This easy recipe for classic lemon bars with a buttery shortbread crust and tangy lemon filling requires less than 30 minutes of hands-on time and produces the best homemade lemon bars.
for the shortbread crust:
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup plus 2 T confectioners sugar
- 1 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature and cubed
for the lemon filling:
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 T all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 6 T fresh lemon juice
for the topping:
- confectioners sugar
- Make the shortbread crust. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper around the edges of the pan with nonstick spray. (The butter in the crust will keep the bottom of the lemon bars from sticking to the parchment paper, but the lemon custard will stick to the parchment paper if not sprayed.) Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and confectioners’ sugar. Add the cubes of softened butter and cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter until a slightly crumbly dough forms.
- Spread the dough into the prepared pan and gently press the dough into the bottom of the pan to create a solid crust. Make sure the crust reaches all the way into the edges and corners of the pan and that there are no holes in the crust.
- Bake the crust for about 25 minutes, just until golden. Remove the crust from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 300°F. Let the crust cool slightly while you prepare the lemon filling.
- Make the lemon filling. In a large bowl, gently beat the eggs. Add the sugar, flour, baking powder, and lemon juice and beat well until smooth and slightly thickened. Pour the mixture over the still-warm crust.
- Bake the lemon bars. Return the pan to the 300°F oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the top is lightly golden and the filling doesn’t jiggle when you wiggle the pan. Place the pan on a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, gently slice the bars in the pan while they’re still warm. Sprinkle the bars generously and evenly with confectioners sugar. (Tip: The easiest way to get an even sprinkling is to place the confectioners sugar into a sifter and to hold the sifter 6 inches above the bars while moving it around the surface of the bars, gently tapping the sifter with your hand.)
- Let the bars cool completely before removing from the pan and serving. (Note: You will likely need to re-slice the bars once they're fully cool before serving.)
Storage: Store leftover lemon bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Though it's best to serve lemon bars when fresh, they can also be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Keywords: lemon bars, shortbread crust