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The Best Lemon Bars Recipe

Lemon bars are a popular dessert that is easy to make, but this is the BEST Lemon Bars Recipe, bar none. To make these Lemon Squares, a buttery shortbread crust is  topped with a thick, luscious layer of citrus for a sublime treat!

Classic Lemon Bars are always a hit! These have the perfect ratio of creamy, flavorful lemon filling and tender crust.

he Best Lemon Bars stacked on a white dessert plate

The Best Lemon Bars Recipe

The first time I made this spectacular classic lemon bars recipe was for a gathering of my volunteer friends. We spend hours and hours cleaning and manning a spectacular home that is decorated to the hilt by Indianapolis’ top interior designers. Needless to say, when the two weeks it’s open to the public comes to a close, we have reason to celebrate.

Back in 2010, my co-director and I treated the gals who helped organize and work the events we planned to an evening at a spa. My contribution was a savory brie appetizer and my  lemon bars recipe!

A Few Tips for Making Lemon Bars:

  • First, buy fresh lemons. You will need 1/2 cup of fresh juice. Each average lemon will provide approximately 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, so you will need at least 4 lemons. I’d buy one extra to be safe as there is a wide variation in sizes and juice production!
  • PRO-Tip: There are a couple ways to get the maximum juice out of a lemon. First, you can roll the lemon back and forth on the counter with the palm of your hand to help break up the fibers. Also, microwaving the whole lemon about 20 seconds may help get additional juice as well!
  • Use the food processor to make the shortbread crust. It is quicker than cutting the butter in by hand, plus makes a tender crust.
  • Par baking the crust first provides a barrier to the lemon filling plus ensures the crust will finish baking at the same time as the topping.
  • Making a lemon filling instead of a lemon curd provides a moister more flavorful burst of lemon.
  • Lining the baking dish with parchment or non-stick foil makes for easy removal and pan cleanup!
  • Let the bars cool completely before cutting to get the neatest looking squares.
  • Dust with powdered sugar before serving for a nice finished appearance.
White dessert plate with the Best Lemon Bars, garnished with fresh strawberry slices and slices of lemon

What Makes These Lemon Squares the BEST???

  • Starting from the bottom up, these bars begin with a simple, buttery shortbread crust. Nothing funky, just 3 ingredients pulsed in the food processor to make a perfect base.
  • Next, the combination of both lemon juice and lemon zest gives a bold citrus flavor. Note that fresh juice and zest is a must. None of the jarred lemon juice or off the rack dried lemon zest.
  • Adding flour to the lemon mixture thickens the filling perfectly without compromising the texture.
  • Having the perfect ration of crust to filling is key, too. You need just enough crust so you can pick up these bars with your fingers as needed and a thicker layer of the lemon custard to give you that zesty lemon flavor you love!

How Should I Slice and Store Lemon Bars?

  • For the cleanest slices, chill (or even freeze briefly) your bars first. Then use a warm knife (I run mine under hot water, then dry it) to help the knife glide through the bars easily.
  • Lining the baking pan with non-stick foil or parchment allows you to easily remove a whole batch to a cutting board for easier slicing.
  • If you want all the bars to be the same size, use a ruler to make marks at 2-inch intervals along each side to guide you.
  • Lemon bars can be stored on the counter top, but to extend their lifespan, refrigerate them. They will be good for 4, maybe even 5 days kept in the fridge.

More Lemon Recipes You’ll Love

There is no doubt that chocolate is the gold standard for decadent desserts at our house. Fruit pies rate near the top, too. Though he snubs lime sweets, the hubby always raves when I whip up a lemon dessert. Lemon bars are about the easiest way to experience the sweet-tart nirvana of a lemon dessert! And just to feel virtuous, top each with half a ripe strawberry! Double the fruit for a nice dose of vitamin C. This Best Lemon Squares Recipe is a must make!!!

Useful kitchen tools to make the best lemon bars recipe:

Ingredients in These Lemon Bars to Add to Your Shopping List:

  • Check your pantry for these staples: flour, sugar, salt
  • Real butter, do not use margarine. I used salted butter.
  • Fresh lemons for lemon juice and zest. Never use bottled lemon juice as the flavor is inferior
  • Eggs, you will need 3
  • Powdered sugar
  • Strawberries, optional garnish if making for company
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Love this recipe? Please consider rating it in the comments below. You can also follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

The Best Lemon Bars Recipe

Luscious lemon bars with a shortbread crust.

  • Author: Liz Berg
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 50 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 16 bars 1x
  • Category: Dessert, Bar Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter cold butter, diced

Lemon topping:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup flour, sifted
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Garnish:

  • Powdered Sugar
  • Fresh strawberries, cut in half, optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Line an 8 x 8-inch pan with non-stick foil or line with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the crust ingredients until the butter is in very small pieces . Press into the bottom of the prepared pan and bake about 15 minutes or until the crust just starts to brown.
  3. To make the filling, whisk together eggs, sugar, lemon juice, zest, flour, and salt. Immediately pour over hot crust when it comes out of the oven.
  4. Bake for 30-35 more minutes or until topping is firm and lightly browned.
  5. Cool, then cut a sliver off all sides before sprinkling with powdered sugar and cutting into bars. Garnish with berries if desired.

