These Lemon Bars have a bright and tangy lemon curd filling on top of a buttery shortbread crust, finished with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar. It’s a classic for a reason!
Bold, tart flavor. Silky, luscious texture. Soft, buttery shortbread.
There are so many ways that lemon bars get it right as one of my favorite desserts ever.
I first posted this recipe in 2013, after my brother Stephen asked me to share my best lemon bar recipe. That version was delicious, but since then, I’ve come to adjust and refine the recipe further.
And I think this revamped version may be here to stay indefinitely.
Here’s what I love about this recipe:
- The ratio of crust to filling is perfect to me. The crust is intentionally quite thin, just enough to hold up the lemon curd and give a texture contrast. It’s about half as thick as the previous version.
- The lemon curd retains a silky smooth texture while being less sweet than the original. It’s far from cloying, and has just the right balance of sweet and tart.
- It’s easy. I’ve never been the type to love the really complicated, involved desserts, and this is one that everyone can pull off.
How to Make Lemon Bars:
To start, make the shortbread crust.
Cream together unsalted butter and sugar until it’s spread around the bowl, then add flour, fresh lemon zest, and salt:
Mix for a minute or so, until it comes together into a crumbly dough:
Press the shortbread firmly and evenly into the bottom of an 8×11 dish:
Bake the crust for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. And in the meantime we’ll make the lemon curd filling.
In a bowl, combine 5 eggs with granulated sugar:
Whisk together until well blended, then add fresh lemon juice and flour:
Whisk to combine, then pour the filling over the baked shortbread crust:
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until set, but still jiggly in the middle.
Let the lemon bars cool completely before slicing.
Even better is to refrigerate them, so you get cleaner lines (and any leftovers will need to be refrigerated as well, FYI).
Dust the top with confectioner’s sugar before serving. Enjoy!
How to Store Lemon Bars: These should be stored in the refrigerator, for up to 5 days.
How to Freeze Lemon Bars: Fully bake and cool the bars, then store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
How to Cut Lemon Bars: These are easiest to cut after they are fully chilled in the refrigerator. Run the knife under hot water first, then dry with a towel, and cut.
More Favorite Desserts:
For the Crust:
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1/4 cup sugar
- zest of 1 lemon
- 5 oz all-purpose flour, by weight (1 cup, if measuring)
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
For the Lemon Curd:
- 5 large eggs
- 1.5 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
- 2.5 oz all-purpose flour, by weight (1/2 cup, if measuring)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- To make the crust, in a large bowl using a hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar for about 20 seconds, until it has spread around the bowl.
- Add the lemon zest, flour, and salt, and mix until combined into a moist, crumbly dough. If you pinch a few crumbles together, they should hold together well.
- Evenly press the dough into an 8×11 pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the shortbread is a light golden brown. Then, let the crust cool at room temperature until no longer hot to the touch, about 10 minutes.
- To make the lemon curd filling, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until smooth, about 30 seconds.
- Add the lemon juice and flour, and whisk until smooth.
- Pour this mixture over the fully baked shortbread and bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the curd has set but still jiggles a little bit in the middle when you shake the pan.
- Let the lemon bars cool at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving, and for cleaner slices, refrigerate the bars until chilled.
- When ready to serve, cut into squares and dust with confectioner's sugar, if desired. Enjoy!
Post updated in March 2019 with adjusted recipe, new photos, and new writing. Originally published June 2013.