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My BEST Lemon Bars recipe is a classic with shortbread crust and a creamy lemon filling! These easy lemon bars makes the perfect batch with a thick crust and perfect lemon filling. This is a great make-ahead dessert bar for picnics, BBQs and potlucks – it’s seriously, the best lemon bars recipe!

stacked lemon bars with powdered sugar on top around cut lemons.


The BEST Lemon Bars Ever!

Oh, how I love a shortbread crust topped with tart lemon filling. It just says summer and picnics and potlucks to me! This lemon squares recipe is one of my favorite dessert bars.

One of the most famous recipes is Ina Garten’s but I’ve got news – this recipe is better than Ina Garten’s lemon bars. My recipe is easier to make with less waiting time, which means you’ll be slicing these sweet treats before you know it. 

The balance of crust to filling is perfect in these bars and the lemon filling sets up perfectly every time. No runny lemon bars. Once cooled the bars slice beautifully. All they need is a dusting of powdered sugar.

Ingredients in lemon bars

Ingredients Needed

  • Butter: Use unsalted butter for the crust, make sure it’s softened.
  • Flour: I always use All-Purpose Flour.
  • Sugar: I love using powdered sugar in shortbread and granulated sugar in the lemon square filling.
  • Lemon: You’ll need FRESH lemon juice and lemon zest!
  • Eggs: Be sure to buy large eggs.

Be sure to see the recipe card below for full ingredients & instructions!

How to Make Lemon Bars

  • The first thing that sets these bars apart is the crust. It’s a simple buttery shortbread crust that is easy to make. Many recipes have you bake the crust in a large baking dish, but I prefer a smaller 9×9” square one. That way you get thick lemon bars
  • You don’t have to chill the dough – just mix it up, press it into the pan and bake it. No waiting! All you do is cream butter with a mixer until it’s smooth. Add powdered sugar, all pupose flour, and salt and mix slowly until the dough is crumbly but sticks together when you squeeze it.
  • Press it into a prepare baking dish and bake it for 13 minutes or until it turns lightly golden around the edges.
  • While the crust is baking, make the filling by whisking the eggs and then add the sugar, lemon zest, salt and lemon juice and whisk again. Once the crust is done baking, pour the filling over it while it’s still hot. You don’t have to wait for it to cool!
  • Bake the bars for 15 to 18 minutes or until the lemon filling is no longer liquid in the center and the bars are lightly golden on top.
  • Cool the bars completely before slicing and serving. I like to dust them with powdered sugar!
stacked lemon bars with powdered sugar on top around cut lemons.

Expert Tips for Lemon Bars

  • Accurately measure your ingredients! This one thing can make a huge difference in your lemon bars. Using the spoon and level method to measure the powdered sugar and the flour will ensure you have the right amount in your recipe.
  • Keep an eye on the bars while they bake. You want to pull them out of the oven when they are set in the middle and just lightly golden on top.
  • Don’t skip lining the baking dish with parchment paper or foil. This will make it really easy to lift the bars out in one piece before you slice them.
  • If your kitchen is warm, you can place the cooled bars (in the baking dish) in the refrigerator so they firm up. This will make it easier to get clean slices.
  • Lemon bars will hold up well at room temperature for several hours, but you will want to store them in the refrigerator after that to keep the filling from spoiling.
  • Lemon bars will keep for up to four days in the refrigerator or you can freeze them for up to a month.
  • You can make Ina’s Lemon Bars in a shortbread cookie crust too – just be sure to compact it well so the lemon mixture doesn’t seep through. Same goes for the crust in the recipe – any holes in it and the bars might invert.
stacked lemon bars with powdered sugar on top around cut lemons.

Lemon Bars FAQ

Do I need to refrigerate lemon bars?

Yes, store these in the refrigerator after slicing.

Can I freeze them?

Yes you can! Freeze these for up to 3 months.

Can lemon bars be made ahead?

These are perfect made up to 2 days ahead of time. Don’t dust with powdered sugar until before serving – it will dissolve.

How do you cut lemon squares?

The best way to cut them cleanly is to remove the entire slab from the pan using the parchment or foil. Then spray the knife with some nonstick cooking spray, and wipe it clean between cuts.

Can I substitute lime?

Yes! It’s really easy to make lime bars with this recipe – same recipe, but use lime or key lime juice and zest.

Stack of the best lemon bars with powdered sugar on top and one bite missing

Lemon Bars Recipe

4.93 from 142 votes
These are not the flimsy, thin lemon bars you see all over the internet! My recipe makes the best lemon bars ever – thick shortbread crust with that creamy tart lemon filling! If you’ve been disappointed with other recipes you have to give my recipe a try – I know you will love it.
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Yield 9 bars
Serving Size 1 serving

Ingredients
 

Crust:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup (57g) powdered sugar
  • 2 cups (248g) all purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Filling:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • Zest of 1 medium lemon
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ cup (118ml) fresh lemon juice from about 4 medium lemons
  • Powdered sugar for topping

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9×9 or an 8×8 pan with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Make the crust by creaming the butter with a hand or a stand mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment) until smooth. Add powdered sugar, flour, and salt and mix slowly until the mixture is crumbly but sticks together when you press it between your fingers. Press the crust into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for about 13 minutes, or until it just starts to get a light golden brown around the edges.
  • While the crust is baking, whisk the eggs until beaten. Whisk in the sugar, lemon zest, salt, and lemon juice. Pour over hot crust, then continue to bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the mixture is no longer liquid in the center and it’s lightly golden brown on top.
  • Cool completely before removing from pan. Remove foil, then dust with powdered sugar. Slice and serve, dusting with more powdered sugar as desired.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

 
  • I recommend a stand mixer for the crust if you have one, if not, a hand mixer will work but it will take a bit of time to get it mixed. Make sure the mixture sticks together when you press it into the pan – and make sure it’s pressed very well into a solid crust so there are no holes.
  • Keep an eye on the bars while they bake. You want to pull them out of the oven when they are set in the middle and just lightly golden on top.
  • Don’t skip lining the baking dish with parchment paper or foil. This will make it really easy to lift the bars out in one piece before you slice them.
  • If your kitchen is warm, you can place the cooled bars (in the baking dish) in the refrigerator so they firm up. This will make it easier to get clean slices.
  • Lemon bars will hold up well at room temperature for several hours, but you will want to store them in the refrigerator after that to keep the filling from spoiling.
  • Lemon bars will keep for up to four days in the refrigerator or you can freeze them for up to a month.

Recipe Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 468kcal | Carbohydrates: 62g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 127mg | Sodium: 96mg | Potassium: 77mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 40g | Vitamin A: 736IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 2mg
Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate
Course Dessert
Cuisine American

Favorite Lemon Recipes

The BEST Lemon Bars have a creamy, sweet and tart lemon filling with a thicker than usual shortbread crust. It makes the perfect ratio and texture!

Last Updated on September 15, 2023



Dorothy Kern

Welcome to Crazy for Crust, where I share recipes that are sometimes crazy, often with a crust, and always served with a slice of life.

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