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Tangy Lemon Bars with a buttery shortbread crust
These Lemon Bars are absolutely amazing!
Our Lemon Bars are tart, sweet and creamy with an incredible texture and delicious shortbread crust. Next time you’re invited to a BBQ, block party, church picnic, office extravaganza or family get-together, take a pan of these luscious, tangy Lemon Bars and watch them disappear!
A few years ago, when we could do such things, we were invited to a very nice neighborhood block party. We sat outside in folding chairs and enjoyed lively conversation. Everyone ate (devoured) these Lemon Bars, along with tender BBQ pork ribs, deviled eggs and coleslaw. We all soaked up great amounts of vitamin D; it was a breath of fresh air.
Some guests traveled by motorcycle, some walked across the street, many brought their fur children and others played bean bag toss in the yard. Wow, just wow. How I miss those days.
Ingredients needed to make Tangy Lemon Bars:
For the crust:
- all-purpose flour
- powdered sugar to sweeten the crust and extra for sprinkling on top
- unsalted butter – cold and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
For the lemon filling:
- granulated sugar
- all-purpose flour
- cornstarch or arrowroot
- fresh lemon juice – strained to remove pulp and seeds
- large eggs
How to make easy Lemon Bars:
First prepare the crust:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease or spray a 13×9-inch baking pan. Line the pan with parchment and set aside.
- Next combine the flour, powdered sugar, salt and butter in a large bowl. Using an electric or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix on medium speed until it resembles coarse, wet sand. Don’t over-mix or allow the mixture to come together like dough.
- Spread the crust mixture evenly in the prepared pan and press firmly. Place the crust in the freezer for 15 minutes.
- Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Set aside and reduce the oven temperature.
Next prepare the filling:
- In a medium mixing bowl combine the sugar, flour and cornstarch.
- Add the lemon juice and eggs to the flour mixture. Whisk until combined.
- Pour the lemon filling over the warm crust and carefully return to the oven.
- Bake until the center no longer jiggles when tapped, about 30 to 35 minutes.
- Finally cool the lemon bars completely and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before cutting.
- Dust with a little powdered sugar and serve.
Can you cut the recipe in half?
As written, this recipe makes 32 lemon squares. If you’re looking for fewer bars, cut the recipe in half and bake in an 8-inch square pan. Check the baking time at 25 to 30 minutes.
How to store Lemon Bars
Lemon Bars will keep well for about 5 days if stored in an airtight container and refrigerated. The crust will soften a little over time, but it’s still very tasty.
To stack cold lemon bars in a container, place a piece of wax or parchment paper between the layers. To freshen leftover bars, sprinkle again with a light dusting of powdered sugar.
You won’t have to keep these bars around for long, however. They really do disappear!
For a clean, pretty presentation, follow these steps:
Run a thin, sharp knife under hot running water then carefully dry the blade. This will give you razor sharp cuts for a beautiful presentation.
Repeat the process several times until all lemon bars are cut. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving. Enjoy!
These bars are nothing short of amazing. Tangy, tart, sweet and creamy, with a filling that holds together like magic. Lemon Bars have a consistency similar to Lemon Chess Pie and just as tasty.
They’re pretty sweet so smaller bars are best. The intense lemon flavor balances the sweetness and it all comes together in one perfect bite.
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Tangy Lemon Bars
For the crust:
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup powdered sugar plus extra for sprinkling
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter cold, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
For the lemon filling:
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice strained of pulp and seeds (about 9-10 lemons)
- 8 large eggs
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 13x9 inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Line the pan with parchment paper allowing it to come up and over the sides. Lightly spray the parchment paper. Set aside.
To prepare the crust:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the flour, sugar, salt and butter for the crust. Using the paddle attachment, mix on medium speed until it resembles coarse wet sand. Do not over-mix the crust or allow it to come together like dough.
- Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Press firmly using the bottom of a glass or measuring cup to compress the crust. Place the unbaked crust in the freezer for 15 minutes.
- Remove the crust from the freezer and bake until light golden brown, about 20 -25 minutes. Set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.
To prepare the filling:
- While the crust is baking, prepare the filling. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour and cornstarch until combined. Add the fresh lemon juice and eggs. Whisk until well combined. Pour the filling over the warm baked crust and bake immediately at 300°F for 30 minutes or until the center doesn't juggle when tapped. Cool on a wire rack then refrigerate at least 2 hours before cutting.
- Remove the lemon bars from the pan using the parchment to lift, or slide the bars onto a cutting board. If needed you can cut them in the pan. Run a very sharp, thin knife under hot running water then carefully dry the blade. This will give you razor sharp cuts for a beautiful presentation. Repeat this process several times until all lemon bars are cut.
- Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container.
- Dust with powdered sugar just before serving.
- Adapted from a recipe by Amy Atlas, published in Sweet Designs via Oprah.Com
We’re nuts for lemon desserts!
Still looking for more luscious lemon desserts? Don’t miss these favorites!
- Lemon Crumble Breakfast Cake – Perfect for breakfast, brunch, afternoon tea or dessert! A reader favorite for years 🙂
- Lemon Cheesecake – pop on over and read the 5-star reviews. This cheesecake is a winner.
- Lemon Curd is great on biscuits, pancakes, pound cake, angel food cake, muffins, or just about anything! Easy to make too.
- Lemon-Lime Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies – a lime infused shortbread cookie filled with homemade Lemon Curd and topped with a simple lime icing – a bright summer treat!
Originally published April 2014, updated April 2021
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