lemon-bars Recipes

lemon bars

January is always the time of year when most of us get caught up in the winter produce doldrums, fueled by the dearth of flavorful fruit and the overabundance of hard, starchy vegetables. But I find if I set my mind on citrus, I can carefully sidestep most bouts of Farmers Market Mourning. There are few things teeming with more promise of a sunnier tomorrow than sour-sweet piercing members of the rutaceae family, and I’ve got an archive full of margarita cookies, lemon bundts, orange chocolate chunks, grapefruit loaves and key lime tartlets that should assure you that you need not feel that you are missing out just because the peaches and berries have gone into hibernation.

scrubbedlemon zest

But I haven’t had a lemon bar in there before now, despite repeated requests and, heck, even pleading for one by various people inside my computer. You’d think it is because I’m stubborn but it actually that my bar (ha) for lemon bars has been set very high by my mother, who has an award-winning recipe somewhere in her files. Upon request, she sent it to me a couple years ago, but when they didn’t come out the way I had remembered, her response was “oh, I must have sent you the wrong one.” Tell me, if you had a recipe for lemon bars that you had won you a cooking contest, why would you have a second version in your box that wasn’t as good? Perhaps if you ask her, you’ll get further than I did.

lemon macroemptied lemon halves

This about brings us to New Years Eve, when I decided at the very last minute to make lemon bars, and with little time to get my mom to proffer up the correct recipe, went for Ina Garten’s widely-praised one instead. Guess what? They were almost as I remembered mom’s to be. “Almost.” The thing is, and this is really just me being really nit-picky, I have a personal taste for more of a 1:1 ratio between the shortbread base and quick lemon curd on top. The shortbread on these was just fine, but the topping a little… thick. (Also, soft, but I am certain that is because I should have baked it longer, or added an additional large egg.)

Nonetheless, with a few adjustments, I am certain my mother will approve of this recipe. It is tart, intense and deliciously contrasted with the cookie below, really the best of both worlds–and if you close your eyes and concentrate real hard, you might even forget that they’re calling for snow next week.

lemon bars

Related to exactly nothing: Why did it take me like five days to post about lemon bars? Because I bought a new computer this weekend and its hard to adjust to writing on a new machine. I’m not used to things being so … pretty. And running so quickly and not crashing a lot. I mean, what’s up with that?

One year ago: English Muffins, Everyday Pancakes and Salad Lyonnaise

Lemon Bars
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

These are bold and tart lemon bars, ones I feel are best in smaller doses than Ina Garten suggests. I’ve made a few changes to the recipe–increased the salt in the crust, reduced the sugar in the lemon filling and an encouragement to grease your pan, as mine were all but cemented into their non-stick pan. For those of you who like the 1:1 crust to lemon layer ratio, use the second option.

For the crust:
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the full-size lemon layer:
6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup flour

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

[Or] for a thinner lemon layer:

4 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (3 to 4 lemons)
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2/3 cup flour

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into the greased baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the lemon layer, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes (less if you are using the thinner topping), or about five minutes beyond the point where the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.

Cut into rectangles and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

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292 comments on lemon bars

  1. There are about 452,005 Lutheran women in Minnesota who are slumbering with good dream because you posted a lemon bar recipe. :) But these bars look like they’d kick the bootay out of what I’m used to eating.

    You can bet your buttons I’ll nominate your blog – love it. Love it.

    But I am quite jealous of you and your new machine. It’s ok, though, you saved me now a couple of times when I’ve had to cook for a group. People are still loving those brussell sprouts with capers…

  2. Citrus remains one of my most favorite things to create desserts with and that new microplane I have calls my name in the middle of the night. I must make these for dessert this weekend for a couple of friends. I only hope that they will appreciate them like I do!

    Congrats on the Apple! My iBook was dropped on my bathroom floor a couple of weeks ago… oddly enough, right after reading one of your posts (see, it’s true what the readers say… they really are that good). I’ll be ordering a new MacBook later this week needless to say.

  3. Ina sure does know what she’s talking about.

    When the lemon gets to be a little too… *lemony* I enjoy splitting all that lemon juice and zest with lime juice and zest. Makes it a little more complex.

    Thank you for my weekend project!

  4. These look great! I’ll be making them soon – it’s a good excuse for me to pick up a microplane grater too. Thank you!

  5. Yum! I got a microplane for Xmas and have been waiting for a recipe to use it. It just so happens that lemon bars are my favorite! I guess it was meant to be :) Also, loving your tip of the day!

  6. Have made these before and they are delicious!

    I also just got a new machine like yours…so I can understand your pain/joy!!

  7. I KNEW IT !! Pretty . . . running quickly . . . new machine . . . welcome. I LOVE leopard. Seriously. I worship it. I happen to be new to the apple world – no, not the food apple, the computer apple – and don’t know how I existed so long on a PC. Enjoy! Oh, and lemon bars happen to be one of my favoritest treats of all time – right behind good cheesecake or, God forbid, lemon cheesecake! I can’t wait to try these. All my friends now genuflect every time the Christmas cookies come up. Thanks, Deb!

  8. Voted for ya!!! You are a doll (cute freckles), and hilarious! I made the peanut butter cookies today for my son to hand out at school for his birthday…it is tradition after all. They were perfect, delicious! Also made the whole lemon tart-YUM! And have told a dozen people about your blog. Love your clean layout and the pictures are outstanding. Keep at it!

  9. This recipe is being saved for use for a girls’ night gathering I’m having in a couple of weeks. Thanks!

    I had a tasty lemon bar recipe a few years back but it was completed beaten by a coworker’s recipe at some potluck event. Hers called for a smidgen of almond extract and it was amazing! I might have to halve your recipe (the light-on-the-lemon version) and try a bit o’ almond in one half.

    I still can’t believe she showed me up like that.

  10. Congratulations and welcome to the world of Mac, Deb. Thanks for the truffle recipe – a hit. Also, the espresso chocolate chip shortbread? another hit. I added crushed cornflake crumbs for some crunchy texture. Folks were digging it :)

  11. are you annoyed with my helpful hints yet?

    My favorite way to make lemon desserts more lemony is to pulse/ “grind” lemon (or any citrus) zest with sugar in food processor and then either 1. pass it through a tamis (=large flat sifter) if I need it right away or 2. let it sit for a long time and then pass whatever I’m making through a fine meshed sieve.

    My own experience is that actual citrus zest is not terribly palatable, but the oils they release are magnificent.

    Stunning photos, btw. I’ll hope they’re at flickr where I can call one of them my favorite…

  12. Flour in the lemon? That´s new. I´ve usually done it with corntarch, or just yolks as thickeners. Must try. Though of course there´s no thrill like the thrill of a new Mac, I bet a lemony rush is pretty good too, and I have some lemons I picked myself to use, which is always nice.

