The Lemon Bar Recipe for Lemon Lovers
These are my idea of the PERFECT Lemon Bar. The shortbread crust is so buttery it literally melts in your mouth and the filling is silky smooth and bursting with tart lemon flavor.
“I made these Lemon Bars today and I must say that they are the best I have ever made. They are soooo DELICIOUS. I have made lemon bars for many years and used many different recipes but have never used one that was as good as this one. A real winner. Thanks for sharing it.” – Del
Lemon Bars are always a welcome treat in my house
I live in a family of lemon lovers. Lemon Layer Cake and Lemon Blueberry Muffins and Lemon Loaf Cake are three of my oldest old daughter’s most favorite things in the universe. And, my youngest daughter loves lemons so much that she eats them straight – like an orange. I blame their father.
When our first born was a baby, my husband decided to put a drop of lemon juice on his finger and place it in our son’s mouth just to see his reaction. (Oh, come on. We were young and poor, and in desperate need of cheap entertainment.)
My husband was all geared up to laugh at a scrunched up baby face. Instead, our infant son, opened his big eyes wide and licked at his lips like it was the best thing he’d ever tasted. And just like that, the evening’s entertainment crashed and burned.
My husband tried this trick with both of our girls as well only to receive the same reaction. It was our first lesson in the fact that as parents, you have shockingly little control over your kids. They are born with their own little personalities, their likes and dislikes largely hardwired in there, and you can’t really do a damn thing about it.
Which is fine because… who needs that kind of pressure? 😊
5 Secrets to making the BEST lemon bars
“I’ve made these bars several times, at least 8 or 9 times, and well on my way to a batch tonight. These bars always receive praise and are gone immediately, no sooner than they are placed out. You’ll love these bars, they’re tart with a subtle sweetness and buttery crust. Everyone loves them!” – Jason Todd
This recipe is exactly what I want a lemon bar to be. The filling is impossibly smooth and the shortbread crust literally melts on your tongue.
Here’s what makes them sooooooo delicious:
- I wanted the shortbread crust to be as meltingly tender and buttery as possible. So, I opted for powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar AND replaced some of the all-purpose flour with cornstarch. Powdered sugar gives the shortbread a much softer texture and contributes to that delicious melt-in-your-mouth sensation. Replacing some of the flour with cornstarch lowers the protein content so that the shortbread is ultra tender.
- Triple the lemon flavor. I wanted these lemon bars to have a super intense lemon flavor. To maximize the lemon flavor while keeping a rich, silky texture I used a triple whammy of lemon juice, lemon zest, AND lemon extract. Instead of lemon extract, you can also use lemon oil. I included more information in the recipe notes about the pros and cons of each.
- Egg yolks and milk create a custardy texture. To achieve the silkiest, richest possible texture to the lemon filling, I added a couple of extra egg yolks and whole milk. The extra fat gives these bars a creamy custardy filling, that’s just firm enough to hold its shape.
- Salt! If you’ve been around here for a while, you know how much I love to get on my salt soapbox. Most sweet recipes simply do not have enough salt. In this recipe, salt brings out the flavor in the other ingredients AND brings balance to the delicate dance between sweet and tart.
- Vanilla smooths everything out. There’s something about vanilla that adds a smoothness to lemon, rounding out the corners and tamping down the bitterness without muting the flavor.
How to Store and Freeze Lemon Bars
Lemon bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about 24 hours, and in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. As the days go by, the dusting of powdered sugar has a tendency to disappear into the top of the bars, but the flavor and texture will remain delicious for several days.
You can also freeze lemon bars for up to 3 months. Let the bars cool completely then cut them into squares and place them on a flat plate or baking sheet. Freeze for about an hour, until they are mostly firm. Then remove them from he freezer and wrap each bar individually in a small piece of plastic wrap. Put all the wrapped bars in a zip-top bag or other airtight container and pop them back into the freezer.
Thaw the bars in the refrigerator overnight and give them a dusting of powdered sugar right before serving.
One final note before you get your lemon bar bake on
It’s important to add the lemon filling to a warm crust, so be sure to prepare the filling while the crust is baking. Pour the prepared filling into the warm crust right after you pull it from the oven. Then, continue with the recipe.
Hello, lemon lovers. Here are a few more of my favorite lemon recipes:
- Lemon Loaf Cake
- Olive Oil Cake with Lemon Mascarpone Cream
- Berry Lemon Snack Cake
- Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce
- Mixed Berry Lemon Custard Tart
If you give this recipe a try, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, or take a picture and tag it #ofbatteranddough on Instagram.
For the crust:
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2/3 powdered sugar (confectioners sugar)
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 3/4 tsp table salt (1 tsp kosher salt)
- 12 tbsp salted butter, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 tsp lemon zest
For the lemon bar filling:
- 4 large eggs + 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 2/3 cup lemon juice
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 1/2 tsp table salt (3/4 tsp kosher salt)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp lemon extract (Or, 2-3 drops lemon oil. *See note)
- Additional powdered sugar for sprinkling over the tops of the bars
Prepare the Shortbread Crust
- Prepare a 9×13-inch baking dish: Make a foil sling by laying 2 long sheets of aluminum foil perpendicular to each other over the baking dish. The foil should be long enough to cover the pan and fold over the sides of the pan a few inches. Press the foil into the pan to cover the inside completely. Spray the foil with non-stick baking spray or brush with melted butter. Fold the overhanging foil over the sides of the pan. The overhang will help you lift the lemon bars from the pan after baking.
- Add the flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch and salt to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until combined.
- Add the butter and lemon zest, and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Sprinkle the mixture over the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish and press into an even layer that covers the bottom of the pan and comes 1/2-inch up the sides. Cover and refrigerate the crust for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the crust from the refrigerator and bake uncovered for 20 minutes, until a light golden brown.
While the crust is baking, prepare the filling: (It's important to pour the filling into the crust while it's still warm from the oven.)
- Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and flour in a medium sized bowl until well combined. Add the remaining filling ingredients and whisk to blend well.
- Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and pour the filling into a freshly baked, warm crust.
- Bake until the lemon filing feels set when touched, 23-30 minutes. Remove from the oven to a wire rack and allow the bars to cool completely in the pan.
- When the bars are cool, lift them from the pan using the foil sling and cut into bars with a sharp knife. Sprinkle the tops with powdered sugar and serve. The bars will keep at room temperature for up to 1 day or refrigerated for up to 5 days.
- Lemon extract is relativly inexpensive and generally pretty easy to find. However, it can have a sharp, slightly bitter taste. Lemon oil is a good alternative and even if your local market doesn't carry it, it can be purchased online. See links below for the brands I recomend. Lemon oil is more concentrated than lemon extract, so use it sparingly.
- How to store Lemon Bars: Lemon bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about 24 hours, and in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- You can freeze lemon bars for up to 3 months. Let the bars cool completely then cut them into squares and place them on a flat plate or baking sheet. Freeze for about an hour, until they are mostly firm. Then remove them from he freezer and wrap each bar individually in a small piece of plastic wrap. Put all the wrapped bars in a zip-top bag or other airtight container and pop them back into the freezer.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1 bar
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 193Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 70mgSodium: 189mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 0gSugar: 20gProtein: 3g
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