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Lemon Bars with Shortbread Crust

These are the most luscious, lemony lemon bars with shortbread crust. Melt in your mouth, buttery shortbread is layered with a fresh, full-bodied lemon custard baked on top.

Three cut lemon bars stacked on top of one another
Lemon Bars can be made ahead of time and chilled.

Lemon Bars with Shortbread Crust

It’s a paradox that lemons, like most citrus fruits, peak during winter throughout much of the country, because sunshine-bright lemons just scream spring and summer.  Besides their happy and fresh look, you’ll want to grab plenty of fresh lemons for these lemon bars with shortbread crust. These lemon bars are the season’s mascot.

What You’ll Love About This

  • This lemon bar recipe contains the perfect balance of sweetness to tanginess ratio.
  • You’ll get to use up 3 large lemons plus zest. This is especially awesome if you’re a lucky lemon tree owner.
  • The smooth lemon filling rests atop a mouthwatering buttery shortbread crust that tastes of perfection.
  • These homemade lemon bars are heads and shoulders above any store bought lemon bars.
  • Homemade lemon bars are super budget friendly (you won’t even want coffee shop lemon bars after you try these.)
  • These lemon bars keep well for up to a week in the fridge.
two lemon bars on a white plate with a lemon in the background
Make the most out of fresh lemon juice and zest

How to Make the Best Lemon Bars

  • For the shortbread crust, be sure your butter is chilled to begin with.
  • Freeze butter just long enough so that it can be easily grated using large-hole grater. This makes it so much easier to form the crust.
  • Allow the finished lemon bars to fully chill before slicing in. The filling will set completely while it chills.
  • Lining baking dish with foil that extends beyond the dish will allow for easy removal of the entire dessert onto a cutting board.
  • Leftover lemon bars keep well for up to a week, covered and chilled in the fridge.
three lemon bars on a white plate
Luscious lemon custard layered on top of buttery shortbread


Commonly Asked Questions

How do you know when lemon bars are done baking?

The center of filling should be somewhat firm yet still a bit u0022gooeyu0022 to the touch. When pan is jiggled, the filling shouldn’t shift at all. Once bars are fully cool and chilled in the fridge, they will set nicely.

How can you make sure lemon bars are set?

Be sure to fully bake the crust until golden brown. When in doubt, it’s better to slightly overbake the crust than underbake it, to ensure that the filling on top fully bakes through.

Do I need to line my baking pan with parchment paper?

We highly recommend lining pan with either parchment or heavy duty foil, with enough excess hanging over the edges, for easy removal of the entire dessert onto the cutting board, once chilled.

How long can lemon bars stay fresh?

You can make lemon bars several days in advance. Keep them covered and chilled. Leftover bars can keep for up to a week when covered airtight and stored in the fridge.

Can you freeze lemon bars?

Lemon bars can be frozen, yes. Freeze sliced lemon bars in an airtight container for up to one month. Let them defrost in the fridge and serve them chilled.


Other Treats to Bake and Eat


Video: Watch This Recipe in Action


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lemon bars with lemon slices

Lemon Bars with Shortbread Crust

4.95 from 56 ratings
These are the most luscious, lemony lemon bars with shortbread crust. Melt in your mouth, buttery shortbread is layered with a fresh, full-bodied lemon custard baked on top.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 20
Author: Amy Dong

Ingredients  

For the Crust:

For the Filling:

