Easy Lemon Bars That Anyone Can Make

A fresh batch of sunny lemon bars is an easy dessert to whip up for weekend guests, a holiday, or just because. The zingy lemon flavor from the juice and zest, when combined with the sweet crust, makes this a huge favorite for lemon lovers. Recipe developer Kate Shungu of Gift of Hospitality shares this recipe that takes just 15 minutes to prepare and 40 minutes to bake, so you'll have an incredibly tangy, sweet dessert ready to serve and enjoy in no time at all.

"These lemon bars are for all the lemon fans! They have a bright, fresh lemon flavor and they're sweet, but not overly so. The lemon juice balances out the sugar nicely," Shungu says. Of course, there are many tasty lemon recipes out there, including the classic lemon meringue pie, lemon cake, lemon butter cookies, lemon tart, and lemon poppy seed muffins, but nothing quite compares to this lemon bar recipe. With how little prep time it takes to put these treats together, you'll be amazed at how incredible they taste.

Gather up the ingredients for lemon bars

To whip up this delicious dessert, you will need all-purpose flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, salt, unsalted butter, granulated sugar, eggs, fresh lemon juice, and lemon zest. According to Shungu, the cornstarch is used to help make the crust and keep it tender and flaky. She also recommends squeezing fresh lemons for this recipe and not substituting lemon juice out of a bottle. "The flavor of bottled lemon juice isn't as bright or lemon-like as fresh juice," she says.

If someone in your home follows a gluten-free diet, it's possible to substitute gluten-free flour for the all-purpose flour. "I haven't tried it myself, but I suspect that using a cup-for-cup gluten-free flour would work for this recipe," Shungu says.

Prepare the crust

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, line a 13x9-inch pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. If using aluminum foil, be sure to spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray first. This, of course, will help prevent the bars from sticking when serving. 

In a large bowl, combine 1¾ cup of flour, ⅔ cup of powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons of cornstarch, 12 tablespoons of softened, unsalted butter, and ½ teaspoon of salt. Mix those ingredients together on the medium setting with an electric mixer until the butter is thoroughly incorporated in pea-sized lumps. Shungu notes that the dough will be quite crumbly.

Press the dough firmly into your prepared 13x9-inch pan. You can use the back of a metal spoon to help smooth it out across the pan for a uniform look. Bake the crust for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the edges turn a beautiful golden brown. Be sure not to overcook it.

Prepare the lemon filling

Now, your focus should be on preparing the deliciously zesty lemon filling. While the crust is in the oven, combine 2 cups of granulated sugar, 6 eggs, 1 cup of lemon juiced extracted from 5 or 6 large lemons, the zest of 1 lemon, 6 tablespoons of all-purpose flour, and ⅛ teaspoon of salt. Be sure to whisk everything together until the mixture is perfectly smooth. Set the bowl aside, and move on to the next step.

Poke holes in the crust once it's done baking

When the crust is done baking, remove it from the oven and poke holes in it with a fork. If you've never employed this method before, just know it's important to not skip this step as it helps the lemon filling stick to the crust. "I use this trick for any recipe with a shortbread crust and a filling/topping. There's nothing worse than a bar falling apart as you're eating it! Poking holes with a fork increases the amount of surface area for the lemon filling to stick to, which makes the two layers stick together well," Shungu explains.

Add the lemon filling, bake, then let the bars cool

Pour the lemon filling over the crust while the base is still warm. Then, slide the pan back into the oven to bake for 20 to 24 more minutes, or until the filling sets nicely. These delectable lemon bars should cool to room temperature once removed from the oven, then be placed in the refrigerator to cool for at least two hours. It's important that the lemon bar filling has the chance to become firm, because they definitely won't serve well soupy!

Cut the lemon bars into squares, and serve up

As you dream of biting into a lemon bar once it's ready, clean up the kitchen. Then, turn your attention back to the bars. Before serving, dust the top of the lemon bars with powdered sugar, and cut into squares. This recipe makes 15 bars.

Once the lemon bars are ready to serve, you can slip one onto a plate, and serve it to a guest who has popped by for the holidays or a special occasion. They'd make a beautiful dessert served at a baby shower or for Easter brunch. Or, if you're a huge fan of lemon bars and anything lemon, simply sit down with a fork and the pan, and dig in.

"I love serving lemon bars to guests. Their bright yellow color looks beautiful on a dessert display or as part of a cookie tray. To plate them individually, place a lemon bar on a plate and dust it with powdered sugar right on the plate," Shungu says.

Easy Lemon Bars That Anyone Can Make
4.9 from 28 ratings
A fresh batch of sunny lemon bars is an easy dessert to whip up for weekend guests, a holiday, or just because you're craving something sweet.
Prep Time
15
minutes
Cook Time
40
minutes
Servings
15
bars
lemon bars stacked
Total time: 55 minutes
Ingredients
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1¾ cup + 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
  • ⅔ cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ½ + ⅛ teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 cup lemon juice (from about 5 to 6 large lemons)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Powdered sugar, to serve
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 13x9-inch pan with parchment paper or foil. If using foil, spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine 1¾ cup of all-purpose flour, ⅔ cup of powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons of cornstarch, ½ teaspoon of salt, and 12 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened. Mix on medium with an electric mixer until the butter is incorporated in pea-sized lumps (the dough will be quite crumbly).
  3. Press the dough firmly into the prepared 13x9-inch pan. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.
  4. While the crust is baking, combine 2 cups of granulated sugar, 6 eggs, 1 cup of lemon juice, lemon zest, 6 tablespoons of all-purpose flour, and ⅛ teaspoon of salt in a large bowl. Whisk together until smooth.
  5. Remove the crust from the oven, and poke holes in it with a fork (this helps the lemon filling stick to the crust). Pour the filling over the crust while it's still warm, then place back in the oven for 20 to 24 minutes, or until the lemon filling is set.
  6. Let the bars cool to room temperature, then place them in the refrigerator for at least two hours to chill. To serve, sprinkle the bars with powdered sugar, and cut into squares.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 310
Total Fat 11.1 g
Saturated Fat 6.4 g
Trans Fat 0.4 g
Cholesterol 88.4 mg
Total Carbohydrates 49.8 g
Dietary Fiber 0.6 g
Total Sugars 33.6 g
Sodium 235.4 mg
Protein 4.2 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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