Classic Lemon Bars with a sweet-tart lemon filling, a buttery sweet crust, and a beautiful pastel color. The perfect addition to a spring menu!
I’m a total softie for any kind of lemon dessert! I love ’em! And, lemon bars might just be THE perfect lemon sweet treat that I can live with for forever and ever. The soft, lemon curd-like filling over the crumbly sugar cookie crust is so delicious, and so pretty!
I love making these dainty cookie bars in the spring, especially as Easter and Mother’s Day approach. After all the spicy, chocolatey, pumpkin-y flavors of fall and winter, it’s a welcome change to make something with bright, pure citrus flavor. And, the pastel yellow color is perfect for this time of year. It’s like a daffodil, but as a dessert. 🌼
Lemon bars also make a nice gift. If I’m gifting some lemon bars, I like to dust the tops well with powdered sugar so that they don’t stick, and wrap them in pretty patterned wax paper with some ribbon.
What You’ll Need
There are two parts of this dessert bar – first, the crust, which is short and sweet, like a sugar cookie or a shortbread cookie. Then, there’s the sweet lemony filling, which tastes like a good lemon curd with maybe a touch more lemon flavor. Let’s take a closer look!
For the Crust
- Butter: You’ll need a whole cup of softened butter. That’s two whole sticks, and I advise to use unsalted butter.
- Sugar: You don’t want the crust to be overly sweet; half a cup of sugar is just right.
- Vanilla: I use 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract to give the crust a delicious honeyed flavor.
- Flour: You’ll need 2 ¼ cups of all-purpose flour for the lemon bar crust.
For the Filling
- Sugar: To make this filling, you’ll need 2 cups of granulated sugar as the base.
- Flour: Just ¼ cup of all-purpose flour helps give the filling the right texture.
- Eggs: This recipe uses six large eggs.
- Lemon Juice: You’ll need ¾ cup of lemon juice. Fresh-squeezed is best, but you can also use bottled lemon juice.
- Lemon Slices: Thinly slice one lemon for garnish (optional).
- Powdered Sugar: Also optional, for dusting the tops of the bars.
How To Make The Best Lemon Bars
Making these lemon bars is incredibly easy. Just be sure to factor in the time they take to cool and set!
- Prepare Oven & Baking Dish: Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper, with an overhang on the sides so it’s easier to pull out the baked bars. Set aside.
- Make Crust: Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl using an electric mixer. This will take about 2 to 3 minutes, to get the texture light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and salt; beat until combined. Add the flour, bit by bit, and continue to mix and form a smooth dough. Press the dough into the prepared baking dish.
- Bake Crust: Bake the crust for 20 to 23 minutes, or until lightly golden on top. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 30 minutes.
- Make Filling: Combine the sugar, flour, eggs and lemon juice in a large mixing bowl; whisk together until thoroughly combined. Pour the filling over the cooled crust.
- Bake & Cool: Return the lemon bars to the oven and bake for 23 to 25 minutes, or until firm. Remove from the oven and let cool for 1 hour at room temperature.
- Refrigerate & Cut: Refrigerate the cooled lemon bars for 3 to 4 hours; they are best if chilled overnight. Once chilled, lift the bars up using the parchment paper. Transfer them to a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut into 16 bars.
- Enjoy! Garnish with powdered sugar and lemon slices. Serve.
Tips for Success
Follow my easy and helpful tips for the very best lemon bars. Plus a wonderful variation idea!
- Press the Crust: Make sure to press the crust mixture firmly into the pan, as if you were shaping a graham cracker crust for a cheesecake. This will help it bake correctly.
- Heat the Knife: To cut the bars cleanly, dip your knife in a cup of piping hot water between slicing.
- Try Key Limes: Try making these delicious bars with key lime juice instead of lemon juice! The slightly bitter, tropical taste of key lime makes a yummy dessert (think key lime pie). You can even add a little bit of green food coloring to the filling as well!
How To Remove Lemon Bars from the Pan
- While you can definitely make lemon bars in a greased baking dish with no parchment, I find that the layers of parchment make it much easier to lift the bars out of the pan.
- Just cut the parchment pieces long enough to hang over the edges of the pan by a couple of inches.
How to Store
- Lemon bars should be stored in the fridge. Place them in an airtight container, or wrap each bar well in plastic wrap and place in a ziplock bag.
- They will keep for up to 1 week, refrigerated.
Can I Freeze Lemon Bars?
- Yes, lemon bars freeze well and don’t take long to thaw! Just wrap the individual bars in a couple of layers of plastic wrap, and freeze for up to 3 months.
- Thaw for about 30 minutes to an hour, before serving.
Easy Lemon Bars
For the Crust
For the Filling
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 6 large eggs
- ¾ cups lemon juice, (about 6 whole lemons)
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced, for garnish, optional
- Powdered sugar, for dusting, optional
- Preheat oven to 350˚F.
- Line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper with an overhang on the sides so it’s easier to pull out the baked bars. Set aside.
- Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar for 2 to 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
- Add vanilla and salt; beat just until combined.
- Add flour, about ¼-cup at a time, and continue to beat until completely combined.
- Transfer dough to previously prepared baking dish; spread it out and press on top to flatten.
- Bake the crust for 20 to 23 minutes, or until lightly golden on top.
- Remove from oven and set aside to cool for about 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, work on the filling:
- Combine sugar, flour, eggs, and lemon juice in a large mixing bowl; whisk together until thoroughly incorporated and well combined.
- Pour the filling over the previously baked crust.
- Return to the oven and bake for 23 to 25 minutes, or until firm.
- Remove from oven and let cool for 1 hour at room temperature.
- Refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours, or until chilled. They are best if chilled overnight.
- Once cool, lift up by the parchment paper and transfer to a cutting board.
- Using a sharp knife, cut into 16 bars.
- Garnish with powdered sugar and lemon slices.
- Cover and store in the fridge for up to a week.
More Spring Dessert Recipes
Need more treats to make for the spring season? These are some more of my favorites!