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Perfect Lemon Bars

Perfect Lemon Bars
This is a lemon bar recipe for lemon lovers. It has a filling that is nice and thick, a great lemon flavor and a beautiful silky texture. The lemon custard is sitting on top of a layer of tender shortbread crust that is thick enough to hold up to it without getting soggy, even if you are planning to take the bars to a picnic the next day.

Many lemon bar recipes use sour cream or milk to round out the flavor of the filling and give it more body. This makes for a tasty lemon bar, but it also mellows the natural zestiness of the lemon a little bit. My favorite lemon curd recipe isn’t cut with butter or any other fat (besides the egg that thickens it) and it has plenty of body – and the filling for these bars works the same way. With just lemon juice, sugar and eggs you get a fantastic result.

You need to use fresh lemon juice to get the best results for this recipe, as store-bought lemon juice just doesn’t have the same brightness as a freshly juiced lemon. You’ll also want a little bit of fresh lemon zest to add to the crust, to give the bars a little extra lemon. Serve these bars chilled or at room temperature, and dust them with a little bit of confectioners’ sugar just before serving to give them a beautiful finished look.

Perfect Lemon Bars


Perfect Lemon Bars
Crust
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 cup butter, room temperature

Filling
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed and strained

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 9×9-inch baking pan with aluminum foil.
Make the crust. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Cut butter into chunks and add to flour mixture. Blend in with an electric mixer at low speed until mixture forms coarse, sandy crumbs. Pour into pan and press mixture down (with your fingers or the back of a spoon) into an even layer.
Bake for 16-19 minutes, until just lightly browned around the edges.

While crust is baking, make filling. Whisk together all filling ingredients in a large bowl.
When the crust comes out of the oven and is still hot, pour in filling mixture.
Bake for about 20 minutes, or until filling is just set (it will still jiggle when the pan is gently moved). Filling will continue to set as the crust cools.
When bars are completely cooled, refrigerate for at least 1 hour before slicing.
Top slices with confectioners’ sugar to serve.

Makes about 24 bars.

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114 Comments
  • Alana
    December 21, 2011

    I love these! I bought a bunch of Meyer Lemons….OH SO GOOD!

    I was worried about the lemon filling not setting up after a few comments, so what I did was add the filling ingredients into a pan on the stove and cook the filling on low for 10 minutes while the base baked. It was just thickened slightly when i poured it in to the base. Cooke din the oven for 15 minutes and they are perfection!

    Also, I used eggs that had a dark orangy yellow yolk, so the colour of these turned out so gorgeous!

  • kimberly
    December 23, 2011

    i just made these and followed the recipe closely but used already squeezed lemon juice. so far so good. the lemon part set up just fine in one hour. i’m excited. will be serving these on christmas.

  • Marie
    January 12, 2012

    I made these yesterday, they are great, thank you soooo much! For the filling, I used a little less sugar (about 1 cup) as I had a little less than 1 cup of lemon juice, and it set perfectly. I let them “dry” a bit in the turned off oven.
    Really good recipe.

  • Victoria
    January 16, 2012

    I tried this recipe tonight and it turned out beautifully! It was easy to assemble and it set accordingly. It took about 6 lg lemons freshly picked from my backyard. The only reason why I think it took that many is my 8 yr old niece was the one in charge of juicing. My eggs were rather large as well because they were farm fresh but it didn’t make it extra watery. I loved it! Thank you

  • jamie
    January 23, 2012

    I tried the recipe and I had the same problem with the filling not setting. The top started to brown and it looked like there were some egg white bits on top so I finally took it out. I whisked the filling right before putting it onto the hot crust, which had just come out of the oven. The flavor was really lovely and tart, and the crust was delicious but the filling was too soft and it didn’t look nearly as pretty as your pictures. I’m thinking my oven temp. was off because I followed the rest of the recipe closely. Would you recommend a higher or lower temperature?

  • Nicole
    January 24, 2012

    Jamie – I’m going to suggest trying a lower oven temperature if your filling started to brown before it was set. It might be that your oven was too hot. Depending on what type of oven you have, if the heating element is on the top of the oven, that might also contribute and using a lower rack might help you.

  • Kathryn
    February 12, 2012

    Made these tonight! One word, AMAZING. I let them bake for about 23 minutes, and I’m not sure if I cut them too soon before they completely cooled, or if I didn’t bake them for long enough, but they seem to be a little soft. I was still able to cut them, and they taste divine, but I’m wondering if they continue to set a little firmer once they’ve completely cooled.

  • Megan
    February 13, 2012

    Iam am making these and I did everything exactly right and they are not set after like 30 minutes

  • Holly
    February 14, 2012

    I just made these for my Mum and they are totally amazing!! Thank you x

  • Abby
    February 23, 2012

    Nicole! Amazing!! I made it tonight and am not sure I’ll be able to resist the whole pan. It took me the juice of 6 lemons. I pressed my crust pretty firmly and had no problems with it falling apart. I poured the filling over the crust right after I pulled it out of the oven and baked just like it calls for, 20 min. Everything set perfectly. Delish!! Dying to try with limes! Thanks so much!

  • kourtney
    March 7, 2012

    This recipe did not disappoint! The lemon bars came out exactly the way I like them and they were so easy to make! Thank you! 🙂

  • Denise Browning
    March 10, 2012

    Thanks for the recipe. Lemon bar is one of my fav American desserts. It seems I finally got a recipe that it won’t disappoint… Love your blog!

