Luscious Lemon Bars

4.5 stars based on 413 votes
Tested & Perfected Recipes
Lemon Bars

A buttery shortbread crust, luscious lemon filling, and dusting of powdered sugar make these lemon bars as pretty as they are delicious!

Lemon Bars

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

ingredients for lemon bars

How 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.

dry ingredients for crust in food processor

Mix for 15 seconds to blend, then toss in the cold butter.

adding pieces of butter to food processor Mix until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 10 to 15 seconds.

crust blended to coarse meal in food processor

Sprinkle the mixture into a foil-lined, greased 9×13-in pan.

crust mixture in prepared 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.

pressing mixture into pan to make crust
Bake the crust until lightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes.

baked crust

Step 2: Make The Filling

Start by whisking the eggs in a large bowl.

whisked eggs in bowl for lemon filling

Add the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and flour.

adding sugar, lemon, and flour to eggs for fillingWhisk well, making sure no lumps of flour remain.

whisked lemon filling in bowl

Pour the filling into the baked crust.

filling poured into baked crustStep 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.

baked lemon bars

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.

lemon bars transferred to cutting board

Using a sharp knife, cut into squares or triangles.

sliced lemon barsUse 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.) 
Lemon Bars

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!

Servings: 20 squares or 40 triangles
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 50 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 20 Minutes, plus several hours to cool

Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 1-3/4 cup all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Confectioners' sugar, plus more to decorate finished bars
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-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)
  • 2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, from 5 to 6 lemons
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour

Instructions

Make the Crust

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 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.
  4. Bake the crust until lightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes.

Make the Filling

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and flour. Be sure no lumps of flour remain.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Note: Be sure to use heavy-duty aluminum foil; regular aluminum foil may stick. Parchment paper can also be used to line the pan.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • 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.

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Reviews & Comments

  • Have made these several times now and they never disappoint! I have to use gluten free flour, but I dont change the rest(besides only using 2 cups sugar; I like mine tart!) Also, because GF tends to lack in taste, I add 1/2 tsp almond extract to the lemon mixture! Heavenly! Thanks for sharing!!

    • — Dana on April 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • Seems like a lot of sugar in the lemon filling recipe. Can it be made with half the sugar?

    • — CJ on April 2, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi CJ, You can get away with reducing the sugar by 1/2 cup. Please LMK how they turn out!

      • — Jenn on April 2, 2021
      • Reply
    • Made this recipe and it was a hit! My husband loves lemon flavored anything so for a fathers day dessert I looked for lemony recipes. This one stood out to me because of the shortbread layer. It turned out so well everyone went back for more and took home everything left. I’ve already had to share this recipe. Definitely will make this one again.

      • — Angela Poole on June 20, 2021
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  • The best lemon squares! My search is over. Thank you!

    • — TD Wally on March 17, 2021
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  • Scrumptious lemon bars! The simple, step-by-step instructions were thorough and batter development description excellent, as in what to expect as you build the lemon filling. First recipe review I have ever left, but I just had to share my thoughts. First bite, like a cloud of lemon flavor, slight tang of the lemon zest perfectly paired against superb crust, such an excellent “crumb”! My taste buds are in rapture. 🙂 You and your friend Melissa time well spent in recipe development. My compliments to the chefs.

    • — Nancy on March 12, 2021
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  • Way too sweet, even after leaving out 1/3 of the sugar. I couldn’t taste of any the tartness of the lemons. Be really careful with the sugar if you don’t want a super sweet dessert!

    • — Jeanna on March 11, 2021
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  • Hi Jenn,
    Love you, your site and cookbook as well! Everything tastes so good. My guy thinks I’m the best cook ever.

    Can I use Meyer lemons for this recipe as well? We have tons of big, juicy Meyer lemons in Napa and Marin County. Besides sharing with my friends, I’m exploring all possible ways to use them.

    Thanks,
    Carol

    • — Carol Berl on March 4, 2021
    • Reply
    • So glad you like the recipes, Carol! Yes, you can use Meyer lemons but because they’re sweeter, I’d reduce the sugar by 1/4 cup. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 4, 2021
      • Reply
  • This was the first time I have made a bar and it turned out so well! The top was so creamy and lemony and the bottom was crunchy. I only used 2 1/2 cups of sugar for the topping and I also rubbed the lemon zest into all the sugar before mixing it into the egg, to encorporate the lemony taste everywhere. I already can’t wait to make this again!

