Classic Lemon Bars are luscious, zesty, and pack a punch of tart lemon flavor and sweetness (the perfect combination) that’s irresistibly delicious! These Lemon Squares are made with a thick, buttery crisp shortbread crust and have a dense and tasty lemon filling. If you love a lemon dessert, these chewy bars are the perfect lemon dessert bars.
The Best Lemon Bars
This easy Lemon Bars recipe is the perfect dessert for the lemon lovers out there. This recipe has the perfect amount of lemon for a sweet and tart dessert.
These easy Lemon Bars are a classic dessert with a zesty lemon filling and a buttery crust. They are great for potlucks, picnics, holidays, parties, get-togethers, bake sales, and more. You really don’t NEED a reason to whip up a batch of these Classic Lemon Bars.
If these dessert bars sound like the perfect kind of dessert that you want to serve to family and friends, then I have two other dessert bar recipes that you should try. If you like banana cake, try these Banana Cake Bars with Homemade Cream Cheese Frosting.
Maybe a cookie dessert bar is more for you? Try this Raisin Spice Bars cookie recipe!
They’ve been around for decades and this traditional dessert really has stood the test of time. Lemon Bars truly are an easy dessert to make and you know that your family and friends will devour the whole batch of them in no time.
The lemon filling is bursting with zesty lemon flavor from all of the delicious lemon zest and lemon juice used in the filling. It’s a nice pop of lemon flavor with each bite of one of these yummy Lemon Bars.
How to Make the Best Lemon Bar Recipe
Make the Buttery Shortbread Crust
• Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 9″x13” baking dish with parchment paper and lightly spray with baking spray. Set aside.
• In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar and salt.
• Add to a food processor. Add in butter and shortening, and add the vanilla. Pulse until mixture is a crumbly, coarse meal.
• Transfer the crust dough into the prepared baking dish and press down evenly. Poke holes in the crust dough with a fork or sharp knife to help release air while baking.
• Place the baking dish into the preheated oven on the middle rack and bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown.
• Once baked, remove from the oven and pace on a wire cooling rack to cool while you prepare the lemon filling.
Make the Lemon Curd Filling
• Keep the oven preheated to 350° F. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or paddle attachment, combine sugar and lemon zest and mix until well incorporated.
• Stream in the fresh lemon juice and continue mixing until combined. Add vanilla and mix until incorporated.
• Pour the lemon mixture filling into the prebaked crust and place into the preheated oven on the middle rack. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the center is almost set.
• Once baked, remove from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack to let it completely cool.
• When the lemon bars have completely cooled on the wire rack, cover with plastic wrap and place the cooled bars into the fridge to let chill for 2 hours.
• Once chilled, remove from the fridge and dust the top of the bars with powdered sugar and top with lemon slices before serving (optional).
Why Line the Baking Dish with Parchment Paper?
- Maybe this seems like an unnecessary step to some, but lining the bottom of the prepared baking pan with parchment paper that comes up past the crust and filling levels, helps give you something to hold on to like a handle to remove the dessert from the dish. This is so you can cut the bars up easily and remove them without them falling apart as easily.
- It’s also nice to help with cleanup, you don’t have as much to clean off the bottom of the pan, which is always a win!
How to Avoid a Dry Lemon Bar Crust
• When you’re making your crust for your dessert bars, you may find that your crust seems too dry and won’t come together.
• Try using some light hand kneading to help the crust form. If that still doesn’t do the trick, try adding one to two teaspoons of milk or water to the crust mixture, just enough to help the dough form.
How to Cut Clean and Pretty Lemon Bars?
- Ever wonder why some dessert bars look so pretty and nice, and some look like a 5-year-old tried to cut and serve them? The secret is how you cut them, and what you use!
- I highly recommend running your cutting knife under warm water for a minute or so, then wiping it dry, before making your first slice into the homemade lemon bars.
- Wipe the knife down with a moist paper towel after each cut through the dessert bars so you can wipe off anything that may still be on the knife after cutting through.
- Always wait until the dessert has cooled down and been chilled long enough before cutting them into bars.
Classic Lemon Bars Tips and Variations
- Don't want to use shortening? No worries, just use some melted butter in place of it.
- I think a glass pan works better than metal.
- Don’t want to use shortening? No worries, just use some melted butter in place of it.
- Use freshly squeezed lemon juice if possible, it really brings that nice bright, pop of color you want with these Lemon Bars.
- For a more tart lemon filling use a little less sugar and a little more lemon zest.
- Even though the vanilla extract isn’t always a common ingredient added to the shortbread crust, but, trust me, it is definitely necessary and will take your bars up to the next level.
- For a slight subtle change in taste, substitute orange zest and a fresh-squeezed orange juice to the filling mixture to make Orange Bars. Other options to try would be grapefruit or limes.
- Mixing the sugar and lemon zest together before adding in any of the other filling ingredients isn’t an absolutely necessary step, but it is a good idea. It allows the lemon zest to release all the oils into the sugar, which really elevates this dessert!
- Do not worry if the top of the dessert bars starts to turn a slight golden color, or if they start to get air bubbles while baking, that is normal and they’ll still turn out just fine once they cool.
What to Serve With Traditional Lemon Bars
Luscious Lemon Bars are the perfect addition to your dessert table. If you’re going with a theme, for say a baby shower, or bridal shower, you could also include some other lemon desserts, like Lemon Meringue Pie, Lemon Pudding Cookies, or Easy Lemon Snack Cake.
More Tasty Easy Dessert Recipes
How to Store Lemon Bars
Classic Lemon Bars can be kept in an airtight covered container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Lemon Bars are incredibly delicious and easy to make. They have a nice pop of zesty, tangy lemon flavor from fresh lemons that adds a pop of zing with each bite!
If you make these wonderful lemon dessert bars please let me know. You can leave a comment with a star rating below. I would love to know how you liked them!
- 9"x13" baking dish
- 2 ½ cups Flour
- ⅔ cup Sugar
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 1 cup Butter + 2 Tablespoons
- 2 Tablespoons Shortening
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- 2 ½ cups Sugar
- 2 teaspoons Lemon Zest
- ½ cup Flour
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 5 Eggs + 3 Yolks
- 1 ¼ cups Lemon Juice
- ½ teaspoon Vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 9"x13” baking dish with parchment paper and lightly spray with baking spray. Set aside.
- In a food processor combine flour, sugar and salt. Add in butter and shortening and pulse until crumbly. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
- Transfer the crust dough into the prepared baking dish and press down evenly. Poke holes in the crust dough with a fork or sharp knife to help release air while baking.
- Place the baking dish into the preheated oven on the middle rack and bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown. Once baked, remove from the oven and pace on a wire cooling rack to cool.
- Make the filling.
- Keep the oven preheated to 350° F. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine sugar and lemon zest and mix until well incorporated.
- Add in the flour and salt and mix to combine. While the mixer is running, add the eggs one at a time, letting each egg get incorporated before adding the next one.
- Stream in the lemon juice and continue mixing until combined. Add vanilla and mix until incorporated.
- Pour the filling mixture into the prebaked crust and place into the preheated oven on the middle rack. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the center is almost set.
- Once baked, remove from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack to let it completely cool.
- Once the lemon bars have completely cooled, cover with plastic wrap and place into the fridge to let chill for 2 hours.
- Once chilled, remove from the fridge and dust with powdered sugar and top with lemon slices before serving.