  13. It’s weird how everyone gets these citrus cravings at this time of year. I don’t think it’s through a longing for Summer, but rather just because it’s so refreshing after all that stodge.

    I love Lemon bars, and these are perfect.

  14. Oh yum yum yum! I love lemon anything. My favorite has always been lemon cheesecake but a good lemon bar isn’t anything to sneeze at! I can’t remember the last time I had a lemon bar so I suspect that means I should get busy making new memories….haha

  15. I agree. I really think that people who make lemon bars and have some skintzy small layer of lemon are just… wrong! and the whole point of a lemon bar is to enjoy the whole lemon curd-ey-ness with the shortbread.

    Now, on to the matter of your mother. Perhaps she didn’t want you having her prize-winning recipe, perhaps the thought of mother-daughter sabotage? (I jest, really I do. I just speak from bitterness that my grandmother didn’t share her shortbread nipple cookies before her death.)

  16. Congrats on your new toy – we just got one too – about a month ago. I’ve been trying to fidget with iPhoto and I want to return to Picasa… Are you finding iPhoto to be more tricky or did you figure out some neat tricks? :)

  17. YUMMMMM! I hear ya on the citrus cravings: I have been eating oranges like they are going out of style…..

    Congrats on the new ‘puter! :-)

  18. The photos are lovely! I’m a bit averse to tart flavors so I’ve never been one for lemon bars myself, but I definitely agree about saturating on tubers…

  19. I love these lemon bars exactly as written, though I line my baking sheet with reynolds release foil. Gotta love Ina!

  20. Hooray on the new computer- I’m a dedicated Mac user, laptop, iPhone, everything. While iPhoto is convenient, I find that when I upload my photos into iPhoto the colors are slightly dulled, whereas if I use Photoshop or PictureProject the colors are better. Don’t know if you’ve noticed the same thing…

  21. What a bunch of Apple Faithful! I should have guessed. ;) The PC fanatics I work with a probably rolling their eyes right now.

    Shuna — I love your tips and only wish you could leave them everyday.

    Sharon — I hope you didn’t have to learn by trial and error as well!

    Mercedes — I’m actually trying to figure out how to get my actually purchased (I know, who buys it) Photoshop Elements from my PC to my Mac. Yeah, not so much.

    Unrelated, but: Anybody want to weigh in on what Word Processor they use? Use one of those pretty, new-fangled ones? I’m very used to Word, but it seems odd put it on a PC–I’d wait until the 15th anyway, when then next version comes out. I’m trying Google Docs for a few weeks, and no likey.

  22. Aii, lemon bars, the stuff of every church social EVER.

    I’ve decided to make the Mac switch too and since so MANY in this comments have/are too, maybe you’ll some day do a non-food post. Over the weekend, the WSJ/maybe NYT had a piece about people ‘freeing’ themselves from Word with something called Scrivener.

  23. As far as word processing, the only thing that I would suggest is if you do any of your writing for work from home, get something compatible – yes, it may seem odd to load Office on your new Mac, but the thing is that Office is what a majority of the working world uses. It would be kind of a hassle to have to download a program just to open Mac documents if I had a PC.

  24. Just a suggestion, but can you make it so that your ‘links’ when exited, do NOT exit your site. I do that on my site, and that way when someone leaves a ‘link’ they automatically go back to the original site. Now when I exit out of a link, unless I go ‘back’, I’m out of smittenkitchen altogether.
    Love your photography, it’s inspiring!

  25. How timely! We’re hosting a Nancy Drew themed 12th birthday party in 2 weeks. In the ND movie released this summer, ND’s lemon squares are either her or her housekeeper’s signiture snack. It’s used to coerce reluctant witnesses to spill their guts. We’ll definately try this for the party.
    Thanks!

  26. I am in love! I tried out various lemon bar recipes in college. I had just started cooking and did not have my trustworthy recipes from my favorite people yet. I tried lemon bars three times and gave up. To this day, it’s the only time I did not follow through with my own test kitchen type trial. THANK YOU! I am sure this will do the trick. Can’t wait to make these.

  27. i love lemon bars! they were my favorite when i was a kid. :-) it’s so funny — usually i’m not crazy about lemon as a flavor in chicken, vegetable, pasta dishes, but i LOVE these. AND i got a new mac for christmas too! i’m obsessed with the screen — everything looks so pretty! my old law school laptop was definitely on its last legs. :-)

  28. Have you thought of adapting this to a whole lemon recipe? If not, do you think it is possible? I am intrigued by the idea of using the whole lemon.

  29. You’re my new love Deb. The photos! the recipes! the WRITING! I discovered your blog just before Christmas when I was researching the Cook’s Illustrated pie dough. Yeah, the one with the Vodka. :) Since then I have become completely enamoured.

    So I’ve been using Mac’s since 1984, and I can tell you that I’ve always used Microsoft WORD as my word processor. Loading Office into your Mac will be one of the simplest things you’ve ever done. That being said, when I purchased my current Macbook, I also purchased Apple’s “iWork”. The word processing and the spreadsheet programs are so well done… I’ve found myself using Pages, and Numbers for most of my heavy lifting now. When they go out I send them out as Word or Excel files. (No one knows ;)

    Thank you so much for a wonderful website. Now I’m so hungry I’m gonna try the lemon, chicken, mushroom, goulash, empanadas… ;P

  30. Would it be awfully mean of me if I just happened to mention that because we have had a warmer than usual winter the strawberries are coming into season a month early here in Fl?

    Oh, it would then I won’t say anything of the kind to all of you people up north.

    You know I don’t think I have ever had a lemon bar? Hmm, might have to make some to see what all of the fuss is about. Would it be sacreligious if I topped each one with a strawberry slice, after baking, or some strawberry juice drizzled on top? I just love the strawberry lemonade flavor combo.

  31. You are such a good influence! I went out a bought the latest Gourmet Magazine so I could make the caramel cake. (Did you see the greens with cornmeal dumplings, featherlight yeast rolls, cream of cope’s corn soup, fresh coconut cake and mile-high chocolate cake?) I digress. These bars look absolutely yummy. I like mine good and tart, so thanks for the modifications.

    I’m jealous of the Apple. I’m a wannabe using Vista :-(

  32. I am a fan of the 1:1 ratio, too. In nearly any tart, bar, or other fruit-related recipe, I like the cookie, crust, or crumble part better than the filling, and I also don’t like any of it to be all that sweet.

    And these are great! So buttery. I used less filling.

  33. The only things in my fridge when I returned from vacation yesterday were a bag of meyer lemons and some butter…and now this post – clearly, a sign from above that I need to make lemon bars.

