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 (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

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 ½ 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 ¼ cup lemon juice for lime juice and add zest of 1 lime to the mixture.
  • Orange Lemon Bars: Swap out ¼ 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 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.

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!)

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!
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 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.
  • 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).

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 (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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Comments

  1. I made these today with a few adjustments/substitutions: Crust – 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and2 tbs shortening; Filling – 2 tbs cornstarch instead of flour and lemon extract instead of zest. OMG these are fantastic!! Definitely a keeper recipe and so easy using whole eggs instead of just yolks. Thanks for posting this recipe.

    1. 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!

  2. Made these for the first time and they came out great! The only thing I did different was use gluten free flour as we have a member of the family that does not tolerate gluten. Everyone loved them. Thank you for the recipe Sabrina!

  3. Ok guys. I have made these many, many time. Super easy recipe to follow. She never says let your crust cool. Make your filling while the crust bakes. Whisk the filling really well until it is smooth. Let the filling set out for 15 minutes while the crust bakes the first time and then whisk the filling again before pouring over the hot crust and then do the second bake. Your crust will rise to the top if you (1) don’t make a dough ball with the crust and (2) letting your crust cool down between bakes. When you make the dough ball it will not break apart easily. It becomes a shortbread crust. I hope this helps! These are very good and easy. I have even swirled raspberry preserves in the top to make raspberry/lemon bars. They are so incredibly good. Thank you for a terrific recipe, Sabrina!

  4. This tastes great . Very lemony and rich. I followed all directions carefully. Some how my crust inverted and ended up on the top. Was not a total failure, but confusing. I ended up freezing and then cutting into squares.
    Love the food processor method of making the crust.

  5. I LOVE this recipe ???. My family loves it to… nothing wrong came out with mine when I made it… and guys give her a break. The recipe works for me… you guys are probably just terrible at baking… if you read about her it says she’s a trained professional chef… so I think you guys are the one who is getting this all wrong??

  6. Recipe tastes great. But had a lot of flaws.. I had read all of the comments ahead of time and had followed the recipe step-by-step. Though, the only thing I did that was different was, after the crust was pulled from the oven, I cooled it completely before topping with the filling and putting it back in the oven. This corrected what others stated as the crust breaking apart and floating, however something weird happened to me through the second baking process.. even though my crust was not shattered, it looks like the filling baked to the bottom (a “translucent”, beautiful lemon jelly) but the crust baked on top. A flipped lemon bar. Also, the filling looks like the egg baked on top of everything into a thin “eggy crust”. I don’t know what’s going on exactly with this recipe, but there are some weird things happening with the physics..

    Otherwise, the tastes are great.

  7. I’m in the process of baking the filling on top of a hot crust….no where in the recipe does it say let the crust completely cool down…..fingers crossed this comes out ok

  8. Followed instructions to the t even let my crust cool down before pouring the filling. Than it says bake afterwards for 30-35 minutes. Because of that the curds more like a werid cake.

  9. this recipe is worded weirdly. somehow, during the second baking the layers completely switched places. I was so unbelievably confused as to how this happened.

    1. I’m not sure what you mean? I say to pour the filling over the crust “pouring onto crust” and then “bake the crust with the filling”. I’m not sure how they would be reversed in that instruction. Sorry if it was confusing and I hope they turned out okay!

    2. This happened to me too! The curd was still soft but it was on the bottom while the crust was on the top! Still delicious though! I just served it upside down!

  10. I followed directions and baked crust according. I even added a few minutes because it was pretty light. When it came out, I proceeded to pour in filling. The crust broke apart and floated to the top. The crust was not firm at all so, I’m not sure how to prevent this in the future?

    1. I have never had that happen before, I am so sorry. You do have to gently pour in the filling but I still wouldn’t think it would cause it to break.

  11. So, as my crust is baking I’m reading all the comments. I let it cook a few more minutes, did not look quite done. I took it out poured my filling in, and the crust started breaking up into tiny pieces and floating. Should we let the crust cool completely? That was my immediate thought. Although not mentioned to do that. Now I see what others were complaining about.

      1. I’m glad I read down the page before starting the curd filling, since the directions say to mix the curd and “let sit for 15 minutes *while the crust bakes*,” and then fill. This reads as though we should pour the filling into the hot-from-the-oven crust.

      2. I poured into the hot crust…came out yummy but cloudy. I DID have a dry crust and had to add extra butter to make the ball before baking…but YUM my family wants me to add this recipe to our cookbook

  12. This recipe tasted wonderful! Just wondering if I did something wrong while letting it set, because the filling was a little runny again after taking it out of the fridge. Any idea what it could be? Everything else was great!

    1. So sorry I’m just now seeing this. I’m not really sure what might have happened. I’m glad they still tasted great though.

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

  14. 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!!!??

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

  16. 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”.

  17. 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!

  18. 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

    2. Did you ever learn what happened? I seem to have a dry, Cakey top and liquid filling beneath as well.

  19. 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!

  20. I’m confused – do you mean a mixer & not a food processor for the crust? My food processor is not breaking down the butter.

    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

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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 !

  24. 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.

  25. This is now my go-to for an easy peasy dessert! I’ve made it twice and my family has loved it every time!

  26. 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!

  27. 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!

  28. 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.

  29. 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!

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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

  33. 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!

  34. 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. 🙂

  35. 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!

  36. 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.

  37. Absolutely loving these 😀 And we’re having the type of weather where I’m SO in the mood for a springy, sweet dessert. Might just make them today!

    1. Thanks, Chrisy! You can’t go wrong with a delicious lemon dessert when the weather starts to get warm!

  38. Lemon Bars are by far one of my most favorite desserts. That vibrant yellow filling is so cheerful and delicious!

  39. I am a huge fan of lemon desserts – especially lemon bars. These look delicious! Pinned!!