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These Easy Lemon Bars have a buttery shortbread crust with a deliciously sweet and tart layer of gooey lemon curd made with fresh lemon juice and lemon zest baked on top! Dust them with a generous sprinkle of powdered sugar for a beautiful finish and you’ve got a dessert bar that is party ready in no time!
Classic Lemon Squares
When spring hits and there are blossoms everywhere, these lemon bars are one of the first treats on my mind! They are perfect for potlucks and backyard BBQ’s, holidays, and other gatherings like bridal showers or graduations. Or just for taking to the pool or park to enjoy with friends!
The tender, buttery crust holds up to the generous layer of silky lemon filling that is made with REAL lemon juice and lemon zest. There’s no skimping on lemon when it comes to making the best lemon bars!
Lemon Bar Ingredients
- Flour: Regular unbleached all-purpose white flour makes up the base of these lemon bars, as well as helping to thicken the filling a bit.
- Sugar: Powdered sugar is used for the most tender shortbread crust, while granulated sugar balances out the tartness of the lemon juice in the filling.
- Butter: I always use salted butter unless otherwise noted because I hate buying unsalted butter and inevitably getting the two mixed up!
- Eggs: I have tested this recipe with whole eggs and egg yolks and ultimately preferred it with egg yolks for the richest flavor and best texture. Use your leftover egg whites to make a pavlova or some french macarons instead! Or use them to make an egg white omelet.
- Lemons: The star of the show! We are lucky to have friends and neighbors with lemon trees and they are often willing to share.
- Salt: A little bit of salt balances out the other flavors and adds dimension to these lemon bars.
How to Make Lemon Bars From Scratch
- Make the crust: Start out by pulsing the flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, salt, and butter in a large food processor until sandy. Dump this into a 9×13-inch pan lined with a parchment paper or foil sling and press it down to compact it. Bake for 15-20 minutes to set the crust.
- Make the lemon filling: Go ahead and work on the filling while the crust bakes by whisking sugar, flour, and lemon zest together in a bowl. Add the lemon juice and egg yolks, whisking well to combine. Pour this over the partially baked crust when it comes out of the oven.
- Bake: Decrease the oven temperature by 25 degrees F and pop the lemon bars back into the oven for 22-26 minutes until they are set and no longer jiggling in the center. Remove and cool completely at room temperature before dusting with powdered sugar and cutting into squares.
Recipe Tips & Tricks
- Baking the lemon bars at a lower temperature helps them set up without running the risk of overbaking the top or bottom.
- Be sure to zest your lemons before squeezing them! It’s pretty much impossible to zest lemons after the juice has been squeezed out of them.
- You can use this exact same recipe with limes, grapefruit, or blood oranges! Any citrus will work in place of the lemons for a fun change of flavor and color!
Frequently Asked Questions
Are lemon bars supposed to be gooey?
Lemon bars don’t bake up dry like brownies over even cheesecake. Instead, they are more like a baked lemon curd that sets up enough to slice and hold, but will still be very sticky and yes, even a little gooey. But they should not ooze out or fail to hold their shape when sliced. Make sure to let them cool completely before slicing to avoid any issues.
Can lemon bars be left out?
It’s totally fine for these to sit out of the fridge for a few hours at a party, but for longer storage they should be refrigerated in an airtight container. If you need to stack them, place a sheet of wax paper between the layers.
Lemon bars will keep for 3-5 days in the fridge.
Should lemon bars be served cold?
Personally I prefer lemon bars served at room temperature, so if they have been completely chilled I like to give them a chance to sit out for 30 minutes or so before enjoying. But lots of people like them cold.
Can you freeze lemon bars?
Yes! These actually freeze pretty well, although the powdered sugar sprinkled on top usually does not survive the process. But you can pull them out and thaw on the counter for an hour or in the fridge overnight, then give them a fresh dusting of powdered sugar and you’ll be all set to enjoy them!
I recommend freezing the sliced lemon bars by spacing them apart on a baking sheet and freezing for 2 hours, then wrapping each one individually in plastic wrap before storing in a reusable freezer-safe bag for up to 2 months.
How do you cut lemon bars cleanly?
This is always the hardest part! The trick is to use a parchment paper sling in your pan before baking. Let the lemon bars cool COMPLETELY before removing them from the pan with the help of the sling.
Then run a large, sharp knife under very hot water for a few seconds and wipe it dry with a clean towel. Use the hot knife to slice through the lemon bars, then run it under the hot water again between each slice, wiping it dry each time.
It’s so much easier to get straight, clean lines when you are using a hot knife and not trying to cut the bars in the pan.
More Recipes Like This
- Banana Bars with Penuche Frosting
- Strawberries and Cream Sheet Cake
- Chocolate Texas Sheet Cake
- Classic 7 Layer Bars
- The BEST Cream Cheese Brownies
- Carmelitas (Oatmeal, Chocolate, Caramel Bars)
- 1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup salted butter
- 2/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- 8 large egg yolks
- Powdered sugar, for dusting
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13" pan with a parchment paper sling.
- In a food processor, add the flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, salt, and butter. Pulse until the butter is cut in really well, then press the mixture into the prepared pan.
- Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes until just barely starting to brown around the edges.
- While crust bakes, prepare the lemon filling by whisking together the sugar, flour, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Add the lemon juice and eggs, whisking well until combined.
- Pour the filling over the crust, then decrease oven heat by 25 degrees to 325 degrees F and bake for another 22-26 minutes until the lemon bars are set and no longer jiggling in the center. Remove from oven and cool completely.
- Dust with powdered sugar, then cut into squares. Store in fridge until ready to serve.
- Smaller Batch: You can halve the recipe and bake in an 8- or 9-inch square pan if you only want 9-12 lemon bars. You can decrease the baking time for the filling to about 20 minutes if you decide to take this approach.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 316Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 120mgSodium: 143mgCarbohydrates: 48gFiber: 0gSugar: 39gProtein: 4g
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.