These classic lemon bars are at the same time sweet and tart and have the most delicious, tender crust with a lightly crisp top that sandwiches the custardy center.
The Best Lemon Bar Recipe
I started making this lemon bar recipe when I was about about 12 years old and have made it each and every Christmas since. That’s a lot of holidays, especially since they’re also a perfect springtime recipe too. Being a lemon head, they were always my favorite, but since I’m not one to pigeon hole a recipe, I’ll joyfully eat them any day of the year.
I was never sure where this lemon bar recipe came from until recently, when I was leafing through my sweet grandma Mary Jane’s recipe cards and discovered one titled “LaVon’s Lemon Bars.” LaVon was my grandma’s best friend, and like all best friends, swapping recipes between besties is as much on the regular as swapping gossip, which I bet they were pretty good at too.
So since you and me, well we’re friends too! So here I go, swapping this recipe with you.
Lemon Bars Ingredients
Making homemade lemon bars couldn’t be easier, nor could the ingredients list be shorter. Here’s all you’ll need to make this lemon bars recipe:
- All-purpose flour
- Powdered sugar
- Granulated sugar
- Lemon juice and zest (I like using Meyer lemons when I can find them)
- Baking powder
How to Make Lemon Bars
First, bake the powdered sugar shortbread crust. Use a pastry blender to work the powdered sugar, cold butter, and 2 cups of the flour together until it’s the texture of cornmeal. Work it baby, work it! Press into the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan and bake until golden.
Next, prepare the custard. While the crust bakes, use a hand whisk or an electric mixer to beat the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Sift the remaining flour and baking powder into the wet mixture and mix well.
Top the hot crust with the lemon juice, egg, and sugar mixture. While the crust is hot from the oven, evenly pour the custard mix over it then bake for 20 minutes or so longer.
Completely cool before dusting with powder sugar. Allow these easy lemon bars to fully cool before dusting with powdered sugar and cutting so the powdered sugar doesn’t melt into the warm cookie.
What’s the Difference Between Meyer Lemons and Regular Lemons?
Meyer lemons are tart like regular lemons, but taste sweeter than the Eureka variety most commonly found at the grocery store. The taste is a little bit like a cross between a lemon and an orange.
If you can’t find Meyer lemons in your grocery store, and don’t happen to have one in your neighborhood that’s producing fruit at just the perfect reachable height (hey, I’m not suggesting anything…), sub half of the lemon juice with fresh orange juice and you’ll see what I mean.
Or go ahead and use regular lemons for extra tartness.
Tips for Making the Best Lemon Bars
These lemon bars have the hint of a crackling top from the sugars caramelizing in the heat. The top compliments the cookie crust and balances the sweet yellow custard in the middle.
While some recipes call for the shortbread crust to go up the sides of the pan (about half an inch seems pretty standard) I prefer less crust, so I just press it into the bottom of the pan. But you can certainly do either to your liking.
Oven times vary, so set your timer about 5 minutes earlier than the time recommend to check if your filling is set. A toothpick should come out mostly clean when stuck in the middle of the custard filling.
Do Lemon Bars Need to Be Refrigerated?
Lemon Bars are fine to leave out for several hours, but If storing for longer, store in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days, if they last that long!
Can You Freeze Lemon Bars?
Yes! Wrap the lemon bars tightly in plastic wrap then store in gallon size freezer bags for up to 2 months.
More Classic Dessert Recipes to Master
- Mom’s Homemade Easy Fudge Recipe
- Easy Creme Brulee
- German Chocolate Cake
- Milk Bar’s Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Blueberry Buckle with Lemon Glaze
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
The Best Clasic Lemon Bars
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour , divided
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup cold butter , (2 sticks)
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice* , (I love Meyer lemons)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Prepare a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
- Cream the powdered sugar and butter in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add 2 cups of the flour and beat on medium speed until it looks like cornmeal. Press into the bottom of the prepared baking pan and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden.
- Beat the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice in a large bowl either by hand or with an electric mixer. Sift the reserved ½ cup flour and baking powder into the mixture and mix well.
- Pour over the hot crust and return to the oven to bake for another 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned and the center is set. Check for doneness at 20 minutes, and add on more time as needed.
- Cool completely on a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar when completely cool, cut and serve.
More Lemon Recipes You’ll Love
- Meyer Lemon Tart
- Lemon Poppyseed Bread with Cranberries
- Sweet and Sticky Glazed Lemon Buns
- Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
- Berry Tart with Lemon Curd Mascarpone
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Nice recipe and they are very pretty. Loved the crust and the fact it didn’t get soggy. Glad I used only 1 1/2 cups sugar as they would have been WAY to o sweet. They weren’t very lemony (used my Meyers from the tree. It is March, so they are at their end of season here in Northern Calif , so that may have been why. I will be making them again Sunday (lol today was a test run). So I will use combo of Eureka & Meyers and maybe a splash more lemon juice (hubby says to use 1/2 c vs 1/3c juice, but I feel it may effect the thickening so will just use a splash extra of the Eureka). Otherwise is a good recipe and very easy. Husband did like them, just not as lemony as we are used to. Thank you for the recipe.
I made these this morning using fresh meyer lemons from my MIL’s tree. I used 1/4 less sugar in the filling, and subbed half the flour in the crust for almond flour. They came out so good! I’ll make more and freeze for the next time we see my MIL.
Yum, making these soon! There’s a picture of zesting lemons, but don’t see zest in the recipe. I’m sure it’s delicious with or without. Thank you.