Luscious Lemon Bars
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy.
A buttery shortbread crust, luscious lemon filling, and dusting of powdered sugar make these lemon bars as pretty as they are delicious!
One day, my dear friend Melissa and I got on the subject of lemon bars. Neither of us had a go-to recipe, so we decided to hit the kitchen and create one of our own. Well, we must have made at least 200 lemon bars. I don’t think our poor husbands, ever the willing taste testers, would care if they never ate lemon bars again! But finally, perfection: a crisp and buttery shortbread crust topped with a luscious lemon filling. Generously dusted with powdered sugar, they’re as pretty as they are delicious.
What You’ll Need To Make Lemon Bars
Step 1: Make The Crust
Place the flour, corn starch, salt and Confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment.
Mix for 15 seconds to blend, then toss in the cold butter.
Mix until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 10 to 15 seconds.
Sprinkle the mixture into a foil-lined, greased 9×13-in pan.
Press firmly with your fingers into an even layer, building up a thin 3/4-inch edge around the sides (this keeps the filling from spilling beneath the crust). Refrigerate for 30 minutes or freeze for 15 minutes.
Bake the crust until lightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
Step 2: Make The Filling
Start by whisking the eggs in a large bowl.
Add the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and flour.
Whisk well, making sure no lumps of flour remain.
Pour the filling into the baked crust.
Step 3: Bake & Cool
Return the pan to the oven and bake another 30 to 35 minutes, or until the topping is set and firm. Let the bars cool on a rack to room temperature; it will take several hours.
How To Cut Lemon Bars
Use the foil overhang to lift the baked square out of pan and onto a cutting board. Carefully loosen the foil from the edges of the crust.
Using a sharp knife, cut into squares or triangles.
Use a fine sieve to dust the squares with Confectioners’ sugar. Store the bars in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Serve chilled or room temperature.
How To Freeze Lemon Bars
Lemon bars freeze beautifully — they are even good frozen. To freeze the bars, let them cool completely and freeze the batch whole, covered tightly with aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap, for up to three months. (The cut bars can also be frozen in a single layer.) Before serving, remove them from the freezer and let them thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Cut the bars and then sprinkle with Confectioners’ sugar before serving.
(Note: this recipe was originally published in 2010 but updated in 2019 with new photos and instructions. The new recipe makes double the amount and the bars are easier to handle. You can find the original recipe here.)
More Recipes For Lemon Lovers
Luscious Lemon Bars
A buttery shortbread crust, luscious lemon filling, and dusting of powdered sugar make these lemon bars as pretty as they are delicious!
For the Crust
- 1¾ cup all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup Confectioners' sugar, plus more to decorate finished bars
- 2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
For the Lemon Topping
- 6 large eggs
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest (be sure to zest the lemons before juicing)
- ⅔ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, from 5 to 6 lemons
- ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
Make the Crust
- Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Cover a 9x13-in metal baking pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil (see note below). Push the foil neatly into the corners and up the sides of the pan, using two pieces if necessary to ensure that the foil overlaps all edges (the overhang will help removal from the pan). Spray the foiled pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- Place the flour, corn starch, salt and Confectioners' sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and mix for a few seconds. Add the butter and mix to blend until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 10 to 15 seconds. Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared pan and press firmly with your fingers into an even layer, building up a thin ¾-inch edge around the sides (this keeps the filling from spilling beneath the crust). Refrigerate for 30 minutes or freeze for 15 minutes.
- Bake the crust until lightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
Make the Filling
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and flour. Be sure no lumps of flour remain.
- When the crust is ready, give lemon mixture a quick final stir and then pour over top. Immediately return the pan to the oven and bake another 30 to 35 minutes, or until the topping is set and firm. Let the bars cool on a rack to room temperature; it will take several hours.
- To cut, use the foil overhang to lift the baked square out of pan and onto a cutting board. Carefully loosen the foil from the edges of the crust, using a knife if necessary. Using a sharp knife, cut into squares or triangles. Use a fine sieve to dust the squares with Confectioners' sugar. Store the bars in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Serve chilled or room temperature.
- Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The bars can be frozen for up to 3 months. After they are completely cooled, freeze the batch whole, covered tightly with aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap. Before serving, remove them from the freezer and let them thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Cut the bars and then sprinkle with Confectioners’ sugar before serving.
- Note: Be sure to use heavy-duty aluminum foil; regular aluminum foil may stick. Parchment paper can also be used to line the pan.
- Per serving (20 servings)
- Serving size: 1 large square
- Calories: 306
- Fat: 11 g
- Saturated fat: 6 g
- Carbohydrates: 50 g
- Sugar: 36 g
- Fiber: 1 g
- Protein: 4 g
- Sodium: 140 mg
- Cholesterol: 80 mg
This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.
