These Classic Lemon Bars have a sweet yet tangy lemon filling, a buttery shortbread crust, and plenty of powdered sugar dusted on top. Homemade lemon bars make an easy dessert recipe for the spring and summer months. Plus, a step-by-step recipe video.
This time in my life also involved knee highs, saddle shoes, and watching Robin Hood on repeat for days straight (and by repeat I mean once the VHS was over, I would have to get up, pull the tape out, put it in a rewinder and wait…life of the 90’s kid).
I was a very independent 6 year old.
While all things strawberry are still amazing, my tastes have matured a bit in my years, and lemon just might top the list of all-time favorite flavors. And these sweet and tangy lemon squares with powdered sugar are definitely on the all-time favorite dessert list.
Three Reasons Why These Are My Favorite Easy Lemon Bars (aka, Old Fashioned Lemon Squares):
1. Simple Ingredients: Homemade lemon bars require very few ingredients, and most of them are repeated ingredients in the shortbread crust and in the lemon filling.
2. Easy Recipe: Similarly to the ingredients, this is a very easy lemon bar recipe with a shortbread crust (a very buttery, very melt-in-your-mouth shortbread crust). The hardest part is waiting for the bars to cool.
3. Perfect Texture & Flavor: Lemon squares can be very, very sweet, and they can also be very, very tangy. This lemon bar recipe has the perfect flavor and texture. My secret ingredient? Lemon zest! Many homemade lemon square recipes call for lemon juice only. The zest adds so much flavor without adding too much liquid or tang!
Classic Lemon Bar Ingredients:
- Melted Unsalted Butter: Unsalted butter is important in this recipe because there is salt already in the recipe. If you use salted butter, the recipe will be too salty.
- All Purpose Flour
- Powdered Sugar: Granulated sugar will make the crust a little bit grainy. Powdered sugar is finer so it makes the perfect buttery, sandy shortbread crust.
- Lemon Zest: It’s a subtle hint of lemon, but adding lemon to the shortbread crust enhances the flavor of both the crust and the filling.
Lemon Bar Filling:
- Granulated Sugar
- Lemon Zest
- Lemon Juice: Make sure you use fresh lemon juice, as it has the best flavor. Bottled lemon juice differs slightly in flavor than fresh lemon juice.
- All Purpose Flour
- Powdered Sugar
- Remember the shortbread crust is made with powdered sugar, and the filling is made with granulated sugar. Then, you dust the baked lemon bars with additional powdered sugar.
- Powdered sugar is very, very fine, which is important for a shortbread crust, otherwise you will have a very grainy shortbread crust if you use granulated sugar. The granulated sugar will not dissolve in the crust, but it will dissolve in the lemon bar filling.
Other Lemon Recipes To Try Next:
Coconut Lemon Bars: A lot like these Classic Lemon Bars but with sweetened coconut to give them an extra tropical twist.
Lemon Meringue Pie: Mile high meringue topped on a ridiculously creamy and silky lemon custard.
Blueberry Lemon Cream Pie: Blueberry pie filling is layered with a lemon custard and toppd with soft whipped cream.
No Bake Lemon Cream Pie: An easy summer recipe with a golden oreo crust and a no bake lemon pie filling that’s creamy and dreamy.
How To Make Lemon Bars From Scratch:
- Shortbread Crust: Mix flour, powdered sugar, salt, and lemon zest together. Drizzle in melted butter. Mix until all ingredients are combined.
- Bake: Line a 9×9 baking pan with non-stick foil or parchment paper (or grease it with baking spray). Press the crust into the bottom of the pan. Bake. Cool.
- Lemon Filling: Whisk eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice together. Add in granulated sugar and flour, and whisk until smooth (a small lump here and there is fine).
- Bake: Pour filling on top of par-baked shortbread crust. Bake.
- Cool: Allow the lemon bars to cool before adding powdered sugar. You can cool them to room temperature and serve, or chill them in the fridge.
- Lemon Bars should be refrigerated if you have any leftovers, or if you make them ahead of time.
- Lemon bars have a custard filling so they really should be refrigerated.
- However, they will be okay at room temperature for a few hours so they’re a perfect dessert bar for parties, potlucks, summer picnics, etc.!
- Can you freeze lemon bars? Yes, you can! Freeze them before adding powdered sugar (add that whenever you serve the bars).
- Let the bars cool to room temperature before cutting into squares. Then, flash freeze them by putting them evenly spaced out on a baking tray. Freeze for 1-2 hours.
- After flash freezing them, wrap each bar individually in plastic wrap, then store them in a freezer safe container.
- Flash freezing them keeps them from getting too messy when you wrap them in plastic wrap, and it prevents the bars from sticking too much to the plastic wrap.
- When you are ready to serve, you can unwrap them and place them on a serving tray. It takes about 30-45 minutes to thaw to room temperature. Or, you can thaw them overnight.
- Top with powdered sugar before serving.
Final Classic Lemon Bars Tips and Tricks:
- Room Temperature Ingredients: Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature. In the case of these lemon squares, the only thing you need to worry about are the eggs. I suggest cracking them and then letting them come to room temperature (they will come to room temp quicker out of their shells).
- Par Bake Shortbread Crust: The crust needs to be baked a little bit first. The crust is done as soon as it starts to turn a light golden brown. If it goes too long, the crust might be overdone when you bake the lemon bars later.
- Fresh Lemon Juice & Zest: This recipe calls for both lemon juice and lemon zest. Definitely use fresh lemon juice in this recipe, and make sure you don’t use overripe lemons (ones that are squishy and turning a brown/yellow). Overripe lemons are difficult to zest, and they often have a very bitter lemon juice flavor rather than a fresh lemon flavor.
Hello, gorgeous. I’ll take a dozen. ❤️
These Classic Lemon Bars have a sweet yet tangy lemon filling, a buttery shortbread crust, and plenty of powdered sugar dusted on top. Homemade lemon bars make an easy dessert recipe for the spring and summer months.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 2/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 Tbsp lemon zest
- 1/2 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/2 cup flour
- Powdered sugar for dusting, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x9 baking pan, or line it with parchment paper (or non stick foil).
Mix all purpose flour, powdered sugar, salt, and lemon zest together.
Add in melted butter. Mix until the shortbread dough is well combined.
Using a rubber spatula, press the dough into the baking dish in an even layer.
Bake the crust for 12-15 minutes, or until just barely turning golden brown. (Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before adding the lemon filling.)
In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, lemon juice, and lemon zest together.
Next, add in granulated sugar and all purpose flour and whisk until smooth and combined.
Pour the filling over the cooled crust and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until the filling is set and no longer jiggles when gently shaken.
Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to eat. (Leftovers should be stored in the fridge too.)
Cut into squares. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.