These easy Lemon Bars are made from scratch with a buttery shortbread crust and an extra thick layer of homemade lemon filling! This Lemon Bar recipe is always one of the first desserts to disappear!
Easy Homemade Lemon Bars
I am a self-confessed lemon addict and I use it for everything. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, and yes… dessert! I love the bright pop of citrus it brings to all of the recipes I add it to. These Lemon Bars are no exception, with equal parts of sweet and tart.
This particular lemon bar recipe has a thick layer of buttery shortbread crust, with an extra thick layer of lemon filling. When I first started making these, the lemon layer was thinner, but I doubled it and now they are truly the best lemon bars! I always make these for get-togethers and summer cook outs and they always fly off the pan!
These Lemon Bars are also a great classic recipe to make with the kids. As the grow older, my girls are showing a big interest in baking with me. Lyla loves to help make the crust and Ellie always gets to help make the filling. They love to show off the finished product, almost as much as they love to eat it!
Ingredients for Lemon Bars
These Lemon Bars are so simple to put together. They only require a handful of ingredients, and you probably already have everything on hand!
- Lemons: Fresh lemon juice is best; it provides the richest flavor. Plus, by using some of the zest, we add a little unexpected extra kick to the tartness.
- Granulated Sugar: Adds sweetness while maintaining the perfect amount of tartness in the filling.
- Powdered Sugar: Powdered Sugar helps the shortbread crust stay tender and when a light dusting is added to the top of the bars, it helps cut the acidity from the lemon and adds a nice hint of sweetness.
- Flour: The flour is used to make the shortbread crust and help thicken the filling.
- Vanilla: Adds a little depth of flavor to the shortbread crust.
- Eggs: They help to thicken the lemon filling.
- Butter: You can use either salted or unsalted butter for this recipe – it’s a matter of personal preference.
How to Make Lemon Bars
To make the shortbread crust:
- Mix the flour, powdered sugar, vanilla, and butter together until well combined and crumbly.
- Then, pour the mixture into a parchment paper lined baking dish and press the mixture down evenly on the bottom of the pan. As a helpful tip, you can use the bottom of a spoon or even a drinking glass to help press the mixture down to a compact level.
- Then, bake the crust for between 12-15 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden brown.
To make the lemon curd filling:
- In a large bowl, combine lemon juice, zest, granulated sugar, flour, and eggs then whisk until slightly thickened.
- Pour the lemon filling over the baked shortbread crust and bake it all again for 20 minutes or until the bars are just set.
- Cool the bars and cut into even squares and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Tricks to Make the Best Lemon Bars
- Use parchment paper and a glass pan. Glass or a ceramic pan are best for baking this lemon bar recipe. You do not want to use metal. Because of the acidity in the lemon bars, when baked in metal pans, you can have a slightly acidic taste to the final product. Parchment paper helps them lift out perfectly and not stick!
- Use fresh juice. While store-bought lemon juice is easier, it will never have the same flavor and potency as fresh squeezed lemon juice. You will need fresh lemons anyways for the lemon zest. Between the fresh lemon juice and zest, these will definitely be the best lemon bars!
- Sprinkle with powdered sugar: This helps to cut the acidity and give a little added sweetness to each bite!
- Let them cool: This is an important step for the bars to chill in the refrigerator. It helps the flavors develop and the texture become just right. You don’t want to rush this step.
Can I make Lemon Bars ahead? How to store Lemon Bars?
Yes! You can make your Lemon Bars ahead of time. If you choose to do so, I would suggest applying the top layer of powdered sugar when you are ready to serve, if you can stand not diving into them beforehand!
If you have any bars left over, I recommend that they are stored in the refrigerator in an air-tight container. They should keep for up to a week, but good luck making them last that long!
This lemon bar recipe really is a family favorite and they are so simple to make with a minimal amount of work. People rave over them and I’m constantly giving out the recipe, so I thought it high time I finally share it with all of you!
I promise with their extra thick layer of shortbread crust and double thick layer of lemon filling, they will be sure to become your new favorite lemon dessert. Please leave a review or comment below letting me know how they turn out for you!
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup lemon juice, about 3 lemons, juiced
- zest of 2 lemons
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- powdered sugar, for dusting
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8x8 glass baking pan with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, blend together butter and 1/4 cup sugar. Add in flour and salt, beating until well combined.
- Press into the bottom of prepared baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes, or until firm and golden brown.
- In another bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1/3 cup flour. Whisk in the eggs, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla extract. Pour over the baked crust.
- Return to oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until top is light golden brown.
- Let cool completely, or refrigerate for 2 hours to chill, before slicing into squares.
- Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
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