


  2. Madison posted on February 11, 2014 at 5:49 am (#)

    Yes a million times YES! These look great…I’m used to the Gooey Butter Cakes (Paula Dean’s) and those have more ingredients. I’m excited to try yours!


  3. Erin | The Law Students Wife posted on February 11, 2014 at 6:27 am (#)

    Hmmmm, I’m the only one in my house who likes lemon. What does this mean? I whole pan of gooey bars for me! Sounds dangerous. And awesome.


    • nolazydaisy replied on February 11th, 2014 at 11:54 am

      I like the way you think, Erin!


  4. alison @ Ingredients inc posted on February 11, 2014 at 9:55 am (#)

    these looks so good! I am a fan of lemon anything


  5. Faith @ Pixie Dust Kitchen posted on February 11, 2014 at 11:34 am (#)

    This is such a “Dorothy” treat with lemon and gooey bars! I love how incredibly easy these are– but that might make them incredibly dangerous as well! I’m kind of in love with the idea of just attacking the pan with of fork.


  6. nolazydaisy posted on February 11, 2014 at 11:48 am (#)

    Those look wonderful! Definitely going to have to try this recipe!!


  7. Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie posted on February 11, 2014 at 12:15 pm (#)

    Those do look like all sorts of wonderful


  8. Kelly - Life made Sweeter posted on February 11, 2014 at 1:49 pm (#)

    I am a big fan of lemon desserts too and these gooey bars sound amazing! I love the sound of the white chocolate chips in here too – yum!


  9. Chandra@The Plaid and Paisley Kitchen posted on February 11, 2014 at 3:18 pm (#)

    Oh Now I need to get into the kitchen! I need one of these like pronto! Totally pinning to my ooey gooey bar board!


  10. Kristyn posted on February 11, 2014 at 4:23 pm (#)

    These bars look delicious! Can’t wait to try them. :)


  11. Laurie F. posted on February 11, 2014 at 6:05 pm (#)

    These would go so fast at a bake sale or potluck! Beautiful!


  12. Crystal posted on February 11, 2014 at 6:19 pm (#)

    Yummy! Definitely not part of my diet, but I pinned it for later. It sounds so rich and delicious. Thanks for the recipe!


    • Dorothy Kern replied on February 12th, 2014 at 10:05 am

      Ugh, it’s never part of my diet, lol. Thanks for the pin!


  13. Laura @ Lauras Baking Talent posted on February 11, 2014 at 6:30 pm (#)

    Ok….I think I’ve lived in a box….because I’ve never heard or realized gooey bars existed. Seriously need to remedy this ASAP!


    • Dorothy Kern replied on February 12th, 2014 at 10:05 am

      Yes you do! They’re the best!


  14. Elizabeth @ Confessions of a Baking Queen posted on February 11, 2014 at 7:10 pm (#)

    I just made some gooey bars the other day! These lemon ones look delicious, I am still waiting for my lemons to turn yellow- stupid tree is keeping them green! Ugh I need lemons in my life for beautiful bars like these :)


    • Dorothy Kern replied on February 12th, 2014 at 9:55 am

      How annoying! I wish I could share some of the gazillion I have right now.


  15. Averie @ Averie Cooks posted on February 11, 2014 at 7:11 pm (#)

    The fact that they’re your faves speaks volumes! they look so good, gooey & lemony! pinned


  16. Joshua Hampton posted on February 11, 2014 at 8:19 pm (#)

    These gooey bars look marvelous. Lemon goodness indeed!


  17. Krystle(Baking Beauty) posted on February 11, 2014 at 8:48 pm (#)

    I’ve never had a gooey bar! Seriously i’ve been missing out. These look divine, pinned.


  18. Jenny Flake posted on February 12, 2014 at 7:56 am (#)

    Love how vibrant these lemon bars are..and they are gooey! Win!!


  19. Kathi @ Deliciously Yum! posted on February 12, 2014 at 9:13 am (#)

    I adore lemon bars!!! I could hardly contain myself when I found this recipe. And Gooey Lemon Bars? I am dying – not only do they look absolutely mouthwatering, but your pictures are absolutely gorgeous as well.


  20. Cyndi posted on February 12, 2014 at 9:56 am (#)

    Lemon…Yes please. Now I have to be honest and say I have never had gooey bars? I know I know please don’t delete my comment. :) And five ingredients to top it off. So gonna have to try these asap! Love your blog!! :)


  21. Lindsay @ Life, Love and Sugar posted on February 12, 2014 at 11:36 am (#)

    Well of course you know I love these! 😉 Most delicious ever! And so easy!


