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Classic Lemon Bars (Recipe)

A close look at a plate of lemon bars with powdered sugar toppings.

Lemon Bars are a classic recipe that is wonderful for bringing to potlucks, for serving to guests, or sending in lunch boxes. Combining the flavors of tart lemons with the crisp buttery flavor of shortbread, lemon bars are an easy recipe to whip up for those you love.

Lemon Bars combine two popular flavors. Lemon custard, the gooey, lemony part of the lemon bar, was quite popular as far back as the Italian Renaissance. It was also during this time period when shortbread became a common sweet treat. Lemon bars provide the creamy tang of lemon custard as well as the mildly sweet crunch of a shortbread cookie.

A close look at a plate of lemon bars with powdered sugar toppings.

Classic Lemon Bars Recipe

About the Homestratosphere Editorial Staff & Writers
With the refreshing tang of lemon and the buttery crunch of a shortbread base, this recipe for Lemon Bars will become a standby recipe for bringing to a workplace brunch or for serving to guests in your home. These old fashioned lemon bars freeze well, so you can make them ahead of time and freeze them. Then, you will always be ready for unexpected company.
Prep Time 30 mins
Baking Time 40 mins
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
Course Snack
Cuisine Italian
Servings 20 Squares

Equipment

  • 9 by 13 Inches Baking Pan
  • Medium-Sized Bowl
  • Measuring Cup
  • Wire whisk

Ingredients
  

Crust Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup Cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 stick Butter

Lemon Custard Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Lemon Juice
  • 4 pcs Large Eggs
  • 1/4 cup Flour

Topping Ingredient

  • 2 tbsp Powdered Sugar

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray a nine by thirteen baking pan with cooking spray.
  • If you prefer, you can line the pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil to aid in removing the bars from the pan. Spray the parchment or foil with cooking spray.
  • In this recipe, you start by creating the shortbread base for the lemon bars.
  • Using a fork, stir together in a medium bowl the flour, cornstarch, salt, and the sugar.
  • Cut the stick of butter into small pieces to help you more easily incorporate it with the dry ingredients.
  • Using a pastry blender or a fork, cut the butter into the flour mixture. Take your time and be patient.
  • By the time the butter is fully incorporated there should be no large chunks of butter and the mixture should resemble cornmeal with small blobs in the mixture.
    The butter is fully absorbed by the flour.
  • Using the back of a measuring cup, firmly press the dry mixture in the prepared pan. This should create an even layer all over the base of the pan.
    The dry mixture is then added onto the bottom of the baking pan.
  • Bake this layer in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the top edges are just barely beginning to brown.
  • Remove it from the oven, but leave the oven on.
  • While the crust is baking you can prepare the lemon custard.
  • To cut down on dirtying more dishes, you can use the same bowl for preparing the custard layer that you did for the crust.
  • Crack the eggs into the bowl and whisk them well.
  • Add the sugar and lemon juice along with the flour.
  • Whisk for a few minutes to fully incorporate all of the ingredients.
    The ingredients for the lemon custard are mixed in one bowl.
  • Using a rubber spatula to scrape the custard out of the bowl, pour the lemon mixture over top of the pre-baked crust. You don’t have to allow the crust to cool.
  • Put the lemon bars back into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the center of the lemon bars is set.
  • Remove the lemon bars and allow them to cool to room temperature.
  • Shake the powdered sugar over the top of the lemon bars before slicing them into squares and serving.
    This is a look at a plate of freshly-baked lemon bars.
  • To store the lemon bars, cover the pan tightly with foil or place the bars into an airtight container. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.
  • o freeze the lemon bars, you can place them into a freezer bag, press out as much air as you can, and freeze them for up to three months.
  • To thaw, place the frozen bars on a plate in a single layer and allow them to thaw in the refrigerator overnight, lightly covered with plastic wrap.

Notes

Did you know that the bar cookie did not exist until the 1930s? Nobody is sure who first came up with the brilliant idea of baking cookie dough in a pan and slicing the treats into squares, but modern bakers appreciate the ease and convenience that bar cookies bring to the kitchen. The earliest flavors of bar cookies included peanut butter bars, date bars, toffee bars, and coconut bars.
It wasn’t until 1962 that the first recipe for lemon bars was published in a newspaper, although the recipe may have been around for some time before then. The original recipe featured an ingredients list that is a little different from common modern lemon bar recipes, but the Betty Crocker Company published a Lemon Bar recipe that is much more similar to what we consider for lemon bars in 1963.
Our recipe for Lemon Bars is stiff enough to be eaten in the hand or, for a more refined presentation, you can serve them on a dainty dessert plate with a fork. These bars are rather sturdy, so they might be a good choice to pack in a lunch box for the kids at school or for adults at work. They’re also great to bring for a potluck or if you are bringing dinner to a family who’s dealing with hospitalization or a new baby. These Lemon Bars are just a very versatile, very easy, and inexpensive recipe to have on hand.
Keyword Lemon Bars, Recipe, Snack
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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