Homemade Lemon Bars are a crowd-pleasing dessert and perfect for sharing! This easy lemon bar recipe is bright, tart-sweet and perfectly balanced with a crisp shortbread crust. They’re a quick recipe to bake, too, and are ready in less than an hour! Makes 18 bars.
Today’s the day—it’s Freaky Friday Spring 2021! And I’m thrilled to be sharing a recipe from my friend, Chrissie from Off the Eaten Path.
Fun fact: Chrissie and I met through our mutual friend, Susannah, and got to hang out in person at Susannah’s wedding. Once the reception was over, we hiked with friends over to a speakeasy and chatted the entire walk there.
So I’m really excited to be making a recipe from Chrissie’s site today, especially since I own her cookbook and love it (and shared her Watermelon Frose from it last summer, too!)
Chrissie, like me, loves a good cocktail and easy entertaining. So I had quite the decision to make when perusing her site. Should I mix up a drink like a Peach Whiskey Smash or a Raspberry Gin Seltzer? Maybe I should make a Bagels and Lox Brunch Board to celebrate the fact that we’re getting closer to “normal” life? Or maybe make her Pimento Cheese Jalapeno Poppers for funsies?
Or maybe I should go in a different direction and make dessert?
I stumbled upon Chrissie’s Easy Lemon Bars while doing my perusing, and my sweet teeth said this was the recipe I needed to make, so I did. We’ve since made it three times, and y’all had better believe this recipe will be made time and again this spring and summer, too.
Why I love this recipe:
Homemade lemon bars are an utter delight and are such a Southern treat.
This lemon bar recipe in particular is perfectly balanced with its crisp, buttery shortbread crust, luscious lemon curd filling and sweet powdered sugar topping.
These flavors are all the reasons why I love a lemon bar, and honestly, this dessert is perfect for spring entertaining and summer (including outdoor backyard barbecues!) and things like baby or bridal showers. It’s also wonderful just because… because who doesn’t love a lemon bar?
Does your sweet tooth need a pick-me-up? Head over to my Dessert Recipe Index for inspiration.
Let me tell you about Chrissie and Off the Eaten Path
Chrissie and I met online through mutual friends and then eventually met in person. I don’t think it’s an inaccurate description to say we get along like a house on fire. We have a lot of overlapping interests!
Chrissie lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, though she’s originally from Wisconsin. She’s a public defender. I love hearing her talk about her work, and she shares her perspective about social issues (and justice reform) quite a bit on her Instagram.
She and her husband, AJ, live in a house with a menagerie of pets and several animal friends outdoors, including deer and bees. (Just last weekend, I saw Chrissie share a story about bottling honey from their bees—isn’t that cool?!?)
Chrissie is all about easy entertaining, too, and she wrote a cookbook to celebrate her love of it, called Stunning Spreads: Easy Entertaining with Cheese, Charcuterie, Fondue & Other Shared Fare.
Chrissie started her blog as a way to explore Charlotte and has written so much about food spots in the city, like the top 9 wing spots in CLT and 11 of the Best Patios in Charlotte, NC for Outdoor Dining and Drinking. In addition to this, she also shares travel advice and guides about exploring North Carolina, too. (Hello, I want to visit the Outer Banks ASAP.)
So… What Is Freaky Friday?
It’s an old-fashioned blog hop.
A blog hop, for those of y’all who haven’t been around the blogosphere for as long as I have, which is to say for-freaking-ever, is a collaboration between bloggers where everyone has a post to share and you link to one another in your posts as they go live.
Michaela from An Affair from the Heart, the lovely lady who founded this quarterly collab, secretly assigns everyone another blogger, who we will choose and make a recipe from.
We make their recipe, photograph it as if it were our own, write a post about it with our own personal anecdote and then share our posts on the same Friday.
We hope that this collaboration helps you discover some amazing new recipes, as well as find new bloggers to follow!
