Lemon Shortbread Bars

16 Servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 21 minutes
Cool 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 31 minutes

Lemon Shortbread Bars are the perfect spring or summertime dessert with a buttery crust, zesty lemon center, and sour cream topping.

These Desserts are the perfect treats to serve at a picnic, potluck, or brunch. The tangy lemon flavor just makes them so wonderfully refreshing and the shortbread crust makes them easier to serve to a crowd without making a mess. For more lemon recipes, try our Classic Lemon Bars, or Lemon Crumb Bars.

Lemon Shortbread Bars with candied lemon garnish


Lemon Shortbread Bars are the perfect balance of sweet and tart. The buttery shortbread crust is a nice, mellow base for the tart lemon filling and rich sour cream topping. The creamy lemon filling and shortbread crust also have different textures, which make for a more interesting and enjoyable dessert. The lemon and sour cream are light and soft while the shortbread adds a little crunch.

Lemon Shortbread Bars prep steps for making shortbread doughThis recipe is made with simple ingredients. Just like for Shortbread Cookies, you only need a few pantry ingredients to make the dough for the buttery shortbread crust. Then the lemon curd filling is made with fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, eggs, and some pantry staples. The layers are assembled easily, then you just have to give the bars time to set in the fridge.

Once they are chilled, the cool temperature and tart lemon flavor come together to make the most refreshing treat ever. The crisp citrus flavor is delicious and soothing. It’s perfect to serve on a hot summer day!

Baked Lemon Shortbread Bars before topping with sour cream mixture


Lemon Shortbread Bars filling in mixing bowl


  • Prep time: To get started on the Lemon Bars take a minute to preheat your oven temperature to 350 degrees, and prep a 9×13 inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. That way the bars won’t stick to the pan.
  • Shortbread crust: Add all-purpose flour, powdered sugar, and cold butter to your food processor. Pulse until the flour mixture forms into a ball. Take the dough from the food processor and press it into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 13-15 minutes until it just begins to be golden brown. Take it from the oven and let the hot crust cool completely before you add anything to it.
  • Lemon layer: Add the eggs, granulated sugar, lemon juice, grated lemon zest, flour, and baking powder to a mixing bowl and whisk them together. Pour the lemon custard over the baked crust and bake for 8-10 minutes. Only bake until the lemon is set, and take it out before the edges start to brown.
  • Sour cream topping: While the lemon layer is in the oven, mix together the sour cream topping. Add the sour cream, sugar, and vanilla to a small bowl and whisk it together. Microwave it for about 20 seconds to make it easy to pour. Pour the mixture over the Lemon Shortbread Bars and spread it out evenly so there are no lumps.
  • Cool: Put the dish in the refrigerator to cool for 4 hours so they can set. Then slice cooled bars into squares to serve.

Lemon Shortbread Bars Sliced on board


  • Lime Bars: Instead of making Lemon Shortbread Bars, you can change up the recipe using lime juice and lime zest to make Lime Shortbread Bars.
  • Blueberry Lemon Bars: To make Blueberry Lemon Shortbread Bars mix 1 cup fresh berries into the lemony filling. You can also use frozen blueberries.
  • Toppings: If you don’t want the sour cream topping, you can use powdered sugar for dusting. Or, make an easy lemon glaze. To make the lemon glaze whisk together 2 cups powdered sugar and 3-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice. Then just drizzle the glaze over the top of the bars.

Lemon Shortbread Bars with candied lemon garnish



  • Serve: Due to the sour cream topping you shouldn’t leave Lemon Shortbread Bars at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
  • Store: To store Lemon Shortbread Bars in the fridge, cover them or cut them into squares to seal in an airtight container. They’ll stay good for 1 week.
  • Freeze: You can also package them in a freezer bag separated by parchment paper, and keep them in the freezer for 3-4 months.

Lemon Shortbread Bars with candied lemon garnish

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Lemon Shortbread Bars

Lemon Shortbread Bars are the perfect spring or summertime dessert with a buttery crust, zesty lemon center, and sour cream topping.
Yield 16 Servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 21 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 31 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


Shortbread Base:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter , cubed

Lemon Layer:

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

Sour Cream Topping:


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9x13 baking dish with baking spray.
  • Add flour, powdered sugar, and butter to a food processor and pulse until it forms into a ball.
  • Press the crust gently into the baking dish.
  • Bake for 13-15 minutes until it just starts to brown.
  • Whisk together eggs, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, flour, and baking powder
  • Pour lemon filling over crust and bake for 8-10 minutes until just set (try not to allow the top to brown).
  • While baking, mix sour cream sugar, and vanilla in a small bowl.
  • Microwave for 20 seconds to warm (this makes it easier to pour).
  • Pour over baked lemon bars and spread evenly.
  • Cool completely, then refrigerate for 4 hours before serving.


Calories: 329kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 84mg | Sodium: 43mg | Potassium: 103mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 34g | Vitamin A: 513IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 54mg | Iron: 1mg

Lemon Shortbread Bars collage

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 cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, 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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  1. I am so sorry to let you know (now that I found out after the fail) that there is probably an error in your recipe asking for the filling to bake until set for only 8-10 minutes! Now I have already poured sourcream topping on but have to bake longer until st! I really hope it isn’t ruined. Please correct your recipe.