    • — Dee on February 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    Peoople are amazed by these lemon bars every time I make them. We would like to try making them with a raspberry filling. Do you have any recommendations? Can the shortbread crust be used with other fillings? Can the crust be used in pies?

    Whenever I try a new recipe I come straight to you site. You never fail to impress.

    Thank you,
    April

    • — April on February 27, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi April, I don’t have a recipe for raspberry bars, but will add it to my list of new recipes to develop. 🙂

      • — Jenn on March 1, 2021
      • Reply
      • Thank you Jenn! I look forward to it.

        • — April on March 2, 2021
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      • Good morning Jenn & April,

        April thank you so much for requesting about the raspberry bars ( and other possible fillings).

        Jenn, I’m about to make this (Lemon Bars) recipe,have everything ready to go.
        I also wanted to express real interest in wanting a raspberry bar recipe.

        Thanks!

        • — Lisa on March 4, 2021
        • Reply
  • This is the only lemon squares recipe that I make. I give it 5+ stars. My father-in-law loves tart and these are his favorite. We love the shortbread crust. Do you have recommendations of different fillings? What about raspberry? Can the crust be used for fruit pies?

    • — April on February 26, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi April, I don’t have any recipes for different fillings, but I think the crust could be used for fruit pies (although it will be a bit crumbly).

      • — Jenn on March 1, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    We made your luscious lemon bars and they turned out so well! The crust tasted like real shortbread with that wonderful buttery flavor. We like our lemon bars a little more on the tart side, so we used only 2 1/2 cups of sugar. The top browned so beautifully, we didn’t sprinkle any confectioners sugar on top at serving time. Some folks wanted a dab of whipped cream on top of their bar. Everyone loved it and all of them asked for your website. We love your recipes – especially your detailed instructions.

    • — Alan P. Mayer-Sommer on February 26, 2021
    • Reply
  • I’d like to make these and send to my sister in Chicago. Do you think they would “travel” well?
    Thanks, Ally-O in NJ

    • — Ally O'Connor on February 25, 2021
    • Reply
    • Unfortunately, I don’t think these are the best option for shipping. If you want to send a treat through the mail, I’d recommend:
      Any of my banana breads
      Toffee Almond Sandies
      Any of my biscotti recipes
      Scottish Shortbread

      Hope that helps and that she enjoys whatever you send!

      • — Jenn on February 25, 2021
      • Reply
      • I didn’t think so, but thought I’d ask. I’ll try your Scottish Shortbread 🙂
        Thanks for all your amazingly quick replies!!

        • — Ally O'Connor on February 25, 2021
        • Reply
        • Jenn’s toffee almond sandies are magical! They’re crunchy with a little bit of chew. Absolutely love!

          • — Stacey on May 3, 2021
          • Reply
  • Question. Why don’t you use vanilla extract in this recipe?

    • — Atia on February 18, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Atia, I just didn’t find it necessary here. 🙂

      • — Jenn on February 19, 2021
      • Reply
  • Easy to make and they taste awesome. Thank you for sharing!

    • — Mariela on February 13, 2021
    • Reply
  • These lemon bars are simply the best! So, so delicious and lemony. The zest really ramps up the flavor. I use parchment paper as lining for the pan which makes it so easy to lift out of the pan and easy to peel away from the lemon bar without leaving any bits & pieces which sometimes happen with foil. Cooling the bars before cutting really does make a difference when cutting them up.
    Try these, you will not be sorry you did!!

    • — Elaine on February 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    I made these Luscious Lemon Bars yesterday, you have definitely used the correct word “Luscious” when naming these bars. They are indeed luscious, my husband loves them right out of the freezer as you suggested. I enjoy them with my afternoon tea time. I love the edges and corner pieces, they have that little bit of crunch to go along with that lemony smooth taste.
    The large pan used yields a lot of these bars.

    • — Gwen Renton on February 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • I have finally found my go to recipe for Lemon Bars. I loved everything about this recipe!

    • — Jeanann on February 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • I love lemon and your lemon bars are perfection. The perfect balance of bright citrus and a sweet dessert! I made them as part of a gift for my girlfriend’s birthday and she loved them 😊

    • — Jenn on February 2, 2021
    • Reply
    • I’ve made these a few times now, they always turn out great and the whole family love them! (As well as your banana bread and mac and cheese recipes🙂).

