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The Perfect Lemon Bars

These lemon bars have the most delicious buttery shortbread crust and a sweet lemon filling. This is the perfect dessert for lemon lovers!

lemon bars with powdered sugar

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Favorite lemon bars

If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know I love dessert! I’ve made these easy lemon bars for several years now and they are always a huge hit. They have the perfect amount of lemon and the thick crust is so delicious. My family goes crazy over this recipe and my famous lemon brownies.

I have to admit…lemon bars are not usually the first dessert I think to make. Usually I’m more of a chocolate chip cookie girl, but these lemon bars always hit the spot whenever I make them. I got this recipe from my mom years ago. They have a rich buttery crust, a zesty lemon filling and sweet powdered sugar sprinkled over the tops.  Each bite is melt-in-your-mouth delicious!

pouring lemon filling over shortbread crust

Layers

  1. Shortbread crust: These bars start with the most perfect shortbread cookie crust. It’s super soft and delicious with a rich, buttery flavor. It’s made with a simple mixture of butter, powdered sugar and flour and is baked until firm (but not brown).
  2. Lemon filling: Next comes the sweet lemon filling. It has double the lemon flavor (zest + juice) and is super bright and refreshing. It solidifies once cool, but still remains a little gooey (but not runny). If you love all things lemon, this filling will be no exception.
  3. Powdered sugar: This layer is optional, but it definitely makes a difference in taste. It finishes the bars off with the perfect hint of sweetness. I like to use a sugar shaker (or fine mesh strainer) to sprinkle powdered sugar evenly over the top.

close up of a lemon bar

Baking tips

  • Lemons. Make sure to use REAL lemons for this recipe to get the best flavor. It definitely makes all the difference. If you prefer a more tart lemon flavor, add 1 Tablespoon lemon zest in the filling (instead of 1/2 Tablespoon).
  • Don’t overbake the crust. Bake the crust until firm, but not brown. It may seem a little underdone when you take it out of the oven, but it will continue to firm up as it cools. If it browns while in the oven, it won’t be as soft and tender.
  • Don’t let the filling brown. Keep a close eye on the filling and make sure not to let it brown. The top of the filling can crack if it is overbaked. As soon as the filling is no longer jiggly, remove it from the oven. It will continue to set up as it cools.
  • Let cool completely. This is one of those desserts that needs to cool completely before enjoying. As tempting as it is to sneak a bite right out of the oven, don’t do it! The filling needs time to set and the bars will need to chill in the fridge for a few hours. Trust me, they taste best cold!
  • Air bubbles. A few air bubbles on top of the filling is completely normal, so don’t panic! The air from mixing the eggs rises to the surface, creating small air bubbles.
  • Smaller batch. You can cut the recipe in half and make the bars in a smaller 9×9″ baking pan if preferred. Use the same oven temperature, but bake both the crust and filling a few minutes less than called for. Make sure to keep an eye on both so that they don’t brown.

Storing + freezing

  • Storing: Lemon bars will taste fresh for up to 3 days in the refrigerator as long as they are stored in an airtight container.
  • Freezing: I usually freeze half the batch since the recipe makes quite a few. They freeze great once cut into squares and then placed in a covered Tupperware container. I like to place a piece of parchment or wax paper between the layers to avoid sticking.

close up of a lemon square

More easy spring desserts:

lemon bars recipe

Lemon Bars

4.93 from 14 votes
These lemon bars have the most delicious buttery shortbread crust and a sweet lemon filling. This is the perfect dessert for lemon lovers!
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Chill time: 1 hr
Total Time: 55 mins
Servings: 24

Ingredients 

Crust:

Lemon filling:

Instructions

  • Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Line a 9x13" glass pan with parchment paper if desired. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the butter, sugar and flour with a pastry cutter or mixer.
    mixing butter and sugar in bowl
  • Press into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or a toothpick comes clean. Do not let brown. 
    lemon bar in pan
  • In a separate bowl, beat or whisk the eggs. Then add in the sugar, flour, lemon juice, lemon zest and baking powder. Whisk until smooth and combined. Then pour over the baked crust. Bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until firm. Do not allow the lemon to brown. Remove from oven when firm and no longer jiggly. Allow to cool. Place in the refrigerator for at least 1-2 hours. 
    pouring lemon glaze on bars
  • Once the bars have cooled, sprinkle with fresh powdered sugar and cut into 24 bars. Store the bars in the refrigerator for 3 days or in the freezer for 3 months. 
    lemon bar recipe

Video


Notes

Tip: Line your pan with parchment paper or foil to easily remove the bars from the pan.
If you'd like a more tart lemon flavor, add in a Tablespoon of lemon zest to the filling. 

Calories: 187kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 47mg | Sodium: 78mg | Potassium: 35mg | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 275IU | Vitamin C: 1.3mg | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 0.7mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Jamielyn Nye

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