Between the bright bursts of lemon and buttery sweetness, Ina Garten’s lemon bars really are something special.
One bite and they’ll blow you away.
If you’re searching for something to brighten up your day, stop scrolling!
Ina Garten’s lemon bars are crazy easy to whip up, great for crowds, and perfect for any occasion.
From the crispy-tender crust to the creamy-tart filling, they’re absolutely irresistible.
They’re also stunning with that yellow hue and light dusting of powdered sugar on top.
I suggest making a big batch today, so you can indulge all week long.
Trust me; one isn’t enough.
Ina Garten’s Lemon Bars Recipe
Ina Garten’s lemon bars are a treat for the senses. They’re sweet, creamy, buttery, and tart all at once.
The simple shortbread crust is a quick blend of butter, sugar, and flour. Meanwhile, the lemon custard filling features plenty of fresh citrus and eggs.
You’ll bake the base a little before adding the filling. Then bake it all together until it’s set.
Served with a sprinkle of powdered sugar for extra sweetness, every bite is better than the last.
They’ll be hot and jiggly when you take them out of the oven – a bit like cheesecake. But they’ll cool down and firm up in no time.
Ready to make a light, bright lemon dessert that’s as sunny as springtime!? Let’s get to it!
I love this recipe because it’s such a breeze to make. You only need a handful of ingredients, and they’re mostly pantry staples:
- Lemon – The star of this dish is the lemon. So be sure to get lots of fresh lemons for as much zingy flavor as possible (no bottled lemon juice, please).
- Butter – The crust is basically a simple shortbread dough, and butter is the key to its taste and texture.
- Sugar – It’s not a sweet treat without sugar. You’ll need white sugar for this, as brown would negatively affect the flavor.
- Flour – Flour is essential in the base and the filling. It ensures the shortbread is tender and crumbly and helps the filling thicken so you don’t end up with a liquid lemon gloop.
- Salt – It’s a universal flavor improver and makes the flavors pop!
- Eggs – The eggs are primarily responsible for thickening the custard filling. Plus, the yolks add richness and bright yellow color.
Tips for the Best Lemon Bars
These lemon bars are super easy to make. You can have a decadent dessert ready for the oven with simple ingredients and just a few minutes of prep.
Even novice bakers can bake this treat!
That said, here are a few tips to ensure success:
- The best lemon bars are made with fresh lemons, not canned or bottled juice. Bottled lemon juice has a dull, acidic flavor that just can’t compete with the real thing.
- Let the bars cool completely before slicing. As mentioned, they’ll be quite jiggly when they come out of the oven and will continue to cook in the pan. So, let them go cold; that way, they’ll be firm enough to hold their shape.
- Add a bit of vanilla to the dough for the best, most flavorful crust. Also, measure the flour accurately, or it will be too dry.
- Get everything you need ready to go before you start. If you grab things as you work, you might find you’re out of something and can’t finish.
- Add a bit of salt to the filling. Just a pinch will do the trick! It’ll enhance the flavors and balance the acidity.
- Cut them into bite-sized pieces. Since these are so packed with flavor, you don’t need a huge slice to curb your cravings. Plus, it’s better for crowds in smaller portions.
Can You Make Lemon Bars Ahead of Time?
Ina Garten’s lemon bars are so good, you’ll want them around all the time. But what if you don’t have time to make them twice a week?
Here’s how to make lemon bars ahead of time:
1. Make and bake the lemon bars according to the recipe’s instructions. They should be fully baked, so they set firm.
2. Let the bars cool completely before cutting into squares. This step is essential, so it’s best to pop them in the fridge for a few hours.
3. Wrap each square in plastic wrap and place them in an airtight container. This way, they’re totally covered and won’t stick together (It also prevents freezer burn).
4. Keep the lemons bars in the fridge for up to one week. Keep in mind that the longer they’re left, the softer the base will become as it soaks up the moisture from the filling.
How Do I Know If My Lemon Bars Are Set?
To check if lemon bars are set, give the baking dish a slight jiggle. The edges should look firm, and the middle will move like jello. The bars will continue to cook and set out of the oven. You can also gently press a finger into the center. If it sinks and leaves a mark, they’re not ready.
It’s also crucial to use the right size baking dish.
For example, if the recipe calls for an 8×8 inch pan and you use a 9×13 inch pan, the bars will be done much sooner because the filling won’t be as thick.
In contrast, if the recipe calls for an 8×8-inch pan and you use a 6-inch round cake tin, the filling will be much thicker and will need longer in the oven.
Can You Freeze Lemon Bars?
Lemon bars freeze well when they’ve been left to cool completely before wrapping. It’s best to cool the bars on the counter and then put them in the fridge until cold. Then, slice and wrap individual pieces in plastic wrap and put the bars in an airtight container to avoid freezer burn.
If you don’t chill the lemon bars properly before freezing, they’ll likely thaw and be mushy. Also, label and date them so you don’t leave them in the freezer for too long.
Lemon bars will be good in the freezer for three to four months. After that, they’ll start to lose their flavor (though will still be okay after six months).
When you’re ready to eat them, thaw the bars a room temperature for an hour. Or let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
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