For previous Freaky Friday exchanges, I’ve made:
- Shortbread Brown Butter Cookies
- Boozy Bacon Pretzel Peanut Butter Bars
- Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese
- Cherry Bourbon Slush
- Halloween Peanut Butter Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Valentine’s Day Dessert Board
- Chicken Pesto Pasta
- Pepperoni Dip
- Upside Down Cranberry Cake
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge
- Pretzel Cheese Dip
Check out all of our 2021 Freaky Friday Spring Recipe Exchange Recipes:
What you’ll need to make Easy Lemon Bars
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- 9”x13” baking dish (or a glass casserole of the same dimensions)
- Large mixing bowl
- Rubber spatula
- Hand mixer
- Fine mesh strainer
In addition to these tools, you’re going to need a few ingredients to make these Easy Lemon Bars, too:
- All-purpose flour—we use this in both the crust and in the lemon filling. The flour gives the shortbread crust shape, and it also offers up a bit of structure to the lemon filling.
- Powdered sugar—as a little sweetness for the shortbread crust and to top these beauties!
- Unsalted butter—to hold our shortbread crust together
- Eggs—these are integral to the lemon curd, and they not only give color and flavor, but also offer some structure as they bake
- Granulated sugar—to balance out the tartness of the lemon
- Lemon juice—it’s really important to use freshly squeezed lemon juice here. (The shelf-stable lemon juice you can find at the store won’t give as much flavor.) Squeeze your own lemons for this or purchase cold press freshly squeezed lemon juice from the refrigerated section of the store. It’s a bit of a splurge, but it’s a worthwhile one if it makes making this dessert easier.
- Baking powder—this is our leavener (along with the eggs.) It’ll not only help the lemon bars, causing a little rise, but also lightening up the curd filling.
- Lemon zest—to punch up that lemon flavor even more!
Fun variations on this lemon bar recipe:
You can twist this lemon bar recipe into any type of citrus bar! Simply swap the lemon juice and zest for the juice and zest of another citrus to transform them.
Here are a few ideas I think would be delicious:
- Key Lime Pie Bars or regular ‘ol Lime Bars
- Orange Bars
- Grapefruit Bars
How do you make lemon bars from scratch?
Make the shortbread crust
Preheat the oven and line a 9”x13” baking dish with parchment paper. If you want, you can give it a spritz of nonstick baking spray, too, to ensure you can easily get these lemon bars out of the pan. Set this aside.
Mix the flour and powdered sugar in a large bowl.
Add the melted butter to the dry ingredients, and mix until combined. You can use your hands or a rubber spatula.
Shape the crust. Use your hands to press the shortbread into the prepared baking dish. It’ll be a little messy and sticky, so prepare yourself. You can spray your hands with nonstick baking spray to keep them from getting too sticky, if necessary.
Bake the crust in the preheated oven. We want it to be lightly browned whenever it’s done, so keep an eye on it.
Once it comes out, let it cool slightly before proceeding.
Make the lemon curd filling and the lemon bars
In a large bowl, mix eggs, sugar and lemon juice together with a hand mixer or a whisk.
Sift the flour and baking powder into the egg mixture, and stir until combined with a rubber spatula.
Pour the lemon filling on top of the slightly cooled shortbread crust.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the center isn’t jiggly. We want the bars to hold their shape, so keep an eye on them as you bake ‘em. If you leave them in too long, they can overbake, and that’s not a good thing.
Cool the lemon bars until they are almost at room temperature, then lift them out of the pan with the parchment paper. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and slice into bars with a sharp knife.
Erin’s Easy Entertaining Tips
Lemon Bars are a staple at Southern get-togethers, and you’ll find ‘em at baby showers, bridal showers and the like.
However, these Easy Lemon Bars are really excellent for any time, and they’re great for sharing because this dessert bar recipe makes more than a few servings.
