Easy Lemon Bars (Lemon Squares)

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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 (hello beautiful Fruit Salads!) as spring comes rushing in including Lemon Cookies, Strawberry Shortcake and Mixed Berry Pie.

Easy Lemon Bars Lemon Bars Recipe (Lemon Squares)

Classic Lemon Bars (you may know them as lemon squares) are a great recipe made with a quick and easy shortbread crust, a lemony lemon curd style filling that is not cooked on the stovetop before baking and the hardest part of this recipe? Waiting for it to set up before you enjoy the tangy dessert before everyone else knows how delicious they are.

This Lemon Bars recipe is from a bakery who 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.

How to 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.

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.

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, we 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 my New York Cheesecake recipe, then top with this lemon filling and bake an additional 30 minutes.

How to 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 and 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.

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.

How to 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 to 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 easier.

Easy Lemon Bars

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No-Bake Lemon Bars

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 1/2 cup of milk and let firm in freezer until desired firmness because it would melt at room temperature.

No-bake Shortbread Crust: 2 cups shortbread cookie crumbs mixed with 6 tablespoons melted butter and pressed into the bottom of an 8×8 baking pan.

Fun flavors for baked Lemon Bars:

  • Lime Lemon Bars: Swap out 1/4 cup lemon juice for lime juice and add zest of 1 lime to the mixture.
  • Orange Lemon Bars: Swap out 1/4 cup orange juice for lime 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: Berry, orange, pineapple or any flavor jam you like. Just little spoonfuls after adding the lemon layer dotted throughout. Easiest hack ever and I normally do it when I’ve got 1/3 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.

Other Bar Recipes:

Any other lemon desserts you would like to see on the site? Let me know in the comments below!

Lemon Squares

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Easy Lemon Bars (5 Ingredients!)

4.73 from 22 votes
  • Yield: 16 bars
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Course: Dessert
  • Cuisine: American
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder

Easy Lemon Bars have a buttery shortbread crust, a tangy lemon curd filling and just 5 ingredients in the whole recipe that tastes like it came from a bakery!

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

Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking pan both ways with parchment paper with overhang.

  2. Add the butter, sugar and flour to a food processor and let process for 20-30 seconds or until the dough comes together into a ball then press into an 8x8 inch pan and bake for 22-25 minutes.

  3. Combine the 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/4 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).

Nutrition Information

Yield: 16 bars, Amount per serving: 237 calories, Calories: 237g, Carbohydrates: 34g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 75mg, Sodium: 21mg, Potassium: 46mg, Sugar: 23g, Vitamin A: 6.8g, Vitamin C: 6g, Calcium: 1.3g, Iron: 4.9g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

Keywords: Easy Lemon Bars, lemon bars, lemon squares
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Easy Lemon Bars (Lemon Squares)

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Comments

  1. What size pan, 13″ x 9″ I assume? These sound yummy, easy, & super refreshing. Love desserts with lemons, especially during spring & summer.

  2. I made my own sugar cookie dough from scratch, and smashed into a muffin tin pan, 20 mins, smashed centers in with scoop, filled with filling here, and 20 more mins in oven, sprinkled confections sugar on top. Suuuper!!!??

  3. Absolutely amazing recipe. Ive made them several times and they are always a hit! I highly recommend that you try this recipe.

  4. Hello Dessert Luvers????
    I fancied my family this holiday season w/those delish lemon ? bars… they were the highlight of the holiday dessert menu. We all wanted something different aside from the mundane sweet potatoe pies… so wala “lemon bars” made simple & everyone enjoyed a square. Thanks this will be our family’s new featured dessert “Lemon ?bars”.

  5. Made these lemon bars for one of our Xmas desserts as we have so many things chocolate & thought this would be a refreshing choice!
    The recipe was very easy to follow & quick to make. I did have to bake for an additional 10 min. & then firmed it up & came out beautifully! Thank you!

  6. I tried the recipe and I followed it exactly but after I poured the filling in and put it back in the oven, I pulled it out at the end only to see that the crust rose to the top with the parchment paper between crust and filling. The whole thing was ruined, I don’t understand why it happened?

    1. Oh no! I’m not sure why this would’ve happened. Let’s troubleshoot together and try and figure it out. Email me at contact @ dinnerthendessert .com

  7. My filling was really liquidy rather than curd-like. This was a major concern for me. They finished baking with a nice crust, golden around the edges, but the filling is still somewhat loose. Wish I could attach pictures for you to see to get your feedback & suggestions for assistance.

    1. Oh no, sounds like it needed to be baked longer. If you decide to try again and notice the same issue, protect the crust by wrapping foil around it and bake longer to ensure the middle is done. Hope this helps!