  • Julie Calderwood
    March 21, 2012

    I made these last night and they didn’t turn out. the crust disappeared into the lemon and they didn’t set up. was I supposed to put filling into a pot and boil it first or something? I’m at a high altitude, would that make a difference? I guess If anyone can mess up a recipe, it’s me.

  • Rebekah
    March 24, 2012

    I made these today and they taste really good. The only thing is they aren’t as thick as I hoped they would be. I only had extra large eggs so I’m wondering if that was the problem. My husband doesn’t mind the consistency. He thinks they taste awesome! Thanks for posting the recipe.

  • Mrs. C
    April 1, 2012

    Found you on Pinterest. These lemon bars are great! Thanks for the recipe!

  • Bob
    April 3, 2012

    Made these twice, they are the best lemon bars i have eaten

  • Jennifer
    April 19, 2012

    Love these , by far the best tasting lemon bar I have ever had. I’ve made this recipe a few times now. I have to agree with some of the others the filling never gets think enough I have even baked them for 30 minutes didnt help. So next I am adding a couple spoons(around3 Tablespoons) of flour to see if that helps. they are in the oven now! But I love them!

  • Amy
    April 21, 2012

    I made these last night, followed the recipe to the letter, and they did not set, even after leaving them in for an extra 10 minutes. They still taste wonderful though, just messy and in need of a fork.

  • dee
    April 24, 2012

    These are delicious, very lemony! They were a hit where I shared them. My hints, I thought the crust would be too thin so I used the aluminum foil to shorten up a 1/4 of a half jelly roll pan. It ended up that the crust was too thick-it needs to be on the thin side rather than the thick side. I had extremely small eggs so I used 5. They were very yum!

  • Karen
    April 24, 2012

    Thanks for this delicious recipe, I did have to add more butter to pastry, but the lemon curd is excellent!

  • Angel
    April 29, 2012

    I made these today and like someone else the crust mixed with the lemon filling so I have double crusted lemon bars (crust on top and on bottom, the filling is in the middle lol), they set up luckily and are still really good, if I make these again I will cook the crust longer and maybe try heating the filling up a bit.

  • Mrs. S
    May 6, 2012

    HI I saw these on Pinterest and had to make them. I was reading some of the comments and was a bit afraid they were not going to come out. I followed your instructions to a T and the only thing I did differently was use a 8×8 metal pan and cut them while they were still warm and they came out perfect!!! perfect consistency and size and taste

  • Rebecca Cook
    May 31, 2012

    I noticed that the pan size wasn’t quite right so I switched it to a 9″ x 12″ pan and it set up and turned out perfectly. I was wondering how you got 24 servings from a 9″ x 9″ pan and when i put the crust in it was very thick. Also, for reference, this took about 7 or 8 small lemons.

  • Rachel
    June 6, 2012

    I made this in as a pie and it was excellent. I’ll definitely make again. Thanks!

  • Ellen
    June 10, 2012

    Great flavor, but I couldnt get the foil off the bottom.

  • Ann
    July 16, 2012

    Made the lemon squares and followed the recipe to a T. Removed from oven just as they set and had a little jiggle, let them cool. It was extremely hot this weekend so I kept the lemon squares in the refrig., and served them cold . Everyone raved about them and requested the recipe. Thanks so much.

  • Rona
    September 2, 2012

    I made these today, my first lemon bar ever and it was Delicious! I made it only because i saw it on “las vegas” lol…
    can i make it an orange bar as well ?
    And Thanx for the lovley recipe

  • master chef
    September 30, 2012

    WOW, looks amazing 🙂 Love your blog

  • Crystal
    November 10, 2012

    These are so yummmmmy 🙂

  • r deputy
    November 15, 2012

    2 things I think are so funny
    1. I followed the recipe exactly except…..

    2. So many different outcomes with the exact same recipe

    anyway I am going to try these and see how mine turn out–lemon and crust –gotta be good

  • Jenny
    December 24, 2012

    This is my favorite lemon bar recipe. I have used it 2-3 times in the past year. The only thing I recommend is lowering the amount of lemon to 3/4 of a cup. I am a lemon lover and they are a little too tart even for me whenever I use a full cup of lemon. Enjoy!!

  • Natasha Ross
    January 23, 2013

    Thoughts on using meyer lemons and the sugar ratio for that?

  • Nicole
    January 23, 2013

    Natasha – I would not change the amount of sugar if you want to make this with Meyer lemons. Meyer lemon bars should be a touch sweeter than regular lemon bars and the sugar goes towards the consistency of the filling in this recipe.

  • Jean Barley
    January 25, 2013

    The size of the egg probably has something to do with the set-up. I always use XL or Jumbo’s

  • Marlene
    February 22, 2013

    I LOVE lemons!!! I made these tonight and they are PERFECT! Thank you so much for sharing your recipe. I never buy them or eat anyone else’s because they are never lemony (is that a word) enough. But these are great. I actually only used half the crust because I only had an 8X8 pan and my eggs were mediums so I used five instead of four. Still turned out wonderful.

  • Jenn
    February 27, 2013

    Yucky. These were not good.

  • Randa
    March 12, 2013

    I just made these. Perfect and sooo easy.

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