This is a lemon bar recipe for lemon lovers – and it just might be the only one you’ll ever need. 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. These really are the perfect lemon bars because they are bursting with lemon flavor and are incredibly easy to make.
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
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
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.