Lemon Bars

Easy lemon bars that give you a burst of flavor with every bite! Made with a sweet, simple crust and topped with thick, lemon curd before dusted with powdered sugar, these lemon bars will soon become a staple summer dessert.

Lemon desserts garnished with powdered sugar and lemon slices.

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Easy Lemon Bars Recipe

Perfect for any occasion from a backyard BBQ to girl’s night, these lemon bars are a sweet and tangy blend of flavors! 

The crust on these bars has just the right amount of sweetness before it’s topped with a smooth filling making each and every bite both refreshing and indulgent.

If you love a pop of tart lemon flavor, you’re going to want to double the batch when making these lemon bars. 

And don’t forget to serve it with a nice pitcher of homemade lemonade or a cocktail like vodka lemonade.

More lemon recipes: Lemon MojitoFrozen Lemon DaiquirisLimoncello LemonadeBlueberry Lemonade

A stack of lemon bars in front of the pan of other bars.

Why you’ll love this recipe

These are the best lemon bars you’ve ever had! You’re going to love them because…

  • It uses easy-to-find ingredients and pantry staples only.
  • They have a refreshing, tangy flavor and a buttery shortbread crust. 
  • Lemon bars seem complicated, but they are really one of the easiest dessert recipes you can make! 
  • The pop of bright color from the tart lemon filling makes any dessert table look great.
  • These delicious lemon bars pair well with everything from drinks to other desserts.

They are one of the most decadent desserts you can make. Serve them at bake sales, baby showers, wedding showers, community events, dinner parties, ladies’ luncheons, cookouts and even holiday parties. 

Overhead view of ingredients measured out for lemon bars.

Ingredients

Most of the ingredients for the lemon bars are pantry staples you’re going to already have. This is what makes the bars so easy.

Keep in mind that this recipe is extremely versatile. If you did want to switch it up, you could substitute the lemon flavor with limes or even oranges for a citrusy twist. (If that sounds good, try these margarita bars!)

Here are the simple ingredients you will need: 

All-purpose flour: Sift it first, if possible, so that your crust has the perfect consistency. You’ll need a tiny bit for the filling as well to help it thicken.

Sugar: You’ll need both granulated and powdered sugar (for dusting) to get the perfect level of sweetness.

Butter: For the crust, you want your butter unsalted and cold. Then, cut it into cubes so that it mixes well.

Basics: You’ll need some salt and vanilla extract for flavor, as well as eggs plus an egg yolk. (Save the egg white for a honey lemon whiskey sour!)

Lemon extract: The purer the extract is, the more potent the flavor will be in the crust.

Lemons and lemon zest: Use freshly squeezed juice for the lemon bars, as it makes the flavor come out more. For the zest, it’s easiest to use a zester, but try to get as little of the bitter white pith as possible.

A lemon dessert bar with a bite taken from it in front of a tray of additional bars.

How to make Lemon Bars

Though it may seem like there are a lot of steps in the process, these classic lemon bars are actually quite simple once you get into it. Anyone could make this easy dessert! 

Butter, sugar and flour sit in a clear glass mixing bowl.
A hand pours ingredients into a bowl while a hand mixer sits to the side.

Here’s how to make the crust:

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl and mix.

Add in the cubed butter and lemon extract and use a food processor to blend it into a crumble.

A black metal 1/3 measuring cup sits on a crust resting on parchment paper in a pan.
The top of a lemon dessert in a pan lined with brown paper.

Press the mixture into a parchment paper-lined pan with your fingers and make sure it’s even.

Bake 20-25 minutes until the edges are slightly golden brown.

And to make the lemon curd filling:

Eggs and sugar sit in a glass mixing bowl with a blue and stainless steel whisk on a white marble surface.
A blue whisk sits in a pale yellow mixture.

Beat the eggs, yolk, and sugar together until there are no clumps.

Add in the lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract.

A lemon mixture in a dark metal pan.
A black baking dish holding a baked fruit dessert.

When the crust has finished baking, pour the curd into the hot baked crust and continue to bake for 10-12 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 1 hour uncovered.

Baked lemon dessert cut into squares.
Baked fruit squares covered in powdered sugar sit on brown parchment paper.

Once they are room temperature, cut them into triangles or squares. Before serving, dust with powdered sugar.

How To Serve Lemon Bars

The other thing to consider is how to serve your bars. Present them on a dessert tray or stack them on a cake stand.

Though they are delicious simply dusted with powdered sugar, adding any of the following on top of the bars or to the serving plate is also fun:

Lemon bars on a silver tray.

Tips & tricks

Here are some tips and tricks for making this sweet treat: 

When pressing in the crumb mixture into the lined baking dish, use the bottom of a measuring cup so that it is even all around.

