The BEST Lemon Bars — Classic lemon bars that pack a punch of big time lemon flavor, without being too tart or too sweet!
Easy Lemon Bars Recipe
I’m pretty picky about my lemon bars. The filling, the crust, and the sweet-tart balance all has to be just right. I’m like Goldilocks with her porridge.
These classic lemon bars are Goldilocks approved.
Before making these, I researched dozens of recipes, studying each meticulously, but nothing sounded exactly perfect. I referenced one of my favorite cookbooks, The New Best Recipe, but when I saw seven eggs, I slammed the book shut immediately.Unless you’re feeding a football team, any one singular dessert does not need seven eggs, period. I also checked out another trusty resource, The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion, and many others. But in the end, I came up with my own.
These classic lemon bars consist of an easy shortbread crust, topped with an intensely lemony filling. The tartness and sweetness are well-balanced. You don’t even have to lug out your mixer to make them.
Just as cornstarch helps cookies stay soft and tender, it does the same for the crust of these homemade lemon bars. Shortbread crusts tend to become too dry, hard, or tasteless, and remind me of dog biscuits, which is why I never make biscotti. I’m sorry for anyone who likes it but it’s so unsatisfying for me because I can’t get past that dry, hard-yet-crumbly dough. The cornstarch keeps this crust just a bit softer than some, preventing the cardboard phenomenon.
Another notable difference in this classic lemon bar recipe is that the ratio of lemon juice ratio is much, much higher than in most recipes. For an 8-inch square pan, most call for two tablespoons whereas mine uses eight (one-half cup); four times the amount. You’d think this would make you pucker up up for days but really, it doesn’t.
The bars are robustly lemon-flavored, but not ridiculous, and they’re how I think a lemon bar should be. If I wanted a blondie with a hint of lemon, I’d use two tablespoons of lemon juice, but I wanted a good old-fashioned lemon bar, full of zing and tang. But they’re also sweet enough to be considered dessert, not torture.
The overall depth of lemon flavor is boosted from two teaspoons of lemon zest. Most recipes this size use one teaspoon, but I doubled it and used two. I also added a tiny bit of vanilla extract, something that isn’t traditional in lemon bars, but I love vanilla.
I am so pleased with these because the flavor is robustly lemony and tart, but they’re not sour, pungent, bitter, or overwhelming. They’re just sweet enough, but not too much. The sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar gives them a tiny bit of additional sweetness and gives them that classic lemon bar appearance.
The filling itself is dense but light, almost like a lemon custard with a touch of creaminess. It’s smooth and firm, without being rubbery. The crust is buttery, just crisp enough, but retains some softness, flakiness, and tenderness. It’s a ever-so-slightly sweetened and thick enough to stand up to the layer of lemon filling and not be overwhelmed by it. I don’t like it when shortbread crusts are paper thin and prefer them on the thicker side. Not too thick, not too thin. Hello, Goldilocks.
My almost six-year old is a lemon fanatic (heads up this is a repost from 2013 and she’s now 13!). She’ll reach into a water glass with a lemon, fish it out, and eat it. She loved these easy lemon bars because anything lemon-flavored is a hit with her.
I wouldn’t call them The Best Lemon Bars if I didn’t really think they were.
What’s in the Best Lemon Bars?
To make the best ever lemon bars, you’ll need:
- Unsalted butter
- All-purpose flour
- Confectioners’ sugar
- Granulated sugar
- Half and half
- Lemon juice and zest
- Vanilla extract
- Lemon extract
How to Make Lemon Bars
Make the crust by combining all-purpose flour, confectioners’ sugar, and one tablespoon of cornstarch, with one stick of very soft butter in a medium bowl. The softer the butter is, the easier of a time you’ll have. You can do this with a food processor, but it comes together in just a minute by hand, which I prefer to washing out my food processor for such a fast little crust.
The crust mixture will seem crumbly, but transfer the pea-sized lumps and crumbs to an 8-inch square foil-lined pan, and press them down until a smooth crust forms. Prick it haphazardly with a fork in a dozen places so the steam can escape, and bake it for 12 to 15 minutes. As it bakes, if you notice any big air bubbles forming, prick them down with a fork, and continue baking.
You don’t want to impart color or have it turn golden. You just want it to firm up and hold together because the pan is going back into the oven anyway to bake the filling.
While the crust bakes, make the filling by coming two eggs, sugar, one-half cup of lemon juice, splash of cream, optional vanilla and lemon extracts, and whisk. My recipe differs from many I’ve seen in that it doesn’t use half of a carton of eggs, just two. The presence of two tablespoons of cream helps give the filling some depth, richness, and creaminess that you can’t get without it.
Pour the filling mixture over the crust and bake it for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the top has just set. As you pour the filling over the crust, it will seem like it’s liquid soup and there’s no way that it will set up in 15 minutes time, but surprisingly, it does. Bake until the top has just set in the center and isn’t watery. Some movement and looseness is fine, and that’s how lemon bars are, but there shouldn’t be pooled liquid. Don’t overcook them and turn them into a rubbery state, either. They do firm up as they cool.
Cool them for about 1 hour at room temperature, and then refrigerate them for at least 3 hours before slicing. Although you could serve them at room temperature, a chilled lemon bar with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar is the only way for me. They’ll keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
Can I Double This Recipe?
Yes, simply double the ingredients and bake the lemon bars in a 9×13-inch pan. You may need to bake them for a little longer than the recipe calls for.
How to Store Lemon Bars
These homemade lemon bars will stay fresh up to 5 days in the fridge.
Tips for Making the Best Ever Lemon Bars
With lemon desserts, balancing tartness with sweetness can be tricky. Too much lemon, and I want to pucker up and hide; too little, and I’m bored. Too much sugar and they have a sickeningly sweet quality; too little, and I want the torture to end. I think these homemade lemon bars are spot on, both in tartness and sweetness. Of course, if you don’t want something quite as tart, you could start with 1/4 cup of lemon juice; taste, and increase accordingly.
