Classic Lemon Bars

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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!

A person holding a lemon bar with a bit taken out of the corner of it.

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.

A stand mixer bowl filled with a crumbly dough of soft butter, sugar, and flour.

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.

A person using his fingers and hand to press a shortbread dough into the bottom of a metal baking 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.

A person using a citrus press to squeeze fresh lemon juice into a bowl filled with eggs, sugar, and flour.

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.

A person pouring lemon curd from a glass bowl into a metal baking pan lined with parchment paper.

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.

A hand using a small sieve to sprinkle powdered sugar over the tops of cut lemon bars.

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.

Two rows of lemon bars that have been cut into squares and dusted with powdered sugar.

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?

A stack of 3 lemon bars sitting on a piece of parchment paper.

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!

A person holding a lemon bar with a bit taken out of the corner of it.

Classic Lemon Bars

These lemon bars are always a crowd favorite whenever we serve them. They can be made several days in advance. Allow the bars to sit out on the counter for about an hour to make cutting them easier.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easy lemon bars recipe, how to make lemon bars, Lemon
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 58 minutes
Cooling time: 4 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 13 minutes
Servings: 10 people
Calories: 588kcal

Equipment

  • 9"x13" baking pan, we prefer metal, but glass will work, too
  • Parchment paper

Ingredients

FOR THE CRUST

  • cooking spray
  • 16 tbsp unsalted butter 2 sticks, room temp
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 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

Instructions

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.

Video

Notes

The dough will not form into a ball when you are mixing the creamed butter with the flour.  Use your hands to press the dough into the pan lined with parchment paper that has been coated with cooking spray.
The dough can be made up to 24 hours in advance.  Cover with plastic wrap.
The filling should not be jiggly after baking.  If it's still jiggly, let it bake a little longer.
Lemon bars should be kept refrigerated, but are fine to sit out at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours.   
They also freeze beautifully.  Let thaw completely before serving.  We don't recommend freezing them for more than 1 month. 

Nutrition

Calories: 588kcal | Carbohydrates: 94g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 160mg | Sodium: 47mg | Potassium: 105mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 66g | Vitamin A: 723IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe? Take a Picture!Mention @HowToFeedALoon or tag #HowToFeedALoon!

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!