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This Lemon Bars Recipe is all you need!

Easy Lemon Bars Recipe

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My lemon bars recipe has all the best bits of classic lemon bars but made even easier!


Hi Bold Bakers!

This recipe is long in the making! Since the birth of Bigger Bolder Baking have all been asking for an easy Lemon Bars recipe. Well, brace yourselves!

It’s finally here!

My Lemon Bars Recipe has all the best bits of classic lemon bars, but made even easier. Some lemon bars require pre-cooking the filling, or extra equipment, but these tangy & rich lemon bars are made in one bowl and by hand.

Made with a classic sweet and buttery shortbread base topped with a super fresh lemony custard, these lemon bars boast a crackle top, gooey center, and crunchy sweet base. Basically, these lemon bars are going to make all of your friends and family swoon!

What is shortbread?

Shortbread, or shortcrust pastry, is the beginning of my easy lemon bars recipe. Shortbread is defined by a super crunchy and flaky texture that has a sweet flavor. Made by hand with just butter, flour, powdered sugar, and granulated sugar, you can imagine why this crust is also the base of millionaire’s shortbread — as they taste like a million bucks.

The rich sweet crust bakes ahead of the filling to ensure it’s cooked through. After baking for 25 minutes, I fill them will the custard filling and then it’s just a matter of time!

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How do you make this lemon bars recipe?

These homemade Lemon Bars are made with an easy lemon custard filling. Made by combining egg yolks, sugar, and lots of fresh lemon juice and zest, the filling of this lemon bar has all the component of the best homemade lemon curd.

[ This recipe calls for vanilla! Did you know you can make your own extracts? ]

The difference is that there’s no fussy cooking over a stove or worrying about curdled eggs. All of the ingredients are combined then poured over the shortbread crust. They bake somewhat low and slow, and this is what allows the lemon custard filling to develop its thick custard center and golden brown top.

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Are lemon bars best-served cold?

While I really like the idea of warm gooey lemon bars I do find them easier to cut into squares when they are fully cooled. This is an important step in setting the center of the lemon bars. After cooling I love to dust these easy lemon bars with powdered sugar for that extra touch of sweetness.

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NOTE: THIS RECIPE HAS BEEN EDITED ON 9/6/2018 TO MAKE ADJUSTMENTS TO THE FILLING. WE HAVE RESOLVED ANY ISSUE WITH THE RECIPE. Gemma 🙂

4.36 from 74 votes
This Lemon Bars Recipe is all you need!
Easy Lemon Bars
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 

My easy Lemon Bars Recipe has all the best bits of classic lemon bars but made even easier! Give it a go!

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 10
Author: Gemma Stafford
Ingredients
Butter Shortbread Crust
  • 1 1/4 cups (6 1/4oz/177g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar/caster/granulated
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 10 tablespoons (5oz/142g) butter, cubed, room temperature
Lemon Filling:
  • 4 lemons, juiced and zested (about 3/4 cup juice )
  • 8 egg yolks*
  • 1 1/2 cups (12oz/340g) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (2 ½oz/71g) all-purpose flour (See Notes)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (4oz/115g) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • powdered sugar, for dusting
Instructions
NOTE: THIS RECIPE HAS BEEN EDITED ON 9/6/2018 TO MAKE ADJUSTMENTS TO THE FILLING. WE HAVE RESOLVED ANY ISSUE WITH THE RECIPE.
Shortbread Crust:
  1. Preheat your oven to 325oF (170oC) then butter and line an 8x8 inch baking tin, set aside. 

  2. In a large bowl combine the sugars and the flour. Next rub in the butter until you've reached the texture of coarse breadcrumbs. Continue to bring the shortbread together using your hands until the dough forms a ball.

  3. Transfer the shortbread dough to your lined baking tin and press into one even layer using your fingertips and the palm of your hands. Then prick the crust all over with a fork.