    • Dorothy Kern replied on February 12th, 2014 at 6:35 pm

      Ha, I know. It won’t be the last time we double up, I bet!


  22. Mary Frances posted on February 12, 2014 at 11:44 am (#)

    Haha, nope, not surprised at all! But, I am gladly welcoming these bright and citrus-y bars with open arms! They look incredible, Dorothy. The color is amazing!


  23. Tina posted on February 12, 2014 at 12:21 pm (#)

    I spent 10 years in St. Louis, I love me the Gooey Butter Cake but lemon has never been my favorite flavor/downfall. I’m going to have to try these, I bet you can make me change my mind, they sound delish!


    • Dorothy Kern replied on February 12th, 2014 at 6:34 pm

      The best part is you can use any flavor you want! I love the lemon, but you can use your favorite cake mix!


  24. Shannon @ Bake.Frost.Repeat posted on February 12, 2014 at 3:15 pm (#)

    I need to make more gooey bars. I’ve only made them once. I think I can totally correct that with these lemon ones. I love lemon!!


    • Dorothy Kern replied on February 12th, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      I just love how many flavor options there are! :) Thanks Shannon!


  25. Medeja posted on February 12, 2014 at 3:53 pm (#)

    These lemon bars look heavenly!


  26. Amy posted on February 12, 2014 at 7:58 pm (#)

    YAY!! I’ve been waiting for new lemon recipes after you received a thousand from your mother-in-law, and these were definitely worth waiting for. That’s so sweet that they’re your SIL’s new favorite dessert from you! But seriously, what’s not to love about gooey centers? That’s always my favorite part of any dessert — brownies, banana bread, cookie bars, you name it!


    • Dorothy Kern replied on February 13th, 2014 at 7:09 am

      I still have 990 in my garage. I don’t know what to do with them all!


      • Amy replied on February 13th, 2014 at 3:35 pm

        Preserved lemons or lemon curd? I haven’t tried either myself, but I’ve heard they’re great ways to use up lots of lemons in one go!

        • Dorothy Kern replied on February 13th, 2014 at 6:53 pm

          I need to do that. I love lemon curd, but I eat it from a spoon… :)

  27. Renee @ Two in the Kitchen posted on February 13, 2014 at 4:24 am (#)

    I wouldn’t doubt that these are your best gooey bars yet because lemon is one of my favorite flavors ever!! These look so lucius and chewy!! YUM!!


  28. Trish - Mom On Timeout posted on February 13, 2014 at 9:55 am (#)

    Gooey bars are the bet and you know how much I love lemon! These look fantastic Dorothy!


  29. Jennie @themessybakerblog posted on February 13, 2014 at 11:20 am (#)

    I love that we get to reap the benefits of your gooey bar obsession. These look amazing. Shared everywhere!


    • Dorothy Kern replied on February 13th, 2014 at 6:53 pm

      Thanks for sharing Jennie!


  30. Julie @ Julie's Eats & Treats posted on February 14, 2014 at 12:19 pm (#)

    These look fabulous and I wouldn’t have any left to freeze either Dorothy!


  31. Linda Pieterse posted on February 15, 2014 at 9:46 am (#)

    Hi Dorothy,

    These look fab! I live in The Netherlands and haven found lemon cake mix here. Could you tell me what to replace it with….. The amounts of flour, baking powder and lemon?

    Many thanks


    • Dorothy Kern replied on February 15th, 2014 at 11:45 am

      I’ve never made gooey bars without cake mix, I’m sorry. Do you have regular white or yellow or vanilla cake mix? You can use that, and then add some extra lemon zest and some lemon extract to make it more lemony in flavor!


  32. Wendy posted on February 15, 2014 at 4:04 pm (#)

    I love a chewy bar. I love a lemon bar. So, I will definitely love these lemon gooey bars! I live in the land of gooey butter cake (St. Louis) but your quick and easy short cut variations are the best, Dorothy! Question: Do you store these at room temperature or in the fridge?


  33. Jan Bergseth posted on February 16, 2014 at 6:13 pm (#)

    I’m from Canada and I wanted to check the size of the cake mix that you use please. Not sure if US boxed cake mix and Canadian are the same (or close) Thanks, I’m making the pumpkin gooey bars first :)


    • Dorothy Kern replied on February 18th, 2014 at 6:46 pm

      They are about 18-19 ounces!! :)


  34. Jessica posted on February 20, 2014 at 8:16 am (#)

    What is the best way to store these and for how long?


