These Classic Lemon Bars feature an easy homemade shortbread crust and a sweet and tangy lemon filling. These bars are easy to make and perfect for lemon lovers!
Is there anything more beautiful than a lemon bar coated with a dusting of powdered sugar? I set out a few weekends ago to perfect this lemon bar recipe and it took some work. Not because these bars are hard to make, in fact, they’re actually really easy to make. But I wanted to find that perfect balance of sweet and lemony, but not too sweet and too lemony. Does that even make sense?
I’m happy to say that I feel like I finally cracked the lemon bar code! These bars are the perfect combination of sweet, tart, and boy are they delicious.
These bars start off with an easy shortbread crust, just a simple mixture of flour, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and butter. I found that adding a little cornstarch to the crust helps to keep it nice and soft. When you’re taking a bite out of a soft lemon filling, you want a soft shortbread crust for the base. The cornstarch in the crust helps to keep it nice and soft, but it’s still firm and holds up perfectly for these bars.
You will need to bake the crust for about 20-25 minutes before adding the filling. It won’t be completely firm, but remember you’ll be adding the lemon filling and baking that for another 20 minutes.
And that lemon filling? Oh my. I kept adjusting the lemon juice and sugar in the recipe to try to get the perfect balance. The first few batches were a little too lemony and a little too sweet. Delicious? Yes. But I just felt like they weren’t quite right. After several batches and adjustments, I feel like I finally found that perfect balance of sweet and tangy. Along with the lemon juice and sugar, you’ll also be using some eggs and a little flour to help thicken up the filling.
You will need to let the bars cool for an hour and then chill for at least 2 more hours. These bars are so perfect to make ahead of time or the night before you plan to serve them. Just be sure to sift a little powdered sugar on top right before serving for a beautiful and impressive dessert!
Classic Lemon Bars
For the crust:
- 1 and 3/4 cups (220 grams) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
- 1/4 cup (32 grams) cornstarch
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (230 grams) unsalted butter, softened
For the lemon filling:
- 1 and 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (32 grams) all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup (120ml) fresh lemon juice
To make the crust:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9x13 baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper, making sure to leave some overhang for easy removal, and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt. Cube the butter into smaller pieces and add to the flour mixture. Using a pastry cutter (or your hands) cut the butter into the mixture until it's crumbly and starts to come together. Scoop the mixture into the prepared baking pan and press it down into one even layer.
- Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes, or just until the top is set and edges are lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside. Keep oven temperature at 350°F.
To make the lemon filling:
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar and flour. Add in the eggs and lemon juice and mix until fully combined. Pour the lemon filling over the crust and return to the oven.
- Bake at 350°F for 18-22 minutes or until the lemon filling is set. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool for 1 hour, then cover tightly, and refrigerate for at least two hours. Sift powdered sugar on top, slice into bars, and enjoy!
Prep time includes 3 hours of cooling and chilling time.
Lemon bars may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.