  34. You are SO reading my mind. I asked Scott to buy me a bag of limes. He brought 2 bags of lemons home instead.

    I was blogsurfing looking for a way to use up 2 bags of lemons. Perfect. Now I can make enough lemon bars to feed half the county!

  35. Maureen — Though many people go by the 4 lemons = 1 cup equation, lemons range so widely in size and how much juice is within them, I always feel safer buying an extra one or two. When I made these, I ended up with super-juicy lemons, and think I was able to get 1 cup from 3.5 of them (also with an electric juicer, which is more thorough). Hope that helps.

  36. Citrus Citrus Citrus! I love citrus – especially THIS TIME OF YEAR! I absolutely LOVE lemon bars, but haven’t baked them in AGES. YUM YUM in my TUM!

  37. as a liberatarian vegitarienne humaniterryan, i must say LEMON BARS F#@&ING ROCK MY SOX! oh yeah! gonna have mah’ suggah momma make these for supper tomorrow. lemon bars and cheezy-ketchup meatloaf. ohhhhh–yeah!

  38. I can be so dense sometimes (thumping myself on the head)! I love lemon bars (or squares, as we call them)! I have gobs of gorgeous lemons dropping off of the lemon tree in my backyard. Why, oh why, am I filling ice cube trays with lemon juice instead of making these beauties?

  39. I made these today and they are to die for! It was 75 and gorgeously sunny today in DC and eating one of these lemon bars just made it feel even more like spring time!

  40. DEB! You’ve got me hooked on your blog! I am definately voting for you. As for this recipe, my sis-in-law has been asking me to try lemon bars out (she loves them). So this recipe is definately being saved up in my to-do list!
    Your blog and your pics are extremely inspiring and keep me coming back for more every day!

  41. I’m also a Mac user and have used nothing but Office for my word processing. It’s really easy to use (the fact that I was able to buy it for $25 with my student discount did not hurt either though).

    Enough of that though – these bars look amazing! I’m not big into chocolate so these are right up my alley.

  42. Hey glad to see your got a mac. I’ve been using one for about 5 years (Biologists love macs). In my opinion, even better than how awesome the products is, is how awesome the mac zealots are. If you had said you got a PC there would not be this outpouring of excitement and congratulations; all the mac people I’ve ever met are always willing to help you with any problem you may have, just because of their love affair with the mac. So, welcome to the club!

    Onto more culinary affairs, I tried this recipe this evening (literally its still cooling) but it does not seem to have to have come out just right. I tried the full topping but the filling seems to have come out very opaque not translucent and bright light yours. Even more there seems to have developed a very thin crust. I’m sure it will still taste amazing, but any ideas on what happened? Too much flour, too hot too long? The scientist in me needs to know, thanks!

  43. I was drooling over this recipe on your site all afternoon yesterday. When I went home last night, I was flipping through my new Crate and Barrel catalog and surprise! They are selling a boxed mix of this exact Barefoot Contessa recipe! For $10 freakin’ dollars though. I’d rather make it from scratch for that kind of money.

  44. Mmmm. Macs and lemon bars. They do inspire such deep devotion. And I too, am a complete devotée — of both. Specially since my husband just bought me a new MacBook for ChristmaHanuKwanzaakah.

    These lemon bars look completely luscious. Can you forgive me if, unsolicited, I share with you my absolute all-time favorite version? It’s Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Ultimate Lemon Butter Bar. They come closer to your favored ratio of cookie crust to lemon curd, but they’re a bit more labor-intensive, requiring cooking the lemon curd before you bake it onto the pre-baked shortbread crust — and they are so, so worth it. Just give the recipe a look (or maybe an actual try):

    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/105890

    And I don’t get too crazy with it. Like, I skip the step of straining the lemon curd, ‘cos I’m lazy and I don’t mind the little lemon zest strings, but they are still unbelievable lemon bars.

  45. Julie — Great minds! I was hoping to take a crack at Rose Levy’s next. I know it has a lot of steps, but I suspect that it is at least as awesome as the gushing commenters suggest. I do try not to get put off by her oh-so-needly instructions; it’s rarely as complicated as she makes it sound.

  46. congrats on the mac!! and those awesome looking lemon bars to boot! :)

    citrus is the only way i can sanely deal with winter. i am definitely going to try this recipe soon.

    as for the word processing … i have iworks, but since everything else (work and school papers) are office, i got the office version for mac. i would not bother with getting bootcamp unless absolutely positively necessary for some other program.

  47. We got office for the Mac when we made the switch from our PC. It’s great to use, except for the few keystroke combinations I still can’t seem to figure out for the Mac. I’m working around that, though and am now a definite Mac devotee. I may have to give these lemon bars a try this weekend. Although my diet is shouting “NO” in my ear. I may have to wait for my birthday later in the month for the splurge. Lemon bars beat out birthday cake any day of the week.

  48. Oh, Lemon bars are one of my favorite, favorite desserts. Yours look great–nice ratio of lemon to shortbready crust. They look to have a great consistency too–not too gelatinous as they can sometimes be.

  49. I made Meyer lemon bars today following the recipe in the Oreo Cookie cookbook that has been so inspiring for many of us! Though the recipe called for regular lemons, the Meyer lemon gave the custard the slightest orange glimmer of both flavor and color. The recipe in Brachman’s book yields a mighty-tart, salivation-inducing cookie that is positively addictive. Fortunately, the recipe is for a 7×11 inch pan – perfect for a family of two!

  50. I made these lemon bars with a friend today. Living in Denmark, neither of had ever heard of it (is it American?), but now we’re hooked! They were so delicious. But really fils you up quickly.
    We almost doubled the baking time, though (made the thick layer). After 35 minutes the lemon layer was still completely fluid…

  51. Made a batch yesterday on a large baking sheet using Meyer lemons from a friend’s tree to contribute to the Heather Gold show – she encourages baking treats in trade for admission. Luckily for us the audience was moderate in size, and not ravenous; we got to bring a few odd shaped pieces from the corners home.

    Oh, I made the crust with half almond meal which accomplishes some of what Robin (comment 10) was aiming at with almond extract.

  52. Thanks for another winner, Deb! I’ve had these bookmarked for a long time, just waiting for the perfect opportunity. My husband doesn’t really love lemon bars, so I wanted to make sure I could take them to a party where there would be tons of other desserts for him. Tonight was that party–and they were a SMASH HIT! Everyone loved them–including my husband (!) and a co-worker who says she is a self-confessed lemon bar expert (she had four or five of them).

    They are perfect–not too tart, not too sweet–and really easy to make, actually (I made the thinner layer of lemon, and they were awesome). An impressive dessert! :) Thanks again!