  4. Bake the shortbread crust for 25 minutes. While the base is baking, make the lemon filling.

Lemon Filling:
  1. In a medium bowl combine the egg yolks, sugar, flour, baking powder, soft butter, lemon juice, and zest then mix to combine. If the mixture looks a bit separated, don't be alarmed. 

  2. Remove the crust from the oven then fill with the lemon filling. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the top has formed a crackle crust and is golden brown.

  3. Allow to fo fully cool before dusting with powdered sugar and cutting into squares. 

  4. Cover and store in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Watch the Recipe Video!

Recipe Notes

*Flour and baking powder were added to this recipe after the video launched. It's important to add it as it sets the lemon filling. 

 

*Save your leftover egg whites for meringue recipes and you can even freeze them for later

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Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I’m passionate about sharing my years of experience to show you how to make game-changing baking recipes with over-the-top results! Join more than 1 Million other Bold Bakers in the community for new video recipes every week!

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63 Comments

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  1. JoLe on September 12, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    Hi Gemma,
    Great recipe. It worked beautifully. Perhaps bakets’ problem with setting up after coming out of the oven, is letting the curd SET UNTIL COOL. One needs to let it completely cool. It will set, even without added flour and baking powder. I never add flour to curd. It doesn’t need it. Eggs do the job, but needs to be fully blended prior to baking. Great recipe, great job. Its become my favorite. JoLe😄

    • Gemma Stafford on September 13, 2018 at 4:12 am

      Hi JoLe,
      Yes, we had some great reports and some which did not work so well, so we decided to tweak a little.
      I generally would not thicken curd either, but it can be a challenge for some. I am delighted you like this recipe, thank you for being in touch,
      Gemma 🙂

  2. Violetta Gold on September 10, 2018 at 11:55 am

    Hello Gemma, I want to try this recipe very much but I can’t eat a lot of sugar. In the Butter Shortbread Crust the amount of sugar is fine but in the Lemon Filling the amount is very large for me. So my question is can I substituted the sugar with Stevia?
    And if so, how much Stevia I need to use?

    Thank you very much 🙂

    • Gemma Stafford on September 11, 2018 at 5:41 am

      Hi Violetta,
      Sugar has more than one purpose in a recipe. It adds to the bulk too, the browning, flavor etc. You are coming to this at a time when there are a number of great alternative sugars available. Here we use one called Lakanto, but there is Truvia, and Swerve, really all much the same thing, using either monk fruit or stevia for the sweetness, and an alcohol sugar such as erythritol or xylitol, which will caramelize, and behave like real sugar in a bake. Stevia and Monk fruit will not caramelize on their own, but will be great in drinks and some puddings/custards etc. Do a little research into these products, they are a little expensive at the moment, but for you it would be so worth it!
      I hope this is of help to you,
      Gemma 🙂

  3. Paulyn Tay on September 7, 2018 at 11:07 pm

    Hi Gemma,

    Love following your videos. And would love to make this Lemon Bars. But have a few queries as to the cup conversion. Please help verify if the conversion is correct. Thanks.

    In the Butter Shortbread Crust
    1.25cups APF = 212g –> 1 cup = 169.6g

    In the Lemon Filling
    0.5 cups APF=71G –> 1 Cup = 142g

    • Gemma Stafford on September 9, 2018 at 8:33 pm

      Hi Paulyn,

      I hope you try these because they are so awesome. Thank you for pointing that out, yes the flour is 177g for the crust. I just edited it there now and it is all up to speed.

      Thanks,
      Gemma.

      • ptcrossstitch on September 11, 2018 at 12:05 am

        Thank you Gemma.

  4. Kara S. on September 6, 2018 at 2:37 pm

    Hi Gamma!!!! I have tried to make this recipe and changed from my old lemon bars recipe. My friend asked me for lemon bars for his birthday a day after you had posted this to facebook so I thought it was a sign to try this. I am having a hard time getting these bars to set. They are still super gooey. I am attempting to put them back in the oven for another 20 minutes but I am not sure what else I can do. Any other suggestions??? Thanks!!! P.s. i love all your other recipes they have turned out great!.

