We are just crazy about lemons. This little fruit is so versatile and brightens dishes, both savory and sweet.
And these sweet treats are the epitome of what’s good about lemons. Bright, vibrant, and so deeply flavorful. And they come together in about 30 to 40 minutes! Well, you do need to let them chill in the fridge for 4 hours, but that’s easy!
How To Make Lemon Bars
These delicious sweet treats are not difficult to make at all.
They taste like they took hours, but in fact, they take less than 1 hour to prepare!
There are two main components of lemon bars, the tart/sweet filling, and the buttery crust.
For the crust, all you need are a couple of sticks of softened butter, sugar, and all-purpose flour!
EXPERT TIP: We use our stand mixer to incorporate the softened butter into the sugar and flour. But you could also very easily use a hand mixer, electric or not. Mix the ingredients until very crumbly, and moist from the butter. Don’t worry, the dough won’t form a dough, but it will come together perfectly as it bakes.
Next, get a 9×13″ pan and line it with parchment paper.
We highly recommend spraying the parchment paper with cooking spray.
EXPERT TIP: Use your fingers and hands to press the crumbly dough into the bottom of the pan. As the dough bakes, the butter will melt and create a wonderful shortbread crust. Be sure to leave enough of the parchment paper on both ends of the pan that you’ll be able to grab and help you remove the bars from the pan.
Making the Lemon Bars Filling
Just like the crust, the ingredients for the filling are fresh and simple.
We love the use of fresh lemon zest in the bars. Lemon zest is loaded with nutrition and is delicious, too!
And, of course, the juice from fresh lemons helps to make the best lemon bars. You’ll need about 4 lemons to get 1/4 cup of juice.
Once the filling mixture has been fully mixed, it’s time to add it to the cooled crust.
EXPERT TIP: After you’ve baked the crust for 20 minutes, or until the edges are just turning a little brown, you need it to cool. You can let it sit for 30 minutes on a baker’s rack, or to expedite the process, place the pan in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. The crust can also be made 24 hours in advance. Once the crust is cool, pour the lemon curd sauce into the pan.
Do Lemon Bars Need to Be Refrigerated?
Once the lemon bars have set and you’ve cut them into individual pieces, you’ll need to keep them refrigerated.
For serving, it’s perfectly fine to leave them out at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours.
EXPERT TIP: For a final touch of sweetness, we add a sprinkling of confectioners (or powdered) sugar. To make it super easy, grab a fine-mesh sieve and scoop in about 1/2 cup of powdered sugar. Sprinkle it over the tops of the bars, hitting the sieve gently with one hand to help the sprinkling process.
This really is such an easy lemon bars recipe, but the results are stellar.
You may be wondering “Can you freeze lemon bars?” Absolutely! They freeze beautifully for up to 1 month. Let them completely thaw before serving.
EXPERT TIP: After you’ve pulled the bars from the pan, with the assistance of the parchment paper, very gently and carefully pull the paper from the crust. Do this nice and slow, being careful not to break the crust as you’re pulling away from the paper.
When To Serve
These classic lemon bars are really perfect when having guests over.
They can be made in advance and then set out on a nice platter before folks arrive. They are perfect for baby, or bridal, showers, summer picnics, and so much more!
If you like these, you’ll also love our Incredible Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake!
But in the meantime…don’t you just want to sink your teeth into one of these babies?
Ready to make the best lemon bars in town? Go for it!
And when you do, be sure to take a picture, post it on Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedaLoon and hashtag #HowToFeedaLoon!
Classic Lemon Bars
- 9"x13" baking pan, we prefer metal, but glass will work, too
- Parchment paper
FOR THE CRUST
- cooking spray
- 16 tbsp unsalted butter 2 sticks, room temp
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
FOR THE FILLING
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 6 large eggs room temp
- 1 tbsp lemon zest zest from 1 lemon
- ¾ cup lemon juice freshly squeezed, about 4 lemons
- ½ cup confectioners' sugar for dusting
MAKE THE CRUST
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, or a bowl with a hand mixer, add the softened butter with the sugar. Blend (aka: cream) on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the flour and continue to mix until crumbly and moist in texture.
- Line a 9"x13" pan with parchment paper, leaving enough on the ends to grab a hold of after baking. Spray the parchment paper with cooking spray.
- One handful at a time, transfer the dough to the parchment-paper-lined pan. Use your fingers and hand to press the dough into the bottom of the pan.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to turn brownish. Let cool for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
MAKE THE FILLING
- Whisk together the sugar, flour, eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Pour the mixture over the cooled crust. Place in the oven and bake for 28 minutes, or until the mixture has set and is firm.
- Let cool for about 20 minutes and then chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
- Remove and allow to sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Carefully and gently use the edges of the parchment paper to remove the lemon bars from the pan. Either gently remove the parchment paper from the crust, or cut the bars into squares, and then remove from the paper.
- Sprinkle the powdered sugar over the tops of the bars.
POST UPDATE: This recipe was originally published in June 2014, but was updated with improved tweaks to the recipe, new tips and photography, and a fabulous new video in March 2021!