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Calling all lovers of lemon desserts! Not only is this the best Lemon Bars Recipe you are ever going to bake, it’s also the absolute easiest. Buttery and bright, with a fabulous lemon curd filing and shortbread crust, they’re like sunshine in a bar.

best easy lemon bars on parchment paper

Why You’ll Love This Easy Lemon Bars Recipe

  • Double-the-Lemon Bars. These old-fashioned lemon squares have a superior flavor because they’re made with double the lemon juice. If you like your bars extra bright and citrusy, you are going to be head-over-heels for this recipe.
  • The Easiest Recipe. The original Betty Crocker lemon squares with shortbread base call for softened butter that is painstakingly cut into the dry ingredients. My sister Elaine realized that the butter could be melted, then stirred in. Game-changer! It makes the recipe faster, easier, and still yields a fantastic, tender crust! Best lemon bars ever.
  • A Dessert for Lemon Fanatics. Whether it’s Lemon Cream Cheese Bars, Lemon Thumbprint Cookies, or Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins, lemon dessert fervor runs strong in my family. As much as I adore this Lemon Cake (it’s perfection!), my Lemon Tart, or Lemon Cheesecake Bars, when I’m craving something lemony and I want it N-O-W, this easy lemon bars recipe is the answer.
old fashioned lemon squares with powdered sugar

5 Star Review

“OMG, these are the easiest, yummiest, gooeyist, best dessert I’ve had in a long time! Made it twice this weekend!”

— Monica —

How to Make Lemon Bars

The Ingredients

  • Melted Butter. Not only does melting the butter make these the easiest bars you’ll ever bake, it gives the shortbread crust an extra indulgent, melt-in-your mouth texture.
  • All-Purpose and Whole Wheat Pastry Flour. Use a blend of these two flours and we can all pretend these are “healthy” lemon squares.
  • Powdered Sugar. Key for sweetening the shortbread base and dusting over the finished bars.
  • Granulated Sugar. Adds sweetness to the tart lemon layer and also adds moisture so the bars don’t crack.
  • Lemon Juice. Gives these bars their bright lemon flavor. If you’d like to experiment with other citrus fruits, try Key limes, navel oranges, tangerines, or pink grapefruit (use a bit less, as grapefruit is more bitter than lemon).
  • Lemon Zest. Takes the lemon punch of these sunny bars to the next level.
  • Eggs. Gives the lemon layer its rich, creamy texture and consistency.
  • Baking Powder and Salt. Helps the bars puff a little while baking and balances their sweetness.

The Directions

pouring melted butter into bowl of dry ingredients for lemon bar crust
  1. Combine. Add the melted butter to the dry ingredients for the crust.
shortbread dough for lemon bar crust
  1. Stir. Mix until a dough forms.
shortbread crust for lemon bars
  1. Form the Crust. Press it into a parchment-lined 8×8 pan.
crust for lemon bars
  1. Bake. It’s done when it’s barely light brown.
hand rubbing together lemon zest and sugar
  1. Rub the Sugar and Zest. This evenly distributes the lemon oils throughout the lemon bars.
overhead view of ingredients for lemon bar filling in bowl
  1. Mix. Beat together the lemon filling ingredients.
pouring lemon filling into shortbread crust for lemon squares
  1. Assemble and Bake. Pour the filling into the the hot crust. Return to the pan to the oven and bake until the bars are set. Let cool, dust with powdered sugar, and ENJOY!

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Lemon bars may be stored for up to 1 day at room temperature. Beyond that, lemon bars should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  • To Freeze. Once cooled, cut the lemon bars into squares and then wrap individually in foil or plastic and store in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
  • To Thaw. Transfer frozen bars to the refrigerator and let thaw overnight.
lemon bars with powdered sugar

What to Serve with Lemon Bars

easy lemon bars with a bite taken out

Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Fully Bake the Shortbread Base. This is more important than you might think! If you don’t bake it long enough, it can cause the filling to lose moisture and absorb into the crust.
  • Don’t Try to Cut Back on the Sugar. I’m usually all for trying to reduce sugar in recipes. Unfortunately this is one where the sugar needs to stay, not just for flavor, but also for achieving the right texture.
  • Know When They’re Done. You’ll know when this lemon bars recipe is fully set when no indentation remains when you touch the center with your finger. (Your kitchen will also smell incredible.)
  • Don’t Over-Bake. If you leave them in the oven too long, it can cause your bars to crack. The surface of your lemon bars should have small bubble holes, but not large cracks.
easy lemon squares on parchment paper

Lemon Bars Video

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YouTube video

Lemon Bars Recipe

4.87 from 37 votes
The BEST Lemon Bars recipe! Lusciously creamy, these easy lemon squares have a shortbread base and are just bursting with bright flavor.