    • Gemma Stafford on September 7, 2018 at 1:55 am

      Hi Kara,
      I am not sure why this has been a problem for some bakers and not for others. Today I revisited this recipe in order to address the issues. I have now added some flour to the recipe, to stabilize the filling, no matter what the variables in terms of eggs etc.
      I am sorry about this Kara. I had no difficulty with the original recipe, but accept that it was a big problem.
      Now I have no solution for you other than to serve it warm with ice cream, when it will be delicious. Apologies,
      Gemma 🙁

  5. Joanna1996 on September 3, 2018 at 8:54 am

    Hi Gemma😄!!
    I loved this recipe and my family did too! I started baking about 2 months ago and I just kept looking forward to your videos . I love all your recipes and I have to say these are my favorite! I loved the taste of the lemon filling and the shortbread layer as well! I have posted my photo on the website and even though it doesn’t look as good as yours did, I still wanted to show you what I made! Thanks gemma for sharing your recipe with us! ❤️Jo

    • Gemma Stafford on September 4, 2018 at 10:42 pm

      I’m delighted to hear that!

  6. Claire on September 3, 2018 at 4:45 am

    Hi, it looked so delicious I just had to give it a try. Followed your exact measirements but utterly failed! It nerver set. I see some others have had the same problem.
    I left it in the oven hoping it would set, but after an additional 40 minutes (!) I gave up. It is now an interesting chewy brown lemon caramel topping….Tasting OK, but not something I would offer friends to taste and far fram the original!
    Being in Sweden I used your measurements stated in grams. Are they OK or could it be that those of us who experienced the same problem were all using the gram-conversions?

    • Gemma Stafford on September 5, 2018 at 9:34 pm

      Hi Claire,

      After a few comments of people getting different results from this recipe I’m revisiting it and will have edits up tomorrow. It will be an easy fix.
      Thanks for your comment.

      Best,
      Gemma.

  7. Diana on September 2, 2018 at 9:22 pm

    I failed as well-likely too much lemon juice. It never set, even after extending the baking time. I wish I would have read the reviews beforehand. I will try it again.

    • Gemma Stafford on September 5, 2018 at 9:35 pm

      Hi Diana,

      We are adding flour to the recipe to help it set. Check in later today and the edits will be there. Sorry to hear it didn’t set and I hope you will make them again.

      Best,
      Gemma.

  8. Luisa on September 2, 2018 at 1:35 pm

    Hi Gemma
    I made these today and they are absolutely amazing, I’ve tried many lemon bar recipes and they never turn out, I’m so happy you shared this recipe. I only have one problem. …I can’t stop eating them lol . Thank yoy Luisa

    • Gemma Stafford on September 3, 2018 at 3:50 am

      Hi Luisa,
      Yea! I am really happy to hear this, delighted this worked out well for you,
      Gemma 🙂

  9. Amy Bonner on September 2, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    Delicious! I made this and it was so yummy, very sweet and tangy, I couldnt eat much as it was very tart and acidic, I tried some with additions like homemade chocolate, crackers and yoghurt (I tend to make odd concoctions when it comes to dessert haha) and it was lovely. My brother is a lemon addict and was like ‘oh my gosh this is amazing’ haha (he loves lemon so much that he drinks the juice straight) I saw in another comment yu have it with ice cream which is a good idea.
    Thanks for the recipe!

    • Gemma Stafford on September 3, 2018 at 3:52 am

      Hi Amy,
      Yes! another great review of this recipe, thank you so much. It is TART, in the best possible way, but so many people love this flavor. I have an idea that it suits some taste buds better than others.
      good to have you happily baking with us,
      Gemma 🙂

  10. Haria on September 2, 2018 at 7:02 am

    Hey! I tried these lemon bars they tasted great but the problem was that the curd only boiling but not getting in shape and stayed liquidy even after a lott time in oven

    • Gemma Stafford on September 5, 2018 at 9:36 pm

      Hi Haria,

      We are adding flour to the recipe to help it set. Check in later today and the edits will be there. I hope you make them again once we fix the recipe 🙂

      Best,
      Gemma.

