Nothing says sunshine like sweet & tangy lemon bars! Spring is here and citrus is abundant, what better time to whip up a pan of these bright and sunny beauties?
Lemon bars are my absolute FAVE! The tangy curd balanced with a bit of sweet all atop a flaky crust make these irresistible. You could also try Lemon Bundt Cake, Perfect Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins, & Lemon Sugar Cookies to tickle that lemon fancy.
The BEST Lemon Bars
The tart smell of juicing and zesting lemons just sends my senses abuzz. But, you know what smells even more amazing?! The finished product. Sweet Lemon Bar perfection!
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 – a flaky masterpiece.
How to Make Lemon Bars
- Whisk dry ingredients: flour, cornstarch, powdered sugar, brown sugar, and salt.
- Blend in cubed butter (using two knives or a pastry blender) until pea sized crumbs form.
- Press mixture firmly in an even layer on bottom of a parchment lined and buttered 9×13 inch baking dish. Make sure there are no cracks
- Bake crust for about 12-15 minutes until light golden brown
The filling is a little more intricate and calls for more ingredients than a traditional lemon bar, 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!
- Whisk dry ingredients: granulated sugar, flour, and salt in a large mixing bowl
- Slowly incorporate wet ingredients: lemon zest, lemon juice, eggs, egg yolks, heavy cream, and vanilla (if using)
- Whisk until smooth and slightly foamy
- Pour over hot crust
- Bake at 325 for about 20-25 minutes until filling is set
- filling will not jiggle and may be slightly brown
- Cool for 1 hour, then chill for 2-3 hours.
- Dust with powder sugar
Pre-made crust shortcut: The best crust is obviously a homemade shortbread crust. Some recipes use sugar cookie cookie dough as the crust. I haven’t personally tried this before but it does seem like an interesting and delicious idea.
Variations: You can swap out 1/4 c. of lemon juice for orange juice, lime juice, strawberry or raspberry puree
How to Store + Tips
Storing / freezing
You can freeze these bars for 3-4 months. You can cut the bars and then place them on a baking sheet and freeze uncovered for an hour to fully set them. Then wrap each individual bar in plastic wrap and place all of them in a large freezer bag. Thaw in the fridge and then dust with powdered sugar before eating. You can/should store these in the fridge because they are basically a custard. They will last up to 4 days in the fridge in an airtight container.
Make Ahead of Time
Yes you can make them up to 2 days in advance. Just let them sit at room temperature until completely cool and then cover them with plastic wrap and store them in the fridge.
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!
For more treats, check out:
- 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.