When zesting a lemon, make sure to just take off the outermost yellow layer. As you move into white pith, it becomes more and more bitter. There’s a difference between tartness and bitterness. I prefer the former, not so much the later.
I didn’t need to add any lemon extract to these classic lemon bars as they’re already very lemony, but if you’re a lemon fiend, go for it. Citric acid will also make the lemon flavor really pop if you’re someone who just can’t get enough lemon intensity. It’s frequently used in pickling and canning, and found in the canning section of most grocery stores if you want to play around.
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The Best Lemon Bars
These classic lemon bars pack a punch of big time lemon flavor, without being too tart or too sweet! Perfect for spring and summer baking!
For the Crust
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), very soft
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 heaping cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- pinch salt, optional and to taste
For the Filling
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup lemon juice, or to taste (about 2 juicy medium lemons; see note below)
- 2 tablespoons half-and-half (whole milk or cream are okay)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional and to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract, optional and to taste
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest loosely packed, or to taste (see note below)
- confectioners' sugar, for dusting
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine all crust ingredients and cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a pasty cutter or just stir and mash with a spoon until a sandy, crumbly mixture forms. I do it by hand because it's easy, fast, and I don't have to wash out my food processor; but use one if you prefer.
- Transfer crumbly mixture to prepared pan and using your fingertips, press crumbs down to form an even flat layer of crust.
- Prick crust with a fork haphazardly in a dozen places so air and steam can escape while it bakes. If air bubbles form while baking, prick them down and return pan to oven.
- Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until crust has just barely set. It should not be golden or browned at all, it should still be white. You just want it to stick together and it doesn't need to be cooked through fully since pan is going back in the oven to bake filling.
- While crust bakes, make the filling.
- In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, lemon juice (start with ¼ cup and increase to taste; I find that using less than ½ cup isn't intense enough, but add to taste), half-and-half, optional vanilla (I used it even though it's not traditional), optional lemon extract (I don't find it necessary and omitted it), and whisk until smooth.
- Add the flour and whisk until lumps are gone.
- Add lemon zest (add to taste, starting with 1 teaspoon but I prefer 2 teaspoons) and whisk to combine.
- Pour mixture over crust. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes (I baked for 18), or until the top has just set and isn't jiggly in center. Some movement and looseness is normal and desired, you just don't want it liquid-like or runny; slicing into some looseness is fine, liquid is not. Top will be yellow and lemon-colored, but not browned.
- Allow bars to cool at room temperature for at least 1 hour.
- Cover pan and refrigerate for at least three hours, or overnight, before slicing and serving.
- Optionally, dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.
For the Crust:
For the Filling:
- Store extra bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 324Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 70mgSodium: 38mgCarbohydrates: 52gFiber: 1gSugar: 39gProtein: 3g
More Lemon Desserts:
Strawberry Lemonade Bars — Imagine crossing lemon bars with a strawberry pie. These easy bars taste like strawberry lemonade! Sooo good!
Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze — An easy buttermilk cake with big lemon flavor!! Soft, fluffy, and foolproof if you like puckering up!!
The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat) — It took years, but I finally recreated it!! Easy, no mixer, no cake mix, dangerously good, and SPOT ON!! You’re going to love this lemon pound cake recipe!
Lemon Lemonies — Like lemon brownies, but made with lemon and white chocolate! Dense, chewy, not cakey and packed with big, bold lemon flavor!
Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze — Almost more berries than cake in this soft, fluffy lemon blueberry bundt cake! The lemon glaze is plate-licking delish!!
Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting — Soft, fluffy, moist, very lemony cupcakes from scratch! Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe for cupcakes that taste like they’re from a bakery!
Softbatch Glazed Lemon Cream Cheese Cookies — Big, bold lemon flavor packed into super soft cookies thanks to the cream cheese!! Tangy-sweet perfection! Lemon lovers are going to adore these easy cookies!!
Glazed Lemon Pie Bars — The crust is buttery, soft, and tender while the filling is juicy and luscious with the perfect amount of sweet-yet-tart flavor and a lemon glaze boosts the lemon flavor even more.
Originally published January 16, 2013 and republished June 5, 2020 with updated text.
I have tried many lemon bar recipes over the years and have never been quite satisfied. These bars are GREAT, have that lemon zing that I could never quite get in any other bar. I will not look any further for a recipe.
Thanks for the 5 star review and I’m glad that this is your favorite lemon bar recipe of all time and don’t need to look further!
Hi. These sound delicious. Perfect for Easter. I am going to make them for dessert. How long should I bake them if I double the recipe?
Generally speaking if you double the recipe and therefore the pan size, things don’t take much longer to bake. Just keep an eye on them though!
Hi Averie, These lemon bars were SO GOOD! I baked these for company coming over for dinner, and they loved them! Confession. This is the first time I made lemon bars, although I have always enjoyed eating them. Plus, I had to turn them gluten-free. I bought gluten free flour, and they still turned out good. Thank you for a delicious recipe.
Thanks for the 5 star review and glad these turned out so well for you, on your first attempt ever with lemon bars! And that you even made them GF! Excellent to hear!
It’s no lie – these ARE the best, and easy, too!! We are constantly on the lookout for lemon recipes that are actually lemony; so many disappoint, but this is a winner. Added extra zest (force of habit) and substituted almond flour for 1/2 of the all-purpose. A scrumptious Father’s Day treat, enjoyed by all! Many thanks; will have to check out more of your recipes.
Thanks for the 5 star review and I am glad you love the recipe! And yes, I know what you mean about lemon recipes that are actually lemony! I don’t like to mess around 😊
These ARE the BEST and EASIEST lemon bars EVER!!!I chose your recipe because it seemed simple and it focused on the Lemon! I was right and I look forward to exploring your website for more delicious goodies…maybe something from your peanut butter book!