      • — Karen on April 16, 2021
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  • I cannot stop making these lemon bars! They are so delicious!. My family loves them too. Thank you Jenn for sharing your recipes. I always look forward to trying them.

    • — Taline on February 1, 2021
    • Reply
  • This recipe is the best lemon bar recipe that I have ever made. I follow the recipe exactly. My family really enjoys them. One of our favorite times to have them is after an italian meal, although they are wonderful anytime, in the summer especially or for a bridal or baby shower. They freeze perfectly. Highly recommend.

    • — Kathy Butterbugh on February 1, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this recipe, did a little change, came out delicious!! I love it, my husband loves it, my friends love it!!!

    • — Maria Farias on January 31, 2021
    • Reply
  • I have made a lot of lemon squares in my life and by far this is the best one out there!

    • — Karen Harrison on January 30, 2021
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  • Best lemon bars I’ve made in years. The lemon flavor is perfect and not too sweet. I made them gluten free by substituting regular flour 1:1 with all purpose gluten free flour. These bars even work well at high altitude. I will be making them again!

    • — Sue Maples on January 30, 2021
    • Reply
    • I made these today and it tasted delicious. I find that my centre is almost too gooey that it drips unlike yours in the photo. Would be perfect if the centre is firmer. Jenn, please would you advise what I had done wrong? I followed your recipe to the T.

      • — Jan on February 6, 2021
      • Reply
      • Hi Jan, It sounds like they were a tad underbaked. Next time I’d leave them in the oven for a few extra minutes. Hope that helps!

        • — Jenn on February 8, 2021
        • Reply
  • My family Loves anything lemon. These did not disappoint! The lemon really comes through on these bars. Yummy.

    • — Sue on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • These lemon bars are perfect! The powdered sugar stays on the top does not soak in. The crust is crunchy and the center is gooey and has the perfect balance of tart and sweet. My friends and family love these lemon bars. I take them to parties and gatherings (pre-COVID) and they are a hit. This was my first Once Upon A Chef recipe and after making these I bought the cookbook and subscribed to the emails.

    • — Cheryl Rudolph on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • These are so, so good! Thank you for taking the time to perfect them, Jenn. The ratio of filling to crust is just right, in my opinion. The challenge with these is keeping your family from eating the whole pan in one sitting!

    • — Beth McNiicholas on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • If you’re nuts about lemons like I am…These bars will blow you away. Perfect combination of flavour and texture,:sweet and tart, silky and crunch. Best part, easy to make and even easier to eat!

    • — Tracy on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
    • I made these today and it tasted delicious with the right crunch and lemony gooey in the middle. I find that mine is too gooey that it ‘drips’ unlike yours in the photo. I followed the recipe to the T. Jenn, please advise what have I done wrong? Regardless, it smells and tasted wonderful. Would be perfect if the middle part is slot firmer.

      • — Jan on February 6, 2021
      • Reply
  • After reading the story of Jenn and her neighbor perfecting the lemon bar recipe I selected this one to make. Previously I used the frozen lemon juice and I wanted to try this using the fresh lemons for the juice and the zest. Lemon bars are one of my favorites and this lemon filling is devine! I didn’t change a thing and this recipe is now in my permanent file.

    • — Gayle Willard on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I am a sucker for a lemon bar. I love them. Like, drive 45 minutes out of my way for the best one around, love them. Which is why I’m so glad I found this recipe. It’s perfect exactly as written. Replace your lemon bar recipe with this one- it’s a keeper! Thanks Jen for keeping me off the MN winter roads for the lemon bar trek .

    • — Aimee on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • These are the best lemon bars I have made, easy too!

    • — Jenee Mealey on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Delicious! Since Meyer Lemons are prolific in California right now and my tree is exploding, I’m busy finding recipes to use them. Although Meyer’s are a bit sweeter than regular lemons, I didn’t cut back on the sugar and they came out great. Still tart and a bit sweet. I used Jenn’s original recipe which is just half the amount of this recipe and used a 9-inch square non-stick baking pan. I think adding the cornstarch to the crust mixture makes the crust simply divine! A keeper for sure! Thanks Jenn!