  53. Finally, the lemon bar recipe of my dreams! No gross crusty top layer. Not too sweet. I ate so much of this I will have to bill the smitten kitchen for next month’s gym bill. :D

  54. I think these are amazing. I did switch the lemon juice for key lime juice and everyone loves them. Thanks so much for the great recipe.

  55. As my lemon tree in the back yard started to fall over from the weight of all the ripe fruit, I’ve been looking for lemon recipes everywhere. I will be trying this out first thing tomorrow! And I really am sorry for all of you out in the cold states–85 in January and lemons in my backyard? Now I know why I moved to SoCal! Thanks for all the great recipes!

  56. My mother has a meyer lemon tree and keeps giving me lemons. What to do when life gives you lemons? Make lemon bars. They turned out amazing and everybody keeps asking for more. A hit again and again! BTW, I went for the 1:1 ratio version. I prefer that as it’s not too top heavy.

  57. this recipe is terrific! i baked some lemon bars following this exact recipe (with the thinner lemon top), and they were amazing! I would suggest using a little less flour in the top layer just to make them a little less dough-ey. But they were a complete hit and disappeared as soon as i took em out of the oven.

  58. I once saw a lemon bar recipe that included crushed pecans in the crust; the lemon/pecan combo was unexpectedly good. I can’t wait o try this recipe out; I love lemon bars! :^)

  59. After reading some of the responses, I feel guilty saying that I have the good fortune to live in California and have two Meyer lemon trees in my backyard. I love Ina Garten and her Barefoot Contessa series, but you have out done her with these lemon bars. Her lemon bars are one of the very few things of hers that I have tried and not liked. I love the 1:1 lemon curd to shortbread ratio. Even my picky boys loved them because they weren’t as tart nor ‘slimey’ (read gooey in boy speak).
    Love your blog. I like that you are inspired by the same chef folks as me ie Dorie Greenspan, Ina etc. You have my dream job–cooking for a living but without the unsociable hours of restaurant/cafe/bakery life. Plus, you make me laugh. Keep up the great work!

  60. delicious! i made these recently and they tasted fabulous. but for some reason, the lemon layer wouldn’t stick to the shortbread, which was frustrating. i may have overbaked them…is this a possible explanation for what went wrong? thanks!

  61. I made this exactly per your “thinner topping” recipe last night and they were AMAZING!!!!! Thank you!

    I had no trouble removing mine from the pan, but I did coat the bottom of it with a very thin smear of lard. Yes, lard.

  62. I have some modifications to this recipe, I don’t think it’s perfect.

    First, the sugar quantity needs to be determined each time. Juice the requred amount of lemon (say, 2/3 cup), and set aside x2 the lemon quantity. After whisking the egg well, add lemon juice & zest, then add sugar. Start by adding the first half (2/3 cup), then taste, and keep adding until it’s right for you. Note that you’re eating raw egg, so if you’ve got health reasons, get your SO or child or ignore me.

    Second, the amount of flour in the filling is *much* higher than similar recipes, and should be reduced. I prefer a little lemon crust, and a little “gel” feel in the middle. That seems to be closer to 1/2 cup in the small version. Probably you need to fiddle with this a little.

    Third, to those having trouble getting their lemon bars out, the answer is always baking parchment. Cut to fit the bottom, don’t go up the sides. Enjoy.

  63. So I needed a great dessert to take to our monthly dinner club (10 friends, 1 house, various babies & animals, and always a theme). The theme was ‘Welcome Summer’, with clams, mussels & crabs, corn on the cob, summer salad and seabreezes for those who were alcoholically inclined (that would be all of us save the 2 pregnant ones). These lemon bars were PERFECT – sunny, slightly sour, chewy & tasted like biting into a fresh lemon! I made them using the thicker version and while I did have some crust challenges but with a little creativity, all was well. (I also made a fresh raspberry sauce to pour on the base of the plate) And best of all, the raves and compliments were almost never-ending and every one of us cleaned our plates within about 6 minutes…I think that qualifies as an unparalleled success!

  64. Hi Deb,

    I made these last night, half portion and it turned out great! My husband who is not a lemon person was impressed. I liked the thinner lemon layer.

    I do have a question. A thin layer of “crust” formed on top of the lemon layer. It made it look like a cake. Fortunately, the flavor was not affected. Could it be because there were too much bubbles in my mix?

    Thanks,
    Charlotte

  65. I just took this out of the oven and also has a cakey looking top. I was afraid I over whisked… Right now, I’m waiting for the tray to cool before digging in and trying it out.

  66. I’ve never made lemon bars before and decided to try this recipe. They were the ABSOLUTE BEST I’ve ever ever ever had! Thanks so much for posting this! It was so simple too! I don’t think I’ll ever buy another lemon bar again. My daughter who isn’t a huge fan of lemon bars even loved them! Thanks again! :)

  67. I followed your directions to the letter, and ended up with perfect lemon bars. Buttery shortbread bottom, and a lemon filling with the ideal texture. My southern grandmother would be so proud, and my co-workers loved them:-) Thanks for another amazing recipe!

  68. I just read your Comment Guidelines and respectfully apologize for leaving my url in my comment. I just wanted to express my gratitude. These bars are delicious and I am still enjoying them since they freeze so well. A bar a day, and boy, do I look forward to them:-).

  69. I love lemon bars, so I had to try this recipe. The result were not the best: I liked the crust, but the lemon layer was rubberize and too dense. It was the flour? I was hopping for a creamy lemon layer, not even close. What should I change?

  70. Just harvested (1 hr ago) 2 bright Meyer(s) lemons from a happy little tree that had been dormant for about 4 years. They are the first, and I want to do the best for them. This recipe looks nice, but the proportions on this (and many other) recipe throw me off . . have only (2), and they’re sooo beautiful!!

  71. I’ve made these four times now (my husband and friends are citrus freaks), and other than the first batch, when I overbaked the base and burned the edges, there’ve been nothing but positive comments on them. I do wonder why they come out a tad cakey on top and then gooier in the middle, but as no one seems to have a problem with the texture, I don’t care either. Thank you, Deb!

  72. I’ve had lots of lemon squares before, but this is by far the best! So sweet and lemon-y! One word to the wise, tho – don’t make a double-batch in a large cookie tray, because you WILL end up eating the whole thing, and you’re waistline will be the worse for it.

    I re-found this recipe from the recently-posted poppy seed lemon cake, which I’ll be making this afternoon. Hopefully that one lives up to the expectations that these squares have raised!

  73. My microplane Christmas present finally got some use! Although I zested only 2 large lemons and got more that enough zest for this recipe and the lemon-cranberry scones. These are wonderful! I slightly over-pre-baked the crust, so the top edges were a bit brown, but they are amazing! Tart, great texture, perfect crust! A day later, they are neither soggy nor gooey nor gummy, as many lemon bars become. As I’ve done before, I poured the crust crumbles directly into the pan and used the outside thumb knuckle to press the sides evenly, then pressed the remainder into the bottom.

