Lemon Bars

January 12, 2019  ·  Published January 14, 2014

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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 Bar on white dessert plate with fork

Easy Lemon Bars Recipe

These homemade lemon bars are deliciously tart with just the right amount of sweet to complement 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.

These classic 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

Homemade Lemon Bars Ingredients

Classic lemon bars require just a handful of pantry staples:

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

Lemon Bars Ingredients

How to Make Lemon Bars

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

One key to making the best lemon bars 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 in a 13 by 9-inch baking dish before slicing.

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 You Freeze Lemon Bars?

Yes, lemon bars can be frozen up to one month.

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

Can You 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.

Can You Make Gluten-Free Lemon Bars?

You likely can, but I’ve only made this lemon bar recipe as written. If you try to make these gluten-free, I recommend using a 1:1 gluten-free flour blend.

The Best Lemon Bars Recipe

Tips for the Best Lemon Bars

  • 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.

More Lemon Dessert Recipes You’ll Love!

Lemon Bars
5 from 5 votes

Lemon Bars

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
Prep45 minutes
Cook45 minutes
Chill2 hours 30 minutes
Ready in: 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

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

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).
  • Press mixture into an even layer on bottom of prepared baking dish.
  • Bake in preheated oven until lightly golden, about 20 - 25 minutes.

For the filling:

  • Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whisk together granulated sugar, flour and 1/8 tsp salt. 
  • 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. 
  • Pour mixture over hot crust, then reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F and return to oven and bake until filling is set**, about 20 - 25 minutes. 
  • Allow to cool at room temperature 1 hour, then cover and chill in refrigerator 2 hours or overnight.
  • 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.

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*
Fat 11g17%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Cholesterol 79mg26%
Sodium 59mg3%
Potassium 48mg1%
Carbohydrates 37g12%
Sugar 25g28%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 395IU8%
Vitamin C 5.7mg7%
Calcium 14mg1%
Iron 0.9mg5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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71 Comments

  • Stephanie Page

    These are FABULOUS! I was delighted with the results using Namaste Organic Gluten-Free Flour 1:1. Can’t believe what a crispy, buttery, shortbread texture the crust had (even after 3 days in the fridge!) Thank you :-)

    (I did only briefly pulse the crust ingredients in my food processor and then press the crumbly dough into the pan to prevent stiff/dry GF results. I also used my food processor for the filling to ensure the GF flour blended in well. Worked flawlessly! The top had a slightly more cloudy appearance- possibly form too much air being incorporated due to how I blended or due to the GF flour. It didn’t bother me a bit and was beautifully camouflaged by a dusting of powdered sugar. I hope this helps other GF friends achieve this delicious recipe.)

  • Jaclyn

    Jaclyn Bell

    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!

  • 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…

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      A lot of recipes online just use a 1:1 gluten free flour blend in the filling in place of all purpose flour.

      • Dawn

        Ok thank you, I’ll try that then! By the way, I have absolutely loved everything I have ever made from your recipes!

  • 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.

  • 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!

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      You should be fine to add about 3/4 cup fresh blueberries here. Hope you both enjoy!