Easy Lemon Bars Recipe

This Easy Lemon Bars Recipe has the perfect combination of tart and sweet. Made with a vanilla crust and a smooth lemon filling, these are easily the best lemon bars ever!

Collage of Easy Lemon Bars

Easy Homemade Lemon Bars

This recipe has the most wonderful ratio of crust to lemon filling – they compliment each other without overpowering one another. The crust is seriously so good. It has just the right amount of sweetness to offset the tart lemon filling.

I played with the crust recipe until it turned out exactly how I wanted it to. The amount of flour in this recipe will ensure that the crust isn’t too soft or too firm. It has the perfect amount of vanilla extract to give it that sweet flavor. The powdered sugar sprinkled on top of the bars also adds a sweet touch that’s not too much.

I’m so happy with how the filling for these lemon bars came out! It has the best texture and flavor and it won’t crack when you bake it. I decided not to use lemon zest in the final recipe, because it made the filling taste a bit too strong, which threw off the balance of this dessert.

Lemon Bars on a Cake Stand with Sliced Lemons

Recipe Ingredients

I tested every possible combination of lemon bar ingredients, and this is the recipe that came out on top! It’s an easy dessert that uses super simple ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need to make the best lemon bars you’ve ever tasted:

For the Crust

  • All-Purpose Flour: Don’t change the amount of flour called for in this recipe – it will give your crust the perfect consistency.
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Salt
  • Vanilla: Vanilla extract will give your crust an amazing flavor to compliment the filling.
  • Unsalted Butter

For the Filling

  • Granulated Sugar: Aside from giving your bars a touch of sweetness so they’re not too tart, the sugar will add moisture so the bars won’t crack when you bake them!
  • All-Purpose Flour
  • Large Eggs
  • Fresh Lemon Juice: Bring on the lemon daydream with some fresh-squeezed lemon juice. So good!
  • Salt

A Stack of The Best Lemon BarsLemon Bars Dusted with Powdered Sugar

How to Make Lemon Bars

  1. Prepare Pan for Baking: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line the bottom and sides of a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper that sticks up above the sides of the pan. This will help you remove the bars later for easy cutting. Set the pan aside.
  2. Make Your Crust: Combine the flour, powdered sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter & vanilla extract and stir to combine completely.
  3. Assemble Crust: Crumble and distribute your crust over the bottom of the pan and press it evenly into the bottom.
  4. Bake: Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges are just getting lightly browned. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  5. Make Your Filling: Combine the sugar and flour in a bowl. Add the eggs, lemon juice & salt and whisk together to combine. Don’t over mix.
  6. Bake & Let Cool: Pour the filling on top of the crust and bake for 18-22 minutes, or until relatively set. Remove from the oven and cool for 15-20 minutes on the counter, then refrigerate until cold and firm.
  7. Assemble Your Dessert: Remove bars from the pan and dust with powdered sugar, then cut into squares and serve!

Tips for the Best Lemon Bars

  • Don’t Reduce the Sugar: I know it may be tempting for those who are trying to cut back on sugar, but sugar not only adds sweetness (which helps reduce how tart the filling could be), but it also adds moisture. That moisture helps to keep these bars from cracking.
  • Use Fresh Lemon Juice: Definitely opt for fresh lemon juice rather than bottled – the flavor is very different, and the fresh lemon juice will make these bars SO much better. Trust me.
  • Don’t Over Mix Your Filling: If you notice some air bubbles or even a little white layer of air bubbles on top of your baked bars, it’s ok. It’s just the air from the filling rising while the bars bake! To help avoid too much of that, just be sure not to over mix your filling.

A Stack of Perfect Lemon Bars

How to Get Lemon Bars Out of the Pan

In order to get your lemon bars out of the pan easily, be sure to use plenty of parchment paper to line the pan. It should cover the entire bottom of the pan as well as the sides, and you should even have the paper sticking up above the sides to make sure nothing sticks to the pan.

This extra bit of parchment paper doubles as a handle to remove the bars with! Simply run a thin, sharp knife along the sides, lift your dessert right out with the parchment paper “handles,” and transfer it to a cutting board.

If your bars have been chilled enough, you should be able to cut into them with no problem. But if you’re having trouble, running your knife under hot water before each cut will make your job even easier!

Easy Lemon Bars Lined Up on a Table

How to Store Lemon Bars

These lemon bars are an amazing make-ahead dessert, because they’ll last for nearly a week if stored properly! Be sure to put them in a covered container in the refrigerator. They’ll stay good for up to 6 days!