  74. I’ve loved lemon bars for as long as I could remember, but couldn’t bring myself to try the boxed mixes and always thought it was going to be way too complicated to even try from scratch. SO wrong! I used the modified version (thank you SO much for that) with some meyer lemons and they turned out great! The only issue is that I think my pan might’ve been a little too big or that either my hands or the dough were too warm, so I had a hard time getting the crust pressed evenly in the pan and the edge pieces show it (they are definitely still edible though). The modified recipe is the perfect crust to filling ratio for me, is nice and tart and I will definitely be telling friends about it. I’m also excited to try it with regular lemons for a little extra pucker. Oh, and the final cooking time for me with the modified filling recipe was 15-20 minutes.

  75. These were a disaster! I wish I knew what I did wrong, but I made this nice wall in the dough and then the lemon topping (thin version) spilled out all over the cookie sheet, the oven, the counters, the floor. So I tried to take the whole mess and put it in a ready made pie shell (for shame, but to save the topping at least). But the pie shell was too old and dry, so it crumbled, I then took the crust from the ruined bar recipe with a bit of topping and plopped it all in a pie dish, then put the rest of the topping on top of it, and baked it lower and longer than called for and VIOLA, my husband and daughters claim the most delicious lemon pie they’ve ever tasted.
    Where did I go wrong, I just had not enough dough to make the crust I think? It’s all o.k. in the end, but that topping went EVERYWHERE.

  76. Oh, Deb, your lemon bars look lovely…and unfortunately, nothing at all like mine turned out to be.

    I decided to make the thinner layer of filling. First of all (and this is only a minor complaint, and probably my fault) I had a hard time getting the crust to come together. It’s most likely due to my inexperience with crusts like this, but it was awfully crumbly and lost its shape quite a bit during the first browning. But secondly, I, like a few others on here, had a sticky, cake-like top. It’s quite annoying–where do I put the powdered sugar if there’s no sticky layer to adhere to? And this top layer tastes very sickly-sweet, I’m tempted to knife it off before the company arrives…do you have any ideas what I could do differently to avoid this in the future? If not, I’ll (unfortunately) have to write this recipe off and move on to another lemon bar recipe.

  77. Love this recipe. Works perfectly for me, no hitches, using a heavy ceramic baking dish I normally use for baking lasagne’s, etc. For greasing the pan, I used Canola Oil spray and gave the entire pan a heavy dose. Worked very well. I found that a tiny bit more sugar in the crust (making it the second time) was a lively, pleasant enhancement. This recipe is delicious and after 2 days covered tightly in the fridge, the cutting became easier with each section and the bars were even more tasty.Time is on the side of this recipe.The bars stayed very fresh tasting for 5 days in the fridge. I suspect they would last even longer with no issues, so long as kept in an air tight container in the fridge. Second time around, I added an additional 1/3 c of lemon juice. Simply love the tart/sweet combination and it worked well, not being too tart for our tastes. There is plenty of sugar in this recipe so a little extra lemon did no harm at all. Thanks for your efforts at risking an adjustment to Ina Garten’s recipe. I loved her’s too, but this one suits our tastes more.

  78. WOW is all i can say after making these lemon bars. they are not too tart, but not too sweet. I made them for a new years party and everyone loved them!!!!!

  79. A neighbor gave me a bag of lemons the other day and I had to make some lemon bars to thank her and for us too. I had made these as written for the large batch last year and didn’t love them, but I liked the base. My recipe uses powdered sugar and it has a too ‘melt in the mouth’ feel . I like a little bit of strength in shortbread bases, so this one worked well. The topping of this recipe is too, uh..gloopy? It’s not curd-ish and translucent enough. It think Ina has way too much flour in it. So, I was guided by my topping, which is very similar to this small batch here but made it 9×13 (4 eggs,2 c sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/3 cup juice. Bake 15-20 mins) and I incorporated Shuna’s tip of rubbing the sugar with the zest instead of grating it in..I agree with her explanation, especially in a topping like this (even Thos Keller does this in his lemon sabayon, which is scrumptious). The bars were perfect 1:1 topping to base. Even though I changed it up, I always come here first and use what I find for inspiration. I trust your adaptations that much!

  80. I just wanted to say thank you for this recipe! I did the 1:1 ratio (though I might try the top-heavy one next time) and it turned out great! I’m kind of a novice baker, and other lemon bar recipes didn’t work for whatever reason, so this was huge. Thanks a million! :)

  81. Found this post today looking for another recipe. I’m getting ready to make Ina’s bars and am glad to know that the sugar should be reduced. And all the other little tweaks for sucess.

  82. I made these about a month ago and they were so good I’ve been thinking about them since! i used the fuller layer of lemon and didn’t put powdered sugar on them (out of laziness) and they were PERFECT! i don’t cook much but i know i can always trust your recipes to be economical, practical, pretty, and DELICIOUS!

  83. I finally tried these, and I have to say for an Ina Garten recipe they are a bit underwhelming. Crust is too blah (I like the idea someone suggested of getting some almond in there). It would have helped if I had used the full 1 C lemon juice (I misread the recipe and used somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4C; but I also prob didn’t have enough lemons – try 6-8!). But the real deal breaker is all the flour in the filling (yeah, more liquid would have helped.) Just too thick and jelly-like, in the sense of fruit slices. I want the lemon layer to be softer, more like lemon curd. I think I’m going to have to revisit Lee Bailey’s lemon bar, and see how Patricia Well’s lemon lovers tart filling would work.

  84. I couldn’t believe that Ina’s lemon bars were such a dud, so I remade with the correct amount of lemon juice. What. A. Difference. A powerful jolt of lemon. I still believe that there is too much flour (I used 1 C sifted the 2nd time), so I’m going to up the egg and severely reduce the flour a la Lee Bailey’s. I’m also going to use powdered sugar in the crust, and vanilla & almond extract a la Patricia Well’s lemon lovers tart. Meanwhile, my friends are happy to eat the (failed) experiments.

  85. I have been making lemon bars for years. Recipes are about the same. So the bars dont stick, take foil and form it on the bottom of the pan. Then foil should fit inside pan, spray with pam. No sticking.

  86. I needed a tart lemon bar recipe on the fly late last night and found your post. I made the recipe with the full-size lemon layer. I didn’t have 6 extra large eggs, so I used 7 large eggs. I lined my pan with parchment paper, so I didn’t have to add any kind of “lubricant” to the pan. It helped with clean up too! I let the dough cool in the fridge overnight and baked everything this morning. The whole dessert was (carefully) lifted right out of the pan by the parchment edges after it cooled to room temp. The bars came out PERFECTLY and were quickly devoured by office co-workers. I will definitely make these again in the future.