Here are a few ideas to making this lemon dessert for a crowd:
- Make ‘em a day ahead of time. You read that right. Don’t stress yourself out, and bake these in advance. When they’ve completely cooled, slice and store in the fridge until it’s time to serve, then sprinkle them with a little extra powdered sugar.
- If you’re stressing about squeezing lemons (or don’t have the tools to do that), purchase cold press lemon juice from the refrigerated section of the grocery. Ours is set up next to the pre-sliced fruit, and it’s a major timesaver.
- Slice them into bite-sized pieces. A full-sized lemon bar can become messy with the powdered sugar topping, and if people are dressed up, do them (and yourself!) a favor by cutting the lemon bars into bite-sized pieces. Not only can guests pop one into their mouth without the mess, but your pan of lemon bars will be divided into more bites for everyone!
Frequently Asked Questions
Lemon Bars are a great recipe to make if you’ve got a lot of lemons on hand. While you won’t use all of them, you’ll definitely make a dent!
You can serve them slightly warm and gooey or cold or room temperature. I’m a fan of the cooler variety of lemon bar because they’re great for a hot day, but you do you.
Yes, you can overbake lemon bars. The first batch of these I made, I didn’t keep a close eye on them in the fridge, and the top got too brown. While I was still able to enjoy their taste, they weren’t nearly as pretty as they could be.
You get about 3 tablespoons of juice per lemon, on average. You would have 6 tablespoons of lemon juice from 2 lemons, which is a little more than 1/3 cup of lemon juice.
Use a very sharp knife and clean it between cuts with a damp paper towel (or a damp tea towel.)
Quick tips and tricks to the best lemon bars:
- Juice your own lemons! This fresh lemon juice is going to make a huge difference in the flavor of these bars, so take the time to do this or splurge for the cold pressed fresh lemon juice at the store that’s in the refrigerated section.
- Use room temperature lemons. Did you know that you get more juice from a room temperature lemon? If your lemons are kept in the fridge, remove them and let them come to room temperature, or heat them in the microwave for 20-30 seconds to get the juices flowing.
- Store the lemon bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
- Freeze lemon bars on a wax paper-lined baking sheet, then transfer to a storage baggie when frozen solid after 4-6 hours. Keep frozen for 1-2 months, then let thaw in the refrigerator before enjoying.
Homemade Lemon Bars are a crowd-pleasing dessert and perfect for sharing! This easy lemon bar recipe is bright, tart-sweet and perfectly balanced with a crisp shortbread crust. They’re a quick recipe to bake, too, and are ready in less than an hour!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
Lemon Curd Filling
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 3-4 lemons)
- ¼ all-purpose cup flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
Make the shortbread crust
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9”x13” baking dish with parchment paper, and spray with nonstick baking spray. Set it aside.
- Measure the flour and sugar into a large bowl.
- Pour the melted butter into the dry ingredients, and mix until combined. You can use your hands or a rubber spatula.
- Press the shortbread crust into your prepared baking dish, then transfer to the preheated oven.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly browned.
- Let cool slightly while you make the lemon curd filling.
Make the lemon curd filling
- In a large bowl, beat together eggs, sugar and lemon juice with a hand mixer or a whisk.
- Sift the flour and baking powder into the egg mixture, and stir until combined.
- Pour this mixture over the slightly cooled shortbread crust.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the center isn’t jiggly.
- Let the lemon bars cool until they are almost at room temperature, then lift them out of the pan with the parchment paper.
- Sprinkle with powdered sugar and slice into bars with a sharp knife.
- Enjoy immediately.
This recipe first appeared on Off the Eaten Path.
How to store: Store Lemon Bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
How to freeze: Place baked, sliced lemon bars on a wax paper-lined baking sheet, and freeze for 4-6 hours. Transfer to a storage baggie. They’ll keep for 1-2 months. Let them thaw in the fridge before enjoying.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Serving Size:1 bar
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 262Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 68mgSodium: 33mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 1gSugar: 25gProtein: 3g
Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.