These Classic Lemon Bars feature an easy homemade shortbread crust with 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 originally posted this homemade lemon bar recipe back in 2017. While it’s still the exact same delicious recipe, I’ve updated the post with more step pictures and better instructions so that you can easily master these lemon squares in your own kitchen.
The filling for these easy lemon bars is the perfect balance of sweet and tangy and it’s topped on an easy homemade shortbread crust that literally melts in your mouth. Since the bars need to be stored in the refrigerator, they’re also a wonderful recipe to prep ahead of time!
Ingredients For This Recipe
These homemade lemon squares have two components: the shortbread crust and the tart lemon filling. Here’s what we’ll use to make the shortbread crust:
- Flour: When it comes to measuring your flour, make sure to spoon it into the measuring cup and level it off with the back of a knife. Too much flour can lead to a super dry and crumbly crust.
- Granulated Sugar: There’s only 1/2 cup of sugar in the crust since the lemon filling uses some too.
- Cornstarch: The cornstarch is the secret ingredient that keeps the crust soft! If you don’t have any on hand, just replace it with an equal amount of flour.
- Salt: Since we’re using unsalted butter, you’ll want to add a little salt. If you’re using salted butter, just omit the salt completely.
- Unsalted Butter: You’ll want to set your butter out early so it can come to room temperature. Once you whisk together all of the dry ingredients above, you’ll cube the butter and cut it in with a pastry cutter or a fork until the mixture is nice and crumbly.
And for the filling, we’ll use:
- Granulated Sugar: I find that 1 and 1/2 cups is the perfect amount to make these bars sweet, but still maintain the tanginess. If you love super tangy bars, feel free to reduce the sugar slightly.
- Flour: This will help to thicken the filling so you can easily slice these into bars!
- Lemon Juice: You’ll need 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice, which is equal to about 4 medium lemons or 2-3 larger lemons.
- Eggs: It’s best to use room temperature eggs, so they’ll whisk together better. If you forget to set them out ahead of time, just place them in a bowl of warm water for about 10 minutes.
How To Make Lemon Bars
These classic lemon bars start off with an easy shortbread crust, which is just a simple mixture of flour, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and unsalted butter. Once you’ve mixed up the crust, you’ll press it into a 9×13-inch pan.
You will need to bake the crust for about 20-25 minutes before adding the filling. The top of the crust should be set and the edges should be lightly browned like the picture above. Once the crust is done, set it aside for 5-10 minutes while you prepare the lemon filling.
For the lemon filling that goes on top of the crust, you’ll whisk together some sugar, flour, lemon juice, and eggs. Here’s my number one tip for the filling: Make sure to use a sturdy whisk and mix it together really well. This will help prevent pieces of scrambled eggs from ending up in your lemon bars. Yikes!
Then, just pour the lemon filling onto the warm crust and return it to the oven to bake for about 20 minutes. The bars will need to cool for 1-2 hours, then be refrigerated for at least 2 more hours. You can easily prep these the night before and then let them chill overnight. Just be sure to dust them with a little powdered sugar right before serving.
Do lemon bars need to be refrigerated?
Yes, since they’re made with eggs they’re similar to a custard. You’ll want to store them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve them.
How long do they last in the refrigerator?
They will keep for up to 4 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Can you freeze them?
Yes, if you need to store them longer, I suggest wrapping them tightly and freezing them in a freezer bag or container. When you’re ready to enjoy them, just thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
How do you know when a lemon bar is done?
The top of the bars will be set and the center should no longer jiggle.
- When measuring your flour for these bars, make sure to spoon it into the measuring cup and level it off with the back of a knife.
- When whisking together the lemon filling make sure to use a sturdy whisk and mix it together very well. This will help prevent any pieces of scrambled eggs from ending up in your bars.
- The powdered sugar will dissolve into the bars the longer they sit. I suggest sifting the powdered sugar on top right before you plan to serve them.
More Lemon Desserts To Try!
- Blueberry Lemon Bread
- Lemon Cookies
- Lemon Blueberry Scones
- Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
- Lemon Pie
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 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (32 grams) all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs , room temperature
- 1/2 cup (120ml) fresh lemon juice
To make the crust:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 9x13-inch 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 dry ingredients. 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 (177°C) for 20-25 minutes, or just until the top is set and edges are lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside while you prepare the filling. Keep oven temperature at 350°F (177°C).
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 warm crust and return to the oven.
- Bake for 18-22 minutes or until the lemon filling is set and no longer jiggles.
- Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely for 1-2 hours, then cover tightly, and refrigerate for at least two hours. Sift powdered sugar on top, slice into bars, and enjoy!