Lemon Bars

These easy lemon bars are a delicious sweet and tangy treat! They have a bright, creamy lemon curd filling and a crisp shortbread crust.

Lemon bars

Who else loves lemon bars?! It probably comes as no surprise that these bright, zesty squares are one of my favorite desserts. I shared a recipe for vegan lemon bars in my second cookbook, but I’ve never shared a classic lemon bars recipe until now. I’m so excited to finally change that!

This recipe comes to you after lots of testing and tinkering. To me, it has the ideal ratio of lemon filling to shortbread crust. The lemon curd layer is thick, creamy, and not too sweet, delivering the tartness I crave in a lemon bar. The buttery crust is crisp yet delicate—it practically melts in your mouth.

This lemon bars recipe is easy to make. Bake it for a sweet treat anytime, or bring it to spring and summer potlucks and picnics. I have a feeling you won’t have leftovers. These lemon squares are always a hit!

Lemon bars recipe ingredients

Lemon Bars Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make this easy lemon bars recipe:

  • Lemons, of course! ALWAYS use freshly squeezed lemon juice here. It tastes much fresher and brighter than lemon juice from a bottle. I also like to add lemon zest to these bars for a stronger lemon flavor, though you can skip it if you don’t like its texture in the lemon curd.
  • All-purpose flour – You’ll use some to make the crust and more to thicken the filling.
  • Powdered sugar – Aka confectioner’s sugar. It sweetens the crust and perfects its tender texture. Dust more powdered sugar over the bars before serving.
  • Unsalted butter – For the crust. I love its rich flavor in these bars.
  • Vanilla extract – It adds warm depth of flavor to the crust.
  • Eggs – They give the filling its creamy texture.
  • Granulated sugar – It sweetens the tangy filling.
  • And sea salt – To make all the flavors pop!

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Mixing crust ingredients in glass bowl

How to Make Lemon Bars

This easy lemon bars recipe has three main parts:

  1. Making the crust
  2. Making the lemon filling and baking the bars
  3. Chilling

Start by making the crust. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, powdered sugar, and salt. Add the melted butter and vanilla and use a spatula to mix until a soft dough forms. It will be a little greasy. That’s ok!

Pressing shortbread crust into pan

Transfer the dough to an 8×8-inch pan lined with parchment paper on all sides. Use your fingers to press the dough evenly over the bottom and 1/8-inch up the sides.

Par-bake the crust in a 350°F oven until it’s lightly browned, 18 to 20 minutes. Dock the baked crust with a fork to release any air bubbles.

Whisking lemon filling ingredients in glass bowl

Meanwhile, make the filling. Place the sugar in a large bowl. If you’re using the lemon zest, use your fingers to massage it into the sugar. This helps it releases its fragrant oils, which makes the bars extra-lemony!

Add the flour and whisk to combine. Then, whisk in the eggs followed by the lemon juice. Whisk just until no streaks of egg white remain.

Pouring lemon mixture over hot crust

Pour the filling over the hot crust and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, or until the filling is set.

Then, chill the bars. Let them cool for 1 hour at room temperature before transferring them to the fridge to chill for 2 hours. This time allows the filling to set up fully and makes the bars easier to slice.

Finally, slice the bars. Dust them with powdered sugar before serving. Enjoy!

Easy lemon bars

Best Lemon Bars Tips

  • Lemon bars like to stick. When you’re preparing your pan, grease it AND line it with parchment paper on all sides. Lemon bars can very easily stick to the pan. Greasing it well and thoroughly lining it will help you remove the bars before serving.
  • Small bubbles might form on top. It’s a totally normal lemon bars occurrence! It happens when air from the egg mixture rises to the surface of the bars as they bake. It won’t affect the taste or texture of the bars (and you can easily hide it with a dusting of powdered sugar). But to minimize it, try not to overmix the filling, as whisking adds air to the lemon mixture.
  • Let them cool (and chill). The hardest part of this lemon bars recipe is waiting to eat them! They slice most cleanly when they cool to room temperature for about an hour and then chill for 2 hours in the fridge. I won’t tell if you dig in sooner, but your squares might be a little messy in that case.

How to Store

Store lemon bars in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. They can sit at room temperature for about 2 hours if necessary. Beyond that, it’s best to keep them refrigerated.

Can you freeze lemon bars?

Yes! These lemon squares also freeze well. Seal them in an airtight container or bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Allow them to thaw overnight in the fridge before serving.

Lemon bars recipe

More Favorite Lemon Desserts

If you love this recipe, try one of these easy lemon desserts next:

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Lemon Bars

rate this recipe:
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Cooling and Chilling Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 4 hours
Serves 16
These easy lemon bars are one of my favorite desserts! They have a sweet and tangy lemon filling and crisp, buttery shortbread crust. I love them with a dusting of powdered sugar on top.

Ingredients

Shortbread Crust

Lemon Filling

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8x8-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper on all sides. Leave an overhang on at least two sides of the pan to help you remove the bars after baking.
  • Make the shortbread crust: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, powdered sugar, and salt. Add the melted butter and vanilla and use a spatula to mix until a greasy dough forms. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and use your hands to press it evenly over the bottom and ⅛-inch up the sides.
  • Bake the crust for 18 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges. Remove from the oven and dock with a fork.
  • Meanwhile, make the lemon filling: Place the sugar in a large bowl. If using the lemon zest, add it to the bowl and use your fingers to work it into the sugar to release its fragrant oils.
  • Add the flour and whisk to combine, then whisk in the eggs followed by the lemon juice.
  • Pour over the hot crust and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the filling is set. It should no longer jiggle when you gently shake the pan.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool for 1 hour at room temperature. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for another 2 hours.
  • Dust the chilled bars with powdered sugar, slice, and serve.

Notes

Makes 16 bars

11 comments

5 from 5 votes (1 rating without comment)

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Carol
    07.10.2024

    Do you think this recipe could be made with oil in the crust instead of butter?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.10.2024

      Hi Carol, we haven’t tried it so I’m not sure.

  2. Ruth
    06.29.2024

    Love your recipes but wish they had nutritional facts or a bar code so I could easily enter them into my food diary

  3. KR
    06.27.2024

    5 stars
    This recipe came out perfectly. I made these for a seafood boil on the beach, and I came home without a single one leftover! Comments were that the shortbread crust was exceptional and the lemon filling wasn’t too eggy and was the right balance of sweet and tart. I’ve never had a Love & Lemons recipe turn out wrong, so I’m not surprised!

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      06.28.2024

      Hi, thank you for your comment! I’m so glad the lemon bars were such a hit.

  4. N. Williams
    06.24.2024

    5 stars
    I LOVE this recipe! These lemon bars are amazing!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      06.25.2024

      I’m so glad they were a hit!

  5. Jessie M
    06.24.2024

    5 stars
    These are excellent! I sprinkled some edible flowers on top for a lovely presentation.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      06.25.2024

      Oh I bet that was beautiful! I’m so glad you enjoyed.

  6. Sydney W
    06.24.2024

    5 stars
    Delicious! Will definitely be saving this one.

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.