  11. Mary on September 1, 2018 at 5:19 pm

    Hello! I love your recipes and have made a lot of them without any problems, but this one I completely failed at!! I think i used too much lemon juice. It never got solid! Is it really 3/4 cup of lemon juice? 4 lemons was not even close to 3/4 cup of juice so I used more. I went out today and got more lemons. I am determined to get this right!! 🙂

    • Gemma Stafford on September 2, 2018 at 3:21 am

      Hi Mary,
      Yes! this is effectively a custard. 8 egg yolks should set up this quantity of liquid juice readily. It is worth getting this right. You can reduce this quantity if you like, it will not be a problem, especially if the egg yolks are small. It also sets up as it cools.
      The baking is important too to this process. Look for the crackle top before you know it is baked. It takes a bit of time!
      Try again, but do use up this batch, serve in a bowl, with ice cream, delicious,
      Gemma 🙂

  12. Colin on September 1, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    Oh dear not very often my baking goes wrong but something did here, during cooking it looked like it was boiling, only a crisp on half the mixture im thinking the oven may of been a little too high, on the recipe it says 170°C on video it says 160°C i set mines to 160 but it is a fan oven, maybe i need to reduce it. The end product was a gooey mess but tastes amazing, so will just need to be eaten with some ice cream instead of as a bar.

    • Gemma Stafford on September 2, 2018 at 4:16 am

      Hi Colin,
      You may be right about your oven temperature, 170C may be too high for a fan assisted oven.
      Is this a regular large oven? If it is an OTG then it may be to do with the position in the oven, and this may be true of a big oven too.
      Ovens vary too, and mine is checked regularly as I have to keep it right. I am guessing here! not too sure, but it should not be boiling, a bit like a custard it should set.
      not much help I know, reduce the temp to 150C for the custard stage, if it is boiling at that then the oven is running hot.
      Gemma 😉

      • Colin on September 2, 2018 at 5:30 am

        Thanks Gemma, its the large oven i was using, i prefer not to use the OTG, ill try again at a lower temperature, going to enjoy the disaster with some ice cream tonight as it was still delicious.

        • Gemma Stafford on September 2, 2018 at 6:33 am

          Good Colin, turning it around, and it will be delicious with the ice cream too.
          Thank you for getting back to me,
          Gemma 🙂

  13. Madeleine Daye on September 1, 2018 at 11:18 am

    My name is Madeleine and this recipe sounds soooo delish I am going to try it. I also wanted you to know I really like that you answer all your emails. CUDOS!

    • Gemma Stafford on September 2, 2018 at 6:52 am

      Hi Madeleine,
      Thank you, and thank you for your kind words.
      I learn a lot from Bold Bakers, and as the audience is world wide, a lot of this is really new to me. This is a really valuable thing for me, and it is important to respect the time taken by followers to get in touch, to ask a question etc. This helps me to know where I should be taking the recipes, website etc.
      So, all praise to you and the other Bold Bakers, I cannot do it without you,
      Gemma 🙂

  14. Bunny on September 1, 2018 at 7:17 am

    I love, love, love a good lemon bar. And the same goes for a good shortbread. I’ve been making my lemon bar crust lately with a lemon cake mix, 1/2 c. melted butter and 1 egg. Press into pan and bake, per recipe directions for the crust’s baking time. I do the same with a strawberry cake mix, for strawberry bars, etc.

    I also like to use a strawberry cake mix to make a strawberry pie crust for a fresh strawberry pie.

    Funny thing, tho, I don’t make a cake with a cake mix. Just everything else, lol.

