Lemon Bars Recipe (VIDEO)
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.
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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.
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.
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
- 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.
- Lemon Filling – In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar. Whisk in lemon juice and zest. Add flour and whisk until completely blended.
- 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.
- Chill– cool at room temperature on a wire rack for at least 1 hour then refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Serve – Cut into squares and dust with powdered sugar to serve.
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.
The center of the lemon bars should be fully set. If you give the pan a jolt, it should not wobble in the center.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Strawberry Lemonade
- Lemon Curd
- Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
- Blueberry Muffins with Lemon Glaze
- Lemonade Recipe
- Winter Fruit Salad
Classic Lemon Bars Recipe
For the Shortbread Crust:
- 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.
**Avoid using more lemon juice than what is called for or the filling won’t set properly.