The Best Lemon Bars | Dinners, Dishes & Desserts

These lemon bars have an incredibly buttery shortbread crust and a perfectly tart, creamy lemon filling. They only take an hour to make, and they taste as good as any bars that you’ll find at the bakery!

Close up of three lemon bars stacked on a plate

Lemon bars are one of my favorite desserts. There’s something so perfect about the way the flavors are balanced. This recipe is hands-down the best lemon bar recipe I’ve ever made. The star is obviously the lemon filling, which is sour and tangy, with just the right amount of sweetness. But the shortbread crust steals the show, too. It’s so buttery, and super soft, and works brilliantly with the lemon filling. 

I make these lemon bars all the time because they’re good to eat on any occasion. They’re a great dessert, but they’re also a wonderful midday treat with a cup of coffee. Sometimes I even have one with breakfast! 

A bite of a lemon bar on a fork, with a lemon bar on a plate in the background

Why You’ll Love These Buttery Lemon Dessert Bars

These tart lemon bars are one of my go-to desserts. Here’s why I know you’ll love them every bit as much as I do.

  • Super easy. For as delicious as these dessert bars are, they’re surprisingly easy to make. They only use ingredients that you’re likely to have laying around your pantry and fridge, and they only take 1 hour from start to finish. You’ll be shocked at how easy these are!
  • Perfect for parties. I make this dessert all the time for parties and potlucks. Whether I’m hosting or attending someone’s event, this is a treat that I turn to regularly when I need a crowd-pleaser. Lemon bars are great for parties because they’re a wonderful finger food. You don’t need to eat them with a fork and a plate like a piece of pie or cake, and they don’t need to stay at a specific temperature, like ice cream. You can just show up with a large plate of lemon bars, place them on a table, and let people eat them throughout the day. 
  • Light and refreshing. I’ll be honest, I haven’t met very many desserts that I didn’t like. But sometimes desserts can be a little bit too much. I’m not always in the mood for something super rich or heavy. That’s when I make lemon bars. They’re decadent, but they’re also light and refreshing. You won’t feel like you need a nap after eating a lemon bar, and they’re absolutely perfect on a sunny spring day. 
Overhead view of the ingredients needed for lemon bars: a big bowl of flour, a little bowl of flower, a bowl of sugar, a bowl of powdered sugar, a bowl of baking powder, two sticks of butter, four eggs, and three lemons

Ingredients Needed

Here are the ingredients that you’ll need to make these lemon bars. Check out the recipe card at the bottom of the page to find the exact amounts for each of the ingredients. 

For the Crust:

  • All-purpose flour – Sift your flour for the best results.
  • Powdered sugar
  • Butter – You want to use unsalted butter for this recipe.

For the Lemon Filling:

  • Eggs
  • Granulated sugar
  • Lemon juice – Always use freshly-squeezed lemon juice.
  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder

How to Make Lemon Bars 

These sweet and sour bars are so easy to make. Here’s how.

  • Prep. Preheat your oven to 350F and spray a 13×9-inch pan with non-stick spray. 
  • Make the dough. Add the flour, powdered sugar, and butter to a mixing bowl. Use your hands to mix the ingredients until it forms a crumbly dough.
  • Shape. Put the dough into the prepared pan and press it until it’s smooth and even.
A baking pan filled with uncooked lemon bar dough
  • Bake the crust. Put the pan in the oven and bake until the crust is golden brown on the edges. This should take 20-25 minutes.
  • Beat the eggs. While the crust is baking, add the sugar, eggs, and lemon juice to a stand mixer. Whisk on medium speed until the sugar has dissolved, and the eggs are light and fluffy. This should take about 4-5 minutes. 
  • Make the filling. Add the flour and baking powder to the lemon mixture, and mix until everything is well combined. Pour the lemon filling over the baked crust.
Lemon filling being poured on top of shortbread crust
  • Bake. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 22-25 minutes. 
  • Cool. Remove the lemon bars from the oven, and let them cool. Before serving, dust them with powdered sugar. 
A baking pan full of lemon bars, with a sifter covering them with powdered sugar

Tips and Tricks 

Here are a few tricks to try when making these lemon bars. They’ll help you make the best bars ever.

  • Room-temperature eggs. Whenever you’re baking, it’s best to use room-temperature eggs. When eggs are cold, they don’t mix as well with other ingredients. If you remove them from the fridge about 30 minutes before baking, the eggs will incorporate with the other ingredients, and make for a smoother lemon bar. 
  • Roll the lemons. It’s very important to use freshly-squeezed lemon juice in this recipe. To get the best lemon juice, roll your lemons on the counter like a rolling pin before you use them. That will break up some of the segments in the lemon, which not only increases the amount of juice that you’ll get out of the lemon but makes the flavor better, too.
  • Add lemon zest. If you want to make these lemon bars a little more lemony, you can zest the lemons before juicing them. Then add some of the zest to the filling. 
  • Let cool completely. It’s tempting to eat these lemon bars as soon as they come out of the oven because they smell so good. But it’s really important to let them cool completely before you cut them. That gives the filling time to firm up. If you cut into the bars too quickly, they won’t hold their shape.
Three square lemon bars stacked on each other on a plate, next to a lemon

What to Serve Them With

My favorite way to eat lemon bars is with a tasty drink. Sometimes that’s a cup of coffee, but often it’s a refreshing afternoon soda or a fun adult beverage! Here are some of my favorites.

How to Store Leftovers

You can store leftover lemon bars on the counter for up to 2 days, or in the fridge for up to 1 week. All you need to do is cover them in plastic wrap, or store them in an airtight container or bag.

Can This Recipe Be Frozen?

You can definitely freeze extra lemon bars! To prevent freezer burn, I like to wrap the bars in plastic wrap, and then place them in an airtight container or bag. They’ll last in the freezer for up to 4 months. 

Three lemon bars stacked on each other on a plate, with two lemons behind them

Lemon bars may be one of my go-to desserts, but they’re not the only bars I love. Here are a few more easy dessert bars that I like to make.

Prep Time
10 minutes

Cook Time
50 minutes

Total Time
1 hour

Ingredients

For the Crust:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes

For the Lemon Filling:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 13×9-inch pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, powdered sugar, and butter. Using your hands, mix until it comes together as a crumbly dough. Press into the prepared baking dish.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden brown around the edges. Remove from the oven.
  4. Meanwhile, in an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, mix together sugar, eggs, and lemon juice. Mix on medium speed for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy, and the sugar is completely dissolved.
  5. Add flour and baking powder, and mix until well incorporated.
  6. Pour over the baked crust. Return to the oven and bake for 22-25 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven, and cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar, and serving.

Notes

  • To make the bars a little more tart, add the zest from the lemons into the filling.
  • Make sure to let the bars cool completely before cutting them or they won’t hold their shape.
  • Store leftover lemon bars in an airtight container or bag on the counter for 2 days, in the fridge for 1 week, or in the freezer for 4 months.

Nutrition Information

Yield

20

Serving Size

20 Servings

Amount Per Serving

Calories 217Total Fat 10gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 62mgSodium 100mgCarbohydrates 29gFiber 0gSugar 18gProtein 3g

Did you make this recipe?

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