Lemon Bars

01.12.2019

The best Lemon Bar recipe! These are brimming with bright fresh lemon flavor, they’re deliciously sweet, and lusciously creamy and this buttery shortbread base is the perfect compliment to the lemon custard topping. You’ll love these!

Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars

These lemon bars are deliciously tart with just the right amount of sweet to compliment the sour. Their bold, fresh lemon flavor is paired with a more mellow hint of orange to tone things down without distracting from the star of the show.

Both whole eggs and egg yolks are added to not only give structure but to offer a creamy and smooth texture to the lemon bars and a hint of cream is added for a nice balance.

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These lemon bars are anything but bland, so if you are looking for a fresh, exciting dessert recipe, don’t pass these by.

Give yourself a hint of summer to brighten these cloudy winter days by making some of these refreshing and decadent lemon bars!

You’ll be glad you did once they are melting away in your mouth. Bite..after bite…after bite.

Lemon Bars

What Ingredients do You Need for Homemade Lemon Bars?

  • All-purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar
  • Salt
  • Unsalted butter
  • Lemons
  • Oranges
  • Whole eggs and egg yolks
  • Heavy cream

Lemon Bars Ingredients

How do You Make Lemon Bars?

  • In a food processor make the crust mixture.
  • Spread mixture into baking dish. Bake 350 for 20 minutes.
  • While crust bakes prep filling.
  • Pour filling over hot crust and bake 325 until just set, about 20 minutes.
  • Cool at room temp 1 hour then chill 2 hours.

Lemon Bars in a 13 by 9-inch baking dish before slicing.

The Simple Buttery Shortbread Crust

One key to perfect lemon bars is a crisp, buttery shortbread base. This version has the perfect ratio to butter and flour.

And you’ll want to be sure to bake it long enough, it should start to appear lightly golden brown on top. Otherwise it may not be crisp leaving the perfect contrast to the creamy custard filling.

Lemon Bars or two dessert plates decorated with flowers and greens.

Can I Use Meyer Lemons?

Meyer lemons will work in this recipe too, just keep in mind they’re a bit sweeter so I might suggest reducing the sugar by 1/4 cup. You can even replace the orange juice with more meyer lemon since it’s somewhat of a cross between a lemon and mandarin orange.

Do Lemon Bars Need to Be Refrigerated?

Since they have a custard type topping they should be kept in the refrigerator. They keep well for 4 days refrigerated.

Can They Be Frozen?

Yes lemon bars can be frozen up to one month.

The Best Lemon Bars Recipe

Tips for Perfect Lemon Squares

  • Use a zester not a grater for the lemon zest. I’ve seen several people do this and it just doesn’t work out well. You can find a good quality one for about $10.
  • Be careful not to get any of the pith (white portion of the lemon peel) in the zest. Zest the lemon with gentle pressure. The white pith adds bitterness.
  • Add the lemon custard mixture to a hot crust. This way it will start to cook right away and not sit and soak into the crust making it soggy.
  • Don’t use old squishy lemons. Pretty obvious but the fresher are best.
  • Use a combo of lemon and orange juice for a nice blend. That way they don’t end up overbearingly lemony.
  • Use a bit of cream for a nice balance to the tang.

Lemon bar on dessert plate with bite removed to show texture.

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Lemon Bars

5 from 4 votes
My favorite lemon bar recipe! These are brimming with bright fresh lemon flavor, they're deliciously sweet, and lusciously creamy and this buttery shortbread base is the perfect compliment to the lemon custard topping.
Servings: 20
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 4 hours

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups (283g) all-purpose flour (scoop and level to measure)

Filling

  • 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
  • 6 Tbsp (53g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp (7g) lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup (175ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) fresh navel orange juice
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3 Tbsp (45ml) heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13 by 9-inch baking dish*, set aside.

  2. For the crust: In the bowl of an electric stand mixer cream together butter and sugar and salt until well combined. Add flour and mix until combined (it will seem dry and crumbly but keep mixing and it will come together).

  3. Press mixture into an even layer on bottom of prepared baking dish.

  4. Bake in preheated oven until lightly golden, about 20 - 25 minutes.

  5. For the filling: Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whisk together granulated sugar, flour and 1/8 tsp salt. 

  6. Several minutes before crust is done baking, mix in lemon juice, orange juice and lemon zest, then add eggs, egg yolks and heavy cream and whisk vigorously to blend well. 
  7. Pour mixture over hot crust, then reduce oven temperature to 325 and return to oven and bake until filling is set**, about 20 - 25 minutes. 

  8. Allow to cool at room temperature 1 hour, then cover and chill in refrigerator 2 hours or overnight.

  9. Cut into squares and dust tops with powdered sugar if desired just before serving. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 4 days.

Recipe Notes

  • *If you'd like to be able to lift bars out to cut then line with parchment and butter parchment.
  • **The lemon filling shouldn't wiggle when jiggled, it should be just set.
Nutrition Facts
Lemon Bars
Amount Per Serving
Calories 261 Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 17%
Saturated Fat 6g 30%
Cholesterol 79mg 26%
Sodium 59mg 2%
Potassium 48mg 1%
Total Carbohydrates 37g 12%
Sugars 25g
Protein 3g 6%
Vitamin A 7.9%
Vitamin C 6.9%
Calcium 1.4%
Iron 5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Lemon Bars
Calories: 261 kcal
Author: Jaclyn

67 comments

  • Laura | Tutti Dolci: I love lemon bars, these are stunning! January 18, 2019 at 10:15pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks Laura! January 18, 2019 at 11:12pm Reply

  • Jaclyn: Sorry for the confusion. I updated the recipe to simplify it – instead of using the two other kinds of sugar in the shortbread I chose to just go with granulated instead and it’s just as good :). Changed that above in the narrative, thanks for pointing that out! January 14, 2019 at 12:04pm Reply

  • Dawn: Hi, wonderful recipe! I have a gluten free daughter in law, do you think I could use corn starch in the topping? Gluten free flour will be fine in the base, but I’ve never had much success with using it as a thickening agent… January 13, 2019 at 12:45pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: A lot of recipes online just use a 1:1 gluten free flour blend in the filling in place of all purpose flour. January 13, 2019 at 3:28pm Reply

      • Dawn: Ok thank you, I’ll try that then! By the way, I have absolutely loved everything I have ever made from your recipes! January 13, 2019 at 8:22pm Reply

        • Jaclyn: You’re welcome! And I’m so glad to hear that :)! January 14, 2019 at 12:03pm Reply

  • Elaine: My favorite dessert is lemon pie!
    That looks so yummy…
    I would love to try this recipe but since I’m trying my best to stay away from dairy product, I was wondering if I could use Earth Balance traditional spread or a new product called Melt (butter 2.0 whatever that means)? Thanks for this perfect recipe. January 13, 2019 at 7:14am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Earth balance should be a good substitute here. Hope you enjoy! January 14, 2019 at 12:02pm Reply

  • Amanda: Hi there! My boyfriend has been asking me to make lemon blueberry bars – this is by far the best lemon bar recipe I’ve seen! Do you think I could add blueberries to this recipe as-is, or would it need other adjustments?

    Thanks! September 18, 2018 at 7:37am Reply

    • Jaclyn: You should be fine to add about 3/4 cup fresh blueberries here. Hope you both enjoy! September 24, 2018 at 11:41am Reply

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