    • Dorothy Kern replied on February 20th, 2014 at 3:52 pm

      They’ll last in a sealed container for about 4 days on the counter (or in the fridge; either is fine). If you freeze them, do it in a single layer because they are semi-sticky on top and can stick to each other (or the paper you put in between). :)


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  38. Sunny posted on April 27, 2014 at 6:45 pm (#)

    I’ve made these tonight and I have to say OMG!!! The recipe was so simple to follow and I can’t believe how great they taste!!! Thanks so much for this recipe!!


    • Dorothy Kern replied on April 28th, 2014 at 7:41 pm

      I’m so glad you liked them!!!! :)


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  41. Umm Abdullah posted on June 7, 2014 at 8:18 am (#)

    I had an orange cake mix and used that – and the combination of orange and white chocolate is very good! I’ll have to try it with lemon sometime… Thanks.


    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 9th, 2014 at 7:49 am

      That’s a great idea!! Thank you for telling me!


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  43. Heidi Bee posted on June 11, 2014 at 2:36 pm (#)

    I just found your site and I am in love! You have so many amazing recipes!! Believe or not I have never made gooey bars before but will be asap! Thanks so much!!


    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 11th, 2014 at 3:55 pm

      Welcome Heidi!! And thank you. Enjoy!


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  45. Sarah posted on July 3, 2014 at 5:49 pm (#)

    Sweet-tooth as I am, I love your recipes. They look delicious especially the brownies. I am a fan of desserts and would love to try these lemon bars. Thanks for sharing


    • Dorothy Kern replied on July 4th, 2014 at 7:14 am

      Enjoy! These are some of my favorites!


  46. Louise posted on July 9, 2014 at 2:28 pm (#)

    Hi. I’m not sure if I can get cake mix, can you do it with just a basic cake recipe – flour, sugar, eggs and butter?



    • Dorothy Kern replied on July 9th, 2014 at 3:46 pm

      I’ve never tried it without a cake mix. It’s on my list of to-dos! The batter needs to be thicker than a cake batter; like a thick cookie dough. My friend Amanda has a yellow cake mix recipe, you may be able to sub that for the cake mix!


  47. Kayla posted on August 5, 2014 at 8:07 am (#)

    How long do you think these would keep? I made them last night to bring into work for our birthday celebration, but it got rescheduled to Thursday! As this is my first time making them, I’m not totally sure about their lifespan. Of course everything is best fresh, but I’m being asked about whether they might make it a few more days.

    Thanks so much!


    • Dorothy Kern replied on August 5th, 2014 at 12:35 pm

      If you put them in a resealable container or ziploc and put them in the fridge they’ll last until Thursday for sure!! I also freeze them with success. :)


  48. Andrea Teresa Vaughan posted on October 10, 2014 at 7:11 am (#)

    I have these in the oven right now…I used dried pineapple pieces just a few cut small) and a few mini marshmallows for my add ins..and used the whole can of cond milk….the marshmallow seemed to float up tho and are browning a bit to fast..maybe next time omit them 


    • Dorothy Kern replied on October 10th, 2014 at 9:40 am

      Marshmallows can be tricky in the oven. I’ve had friends make magic bars (7-layer) with marshmallows and it works if you bury them under other things. Let me know how it works with the whole can of SCM, they’ll be super gooey! :)


  49. Kelly posted on October 11, 2014 at 10:27 am (#)

    I have the lemon gooey bars in the oven. I did use 9×13, and only increased the condensed milk and chips by about 1.5… but even though I reserved a third of the dough, and crumbled very carefully and sparingly, the top layer is not even close to covering the chips/milk, which glisten all around. I am hoping this is to be expected, and that when it all bakes together it settles out. If this is the case, a note to that effect would be helpful. If, with the 9×13 pan, you need to reserve more dough for the top layer, please make a note of it above. :/. I’ll let you know how it turns out… Even if it’s not so pretty as yours and a good deal more messy, I am still confident that it will be scrumptious. Honestly? Appearance aside, how could the flavor go wrong?!


    • Dorothy Kern replied on October 11th, 2014 at 1:24 pm

      I’ve never made them in a 9×13 pan, but it will cover less on top in that size pan. Same amount of dough and more pan area! I hope they turn out, let me know how they are!


  50. Lisa posted on February 3, 2015 at 6:54 pm (#)

    So I made these for a super bowl party and put coconut and pecan in the middle no white chocolate.  Omg came out so delicious.  Trying a chocolate one next with pecan and dulce de leche. 


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