Lemon Bars With Shortbread Crust

This easy recipe for Lemon Bars with Shortbread Crust has only seven simple ingredients! A buttery shortbread crust holds up a fresh, tangy lemon curd layer that is topped by a generous dusting of powdered sugar. An ideal recipe for your next family gathering!


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Today, I’m sharing with your our favourite recipe for lemon squares with a shortbread bottom.

Have you ever been to baby or bridal shower and seen these delicious squares getting snatched up first and wondered how to make easy lemon bars from scratch at home?

Don’t be intimidated by this recipe! You’ve got this! The shortbread crust for lemon bars is easy to make by hand and the lemon curd is fast and simple. These are no-fail lemon bars that even a beginner could easily tackle!

Are you a lemon lover? Love lemon bars? Great! You are not going to want to miss this recipe for Glazed Lemon Loaf. It’s one of my most popular recipes. A vintage, tried-and-true recipe that I think you are going to love! This is a classic lemon bar recipe that a beginner baker could make!

Another favourite is Lemon Drizzle Cookies. Can there ever be too many lemon recipes?

WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE

  • no fancy equipment required. You can make this simple dessert from scratch completely by hand, using my method.
  • simple ingredients that are easy to find any time of year.
  • the best lemon bars that are not jiggly or too runny like some lemon bars can be. By following my easy steps below you will see that these are the ultimate lemon bars!

INGREDIENTS

Ingredients for easy lemon bar recipe from scratch in bowls with text overlay.
  • Butter – The butter should be at room temperature, but not soft. If you’re kitchen is very warm, take your butter out 1 hour before baking. If it is cool, normal temperature, take it out 2 hours before baking.
  • Salted vs. unsalted butter – I recommend that you use unsalted butter and add the salt to the recipe as per the recipe card. If you only have salted butter on hand, that will work as well but you will need to omit the salt from the recipe. You do need a certain amount of salt to balance out the sweetness of the recipe.
  • Eggs – Large sized eggs, brought to room temperature.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Lemon – This recipe uses both lemon zest and fresh lemon juice for the lemon filling. When baking with lemon, it is always best to use fresh lemons for the best lemon flavor.
    The bottled juice simply won’t have the same delicious results. When purchasing lemons in the grocery store, look for bright yellow lemons without blemishes. When comparing lemons, the heavier ones will have more juice.
  • Powdered Sugar

STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS

Grease and flour an 8×8-inch glass baking dish. You can also line the baking dish with parchment paper. I once made lemon bars in a deep dish and it was hard to cut them nicely.

Preheat oven to 325°F.

You can also line the baking dish with parchment paper which can make it easier to remove the squares from the pan for cutting. I do not line the baking pan for this recipe and I have no trouble at all cutting the squares, but it’s personal preference.

If you’re using parchment paper, lightly grease the bottom of the pan first. This will allow the parchment paper to stick and not slide around.

Ingredients for the shortbread crust for old-fashioned lemon squares.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all-purpose flour and granulated sugar. Add in the room temperature butter and mix with clean hands or with a pastry blender. Sure, you could use a food processor but who needs the mess?

The mixture will be crumbly as seen in the photo below.

Crumbled mixture for crust in mixing bowl for delicious lemon bars.

For this step, using room temperature butter is very important. Taking the butter out 1-2 hours before baking is recommended.

When the butter is at the correct temperature, you should be able to press your finger into it and see an indentation without having to press too hard.

It should still have some firmness and not be too soft or runny. (ie; hot summer kitchen)!

Here is a great tip from Sally’s Baking Addiction about room temperature butter and how to soften quickly in case you forget!

Glass baking dish with shortbread crust pressed into the bottom showing how to make the shortbread crust.

Next, sprinkle the crumbly mixture into the bottom of the prepared 8×8-inch baking dish.

Spread the mixture out as evenly as possible before you start to press it down. This will ensure a nice, even crust layer.

You can press it in by hand or gently pat down with the bottom of a drinking glass.