Notes

You may double the recipe and bake in a 9 x 13-inch pan or triple and bake in a jelly roll pan.

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten

The Best Lemon Bars Recipe pinterest collage
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44 comments on “The Best Lemon Bars Recipe”

  1. If you said it’s the BEST, then it must be! They look fantastic!

  2. Your lemon bars do look and sound fantabulous, Liz. So does the historic home…as well as the visit to the spa!

  3. I’ve only made lemon bars once… I think it’s time to make some more! Actually, sunny lemon everything sounds good:@)

  4. I have no doubt these are the best lemon bars! They look out of this world!

  5. I love lemon bars, but I’ve never made them. I should bake and take these for work. They look delicious!

  6. they look so delicious
    I love lemon bars.. perfect cuts too!

  7. Liz, I’m practically drooling! I haven’t made lemon bars in forever! Will be making your recipe this week and I can’t wait! Pinning this one for later 🙂

  8. I love love love lemon bars and haven’t made or had one in forever. Yours set up absolutely perfectly!

  9. These definitely look like the best lemon bars! And I love the powder sugar and strawberry garnish.

  10. Gotta love lemon bars. Gotta love a whole round up of them more!! 🙂

  11. Will definitely be trying these lemon bars Liz, still have tons of lemons left and if these have your seal of approval they must be good.

  12. These lemon bars look absolutely perfect, Liz! I love the buttery shortbread crust piled high with that beautiful lemon filling dusted with a touch of sweetness from the powdered sugar. My family is going to love you for sharing this recipe!! I can’t wait to make it for them 🙂 Thanks so much!!

  13. These lemon bars are so cute, colored and delicious!!!
    Thanks for sharing

  14. Yeah…so…got an instant craving. They are baking in the oven right now!

  15. They really DO look incredible, Liz! I love lemon bars and can’t wait to try yours out — I have some extra lemons, so perfect timing!

  16. I’m in heaven with a good lemon bar – and these look wonderful!

  17. Lemon bars are one of my favorite desserts! I cannot wait to try this recipe!

  18. Liz, i just printed your lemon bar recipe. Who wouldn’t love these~! Thanks~!!!

  19. Pure beauty and I’m sure heavenly taste. Can these be frozen. Planning Easter menu and love these as presentation. Thank you.

    • Diana, from what I recall, lemon bars don’t freeze well. But I’ve kept these in the fridge for almost a week, so they can definitely made a few days ahead of time. Thanks for stopping by!

  20. These do indeed look wonderful!

  21. These make me so happy! They look amazing! YUM!

  22. This ARE the best lemon bars I’ve ever seen! I can’t wait to try the recipe!

  23. There is nothing so satisfying as a really good lemon bar and this one looks like it would exceed expectations! I love the strong lemon yellow colour too, simply beautiful. Lemon desserts are my hubby’s favourite so I’m definitely bookmarking this beauty for our next celebration.

  24. Lizzy , I’m into mousse cakes lately 😀 Lemon desserts though is still one fave but I haven’t baked one in months *sigh* Your best lemon bars certainly look gorgeous , I think the best looking one that I’ve seen yet 😉

  25. Ah, if only I didn’t have to zest the lemons! I wish someone could come up with a really easy and effective way to zest a lemon. Don’t get me wrong, Liz, I love lemon bars, and have and will make these, but I do dread that task!

  26. There is nothing better than a really great lemon bar. These look like perfection!

  27. Lemon comes in as a close second for me as well Liz. These bars make my mouth water.

  28. Lemon Bars are by far my favorite dessert bars and these do look heavenly. If you say they’re they best then I need to try them.

  29. I have to try your bars, Liz! These look absolutely divine!

  30. Yes, yes!!! Made these for a neighborhood get together and they disappeared. Lemons came from trees in the neighborhood also. Thanks.

  31. Liz, you are the queen of gorgeous desserts! Lemon bars are one of my favorite things ever and these look so perfect I’m about to run out and get lemons even though I’ve already been to the store twice today 🙂

  32. YUM! spring is in the air. This is a wonderful recipie

  33. The only dessert I like with lemon is lemon bars! I have no doubt I would love these!

  34. You are the Queen of perfectly sliced bars and these look fantastic!

  35. I just love these bars lemon is a fav of mine now you have me wanting one so bad!!

  36. My husband would eat these lemon bars over chocolate any day. Thanks for sharing such a great recipe. Can’t wait to try it. #HomeMattersParty

  37. This is great recipe and i love it very much.
    thanks

  38. My go-to recipe, everyone always looks forward to them. I make them for every party!

  39. Wonderful recipe! So so delicious! Def pinning this one for later too! Thank you for sharing! 

  40. I love lemon bars, and this recipe is a classic! Definitely a keeper.

  41. This is exactly what I’m looking for in a lemon bar! A little sweet and a little tangy! Just perfect!

  42. These were so easy to make. Everyone loved them and wanted the recipe. I’d say that was a big hit for sure! Thanks for the recipe!

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