Instructions

  • For the Crust: Preheat oven to 350F with oven rack at middle position. Press a long piece of foil into 13×9 baking dish, so that the ends hang over the dish (helps with removal of bars).  Grease the foil and set aside.
  • Blend flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, and salt in food processor until fully combined, about 15 seconds. Add butter and process to blend, about 10 seconds. Then pulse until the mixture looks pale yellow, resembling a coarse meal. If you're doing it by hand, mix the dry ingredients together in large bowl.
  • Freeze butter and grate it on large holes of a grater, into the bowl and toss pieces to coat with flour mixture.  Rub the bits with fingers until flour turns pale yellow and resembles coarse meal.  Sprinkle crust mixture into prepared pan and firmly press into an even layer over bottom of pan.  Place pan in freezer for 10 minutes.  Then bake about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  • For the Filling: Whisk eggs, sugar, and flour in large bowl.  Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, milk, and salt to incorporate.
  • Reduce oven temp to 325F. Stir filling mixture well, and pour into warm crust. Bake until filling feels firm upon a very light touch, 20-25 minutes.  Transfer to wire rack and cool completely to room temp.
  • Tightly cover and  chill in fridge before serving. Once chilled, remove entire dessert with foil sling, and cut into squares with a very sharp knife or serrated knife. Dust with powdered sugar upon serving, if desired.

Notes

  • If dusting with powdered sugar on top, wait until you’re ready to serve. Otherwise, powdered sugar will dissolve.
  • Lemon bars keep well in the fridge. Wrap them airtight for up to 4 days.
  • Baked lemon bars can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 1 month.
  • If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and give it a rating♡

Nutrition (per serving)

Serving: 1g | Calories: 160kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 56mg | Sodium: 85mg | Potassium: 22mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 271IU | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Diet: Vegetarian
Method: baking

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Recipe Rating




47 comments

    • Karen L VandenBroek
    • 5 stars

    This is a great recipe. I am gluten sensitive/intolerant so I substitute GF one to one flour for regular flour. It is great. Cannot tell that it’s GF.

    The lemony topping is wonderful. Question though regarding the eggs. It says to use 4 large eggs, slightly beaten – not just the egg yokes. I used the whole egg and had lumps of egg white dotted through out the custard. Did I not beat the eggs thoroughly enough. Still it was a really great recipe, full of lemony flavor.

      • Amy Dong

      Karen, the eggs should be beaten just enough so the raw egg whites aren’t distinguishable from yolks; mix it well into the filling, and it will be smooth. So happy you liked this 🙂

    • Mtms

    Be VERY careful if you freeze the crust in a glass Pyrex pan ! The 350 oven is too hot to handle a frozen glass pan

    • Athena Jones
    • 5 stars

    This one looks savory! I am mesmerized by its soft, fluffy texture and the contrast of the layers. But can I substitute butter with ghee clarified butter? I am lactose-intolerant, and butter is a no-go for me. May I use ghee butter for this recipe? Any suggestions, friends?
    https://milkio.co.nz/ghee-butter/

      • Sheep

      You can probably substitute it. 🙂

    • Maggie
    • 5 stars

    Yum! My family loved them.

      • Amy Dong

      Yay, so happy to hear it!

    • Moop Brown
    • 5 stars

    I really love lemon desserts, especially around this time of the year. Dishes like these always get me in the mood for summer

      • Amy Dong

      Same here 🙂

    • Debbie
    • 5 stars

    These lemon bars are amazing and have the perfect balance of sweet and tart. The shortbread crust was a nice contrast and really balanced the sweetness. This is a recipe I will make over and over.

      • Amy Dong

      We love the sweet-lemony tart balance, too!

    • Erin
    • 5 stars

    I love how easy these bars were to make! And that color of the filling is so cheery. Thanks so much! We loved them.

      • Amy Dong

      So happy you guys enjoyed this, Erin!

    • Addie
    • 5 stars

    So sweet and delicious!

      • Amy Dong

      Thanks!

    • Loreto and Nicoletta
    • 5 stars

    You just said the two magic words, lemon, and short crust! I would take these in knee deep snow or 40 degree heat. The color just says, joyfulness no matter what the day looks like!❤

      • Amy Dong

      I wholeheartedly agree!! 🙂

    • Laura Arteaga
    • 5 stars

    I’ve been looking for lemon recipes as my two lemon trees are full of fruits! This is such a great way to use lemons, can’t wait to try it!

      • Amy Dong

      Oooh, so jealous of your lemon trees, Laura!

    • tatiana
    • 5 stars

    Yummy and super lemony

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