Perfect Lemon Bars

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Perfect Lemon Bars are a classic dessert – they feature a smooth and tangy lemon filling baked on a shortbread crust and dusted with powdered sugar.

Perfect Lemon Bars

Perfect Lemon Bars

I could probably write a poem dedicated to how much I love lemon desserts.

The sweet and sour, tangy and tasty all blend together into a luscious dessert. I really could eat a pan all by myself.

My favorite lemon dessert ever since childhood has been these simple, ordinary bars. I’m so excited to share the recipe with you today.

Move over fudge brownies, the Perfect Lemon Bars are in town.

The smooth, slightly tart filling pairs with the sweet, buttery shortbread so well. I also like to make lemon crinkle cookies and this Lemon Blueberry Bread. Usually as a treat just for me, but there are enough lemon lovers in my family that I can share.

I enjoy bringing lemon desserts to potlucks and other functions where I’m expected to bring a dessert or dish to pass.

The cherry, bright yellow desserts always look lovely and are a little bit different from the typical chocolate treats. It’s almost guaranteed that you’ll come home with an empty pan.

Lemon Bars are a classic favorite!

Easy Lemon Bars

What’s not to love about a creamy, tangy, sweet Lemon Bar? Is there anyone who does not love them?

Lemon desserts have a way of brightening up the gloomiest of winter days. The beautiful yellow color alone is cheery. Just writing about the crisp citrus flavor makes my mouth water!

These Perfect Lemon Bars consist of a lemon custard filling set on a shortbread cookie crust. The eggs give the filling a bright, clear consistency. And a whole cup of fresh lemon juice is what gives these bars so much flavor.

First of all, you will need to press the cookie dough into the pan and pre-bake the crust before adding the custard. This is important, my friends. Several people have commented that their crust rose to the top while baking (still delicious, but not the desired result here) and that’s often due to the fact that they skipped that step.

You’ll also want to prick the crust a few times with a fork before baking. This is called docking the crust. The holes allow steam to escape, so the crust will stay flat against the baking dish when it isn’t held down by a filling. Otherwise, the crust may puff up during baking. The goal here is a flat, buttery shortbread crust to hold the lemon filling.

Next, when the shortbread crust has cooled, pour in the lemon filling and finish baking the bars. Both parts will be done to perfection.

Classic Lemon Bars are tangy, sweet perfection.

How to Make Lemon Bars

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. To make the crust, beat together the butter and powdered sugar until fluffy.
  2. Gently stir in the flour just until combined. Press the dough into the bottom of the 9×13-inch pan. Prick the crust with a fork a few times.
  3. Bake at 350 F for 16-18 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool completely.
  4. Meanwhile, to make the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour.
  5. Pour over the cooled crust. Bake at 350 F for 35-40 minutes or until the filling is set. Let cool. Dust with powdered sugar before serving. Store in the refrigerator.
Perfectly Sweet and Tangy Lemon Bars

Upside Down Lemon Bars

On very rare occasions, (I’ve seen it happen once in 20+ years of making lemon bars.) when making lemon bars, the crust may rise to the surface.

This happens because the filling has found its way to the bottom of the pan, either through cracks in the crust or gaps at the edges of the pan.

To prevent this, take care to press the crust firmly into the pan and don’t leave any gaps or cracks in the bottom. If there are any nooks or crannies when the crust doesn’t cover the bottom and edge of the pan, it won’t stay at the bottom.

Lemon Bars are a classic favorite!

Perfect Lemon Bars

4.41 from 27 votes
Smooth, tangy lemon filling baked on a shortbread crust and dusted with powdered sugar.
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 50 mins
Additional Time: 40 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 50 mins
Cuisine: American
Servings: 24 bars


For the crust

  • 1 cup butter room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour

For the filling

  • 6 large eggs room temperature
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • powdered sugar for dusting


  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. To make the crust, beat together the butter and powdered sugar until fluffy. Gently stir in the flour just until combined.
  • Press the dough into the bottom of the 9 x 13 inch pan and prick the crust a few times with a fork. Bake at 350 F for 16-18 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool completely.
  • Meanwhile, to make the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and flour. Pour over the cooled crust.
  • Bake at 350°F for 35-40 minutes or until the filling is set. Let cool. Dust with powdered sugar before serving. Store in the refrigerator.


Serving: 1bar · Calories: 270kcal · Carbohydrates: 45g · Protein: 3g · Fat: 9g · Saturated Fat: 5g · Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g · Cholesterol: 67mg · Sodium: 79mg · Fiber: 1g · Sugar: 32g
Tried this recipe?Mention @chocolatewithgrace or tag #chocolatewithgrace!

{originally published 7/7/16 – recipe notes and photos updated 1/19/21}

Here are some other fun variation on lemon bars:

Lemon Pie Bars from Deliciously Sprinkled

Oatmeal Lemon Cream Bars from Belle of the Kitchen

Mango Lemon Bars

Mango Lemon Bars

Honey Peach Lemonade

Honey Peach Lemonade (2)

How To Make Perfect Lemon Bars

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  1. debora says

    Hi! I made them yesterday and they’re delicious. But.. It’s hard to detach from pan, and generally- it seems as though the crust is up, and the mushy lemon dough is down. How is that possible? I did, of course, bake thr crust first..
    Any help or comment?

    • Anelo says

      5 stars
      I just made these. They came out perfect. I baked them on parchment paper and they are easy to take out. I don’t know why yours came out upside down. Maybe you didn’t press down the crust hard enough? I also pressed some crust up on the sides in the dish before baking, just a bit and poured the filling on the crust while it was still a little warm(I got impatient lol) Perhaps that helped.