    • Gemma Stafford on September 1, 2018 at 7:25 am

      Hi Bunny,
      Good for you! really it is about doing what suits you, and what works, that is what matters.
      thank you for being in touch,
      Gemma 🙂

  15. kathy fischer on September 1, 2018 at 6:20 am

    Hi Gemma is there a way i can use this receipe with almond flour and sugar substitute thanks love your receipes kathy fischer

    • Gemma Stafford on September 1, 2018 at 7:39 am

      Hi Kathy,
      You can make a pastry using almond flour, but it may need a little help from another type of gf flour.
      Gluten free flours, such as brown rice flour/coconut flour/oat flour/gram flour will help to give the pastry structure. Use 60% almond flour with 40% of another flour and this should work well for you. If you use coconut flour it will need a little more liquid to bind it, but this should work well for this recipe.
      Thank you for being in touch,
      Gemma 🙂

  16. Paola quiroga on September 1, 2018 at 5:02 am

    Hi, can bake it in microwave oven?

    • Gemma Stafford on September 1, 2018 at 7:47 am

      Hi there,
      not so much for this! The shortbread is a type of pastry which needs heat to bake properly.
      I have not tried this in the microwave, and I think it would not work well for any of the elements of this bake.
      sorry!
      Gemma 🙂

  17. Ashleah Bice on September 1, 2018 at 3:50 am

    Does it set when you get it out of the oven

    • Gemma Stafford on September 1, 2018 at 7:48 am

      Hi Ashleah,
      it should be somewhat set as you take it out, then it finishes setting up as it cools.
      This is a little like a custard.
      I hope this helps!
      Gemma 🙂

  18. Thaakirah on September 1, 2018 at 2:22 am

    Hi, wanted to know if I could half all the ingredients and maybe make a smaller batch for myself. Thanx 😊 I

    • Gemma Stafford on September 1, 2018 at 7:54 am

      Hi there,
      sure you can. that is easy with this recipe. write out the ingredients and 1/2 each one, that is the safe way to do it,
      Gemma 🙂

  19. Coco on August 31, 2018 at 3:31 pm

    Hi Gemma! I’m a big fan of your recipes! Thanks for this one!
    Quick question: if I were to double the recipe and bake it in a 9×12 pan, would the temparature and baking time still be the same, or would it be different?
    Thank you!

    • Gemma Stafford on September 1, 2018 at 8:51 am

      Hi Coco,
      more or less, yes! However you will need to monitor it as this is not an exact science. Everything matters in baking, the air temperature, the temperature of ingredients, and the oven, and ovens vary!
      so, I think the crust will take a little longer, but watch it, the filling maybe not so much different, it is a custard type thing really. You will know when it is right! Rotating the tray in the oven can also even out the bake.
      Thank you for baking with us,
      Gemma 🙂

  20. Kathleen Jones on August 31, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    Would the shortbread work out okay with Rice Flour or Soya Flour?

    • Gemma Stafford on September 1, 2018 at 8:54 am

      Hi Kathleen,
      I think it will work well with a blend of flours. rice flour and soya flour or almond flour for instance. If this is a dietary need such as celiac disease, then a good all purpose gluten free flour will work well for you. Almond meal will be a great addition to this shortbread, but you may need to run a little trial.
      Blend 40% nut flours wit 60% flour from other sources. Try it!
      Gemma 🙂

  21. Nigel on August 31, 2018 at 11:48 am

    Am daibetic can I use canderel instead of sugar It works well in your best banana bread cake cheers nige

    • Gemma Stafford on September 1, 2018 at 10:50 am

      Hi Nigel,
      Take a look at the new age sweeteners. We like Lakanto (https://amzn.to/2vj4Uih) this is a blend of alcohol sugars and monk fruit, natural things. These have the advantage of being able to caramelize in a recipe, and this can be important in baking.
      I think Canderel will work well in this recipe though, there is no reason why not.
      Thank you for being in touch,
      Gemma 🙂

  22. Cathy C on August 31, 2018 at 9:30 am

    Hi Gemma,
    This recipe looks delicious, I’ll try to make it this weekend, I just have one question, the butter you used is normal salted butter, right? It doesn’t need to be unsalted?

