Easy Lemon Bars (Lemon Squares)

Easy Lemon Bars have a buttery shortbread crust, a tangy lemon curd filling and just 5 ingredients in the whole bakery worthy recipe!

We love all the fun fruit flavored Desserts as spring comes rushing in including Lemon Cookies, Strawberry Shortcake and Mixed Berry Pie.

Lemon Bars square on plate with powdered sugar topping

Classic Lemon Bars (you may know them as lemon squares) are a tangy and sweet recipe made with a quick and easy shortbread crust and a lemon curd style filling that you do not have to cook on the stovetop before baking. 

The best thing about these truly Easy Lemon Bars is that the crust, which most people would normally say is the toughest part to make, is made in 20 seconds completely in a food processor. The hardest part of this recipe is waiting for it to set up before you enjoy the tangy dessert before everyone else knows how delicious they are.

To garnish the lemon bars simply dust them with powdered sugar. You can also help keep the lemon squares moist by pressing the sides of each piece into powdered sugar to keep them from drying out before storing them in an airtight container. These can be made ahead of time and frozen!

This Lemon Bars recipe is from a bakery that has been making them for 50 years in Los Angeles, California. And if you’re looking for a creamier more crumbly version you HAVE to try my Creamy Lemon Crumb Bars too.

These Lemon Bars would make a perfect finish to a spring brunch spread along with a Honey Lime Berry Fruit Salad, Spinach Quiche, and Cinnamon Streusel Peach Bread.

Lemon Bars Collage of prep steps

How to Make Easy Lemon Bars (Lemon Squares)

Making Easy Lemon Bars, is, well, easy! No, seriously. You’ll mix and bake and smile with glee. The golden brown layer with the tart lemon filling will leave your mouth watering! Check out this recipe for lemon bars!

  • Step One: Mix the crust ingredients together and bake in an 8×8 pan for about 25 minutes. 
  • Step Two: While the crust bakes, blend together the filling ingredients. Once the crust is done, pour the lemon filling on the hot crust and bake again until ready – about 30 minutes.
  • Step Three: Cooling is important once it’s done. You want the crust to be completely cooled so it’ll be sturdy enough. Cool for about 30 minutes in the pan and them move them to a cooling rack using the parchment sling to finish. Enjoy!

More Yummy Lemon Desserts

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I make Shortbread?

The shortbread crust in this easy lemon bars recipe is made entirely in the food processor by pulsing together all-purpose flour, sugar and butter cubes for 20 seconds until the dough is in large chunks. You don’t have to touch it at all, just turn the dough out onto the pan and press it into an even layer with a spatula and bake it off.

How do I make an easy Lemon Filling?

The lemon flavor of the Lemon Bars comes from a mixture of lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, eggs (not just egg yolks like in lemon curd, you are using the entire eggs) and a small amount of all-purpose flour to thicken the mixture as it bakes. This filling would also work as a double layer cheesecake topping. Bake the cheesecake layer first for 30 minutes in a 9 x 13 pan (with deep edges) using this New York Cheesecake recipe, then top with lemon filling and bake an additional 30 minutes.

How do I perfectly slice Lemon Bars?

Line your baking pan with parchment paper both ways with at least 3 inches overhanging on all sides so the edges can be picked up by the corners. When the recipe is done and chilled, freeze it for at least an hour to firm it up more. This will allow the whole pan to lift out without breaking. Be sure to run a knife along the outside of the parchment paper first before trying to lift the paper out.

How do you zest a lemon?

To zest a lemon grate the rind using a microplane to remove just the yellow layer of the lemon skin from the lemon. Do not remove any of white layer of the lemon, the pith, as this is where the bitterness of the lemon comes from. Easy ways to zest a lemon without a microplane include using a box grater (use the smallest side) or use a vegetable peeler and a paring knife to cut it into very thin slices. Be sure to not include any of the white pith of the lemon.

How do you juice a lemon?

To get the most juice out of a lemon cut it in half horizontally (not through the stem) and stick a fork into each half, hold firmly in your palm and twist the fork to juice easily. You can also microwave for 5 seconds before squeezing to make it easier.

Can I make Lemon Bars without baking them?

To make No-Bake Lemon Bars bake the shortbread crust as directed and top the crust with a box of lemon pudding mix, 8 ounces cool whip (or use my Homemade Cool Whip) and ½ cup of milk and let firm in freezer until desired firmness because it would melt at room temperature. To also avoid baking the crust, use a No-bake Shortbread Crust by combining 2 cups shortbread cookie crumbs mixed with 6 tablespoons melted butter and press into the bottom of an 8×8 baking pan.

