Thick and gooey Lemon Bars with shortbread crust and vibrant lemon flavor are the perfect dessert. Watch the video tutorial and see how easy it is to bake homemade lemon bars.

We love dessert bar recipes from Pecan Pie Bars to Baklava and Strawberry Pretzel Salad, because they are easy to make and crowd-pleasing desserts. These lemon bars are no exception.

Lemon bars stacked on a blue plate

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Fresh lemons make everything better from Lemon Blueberry Cake to Homemade Lemonade. If you are a fan of lemon, this recipe for Lemon Bars is a must-try!

Lemon Bar Video

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Classic Lemon Bar Recipe

Take one bite and you will fall in love with these lemon bars. The lemon custard filling is similar to our Lemon Curd Recipe and is brimming with satisfying tangy lemon flavor, and it’s balanced in sweetness.

I learned how to make Lemon Bars years ago from one of Ina Garten’s early cookbooks, Barefoot Contessa Parties (I literally have all 12 of her cookbooks because I admire her very much and her recipes are sound). This is very close to the original recipe except we add vanilla to the crust and you’ll love the tip for making the crust even easier to mold.

lemon bar dusted with powdered sugar

Ingredients for Lemon Bars

  • Eggs – Add richness and help the custard thicken. We use large eggs.
  • Granulated sugar – it may seem like a lot of sugar, but it’s needed to combat the tanginess of the lemon juice. You can adjust it depending on the type of lemons used (see next section).
  • Lemons – you’ll need the lemon zest and juice so be sure to zest the lemon before juicing it.
  • All-purpose flour– helps to thicken up the lemon custard filling.
  • Confectioners sugar – to dust the top for serving.
  • For the Shortbread Crust – this easy cookie crust is made with butter, sugar, vanilla extract, flour, and salt. It creates a buttery crust that is crisp on the edges and tender to the bite.
Ingredients for making lemon bars with lemons, eggs, flour, butter, sugar, vanilla and salt

What are the best lemons for Lemon Bars?

I always use regular lemons because they have tons of tang and lemon flavor. Since lemons are the star ingredient, you should avoid using bottled lemon juice or concentrate. Also, use no more than 1 cup of lemon juice or the custard won’t set properly. If your lemons are refrigerated, bring them to room temperature first. P.S. Here’s my favorite citrus squeezer.

Can I use Meyer Lemons? Meyer lemons aren’t quite as tart as regular lemons so you’ll want to reduce the sugar in the filling to about 2 cups.

How to Make Lemon Bars

  1. Crust – Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, then add vanilla extract, flour, and salt and mix until crumbly. Press the mixture into a parchment-lined 9×13 casserole dish. Bake at 350˚F for 18-20 minutes. Cool slightly on a rack.
  2. Lemon Filling – In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar. Whisk in lemon juice and zest. Add flour and whisk until completely blended.
  3. Add filling and Bake – pour filling over the warm crust and bake at 350˚F for 30-35 minutes until the center is set and no longer wobbly.
  4. Chill– cool at room temperature on a wire rack for at least 1 hour then refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  5. Serve – Cut into squares and dust with powdered sugar to serve.
Baked lemon bars cut into squares with lemons

Pro Slicing Tip: Just like with a Cheesecake, for clean and pretty slices, wipe the knife blade clean with a damp paper towel between slices.

Common Questions

How to tell when lemon bars are done?

The center of the lemon bars should be fully set. If you give the pan a jolt, it should not wobble in the center.

How long do lemon bars last?

Lemon bars can be kept at room temperature for a few hours but should be refrigerated after that. Refrigerate up to a week or freeze for 3-4 months (see make-ahead instructions below).

Seeing air bubbles and brown spots?

The air bubbles that rise to the surface while baking is normal. These are bubbles from whisking the eggs. Since the bubbles rise above the surface, they tend to brown which causes the brown spots. They are easy to cover up with powdered sugar.

Can I substitute a different citrus juice?

You can substitute with grapefruit, orange juice, or lime to change up the flavor of your bars, but use less sugar when using sweeter citrus.

Can I bake this in a different dish?

A glass or ceramic 9×13 pan works great for lemon bars. Note that a glass pan will bake faster and darker than a metal pan so check for doneness a little earlier.

Up close lemon bar with lemon custard filling

Make-Ahead Lemon Squares

Lemon bars keep really well in the refrigerator and in the freezer, making them one of my favorite make-ahead desserts.