    While the balance is just right and there is no need for adjustment; I will cut back on the sugar in the filling next time because my tastebuds favor more tart than sweet. Thanks again for the fantastic recipe!

  87. Made these last night. Boobooed on the crust; didn’t read the directions and threw everything in the bowl and mixed it up. They still came out awesome. I too used the cross parchment technique in the pan (thanks Joepastry). I did spray it with Pam. The bars lifted right out of the pan; making them oh so easy to cut up. I cut them in triangles like the recipe suggested. They look so pretty; I can’t wait to serve them tonight. (Cutting them in triangles gave me some yummy edges to test)

  88. Okay Deb..I have to comment (again) since it didn’t sound like this was your ideal recipe, either. I made another batch of lemon bars yesterday (got another huge bag of Eureka lemons from the neighbor) and used this base again, but used the topping recipe for Lemon Bars from the Better Homes and Gardens website recipe index. It was wonderful – AND – it only used 4 eggs, 3 tablespoons of flour (yes! only 3 tbsp flour!) to 3/4 of a cup of lemon juice, plus 1/4 cup half and half. once cooled completely, it finished to a transluscent bright yellow, as a lemon filling should look – and it set up perfectly for clean edged cuts. You’d never know there was a milk product in it either. It could use more lemon rind than the recipe calls for if you like a very tart lemon flavor. I don’t, so it was perfect for me..not too sweet at all, but not mouth-puckeringly tart either. It had only a slightly thicker topping than base..slightly!

  89. Just made these last night, I swapped 1/4 cup of the lemon juice for 1/4 cup limoncello and it came out great! I should have read more comments and used parchment paper to line my baking sheet, but most of them turned out perfect! Thanks so much and checkout my blog for pics, I’d love some feedback!

  90. These are fantastic… I made them for my family last night, and what (little) there was left I brought to the office today. Thank you for such a great recipe that supplies me with compliments that I don’t deserve!

  91. I didn’t have a lemon for zesting, so I used grapefruit zest. It made a very interesting (but delicious) flavor! They disappeared almost overnight!

  92. Hi, i live in Brasil, and we dont’ have much lemons aroud here. But we do carry limes. Do you think these will work eith limes too?

  93. Made these today with the full-size lemon layer, but with just 2 c. sugar. They were very good, but a bit firm. Will reduce the flour substantially next time. What I appreciate most about this recipe is that it is delicious while easier/quicker than the Cooks Illustrated recipe (which is my favorite).

  94. I just made these and they are SO GOOD! I made the thinner lemon layer they are just perfect. I loved how few ingredients it was too.

  95. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful recipe, Deb! I made it and it was a huge success! I even translated it into portuguese and published it in my blog, adding a link to your recipe. Easy and delicious!
    Best regards from Brazil!

  96. Hate to be critical/make a request because i LOVE your blog, it is my without fail stop when I need a recipe, but just wondering if you could please add how many servings the recipes yield. I often make your desserts for parties etc. but am never sure if I’ll need to double….thanks

  97. I don’t do a lot of serving suggestions because I’ve learned I cut things much smaller than others. It’s a 9×13 pan. I often cut things 1.5″x2″ and get 36. I think 20 to 24 is a more common size. It is really up to you.

  98. I can’t help but wonder- is there such a thing a recipe for lemon bars that calls yolks in the filling, and the whites from those very same eggs to make a meringue topping?

  99. Yay! Made these today. I made the thicker lemon layer and used half the lemon zest and probably about 1/8 of a cup less flour in the filling and they came out great. They did have a cakey looking layer on the top, but didn’t taste weird at all. Once the powdered sugar is on top, they look nice again, too. Also–used Bob’s Red Mill gluten free flour mix for the crust and filling and it worked fabulously…

  100. for me it was a disaster as jenine said. THE CRUST crumbled with me too i do not know what goes wrong and it was too salty , THE LEMON CURD a little bit citrus but it was good at some part there was a very thin rubbery layer, white in color but creamy consistence and when i cut it it seems as the curd is separated from the crust, it keeps getting off. i know i have done something wrong so please tell me whatcould i have done to avoid this?

  101. Clearly, I’m missing something here…when I made the lemon squares and baked them, my lemon filling never quite came together, resulting in a flowing gush of lemon goo all over my coat. By the time all was said and done, I’d baked them for over 45 minutes with no progress. Part of me is wondering whether I attempted to move them too soon, or if the flour wasn’t integrated enough. Ina Garten’s never failed me before, so I’m wondering where I went wrong.

  102. I hate you a little for this. I just made these for Christmas cookie tins, and they are too good. I’m sure my friends aren’t that great. Surely they don’t deserve these lovely bars made from my very own lemons? How bad would it be if I ate the whole pan?

  103. Tonight I made these today with the crop of Meyer lemons from the little tree in my yard and OH. MY. GOD. They are incredible! This recipe has rocketed its way to the top of my favorite lemon bars. Thank you for sharing it!

  104. I made these today and found them disappointing. I made the thinner lemon layer, which was hardly very lemony at all, and almost too sweet. I also think they were rather cake-like (too much flour). The crust was completely overpowering. Next time I will try a different recipe.

  105. Huge fan of lemon bars. Tried this recipe, tweaked it a bit by using the Home and Gardens filling from Susan (#111) and then put about a cup of walnuts into my crust (put them in the processor with the other crust ingredients. My wife and daughter who are entirely picky about their lemon bars, loved them. Actually, I loved them too.

  106. I adore this lemon bar recipe! (Don’t tell my mom, but it’s replacing her tried-and-true as my definitional lemon bar recipe… eek! Sorry Mom!)

    But. I have bags and bags of oranges from my backyard–and am not finding a lot of orange-centric recipes to use them up (Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake notwithstanding). So … I’m thinking about swapping out the lemons for oranges. I’m guess this should NOT be a 1:1 swap, since oranges are more bitter than lemons and less sour… Any ideas or suggestions about using oranges in this recipe before I embark on this experiment? Thanks!

  107. WOW!!! amazing, my husband said he loves hostess lemon pies, these bars remind him of them but they are 100 times better! Thnxs for the recipe, this will be a hit with the kids!

  108. These are definitely good as a king of cookie (i made the thinner top), but not my holy grail lemon bar. I do like a little bit more give, not quite such a rock solid base, and too much flour in the lemon top. I’m going to try some of those suggested here next time. The CI recipe with cream looks like it’s on the right track since a curd typically has butter in it. Good recipe for my first attempt at a lemon bar though. Thanks Deb!

