These Lemon Bars are the quintessential party dessert, baking up perfectly sweet while still lemony and tart. Very few, simple ingredients are needed to make this recipe from scratch and they always are the first to go at any get together or party.
How has it taken me nearly 10 years to post a recipe for Lemon Bars? That is crazy to me, but here we are! I think by now you know how much of a lemon lover I am. I prefer it over chocolate any day.
The trouble with lemon bar recipes on the internet is finding the right one with that perfect balance between the buttery and sweet shortbread crust with the gooey, tart and sweet (but not too sweet) very lemon filling. There aren’t that many variables, but not having enough lemon juice or even too much can give you lackluster lemon bars.
I’ve been working on this recipe for several months now because my friend Stephanie (who I left in Idaho nearly three years ago *tear*) has been asking me about a lemony-enough lemon bar recipe. It’s taken me a little time to get there, but we made it and today is the day you all get this fabulous lemon bar recipe that (hopefully) won’t let you down.
How to make Lemon Bars:
- Make the shortbread crust by stirring flour, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla together until a dough forms. Press crust into the bottom of a greased (or parchment paper lined) square dish.
- Bake shortbread crust until edges are lightly golden, about 15 minutes
- While the crust bakes, make the filling: whisk granulated sugar together with fresh lemon juice, flour and eggs.
- After the crust is baked, pour filling over hot crust and continue baking until filling has set, another 2o minutes or so.
- Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.
- Cut into 16 even squares and sprinkle generously with powdered sugar and serve!
I really love using powdered sugar in the shortbread base because it’s finer texture makes the shortbread a little more tender which works perfectly with the slightly gooey and sticky lemon filling. I also love using *salted* butter because it helps offset all the sweet. I know it’s a little bit of a controversial ingredient, but it’s just what I prefer. Unsalted butter is just fine too.
The lemon filling is just the right amount of sugar stirred together with lip smacking lemon juice. (Fresh is best!) The flour and eggs are simply for thickening and setting that top layer through the baking process.
Lemon Bar FAQ’s
Can I double this recipe? Yes! The recipe as written is meant for a square 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish. If you’d like to double it, bake in a 9×13 pan. The pan is not exactly double, but works perfectly fine.
Do I have to use a glass pan? No, but I would strongly recommend it. Metal pans tend to give off a metallic flavor to the lemon bars after baking, so to avoid that, bake in glass.
Why do I have a thin, white layer on top of my lemon bars after baking? These are air bubbles that got caught in the lemon filling! Having these air bubbles show up on top of your baked lemon bars is completely normal! It won’t change the taste and is nothing that a little extra powdered sugar can’t cover 😉
Do I have to use fresh lemon juice? Yes! If you want that super tart and sweet balance that lemons bars are known for, you need to use the real stuff. Please please please don’t use the kind from the bottle!
How many lemons will I need? There are large and small lemons on the market and all will yield different amounts of juice. I would recommend getting 3 large lemons for this recipe to juice. I usually am ok with just two, but sometimes you get a less juicy lemon and will need to top off your half cup with an extra squeeze from that third one.
Storing lemon bars:
I like storing my bars in an airtight container in the fridge. When you pull them out, you may need to add another light layer of powdered sugar, but besides that, they should last a good week in the fridge (if you don’t eat them all first!)
Perfect Lemon Bars
These Lemon Bars are the quintessential party dessert, baking up perfectly sweet while still lemony and tart. Very few, simple ingredients are needed to make this recipe from scratch.
For the Shortbread Crust:
For the Lemon Filling:
Spray 8x8 or 9x9 square glass baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and line parchment paper (optional). Lightly spray parchment with more cooking spray and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
For the shortbread crust:
In a medium sized bowl, mix butter, flour, powdered sugar and vanilla until a dough starts to form. If you notice the dough not coming together, your butter may be too cold. Mix with your hands so the heat from your hands can help bring the dough together.
Press dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake 12-15 minutes or until edges are barely golden brown.
For the lemon filling:
While crust bakes, make lemon filling. Whisk sugar together with lemon juice, eggs and flour. Once crust is done baking, pour lemon filling over hot crust.
Bake 20 minutes or until set. Cool completely, cut into squares and top with powdered sugar.