Six ingredients are all you need for these easy (and best) lemon bars. Bursting with great sweet-tart lemon taste and a buttery shortbread crust, they are everything a lemon bar should be. Perfect for every day or take them to any special gathering.
We frequently make this super easy recipe for small groups like coffee meetups, bake sales, or special family meals. I usually make a half recipe, but I will do the full recipe for larger groups.
Based on All Recipes - The Best Lemon Bars, with a 4.5-star rating, simple instructions, and not too many ingredients, it was for me. With a few modifications and simplifications—the results were excellent.
👨🍳How to make this recipe
- Preheat the oven and prep a baking dish with parchment paper on the bottom and butter sides.
- Mix the crust of softened butter with sugar and flour.
- Press the crust into the prepared pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Mix filling of sugar, flour, eggs, and lemon juice.
- Pour the filling into the baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.
- Cool at room temperature and dust with powdered sugar.
- Refrigerate before cutting.
The juice of 4 medium lemons will make about ⅔ cup of juice. There is some improvement with real fresh lemon juice, so use them if you have them.
A medium lemon will have 2 ½ to 3 tablespoons of juice, so use four medium lemons for the ⅔ cup of juice.
Add some lemon zest for more taste–about two tablespoons will do.
I usually don't have fresh lemons on hand, so the bottle of good quality lemon juice comes to the rescue. I have had issues with generic lemon juice, so pick a brand you trust.
The second advantage of bottled lemon juice is that this becomes a complete pantry recipe with ingredients I always have on hand.
Other Juice: You can get different flavors by using orange or other juices.
To me, lemon bars are on a sweet shortbread crust. Just a simple butter, flour, and sugar crust to let the lemon filling be the star. It needs to be baked lightly to firm up before adding the lemon filling.
A Graham cracker crust can be used if you wish.
Crush 16 sheets of Graham crackers. Add ¼ cup powdered sugar, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and ¼ teaspoon salt if using unsalted butter. Mix to combine. Melt 5 oz. butter and mix in well.
Press into the bottom of the properly prepared dish and run up the side about ¼ inch. Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes to firm up.
The eggs and flour will hold the filling together, while the sugar and lemon juice add the taste. You may be tempted to adjust things but resist that temptation, or it may not set up well.
I suggest glass and not metal due to sticking issues and possible metallic taste from metal.
The full recipe needs a 9X13 baking pan like a cake pan. A half recipe, which is what I usually will make, uses an 8X8 or 6X9 dish. A 9-inch round will also work.
Use parchment on the bottom and butter the sides. You will still need to use a knife around the outside to remove it.
Helpful Tip: Putting a few dots of butter in the corners of the bottom of the pan will keep the parchment from shifting.
You can also use two crossed sheets of parchment that hang over the sides.
Please use parchment paper, or you will be digging out your lemon bars and making a mess.
❄️How to Store Lemon Bars
Not a good idea, the bars are okay for a few hours for serving but should otherwise be refrigerated.
They are good for 3 days air-tight. On the 4th day, they start to lose texture.
If you know you are freezing the bars, skip the dusting of powdered sugar. Cut into serving size and freeze for a few hours on a tray separated.
After the initial freeze, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then a freezer Zip-Lock bag. They should be good for 3-4 months.
This recipe is listed in these categories. See them for more similar recipes.
🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350°. Prep a 9 by 13 baking dish. Give it a light brush of butter, then cover the bottom with parchment paper. You may also use crossed sheets of parchment paper.
Soften 1 cup (two sticks) of butter in the microwave. Mix the softened butter, 2 cups flour, and ½ cup sugar. If unsalted butter, add ¼ teaspoon salt. It will look crumbly. You can mix by hand, but it is easier with a small mixer.
Press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until firm and lightly brown.
Whisk together 1 ½ cups sugar and ⅓ cup flour. Add 4 eggs and the juice of 4 medium lemons (or ⅔ cup lemon juice.) Mix well.
Pour the lemon/egg mixture over the baked crust—Bake for an additional 20 minutes.
Remove from oven, cool for 1 hour at room temperature, and dust with powdered sugar.
Cool in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours before cutting with a sharp knife into about 2-inch squares.
Easy Lemon Bars
- 1 cup butter - 2 sticks
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 cups flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt - if using unsalted butter
- 1 ½ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup flour
- 4 medium lemons - ⅔ cup of lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest - optional
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°. Prep a 9 by 13 baking dish. Give it a light brush of butter, then cover the bottom with parchment paper. You may also use crossed sheets of parchment paper.
- Soften 1 cup (two sticks) of butter in the microwave. Mix the softened butter, 2 cups flour, and ½ cup sugar. If unsalted butter, add ¼ teaspoon salt. It will look crumbly. You can mix by hand but it is easier with a small mixer.
- Press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until firm and lightly brown.
- Whisk together 1 ½ cups sugar and ⅓ cup flour. Add 4 eggs and the juice of 4 medium lemons (or ⅔ cup lemon juice.) Mix well.
- Pour the lemon/egg mixture over the baked crust—Bake for an additional 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven cool for 1 hour at room temperature and dust with powdered sugar.
- Cool in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours before cutting with a sharp knife into about 2-inch squares.
My Private Notes
- An easy recipe to cut in half using an 8 by 8, 9 by 6, or 9-inch round baking dish.
- You may use fresh lemons or lemon juice.
- If you want a Graham cracker crust instead of shortbread, see details in the post.
- A medium lemon will have 2 ½ to 3 tablespoons of juice, so for the ⅔ cup of juice, use 4 medium lemons.
- Add some lemon zest for more taste–about 2 tablespoons will do.
- Be sure to cool completely before cutting.
- The bars should be refrigerated for storage and should be good for 3-4 days. You may also freeze them for three months but see detailed freezing instructions in the post.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Editors Note: Originally published February 7, 2017. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.