  109. I made these using the whole lemon adaptation for the topping as Deb suggested (#36). They were delicious and really easy! I only have a 9 inch square pan so I did a 5/8 recipe of the shortbread crust (I started with a half recipe then realized I needed a little bit more crust). I baked the crust as directed, then added the lemon topping and followed the baking directions for the whole lemon tart. I think the baking times worked well.
    One last note, since the ratio of topping to crust is crucial to many lemon bar fans, the crust to topping ratio seemed to be in the middle of the two options given for this recipe (from the way that I made the bars). The amount of crust and size of pan could easily be adjusted though based on preference. Thanks Deb for all of your great recipes and suggestions!

  110. These are off the charts amazing! I’m a military wife, and I added these to a bunch of goodies I sent to Marines friends stationed overseas, and off all the sweets (and I sent a vast array), these were fought over. Now that they are back home, I’m getting regular requests to ship these to their units stationed here. I love your recipes so much, I have never had a miss. Right now, I have a batch of homemade oreos and espresso chocolate cookies waiting to be packed up with the lemon bars for a trip to my friends. Please keep them coming! Love, love, love your blog!

  111. Just tried the lemon bars, not fully cooled yet, but I could not wait. If they taste half this good cool, they will be my all time favorite lemon dessert!!!! Which is very fortunate, as I have a lemon tree in my backyard and it is harvest time.

    Thank you.

  112. I have never had a lemon bar before but after reading about them (drooling over these) for months, I finally bought my first lemon bar at one of my favorite bakeries yesterday and found that I was extremely disappointed. The top was completely bombarded with confectioners sugar (a snowstorm of sugar flew about when I shook it) and the lemon “curd” part tasted like an overly processed, chewy sugar mixture with no lemon-ness to it at all. And to make matters worst, the crust was barely there and tasted worst than a pre-packaged crust. Should I put my faith into these?

  113. I made these today, and they aren’t quite right. The filling is almost rubbery, and the lemon section and shortbread separated when I cut them. Any thoughts why? I followed the recipe for full topping completely, only cutting the flour to 5/6 of a cup. I was looking for more of a gel-like consistency.

    1. Hi Sarah — Is there a reason you reduced the flour? I’ve never made it with less, but it could have prohibited the filling gel-ing together.

  114. Hello Deb,
    I Tried this recipe yesterday, and it didn’t quite turn out as I expected.
    As Sarah said (2 comment above me), the lemon-layer is nearly rubbery-like and it separates from the crust when cut. I followed the recipe completely.
    I think I might have over-baked it… I can’t think of another reason, can you?
    Maybe I just expected something else, that’s all.

    Yet, the pictures are great(!!!) and I surely will be exploring your site and trying more recipes.

    ;Lilac

  115. These were great! When I made them, my roommate and I had bought a bunch of cranberries to decorate our teeny tiny Christmas tree in our apartment and with my surplus of cranberries – I decided to make a cranberry curd as the bottom layer in these bars. The combination of meyer lemons and fresh cranberries was delish!

  116. I plan to make your Lemon Bars for Easter, and am wondering what you think of incorporating very finely chopped crystallized/candied ginger into the crust?

    I wish you could come to my rescue with a great recipe for a roasted rack of lamb.)

    In 8 years I went through 8 pc’s ~ My first MacBook Pro lasted 6 years, and I am enjoying my second one.

    My first comments on your teriffic site – also doing your zucchini sticks on Easter.
    I can now delete half of my bookmarked recipes, and just come here!

  117. Hi! I love your blog. Do you have any sense on how well these would keep (and…refrigerated or not, air tight container or not, etc.)? I’m thinking about making them for an afternoon tea on Saturday and would love to get this done on Friday.

  118. Hi Deb-
    I’ve made this a few times now and have settled on an amount of filling just between your two (ie, 5 eggs!) I have two questions. The first is: when you measure lemon rind, do you pack it down like brown sugar because the amount would vary greatly if you did not. But packed, it is a LOT. Second: what does 5 minutes past the point when it’s set mean? It’s hard to “see” set here because there is a sort of foamy white look on top, and I can’t really “feel” like with a quiche. So, I feel like I am totally winging it with whether or not it is done. One time was much more firm than the other and neither looked as creamy as your pictures!
    Thanks for any insight,
    -julie

  119. Made these with the thinner filling and Meyer lemons. Turned a lemon bar hater into someone who is still sad, a week later, that these wondrous bites of sunshine are gone. Thanks Deb!

    Emily: I made these on Friday afternoon for a party on Saturday and found them to be much better on Saturday actually. The lemon really perks up after a day or two in an airtight container.

  120. I made these for Easter and they were delicious. The best lemon bars I’ve ever tasted. And a huge hit with everyone. Now I’m planning on 2 batches for this weekend – 1 for a CubScout picnic & 1 for Mother’s Day (the hubby will make the batch for Mother’s Day).

  121. I made these yesterday with my friend. They were delicious! We made the larger filling and the juice took 5 lemons. They tasted perfect! Thanks!

  122. I just made these lemon bars tonight and I have to say they are the best lemon bars I have ever tasted. I am a total newbie in the kitchen…I had to do some Google searching to understand how long to cool the crust for, etc…but they came out wonderfully. Thank you!

  123. I love citrus and this sounds like an exciting dessert to try! i would never expect anything as sour as a lemon to be used as a sweet dessert

  124. Deb,
    I find Julie’s question particularly intriguing.
    I’m looking forward to your answer.
    Julie April 13, 2011
    151

    Hi Deb-
    I’ve made this a few times now and have settled on an amount of filling just between your two (ie, 5 eggs!) I have two questions. The first is: when you measure lemon rind, do you pack it down like brown sugar because the amount would vary greatly if you did not. But packed, it is a LOT. Second: what does 5 minutes past the point when it’s set mean? It’s hard to “see” set here because there is a sort of foamy white look on top, and I can’t really “feel” like with a quiche. So, I feel like I am totally winging it with whether or not it is done. One time was much more firm than the other and neither looked as creamy as your pictures!
    Thanks for any insight,
    -julie

  125. I don’t usually pack zest — Julie’s right, that would be a lot.

    Those are not the easiest cooking instructions to follow. What I was trying to say was that you’re not just looking for the bars to be set — you want to cook them 5 minutes longer. I.e., if you look in at 30 minutes and they’re just starting to set, go for 35 minutes.

  126. OK, a few nitpicky things about the recipe: First, a 9x13x2 is not a baking SHEET (based on everything I know – maybe I’m wrong). To me, that implies something flat you bake cookies on. What this is calling for is your typical 9x13x2 baking PAN (as in, a deep one). I went back and re-read the entire post when I saw “sheet” because that threw me way off.

