The Best Gooey Lemon Bar Recipe

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This is my favorite lemon bar recipe! They’re made with a 3-ingredient buttery shortbread crust, and the lemon custard is sweet, tart, and gooey! This has been our family recipe for over 30 years, and it’s the best lemon bar recipe.

Close-up picture of a lemon bar with powdered sugar and edible pink flowers.

The process of making lemon bars is straightforward. It begins with a simple, three-ingredient crust that provides a buttery shortbread texture for the gooey lemon custard to sit atop.

The tart lemon filling is made in one bowl and whisked together. I garnish them with a dusting of powdered sugar, which complements the bars’ gooey texture with a hint of sweetness.

Be sure to check out all of my lemon recipes too!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe 🍋 

  • Decades-Proven Recipe: A classic recipe cherished for over 30 years, ensuring a fail-proof delight with the best lemon flavor.
  • Heavenly Shortbread Crust: My crust complements the lemon filling exquisitely, striking a harmonious balance in every bite.
  • Make Ahead-Friendly: These lemon bars are perfect for freezing, making them a convenient treat you can enjoy anytime.
  • Easy to Make: This recipe requires no blender or mixer, just a few mixing bowls and a whisk. 
Lemon bars on a plate with a gold for and edible flowers.

Baking Tools

  • Mixing Bowls
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons
  • Juicer
  • A 9-inch square baking dish is ideal.
  • Parchment Paper
  • Whisk
  • Rubber Spatula
Lemon juice, sugar and flour to make lemon bars. - lemon zest, easy lemon bars, unsalted butter

Shopping List and Ingredient Notes

Butter: Use unsalted butter for the crust to control the salt level. The butter needs to be softened to create a tender shortbread base.

Flour: All-purpose flour works best for a sturdy crust and to thicken the filling.

Sugar: Powdered sugar is ideal for a smooth crust. For the filling, granulated sugar is perfect for achieving a glossy, sweet-tart lemon topping.

Confectioners Sugar: This is used to sweeten the shortbread crust.

Baking Powder: This acts as a leavening agent for the bars.

Eggs: They are essential for the structure and richness of the lemon filling. I prefer large or extra-large eggs for consistency.

Fresh Lemon Juice: Freshly squeezed lemon juice and freshly grated zest are non-negotiable for the filling. They provide the bright, zesty flavor characteristic of lemon bars.

Shortbread Dough in a bowl.

Recipe Tips and Variations

How to Remove: Bars can be challenging to remove. Ensure they are cooled completely, then go around the edge with a knife to loosen the crust from the sides of the pan before cutting it into squares. Remember, the first square is the hardest to take out! 

Gooey Goodness: These are supposed to be gooey and a little messy. They taste better that way, so don’t be alarmed if the filling is gooey.

Lemon Freshness: The brightness and tang of the lemon flavor are crucial, so I always use fresh lemons, and when my Meyer lemons are in season, I go with those first. 

Pan Size: Use an 8×8 or 9×9 pan to make these bars. A metal pan works best, but a glass pan will also work. Just keep in mind that the baking time may vary slightly.

Gluten-Free Option: For a gluten-free version of these lemon bars, use 1:1 gluten-free flour instead of all-purpose flour for the crust. The results are equally delicious!

Other Citrus Fruits: While lemon bars are a classic, you can easily experiment with other citrus fruits like limes or make orange bars using orange juice for a unique twist on this recipe. 

Allow to Cool: Allow the bars to cool completely before slicing, as this helps them to set and makes them easier to cut. This could mean letting them sit for up to 1 hour.

Pouring lemon batter into a crust to make lemon bars.

Storing and Freezing Lemon Bars

While these lemon bars rarely last long in my household, they can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

For more extended storage, I recommend freezing them. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and place them in an airtight container before storing them in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Gooey homemade lemon bars.

Serving Suggestions

Lemon bars are perfect for any occasion, such as a baby, a bridal shower, or a sweet treat after dinner. Here are some ways to elevate this dessert:

  • Garnish: Garnishing with edible flowers and a dusting of powdered sugar adds a touch of elegance to the presentation.
  • Whipped Cream: Serve these bars with a dollop of whipped cream on top for added sweetness and creaminess.
  • Fruit Platter: Pair these bars with a platter of fresh fruit or other fruits for a balanced and refreshing dessert.

Serve it with creamy lemonade for an extra treat!

Easy homemade lemon bars.

These gooey lemon bars have become a staple in our family. Their buttery shortbread crust pairs perfectly with the tart-sweet custard, striking that delightful balance that makes a dessert recipe unforgettable.

This is an easy dessert to make and has won over crowds at bake sales and family gatherings. I can’t wait to hear what you think.

Let me know if you make this easy lemon bars recipe by leaving a comment and review below! 

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lemon bar recipe

The Best Lemon Bar Recipe

Easy, gooey, and tangy lemon bars that are so delicious!
4.84 from 12 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 392kcal
Author: Eden

Ingredients

Lemon bar crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 cup butter

Lemon bar filling

  • 4 large organic eggs
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice, about 2 or 3 lemons will do the trick
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Instructions

For the crust

  • Using clean hands, combine all the ingredients until the dough clings together.
  • Press the dough into a 9×9 greased pan.
    Lemon bar crust pressed into a 9x9 baking pan.
  • Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

For the filling

  • In a mixing bowl, add all of the eggs and whisk together.
  • Then, continue to mix in the rest of the ingredients. Try not to over-mix the filling.

Assemble

  • Take the crust out of the oven and pour the lemon filling on top.
    Pouring lemon bar filling over a warm crust.
  • Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
  • Let it cool completely before you cut into squares or shapes.
    Baked lemon bars in a pan.
  • Once the shapes are cut, sift powdered sugar on top and garnish with edible flowers!

Video

Notes

The lemon bars may need more time to bake, so adjust as you need. 

Nutrition

Calories: 392kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 95mg | Sodium: 157mg | Potassium: 71mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 38g | Vitamin A: 550IU | Vitamin C: 2.6mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 1.4mg
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Do Lemon Bars Need to Be Refrigerated?

To maintain their stability and freshness, I always refrigerate lemon bars if not consumed on the same day. Wrap them gently in plastic wrap and keep them in the fridge.

Can Lemon Bars Sit out Overnight?

I don’t recommend leaving lemon bars out overnight due to the risk of bacteria growth from the egg content. It’s best to store them in the refrigerator.

How Long Can You Keep Lemon Bars?

In the fridge, lemon bars stay suitable for a few days. For long-term storage, freeze them for up to four months — a convenient option for having desserts ready.

Can I Freeze Lemon Bars?

Absolutely, freezing is a great option. Wrap them individually in wax paper, again in plastic wrap, then into a freezer bag or airtight container, keeping them towards the back of your freezer.

How Do You Cut Lemon Bars Cleanly?

For clean cuts, allow the bars to cool completely. A hot, wet, sharp knife slices them neatly, preserving their alluring appearance.

Can I use bottled lemon juice instead of fresh lemons in a lemon bar recipe?

I do not recommend bottled lemon juice as it won’t be the same. The fresh lemons provide the best tangy flavor and ideal sweetness that bottled lemon juice doesn’t.

Gooey lemon bar recipe.

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