Thanks for the 5 star review and glad that these are the best and easiest lemon bars ever for you!
Thanks for poking around my site and yes, my recipes are geared to be simple and just focus on the flavors at hand and not overly complicate things :)
Yummy! These ARE the best lemon bars!the perfect amount of lemony goodness. Thank you for this recipe … did I say these are the best lemon bars ever! 😀
Thanks for the 5 star review and glad they are the best lemon bars ever for you!!
I made it last night. I am a lemon lover and though I think a fairly good cook, not a baker and these were easy and the best I’ve ever had! My hubby and girls are picky too, like me about tartness to sweetness ratio, and this is just the perfect blend with a deep richness and the best crust. I could not find lemon extract so left out. So happy to have discovered your site of easy, delicious meals to get out of the rut! Thank You!
Thanks for the 5 star review and glad these were the best lemon bars you’ve ever had!
Hi there, thanks for all your recipes, we love them. Have a question, going to make the Lemon Bars and was wondering if you can freeze them ?
Yes they freeze just fine.
Hi Could you help me please, I do not know what is Half and Half is it Cream and Milk?
Yes exactly. It’s extremely common in the US, usually people put it in their coffee but in the bars it’s great.
Can I substitute skim milk for the half and half?
Not recommended at all, way too thin, the fat is necessary here.
this lemon curd was delicious! but my shortbread dough was super crumbly and it crumbled when I poked holes in it with a fork. it was also super thick. do you think I probably measured something wrong or could this be a problem with technique? thank you for the recipe!
I would say if it was super crumbly AND thick, I think you added too much flour. It’s just 1 cup. And make sure you are using a light hand when measuring flour and ‘fluff’ it into the cup, don’t pack it in. Also when you bake the crust by itself, just bake it until it’s barely set. If you overbake it during that step, ultimately the bars will be crumbly and drier when you cut them.
These turned out so good. They taste like lemon bars that someone would get at a french bakery. I don’t normally like anything lemon, but they were rich and yummy. Thanks!
I am glad they turned out so well and tasted like something you’d get at a French bakery!
It really is the best lemon bars, my partner usually says my baked goods are not lemony enough , this is the only one that’s been lemony enough for him! He said if I could add a bit of meringue on top, I could have a lemon meringue pie in my hands.
Thanks for the 5 star review and I’m glad that these are lemony enough to be a winner!
Absolutely the best!! I go back to this recipe over and over!! Thank you:)
I’m glad that you agree that these are the best and that you go back to this recipe over and over!
Made the recipe exactly as stated & it turned out great. Really nice & tart with lots of lemon curd on top. Very good crust-to-filling ratio.
Since then, I’ve experimented with replacing the cream/milk with other ingredients (as well as adding zest to the crust) & it has turned out even better.
Substitutions for the cream which I’ve tried:
* full fat yogurt
* full fat sour cream
* full fat coconut cream
* sweetened condensed milk
* softened cream cheese
All add a lovely creaminess to the lemon. I discovered this by accident when I ran out of cream the second time around with this recipe, then kept experimenting with various additions. My favorite substitutions are the yogurt, sour cream & coconut cream, with a couple handfuls of shredded, dried, unsweetened coconut mixed into the filling.
I blend the filling til completely smooth using a stick blender before adding the dried coconut, then pour it over the crust. Sets beautifully in the oven in exactly 18 minutes using a 9×9 pyrex pan.
Fresh raspberries or raspberry preserves drizzled overtop are another amazing addition to this recipe!
Great modifications/suggestions. Sounds like you’re definitely a coconut fan, too!
These.are.so.good!!! Words don’t do justice…
Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you! I agree with your statement :)
Love love love these! What a amazing flavor!
Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you!
Hello Averie! I am a fellow food-blogger from Greece and just made your bars. What a great recipe! I will be posting them on my blog too with the necessary referencies of course. Thanks again.
Glad you enjoyed the recipe!
I’m not generally a fan of desserts with a lot of crust or citrus, but this changed my mind. I used 1/2c of lemon juice which was a little tart for me, but my family loved it! I will definitely be making these again (and again). Thanks, Averie!
Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you! And changed your mind about citrus desserts!
I will try this lemon it sounds delicious i love lemon deserts i have lemon tree with
Lots of lemons one good way of using it thanks for the recipe.
made these today for a large group and they were divine! i quadrupled the recipe and made it in 2 9×13 pans. the baking time was significantly longer (was somewhere between 7-10 minutes extra) but they firmed up beautifully and were a hit! was curious about the bubbles that formed while the filling+crust was baking – is that normal? any way to avoid that?
Glad they were a hit! And not that surprising that 7-10 extra minutes was needed for a 9×13 pan AND you probably had two 9×13’s in the oven at once, so not really unusual.
As for the bubbles, not sure why. Maybe some over-zealous stirring or mixing and extra air was incorporated into the batter? Sometimes with cakes or brownies I will ‘drop’ the pan a few times on the counter to let out some air bubbles. Maybe that would help but sounds like it was just a cosmetic issue and not one of taste.
Hi, I currently don’t have any powdered sugar. Is there any way to make the crust with granulated sugar? It’s really all I have right now. Thanks!
Oh, and I can’t make powdered sugar because my blender and food processor are both broken ?. Although it has helped me out a couple times ?
You will need powdered sugar in order for this recipe to turn out successfully.
I made these last night (in the dead of night) and ate them this morning and have been giving them out like it was the best thing I tasted in the world~ DELICIOUS! Crust was not dry or hard but nice and moist. The filling was nicely set and everything… but my family apparently is super sensitive to sweet (which is a pity). I believe that is it perfectly tart and just a tab bit too sweet but still manageable for me.But for my family should I reduce the sugar or add in more lemon? Or both?!
Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you and that it’s one of the best things in the world you’ve tasted! On account of that, I wouldn’t change a thing with the recipe. If you start tinkering with the ratio of sugar/lemon, the filling will set up differently and have a different texture. You can play around on your own with making tweaks but because I love the recipe, I haven’t tinkered with it after developing it to the point I wanted it.
better then the best lemon bars. Made for a family gathering, these Bars got rave reviews!
Thanks for sharing this great recipe.
Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you and that they got rave reviews at your event!
Very tasty !! I juiced 3 lemons and my bars were tart,tasty and gooey :)
That’s wonderful to hear and so glad the bars were worth juicing those lemons for :)
I was looking for a Lemon Bar recipe (with less eggs, since I’m calorie counting and eggs can get it up there!) and Pinterest pointed me here. Super glad I found it.
My dad has been complaining because he has these lemon trees… about 4 0f them, and they MASS produced lemons this year and we were having a hard time thinking of what to do with them. THIS is the answer.
Thank you for your beautiful, simple, no-mixer recipe. I’m so excited to bake these on Monday morning. :) YUM!
So glad they came out great for you and that is just amazing about your dad’s trees…wish I was your neighbor :)
Also I JUST posted this recipe today! https://www.averiecooks.com/2015/01/best-lemon-loaf-better-starbucks-copycat.html
Hi Averie! The bars looks great. But i do not have cooking spray which is needed to spray onto the foil. so what should i do to the aluminum foil so that the crust turns out right? Should i use parchment paper?
I personally don’t like to use parchment in baking pans because it doesn’t ‘seal’ tightly in the corners like foil. I recommend greasing the pan or foil then with a little butter so the bars don’t stick.
i’ve baked them and they turn out great! it’s a good recipe! by the way, is it possible to keep the bars for up to 5 days?
I would keep them in the fridge and I think they’ll be fine but that would kind of be the max/limit before I’d try to make them closer to the event, if that’s what you’re trying to save them for.
very good recipe, but your blog has too many pictures. It is difficult to find the recipe when viewing on a small screen device.
I love your site. I’m just wondering if I could double this recipe and bake in a 9×13?
I’m sure you could although I personally have not tried it with this recipe.
My dad asked me to make some lemon bars and I knew exactly where to come to get a recipe. You’re my #1 source for dessert recipes because everything always turns out delicious.
I had to use 1% milk, extra flour instead of cornstarch, and no lemon zest.
My dad felt it was TOO lemony (I used 1/2 cup lemon juice, but next time I’ll use 1/4 c for him) but everyone else thought they were great! I will definitely make these again.
Thanks for trying them and for your nice compliments about my recipes :) And I’m glad that everyone loved them! You could cut back to like 1/3 c on the juice, no zest, for your dad. That would probably be perfect for him – because yes, these are lemony and for total lemon lovers :)
Hi Averie! These look amazing. I’m making dessert to take to my boyfriend’s family for the weekend and would love to try them. If I run my AC on high, do you think they would stand in a 1.5 hr car ride?
I think they’d be just fine! I would just wrap the pan in aluminum foil, put it inside a large ziplock bag, put the bag/pan on top of an ice pack, and you’re set :)
These look fantastic! Just wondering: I have Celiac disease and cannot do gluten. I can figure out how to make substitutes for the crust, but as for the flour in the lemon filling would I need to use an all-purpose GF flour or is there something else I could substitute? Do I just need something to thicken the filling, such as flax meal? Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
I find that the small amt of flour in the filling will cause it to set up better, but you can play around with cornstarch and/or use an AP-GF flour as you said. I probably wouldn’t put flax into it just based on texture. I’d go for little bit of cornstarch (like you’d do if you were making pie filling) probably as my first choice. You can always omit and see how well (or not well) they set up – I’m not sure but I think they’d still be passable.
Thanks! I’ll try the cornstarch and post back to let you know how it works.
I made this recipe this morning and it is to die for. I had to share it with my friend otherwise I was afraid I might eat it all by myself. Will definitely be making these again.
I’m so glad you liked them and were able to share with a friend :)
Hi Averie, I made these last night as I have a friend coming over for dinner and needed a dessert. I’m also going to make the pizza with your dough base (again! lol) and that’s why I decided to make the lemon bars. I wanted something “light” and refreshing as pizza is quite heavy and lemons are always good after a big meal to help you digest (not so much cakes, but whatever!). Well, last night it was me and my husband staring at the bars as they were still n the pan and we decided that our friend would have known if we’d had a little piece. Well, we ended up eating a quarter of it, it was that good! Can’t wait for my friend to try it, he will love it!!! This is definetely a keeper!! Thank you so much! :)
I am so glad to hear that you and your hubs polished off a quarter of the pan in no time – that’s a sign of success :) Thank you for telling me little stories like these! And that you love the bars and hope your friend did as well!
Happy to hear you’re a big fan of the pizza dough (as I’ve said before) – knowing you’re Italian and like my little old pizza dough means a ton :)
Ok, so my friend came over, he absolutely loved the pizza, he was so impressed ( hes’s italian too, btw)! And he loved the lemon bars so much that he asked me if he could bring the leftovers at home and also wanted the recipe for it! so yeah, I would definetely call it a success!! Thank you so much! :)
Glad that your Italian friend loved the pizza – and the Lemon Bars. And…wanted the recipe! Total success. Thanks for sharing these stories! Makes my day :)
I made these for a 4th of July party and everyone LOVED them!!! This recipe is definitely a keeper :) the lemon layer came out a little runnier than I expected, but it didn’t even matter cuz they tasted DIVINE
So glad you loved them and so did everyone at the party! Next time for the runnier filling siuation – either bake slightly longer, use slightly less lemon juice and/or cream (and don’t use milk next time, use cream or half-and-half – not sure what you did this time around) and that should take care of it! But doesn’t sound like a big issue regardless :)
Thank you for the suggestions! I did in fact use whole milk, I will try cream next time …. But no way on cutting back on the lemon :)
I just made these. LOVE THEM! So much better than other recipes I’ve tried. They are light, creamy, and perfect! Thank you!
