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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 lemon desserts!

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! The lemon zest is where most of that lemon flavor comes from!
  • 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 an electric 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 prepared baking pan and bake it for 13 minutes or until it turns lightly golden around the edges.
  • While the crust is baking, make the lemon curd filling by whisking the eggs and then add the sugar, lemon zest, salt and lemon juice in a medium bowl 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.
  • 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 put them in the freezer for up to a month. We love to freeze lemon bars when lemons are in season!
  • You can also use a food processor to make the curst – just pulse all the ingredients together until crumbly.
  • It is best to make lemon bars in a metal pan so the crust cooks and the filling sets. Glass pans do not conduct heat as well as metal.
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

4.94 from 153 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 Bar 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 December 17, 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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52 Comments

  1. I need to make for a party. Have you tried doubling the receipe? Or do I make a bunch of 9×9 pans? A sheet pan perhaps?

    1. I haven’t – if you double it I recommend using 2 pans, the mixture would be too thick in a 9×13 and I’d worry about overflowing a sheet pan

  2. I made these wonderful lemon shortbread bars and I was so happy! They are awesome! I followed the recipe and turned out perfect! Yummy 😋

  3. These are not the best! Followed recipe and it did not set!
    So bummed out.
    I did it exactly as instructed

      1. Mine didn’t set either and I increased the baking time twice for 10 minutes each time. So they baked for about 40 minutes when I finally pulled them out hoping it sets more as it cools but it looks pretty watery. I’ve since looked at other lemon bar recipes and they add 1/4 cup of flour to the filling. Did you forget that in this recipe?

  4. I followed the recipe to a tee but found that even after baking my crust for like 20 minutes it wasn’t fully baked in the center. I find that my oven usually runs hotter than recipes anticipate, but maybe it just wasn’t as hot as it said it was. Anyway, a slightly underbaked shortbread isn’t dangerous to eat and the bars were fantastic otherwise (and the corner pieces were sooo tasty) I’ll definitely be using this recipe again, but baking a little longer

  5. I was really excited to make these, and I did everything as directed, but after over 30 minutes in the oven they were mush. Not sure what went wrong, but some things I did were use convection bake instead of just bake, and I didn’t add lemon zest, but they were mush. Tasted amazing, I hope it works out for you

    1. Can you expand on “mush”? Did the bars invert? I’ve never had it happen even though I’ve made these at least 10 times, but I know it’ll happen if the crust has any holes in it.

  6. I wasn’t crazy about this recipe. I baked the recommended time and they were still runny. I kept baking until they firmed up. At least twice the baking time. After they cooled they were still a runny mess. I’m going back to the recipe in my old Betty Crocker cookbook. It never fails me.

    1. I’ve been craving lemon bars and this recipe is so tasty. I made my own crust so i can’t speak on that but the filling is delicious. It set well after about 25 minutes in the oven. Delicious!

  7. These are the best lemon bars I have every tasted!! SO GOOD!! I sold them in a bake sale me and my sister did and our neighbors are asking for more! One time when I bakes them the filling got under the crust, but hopefully that was just bc there was a hole in the dough. 5 stars tho!

  8. I tried your lemon bar recipe tonight, so easy and very tasty! I think I might have under baked it a bit after I got the filling poured on, it seemed set but very squishy. They were still a little warm too, couldn’t wait to try them. So maybe after they have completely cooled they will be firmer. I love the thicker crust, way better than most recipes, and good!

  9. I followed the recipe exactly and made extra effort to make sure the crust dough was pushed down firmly but it inverted nevertheless. Super frustrating because I was bringing these to a party and really van’t now. I think I’ll pass on this recipe and go back to my old one.

  10. Really liked your recipe. I used my food processor for the crust on the dough setting. I made sure to really flatten the crust in the pan before cooking. Took a little longer to cook – 20 min. Then mixed the filling in the processor also after the crust. Lined an 8×8 glass pan with parchment paper. Followed your recipe precisely and they came out great! I didn’t have any issues with holes in the crust.