The Best Lemon Bars Recipe
This is the BEST Lemon Bars Recipe with a buttery shortbread crust and a thick, luscious layer of citrus custard. These Lemon Squares make a sublime treat!
Lemon bars are a popular dessert that is easy to make, but these are the best, bar none. These Easy Lemon Bars are always a hit! These have the perfect ratio of creamy, flavorful lemon filling and tender crust.
Why You Must Make
- This lemon bars recipe with a shortbread crust and sweet-tart lemon custard topping is a classic treat.
- Not everyone is a chocoholic, so having a few recipes with lemon is great for your dessert repertoire.
- These lemon squares are easy to make and are absolutely delicious!
- Kitchen Staples: flour, sugar, salt, eggs
- Butter – Do not use margarine, butter provides better flavor. I used salted butter.
- Fresh Lemons – For lemon juice and zest – Never use bottled lemon juice as the flavor is inferior.
- Powdered Sugar – Sift before using to remove lumps.
- Strawberries – Optional garnish if making for company.
How to Make
- First, buy fresh lemons. You will need ½ 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: Zest your lemons before juicing. Once they’re juiced, it’s more of a challenge to zest.
- PRO-Tip: There are a couple of 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 for 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 cleanest-looking squares. Chilling them also makes for cleaner slices.
- Dust with powdered sugar before serving for a nice finished appearance. If you do this ahead of time, the sugar will melt and absorb into the bars.
Frequently Asked Questions
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 are 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 ratio 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 lemon custard to give you that zesty lemon flavor you love!
For the cleanest slices, chill your bars first. Then use a warm knife (run 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.
They can be stored on the countertop at room temperature for a day or so, but to extend their lifespan, it’s best to refrigerate them. They will be good for 4-5 days kept in the fridge.
If they’re underbaked, your lemon custard will not set. And to get your bars firmer, store them in the refrigerator.
If you’re lucky enough to live in a warm climate and have lemon trees, you’ll need lots of lemon recipes. We love lemon meringue pie, lemon curd, a lemon tart, Limoncello, a French 75 cocktail, chicken with parsley, garlic (and lemon) to name a few.
You May Also Like:
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 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!!!
- Lemon Zucchini Cake from Mom on Timeout
- Lemon Meringue Pie is another family favorite with its mile-high, billowy meringue topping
- Meyer Lemon Streusel Bars
- Luscious Lemon Curd Tart
- Lemon Pound Cake is dense and delicious!
- Strawberry Lemon Tart
- Lemon Blueberry Muffin Bread
- More Dessert Recipes you’ll love
The Best Lemon Bars Recipe
Luscious lemon bars with a shortbread crust.
- 1 cup flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ cup butter cold butter, diced
- 3 eggs
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- ½ cup flour, sifted
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- Powdered Sugar
- Fresh strawberries, cut in half, optional
- Preheat oven to 350º. Line an 8 x 8-inch pan with non-stick foil or line it with parchment paper. Set aside.
- 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 for about 15 minutes or until the crust just starts to brown. Cool completely.
- To make the filling, whisk together eggs, sugar, lemon juice, zest, flour, and salt.
- Pour over the cooled crust.
- Bake for 30-35 more minutes or until the topping is firm and lightly browned.
- Cool, then cut a sliver off all sides before sprinkling with powdered sugar and cutting into bars. Garnish with berries if desired.
You may double the recipe and bake in a 9 x 13-inch pan or triple and bake in a jelly roll pan.
Make sure to zest your lemons before you juice them. It's very difficult to zest a juiced lemon.
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten
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Serving Size:1 bar
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 229Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 52mgSodium: 81mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 0gSugar: 29gProtein: 3g
45 Comments on “The Best Lemon Bars Recipe”
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!
Liz, i just printed your lemon bar recipe. Who wouldn’t love these~! Thanks~!!!
Lemon bars are one of my favorite desserts! I cannot wait to try this recipe!
I’m in heaven with a good lemon bar – and these look wonderful!
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!
Yeah…so…got an instant craving. They are baking in the oven right now!
These lemon bars are so cute, colored and delicious!!!
Thanks for sharing
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!!
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.
Gotta love lemon bars. Gotta love a whole round up of them more!! 🙂
These definitely look like the best lemon bars! And I love the powder sugar and strawberry garnish.
I love love love lemon bars and haven’t made or had one in forever. Yours set up absolutely perfectly!
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 🙂
they look so delicious
I love lemon bars.. perfect cuts too!
I love lemon bars, but I’ve never made them. I should bake and take these for work. They look delicious!
I have no doubt these are the best lemon bars! They look out of this world!
I’ve only made lemon bars once… I think it’s time to make some more! Actually, sunny lemon everything sounds good:@)
Your lemon bars do look and sound fantabulous, Liz. So does the historic home…as well as the visit to the spa!
If you said it’s the BEST, then it must be! They look fantastic!