  2. Donna says

    5 stars
    I made these lemon bars and everyone loved them. I just have a question about them. How does the crust end up on top? Does this happen when you make it? I followed the instructions.
    Thank you for sharing

  3. Robin Finston says

    I made these too & the crust ended up on top. I even used parchment paper & the lemon layer went below the parchment. I followed directions to a tee & I don’t know what happened.

  4. Elin says

    5 stars
    Made these today, turned out so delicious! Love lemons in baking, gives it a freshness that is hard to achieve in baking otherwise.

  5. Stephanie says

    Hi! I want to make this recipe but I am curious about some of the reviews discussing how the crust ends up on top…really curious how that physically happens and would love some more details on that snafu. Thanks

  6. Michelle says

    I also made these and the crust went to the top as well. I’m thinking that when I baked it the crust made an air bubble and then when I poured the lemon mix it got underneath and made it all lift to the top. I’m thinking that if you were to poke holes with a fork through the crust, or cook the lemon mix in a pot a bit so it thickens and then spread it on top of the crust before you bake it, that it would solve that problem. (Going to try it tomorrow and see if that works.)

  7. Vpl says

    5 stars
    Made these tonight. It was so good.

    I baked the crust a little longer and before baking, I poked holes in the crust with a fork. It came out perfect.

  8. Carol says

    5 stars
    I have made these several times now. They are the best lemon bars ever! Only thing I do different is that I put a lemon flavored frosting on top. Powdered sugar, lemon juice mixed together.

  9. Yvonne says

    4 stars
    I made these last night. As others are saying the crust went on top. Well mine ended up with crust on top and the bottom lol. And the lemon mix is in the middle. I dont know what I did put they look pretty cool. I like how the lemon ended up in the middle. ?

  10. Gigi says

    5 stars
    The lemon bars were great! I followed directions step by step. The texture and flavors were as expected. I think is important to make sure the bottom crust is cook well and brown a little. Also let the crust cool completely before pouring filling. I believe these 2 steps are very important

  11. Nena says

    I made these and they came out perfect. After cooling in the fridge and before serving I sprinkled the powdered sugar on top but it dissolved into the lemon. I sprinkled more and same thing. Any reason why ?
    I ended up putting a dollop of whipped cream
    on top.

    • Mallory says

      The fridge causes condensation on the top and that absorbs the powdered sugar. Cool them on the counter and then sprinkle with powdered sugar and it shouldn’t dissolve.

  12. Christine Majewski says

    5 stars
    I have made these several times. No issues with the crust. People just rave over them. Perfect combination of delicate crust and lemony topping.

  13. Brianna says

    My lemon bars got brown on top but still weren’t set after almost 40 mins of baking. Wondering what happened? I did walk away from my mixer while it was beating eggs and sugar and it was very light and fluffy when I came back, maybe I over whipped my eggs? Also, my oven had been on for hours as I had been baking up a storm for Thanksgiving, maybe it was too hot? Everything else I did exactly as written.

  14. Cheryl says

    1 star
    Like almost everyone else that commented my crust ended up on top. They also stuck to the dish despite following directions and pressing it down with parchment paper. I reduced the sugar a bit but they are still to sweet. I am disappointed in this recipe

  15. Karen says

    5 stars
    Made these bars and I too had the issue with the crust coming on both bottom and top so I did a little bit of research and made some changes for the next batch. First of all I used a 2 1/2 inch high pan since there is a lot of liquid filling. Since the filling went underneath the parchment I-laid parchment Side by side (overlapping them )which made it taller all the way Around avoiding any leakage. The last thing I did was to cook the crust about 30 minutes Creating a nice brown nutty flavor. When it started getting really brown and I covered it lightly with parchment so that it would not burn. They came out amazing!! The flavor of the brown crust really added to the sweet tart filling. This recipe is now my go to with the above changes.

  16. Peach says

    5 stars
    I made these last night and they are so delicious! They are a perfect summer treat and the consistency is perfect. Next time I have a party to go to I will definitely be making these!!

  17. Amanda says

    5 stars
    Dear Grace,

    These are dangerous! I have made them over a dozen times and this will be my go-to recipe until I kick the bucket. I have tried sooo many recipes over the years and this is hands down everyone’s favorite. I butter the pan under the shortbread for an easier lift when I’m getting it out of the pan, and I put a tablespoon of lemon zest into the shortbread mixture for extra lemon-iness. Thank you for such an easy, foolproof, lemon bar recipe!

  18. Anita says

    5 stars
    Best lemon bar recipe hands down! Every time I make this my friends want them all because they’re so good!!

  19. Meghan says

    Really keen to give these a go. Can I substitute lemons for limes? With a tree outback, I would love to use what’s on it..

  20. Victoria Martinez says

    I used your perfect lemon bar recipe and had nothing but issues. The crust was perfect and I allowed it to cool while I had to run to town. And I mixed up all the filling ingredients and put it in the oven for the recommended 30 to 35 minutes. The top was brown almost immediately. The filling never set, it was incredibly jiggly even giving it an extra 20 minutes of cook time. The top just kept getting browner and browner. This recipe did not work for me. If you have any ideas I would appreciate it. My elevation is 3700 feet. I want some perfect lemon bars! I am a veteran baker looking for a better recipe than the one I have been using. Yours had a very thick lemon layer and looked delicious. Help!

    • Mary says

      Hi Victoria! Thanks so much for taking the time to write a detailed comment and let me know that there might be an issue with the recipe. I really appreciate that. It’s been a few years since I’ve made these. Elevation really shouldn’t have affected this particular recipe. Fortunately, I have a bag of lemons in the kitchen today and plenty of snow outside to keep me home. I’m going to remake them and see if I can figure out what might have happened.

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