The Best Lemon Bars

I used to not like lemon bars. Then I tried these babies, which are the perfect balance of sweet and tart with no gelatin. Now I heart them!

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Lemon bars never really grabbed me before. In a dessert buffet, it was one of those options that I always skipped in favor of brownies or something else chocolate or berry flavored.

But after some rather successful experimenting with limoncello, I realized that I had all this leftover lemon juice that needed using. Enter lemon bars!

And y’all, homemade lemon bars have singlehandedly changed my mind about lemon desserts. I think I had one too many bites of uber-tart lemon desserts loaded with more gelatin than actual lemon flavor, and that made me think I didn’t like anything lemon. Or maybe it’s my sudden interest in Italian lemons. But either way, these things are the bomb and my eyes have been opened to the joy of lemon desserts!

These lemon bars aren’t hard to make and use zero gelatin in the lemon part. This means that texture matters here, and sometimes they lose a bit of their sharp edges when cut. Mary Berry would say I need to perfect it a bit more, but I say they taste amazing regardless of how perfectly high they stand.

The crust is essentially a thin layer of shortbread, which means I could eat that by itself. You could also sub it for your favorite pie crust recipe, but I prefer the cookie tastes contrasted with the lemon.

Make sure to let these cool completely before cutting. This helps them retain their edges. I’d also advise cutting immediately before serving. They’re a bit messy to handle, so a shorter time for someone to knock into the tray is best.

I tend to prefer a sweeter lemon for lemon bars, but if you go with a tart one, just add a bit more sugar. Keep tasting the liquid until it suits you!

Tools you’ll need: 8×8 baking dish, strainer, small saucepan, and mixing bowl.

The Best Lemon Bars

Course: Dessert
Keyword: fruit
Servings: 14 bars


Shortbread Crust

  • 6 Tbsp butter unsalted, softened
  • cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup flour

Lemon Curd

  • 4 eggs whole
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ¾ – 1 cup sugar
  • ¾ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 8 Tbsp butter unsalted, softened


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8 baking dish with aluminum foil.
  • Make the shortbread first: beat unsalted butter for one minute, then scrape and add powdered sugar and beat for two more minutes on high, scraping down every minute or so.
  • Add flour and salt, beating on low until just combined. Mixture will be very crumbly.
  • Press the shortbread dough into the bottom of the baking dish. Use the bottom of a glass to get it as even as possible. Prick with a fork, then bake for 18-22 minutes until the edges are just beginning to color.
  • Make the curd while the shortbread bakes: first, set a strainer over a mixing bowl next to the stove. In a small saucepan, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, and sugar. Once combined, whisk in lemon juice and salt.
  • Put the lemon mixture over medium-low heat and stir continuously for about 8 minutes or until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. If it clumps while you're stirring, take off the heat.
  • Pour the curd through the strainer and stir in the chunks of butter. Keep stirring until everything has fully combined.
  • When the shortbread is done, take out of the oven and pour the curd on top. Return to the oven and bake for another 12-15 minutes, until the edges look set but the middle is still a bit wobbly.
  • Cool completely on the counter, and refrigerate overnight once it's room temperature.
  • Cut into bars only when it's very cold, just before serving. Wipe the knife clean in between slices, it helps with cleaner cuts.

These lemon bars aren’t too complicated to make but will rock your lemon world! What dessert have you tried that changed your mind about an ingredient??

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