The crust is done when it looks dry, not bubbly.

Don’t make the lemon layer filling ahead of time because it can curdle before it’s baked into the base.

You’ll know the lemon filling is ready when it no longer jiggles and has air bubbles on top.

When slicing the cooled bars, you want to make your lines as crisp as possible. So, slice off ⅛-inch of each side with a sharp knife before cutting into squares or triangles. This helps you get clean slices. 

Remember that juice from fresh lemons will always have a better flavor than bottled. Whenever possible, use freshly squeezed. A lemon squeezer makes this much easier.

A tray of square lemon desserts.

What to serve with Lemon Bars

The best part about lemon bars is that they pair well with just about everything!

Drinks: Lemon bars pair amazingly with limoncellostrawberry lemonade and white wine sangria for any celebration.

Desserts: Lemon drop cookieslemon tea cakes and other lemon desserts make it so that your dessert table has a refreshing theme. Other citrus works too, like French madeleines.

Tea and coffee: Easy lemon bars are probably the perfect addition to a tea-time gathering as the bold flavors of coffee are balanced out by the sweet, uplifting flavors of lemon bars. Serve this cold-brew iced tea or a round of Arnold Palmers, which are a mixture of lemonade and iced tea.

Powdered sugar on a pan with lemon squares.

FAQ

How do you store lemon bars?

Easy lemon bars store well in the refrigerator if in an airtight container. They’ll stay fresh for 4-6 days, making them a great dessert to prep ahead of time!

Can you freeze lemon bars?

You can! Make sure that the lemon bars are stored in an airtight container after cooling completely. They should last in the freezer for roughly three months if stored this way. To enjoy them, let them thaw in the fridge first. If you know that you’ll be freezing the bars, don’t dust them with powdered sugar. Instead, do this before you serve them.

How do you cut lemon bars?

Lemon bars look best when cut into crisp squares or triangles before being dusted with sugar. When you remove them from the parchment paper, try cutting off about 1/8th of an inch from the sides. This way, all your lines will look as sharp as possible.

A stack of lemon bars and a bar with a bite removed on a marble surface.

More dessert recipes

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Lemon bars on a silver tray.

Lemon Bars

Yield: 12 bars
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Lemon bars are a fresh, zesty dessert that's perfect for parties. There won't be a single one leftover!
5 from 1 vote
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ingredients

For the crust

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon extract

For the curd filling

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • cup all-purpose flour
  • cup lemon juice about 3 lemons)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar for dusting
  • lemon slices for garnish

instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Line a 9×13-inch pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang that you can use to lift the bars out later.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. Whisk together.
  • Cut butter into cubes and add to the flour mixture, along with the lemon extract. Use a food processor or pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour. You can also use your fingers. You want the mixture to resemble pea-sized crumbs.
  • Add the crumb mixture to the prepared dish and press it into an even layer with your fingers. Use the bottom of a measuring cup or glass to even out the crust.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. It should have a dry appearance, not bubbly. Remove from oven.
  • While the crust is baking, prepare the curd. (Don’t make the curd ahead of time or it can curdle.)
  • In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, yolk and sugar.
  • Add the flour and whisk until you no longer see clumps.
  • Stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla extract.
  • Once the crust has finished baking, pour the curd mixture into the hot crust. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes. The filling is ready when it no longer jiggles and has bubbles on top.
  • Remove the bars from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 1 hour, uncovered.
  • Use the parchment paper to lift the bars onto a cutting board. Cut ¼-inch off each side to create clean edges. Cut into squares or triangles.
  • Just before serving, dust with powdered sugar.

notes

Tips & tricks

When pressing in the crumb mixture into the lined pan, use the bottom of a measuring cup so that it is even all around.
The crust is done when it looks dry, not bubbly.
Don’t make the lemon filling ahead of time because it can curdle before it’s baked into the base.
You’ll know the lemon filling is ready when it no longer jiggles and has bubbles on top.
When slicing the lemon bars, you want to make your lines as crisp as possible. So, slice off ⅛-inch of each side before cutting into squares or triangles.
Remember that fresh lemon juice will always have a better flavor than bottled. Whenever possible, use freshly squeezed. A lemon squeezer makes this much easier.
Adapted from Simply Recipes

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nutrition information

Yield: 12 bars

amount per serving:

Serving: 1bar Calories: 389kcal Carbohydrates: 54g Protein: 5g Fat: 18g Saturated Fat: 10g Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g Monounsaturated Fat: 5g Trans Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 111mg Sodium: 315mg Potassium: 74mg Fiber: 1g Sugar: 31g Vitamin A: 575IU Vitamin C: 6mg Calcium: 21mg Iron: 2mg
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