Thanks, Laura, for trying them and for coming back to LMK that you enjoyed them so much! They’re my favorite of any recipe I’ve tried as well!
I lost my lemon bar recipe… Mix the dough together abd then grate it.. Then add the lemon filling and bake.. Does anyone have this recipe?
Try this recipe – you have nothing to lose since you lost yours, literally! I highly recommend these bars!
Just made these “lemony bars of heaven” tonight, and my family loved them!! Will make these again for sure.
Oh that’s awesome that the family loved them and that you plan to make them again. Thanks for LMK!
I made these lemon bars for work tonight and they were a huge hit!! They were really good alone and even better with strawberries on top.
I want to work where you work – with homemade lemon bars being brought in by coworkers! That is so nice of you! Glad they were a big hit and the strawberries sound fabulous! Thanks for LMK you made them!
Yes, I’m jealous of those lemon trees too, no such luck for us in the Midwest! I’m going to try my hand at a potted dwarf Meyer lemon tree to bring indoors in the winter.
Averie, have you ever done a Key Lime Pie recipe? I couldn’t find one on here, but I’d love to hear your take on that classic. Seems like there are a couple of different methods/versions for Key Lime Pie floating around. :)
I haven’t done a Key Lime Pie recipe…but good thinking! I will put that on my 2013 bucket list; sooner rather than later I hope, while citrus fruit is in season. I used to live in this 1920s house here in CA that had all these Meyer Lemon trees and some of them were in pots…you just made me think back about 6 years :) Good luck with your indoor tree! It will probably do great!
Wish I had a lemon tree in the back yard. I love lemon bars. Thank you for sharing all of your wonderful recipes. Love the detail and photos?
Thank you for fantastic Lemon Bar recipe, Averie! http://thelemonnest.com/lemon-bars/
I am so glad you tried a version of it and yours look wonderful!
These look beautiful and I agree that balance is key. I have a bunch of Meyer lemons. Would you suggest modifying the sugar content to compensate?
You mean because some people say that Meyer lemons are a little sweeter? It’s such a spliting-hairs type of distinction and you can use a tbsp or two less, taste the batter, see what you think, and go from there!
Pinned and printed out! We used up our lemon supply over the holidays, but I noticed yesterday we have a new supply of ripe fruit on the tree. I hope to make (and eat) these this afternoon!
Keep me posted!
I’ve actually never made or eaten a lemon bar! These make me rethink that fact. I’m so obsessed with citrus lately — baking with it, snacking on it, etc.
I agree with you on biscotti — just eat a real cookie! Anytime I’ve ever had biscotti I have to dunk it in coffee to moisten it back up. And then of course it tastes like coffee instead of X. Oh, well, to each his/her own. :)
Ive been seeing all your citrus cookies from my Reader. I want to take a nibble of all of them! You’d love the lemon bars since you love citrus cookies!
And yes re the biscotti. It tastes like coffee. And then you have weird white crumbly stuff in your coffee :( Not a fan. Haha!
This is a very unique recipe for lemon bars! My mom always used powdered sugar in the crust and it makes such a wonderful difference in texture. I have never seen half and half and vanilla added to the filling but I am SO wanting to try this now. Sounds wonderful! Thanks so much for stopping by my site today :)
It adds just a tiny bit of creaminess and as a nice bonus, allows the egg requirement to go down a bit. Some bars are just jam packed! I almost didn’t add vanilla but there is almost no dessert on earth that I could think of that a bit of vanilla didn’t enhance…but that’s me. I love my vanilla! Your bars looked amazing. I love how thick the crust was, not skimpy :) And the filling, mmm!
I adore lemons bars. I’ll have to give your recipe a try.
Can’t wait to try these, my husband loves lemon bars, but I just haven’t found a recipe I like. Love the styling on your first photo of this post and LOVE that plate, so pretty. :-)
Thanks, Sarah! It was a rare one-item-only at Target about 4 years ago. They had that ONE plate. I bought it. And have never seen anything so cute there since (or that looks like an Anthro knockoff!)
Hello, Goldilocks! I love lemon bars anytime of year. They’re so refreshing and zingy, and these made-from-scratch bars you’ve whipped up look positively heavenly!
those are just gorgeous girl!
so pretty and that yellow is exactly like sunshine!
oh i do love lemon bars also and your looks like a winner. it is as you say very hard to find a good one. and who does need 7 eggs for a recipe that goes in a small pan???? however, i am not a big fan of shortbread crust or the whole stick of butter that goes in them and your recipe actually use less than many others i have seen. any thoughts on a different crust? perhaps an oatmeal one or one made with unsweetened applesauce to replace some of the butter? or maybe even coconut oil? now that might combine well with the lemon ….
Well I gave them the tile THE BEST lemon bars for a reason. I truly believe they are the best I’ve ever had and wouldn’t change a thing. If you read my descriptions of this crust based on the typical shortbread crust, you’ll know why I like this one and many others fall short. So I personally wouldn’t change a thing and I really don’t think applesauce can replace butter in this crust. You could do an oatmeal crust but that’s not the traditional lemon bar I was looking for but have fun playing around!
I love lemon things. My MIL makes a KILLER lemon curd.
Do you bake everyday, or do you bake up a bunch at once?
Hi, Averie! I am so so so excited about these! I love lemon bars. LOVE. I’m with you though… no one single dessert recipe should ever ever include 7 eggs. That’s bananas. Thanks!
lemon bars are one of my favorite desserts! I’m surprised the Best New Recipe version was so heavy. That’s one of my favorite cookbooks as well.