More Great Lemon Treats

Lemon Curd
Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake
No Bake Lemon Cheesecake
Lemon Poppyseed Cake
Lemon Mascarpone Cream Pie


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A Stack of The Best Lemon Bars
Recipe

Easy Lemon Bars Recipe

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 20-24
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This Easy Lemon Bars Recipe has the perfect combination of tart and sweet. Made with a vanilla crust and a smooth lemon filling, these are easily the best lemon bars ever!


Ingredients

Crust

  • 2 cups + 2 tbsp (276g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (115g) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup (224g) unsalted butter, melted

Filling

  • 2 1/2 cups (518g) granulated sugar* 
  • 1/2 cup (65g) all-purpose flour
  • 7 large eggs
  • 1 cup (240ml) fresh lemon juice (4-5 lemons)
  • Pinch salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line the bottom and sides of a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper that sticks up above the sides of the pan, so that you can remove the bars later for easy cutting. Set pan aside.
  2. To make the crust, combine the flour, powdered sugar and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Add the melted butter and vanilla extract and stir to combine completely.
  4. Crumble and distribute over the bottom of the pan and press evenly into the bottom so that it’s even.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the edges are just getting lightly browned. Remove from oven and set aside.
  6. To make the filling, combine the sugar and flour. Add the eggs, lemon juice and salt and whisk together to combine. Don’t over mix. 
  7. Pour the filling on top of the crust and bake for 18-22 minutes or until relatively set. Remove from the oven and cool for 15-20 minutes on the counter, then refrigerate until cold and firm.
  8. Remove bars from pan and dust with powdered sugar, then cut into squares. Bars are best when stored well covered, and they’ll last for 5-6 days.

Notes

Don’t reduce the sugar. It not only adds sweetness (which helps reduce how tart the filling could be), but it also adds moisture. That moisture helps keep these bars from cracking.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 239
  • Sugar: 26.1 g
  • Sodium: 100 mg
  • Fat: 9.2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 36.6 g
  • Protein: 3.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 74.6 mg

Keywords: easy lemon bars, lemon bars, lemon bars recipe, best lemon bars, recipe for lemon bars, how to make lemon bars, lemon dessert recipe

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Recipe rating

128 Comments
  1. Marge

    Something went wrong with my batch – the lemon top ended up on the bottom, under the crust! They still taste good but are messy to eat. We ended up flipping it over and removing the parchment paper. Some of the lemon was stuck to the parchment paper but I was able to scrape it off and spread it back on the bar. Any idea what went wrong?

    1. Lindsay

      Hmm, strange. Could there have been a hole or something in the crust that the filling went through to get underneath it? I’m also curious – was the crust still warm when you added the filling on top? Or had it cooled down mostly?

      1. Marge

        The crust was warm, not hot, and I didn’t see a hole in the bottom. I was wondering if it had to do with the parchment paper not sealing the crust to the bottom. I was surprised how uniform the lemon topping was on the bottom!

      2. Lindsay

        I didn’t have that issue with the parchment, but you could try not using it. Just be sure to spray your pan well.

  2. Ellie

    I was wondering whether it would be possible to make these (and brownies) in mini cupcake pans? If so, do you have recommendations on how to do this?

    1. Lindsay

      I imagine you could, but having not done that myself it’s kind of hard to advise. You’d probably want to divide the crust between the cups of a cupcake pan and do the same with the filling. I’m really not sure of the bake time. It may actually be similar to the full sized pan.

  3. Jim Makries

    l made these with your recipe, but the crust was brick hard. I’m not a baker. Then tried “box” recipe. yours was better by far even with “bricks”! help☺️

    1. Lindsay

      If your crust was that hard, it kind of makes me wonder if you overworked it a bit. Try not to over mix it when you combine all the ingredients and gently press it into the pan. Don’t over do it.

  4. jess

    I made these… i added a 1/2 can on sweetened condensed milk to the lemon mixture after everything else was combined. I just laid whole graham squares across the bottomed of my well buttered pan and created a pancake glue to keep the graham squares from getting soggy during the cooking process…. chilled the “crust” for about 30 minutes before baking it til golden brown…. it was perfection….. will be making these for the rest of my baking journey…. gonna try the lemon mixture with snaps next time though.

  5. Emily

    Hi! So I’m almost 19 and love to cook and Bake! When the pandemic hit I had to find stuff to do around the house. I love finding and making new recipes for my family, today I made the lemon bars! I’m so excited to see how they turn out!

Lindsay
About Lindsay

I'm a wife and a mom to twin boys and a baby girl! And I've got a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the treats!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29