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Classic Lemon Bars Recipe – Oh Sweet Basil

The best lemon bars are a classic spring recipe made with a buttery crust and gooey lemon filling. Top this lemon bar recipe with powdered sugar and you’ll have an easy and delicious spring dessert!

When April and May hit is just means lemon desserts like iced lemon cake, lemon meringue pie, lemon cheesecake cookies and these lemon bars! There’s nothing better than a sweet and tart lemon recipe to finish of a party or dinner as we head into the summer months.

Lemon bars are one of those classic recipes that you probably think of when you think lemon treats. For good reason! They’re delicious.

The trick to a good lemon bar? Lots of fresh lemon juice and lemon zest.

You’ll also want a soft and buttery crust for your lemon bar recipe. All that gooey filling has to top something!

Ingredients for the Best Lemon Bars

You will need a few basic baking ingredients to make these bars along with a few fresh lemons. Here is what you will need to make this delicious recipe:


  • Sugar: just regular granulated white sugar
  • Unsalted Butter: needs to be softened to room temperature
  • Flour: all purpose flour is all you need
  • Salt: cuts through the sweetness and tartness and enhances all the flavors
  • Lemon Juice: the juice of about 1 lemon


  • Eggs: creates the richness and creaminess of the filling
  • Sugar: adds sweetness and balances the tartness of the lemons
  • Flour: helps thicken the filling and gives it structure
  • Salt: enhances all the flavors
  • Lemon Juice: fresh lemon juice is preferred and you’ll need 3-4 large lemons
  • Lemon Zest: you’ll need the zest from about 1 lemon
  • Powdered Sugar: used for garnish to balance out the tartness and to make the bars look extra pretty

The measurements for each ingredient can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post. BONUS: If you want a gluten free lemon bar, check out our gf lemon bar recipe.

a photo taken over the top of a single square lemon bar sitting on a small dessert plate with a silver fork sitting next to it

How to Make Lemon Bars

There are two parts to this recipe – the crust and the filling. Both parts are super simple! Here are the steps:


Start by creaming 2 sticks of softened butter and sugar in a large bowl with a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. This will be the base of your really tender crust. Then you’ll add the flour and sugar to bring it all together to form a dough.

The dough will likely be a little crumbly at this point so add in a bit of lemon juice until it starts to come together, form a ball and pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Press the dough into a prepared baking dish lined with parchment paper and bake by itself for 15-20 minutes, or until it’s golden brown.


Whisk all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. The mixture will be very runny, but don’t worry it will thicken up as it bakes.

Pour the lemon filling mixture over the baked crust, and then stick it in the oven to bake for another 30-35 minutes. Give the dish a little jiggle and the lemon filling shouldn’t move if it is fully baked.

Let the lemon bars cool completely to room temperature, and then dust with powdered sugar and cut them into squares to serve.

These instructions can also be found in the recipe card down at the end of the post. You can also save or print the recipe there.

a photo of a single square lemon bar topped with powdered sugar and a wedge of lemon sitting on a small white dessert plate with a fork sitting next to it

Are Lemon Bars Supposed to Be Gooey?

The lemon layer of lemon bars are essentially a lemon curd baked on top of the shortbread crust. They will be soft and somewhat gooey.

To avoid them being too gooey make sure you allow them to set completely when you take them out of the oven. You know when lemon bars are done when you move the pan a bit and they don’t jiggle.

You should cut the lemon bars when they are completely cool. Even better if you allow them to set up in the refrigerator for a couple hours!

Can I Make Lemon Bars in a Muffin Pan?

You can use a muffin tin to make lemon bars, just make sure you only bake them for 12-15 minutes after baking the crust (which you can bake for around 8-10 minutes) as they can overcook.

How Should Lemon Bars Be Stored?

Once you’re done serving (and somehow have leftovers!) you can store your lemon bars either in the refrigerator or in the freezer.

Store in the refrigerator by placing the lemon bars in an airtight container using parchment or wax paper to separate layers if you have more than one. They will stay fresh for up to 3 days in the fridge.

Store in the freezer by placing each individual lemon bar on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 2-3 hours until they freeze all the way through. Once frozen, wrap each bar individually in plastic wrap and place them in a sealable bag or airtight container. They will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months!

Don’t forget to top them with powdered sugar when they come out of the oven! If you follow these steps you will end up with the best lemon bars recipe!

Can I Make Lemon Bars Ahead of Time?

A classic lemon bars recipe is a great option for a make ahead dessert. Just pop the lemon bars into the fridge to keep them until they’re ready for serving. Remember, this is a fresh tasting dessert unlike a baked cookie, so you should only make lemon bars about a day ahead of time.

a photo of three square lemon bars stacked on top of each other sitting on a small white dessert plate

If you love lemon desserts, then you’ll love these classic lemon bars! It’s hard to believe that the best lemon bars could be so easy to make yet still be so mouthwatering delicious! They are sweet and tart, buttery and rich, creamy and chewy…total bliss!

If you love these, then you have to try these other BAR DESSERTS:

Servings: 24

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour


Lemon bars are a classic spring recipe made with a buttery crust and gooey lemon filling. Top this lemon bar recipe with powdered sugar and you’ll have an easy and delicious dessert!

Prevent your screen from going dark

To make the crust:

  • Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl with a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 1-2 minutes.

    1 Cup Unsalted Butter, 1/2 Cup Sugar

  • With the mixer on low, add the flour, salt and lemon juice and beat until just mixed. 

    2 Cups All Purpose Flour, 1/2 teaspoon Salt, 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

  • Dump the dough into the prepared baking pan and press the dough to the edges of the pan to build up 1/2 inch on the bottom of the pan.

  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until edges start to turn golden brown.

  • Remove from oven, leave the oven on and cool on a wire rack.

To make the filling:

  • Whisk together the eggs, sugar, flour, salt, lemon juice and lemon zest in a large bowl. Mixture will be very runny.

    6 Eggs, 2 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar, 1 Cup All Purpose Flour, 1/2 teaspoon Salt, 1 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice, 2 Tablespoon Lemon Zest

  • Pour over the baked crust and bake for another 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set and doesn’t move when shaken.

  • Allow to cool completely at room temperature.

  • Dust with powdered sugar and cut into squares before serving.

    Powdered Sugar

To freeze: Lasts 3 days in fridge or 3 months in freezer. Place on baking sheet and freeze completely for 3 hours then transfer to plastic bag and store until ready. Thaw in fridge overnight.

Serving: 1barCalories: 239kcalCarbohydrates: 38gProtein: 3gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 61mgSodium: 114mgPotassium: 47mgFiber: 1gSugar: 25gVitamin A: 297IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 12mgIron: 1mg

Author: Sweet Basil

Course: 100 Best Brownies and Bars Recipes, America’s Best 4th of July Desserts, Recipes and Sides

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