Every once in awhile they take something that really shouldn’t be complicated, and they do kind of…complicate it. I totally trust that the results were/are worth it, but sometimes based on health or time-investment, I have to bypass their recipes. I wish I could have just a bite of theirs though to see what it tastes like!
P.S. Are there any alternative versions of the lemon bars? love to free-style a recipe…
Google for what you’re looking for – maybe something will hit you!
Averie, glad to reconnect in the new year, after 3 weeks of away-of-it-all vacation.
Love these bars! Magnificient pictures.
Will make them this weekend:-) with French ingredients, and 100% organic:-)
Will report on the result.
All the best from Europe!!
I’m very particular about my lemon bars too. I tried a condensed milk version one and it was god-awful.
Your version looks amazing though. It’s definitely a must-try in my book!
I saw that version and versions of that version…and I steered clear. Good thing based on your reaction, too!
Awesome! My grandmother used to make these all the time and no one in my family knows the recipe because she never wrote anything down. I’m going to totally blow them away at the next dinner! Thank you!
Well please keep me posted if you try them!
are you like in my head? my favorite things to eat…. your prior post – the one hour pretzels and i said i love me some soft pretzels…now lemon bars…lemon bars are by far my favorite desert. i barely ever make since i am always disappointed…but now that YOU created your own. and you said they are the bEST this is it! i know it!!!!
I am so picky when it comes to them because they can be a real disappointment and I promise, these are worth it and they come together easily!
Those are some seriously beautiful lemon bars for sure. Is there anything better than lemon?
lemon bars are one of my all time favorite recipes – good ones are a bit hard to find – most I find way to sweet. Your bars look perfect
totally agree – I love lemon desserts, but if there isn’t enough lemon tartness and flavour they aren’t great! But definitely don’t want them so tart you don’t want to eat them. My grandma was a real lover of lemon desserts, especially lemon meringue (something I’m afraid of trying!) these look delicious =)
Balance is key, you’re so right!
I swear we must have hung out together in another life. I have been tweaking my lemon bar recipe this whole week, and haven’t yet posted it or made it to perfection! You and I are on the same page with the food lately!! First bread, then pretzels and now lemon bars. I am so loving this!! :) Your lemon bars look amazing!!! Love your recipe!!
Ok well now I can’t wait to see what you come up with!
Oh my gosh, Averie… I could eat an entire tray of these perfect lemon bars.
My mouth is puckering in anticipation. Good thing I still have a whole bag (like, a HUGE bag) of lemons left!
Really? That’s good. I have a huge bag of grapefruit I’m trying to use up!
These look wonderful, love the strong use of lemon – yum!
Lemon bars are one of my favorite treats. Totally agree that you have to achieve the right balance of sweet and tart. No bitterness ever. My fave lemon bar is Ina Garten’s. They’re insanely delicious.
I remember seeing those but I think I ruled them out on account of insane egg usage? :) Can’t remember but there was a reason!
1/2 cup of lemon juice for an 8-inch pan recipe!! Thank you! ♥ You get it. :D (I can’t express how disappointing it is to bite into a lemon bar that has only a trace of lemon.)
My favourite lemon bar recipe (so far) is one that I found on Fine Cooking’s site, but yours sounds like my kind of lemon bar! Beautiful plate too!
1/2 cup isn’t even ‘that’ much…I mean, yes, but I was reading some recipes that call for 2 tbsp. My tastebuds don’t even process that! It’s like if I wanted a blondie, sugar cookie, snickerdoodle or some other light colored dessert, I’d have one. But lemon bars need to POP! And then the 2 tsp of zest helps!
The plate was SUCH a diamond in the rough find from…Target! About 4 years ago. They had ONE plate, I bought it, and I’ve never seen anything as Anthro-inspired ever since. Bummer. Because I love that plate, too!
Averie, I have yet to try lemon bars! I don’t know what is taking me so long, but these look irresistible :) Will have to use this recipe, thanks!
I totally love lemon bars and I think the base is just as important as the lemon. I really like Joy the Baker’s recipe and sometimes add rosemary or thyme. My 2 year old also loves to eat lemon slices and always laughs hysterically when he tries them…too funny!
You 6 year old with the cherries and Shirley Temples and your 2 year old with the lemons….they would definitely get along with my almost 6 year old!
I actually saw Joy’s recipe after I made these. Not sure why it wasn’t coming up in my early searches. Good to know you really love it and yes, the base is SO important. Otherwise the whole thing just tastes off!
Reading your posts are such a treat. I love hearing about your thought process, often nodding in agreement with you (for example, my favourite shortbreads are made with corn starch, I’m extremely picky with lemon tarts, I love a thicker shortbread base, and it is IS hard to get that perfect balance of tart ‘n sweet). These bars are so gorgeous – love that bright vibrant yellow colour. My husband would go bonkers for these.
I am so glad you love the post and the process. I like to spell out why I did A, B, and C and what my goals were and why I chose what I did. Sometimes I make things and just toss things in knowing they’ll work out reasonably well, but with these, every choice was measured b/c I am very picky about my lemon bars :) That’s good to know you also use cornstarch in your shortbreads. That was a first for me!
These look soooo perfect. Lemon Bars are my absolute favorite cake/bar and I love the lemon to just make you pucker with sour then take you bake with the powdered sugar. These look perfect for me :)
And thanks for the Pin/comment, too! Glad you like them!
Lemon desserts are one of my very favorite things, and with that shortbread crust, these look absolutely perfect!
So often, lemon bars are just sugar bombs that taste vaguely of lemon. I like mine to scream lemon and whisper sweetness. Lemon juice, zest, AND extract? Bomb. I love lemon extract and use it in so many things- including savory dishes. Lemon….so good in any season.