(This is a great shortbread crust for bars that you can use in any of your favourite bar recipes with crust)

Bake the crust in a preheated 325°F oven for 25 minutes.

While the crust is baking, prepare the lemon curd filling.

Lemon curd ingredients in mixing bowl with whisk.

I like to do this step completely by hand as well. No mixer required. You can use a whisk or a wooden spoon for mixing.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine granulated sugar, all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, (if using unsalted butter), beaten eggs, lemon juice and lemon zest. Set mixture aside until the crust has finished baking.

Lemon curd is poured over top of the baked crust.

Remove the baked crust from the oven and set on a heat-proof surface. Pour the mixture into the baking dish on top of the baked crust.

Bake in 325°F oven for 25 minutes.

When you remove the lemon bars from the oven, give the dish a gentle shake from side to side to double-check that the centre is not jiggly. It will move a little and will continue to bake after you take it out of the oven, but it should not be jiggly.

The 25 minute baking time works perfectly for me every time. This is a good time for me to mention that an oven thermometer is always a good investment to ensure that your oven is heating to the temperature that you’ve set it to!

Best ever lemon bar recipe on a white plate with sliced lemons around the bars.

HOW TO CUT LEMON BARS

You’re going to need a very sharp knife and a few wet paper towels or damp cloth.

Cool the baked lemon bars for 1 hour at room temperature on a wire cooling rack. Next, chill them in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

This will give you best results. The cooler they are, the easier they will be to cut.

If you’re making them for an every day snack, then you might not be too concerned about a clean cut, but if they’re for a special gathering and you want a nice clean cut, let them refrigerate up to 2 hours.

If you’ve used parchment paper, lift out the lemon bars onto a cutting board. If you have not, then using a very sharp knife; cut around the edges first, then slice into one square in the corner and remove it. This will make cutting the others an easier task. And, the cook always gets the first piece right?!

Use a sharp knife to slice into squares. Wipe the knife between cuts to keep a nice clean edge to the bars.

Use a fine sieve to sprinkle powdered sugar over top and enjoy!

STORAGE & FREEZING INSTRUCTIONS

To store Lemon Bars, cool completely at room temperature, then store covered with plastic wrap in refrigerator for up to one week. Dust them with powdered sugar as you are serving them. They are delicious served cold or let them come to room temperature before serving.

A great bar for freezing, simply cool completely at room temperature, then place cut squares in freezer-safe container. An additional layer of plastic wrap or foil around the container will give it added protection.

Thaw in refrigerator, then bring to room temperature before serving.

FAQ’S

Can you freeze lemon bars?

Yes. Lemon Bars can be frozen for up to three months. Cool the Lemon Bars completely at room temperature, then store in a freezer-safe container with an additional layer of foil around the container.

Do lemon bars freeze well?

Yes. Lemon Bars are an ideal bar recipe to freeze during the holidays. Prepare them in advance and you can store them for up to three months. Simply thaw in the refrigerator, then enjoy.

Do lemon bars need to be refrigerated?

You can leave lemon bars out on the counter for a few hours but they should be refrigerated for storage. Store in a plastic container or cover the baking dish tightly with plastic wrap.

How much lemon juice is in a lemon?

A large lemon that will fills the palm of my hand usually yields 1/3 cup of lemon juice. The heavier the lemon, the more juicy it will be.

Should I cut lemon bars hot or cold?

Lemon bars that have not set or chilled can be difficult to cut. Allow the bars to sit at room temperature for one hour, then chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour before cutting.

EXPERT TIPS

Here are a few tips to make these 5 star lemon bars:

  • when you’re baking with lemon, always use fresh-squeezed lemon juice.
  • use a glass baking dish for this recipe. If you do not have a glass baking dish and are using a metal baking dish, line it with parchment paper first.
  • wipe the knife with a damp cloth after each cut for a nice clean cut when cutting into squares.
  • if you’re using parchment paper (optional), spray the baking dish with cooking spray or grease the dish lightly to help the parchment paper stick to the bottom.

