This Lemon Bar Recipe is a sure fire way to brighten anyone’s day! Bright gooey citrus on top of a buttery shortbread crust with a sprinkling of sweet confectioner’s sugar. Yes, please!
Serve these sweet and delicious lemon bars as a way to brighten up a gloomy winter day, or at your spring party. I like to prepare a double (or triple!) batch so we have extra on hand whenever there’s a lemon bar emergency!
Lemon Bar Recipe
Lemon Bar Recipe Ingredients
- Butter – You’ll want salted butter for this recipe and it needs to be cold (but not frozen) for best results.
- Flour – Regular all purpose flour. Make sure you’re not using self rising or cake flour.
- Cornstarch – Double check that it’s cornstarch and not baking powder or cornmeal. Those are easy oopses!
- Sugar – Regular granulated white sugar.
- Salt – I prefer a fine grain kosher salt for baking.
- Lemon zest – You’ll need the zest of about 1 large lemon for the crust. If you prefer a plain shortbread crust, you can skip the zest.
Lemon Curd Topping
- Sugar – For the filling we will again use regular granulated white sugar.
- Flour – Again, regular all purpose flour. Make sure you’re not using self rising or cake flour.
- Eggs – I always use large eggs in my baking.
- Lemon juice – You’ll definitely want to use fresh lemon juice in this recipe.
- Lemon zest – Don’t skip the zest in this part of the recipe, please!
- Optional – Powdered sugar for dusting the tops of the bars immediately before serving.
How Do You Make Lemon Bars (Step-by-Step)
⭐ First, combine cold butter, flour, cornstarch, sugar, salt, and lemon zest and mix together until mixture resembles coarse meal.
⭐ Next, press dough into pan and then poke all over with a fork. Bake until edges are golden brown and the middle is firm to touch.
⭐ Then, while crust is baking prepare lemon curd topping. Whisk together sugar, flour, eggs, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Set aside until crust is done.
⭐ Next, once crust has baked, pour lemon mixture over the top and bake until set and no longer jiggly.
⭐ Finally, remove from oven and allow lemon bars to cool completely before sprinkling with powdered sugar and slicing.
Can lemon bars be made a day ahead?
Yes, they can be made in advance. In fact, I prefer to make them at least a day ahead so I know they are fully cooled and set before slicing. Lemon bars will last up to four days in the refrigerator.
How do you know when lemon bars are set?
You know the bars are set when the edges are starting to turn golden (but not dark), and the curd filling no longer jiggly in the middle. If the center is still runny you will want to let the recipe cook a few more minutes.
Can you overcook lemon bars?
Yes, they can be overcooked. Be sure to remove the bars from the oven when the edges are beginning to brown and the middle is set.
How do you cut lemon bars?
Make sure the bars are completely cooled. Then remove from the pan by gently pulling up on the edges of the parchment paper. Set uncut bars on a flat surface and use a sharp lightly oiled knife to cut the bars. Swipe the knife with additional oil if it stops running cleanly through the bars.
Storage and Leftovers
Do I need to refrigerate lemon bars?
The lemon bar recipe should be refrigerated both to set after baking, and when not being served. They will keep up to four days in the refrigerator.
How long can you freeze lemon bars?
You can freeze the bars for up to about four months. If freezing after cutting, use parchment paper between the squares to keep them from sticking together. Defrost the bars overnight in the refrigerator for best results.
If freezing leftover lemon bars, make sure they have not sat out at room temperature in excess of two hours. If so, they should be discarded.
Tips and tricks
🟢 Make sure the eggs are fully whisked into the curd topping, if not you will end up with a scrambled egg consistency.
🟢 Line the pan with parchment paper and leave enough sticking out of the sides to work as ‘handles’ – this will make it easy to remove the bars from the pan.
🟢 Wait until just before serving to dust with with powdered sugar, otherwise the moisture from the curd will make it “disappear”.
