These lemon bars have the most delicious buttery shortbread crust and a sweet lemon filling. This is the perfect dessert for lemon lovers!
If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know I love desserts! 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. However, whenever I make them I’m always wondering why I don’t make them more often. These lemon bars always hit the spot.
These lemon squares 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!
Here are the key 5 ingredients in this lemon bar recipe.
- Butter. I love to use salted butter in this recipe to help cut the sweetness.
- Powdered sugar. You’ll use the powdered sugar in the crust and for sprinkling over top.
- Flour. I like to use all-purpose flour for this recipe.
- Eggs. Make sure to use fresh eggs.
- Lemon. Pick a nice ripe lemon. You’ll use the juice and zest to give these bars delicious flavor.
How to Make Lemon Bars
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
Add a Coconut Twist!
For a fun twist, add in some unsweetened shredded coconut like I did with these lemon coconut bars. You can add it into the shortbread crust, as well as on top of the lemon filling for a robust coconut flavor.
- 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.
More easy spring desserts:
- Lemon cake mix cookies
- Lemon muddy buddies
- Glazed lemon cookies
- Lemon poppy seed cupcakes
- Lemon coconut dessert lasagna
The Best Lemon Bars
- 1 cup (226 g) salted butter , softened
- 1/2 cup (50 g) powdered sugar , can sub with granulated sugar
- 2 cups (260 g) all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
- 1 3/4 cups (350 g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (32.5 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice , about 3 lemons
- 1/2 Tablespoon lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- powdered sugar , to sprinkle on top
- Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Line a 9×13" 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.
- Press into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or a toothpick comes clean. Do not let brown.
- 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.
- Once the bars have cooled, sprinkle with fresh powdered sugar and cut into 24 bars.
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
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