These classic lemon bars have a soft buttery shortbread crust and a tangy-sweet lemon filling. You only need 8 ingredients for this recipe and not even a stand mixer.
There are lots of recipes for lemon bars and usually the only difference is the thickness of the base, or in other words, the base-filling ratio. The number of eggs used, the amount of lemon juice and if butter is added to the filling or not can vary depending on the recipe.
The lemon bars taste so wonderfully fresh and have a fantastic balance between sweet and tart. A bit like lemonade. Always use freshly squeezed lemon juice, because this is the key to perfect lemon bars.
Tools & Equipment
- 23x33cm/9×13-inch baking pan
- Fine-mesh strainer
- Large bowl
- Medium bowl
- Parchment paper
- Silicone spatula
- Wire rack
Smaller Batch: You can halve the recipe, meaning halve all the ingredients. Use a 23x23cm/9×9-inch baking pan and set the same oven temperature. Bake the crust for 15-18 minutes and the bars for 20 minutes or until the center is no longer jiggly.
Lemon Juice: If you want an intense lemon flavor, I definitely suggest using fresh lemon juice and lemon zest for the filling. Concentrated lemon juice will not taste as sour or intense. Feel free to use fresh limes, oranges or grapefruits instead of lemons if you prefer other kinds of citrus.
Sift Flour and Sugar: The flour may not be fully incorporated into the filling if it is not sifted with the sugar. To prevent flour lumps, sift flour and sugar before adding eggs, lemon juice and zest.
White Bubbles: Do you end up with a white layer of air bubbles on top of your baked bars? That’s the air from the eggs rising to the surface. In some batches this happens, in others it doesn’t. It’s quite normal and a layer of powdered sugar will cover it up anyway.
Ingredients for Lemon Bars
Step by Step Guide – How to Make Lemon Bars
Preheat the oven to 163 °C/325 °F. Line a 23x33cm/9×13 baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the sides for lifting out the finished bars easily. Melt the butter.
Mix together the melted butter, sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Add the flour and stir until well combined. The dough will be thick.
Place the dough in the baking pan and press down firmly. Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from the oven. Use a fork to poke holes in the warm crust (not all the way through).
Sift the sugar and flour into a large bowl. Whisk in the eggs.
Add the lemon juice and zest and stir until well mixed. Pour the filling over the warm crust. Bake the bars for 20-25 minutes or until the center is set and no longer jiggly.
Remove from the oven and let cool at room temperature for 1-2 hours. Place the pan in the fridge for another 1-2 hours or overnight until properly chilled. Lift the parchment out of the pan using the overhang. Dust with powdered sugar and slice into squares.
Storage: You can keep leftover lemon bars covered in the fridge for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 4 months. To freeze, place cooled bars cut into squares (without powdered sugar) on a baking sheet and freeze for about 1 hour. Then wrap them one by one in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and freeze in a container or freezer bag. Thaw in the fridge and dust with powdered sugar before serving.
My Summary for Lemon Bars
Taste: The crust tastes buttery and the lemon filling tangy-sweet. It’s the perfect balance between tangy and sweet.
Texture: These lemon bars have an amazing soft buttery shortbread crust and a lemon filling that is extra thick and creamy.
Time: Making the crust and lemon filling takes about 30 minutes. Pre-bake the crust for about 20 minutes and then finish baking with the filling for another 25 minutes or so. Let cool for at least 4 hours, better overnight.
More “LEMON” Recipes
For the Crust
- 220g butter, melted
- 100g granulated sugar
- 10ml vanilla extract
- 3g (1/2 tsp) salt
- 270g all-purpose flour (550)
For the Filling
- 400g granulated sugar
- 45g all-purpose flour (550)
- 6 large (300g) eggs, at room temperature
- 240ml fresh lemon juice, at room temperature
- 6g lemon zest
optional: powdered sugar, for dusting
Make the Crust
- Preheat the oven to 163 °C/325 °F. Line the bottom and sides of a 23x33cm/9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the sides for lifting out the finished bars easily. Set aside.
- Melt the butter on the stove or in the microwave.
- In a medium bowl mix together the melted butter, sugar, vanilla extract and salt.
- Add the flour and stir until well combined. The dough will be thick.
- Place the dough in the prepared baking pan, press down firmly and make sure the crust layer is nice and even.
- Bake on the middle rack for 20 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned.
- Remove from the oven. Use a fork to poke holes in the warm crust (not all the way through). Set aside.
Make the Filling
- Sift the sugar and flour into a large bowl.
- Whisk in the eggs.
- Add the lemon juice and zest and stir until well mixed.
- Pour the filling over the warm crust.
- Bake the bars on the middle rack for 20-25 minutes or until the center is set and no longer jiggly. Tap the pan lightly to check.
- Remove the pan from the oven and let the lemon bars cool at room temperature for 1-2 hours. Place them then in the fridge for another 1-2 hours or overnight until properly chilled.
- Remove from the fridge and lift the parchment paper out of the pan using the overhang on the sides.
- Dust with powdered sugar and slice into squares before serving. To get clean squares, wipe the knife clean between each cut.