Classic Lemon Bars
It’s been a while since I’ve made lemon bars… far too long! Now that spring is here and citrus is abundant, it just seemed like the perfect time to whip up a pan of these bright and sunny beauties. So that’s exactly what I did. I spent one afternoon juicing and zesting the biggest lemons I’ve ever seen… boy did they smell amazing!
But you know what smelled even more amazing?! The finished product. Not only did the bars themselves smell heavenly, but they made our whole house smell divine too! So let’s talk about what makes these so delicious. To start, the crust uses both powdered sugar and brown sugar. I’ve found that brown sugar gives the crust the best flavor and texture. Plus a generous amount of cornstarch helps keep it thick and crisp, almost shortbread-like.
When it comes to the filling, well, it’s a little more intricate. There are more ingredients called for than in traditional lemon bars, but the filling is sweet, tangy and perfectly custard-like. I love using zest for more flavor and a tad bit more sugar for sweetness. Heavy cream and vanilla extract help keep things in balance too. You’d be surprised by what a difference they both make! The final key to making these bars turn out perfectly is baking them for the proper amount of time. You’ve got to make sure they’re set! And once they are, remove them and let them cool at room temperature for an hour. Then transfer them to your refrigerator (uncovered so condensation doesn’t form) to set up for 2-3 hours. I know, the wait is killer. But the end result is worth it.
I hope you’ll give these lovely classic lemon bars a try- they’re always a huge hit with everyone who tries them! Enjoy & happy baking! P.S. check out the notes for some tasty variations :)
- 1¾ c. all-purpose flour
- ¼ c. cornstarch
- ⅓ c. powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
- ⅓ c. brown sugar
- ½ tsp. salt
- 12 tbsp. (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cubed
- 2 c. granulated sugar
- ⅓ c. all-purpose flour
- ⅛ tsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. lemon zest
- 1 c. fresh lemon juice (4-5 large lemons)
- 4 large eggs
- 3 large egg yolks
- ¼ c. heavy cream
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line with parchment or foil and butter a 9x13-inch baking dish, set aside.
- In a medium size mixing bowl whisk together the flour, cornstarch, powdered sugar, brown sugar and salt. Add cubed butter and blend (using a pastry blender) until the mixture begins to form pea-size crumbles. You can also do this in a food processor if you have one. Firmly press the mixture into an even layer on bottom and ½-inch up the sides of the prepared baking dish. Make sure you don't have any cracks in the crust. Place in the oven and bake until lightly golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, flour and salt. Slowly incorporate the lemon zest, lemon juice, eggs, egg yolks, heavy cream and vanilla (if using). Whisk vigorously until smooth (the mixture may be slightly foamy, that's ok). Pour over the hot crust, turn oven temperature down to 325 and return to oven to bake until the filling is set, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 1 hour, then place uncovered in the refrigerator to chill for 2-3 hours before dusting with powdered sugar, cutting and serving.