  • Refrigerating: If baking the bars ahead, cool to room temperature then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving.
  • To Freeze: Once lemon bars are fully chilled in the refrigerator, cover the baking dish with a couple of layers of plastic wrap and freeze for 3-4 months. You can also transfer leftover pieces to a freezer-safe zip bag for easier storage. The lemon custard doesn’t fully solidify in the freezer so there’s no need to thaw. They’re so good right out of the freezer. 
Lemon bars baked and ready for freezing

When life gives you lemons, put them in lemon bars! This recipe will become your go-to for potlucks, parties, and holidays like Easter or Christmas. It’s a keeper of a recipe.

More Recipes with Lemon

If you end up with a bumper crop of lemons or just a big bag from the grocery store, we have you covered. Check out our post on all the genius Ways to use Lemons, from zesting to juicing and freezing then try some of our favorite lemony recipes.

Natasha's Kitchen Cookbook

Classic Lemon Bars Recipe

4.98 from 329 votes
Author: Natasha Kravchuk
Lemon bars stacked and dusted with sugar
Lemon Bars with intense lemon flavor and a buttery shortbread crust. This recipe is so simple, can be made ahead and even frozen.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

Ingredients 

Servings: 20 people

For the Shortbread Crust:

For the Lemon Filling:

  • 7 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3 cups granulated sugar, *
  • 2 Tbsp lemon zest, from 4 to 5 lemons
  • 1 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed (from 5 large or 8 medium lemons)**
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Confectioners sugar, to dust

Instructions

  • PREP: Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a 13x9x2” baking pan with parchment paper (it should go most of the way up the sides so filling doesn’t spill over.
  • CRUST: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together softened butter and 1/2 cup sugar. Add 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 2 cups flour and 1/4 tsp salt. Continue mixing until mixture is crumbly and no dry flour remains. Spread the dough evenly into the bottom of your prepared pan. Press it with your fingertips to flatten and even out the dough. Bake crust at 350˚F for 18-20 minutes or until lightly golden at the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.
  • FILLING: While the crust is baking, zest then squeeze the lemons and prepare your filling. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until blended. Add Lemon juice and lemon zest and whisk to combine. Add 1 cup flour and whisk until smooth and very well blended and no traces of flour remain.
  • BAKING: Pour filling over the warm crust and bake in the center of a preheated oven at 350˚F for 30-35 minutes or until the filling is set. As soon as the filling is no longer wobbly in the center, remove from the oven so you don’t over-bake. Cool in the pan at room temperature for at least 1 hour then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
  • TO SERVE: Pull the parchment paper up slightly to loosen from the pan then transfer to a cutting board and cut into 18-20 squares then dust the tops with powdered sugar.

Notes

*If using Meyer lemons, cut the sugar down to 2 cups for the filling.
**Avoid using more lemon juice than what is called for or the filling won’t set properly.

Nutrition Per Serving

314kcal Calories51g Carbs4g Protein11g Fat6g Saturated Fat1g Trans Fat82mg Cholesterol53mg Sodium59mg Potassium1g Fiber36g Sugar368IU Vitamin A5mg Vitamin C16mg Calcium1mg Iron
Nutrition Facts
Classic Lemon Bars Recipe
Amount per Serving
Calories
314
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
11
g
17
%
Saturated Fat
 
6
g
38
%
Trans Fat
 
1
g
Cholesterol
 
82
mg
27
%
Sodium
 
53
mg
2
%
Potassium
 
59
mg
2
%
Carbohydrates
 
51
g
17
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
Sugar
 
36
g
40
%
Protein
 
4
g
8
%
Vitamin A
 
368
IU
7
%
Vitamin C
 
5
mg
6
%
Calcium
 
16
mg
2
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: lemon bar recipe, lemon bars
Skill Level: Easy
Cost to Make: $$
Calories: 314

Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved and tested recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

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Comments

  • Tracey Bellucci
    April 6, 2024

    We love your recipes, and we enjoy watching your fun videos 🙂 You inspire us to make meals at home ❤️

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      April 6, 2024

      Thank you so much, Tracey!

      Reply

  • Jimi
    March 29, 2024

    Made these for Easter, so spring like, easy and highly anticipated by my fam.I will let you know their comments. I would love to see a video on an old fashioned Banana Pudding (you know the one with homemade pudding and vanilla wafers).
    Happy Easter!

    Reply

  • Doreen
    March 28, 2024

    HI Natasha, Every recipe I have tried of yours was fantastic! These lemon bars look delicious! Can these be made two days ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator before serving? Thank you 🙂

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      March 28, 2024

      Hi Doreen! Yes, you see can. See the common questions section, “How long do lemon bars last?”

      Reply

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