Recipe: The BEST Freaking Lemon Bars on Earth

You think I’m kidding? I’m not. I swore a long time ago that I would only put up my very best recipes on the blog- and this one is absolutely freaking awesome. And easy too. You will never, ever, buy the ready-to-make box of pseudo-lemon bars again. This one is the be all and end all.

The crust is like shortbread- heck, no- it IS shortbread. Buttery, buttery shortbread. Topped with lemony, lemony, tangy lemon curd. EVEN Bean eats these- he calls them HIS lemon square bars. Make them. Now. Today. And then return and report. I want to hear how they made your knees weak…

Bean’s Lemon Square Bars

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups of butter (3 sticks) melted completley

Mix flour and powdered sugar together, then pour the butter over the dry ingredients. Mix together gently, until just crumbly. Lightly spray a 9 x 13″ casserole pan (metal with straight sides is best for this) with cooking spray, and then press the crumbs firmly into the pan in an even-ish layer. I like to leave little bumps from my fingers- gives it a rustic texture, but you can do whatever you want. (I also like a thick crust, so if you like it thinner, don’t use all the mix, or make two pans) Bake for 15 minutes at 350.

While that’s baking, make the lemon curd:

  • 6 whole eggs
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup FRESH lemon juice. NO skimping with frozen or the squeezie lemon on this one. Don’t do it.
  • the outer yellow zest from 2 or 3 lemons.

In bowl (I use the same one I made the crust in, just rinsed out) whip the six eggs with a whisk until they are uniform and light. Add the sugar, baking powder and flour, and stir to combine well. With a microplane or small grater, zest only the outer yellow skin from two of your fresh, washed lemons. Probably about 2 Tablespoons. Add tot he egg/sugar mixture. Squeeze the lemons, straining out the pips and  pulp, and add the 1/3 cup of juice.

After 15 minutes, pull the crust from the oven, and immediately pour the curd mixture over the hot crust, scraping the bowl to get all the lemony goodness. Pop it back in the over for 45 minutes, or until set and it doesn’t jiggle in the center.

Let cool COMPLETELY (it will be a mess if you rush it, trust me!) before slicing into neat squares. Dust with powdered sugar, and watch your knees give out as you taste them.

This is one of the foods I miss most from before gluten and my histamines got in a land war.

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47 thoughts on “Recipe: The BEST Freaking Lemon Bars on Earth

  1. Ya, I made some gluten-free lemon squares and I was the only person who liked them. They weren’t as good as gluteny squares but I was just happy to be able to indulge in something, and of course the lemon part was the same.

    I have never had a lemon square that even comes close to being as good as Martha’s (the recipe I use) but I can tell that yours would. Most people make them sickly sweet. If you don’t like sour stuff, don’t use lemons. I like tart.

    OF COURSE you only use real lemons and fresh butter. 😉

  2. I adore homemade lemon bars. None of the recipes I have tried making myself before have quite turned out right. The lemon doesn’t set up or the crust is too crumbly or burns onto the pan or something always seems to go wrong.

    I am definitely going to have to try these. Hopefully I don’t mess them up. They sound easy and delicious though, so as long as I can get my oven temp right (it is over-zealous with how hot it gets) I think they ought to turn out amazing.

  3. I am so going to make these. Maybe even today. I have a bunch of lemons on our tree that are asking to be picked and used.

  4. Yum. Since we are a glisten intolerent house too I am going to try them with almond or coconut flour and artificial sweetener. I’ll let you know.

    Do you ever have ezekial bread? It’s from sprouts but is ok. We also just tried the gleutin free brownie mix… So so

  5. Made these yesterday. Oh. My. Heavens. They are beyond good. And even better today, now that the filling is really really set and the flavors have settled in. I can’t get enough. I wanted to make them to share with a couple of families, but I can’t bear the thought of parting with any. While ya’ll are hung up on gluten, I’m gonna call these “Glutton Bars”, cuz that’s what they make me. Guess I’ll have to make another pan to share.

    Side note: I had to bake them 6 or 7 extra minutes to get the middle to set, which got the top a little brown, but not burnt by any means. My oven may run a little hot. Next time I’ll either drop the temp a bit or lower the rack (but it was already one below the middle). Any suggestions?

    • Do yourself a huge favor and buy a thermometer for your oven and you’ll have a much easier time baking, roasting, etc… I always have one hooked on my oven rack. I can’t wait to try these babies!

  6. Hmm… not sure, Sunny. I bake mine in the mid-upper rack of my oven. I guess it just depends on the oven. I’m so glad you liked them though! I know, if i wouldn’t go into a histamine coma, I’d seriously eat the whole pan.

  7. My goodness Tracy… these were DIVINE. I made them for the roommates late last night, and they were gone before we all went to bed. Granted, my roommates are the sort who can [and will] eat five corndogs apiece in one sitting and gain nary a pound…. but still. Six of us gobbled up the entire batch in merely a few hours. One of my roommates even went out and bought more lemons this morning so I can make these bars again tonight. No joke.