Hi Jenn – I made your recipe yesterday exactly as written. It turned out so beautifully – we loved that the crust was so golden brown and crisp while the filling was higher than other recipes I’ve tried (and I have tried many). We shared most of these lemon bars with our neighbor and handyman now regret that we gave so much of it away! I’ll be baking these again. Thanks so much for sharing.
Sorry to bother you again as I asked a question under someone’s review where you answered a question regarding the original recipe in your cookbook where it called for the same amount of cornstarch as the 9×13 recipe. Do you half the cornstarch if making it in an 8×8” pan or the 1/4 cup measurement for half recipe?
I can’t wait to make these and am sure they’ll be a huge success as all your other recipes are that I’ve tried.
Hi Susan, perhaps you already saw the answer to your question, but I would cut all the ingredients in half, including the cornstarch. Enjoy!
These are excellent!! I’ve made them for parties and events and they look and taste like they were purchased in a bakery! ❤️ I’ve made more than 100 of your recipes, Jen – I can count on one hand the ones that my family didn’t totally love. Thanks so much!!!
I use a similar lemon bar recipe but it calls for the powered sugar to be dusted on right after taking it out of the oven. Would doing that affect your recipe?
No, it won’t adversely affect it, but if the bars are still warm, the sugar will likely get absorbed into the bars and disappear.
Amazing. We ate all of them, couldnt stop! Easy to make and perfect.
Using foil made it very easy to lift the bars out as Jen said. On the advice of someone else I only used 2 cups rather than 3 cups of sugar for the filling and found the bars plenty sweet enough with the sprinkling of icing sugar. The filling (probably because of the flour added to the filling) was firmer than other lemon bars I have made where the top was more like lemon curd making them hard to cut and serve. I liked the firmness but may reduce the flour a little next time.
Can I chill the dough overnight? I’m making many batches and trying to do it in doable steps.
Sure, Elise, that’s fine. Enjoy!
These lemon bars were so wonderful! They were tart, rich and creamy. I added a little extra lemon juice because I love tartness.
I had avoided making lemon bars thinking it was too time consuming. The instructions using a food processor made it so easy, as did the foil lining. I made half a recipe for an 8×8 pan. Thank you Jen! Your recipes are so appreciated.
Is it necessary to use foil or parchment?
Hi Carol, While it’s not a must, I really recommend it — it makes the bars very easy to remove from the pan and much easier to cut.
I used only 400 grams of sugar. 600 grams is far too much for this recipe.
Do these have to be refrigerated? I by accident left them out on the counter overnight 🙁 Are they still edible?
Hi Sue, personally, I would eat them, but I can’t say for sure if they would be okay from a food safety standpoint.
Best tasting lemon bars ever!! Tart yet creamy filling with a buttery crust. Came out perfect on my first try (I used a glass pan). Impress your friends and family with this luscious dessert!
I have never had luck with making lemon bars before…. I tried Jen’s recipe and it was amazing. We had company over and they loved them. Thanks for all the great recipes!!
As always, your recipes came through for me again. I usually don’t make tart desserts but I had a lemon tart last week and it opened my mind to tart desserts now. I love your recipes and your cookbooks! I made this last night for a dinner with 13 people and got rave reviews our guests. It was the perfect amount with a few leftovers for us. I did decrease the sugar by 1/2 cup and would probably try 2 cups next time since I like it a little more tart. Thank you for your wonderful recipes. Everyone thinks I’m an amazing cook but you’re my secret weapon!
Hello! Can I use a glass baking dish in that size, instead of metal? Also, would parchment paper instead of greased foil change the crust in any way? Thank you!
Glass will work — just keep an eye on it and reduce the heat by 25°F if it looks like it’s starting to brown around the edges. And parchment paper will work fine here and won’t change the crust. Enjoy!
It was good but my lemon filling was a bit rubbery. First, I only had 2 cups white sugar (ran out) and I substituted 2/3 cup brown sugar. I didn’t know what else to use. It did affect the color of the filling, which I wasn’t surprised. We still enjoyed the taste and the crust was delicious. I was wondering if I overbaked it? Or do you think the brown sugar might have something to do with it? I will definitely be making this again if I can figure out why lemon filling rubbery. All of your recipes I have made in the past have all been successful. Thanks
Hi Nicki, the rubbery texture likely came from it being slightly overcooked. Sorry you had a bit of a problem with them!
I made these lemon bars exactly as written, and like everyone else, I think they are amazing!! I would love to use the 13×9 recipe for this crust and top it with the chocolate and whipped cream filling that you use for your chocolate pie and then cut them into squares to serve, do you think that would work?
