Lemon Bars

lemon bars stacked on a dessert plate
The Spruce / Diana Rattray
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Total: 60 mins
Servings: 24 servings
Yield: 24 bars
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
239 Calories
9g Fat
36g Carbs
3g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 24
Amount per serving
Calories 239
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 12%
Saturated Fat 5g 26%
Cholesterol 75mg 25%
Sodium 111mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 36g 13%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 25g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 4mg 20%
Calcium 13mg 1%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 49mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

There's so much to love in these lemon bars, from the rich, smooth, tart lemon filling on a crisp, buttery shortbread crust to the sweet dusting of powdered sugar. There's no need to dig out the mixer to prepare these wonderful bars. All you have to do is melt the butter, juice the lemons, and stir.

You may make lemon bars up to 24 hours before you plan on serving them. Make sure to let the bars cool completely before you transfer them to the refrigerator, and don't dust them with confectioners' sugar until just before serving.

These bars are always a hit. Make them for visiting family, a special occasion or party, or take them to a school function or bake sale. You can't go wrong with lemon bars!

"These lemon bars were delicious. If, for some reason, you were to forget to make the lemon filling, I'd be fine just eating the shortbread cookie all by itself. They baked up nicely, were both sweet and tangy, and were easy to slice and serve. This recipe is a keeper." —Carrie Parente

Classic Lemon Bar Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


For the Shortbread Crust:

  • 2 cups (255 grams) all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Lemon Filling:

  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

  • 2/3 cup (85 grams) all-purpose flour

  • 7 large eggs

  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients and preheat the oven to 325 F.

    ingredients for lemon bars
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  2. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and line with parchment paper. If possible, leave some overhang so you can easily remove the entire flat of bars from the pan.

    line the pan with parchment paper for the lemon bar crust
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  3. For the crust, combine 2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir in the melted butter and vanilla to form a smooth dough; press the mixture evenly in the prepared baking pan and bake for about 20 minutes, or until set. Remove the partially baked crust to a rack.

    buttery shortbread crust for lemon bars
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  4. In a large bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups of granulated sugar with 2/3 cup of flour. Whisk to blend thoroughly. Whisk in the eggs until well blended. Add the lemon juice and continue whisking until smooth. Pour the filling mixture over the warm crust.

    lemon filling mixture
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  5. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is set, about 25 to 30 minutes. If there is any jiggle, give the bars a few more minutes. Remove the pan to a rack and let the bars cool completely before slicing.

    baked lemon bars in the pan
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  6. If desired, sift confectioners' sugar over the cooled bars. Refrigerate leftover lemon bars.

    lemon bar on a plate
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

Recipe Tips

  • While it may be tempting to replace the fresh lemon juice with bottled lemon juice, there's really no comparison. Fresh lemon juice is brighter and fresher tasting, and it only takes a few minutes to juice lemons.
  • Be sure to zest your lemons using a microplane prior to cutting them open to juice. It will make the zesting process much easier.
  • To get the most juice from your lemons, place the uncut lemons in the microwave for about 10 to 20 seconds.
  • For neat and clean cuts, use the parchment paper overhang to remove the entire flat of completely cooled bars from the pan. Using a long, sharp knife, slice the bars into squares, cleaning the knife after each cut.

How to Store Lemon Bars

  • Like any custard dessert made with eggs, lemon bars must be stored in the refrigerator. Place the lemon bars in an airtight container, separated by sheets of wax paper. Store the bars in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • To freeze several lemon bars or a whole batch, avoid dusting them with powdered sugar. Cut the bars into squares and arrange them on a large baking sheet. Place the pan in the freezer for about 2 to 3 hours, or until the lemon bars are frozen. Wrap the individual lemon bars in plastic wrap and place them in a container or zip-close freezer bag. Freeze lemon bars for up to 3 months.
  • Defrost lemon bars in the refrigerator and dust with confectioners' sugar just before serving.

How Many Lemons Make a Cup of Juice?

Depending on the size and juiciness of your lemons, you will get approximately 2 to 3 tablespoons of juice from each fresh lemon. Plan on 5 to 8 lemons for 1 cup of juice.

Are Lemon Bars Supposed to Be Gooey?

Lemon bars are made with a custard-like layer on a hard shortbread crust, so the filling will be soft but should hold its shape when cooled and sliced. The filling can be somewhat gooey, especially if they're slightly warm or have been allowed to come to room temperature. Make sure they are fully baked and cooled completely for the best consistency. When fully baked, the filling will be set and look dry with no jiggle.