The best Lemon Bars recipe with a buttery shortbread crust, bright and tangy lemon filling, and a dusting of powdered sugar. Perfectly pretty and delicious!
And don’t miss their cousin, these Lemon Gooey Bars. With a triple dose of lemon from lemon cake, lemon zest, and lemon curd. Moist, chewy, and amazing!
I don’t think I have ever met anyone who doesn’t crave a good lemon bar. What’s not to love? Buttery shortbread crust paired with a soft, tangy lemon filling are beyond impossible to resist.
Best Lemon Bars – Why We Love Them
We’re over the moon for this particular recipe because the crust is crisp, the center is soft, and the powdered sugar stays on top, without soaking in. The flavor is bright and tangy with a perfect balance of sweet and tart, and the ratio of filling to crust is just right. Simply delicious.
Lemon Bars Recipe
These bars have 2 main components – the shortbread and crust and lemon filling. Here’s what you’ll need to make them:
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
- Lemons: You’ll need lemon juice and lemon zest. Since lemons are the star here, use fresh and not from a bottle. Fresh will taste SO much better. (And pssst. You can also make this recipe with lime or orange juice.)
- Flour: All purpose flour for the crust and filling. Make sure it’s spooned and leveled, not scooped.
- Cornstarch: The addition of cornstarch reduces the amount of gluten in the crust, which helps keeps it flaky and tender.
- Granulated sugar: For sweetness, but also moisture, which is so important for the filling.
- Powdered sugar: Used in the crust, plus more for sprinkling on top.
- Butter: I almost always bake with unsalted butter and add in salt separately. This allows me to control the amount of saltiness. You can use salted butter if that’s all you have. Make sure to omit the added salt.
- Eggs: Adds richness and helps bind the filling.
Tips for Success
These bars are super easy, but for optimal results, follow these tips.
- Fresh lemon juice is a must: Lemons are front and center here, so you don’t want to compromise on the quality. Avoid concentrate or bottled juice. Fresh only!
- Measure the flour correctly: Make sure the flour is spooned and leveled, not scooped. Too much flour will make your crust dry and crumbly.
- Don’t reduce the sugar: I know it’s tough if you’re trying to cut back on sugar, but these bars are not the place to do it. Sugar not only adds sweetness, but it also balances out the tartness from the lemon juice, and a critical ingredient in adding moisture. You need the moisture or the bars will crack and end up dry and sad. (This recipe has not been tested with sugar substitutes, so we can’t vouch for the results if trying that.)
- Don’t get impatient with the cool and chill time: Lemon bars need to cool completely and chill in order to set properly. I promise, it’s worth the wait.
- Use parchment paper for easy removal: Line the baking dish with parchment paper. This makes it so easy to remove from the pan before cutting.
How to Tell When Lemon Bars Are Done
Lemon bars are done when the center isn’t really jiggly and the edge is set. Not to worry if the bars don’t seem all the way done when you pull them out of the oven. The bars will firm up more as they cool. Follow the recipe’s baking time as written, but if the middle still seems a little too loose, you can give them a few more minutes to bake.
How to Store Lemon Bars
- Do Lemon Bars need to be refrigerated? These bars can sit out for a couple hours – after that, they’ll need to be refrigerated. But they’re just as delicious chilled as they are at room temp.
- How long do Lemon Bars last? Store in an airtight container in the fridge. They’ll last up to 5 days. Enjoy chilled right from the fridge or bring to room temperature.
- Can you freeze Lemon Bars? Yep! They actually freeze really well. Let them cool completely and wrap tightly in foil and transfer to a freezer-safe plastic bag. You can freeze the batch whole or wrap individually. They will keep for 2 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge. I recommend leaving off the powdered sugar until just before cutting and serving.
You’re going to absolutely love these bars. The only challenge with this recipe is keeping your family from eating the entire pan in one day!
Other Delicious Lemon Desserts
Perfect Lemon Bars
For the Crust
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour , spooned and leveled
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup powdered sugar (plus more for finishing)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter , cut into small cubes
For the Lemon Filling
- 6 large eggs
- 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- FOR THE CRUST: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with rack in the center position.
- Spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray, then line with parchment paper, making sure there's an overhang on both of the longer sides (this really helps for easy removal.)
- Place the flour, corn starch, salt, and powdered sugar in the bowl of a food processor; pulse a few times to incorporate. Add the butter and blend until the mixture resembles crumbs, 10 to 15 seconds. Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared pan and press firmly with your fingers into an even layer and a little up the sides (this keeps the filling from spilling beneath the crust).
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes (or freeze for 15 minutes.)
- Bake the crust until just beginning to brown slightly at the top edges, 15 to 20 minutes.
- FOR THE LEMON FILLING: Make the filling while the crust bakes (it needs to sit for 10 minutes before being poured on top of the crust.)
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, flour, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Be sure the sugar is dissolved and flour is completely incorporated with no lumps remaining.
- PUT IT TOGETHER: When the crust is ready, give the lemon mixture a quick stir and then pour over top.
- Return pan to the oven and bake another 20-25 minutes, or until the top is slightly browned and the custard looks set and firm. (All ovens run differently.) Let the bars cool completely to room temperature; it will take several hours.
- Once room temp, pop them in the fridge until cold and firm.
- CUT AND SERVE: To cut, use the parchment overhang to lift the rectangle out of pan and onto a cutting board. Carefully loosen the parchment from the edges of the crust.
- Using a sharp knife, cut into even squares. (For really clean cuts, slightly dampen the blade before cutting and clean it off in between each slice, using one downward motion to cut through.)
- Dust the squares with powdered sugar, using a fine sieve.
- Serve and enjoy!
- NOTE: Don't miss the helpful tips in the full article for optimal results.