This is the best lemon bar recipe I’ve ever made!! I’m so glad I found it because others recipes have fallen short. The whole family loved them and it’s the only lemon bar recipe I’ll be using. Thank you Jenn!
Delish! Another great rejoice…. Made for a friend who adore lemon and makes me remember how much I do too! Do you have other go-to recipes utilizing this particular crust?
I’ve never made lemon bars before so I had no idea what to look for in terms of a recipe. I didn’t have a food processor so I used my hands (which took forever) and I was convinced wouldn’t come out right but it was perfect! I was told by multiple people that they were the best lemon bars they ever had and one that it was her favorite version of crust. Highly recommend!
I am renting a vacation spot and there is no food processor or standing mixer here, only a hand mixer. Will that work for these bars ( crust) or should I choose another dessert?
Hi Karen, You can cut the butter into the flour mixture with two knives or rub it in with your fingers – it will just take a while, or if you’d like to use the hand mixer, make sure the butter is softened. Hope that helps!
Omg! These are soooo good! Lemony and delicious. Thanks Jenn!
Hi! Directions say “Foil lined greased 9×13 in pan”. Do I grease the pan or the foil?
Hi Shannon, You’ll line the pan with heavy-duty foil and then spray the foil. Hope that clarifies!
Your recipes are always my go-to. Consistently great.
I’m making the luscious lemon bars and wonder if I have to grease the parchment paper.
So glad you like the recipes! 🙂
If you’re using parchment, it’s naturally non-stick, so you don’t need to spray it. Enjoy!
Jen…. Can I switch the lemon juice and zest for lime juice and zest and add a touch of dye to make these Grinch/Christmas themed? Will the lime
Work just as amazingly as the lemon?
Fun! I do think it would work, although lime is a bit stronger than lemon so maybe do half and half? I’d love to know how they turn out!
Can I use bottled lemon juice?
While technically they’ll work with bottled lemon juice, they’ll be much better with fresh!
So so good. Best lemon bar.
Just curious why cornstarch in the shortbread crust?
It helps to make the crust more tender. 🙂
Absolutely delicious, with a robust lemon flavor. Can’t imagine this recipe could be beat (if you’re in search of lemon bars).
Love these and making another batch today. I usually use this online recipe, but Jen I’m using the recipe in your cookbook which is smaller quantities than this online recipe. Is that because you halved it for the book? Hoping it turns out the same!
Yes, and they should turn out just as well. 🙂
It did! delicious again.
I made your bars yesterday for an event and the doubled the recipe. They are delicious!! I did reduce the sugar the in filling by 1/4 cup but I don’t think I needed to. Next time I will add the whole amount. Thank you for the recipe!
These bars are amazing! Perfect ratio of crust to filling and sweet to tart. At first I was skeptical about the amount of lemon juice and sugar, but they are just right. I wouldn’t change a thing!
These are delicious! The perfect balance of sweetness to lemony-ness in my opinion. I thought they might turn out too sweet just reading the recipe, but that was not the case at all. The flavor of the lemons really comes through and shines. Lovely recipe!
I have made this recipe several times and more recently with gluten free flour (same quantity) and it is absolutely perfect.
I bake the half recipe in a circular dish and serve a slice chilled, with fresh raspberries and a scoop of ice cream. I am always complemented on this dessert and my OH says it is his favourite. 🙂
What size circular.. glass pie dish ok?
Hi Arlene, I wouldn’t recommend a pie dish here — sorry!
I don’t even need to say it while looking at the reviews and ratings, but WOW! I can’t wait to show these off, they are delicious! Thanks again for a great recipe.
I had tried (and failed!) several other recipes before yours. These are perfect— the crust didn’t get soggy and the lemon curd was just the right balance of tartness. Thanks for a wonderful recipe.
I made these last night for a family party and already cut and added powedered sugar. The party had to be canceled this morning. Can I freeze them even though they are cut and sugared? (Thanks for all the great recipes!!)
Sure, Katie. You may need to dust them again with powdered sugar once you thaw them, but they will freeze nicely. 🙂
Hello! Do I need to let the crust cool completely before adding the lemon mixture (and putting back in oven)?
Hi Casey, It’s not necessary to let the crust cool completely. Enjoy!
The crust and filling are perfect in this recipe. The removal from the pan with large heavy duty foil and slicing into bars was simple, quick and very nice for presentation. A winner and keeper!
Delish! No need to change a thing.
Oh my, what an exquisite recipe. The filling is perfectly balanced flavor…it reminds me of lemon meringue pie, and is not tart at all. This is very rich, so I recommend cutting the squares into a “two bite” size. I will be making this often. Another win from a terrific chef. Thanks Jenn!