With a rich buttery shortbread crust and a thick layer of tangy lemon curd on top, these easy lemon bars are guaranteed to be a hit! They are made with just 7 ingredients and take only 15 minutes to prepare. A triple stack of lemon bars on a light gray plate with a blue background.

What are lemon bars:

Lemon bars (also known as lemon squares) are a popular type of dessert bar made with a shortbread crust and a lemon curd filling. This type of dessert bar originated in the 1930s and lemon bars became a big hit in the 1960s.Two lemon bars in a gray and five lemon bars on a wooden cutting board.

Why these lemon bars are the best:

  • They have a perfect 1:1 ratio of crust to filling.
  • They are thicker than most lemon bars, which makes each bite more flavorful and satisfying.
  • The lemon curd is delightfully tart, and not too sweet, which emphasizes the robust lemony flavor. It’s also firm enough to hold its shape when sliced and is stackable for easy transport and plating.
  • The base features a buttery shortbread crust that uses powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar and includes cornstarch for a light and tender texture that melts in your mouth.
  • Here is what some of my readers have to say:

“I made these this weekend, following the recipes, exactly. They are perfection – they taste so fresh and the lemon flavor is an amazing compliment to the delicious crust! Thanks for sharing!!” – Brittainy

“This was such an amazing recipe. The amount of tartness and gooeyness was perfect. I ate like a whole row when I finished with it. The thickness is very nice too! Perfect lemon bar recipe <3” – Teresa

How to make lemon bars:

how to make lemon bars with shortbread crust steps 1-4

  1. You start by tossing some flour, powdered sugar, and cornstarch together. Then add in the butter.
  2. Using a pastry cutter, fork or food processor, work in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  3. Press the mixture firmly and evenly into an 8×8″ square baking pan lined with parchment paper. Pre-bake the crust at 350F for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a large bowl.
  5. Slowly add in some more flour while whisking.
  6. Pour the filling over the hot crust and bake for another 30 minutes. Let cool and chill in the fridge. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

how to make lemon bars with shortbread crust steps 5-6

Expert tips:

  • Spread out the shortbread mixture evenly into your baking pan first, then press it firmly so that you have a nice and even layer.
  • Add in the flour a bit at a time while whisking vigorously to prevent any clumping. See the video tutorial below.
  • Butter and line the baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the sides. Buttering the pan keeps the parchment paper in place and makes it easier to remove. The overhang also helps you lift the parchment paper out of the pan, making it easier to cut the squares.

FAQ:

What kind of lemons are best for zesting?

Organic or unwaxed lemons are better for zesting, as well as thick-skinned lemons. (source: How to chose and use lemons)

Why do my lemon bars have a crust on top?

That thin layer of white bubbles on top is due to all the air bubbles created from vigorously whisking the lemon filling mixture. It’s totally normal and doesn’t affect the taste at all but if you want to minimize it then let the mixture stand for a few minutes before pouring it on top of the crust and baking.

Do lemon bars need to be refrigerated?

They are ok to be left out at room temperature for a few hours for serving, but for any longer than that, they should be refrigerated because of the lemon curd.

How long do lemon bars last?

Lemon bars will last up to a week if properly stored in the fridge.

How to store lemon bars:

Once the lemon bars are completely cooled, place them in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to a week.

Can you freeze lemon bars?

Yes, lemon bars can be frozen for up to 3 months. Cut into squares without the powdered sugar and place them onto a baking sheet. Freeze for 1 hour or until frozen solid, wrap each square in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, place them in a freezer-friendly container or large ziplock bag, and store in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the fridge. 

These easy lemon bars are excellent for potlucks, bake sales, picnics, and backyard barbecues. The richness of the shortbread is like a match made in heaven with the fresh and tangy citrus taste.

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Easy Lemon Bars Recipe


  • Author: Lily Ernst
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 35 min
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 9-12

Description

With a rich buttery shortbread crust and a thick layer of tangy lemon curd on top, these zesty lemon bars are packed with robust lemon flavor.


Ingredients

Crust

  • 1&1/4 cups (155g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (60g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp (10g) cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup (114g) unsalted butter, softened

Filling

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1&1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 1/2 cup (62g) all-purpose flour
  • powdered sugar for dusting

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line an 8×8″ square baking pan with parchment paper overhanging the sides
  2. Toss flour, powdered sugar, and cornstarch together.
  3. Cut in the softened butter using a fork, pastry cutter or food processor until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  4. Dump the mixture into the prepared pan. Spread it out evenly then press firmly into an even layer. Bake for 10 minutes or just until the edges start to brown.
  5. Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
  6. Slowly add in the flour, whisking quickly to prevent any lumps.
  7. Pour over hot crust and bake for another 25-30 minutes or until the lemon filling is set.
  8. Let stand at room temperature to cool for an hour and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Dust with powdered sugar before slicing and serving. Cut into 9 squares or 12 bars.

Notes

  • These lemon bars can be served chilled or at room temperature.
  • Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week. They can also be tightly wrapped and stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • Category: dessert
  • Method: bake
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: lemon bars with shortbread crust, thick lemon bars, easy lemon bars

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