Easy Lemon Bars are a classic summer treat for good reason. The buttery shortbread crust and gooey lemon filling scream happiness in every bite. All those bright, citrusy flavors are like sunshine for the soul.
Is it a cake? Or a biscuit? These easy Lemon Bars will take you to heaven and back as your tastebuds linger on their sweet tartness. It’s a decadent wonder my family can’t get enough of!
I bet you can’t eat just one (maybe not even two 😉). The lemon custard and shortbread crust have a dynamic flavor that is so hard to resist. In fact, I fall in love over again every time I bite into this exquisiteness. So spread the love by making a batch or two.
What Are They?
What Are Lemon Bars?
I’m eternally grateful to the English for lemon curd and the Scots for shortbread. But it was the Americans that decided they should go together for an easy lemon bars recipe (or lemon squares). Did you know National Lemon Bar Day is October 15? Let’s celebrate in style!
- Butter – Room temperature butter makes the best shortbread for the classic buttery cookie.
- All-Purpose Flour – An essential ingredient for the base of most baked treats because it gives body and structure. Yes, you can use your fave gluten-free mix.
- Sugar – Sweeten up your life with this addictive ingredient.
- All-Purpose Flour – It thickens the bars, so the filling holds its shape.
- Eggs – Custards traditionally enjoy this ingredient as a base and binder to keep the bars together.
- Lemon –Fresh is best! The juice and zest intensify the bright, citrusy flavor.
- Vanilla Extract – The perfect flavor enhancer for desserts. And homemade vanilla extract is ridiculously easy.
- Powdered Sugar – A gorgeously sweet way to decorate your east lemon bars.
How to Make Easy Lemon Bars
- Overlay Parchment Paper – Preheat oven to 350℉/175℃. Line the bottom of a 9×13 baking sheet with enough parchment paper that the extra runs over the side of the pan. This will make it easier to take them out when they’re done.
- Mix the butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and creamy.
- Add Flour – Stir in flour and mix until fully incorporated.
- Transfer – Pat the dough evenly across the entire bottom of the lined baking pan.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until it’s slightly browned.
- Whisk eggs, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla in a large bowl.
- Add sugar and flour, and continue whisking until thoroughly combined.
- Assemble – Pour filling over baked crust.
- Bake – Return to oven and bake for about 22- 25 minutes, or until the center is set and the lemon filling no longer jiggles.
- Chill – Remove from oven and let it cool completely (about an hour). Then cover and refrigerate it for 1-2 hours or overnight.
- Serve – Dust with powdered sugar, slice, and serve.
- Fruits Swaps – Orange, lime, or grapefruit bars are awesome.
- Graham Cracker Crust – Take a shortcut with a graham cracker crust because it will still be impressive and much easier.
Tips and Tricks
- You can halve the recipe and use a 9×9 sheet pan instead of the 9×13.
- Cut back about a ½ cup of sugar when using slightly sweeter citrus, so they’re not too sweet.
- Bake the filling for 5-10 minutes longer if it is still runny.
- Only use the lemon zest (the yellow part) when grating to avoid the bitter pith.
These guys are best made ahead and chilled. Win-win!
Serving and Storage Instructions
Allow these easy lemon bars to cool and firm up. Some people like them at room temperature, but others prefer them chilled and topped with homemade whipped cream.
Leftovers are rare, but they’re even better the next day, and they’ll last 4-5 days covered in the fridge.
Also, you can totally freeze them in a freezer-safe container for 4 months. I like putting a layer of parchment paper between them, so I can pop out what I want. You can thaw the bars in the fridge overnight, but they’re like ice cream if you eat them frozen.😋
Fill a bowl with warm water, then wet your sharp knife and dry it on a towel. The secret is a warm knife. Make one cut, dip your knife in the warm water, and repeat until all your perfect cuts are done.
Because it has perishable eggs, refrigerating lemon bars keeps them safe and firm, making them more enjoyable.
Ouch! They may need a few more minutes in the oven. But if you’re sure they’re cooked through, try chilling them to see if that helps them set.
More Drool-Worthy Lemon Recipes to Try
- Lemon Tart
- Blueberry Lemon Cake
- Lemon Sour Cream Pound Cake
- Classic Jamaican Lemonade
- Lemon Pepper Chicken
This epic comfort food easy lemon curd bars make a fantastic dessert or snack. Want to see more awesome recipes like this? Subscribe to my free newsletter! 😍
Watch How to Make It
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This blog post was originally published in June 2020 and has been updated with additional tips, new photos, and a video.
Easy Lemon Bars
- 8 ounces butter, room temp
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 6 large eggs, room temp
- ¾ cup lemon juice, room temp
- 2-3 tablespoons lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2½ cups granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- Powdered sugar, enough for dusting
- Preheat oven to 350℉/175℃. Line the bottom of a 9×13 baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Use enough parchment paper so the extra runs over the side of the pan because you can take them out easier once they are done cooking.
- Mix butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and cream.
- Stir in flour and mix until the flour is fully incorporated.
- Pat the dough into the entire bottom of the lined baking pan. Make sure it's evenly distributed.
- Place in the preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until it is cooked through, firm, and slightly brown.
- Whisk eggs, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla in a large bowl.
- Add sugar and flour, continue whisking until fully combined.
- Pour filling over baked crust.
- Return it to the oven and bake for 22-25 minutes or until the center is set and the lemon filling no longer jiggles.
- Remove from the oven and let it cool completely – about an hour. Then place it in the fridge for 1-2 hours, so it firms up. You may cover it with plastic wrap and let it chill overnight before serving.
- Remove from the fridge, dust with powdered sugar, slice, and serve.
Tips & Notes:
- If you want a smaller portion of this yummy dessert, HALVE THE RECIPE and use a 9×9 baking pan instead of 9×13.
- You may also swap lemon with other citrus fruits like a regular orange, blood orange, lime, or grapefruit.
- Please remember that the nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary significantly based on the products used in the recipe.