Lemon bars are a classic dessert. People always love the bright zippy lemon on that delicious melt-in-your-mouth shortbread crust. This recipe makes the most lusciously thick lemon bars. The ratio of crust to lemon is perfect, giving you all the bold lemony goodness on top of shortbread. It’s so easy to make and lemon bars only require 5 simple ingredients: sugar, butter, flour, eggs, and lemon juice. That’s it!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Perfect Balance of Tang: Enjoy the ideal balance of a thick, zesty lemon layer and a crisp shortbread base in each bar.
  • Simple Ingredients: Just 5 everyday ingredients come together to create a craveably delicious treat.
  • Consistently Great Results: Our tried and tested recipe ensures delicious, fail-proof lemon bars every time.
  • Clear, Step-by-Step Instructions: Detailed guidance makes the baking process stress-free.

Two Lemon Bars stacked on each other topped with a lemon slice.

You need just 5 ingredients to make perfect luscious lemon bars. This lemon bar recipe is the perfect balance between sour and sweet.

Did you know? The bottom crust of a lemon bar is a shortbread. Making shortbread is as easy as 1, 2, 3 since the basic recipe for shortbread is 1 part sugar, 2 parts butter, 3 parts flour. This recipe has a little extra flour to help support the weight of the lemon topping.

Ingredient Breakdown and Substitutions

Sugar: Adds sweetness to balance the tartness of the lemon, and contributes to the texture of the crust and filling. For the crust, light brown sugar can be used for a deeper flavor. In the lemon layer, honey or maple syrup can replace sugar, though it will slightly alter the flavor profile.

Butter: Provides richness, flavor, and structure to the shortbread crust. Unsalted butter with a pinch of salt, or try a plant-based butter for a dairy-free version.

Flour: Gives structure to the crust and helps thicken the lemon filling. Gluten-free all-purpose flour blends can be used for a gluten-free version, though textures may vary slightly.

Eggs: Crucial for setting the lemon filling, adding richness, and creating a smooth texture.

Lemon Juice: Provides the signature tart flavor and acidity to the bars. For best results, use freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of lemons should I use? Can I use Meyer lemons?

Any variety of lemon, including Meyer lemons, can be used for lemon bars. Meyer lemons are a cross between lemons and mandarin oranges, offering a sweeter taste and a more orange hue in the juice.

Can I use lemon juice from a bottle?

While freshly squeezed lemon juice is recommended for the best flavor, bottled lemon juice can be used as a substitute in the same quantity. However, the flavor may not be as bright or fresh.

How much juice comes from one lemon?

The juice yield from a lemon can vary, but generally, 1 large lemon yields between 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) of juice. On average, expect about 3 tablespoons of juice per lemon. For this recipe, you’ll likely need 6 to 8 lemons to get 1 cup of juice.

How do you slice lemon bars?

The easiest way is to line the pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving extra hanging over the sides. This method makes it easier to lift the whole batch out of the pan in one piece for slicing.

How do you know when lemon bars are done baking?

Lemon bars are done when the center is fully set and doesn’t jiggle. Lightly touching the center shouldn’t leave an imprint​.

Can I substitute a different citrus juice?

Yes, grapefruit, orange juice, or lime can be used to change the flavor. However, use less sugar when using sweeter citrus like orange juice.

Topping Ideas & Serving Suggestions

Tired of the same old same old when it comes to powdered sugar-dusted lemon bars? Switch things up with one of these topping ideas:

Berry Topping: Pair the lemon bars with fresh berries like raspberries, blueberries, or sliced strawberries for a refreshing contrast and a visually appealing garnish.

Candied Lemon: Top your bars with candied lemon slices for a stunning and delicious garnish. They add a sweet, citrusy zing and look beautiful.f

Cream Cheese Frosting: Spread a thin layer of cream cheese frosting on top for a rich, creamy contrast to the tangy lemon.

Coconut Flakes: Toasted coconut flakes can add a tropical twist and a delightful crunch.

Nuts: Sprinkle chopped almonds, pistachios, or walnuts on top for added texture and a nutty flavor.

Meringue Topping: For a lemon meringue pie twist, top your bars with a layer of fluffy meringue and lightly torch it for a golden finish.

Storage & Freezing Instructions: 

Store your lemon bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or in the freezer wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in a freezer-safe bag for up to 3 months.

Freezing: For longer storage, lemon bars can be frozen. First, wrap each bar individually in plastic wrap to protect their texture and flavor. Then, place these wrapped bars in a freezer-safe bag. They can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. This method is perfect for keeping a batch on hand for whenever the craving strikes.

Thawing: When you’re ready to enjoy your frozen lemon bars, simply thaw them in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. This gradual thawing helps maintain their texture and ensures they taste just as good as when they were first made.

More Luscious Lemon Desserts

Watch the video below where Rachel will walk you through every step of this recipe. Sometimes it helps to have a visual, and we’ve always got you covered with our cooking show. You can find the complete collection of recipes on YouTubeFacebook Watch, or our Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.