I do love lemon bars! I’ve not tried cornstarch in the crust before, but that’s an interesting tip! So pretty too, pinned ya back. ;)
So weird – sometimes I get notifications from Pinterest saying I had a pin, sometimes I don’t. I can never figure out technology randomness but thanks for the pin!
WOW, Averie, these are GORGEOUS! I’m hosting a baby shower later this spring and our colors are navy, light blue, and YELLOW… this looks like the absolute perfect dessert to make!
Oh they would be PERFECT for a shower. I almost wrote in the post, these are baby shower, bridal shower, and tea-time food. But then thought well that’s sort of limiting; but really my first thought WAS baby shower food!
I know what you mean about biscotti. I always had to drench it in my coffee to enjoy it but then my coffee was full of wet biscotti. Ew.
Lemon has been my favorite flavor for ages. In yesterday’s post I mentioned how I always got a pretzel for lunch and that was coupled with a lemon sorbet. It always satisfies my taste buds. Amazingly, last night Simeon asked me if I would please make a lemon dessert. No, I’m not kidding. (How often does that happen with your recipes??!) He is like Skylar…he will eat whole lemons and LOVES all lemon sorbet. I’ll make this for him, cornstarch and all because he’s not allergic. Awesome recipe! :-)
Lol at your first sentence but 100% true!! And you can totally omit the cornstarch in the crust for allergen purposes, it will just be a little firmer. And Simeon has proven time and time again, he’s psychic. FOR REAL!
when averie says it’s the best… you know it’s the best! these look wonderful, Averie and I can tell you took your time setting up each gorgeous square so beautifully in each shot. And the gorgeous sprinkles powdered sugar on top reminds me of the salt “sprinkles” from yesterday. :) I love lemon desserts and lime desserts for that matter(love key lime pie!). I’ve only ever seen lemon bars with a shocking amount of eggs, like you mentioned. Its refreshing to see that they can be made, and made well, with a reduced amount. That shortbread crust is calling to me right now, especially with the beloved cornstarch added in!
Sally yes, you know me so well! If I say it’s the best, I mean, I am done searching and can write the recipe off and file it as done on my life’s bucket list. Thanks for the photo compliments. These were HARD to shoot. Much harder than I even thought. The bright bright yellow, the white, the shiny surface (all are glare city) as well as the semi-opaque filling (can look blurry), contrasted with a crust that could possibly flake apart (but thankfully didnt) and then the dark wood/light bars….yes, between the recipe itself and the shoot, I set myself up for a nice challenge :) But it was worth it!
LOVE that you used lemon extract as well. I always rely on zest and juice to give it that great lemon flavor but can imagine how extract gives it that added oomph! Delicious and gorgeous pictures as always!
Yay, you’re back up! Everything looks as lovely as ever!
Balance with lemon bars is key. I don’t like ones that are too sweet. Here’s my version:
No lemon extract, but they still have good lemon flavor.
I am super picky about my lemon bars too! I have made many different recipes, and ended up with a hybrid of my own that I thought was perfect. Well, now you have sent me back to the drawing board with this one! I can’t wait to try these, and as soon as I lose my holiday weight (haha), I am making these!
Well if you do try these, come back and LMK how they stack up!
Lemon bars are one of my most favorite sweet treats. Ever!
But you COULD lug out your mixer if you wanted to… right? Heh… I’ve been coming up with all sorts of crazy things to make just so I can use my new mixer! Great bars, Averie ;)
Oh that’s right, you just got one! Well I’ve been posting 1 cookie recipe a week for the past couple months…you could start with those :) Or BREAD! Put that dough hook on and have fun!
Ha! I’m the SAME way with lemon bars. Last summer I tried 4 times to make an IPA lemon bar and I never got it “postable.” Just was never the right balance. And this look exactly like what I was trying to accomplish. Perfect!
I researched these Jackie before I ever started cooking like you can’t believe. I mean when I say I must have cross-referenced 50 recipes from cookbooks, blogs, etc…not even kidding. I am glad they look like what you were trying to achieve. I got my wish and they’re what I tried to achieve!
Once again, we are on the same wavelength! I’m posting lemon bars tomorrow :). These look relish, the flavor sounds perfectly balanced and I love that you added a little vanilla!
Oops, meant delish, of course! :)
I almost didn’t and then tasted the batter and at gametime, went with it. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!
I am VERY into lemon desserts lately. And you will be actually scared by the amount of egg yolks i had to include in the ice cream I’m posting on Friday. But….regardless. Obviously I need these in my life. The sweet-tart sounds fabulous!
Well I’m sure it will be worth it…and you probably had plenty of egg white omeletes this week in the process :)
These look (and I bet taste) just like the lemon bars I used to have from my favorite bakery at home. They are the perfect combo of lemon-y tartness and sweetness from the crust. Cannot wait to give these a whirl!
Thanks and they have that good old fashioned bakery quality I was going for. Hope you get to try them!
I don’t generally crave lemony foods in the winter, but I have been wanting more refreshing foods lately. I haven’ trade lemon bars in a while, but I wonder if I could veganize these using agar or arrowroot for the filling. I will find out!
I don’t really crave them per se either but it is citrus season and I decided to go with it!
Loooove these! I’m a total sucker for all things lemon. Ps, your site isn’t working for me. I see the words, pics and it allowed me to add a comment, but nothing else shows. Gah, mine has issues this week too. So frustrating!
How pretty is that color! Do you know if there’s a way for me to pick the bars off my screen?!?! Sorta salivating over here… ~slurp~
I LOVE lemon bars. I have never made them but this looks very tempting.
Okay, would you please stop posting recipes for foods I absolutely love like soft pretzels and lemon squares and cookie butter and microwave caramels? My pre-meno pot (translation: premenopausal belly, can be confused for a beer belly) can’t take it anymore.
