Zesty Easy Lemon Bars are perfectly tart with a buttery shortbread crust including hints of vanilla and ginger. The best part of these lemon squares is the simplistic steps and short baking time.
How to Make the Best Lemon Bars
This recipe is one of the easiest desserts to make for a new baker. No mixer or special tools required. I prefer to hand mix my shortbread crust then gently press into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish. Hand whisk together your filling in a separate bowl while the crust is pre-baking. Then, simply pour the filling on top and back in the oven.
- Dip you fingertips in cold water to help press the shortbread dough into the bottom of baking dish. Cold water keeps from melting the butter and wet fingertips prevents the dough from sticking to your hands.
- If you aren’t a fan of ginger simply leave it out. Or if you’re a big fan, feel free to add 1/2 tsp more for extra flavor.
- Don’t panic if you see air bubbles on the top of the baked bars before cooling. All is well and the bubbles will be covered up with powdered sugar anyway.
Once baked, let the bars cool to room temperature before placing in the fridge to fully chill for a couple of hours. Slice your chilled bars and then lightly sprinkle with powdered sugar for that classic lemon square appearance.
The hardest part about making lemon bars is waiting for them to cool and set. Once you smell that lemon aroma, you’re tongue is sure to tingle with the excitement of this tangy treat.
Do Lemon Bars Have to be Refrigerated?
Lemon Bars are essentially considered a custard, with their lemon curd like filling. They should be refrigerated to maintain consistency if not being served. But, if you are displaying them on a plate at a party, lemon bars will be fine at room temperature for a few hours.
How to Perfectly Slice Lemon Bars:
Want to know how to get lemon bars out of the pan?
Use a glass baking pan lined with parchment paper both ways. Let the paper overhang about 3 inches over the sides so you can lift the whole shape out of the pan. Once the bars have chilled for a couple of hours, you can freeze the pan for about an hour to make them a bit firmer. Slightly frozen lemon bars are easier to lift, preventing cracking while removing from pan.
Run a sharp knife or offset spatula around the edges of the bars before lifting from pan. Slice on a firm cutting surface, wiping off knife in between cuts.
How to Store Lemon Bars:
Lemon bars will keep fresh in an air tight container for up to 4 days. If you choose to freeze them, they can be frozen whole or sliced. Keep lemon bars in an air tight freezer safe container for up to one month, letting them come to room temperature before serving.
Try These Delicious Lemon Desserts
Easy Lemon Bars
Vanilla Shortbread Crust
- 2 Cups (250 grams) All Purpose Flour
- 1/2 Cup (100 grams) Granulated Sugar
- 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 tsp Ground Ginger
- 1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 16 Tbsp (226 grams) Unsalted Butter softened
Lemon Bar Filling
- 3/4 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice (from 4 large lemons)
- 4 Large Eggs
- 1 Egg Yolk
- 1 3/4 Cups Granulated Sugar
- 2 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Zest
- 1/4 Cup plus 3 Tbsp All Purpose Flour
- Powdered Sugar for sprinkling
- Preheat Oven to 325 F (163 C) and line a 9 x 13 inch glass pan with overhanging parchment paper.
- In medium bowl hand whisk together flour, sugar, salt, and ginger.
- Add vanilla extract and softened butter to flour mixture.
- Gently mix together with hands until massaging until a soft shortbread dough is formed.
- Transfer dough to baking pan and gently press across bottom of pan into an even layer. Wet fingertips or rubber spatula with cold water to help preventing sticking as you level dough.
- Place pan on middle rack of oven and bake for 18-20 minutes until slightly golden.
- While shortbread is baking mix together filling.
- In a large bowl hand whisk together all ingredients until smooth liquid.
- Remove pre-baked crust from oven and pour filling directly onto hot crust.
- Place pan back in the oven and bake for an additional 22-24 minutes until center is set without any wobbling.
- Remove pan from oven again and place on a cooling rack until completetly cooled.
- Cover cooled pan with plastic wrap and place in fridge to set and chill for 1.5-2 hrs.
- Run an offset metal spatula around the edges of pan to loosen bars. Lift parchment paper from pan by pulling up on overhanging sides. Set on a cutting surface.
- Using a sharp knife slice into squares. Dust lightly with powdered sugar and serve.