    • Gemma Stafford on September 1, 2018 at 11:08 am

      Cathy, yes! I use salted butter in everything, it is what I grew up with, Kerrygold, Irish butter, all the way!
      You can use unsalted too Cathy, but chefs love salt!
      Gemma 😉

  23. Jan Laine on August 31, 2018 at 9:07 am

    Can the crust be made w/gluten -free flour?

    • Gemma Stafford on September 1, 2018 at 11:09 am

      Hi Jan,
      Yes! why not, a good all purpose GF flour will be perfect for this bake,
      Gemma 🙂

  24. Gargi on August 31, 2018 at 8:38 am

    What can be used instead of eggs ?

    • Gemma Stafford on September 1, 2018 at 11:13 am

      Hi there,
      I am not sure you can for this type of recipe.
      There are some suggestions, using cornflour as the thickener, but eggs in this recipe are the enricher, they add thickening and richness to what is a custard really, it would be a different thing without the eggs.
      I am sorry, i would not be happy to say yes, maybe another Bold Baker may have an idea about this,
      Gemma 🙂

  25. June Vhetty on August 31, 2018 at 2:35 am

    Want to try the lemon bars but im not keen on too much butter woyld prefer to use vegtable oils what can i substitute the butter with thank you

    • Gemma Stafford on August 31, 2018 at 3:47 am

      Hi June,
      You could use a hard margarine, and there are a number of brands for this. I prefer butter though, for flavor and added nutrition.
      Margarine is hydrogenated vegetable oil, butter is natural, the fat of cows milk. do a little research into this, see if you can see why butter may be a better choice!
      Gemma 🙂

  26. Aisha on August 30, 2018 at 2:14 pm

    Should I open the oven from the top or the bottom?

    • Gemma Stafford on August 31, 2018 at 2:48 am

      Hi there Aisha,
      I really do not know the answer to this. My oven opens front down, some open from the side, others down and slide under the cavity. I do not know one that opens from the bottom up! Confused,
      Gemma 🙂

      • Jessie Sequeira on August 31, 2018 at 1:03 pm

        Gemma, Maybe what Aisha means whether she should use the broiler burner (ceiling of the oven) or the baking burner (bottom).
        I enjoy watching your cooking videos and enjoy trying the recipes. All the best and best regards.
        Jessie

        • Gemma Stafford on September 1, 2018 at 9:07 am

          Hi jessie,
          Yes, and I think you are right! The issue for lots of people is that they are using OTG ovens, and they are not too sure how to work them.
          Thank you for this, it will help,
          Gemma 🙂

  27. Louella Puanglarplai on August 30, 2018 at 9:18 am

    Thank you for sharing this recipe,haven’t made lemon squares in years will try your recipe.

    • Gemma Stafford on August 31, 2018 at 4:03 am

      Hi Louella,
      The old ones are the best!
      I hope you love this recipe,
      Gemma 🙂

  28. mizkae on August 30, 2018 at 8:44 am

    Hi! How much do I need to add if I’ll use a bigger size pan like 9×12? Thanks!

    • Gemma Stafford on August 31, 2018 at 4:21 am

      Hi there,
      This is math!
      This is my very simple, and maybe not exactly right way of working this out:
      8 x 8 = 64
      9 x 12 = 108 this is sq inches.
      Therefore twice the sized pan means double the recipe!
      I am a cook, not a mathematician, but this works well for me,
      Gemma 🙂

      • mizkae on September 4, 2018 at 10:10 am

        Thank you! Will the baking time also differ?

        • Gemma Stafford on September 6, 2018 at 3:03 am

          Hi there,
          Yes, the baking time will be the same,
          Gemma 🙂

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