🟢 Use a sharp knife and swipe it with vegetable oil before slicing the bars to get the best clean cuts. Reswipe with oil as needed.
Frequently asked questions
Are lemon bars supposed to be gooey?
The curd layer on top should be slightly gooey, but not runny. If the lemon curd is runny it should be cooked a few minutes longer. The shortbread crust should not be gooey.
What are the white bubbles on top of my lemon bars?
Sometimes you will see bubbles and a bit of white on the surface of your lemon curd layer. This is totally normal and is from the air that got whisked into the eggs. No big deal, just dust with powdered sugar before serving an you won’t even notice it!
Complete the meal with our recipe suggestions
This lemon bar recipe is so bright and gorgeous. It’s perfect for cheering up a gloomy winter day, or serving at a baby shower, or Easter gathering. We love to serve them alongside scalloped potatoes with ham, dill cucumber salad, and one pan chicken sliders. Don’t forget the sherbet punch if it’s a party!
More delicious lemon recipes
- Frosted Lemonade Recipe
- Easy Lemon Mousse
- Strawberry Lemonade Punch
- Soft Lemon Cookies
- See all our recipes with lemon!
More easy dessert recipes
- Easy banana pudding
- Carrot cake whoopie pies
- Quick nutella brownies
- Whole orange cake
- See all our easy dessert recipes!
Tools we love
- Santuko knife – My favorite knife for cutting vegetables! This knife is the perfect size and shape, handles great, and is super reasonably priced. Also, I just love that it’s fun and colorful!
- Knife sharpener – Let me tell you about this knife sharpener! I won it at a conference almost ten years ago, and I still use it several times a week. It’s one of my go-to housewarming gifts and everyone I know just loves it.
- Electric mixer – I love love love love love (x’s 100) my stand mixer. Really and truly. But my daily work horse is this handheld electric mixer. It even comes in allll the colors. Which, yay!
- See all our recent favorites in the Year in Review!
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How to Make our Lemon Bar Recipe
Lemon Bar Recipe
- 1 cup salted butter cold and cut into cubes
- 1 ¾ cups flour
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon flour
- 4 eggs beaten
- 2/3 cups fresh lemon juice the juice of about 3 large lemons
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest the zest of about 2 large lemons
- Powdered sugar optional topping
- In a medium sized bowl, combine cold butter, flour, cornstarch, sugar, salt, and lemon zest.
- Using a pastry cutter or two knives, mix all of the ingredients together until mixture resembles coarse meal.
- This will take a couple of minutes so be patient while it all comes together. For best results, make sure that the butter is cold, but not frozen.
- Once your crust is complete, take a 9x13 parchment lined pan and place crust into the pan. Press down with the palm of your hand and bring the crust to the edges of all sides of the pan.
- Poke the crust all over with a fork and place crust in the oven to bake. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 - 20 minutes until edges are golden brown and the middle is firm to touch.
- While crust is baking prepare lemon topping. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, eggs, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Make sure the eggs are completely incorporated into the mixture. Set aside until crust is done baking.
- Once crust has baked, pour lemon mixture over the top and place pan back into the oven and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes. Lemon bars should be set and no longer jiggly.
- Remove from oven and allow lemon bars to cool completely before sprinkling with powdered sugar and cutting.
- Some recipes call for the crust to cool completely before it goes back into the oven. I haven’t seen a difference with either method and I haven’t had problems pouring the lemon over the top of the crust while it’s still hot and placing it back into the oven.
- For a thicker crust/lemon topping ratio, you can use an 8x11” pan and increase the cook time on the crust and topping 5 - 10 minutes.
- It’s very important to thoroughly mix the eggs into the lemon topping or the lemon bars will end up like scrambled eggs.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. You may freeze these for up to 3 months. I don’t recommend using powdered sugar on frozen bars to prevent gumminess until they are taken out of the freezer and thawed. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator after freezing.
- The lemon topping has a smooth and silky texture that pairs well with the crunchy crust. The lemon zest in the crust ties all of the flavors together.