Lemon Bars Collage of baking steps

Key Ingredients in Lemon Bars

We love this Lemon Bar recipe because it has only 5 ingredients including the powdered sugar! These simple ingredients are easy to source from your local grocery store or farmer’s market and are incredibly versatile for other recipes! Check it out!

  • Lemon: Fresh lemon juice is the best thing to use both for the juice and the grated lemon zest. For the best lemon taste, make sure to wash the fresh lemons really well even if you use organic lemons. You’ll use about 6 medium lemons or 4 large lemons to get enough juice. A medium bowl will catch all the lemon juice nicely. 
  • Egg: Eggs are a staple. We’re using large eggs in this recipe. If you only have medium you should be fine with the same amount. If your eggs are considerably smaller, then add one extra just in case. But most eggs are medium or large.
  • Flour: We’re using regular all-purpose flour for this recipe. 
  • Sugar: Granulated sugar is fine as everything gets blended together. Powdered sugar can be store bought or made at home by blending a cup of granulated sugar with a tablespoon of cornstarch. 
  • Butter: We’re using real unsalted butter for this recipe. If you’d like to add some sodium, a pinch of salt will do fine. 

Variations on Lemon Bars (Lemon Squares)

  • Lime Lemon Bars: Swap out ¼ cup lemon juice for lime juice and add zest of 1 lime to the mixture.
  • Orange Lemon Bars: Swap out ¼ cup lemon juice for orange juice and add 1 teaspoon orange zest to the mixture.
  • Meyer Lemon Bars: Swap out traditional lemons for Meyer lemons and reduce sugar by 2 tablespoons.
  • Lemon-Blueberry Bars: Add in 2 cups of blueberries tossed with flour to the filling mixture and cook an additional 10 minutes.
  • Strawberry Lemon Bars: Add in 2 cups of strawberries tossed with flour to the filling mixture and cook an additional 10 minutes.
  • Fruit Jam Lemon Bars: Use berry, orange, pineapple or any flavor jam you like, and just add little spoonfuls after adding the lemon layer dotted throughout. Easiest hack ever a great way to use up jam when you’ve got ⅓ of a bottle left and need the refrigerator door space.
  • Poppy Lemon Bars: Add 1 tablespoon poppy seeds to the lemon mixture and to the shortbread base for an awesome lemon poppy bar.
  • White Chocolate Lemon Bars: Add melted white chocolate onto the shortbread base after it comes out of the oven and before the lemon layer.
Lemon Bars square on plate with powdered sugar topping

More Fruity & Fun Bar Recipes

How to Store Lemon Bars (Lemon Squares)

  • Serve: Once chilled and sliced, serve lemon bars with a dusting of powdered sugar. Do not leave at room temperature longer than 2 hours.
  • Store: Sealed tightly in an airtight container, Lemon Bars will keep in the refrigerator up to 1 week.
  • Freeze: Wrap Lemon Squares in plastic then foil, and store in a single layer in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Lemon Bars square on plate with powdered sugar topping and bite taken

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Easy Lemon Bars (5 Ingredients!)

Easy Lemon Bars have a buttery shortbread crust, a tangy lemon curd filling and just 5 ingredients in the whole bakery worthy recipe!
Yield 16 bars
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder

Ingredients
 

For the crust:

  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter , frozen and cut in small pieces
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour

For the filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking pan both ways with parchment paper with overhang.
  • Add the butter, sugar and flour to a food processor or blender and let process for 20-30 seconds or until the dough comes together into a ball then press into an 8×8 inch pan and bake for 22-25 minutes.
  • Combine the 1 ½ cups sugar, ¼ cup flour, 4 eggs, lemon juice and zest in a large bowl and whisk well and let sit for 15 minutes while crust bakes, whisk just before pouring onto crust and then bake the crust with the filling for 30-35 minutes (remove before it starts to brown).

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 237kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 75mg | Sodium: 21mg | Potassium: 46mg | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 340IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 0.9mg
Keyword: Easy Lemon Bars, lemon bars, lemon squares
Easy Lemon Bars PIN 1

Photos used in a previous version of this post.

Lemon Bars Collage
Easy Lemon Bars
Easy Lemon Bars
Lemon Squares
Easy Lemon Bars (Lemon Squares)

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the upcoming cookbook: Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients which is being published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.

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