    • — Janice Torelli on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • These are AMAZING!!!!!! Lemon desserts have never really moved the needle much for me, but wow to these lemon bars! Perfect, crisp, buttery crust combined with the luscious lemon filling equals simply delicious. They are also very easy to make and I’ll be making them again…and again and again and again…!

    • — Marvin Ward on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This recipe is (almost) perfect. I added a little less confectioners’ sugar in the crust the second time I made it. Great recipe!

    • — Mary Trotter on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • been looking for a great lemon bar. This is one of the best Very tart and smooth I love them.

    • — Joel M on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Another amazing recipe that is always a big hit! I make them just as written and love them!
    I purchased some lemon bars from our local bakery the other day that looked delicious, but didn’t compare to these. Thanks so much for the recipe!

    • — Debra on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
    • These are the best! Crust is buttery and a good thickness, filling is perfectly tart, lemony, and gooey. Everyone loves these when I make them!

      • — Bethany on January 28, 2021
      • Reply
  • This is my go to recipe for lemon bars. The shortbread crust is divine. Combined with the yummy goodness of the lemon filling. It’s a must try!

    • — Sheri S. on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • These Lucious Lemon Bars are tops! They are sweet yet tangy and every bite is a delicious indulgent treat! I have other lemon bar recipes that are good but this one tops them all. Highly recommended.

    • — Jean Peterson on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • These lemon ars are the best I have ever baked! Very easy and oh so good!

    • — Debra Slafkin on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This recipe was PERFECTION! It’s difficult to get lemon bars to have the right ratio of filling to base crust, and this one nails it! Also, my personal pet peeve with lemon bars is when the filling smells of eggs. These bars had none of that—just an amazingly perfect combination of tart and sweet lemony goodness 🙂 My family was begging for another batch the next day. Thanks, Jenn for a fantastic recipe. Can’t wait to make it again!

    • — Amina Kasumov on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is my go to recipe for lemon square bars! I’ve made it a few times for potlucks and I always get asked to share the recipe. On most recipes I find online, I usually have to alter it in some ways i.e. don’t use as much sugar. This recipe is a keeper just the way it is!!!

    • — Karen K. on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I’ve made these a couple times now and they’re my husband’s new favourite dessert. Very straight-forward to make and something that is perfect if you need to make it ahead of time. It was hard to stop before eating the whole dish!

    • — Ceylan Myers on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • As someone who makes a lemon bar test kitchen an opportunity to compare well respected recipes, this one comes out on top. Rave reviews!

    • — ML Pittleman on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made these this week and mailed to a friend who’s wife suddenly passed away from COVID. I’m praying they made it in one piece but know even if they didn’t he will enjoy the “crumbs” and hope it brings a little sunshine into his life.

    • — Elizabeth Jenkins on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I don’t have a sweet tooth, so my desserts of choice tend to involve dark chocolate or lemon. These lemon bars hit the spot. They are lovely and tart and the shortbread crust is delicious, almost caramelized in the corners. Make them! You won’t be disappointed.

    • — Kate on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I’ve been searching for a recipe like this for years! Perfect combination of filling and crust! As with all of Jen’s recipes, this one is a big hit.

    • — Jill DeMichiel on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I am not a “sweets” person, but I made these for family over the summer. I am well versed in the kitchen, but not so much baking sweets. With that being said, these were easy to make, and the family loved them! They raved that they aren’t too sweet, or too sour like some lemon bars are. They are a hit!

    • — Michelle on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made these for my mother in law who loves lemon type desserts. She loved them. They have a great sweet tart lemon flavor, and are super delicious.

    • — Lori Larson on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Turned out exactly how the photos look! I thought the crust felt dry but just continued on with the recipe and came out perfectly!

    • — Jill Carlsen on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • A keeper!!

    • — Mariana on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • After reading some reviews about being too sweet, I cut down the sugar by half a cup. I love lemon desserts. I love tasting the tartness. It was great! Another keeper!

    • — Donna on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is always a hit everywhere I take them to. But I reduced the sugar and added a little bit more lemon juice and zest since I like them tart. They were perfect that way. The crust is buttery and the corner pieces are my favorite! I also skip sprinkle more sugar on top.

    • — Serena on January 28, 2021
    • Reply

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