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 1 hour

Servings: 24 squares (1 8×8 pan)

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup  whole wheat pastry flour  or additional all-purpose flour
  • 1/4  cup powdered sugar plus additional for serving
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus 1/8 teaspoon, divided
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest about three-quarters of 1 large lemon
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice from about 1 large lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Instructions
 

  • Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8-inch pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, 1/4 cup powdered sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt. Pour the butter over the top and stir to combine. The batter will be very wet. Press into an even layer in the prepared pan, building the crust 1/2 inch up the sides all around. Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until barely light brown. Leave the oven at 350 degrees F.
  • While the crust bakes, in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, rub the granulated sugar and lemon zest together with your fingers until moist and fragrant. Add the eggs, lemon juice, baking powder, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. With an electric mixer, beat on high speed until light and well blended, about 3 minutes. Pour into the hot crust (no need for it to cool).
  • Return to the pan to the oven and bake 25 to 30 minutes, until the bars are set, no indentation remains when you touch the center with your finger, and your kitchen smells incredible. Let cool completely, then dust with powdered sugar. Cut into squares and serve.

Video

Notes

  • TO STORE. Lemon bars may be stored for up to 1 day at room temperature. Beyond that, lemon bars should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  • TO FREEZE. Once cooled, cut the lemon bars into squares and then wrap individually in foil or plastic and store in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
  • TO THAW. Transfer frozen bars to the refrigerator and let thaw overnight.

Nutrition

Serving: 1square (of 24)Calories: 103kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 1gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 24mgPotassium: 38mgFiber: 1gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 139IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 9mgIron: 1mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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111 Comments

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  1. The amount of zest and juice gives a wonderful lemon flavor. The crust is amazing; the powdered sugar in it was unexpected, but the shortbread flavor and texture was exceptional. I messed up the look of the finished product by overmixing, but it tasted great.4 stars

  2. Easy and so delicious. The extra lemon was outstanding with the shortbread crust. This one will be on repeat!5 stars

  3. I normally don’t love lemon things but this was delicious and my coworkers all loved it especially the crust! Thank you!5 stars

  4. This was the best lemon bar recipe I’ve ever had! I substituted lemon extract for lemon zest and used mostly all purpose flour with a little whole wheat flour and it turned out amazing. The lemon flavor was strong in a good way. I would totally recommend making this!5 stars

  5. Very easy to make. Makes a nice treat that seems fancy but is very simple. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong with zesting but my lemon didn’t provide 2 tsp of zest but that’s ok. The rubbing of the zest into the sugar seems to have spread the essence around enough that there is enough lemon flavor for me. Sometimes I think lemon bars are too tart but these are perfect5 stars

  6. Absolutely delicious. Easy to make and perfect. My husband had never had lemon bars before and loved them!5 stars

  7. I have never made lemon bars before. I found this to be an easy to follow recipe and it turned out so delicious! It was sweet and tart with a shortbread like crust that I could have eaten alone. Thanks for another great recipe!5 stars

  8. These are so yummy! Very gooey with lots of lemon flavor, and I like the inclusion of the whole wheat pastry flour5 stars

      1. I am not usually a lemon bar person but these were so lemony and delicious! Very easy to make too!4 stars

  9. I’m not a huge lemon fan when it comes to desserts but this was terrific! So smooth and fresh. It just melts in my mouth! I will be making this again and influencing my clients to make and try this as well! This was also super easy to make.5 stars

  10. This recipe is so straightforward and delicious! A classic lemon bar. They didn’t look how I expected coming out of the oven but after they cooled they were perfect. A crowd pleaser with minimal effort and ingredients required :) oh, and I used all AP flour because I didn’t have whole wheat pastry flour on hand. Worked out great.5 stars

  11. I made this dessert over the weekend. It was delicious 😋 We shared it with neighbors. Easy to make. I loved the crust. I served it with whipped cream, and decorated it with lemon 🍋 wedge and edible flowers from my garden. I posted it on my Instagram too @agi1971. This dessert is a keeper.5 stars

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