    1. Nope, I meant food processor. Sounds like maybe you need a new one but luckily they aren’t expensive, around $30 for a good one. The be-all and end-all of a good pie crust or even shortbread is the crust and it takes about 15 seconds to do it in a food processor. If you like to bake, it’s worth it to invest in a new one. I recommend this one: http://amzn.to/2abJciK Feel free to email me if you’d like other recommendations. 🙂 contact @ dinnerthendessert .com

  8. How thick should the crust be? How high up should the sides of the crust go? Do you roll out the crust or just press it into the pan? Thanks.

  9. Super easy and wonderful! I have made these several times with gluten free flour for my gluten free friends and they rave about them. I’m in Florence, SC and we are waiting on Hurricane Florence at this very moment. I am making these to go in Hurricane prep kits for friends! Great recipe. I always use fresh lemons. You just can’t beat fresh lemons. Thank you for a great recipe.

  10. It’s great absolutely love it ! Also made as a double mixture as the first time it disappeared too quick! Cooked the base and then with the filling in for five mins extra each. Also added twice as much lemon zest and served with whipped cream. Yum thank you for the recipe !

  11. Absolutely the best lemon bars I have ever made. Super easy to follow instructions. Thank you for sharing your recipe, it’s a keeper. I will be making these again next week for a get together.

  12. I have made these twice now and both times they turned out delicious! My lemons come from my own backyard so these bars are now a regular treat in my home.
    Thanks for the recipe!

  13. LOVED these! However, nowhere ion your recipe to you say to use powdered sugar. I just took it as obvious from looking at them.
    They were PERFECT! and Oh, so easy!

    1. Just until they’re cooled….10-15 minutes, maybe. It’s easier to cut once it’s been refrigerated as well. Enjoy!

  14. I just made these and had the same problem as another person – the middle is not firming and staying very liquidy. I am super bummed. I followed the recipe to a T and I am using a 8×8 pan.

    1. I’m so sorry you’re having issues with it. If it’s not firming up, it sounds like it needs to cook longer.

  15. Hi,
    I have a few questions.
    1. Should the crust be pricked with a fork before baking?
    2. Should be mixture be left to sit at room temp or in the fridge?

    Thanks,
    Celeena

    1. Sorry it took me so long to respond. Your questions were snagged in my spam filter.

      Yes, you can prick the crust with a fork before baking. The mixture can be left on the counter before baking.
      Thanks for your patience!

  16. This might be a dumb question, but how do I go about measuring 12 tablespoons of ‘cold butter?!?! If we were dealing with melted butter that would be easy to do. But how does one measure cold butter in tablespoons? I would love to try this recipe but can’t get my head around this.

  17. Made these tonight. Turned out delicious. They were a little soupy at first, but a few extra minutes in the oven fixed that. Looking back at the recipe, I think I know why. The recipe doesn’t specify what size eggs to use. Mine were extra large. Bumped the oven temperature up to 375 and put them back in for an extra 15 minutes, and they turned out fabulous!

    1. Yes but make sure that you’re using 2 8×8 pans so ensure that the thickness stays the same and then you won’t have to adjust bake time. Enjoy!

    1. Definitely! My suggestion would be to keep them in a sealed container in the refrigerator and the take them out a few hours before serving. I would also wait to dust them with powdered sugar until before serving.

  18. I messed up this recipe because I was working top-to-bottom… Ingredients list very clearly says how much sugar is needed for the crust, than omits it from what is needed for the filling. Something to double check for next time

    1. Oh no! I’m so sorry. The recipe plug in must have had a glitch. I know it doesn’t help now, but I edited it. Thanks for letting me know.

    1. So sorry this message got snagged in my spam filter! What size pan did you use? Would be happy to troubleshoot via email, media @ dinnerthendessert . com

  19. Wow! These lemon bars are A-mazing! 😀 I used limes instead of lemons and it turned out wonderfully! The lemon bars (or lime bars) were deliciously tart, with a perfect balance of sweetness. Thank you for this scrumdiddlyumtious recipe!

  20. I followed the recipe to the letter, and mine did not turn out, anything like yours. 🙁 I am kind of disappointed. Maybe I made the filling wrong? I am going to try again, and see if I get a better outcome. Thank you for sharing this quick and easy recipe.

    1. Me, too. I put them in the fridge. I day later they were a little better. Definitely not like the ones you buy. Tastes good, though. 🙂

  21. I love lemon bars– it’s one of my favorite treats! The tangy lemons, sweet powdered sugar and butter crust is the seriously addicting! I can’t wait to try these!

  22. First of all, I love all things lemon and citrus, so right off the bat I’m a fan of this recipe. But I love the ideas for adaptations you provide, too! I mean, switching things up can be a delicious way to approach recipes! Yum.