Classic Lemon Bars are simple to make and a perfect treat for any occasion. Tender shortbread crust is topped with a tangy lemon curd that’s certain to bring a smile to your face.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- This recipe is simple to make and only takes seven ingredients that you’re likely to have on hand.
- These Classic Lemon Bars are a real crowd-pleaser. Everyone who is lucky enough to get one of these lemon bars will beg you for more.
- This recipe can be made ahead of time with the lemon bars stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Here’s How to Make the Shortbread Crust
- Gather your ingredients for the shortbread crust: butter, sugar, salt and all-purpose flour.
- Beat together the butter, sugar and salt in a large bowl just until combined.
- Add the flour to the butter/sugar mixture, and beat just until incorporated. The mixture will be crumbly.
- Transfer crumbly crust mixture to a rimmed sheet pan (13″ x 9″ x 1″) that’s been buttered and covered in parchment paper that hangs over the sides. The reason for the parchment paper is to make it easier to remove the baked lemon bars.
Press the shortbread crust mixture up the sides of the baking sheet by at least ½-inch and evenly over the bottom. Prick with a fork and chill.
It’s important to build up the sides of the shortbread crust. The reason is that this will keep the lemon curd from seeping to the bottom of the shortbread crust.
- Bake the shortbread crust in a preheated 350°F oven for about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool.
Here’s How to Make the Lemon Curd Filling
- Gather the ingredients for the lemon curd filling: eggs, granulated sugar, fresh lemon juice, lemon zest and all-purpose flour.
- Add the eggs, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest to a large bowl. Beat on low just until combined.
- Gradually add the flour, beating until combined.
After beating together the lemon curd mixture, you’re likely to see a lot of little bubbles on the top. I generally spoon these bubbles off the top. However, there’s nothing wrong with just leaving the bubbles on the top.
Finishing the Classic Lemon Bars
With the shortbread crust and lemon curd made, it’s time to finish the Classic Lemon Bars.
- Carefully pour the lemon curd mixture onto the shortbread crust making sure not to over-fill. You might have some lemon curd mixture leftover at this point.
However, you don’t want the lemon curd mixture to seep underneath the shortbread crust. The reason is that it’ll make a mess. I learned this the hard way!
- Bake the Classic Lemon Bars in a preheated 350°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until the filling is set.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Once the Classic Lemon Bars are cooled to room temperature, carefully lift them out of rimmed sheet pan. The parchment paper makes it easy to lift the lemon bars out of the sheet pan.
If desired, carefully cut away the thick outer shortbread crust. I like to do this because this is the Master Taster’s favorite part of the lemon bars – crispy shortbread with just a hint of the lemon curd!
Cut the lemon bars into serving size-pieces and either serve, or store in an airtight container. I like to cut the lemon bars into 1 ½-inch squares, but any shape/size will work.
To say that the Classic Lemon Bars are amazing is an understatement. The shortbread crust is soft with just the right amount of crunch. The lemon curd filling has the perfect blend of sweet and tangy. Yum!
Frequently Asked Questions
You can use a 9 x 13-inch baking dish in this recipe. Just be sure that the sides are at least 1-inch high to allow for building up the shortbread crust.
You can skip the parchment paper so long as your baking sheet is well greased and floured. The parchment paper makes it easier to lift the entire Classic Lemon Bars out of the pan for ease of cutting.
I place the leftover lemon bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This way, they should last about a week.
The little air bubbles on top of the lemon curd are entirely normal. It’s the air from the eggs rising to the top. If the lemon curd mixture has an abundance of air bubbles, just skim them off before pouring the mixture into the shortbread crust.
It’s actually traditional to dust the lemon bars with confectioners’ sugar, especially if the lemon bars will be served right after the dusting. If your lemon bars have little air bubbles on top, you can hide them with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar.
Other Amazing Lemon Desserts
If you’re a fan of lemon, you should check out these amazing recipes:
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Classic Lemon Bars
- 1 cup (8-ounces, 2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (See Tip 1)
- ½ cup (3.5-ounces) granulated sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon Kosher salt (See Tip 1)
- 2 cups (10-ounces) all-purpose flour
Lemon Curd Filling
- 6 large eggs, room temperature
- 3 cups (21-ounces) granulated sugar (See Tip 2)
- 1 cup (8-ounces) freshly squeezed lemon juice (See Tip 3)
- 2 Tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest (zest from lemons used for lemon juice)
- 1 cup (5-ounces) all-purpose flour
- Confectioners' sugar for dusting (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 13 baking sheet with at least 1-inch sides. Cover with parchment paper, allowing parchment paper to hang over the sides. Set aside.
- Beat together butter, ½ cup of sugar and Kosher salt. just until mixed. Add 2 cups of flour, beating just until incorporated. Mixture will be crumbly.
- Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Flatten dough with floured hands, building up the sides to at least ½-inch. Pierce all over with a fork and chill for 30 minutes. (See Tip 4)
- Bake in preheated 350°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and cool.
Lemon Curd Filling
- Add eggs, 3 cups of sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest to a large bowl. Beat on low until combined. Add a cup of flour; beat on low until flour is incorporated. (See Tip 5)
- Carefully pour into prepared shortbread crust, being careful to not overfill (See Tip 6)
- Bake in preheated 350°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until filling is set. Remove from oven; cool to room temperature.
- Cut into squares and serve. (See Tips 7 and 8)
- Yield: 28 1 ½-inch squares. (See Tip 9)
- May use salted butter in place of unsalted butter. If using salted butter, omit the addition of the ⅛ teaspoon of Kosher salt.
- This may seem like a lot of sugar. However, this quantity when mixed with the lemon juice and lemon zest producers the perfect sweet/tangy taste. For a tangier lemon bar, however, reduce the sugar by ½ cup.
- Don’t be tempted to use bottled lemon juice. The taste will be negatively impacted. Use fresh lemon juice.
- It’s important to build up the sides of the shortbread crust. This will prevent the lemon curd from seeping underneath the shortbread crust. I learned this the hard way!
- The lemon curd may develop little white air bubbles on top. If there are a lot, just skim the air bubbles off with a spoon. Otherwise, don’t worry about it. They can be covered up with confectioners’ sugar before serving the lemon bars.
- I generally have a little bit of the lemon curd filling leftover. You don’t want to overfill the shortbread crust because to do so will result in some of the lemon curd filling seeping underneath the crust.
- I usually cut away the thick shortbread crust before cutting the lemon bars into 1 ½-inch squares. However, feel free to leave on the outer crust and/or to cut the lemon bars into triangles or different sizes squares.
- If desired, dust the lemon bars with confectioners’ before serving. This is totally optional.
- Lemon bars can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week.