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Easy Lemon Bars with Shortbread Crust

These easy lemon bars are guaranteed to bring a burst of sunshine to your dessert table! 

The combination of buttery shortbread and luscious lemon filling creates one irresistible treat.

Every bite strikes a perfect balance of flavors and textures. And while they may be simple, their bright, citrusy zing will have everyone asking for the recipe.

Stack of square cut lemon bars in a plate with powdered sugar toppings.
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The Best Lemon Bars

When it comes to sweet treats, you can’t beat a tray of freshly baked lemon bars.

With a tangy lemon custard nestled on a buttery base, each bite is a symphony of sweet and tart. 

And they’re super easy to make! Just mix the ingredients, bake, and enjoy. 

This recipe is my go-to for a quick, delightful treat that impresses every time. 

It’s quick enough for busy days or whenever you crave something deliciously refreshing.

Oh, and it’s ideal for Spring. So if you need an Easter Dessert, bookmark this page now. 

Lemon bars dusted with powdered sugar on top arranged on a plate.

Ingredients

Below is a sneak peek of the ingredients we’ll use. Check the bottom of the page for exact measurements.

For the crust:

  • All-Purpose Flour: The foundation of the shortbread crust. It provides structure and that perfect crumbly texture.
  • Granulated Sugar: Sweetens the crust, balancing the tangy lemon filling to come.
  • Salt: Just a pinch to balance the sweetness and enhance the flavors of your crust.
  • Unsalted Butter: Cold and cubed butter is what makes the shortbread deliciously flaky and rich. 
  • Vanilla Extract: Adds a hint of warmth and depth to your crust. 

For the filling:

  • Eggs: They’re the structure of your filling, turning liquid into lush custard. 
  • Granulated Sugar: It cuts through the tartness of the lemon, balancing the flavor. It also helps thicken the filling.
  • All-Purpose Flour: Flour also thickens the lemon custard, ensuring it sets to perfection.
  • Lemon Juice & Lemon Zest: These bring the zing, zest, and all the lemony goodness. 
  • Powdered Sugar: A dusting of powdered sugar makes your bars look as good as they taste.
Lemon bars served in a square plate with powdered sugar on top.

How to Make Lemon Bars 

There are two components to these lovely lemon bars. But they’re both super easy to make. Just mix and pour. Easy peasy.

Ready to make lemon bars? Let’s get zesty!

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking pan with parchment.

2. Make the shortbread crust: Mix crust ingredients by rubbing the butter into the flour and sugar with your fingers. Or, use a food processor and pulse until it looks like breadcrumbs. Then, press it into the pan and bake until golden.

3. Make the filling: Mix the filling ingredients in a bowl until smooth. Pour it over the warm crust and bake until set but wobbly.

4. Chill. The bars need about an hour to cool on the counter and then at least an hour in the fridge to set properly.

5. Serve and enjoy! Dust the cold bars with powdered sugar. Slice, serve, and dig in!

How to Cut Lemon Bars

Believe it or not, there is a right and wrong way to cut lemon bars.

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The first thing to keep in mind is that warm lemon bars won’t be neat and tidy. Even room temperature bars won’t have clean edges.

That’s why I suggest chilling for at least an hour – though 2-3 is best.

When they’re cold, lift the lemon bars out of the tray using the excess parchment paper and place the slab on a chopping board. Then:

1. Lightly coat a chef’s knife with cooking spray.

2. Wipe it clean with a paper towel, then cut a long, clean line down the middle (press the knife from above – don’t move it horizontally).

3. Add another light spray and wipe the excess away.

4. Turn the board 90 degrees and cut another long line down the middle.

5. Repeat until you have squares.

The key to cutting is to have a knife that’s longer than the bars. That way, you don’t have to drag it through the filling.

Alternatively, cut from middle of the bars, turn the board 180 degrees, and finish the cut from the other side.

Lemon bars arranged on a white square plate.

Tips for the Best Lemon Bars

Ready to elevate your lemon bar game? Check out these tips for the perfect treat.

  • Use fresh lemon juice: The flavor difference is unbeatable. And, for a richer flavor, use Meyer lemons instead of regular.
  • Use a glass pan for baking: Glass ensures even baking.
  • Know when they’re ready: Lemon bars are done when the center barely jiggles, and the edges are firm.
  • Don’t fret over a soft center: If they seem underdone right out of the oven, don’t worry. They firm up beautifully as they cool.
  • Bubbles and browning are normal. Air bubbles from whisking might form on top. But it’s okay, you won’t be able to see them through the powdered sugar!
  • Strain the filling. One way to reduce the bubbles in the filling is to strain it through a fine mesh sieve over the crust.
  • Patience pays off during chilling: They need time in the fridge to reach the perfect consistency. As mentioned, aim for at least an hour, but the longer the better.
  • Experiment with citrus: Feel free to swap lemon for grapefruit, orange, or lime juice. Adjust the sugar as needed.

How to Make Ahead and Freeze

Prepping lemon bars in advance? Here’s how to keep them perfect for later.

To Make Ahead: Prep the crust in the baking pan and mix the filling. Then store them in the fridge (separately) until ready to bake. Whisk and strain the filling before baking.

To Store: Cool the lemon bars to room temperature, then pop the tray in the fridge for 2 hours. Cover the dish or transfer leftover slices to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 4 days.

To Freeze: After chilling in the fridge, slice the bars and freeze on a tray until solid. Then, double-wrap them in plastic wrap and foil and freeze for up to 3 months. 

More Lemon Desserts To Try

Lemon Cake Mix Cookies
Soft and Chewy Lemon Cookies
Lemon Cake with Yellow Cake Mix
Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Lemon Bars

Course: DessertCuisine: American
Servings

24

servings
Prep time

20

minutes
Cooking time

45

minutes
Chilling time

120

minutes
Total time

3

hours 

5

minutes

These lemon bars are easy to make and guaranteed to add sunshine to your dessert table. The bright, citrusy zing will have everyone reaching for more.

Ingredients

  • For the crust:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • For the filling:
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 6 lemons)

  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

  • Powdered Sugar for serving

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°Fahrenheit (175°C) and line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
  • For the crust: In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, granulated sugar, and salt, then add the butter. Use a pastry cutter or a knife to cut the butter into the flour mixture. Alternatively, rub it by hand until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  • Press the crust evenly into the prepared baking pan and bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden brown.
  • For the Filling: In a separate large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, flour, lemon juice, and lemon zest until smooth.
  • When the crust is done, carefully pour the filling over the top and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges are set but still slightly wobbly in the middle.
  • Let the bars cool completely on the counter. Then, chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours.
  • Slice the lemon bars, dust with powdered sugar, and enjoy!

Notes

  • Serve them cold for the best taste and texture.
  • For a richer flavor, use Meyer lemons instead of regular lemons.
Lemon bars

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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