The best Creamy Lemon Bars have an easy shortbread crust and a layer of thick and creamy lemon filling. So tangy and sweet – a classic dessert recipe!
These Creamy Lemon Bars are such a fun, easy dessert, and SO delicious! We love fabulous Spring/Summer desserts, like my Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream (no churn), and Blackberry Cobbler. This is one of my Dessert recipes you’ll definitely want in your collection!
LEMON BAR RECIPE
This is the ultimate in refreshing and light desserts… creamy lemon squares made all from scratch with a buttery shortbread crust, and tangy and bright lemon filling! So foolproof… anyone can make these!
This is the time of year where I start to crave things that remind me of Spring and Summer… like my Kentucky Lemonade!
Making these lemon squares is a cinch, and involves a simple two part process!
Seriously… no cutting cold butter into flour and pressing it down into a pan just to have it sort of blend in with the lemon filling.
This recipe just calls for mixing ingredients in a bowl and adding it to the pan. And no complicated lemon custard making process – just whisk the filling ingredients and pour over the crust!
HOW TO MAKE LEMON BARS
- Prepare baking pan and preheat oven.
- Combine shortbread ingredients. No need for any fancy tools here, just a rubber spatula and mixing bowl. Then use your fingers or the back of the same spatula to press the crust into the pan in an even layer.
- Pre-bake crust. Just 10 minutes – this is to help solidify the crust so it can hold up to the lemon filling we’ll add later. Set aside once it’s out of the oven.
- Combine lemon filling ingredients. Add everything to a mixing bowl and just use a whisk to combine them. Careful not to whisk overly vigorously – we don’t want to incorporate a lot of air into the filling.
- Pour filling over crust and bake. Bake for about 22-25 minutes, or until the filling is set and edges are lightly golden.
- Cool and refrigerate. Cool at room temperature, with the pan on a wire rack, for about 1-2 hours, then cover with foil and refrigerate several hours, or until cool.
ADDITIONAL COOKING TIPS
- FRESH IS BEST – when it comes to these lemon bars, freshly squeezed juice is ALWAYS going to taste the best. Store-bought bottles are convenient and work in a pinch, but try to get fresh lemons if possible.
- AIR BUBBLES – if there are air bubbles, even white-ish colored ones, on the top of your bars – no need to panic! You didn’t do anything wrong – I promise! Air rises to the surface, mainly from the eggs, as these bars bake, and the bubbles can get caught in the filling. It doesn’t effect the taste at all, and can easily be covered up with a dusting of powdered sugar!
- TYPE OF DISH – I haven’t noticed this personally, but I’ve read and heard from several of you that lemon bars baked in a metal pan can have a slightly metallic taste. So to be safe, I would recommend baking these bars in a ceramic or glass dish.
VARIATIONS OF THIS RECIPE
- NO BUTTERMILK – most folks don’t keep buttermilk hanging around the house, so if you don’t have it – no need to stress. You can either add regular milk, or omit the milk completely. I like the extra creaminess it adds, but it’s not essential for this recipe.
- OTHER CITRUS – this recipe is fabulous with other citrus fruits! Try lime, orange, grapefruit or blood orange flavors!
MAKING CREAMY LEMON BARS AHEAD OF TIME
These bars are great to make a day or so ahead of time! Just don’t dust them with the powdered sugar until you’re ready to serve them, since the sugar will dissolve into the bar.
I like my lemon squares to be served cold, so I keep mine in the refrigerator, but they are safe to keep at room temperature if you’d prefer them that way.
Refrigerated in an airtight container, they’ll last about a week.
Slice the cooled bars (without powdered sugar on top) into squares, then place onto a baking sheet.
Freeze for 1 hour. Wrap each bar individually in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and place into a large bag or container to freeze. Bars can be frozen for about 3 months.
Thaw in the refrigerator, dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT FOR THIS RECIPE
- Square Baking Pan – this dish works really well, and cleanup is easy!
- Powdered Sugar Duster – makes getting that perfect dusting of sugar a cinch!
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Recipe originally published in Mar. 2017 but has been updated in April 2020 with additional information.
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- 1/2 cup salted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
- 3 Tbsp powdered sugar
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup lemon juice, fresh is absolutely best
- 6 Tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 Tbsp buttermilk
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- powdered sugar
- lemon slices (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8x8" baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper, lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Combine crust ingredients (melted butter, flour, powdered sugar and cornstarch) in a mixing bowl, then press into bottom of prepared pan. Keep crust in an even layer, as much as possible. Bake 10 minutes, then set aside.
- While crust is baking, combine filling ingredients (eggs, sugar, zest, juice, flour, buttermilk, and baking powder), and whisk to combine. Try not to whisk too vigorously, as you don't want to incorporate a lot of air into the filling.
- Pour over baked crust and bake (still at 350 degrees F), for 22-25 minutes, until filling has set and edges are lightly golden brown.
- Cool completely, cover with foil, then refrigerate.
- To slice bars, I find it easiest to lift up on the foiling lining in the pan, to remove the bars from the pan. Slice into 12 bars. Before serving, dust bars with powdered sugar and garnish with a lemon slice if desired.
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