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Close up image of lemon bars from scratch on white boards with sliced lemons.

Lemon Bars With Shortbread Crust


  • Author: Sandra Flegg
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 20 squares

Description

This easy Lemon Bars Recipe has only seven simple ingredients! A buttery shortbread crust holds up a fresh, tangy lemon curd layer that is topped by a generous dusting of powdered sugar. An ideal recipe for your next family gathering!


Ingredients

Shortbread Crust Recipe

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup granulated sugar

Lemon Curd Filling Recipe

1 cup sugar

2 tbsp. + 1 tsp. all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

3 tsp, grated lemon zest

3 tbsp. lemon juice

2 tbsp. powdered sugar


Instructions

  1. Grease and flour 8-inch square baking dish. If using parchment paper, line the baking dish with parchment paper. Cut a large enough sized sheet to allow for overhang for easy removal of the bars. I make these bars without parchment paper and they cut out of the pan nicely.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all-purpose flour, unsalted butter and granulated sugar. Using a pastry blender or clean hands, mix to combine until mixture resemble coarse crumbs.
  3. Next, sprinkle the crumbly mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared 8×8-inch baking dish.
  4. Press the mixture down by hand, or gently press down using the bottom of a drinking glass. 
  5. Bake in 325°F oven for 25 minutes.
  6. While the crust is baking,
  7. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine granulated sugar, all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, (if using unsalted butter), beaten eggs, lemon juice and lemon zest.
  8. Set mixture aside until the crust has finished baking.
  9. Remove the baked crust from the oven and set on a heat-proof surface. Pour the mixture into the baking dish on top of the baked crust.
  10. Bake in 325°F oven for 20-25 minutes. The centre should not be jiggly.  The 25 minute baking time is always the perfect time for my oven. 
  11. Cutting and serving: Cool the baked lemon bars for 1 hour at room temperature on a wire cooling rack. Next, chill them in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
  12. Use a sharp knife to slice into squares. Wipe the knife with a damp cloth between cuts to keep a nice clean edge to the bars.
  13. Using a fine sieve, dust squares with powdered sugar, if eating them immediately. If eating later, refrigerate, covered in plastic wrap and dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Notes

  1. This recipe calls for unsalted butter and the addition of 1/8 tsp. of salt. if you do not have unsalted butter on hand, you can substitute salted butter but you will need to omit the salt in the lemon curd filling.
  2. Butter and eggs should be at room temperature. Take them out of the refrigerator one to two hours before starting the recipe.
  3. Use a glass dish for this recipe. If you do not have a glass dish, you can use a metal baking dish but you will have to line it with parchment paper. Cut out a square of parchment paper that is large enough to hang over the edges. Cut each corner of the parchment paper so that it folds into the corners. A metal baking pan can react with the acid in the lemon.
  4. Storage instructions:To store Lemon Bars, cool completely at room temperature, then store covered with plastic wrap in refrigerator for up to one week. Dust them with powdered sugar as you are serving them. They are delicious served cold or let them come to room temperature before serving.
  5. Freezing instructions:A great bar for freezing, simply cool completely at room temperature, then place cut squares in freezer-safe container. An additional layer of plastic wrap or foil around the container will give it added protection.
  6. Thaw in refrigerator, then bring to room temperature before serving.
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Oven Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 square
  • Calories: 163
  • Sugar: 13.3 g
  • Sodium: 18.6 mg
  • Fat: 9.5 g
  • Saturated Fat: 7.2 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 19.5 g
  • Fiber: 0.2 g
  • Protein: 1.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 12.2 mg

Keywords: Lemon Bars with Shortbread Crust

This recipe was originally posted in June, 2020 and updated July 2021 to include more details on the instructions, new tips and updated photographs.

4 Comments

  1. These are the best lemon bars I have ever tasted and so at the same time they are so easy to make without much fuss and only 7 ingredients the O always have at home. So simple to make. Thank you Sandra

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