Classic Lemon Bars Recipe (VIDEO)

Thick and gooey Lemon Bars with shortbread crust and vibrant lemon flavor are the perfect dessert. Watch the video tutorial and see how easy it is to bake homemade lemon bars.

Lemon bars stacked on a blue plate

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Fresh lemons make everything better from Lemon Blueberry Cake to Homemade Lemonade. If you are a fan of lemon, this Lemon Bar Recipe is a must-try!

Lemon Bar Video Tutorial:

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Why You Will Love These Lemon Bars

Take one bite and you will fall in love. The lemon custard filling is brimming with satisfying tangy lemon flavor, and it’s balanced in sweetness.

I learned how to make Lemon Bars years ago from one of Ina Garten’s early cookbooks, Barefoot Contessa Parties (I literally have all 12 of her cookbooks because I admire her very much and her recipes are sound). This is very close to the original recipe except we add vanilla to the crust and you’ll love the tip for making the crust even easier to mold.

lemon bar dusted with powdered sugar

The Best Lemons for Lemon Bars?

I always use regular lemons because they have tons of tang and lemon flavor. Since lemons are the star ingredient, you should avoid using bottled lemon juice or concentrate. Also, use no more than 1 cup of lemon juice or the custard won’t set properly and if your lemons are refrigerated, bring them to room temperature first. P.S. Here’s my favorite citrus squeezer.

Ingredients for making lemon bars with lemons, eggs, flour, butter, sugar, vanilla and salt

Can I use Meyer Lemons: Meyer lemons aren’t quite as tart as regular lemon so you’ll want to reduce the sugar in the filling to about 2 cups.

How to Make Lemon Bars

  1. Crust – Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, then add vanilla extract, flour and salt and mix until crumbly. Press mixture into a parchment-lined 9×13 casserole dish. Bake at 350˚F for 18-20 minutes. Cool slightly on a rack.
  2. Lemon Filling – In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar. Whisk in lemon juice and zest. Add flour and whisk until completely blended.
  3. Add filling and Bake – pour filling over the warm crust and bake at 350˚F for 30-35 minutes until the center is set and no longer wobbly.
  4. Chill– cool at room temperature on a wire rack for at least 1 hour then refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  5. Serve – Cut into squares and dust with powdered sugar to serve.
Baked lemon bars cut into squares with lemons

Pro Slicing Tip: Just like with a cheesecake, for clean and pretty slices, wipe the knife blade clean with a damp paper towel between slices.

Common Questions:

How to tell when lemon bars are done?

The center of the lemon bars should be fully set. If you give the pan a jolt, it should not wobble in the center.

How long do lemon bars last?

Lemon bars can be kept at room temperature for a few hours but should be refrigerated after that. Refrigerate up to a week or freeze for 3-4 months (see make-ahead instructions below).

Seeing air bubbles and brown spots?

The air bubbles that rise to the surface while baking is normal. These are bubbles from whisking the eggs. Since the bubbles rise above the surface, they tend to brown which causes the brown spots. They are easy to cover up with powdered sugar.

Can I substitute a different citrus juice?

You can substitute with grapefruit, orange juice, or lime to change up the flavor of your bars, but use less sugar when using sweeter citrus.

Can I bake this in a different dish?

A glass or ceramic 9×13 pan works great for lemon bars. Note that a glass pan will bake faster and darker than a metal pan so check for doneness a little earlier.

Up close lemon bar with lemon custard filling

Make-Ahead

  • Refrigerating: If baking the bars ahead, cool to room temperature then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving.
  • To Freeze: Once lemon bars are fully chilled in the refrigerator, cover the baking dish with a couple of layers of plastic wrap and freeze for 3-4 months. You can also transfer leftover pieces to a freezer-safe zip bag for easier storage. The lemon custard doesn’t fully solidify in the freezer so there’s no need to thaw. They’re so good right out of the freezer. 
Lemon bars baked and ready for freezing

When life gives you lemons, put them in lemon bars! This recipe will become your go-to for potlucks, parties, and holidays like Easter or Christmas. It’s a keeper of a recipe.

Have Extra Lemons?

If you end up with a bumper crop of lemons or just a big bag from the grocery store, we have you covered. Check out our post on all the genius Ways to use Lemons, from zesting to juicing and freezing then try some of our favorite sweet and savory Lemony recipes.

Classic Lemon Bars Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

Lemon bars stacked

Lemon Bars with intense lemon flavor and a buttery shortbread crust. This recipe is so simple, can be be made ahead and even frozen.

Author: Natasha Kravchuk

Skill Level:

Easy

Cost to Make:

$10-$14

Keyword:

lemon bar recipe, lemon bars

Cuisine:

American

Course:

Dessert

Calories: 314 kcal

Servings: 20 people

For the Shortbread Crust:

For the Lemon Filling:

  • 7
    large eggs
    room temperature
  • 3
    cups
    granulated sugar
  • 2
    Tbsp
    lemon zest
    from 4 to 5 lemons
  • 1
    cup
    lemon juice
    freshly squeezed (from 5 large or 8 medium lemons)
  • 1
    cup
    all-purpose flour
  • Confectioners sugar
    to dust
  1. PREP: Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a 13x9x2” baking pan with parchment paper (it should go most of the way up the sides so filling doesn’t spill over.

  2. CRUST: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together softened butter and 1/2 cup sugar. Add 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 2 cups flour and 1/4 tsp salt. Continue mixing until mixture is crumbly and no dry flour remains. Spread the dough evenly into the bottom of your prepared pan. Press it with your fingertips to flatten and even out the dough. Bake crust at 350˚F for 18-20 minutes or until lightly golden at the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.

  3. FILLING: While the crust is baking, zest then squeeze the lemons and prepare your filling. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until blended. Add Lemon juice and lemon zest and whisk to combine. Add 1 cup flour and whisk until smooth and very well blended and no traces of flour remain.

  4. BAKING: Pour filling over the warm crust and bake in the center of a preheated oven at 350˚F for 30-35 minutes or until the filling is set. As soon as the filling is no longer wobbly in the center, remove from the oven so you don’t over-bake. Cool in the pan at room temperature for about 2 hours then refrigerate for at least 1 hours before serving.

  5. TO SERVE: Pull the parchment paper up slightly to loosen from the pan then transfer to a cutting board and cut into 18-20 squares then dust the tops with powdered sugar.

Nutrition Facts

Classic Lemon Bars Recipe

Amount Per Serving

Calories 314
Calories from Fat 99

% Daily Value*

Fat 11g17%

Saturated Fat 6g38%

Trans Fat 1g

Cholesterol 82mg27%

Sodium 53mg2%

Potassium 59mg2%

Carbohydrates 51g17%

Fiber 1g4%

Sugar 36g40%

Protein 4g8%

Vitamin A 368IU7%

Vitamin C 5mg6%

Calcium 16mg2%

Iron 1mg6%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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