    I LOVE these. And you, but that goes without saying. Oh, and my roommates say thanks.

  8. Freakin’ wow! These are fantastic and way easier than the recipe I usually use. I’m making another batch today to share with friends. Thanks!

  9. When I sprinkle powdered sugar over finished bars the sugar always melts into the bar and ‘disappears’. How do you do this so the powdered sugar still shows on the top of the bar? Does it need some kind of egg wash seal?

  10. Hmmmm…. well, that’s very odd. Is it super humid where you live? I’ve never had that happen, and am perplexed. Humidity is the only thing I can imagine might do that.

  11. Okay…I’ve been wanting to make lemon bars, but I decided not to because I have to substitute coconut oil for the butter. (My baby doesn’t like his Mama milk to have cow milk in it.) But now THIS got woken up and I think it must be a sign. Your’s look fantastic! I love that they’re so solid AND made specifically with fresh lemon juice.

    Have you tried substituting a flour mix for your cookie base? I have some gluten-free flour (Bob’s), so I think I’ll give it a whirl. That way I can take some to my gluten-free buddies too. 😉

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  15. I’m going to try these with my gluten-free flour. In high school my friend and I made a pan of these and ate the wholething ourselves! (Now I’ll have to share or I’ll gain five pounds)! I’ve been loking for ones as goodever since (and that was 25 years ago).

  16. Are you sure about the 3 sticks of butter in the crust? There is nothing crumbly about that mixture? It appears to be very greasy??

    • Mine was not very crumbly either; it bake up fine though. The timing was too long for me as mine turned out brown on the top (didn’t check them early though)

  17. Easy to make,wonderful to eat!!! Fool proof recipe, made them after a neighbor gave me a bag of fresh lemons. The crust was great and the lemon was sweet and refreshing, not overwhelming. All around great recipe!!!

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  19. These were spectacular! I don’t bake but wanted to give it a try… this was an easy recipe to follow and the bars were a huge hit!!! Thank you!!

  20. I made these exactly to the recipe but cannot taste ANY trace of lemon. So disappointed I just used 3 stick of valuable butter and am left with my terrible craving 😦 i knew the 3 cups of sugar would be so much and only 1/3 cup of juice for all that filling. I’m so sad I’ll go weep now .

  21. I used about twice the amount of lemon juice and the zest from three lemons, and the lemon taste did come through quite well. I prefer to be punched in the face with lemon flavor, so next time I make this I will add even more lemon juice and zest. Also, I think I will use less of the crust mixture. Overall, I love this recipe and am sharing it with all my friends.

  22. Cooking the crust for 15 min was way to long!!!!By the time the dish was done the crust was pritty much burnt. That totally sucked but other then that the lemon part is just perfect. If the bottem wasn’t way over done it would have been great. Next time I make it I’m gonna try broiling the crust.

  23. Just followed this recipe exactly (literally just took it out of the oven 30 minutes ago), and I hate to say, but they are really bad. The shortbread crust is okay, but the lemon curd part is spongy, not fully intergrated with the crust & really doesn’t taste that good. 😦

  24. I’m not sure what to say- I use this recipe all the time, and it comes out great. Sometimes time should be adjusted to individual oven, but that’s the case for every recipe. Some folks make these and they love them, it’s clear others don’t have success. I don’t know what to say, honestly- because for me, they work.

    If you don’t like them, please do make adjustments or use a recipe you find works better for you. I happen to like a thick shortbread crust and really tart lemony flavor. If you up the lemon, note that more juice will require adjustments elsewhere. It’s just a fact of cooking.

    Best of luck to everyone in your search for the perfect lemon bars. These are mine.

  25. I made these today as my husband LOVE lemon squares and he LOVED these. I did put butter on the bottom of the pan as I did not have any spray and had to take them out of the oven at the 30 minute mark. Eddie was watching them like a hawk so when the 30 minute mark hit he stated they looked done and I needed to check on them. They were done.

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  27. You didn’t use any salt in the crust as I’ve seen in other recipes, so do you use butter that’s been made with salt, or unsalted butter?

  28. We, my wife and I, made the lemon bars last night. The crust was great. The flavor was great. But the lemon bars themselves were runny except the outer squares. The backing dish also developed an ultra thin crust above the lemon bars. We followed the recipe exactly. The bars are even more runny this morning but still yummy even thought I ate one with a spoon. Do you have any ideas??? Could elevation cause the center of the dish not to gel properly?

  29. Huh, you know, I’m really not sure- I’ve had other folks say the same thing, and others say they set up just fine. All I can think of is to increase the cooking time until they set, perhaps longer at a slightly lower temperature. I’m sorry they were wiggly, but I’m glad you liked the taste!

  30. So, I made a cheesecake with a shortbread crust, dollops of lemon curd baked in the middle and a thick topping of lemon curd on top. I candied thin strips of lemon peel for decoration. Try it, I know I will be trying your bars! Here’s to good eating!

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