I’ve been making this Cooking Light recipe http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/easy-lemon-squares-10000000222664/ for lemon bars since the late 90’s and I really enjoy it. Cooking Light calls for three eggs and a third cup of lemon juice. But I like the idea of putting in more juice so I’ll have to try yours.
Oh that recipe has lots of promise and I saw that one in my research. I reduced an egg and added more lemon juice. And just going by that photo of theirs, it looks a little bit dry (but it could just be the photo) but mine are moister than that. If you try my version, would love to know how you think the two compare!
Averie, I can see why you would call these sweet treats the best :) Little nibbles of sunshine :)
They were so good! I bet you would like them. They remind me of something you’d enjoy!
I love knowing that you are like Goldilocks with your lemon bars! I always find it fascinating learning what people are more selective about… and I totally get why these are Goldilocks approved: I think the zest is what makes it. Lovely lemon bars, Averie!
Well I’m super picky about EVERYTHING I make/bake but with these there were so many possible pitfalls, issues, etc to solve so it made for a fun research project of sorts. Not something I want to do every day but I like a good challenge like this for myself sometimes!
Averie, can I come over to taste test it? I am sure it’s really good! :) I haven’t tried a lemon bar I liked so much to get a second bite, and the fact that I don’t like sweets has nothing to do with it. I love lemons and add lemon juice and zest almost in anything I cook. I even made a tiramisu yesterday and snicked a dash of lemon zest in it! :) To me you can’t spoil anything with the lemon. From your photo I can tell I’d like a second bite, and even a third. Oh well, I’ll have a whole piece of that not too sweet and not too tart, and I may even have a cup of coffee with it! :)
You’d love these. They are everything you always talk about, not too sweet, lemony, etc!
Your pictures are gorgeous! I rarely think to make lemon/citrus desserts, but when I do I’m always pleasantly surprised at how much I like them. I’m a chocoholic at heart, but lemon bars, lemon pudding, or lemon *anything* is a much needed, refreshing break from dense, rich chocolate. So glad you created the perfect recipe! Keeping this one in mind for when I need a break from chocolate overload.
“I’m a chocoholic at heart, but lemon bars, lemon pudding, or lemon *anything* is a much needed, refreshing break from dense, rich chocolate” <--- me too on all accounts! I don't normally go for something like this if there was chocolate around but trying to lighten things up this time of year and embrace citrus season was the plan!
We love lemon bars! My neighbor (who happens to be a huge baker like you) has a Meyer lemon tree that is going crazy with lemons. She has been dropping off lemons on my doorstep everyday along with batches of lemon bars, because that is one of John’s favorite desserts. Your bars look perfect and when my neighbor gets tired of making lemon bars, I will have a great recipe to use to make John some. xoxo, Jackie
I used to live in a house with a huge!!! lemon tree as well as a Meyer lemon tree and had more lemons than I knew what to do with but never really embraced them like I should have. If you try this recipe, would love to know your thoughts since it seems you guys know your lemons/lemon bars!
Oh my! I love, love, love lemon bars! These looks like perfection to me.
Those lemon bars are making me drool! How do you get your photos so vibrant??
In editing, I kick up the saturation a bit because with pale yellow, if I don’t, it just gets washed out on screen. I try to just do it very slightly and not make it look artificial but it’s hard with light colors to find that balance. I try to make them look on the screen exactly how they looked in person and the color on screen IS what they looked like. Nice and yellow!
They are gorgeous indeed. I too am picky about lemon bars. I don’t like them too sweet and the crust has to crumbly and not soggy at all. Nice work!
I love lemons period. I’m the weirdo that steals your lemon from your tea or water glass if you’re not using it so I can eat it. Plain. I can’t remember the last time I had a lemon bar though. Reminds me of the yummy insides of a lemon meringue pie.
Yes it IS sort of like inside of a lemon meringue pie but b/c of the zest, it’s not quite as smooth and custardy but along those lines. If you like lemon, I bet you’d love these!
I shy away from sour tastes–I never buy grapefruit or citrus fruits related to it and I generally go for clementines or tangelos when I do buy citrus. So, I’ve never made lemon bars but I have tried them and liked the ones that are sweet enough (no surprise there with my sweet tooth, huh?!?). My husband adores lemon bars–I know he’d love these and I think I would too (the crust to filling ratio looks great)! The shortbread is a sweeter version of my favorite pie crust–I use a little powdered sugar rather than granulated.
I don’t normally go for something like this if there was chocolate or other things around, but trying to lighten things up this time of year and embrace citrus season was the plan. And my daughter loves sour things and she had never had lemon bars, so figured, what the heck! The shortbread crust, if nothing else, was a good experiment and one to have in my arsenal. Loved it and will be very versatile!
okay…LOVE lemon bars.
I LOVE lemon bars! One of my favorite treats to make. Hmmmm, now that I think about it, I don’t know if I ever posted my recipe….I’ll have to look back! thanks for sharing Averie!
I was shocked a few weeks ago when I was on your site and realized all the orange and citrus recipes you have. Seriously so many – I was impressed!
Ha, you beat me to it – I was just about to say that your fillings ingredient-list and the photos made it look like some sort of yummy lemony custard, which I can definitely get behind. You are the bar QUEEN.
It’s very lemon custardy, with a bit of texture from the zest. So good! Bar queen, yep that’s me!
You’re right about lemon bars–they’ve got to be made “right”. These look just like the ones I love–that my Mom used to make. Whenever I see lemon bars now, they just aren’t the same. Not enough lemon! They tend to be too floury and dry. These sounds perfect!
There are so many issues and pitfalls that can plague lemon bars and I tried to overcome them all! If you ever need a recipe like the ones your mom probably used to make, I have a feeling these are very similar. They remind me of the ones my grandma used to make.