Homemade Lemon Bars, also known as Lemon Squares, are a super sweet and tart bar cookie.
The base is a rich and delicious lemon shortbread. The top is a creamy and heavenly lemon custard layer. The ratio of lemon to shortbread is perfect. This is the best recipe you will find!
Why this recipe is the best:
This homemade lemon bars recipe is the best one you'll ever make!
- Simple ingredients: Lemons, eggs, butter, flour, and sugar are all that you'll need!
- Perfect balance between sweet and tart. These lemon bars are definitely more on the tart side. There is definitely a sweetness to them, but the sour punch hits you first. Sort of like a Lemon Head candy, only a million times better.
- Perfect size. I structured the recipe so that they would cook perfectly in a 9x9 inch square baking dish. There are a lot of recipes out there that call for a 9x13 inch baking dish that seem to produce squares that are thin. My preference is for thick, tall lemon bars.
- The best ratio. This easy lemon bars recipe has a thicker layer of lemon than shortbread. This was intentional because I really wanted the lemon layer to shine. I even added the lemon zest to the short bread crust to ensure every last morsel was overflowing with lip smacking make-your-mouth-pucker lemon flavor.
These are really easy to make. This recipe consists of two parts: the shortbread crust and the lemon layer.
- Butter: I always bake with unsalted butter since salt can always be added, if desired.
- All-purpose flour
- Lemon zest: I use a microplane which works perfectly to remove the zest
- All-purpose flour
- Eggs: Always use large, fresh, high quality eggs
- Lemon juice: Freshly squeezed is always recommended but bottled will work
How to make lemon bars:
Make the shortbread crust:
- To make a perfectly sweet yet light and flaky shortbread crust, you must start with room temperature butter that gets whipped until light and fluffy. Then you add in the sugar and beat the mixture until it is well mixed. Finally you'll add the flour and the lemon zest and mix just until all of the flour appears to be somewhat coated with the butter.
- Bake the crust until it just starts to turn golden brown. For me, this took 20 minutes.
Make the lemon filling:
- While the crust bakes, you can mix together the lemon layer ingredients.
- Pour the tart lemon custard layer right on top of the hot crust. Then continue baking in the oven for another 20-25 minutes.
Cooking tips for best results:
- Lemon zest and juice: Always zest your lemons before you juice them. If you juice them first, the zest will be more difficult to remove.
- Bake with parchment: Line a 9x9 pan with parchment paper, or a foil lined parchment, so that the finished bars easily lift out of the pan once done baking. This makes it easy to transfer them to a cutting board for easy cutting. Parchment paper also makes clean up a breeze.
- Make them pretty: Sweetened and dried lemon slices added during the final minutes of cooking make these delicious lemon bars even prettier. A dusting of powdered sugar is a must.
- Lemon varieties: Standard lemons that are available year round work well in this recipe. Meyer lemons are less acidic, slightly sweeter, and their zest is more aromatic. Overall they're better, however they aren't available year round and they tend to cost more.
Other favorite lemon recipes:
Can't get enough citrus? Try some of these recommendations.
- Lemon Lingonberry Jam Cake Roll - this was my first attempt at a cake roll, but it won't be my last. This cake not only has a beautiful presentation, but the taste and flavor are heavenly.
- Lemon Brulee Pie - This pie is a cross between rich creme brulee and a lemon merengue pie. In other words, it's the best of both worlds.
- Strawberry Rhubarb Lemonade - I consider this non-alcoholic beverage more of a summer time beverage. The best strawberries and rhubarb are only available during the summer.
- Creamy Meyer Lemon Pasta It's been too long since I've made this pasta. This meal is definitely not diet worthy, but worth every carb and calorie.
- No Bake Lemon Ladyfinger Cheesecake Another naughty recipe. I don't even want to think about how many steps I'd have to take to work off a slice of this. Again - worth it.
Homemade Lemon Bars
- ¾ cup butter (softened (12 tablespoons) )
- ⅜ cup granulated sugar
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
- zest from one lemon
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup all purpose flour
- 4 eggs (beaten)
- ⅔ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- sweetened dried lemon slices (optional)
- powdered sugar for dusting
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a medium bowl or your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat until well blended. Add flour and lemon zest and blend just until a crumb mixture forms. Press into the bottom of an ungreased parchment lined 9x9 inch pan.
- Bake shortbread for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until firm and golden.
- While the crust is cooking, whisk together the remaining 1 ½ cups sugar and ¼ cup flour in a separate bowl. Whisk in the eggs and lemon juice. Pour over the baked crust.
- Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes. If adding sweetened dried lemon slices, press them into the top a few minutes before the baking is complete. Remove from oven and allow bars to cool to room temperature. Transfer to the refrigerator and allow bars to chill. The bars will firm up as they cool. Remove from pan and cut into nine 3-inch squares for large lemon bars or 16 smaller 2-inch squares.