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Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars recipe is made with a buttery shortbread crust and a thick lemon filling then topped off with a dusting of powdered sugar. They are not too tart and not too sweet. Just the perfect amount of lemon flavor in these pretty little Southern Lemon Squares.

These Lemon Bars are so so good!

Several years ago, when I worked in a “real” office instead of my home office, a lady in a different department would occasionally bring these delicious lemon bars to the office to share with everyone.

Everyone would ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ over these lemon bars.

Eventually, she retired.

Then a few years later, I changed jobs.

But I never forgot about her delicious lemon bars.

A few months ago, I started asking around to see if anyone who used to work in that office had her lemon bars recipe.

Finally, a guy said “I don’t have it, but I still talk to her. I’ll ask!”

That guy came in clutch and send me this lemon bar recipe last week.

We made them and they were all gone within a couple of days.

So, so good, I tell ya.

Once you make them, be sure to read our guide on how to freeze lemon bars so that they’ll be perfect when you need a quick sweet treat.

Disclosure – I may get a small commission for purchases made through affiliate links in this post.

Lemon Bars

🔑 Key to Success #1 – Prebake the Shortbread Crust

These luscious lemon bars start off with a shortbread crust that is made from just four simple ingredients – butter, sugar, flour and a bit of salt.

Stir the crust ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl.

I use a microwave-safe bowl so that I can melt the butter in it then just stir in all the other ingredients.

You do not need a mixer for the crust.

Just stir it together with a spoon or a rubber spatula.

In fact, the less you stir it the more tender the crust will be.

Just stir it until it comes together than press into your greased 9×13-inch pan.

Let’s talk about the pan.

You’ll need a 9×13-inch baking pan.

I really like to use the Fiesta baker 9×13-inch dishes for many of my baked goods.

They cook up really evenly and it’s just a plus that they come in so many pretty colors.

You can line your baking dish with parchment paper so that it’s easier to get your lemon bars out of the pan.

Be sure to spray the parchment paper with non-stick cooking spray before adding your crust.

Pat the crust into the pan then bake it uncovered in the oven for 20 minutes.

Lemon Bars

🔑 Key to Success #2 – Pour Lemon Filling over Crust While it’s Warm

When the crust is almost baked, it’s time to whip up your lemon filling.

Luckily, it will only take a few minutes to make the filling.

The filling is made with eggs, sugar, lemon juice, a little flour for thickening and a little vanilla extract for extra flavor.

You can use bottled lemon juice or fresh lemon juice.

Both options work equally well in this recipe.

I use bottled lemon juice regularly and these lemon bars are terrific every time.

Don’t think you have to make things complicated in order for your food to taste great.

Sometimes simpler is better.

Six tablespoons of lemon juice may not sound like a lot, but it’s the perfect amount for lemon bars that are not too sweet and not too sour.

Use a hand mixer to whip up the lemon filling ingredients until just combined.

Then pour it over the crust as soon as it comes out of the oven.

You want your crust to be warm when you add the lemon filling so that the filling can sort of seep into the crust and add more great flavor all the way through your lemon bars.

Stick the lemon bars back into the oven for 30 minutes to finish baking.

Lemon Squares using Lemon Juice

🔑 Key to Success #3 – Powder the Lemon Bars While Warm

When the lemon bars come out of the oven, let them cool down for about 10 minutes then sprinkle them liberally with powdered sugar.

It is best to add the powdered sugar when the lemon bars are still warm so that it will have the most sticking power.

The warmth of the lemon filling will cause the bottom layer of the powdered sugar to melt into it a bit and make it stay put.

It will not melt the powdered sugar completely.

It will just melt it enough so that the powdered sugar will adhere to the top of the lemon bars.

I use a sugar shaker to dust the powdered sugar on top of my lemon bars.

This $5 thing is so handy!

I use it all the time for dusting powdered sugar on lava cakes, lemon bars, french toast, and many other dishes.

I store my shaker in my baking goods cabinet and keep a little powdered sugar in it all the time.

Do you remember when Emeril Legasse used to have a cooking show and he would yell “BAM!” when he put the finishing touches on his dishes?

That’s how I feel when I use my sugar shaker. “BAM! Put a little more sugar on those pretty lemon bars!”

Lemon Squares with bottled lemon juice

My parting advice to you would be not to laugh while you’re eating lemon bars because the powdered sugar will go up your nose.

Enjoy your lemon bar and THEN laugh all you want because it was so good.

📌 Get the Printable Recipe for Southern Lemon Bars

Save this Southern Lemon Bars recipe to your favorite Lemon Desserts board or your Sweets and Treats board.

Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars are made with a buttery shortbread crust and a thick lemon filling then topped off with a dusting of powdered sugar. They are not too tart and not too sweet. Just the perfect amount of lemon flavor in these pretty little lemon squares.
4.49 from 92 votes
Print Pin Rate Comment
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 24 bars
Calories: 199kcal
Author: Jennifer


For Shortbread Crust

For the Lemon Topping


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 9×13-inch baking dish.
  • In medium bowl, stir together shortbread crust ingredients. Press firmly into baking dish.
  • Bake uncovered 20 minutes.
  • In clean medium bowl using a hand-mixer, beat together 4 eggs, sugar, and flour until fully combined. Add in lemon juice and vanilla extract. Mix well.
  • Pour lemon mixture over the baked crust while it is still warm.
  • Return lemon bars to oven and bake uncovered 30 minutes.
  • Remove lemon bars from oven. Cool 10 minutes then sprinkle liberally with sifted powdered sugar.
  • Cool completely. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Serving: 1grams | Calories: 199kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 149mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 19g
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Recipe Rating


Sunday 17th of September 2023

I was anxious to try this recipe because the title said “Thick”. I doubled the filling but my bars still came out thin. Not sure what happened.