Easy to transport and even easier to eat, this Lemon Bar recipe is a truly classic dessert made for picnics and parties! Simple in design, they’re nothing more than a tangy lemon custard filling on top of an easy, buttery shortbread crust – but they are perfect in every way!
This post first appeared over at Sugar & Soul where I’m a contributor.
Wow, where have I been?
I missed you guys! I took the week of the 4th (mostly) off and just kind of existed outside of sleep and fireworks. I’ve been helping out at my part time job quite a bit thanks to the holidays & race week (deep in the heart of NASCAR country down here) and doing anything after my shifts has been out of the question.
I had forgotten how grueling those long work days at a physically demanding job can be.
I tell you what, though – it’s definitely made me appreciate that my real job (this one!) is also my passion! I still count my lucky stars that I’ve been able to make such a transition. I highly recommend it if you ever get the chance!
Now. Let’s talk about lemons.
Classic Lemon Bars
My newfound obsession with all things lemon is intense and these Lemon Bars fulfill all of those citrus cravings!
All my life, I’ve been an orange girl. Oranges are not bitter or tart – they’re nice and sweet and just mouth-puckering enough to satisfy my taste buds.
When I starting dating my husband, he introduced me to the world of limes, and for a while, it was all about them. He uses lime a lot in his cooking, plus I went through a short-yet-eye-opening stint where I was hooked on fresh agave margaritas. Needless to say, our house is never without limes.
Lemons, however – those are new to our countertop fruit basket.
It all started a few months ago when I found out the hard way that I have a peptic ulcer. Booooo.
Having to cut back on my coffee intake forced me to drink tea for the small amount of caffeine it offers. I’m not one of those people that need caffeine to function properly, but I think it’s more of the ritual of drinking the coffee than anything that motivates me.
My favorite part of the day is waking up to let my dog out and firing up my coffee machine.
Those first few sips are heaven. Just thinking about it makes me want a cup right now.
A cup of coffee and a few of these lemon bars, actually.
Not being able to have my morning cup o’ joe made me try hot tea, which I’ve never really cared for. We have it in the house for visitors and the rare occasion one of us gets a cold or the flu, but otherwise it just kind of sits in the cupboard. To jazz it up, I started adding a bit of lemon – with the hopes that it wouldn’t flare up the ulcer.
Luckily, no flare-ups – the only side effect was a new love of hot tea! And of course, lemon.
I guess this means I could now easily survive living in the UK. Bonus!
These lemon bars are absolutely scrumptious. They’re actually also the first ones I’ve ever had!
Believe it or not, my Nana did NOT have a Lemon Bar recipe in her repertoire.
She was more of a chocolate fan, but I know she would have loved these!
The lemon custard is very tart, but not in a bad way. You can easily adjust the sugar to lemon juice ratio in the recipe if you prefer a sweet lemon bar, but my husband and I devoured them.
As for the shortbread base, it’s supremely buttery – it smells so good, you might be tempted to sneak a taste after pre-baking the crust! If you like an equal cookie-to-custard ratio, double the shortbread recipe and bake it a bit longer until it’s a nice golden brown.
Over-baking isn’t a terrible fate with these since the custard softens the base during the second bake.
How to Make Lemon Bars:
- 1. First, make the shortbread. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13×9-inch baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper, then grease well and set it aside.
- 2. Use a hand mixer or stand mixer to cream the butter for 2-3 minutes until it’s pale and fluffy. Add sugar and flour and mix well.
- 3. Press the dough into an even layer in the prepared baking pan. Chill it for 15 minutes, then bake it for about 15-20 minutes until it’s just barely golden brown. Cool the crust while you make the custard.
- 4. Whisk together the eggs, sugar, flour, lemon juice and zest in a large bowl until well blended. Pour it over the cooled crust.
- 5. Bake for 25-35 minutes at 350 degrees F until the custard is just set. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 1 hour, then refrigerate. Before serving, dust with powdered sugar and garnish with lemon slices and berries.
Tips for fabulous Lemon Bar recipe results every time:
- • The flavor of the Lemon Bars improves over time as they’re kept cool. Keep them covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and enjoy them all week long.
- • For perfectly square bars, line your baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang of “handles”. After they’ve cooled to room temperature, freeze them until they’re almost solid. Remove the bars from the pan via the handles. Use a ruler to measure perfect squares, then cut with a super sharp knife that’s been heated under hot water.
- • Switch up the flavors! Try this recipe with equal amounts of lime, grapefruit, or orange juice & zest. Toss a little cinnamon and brown sugar in the dough for a more graham cracker crust-like flavor.
- • Double the crust! If you really dig shortbread, double the dough recipe and bake it about 25 minutes before filling it with the custard. Your bars will be equal layers and fully of buttery goodness!
ARE YOU LEMON OBSESSED, TOO? TRY ONE OF THESE LOVELY LEMON RECIPES NEXT!
- Soft & Chewy Lemon Sugar Cookies
- Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes
- Maple Lemonade
- Lemon Pistachio Cake
- Lemon Scented Blueberry Muffins
Classic Lemon Bars
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Lemon Custard Filling
- 5 large eggs room temperature
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup lemon juice from about 5 lemons
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest from about 2 lemons
- Powdered sugar for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13x9-inch baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper, then grease well. Set aside.
- With a hand mixer or in a stand mixer, cream the butter for 2-3 minutes until pale and fluffy. Add the sugar and flour and mix well.
- Transfer the dough to the prepared baking pan. Spread it into an even layer, pressing down with your fingers. Chill for 15 minutes, then bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until just barely golden brown. Cool.
Lemon Custard Filling
- In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients until well incorporated. Pour the mixture over the cooled crust.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees F until the custard is set. Remove from the oven and let cool. Dust with powdered sugar as desired and serve. You may also chill the bars and serve them cold.