    Second, you don’t say how long to chill the dough for once it’s made… So I guessed and kept it in the fridge for about 20 minutes before pre-baking the crust.

    Finally, it doesn’t say to sift the flour for the filling, or strain the filling, but I found the flour clumped a bit. I haven’t tried the bars yet but hopefully there won’t be clumps of flour in there.

    1. Shelly — Sheet pans come in different sizes; I have a small oven and mostly use quarter sheet pans, which are 9×13. Hope you enjoyed the bars.

  127. I made lemon bars (from Cooking For Engineers, not these) once. I was pretty excited about it, but in the end, I almost spat and couldn’t even look at it. The taste of the curd reminded me of chicken liver, for some reason. Anyone has a clue about why this happened?

    (BTW, my mother and my middle sister liked it, my older sister felt it to lemony, but that’s just her)

  128. I made these recently, and they were a moderate success. First, I’d suggest sifting the flour into the egg/sugar/lemon mixture. Mine had lumps I couldn’t whisk away – I ended up straining it, but that had the unfortunate side effect of straining out all of that lovely lemon zest. Second, the tops of my finished bars were so moist that all of the powdered sugar I dusted over the top disappeared into the bars. I tried several re-dustings and experienced the same disappearing act each time. I’m not sure why this happened – the bars were plenty firm with well-set lemon topping. They still had a terrific lemon flavor, though.

  129. (Sighs at the Mac fandom; they’re overpriced, underpowered and over-simplified, can’t run software you actually need, and most universities don’t use them because they’re useless. Also, if you treat your computer well it will love you back; my PCs never crashed on me!)
    These look delicious! I shall make them tomorrow :D

    1. April — Did you know that I wrote for a PC-centric magazine for years before turning my attentions to food? I did! I know both sides well. And I still love my Macs.

  130. Amazing recipe! It was so simple and the idea for the thinner lemon layer was for the best. Although I prefer to make a thicker crust, these lemon bars had a great flavor and consistency!

  131. I love your site so much. The chana masala, the homemade ricotta, and now this, which are making my kitchen smell of lemony goodness. I live in Sweden, and they have a lemon tart that is similar to lemon bars… I’m planning on knocking my friends’ socks off this weekend with this version. I don’t have the right size baking pan, so I actually made them in two pie dishes instead. The recipe was enough to make two respectable pies, and now I’m debating whether to cut them in bars (saving the edges for myself, ha!) or serve them as pies. Thanks again for the constant supply of delicious recipes!

    Kate

  132. This is my first time commenting, but I’ve been obsessed over your site for weeks now! I’ve made so many recipes and every single one has turned out incredible, people think I’m an awesome baker now, and it’s all because of you! Thank you! These lemon bars are great! I cut down sugar to 2 cups, (the thick version) and made them in two square pans. They’re the disposable kinds from the grocery store, 7 3/8” per side, and it was perfect. I thought they would be a little small and the filling will overflow, but they didn’t at all! Now I have 32 cute lemon bars to bring to work and wow my coworkers. My lemon bars also had a little cakey layer on top, but I still dusted them with sugar and they stuck okay, pretty much covering the top and you can’t see the “bubbles” I can’t wait to try another recipe. Thanks, Deb!

  133. I promise to try these lemon bars soon, but after having tried many many many lemon bars, I keep coming back to the Neiman Marcus lemon bars from an old issue of Gourmet magazine (my mom subscribed since the 60s, I think, and kept all the old issues until she moved out of her suburban house). I googled the recipe (I have it somewhere on an old photocopy but cannot find it now), and saw this link: http://www.dailysalt.org/daily-salt/tag/gourmet-magazine
    I am pretty sure it is accurate because I remember the 8 minutes of beating the lemon mixture. That is a long 8 minutes and I am not sure why it works, but the lemon bars are exquisite. Really. The Best. Though I have not tried the Ina version yet, so we shall see…

  134. What would be the best ratio to substitute lemon juice for lemon extract? Lemons are so difficult to find here (we only have limes) but managed to get Wilton’s lemon extract and I’m dying to get me some delicious lemon bars. How should I use it without messing with the liquid ingredients?

  135. Any ideas on how long these would keep in an airtight container at (presumably) room temperature? I want to send them to my boyfriend, but it’ll take about 4-5 days for him to get them (assuming the delivery times work out as expected).

  136. A truly excellent recipe. I just made a variation subbing in gingersnaps for the crust and my coworkers were ecstatic. Thanks for the inspiration!

  137. Hey Deb! I love everything you post about, so when I needed a sexier version of margarita bars, I looked here first! I wanted to make lemon bars for my new mother-in-law but she loooooves limoncello, so I was wondering if I could incorporate limoncello in your recipe. Does the alcohol affect consistency? Can I do something like 1/2 lemon juice 1/2 limoncello?… allll limoncello??? Thanks in advance for your help!! I can’t wait for your book!

  138. Hi Deb – So about how much baking time would be appropriate for the thinner layer version? Can anyone else recall how long they baked their’s for? Thanks!

  139. Love your site and your recipes. Haven’t read through the 177 comments before mine, but I’m guessing someone told you about the typo where you say, “Cut into triangles and dust with confectioner’s sugar.” I think you meant rectangles??? Happy Holidays!

  140. I made these today – my first time making lemon bars, in an oven I’ve never used before, and they still turned out perfectly. My goodness, THANK you for this recipe! x

  141. A friend with a lemon tree just brought over a very large bag of lemons for us as we all have had colds and she thought it would be great to have lemon tea. Not sure I could ever drink that much tea, so since most of us are on the mend I was looking for a recipe with lemons. This sounds perfect. I may try the lemon tart for a gathering next week as well.

  142. Deb – I just made these. OOOOOMG crazy-good! However: I skipped the powdered suger on top. The bar was sweet enough without it (NO complaints from my husband or 4 year old, LOL)….but not nearly as pretty. So. Could I cut down the sugar in the filling? I’m typically a total disaster when it comes to making egg dishes, so am hesitant to mess with success. But your thoughts?? Could I even go down to just a cup and a half of suger? Too crazy?

    Also…..I keep staring at a Grapefruit and thinking maybe….maybe….

  143. Just made these puppies. I kept thinking, “Am I doing this right? Isn’t there something MORE to it that I’m missing? This can’t be how it’s supposed to look but let’s just go for it”.
    Sure enough, they turned out perfectly and were a huge hit with the group I shared them with. I used a lasagna dish and it worked out just fine without taking the crust off to cool.

    Thank you for such a lovely, delicious recipe, even when I doubted they were do-able.

  144. I did go ahead and try these with grapefruit. They were….not great. It turns out that substituting grapefruit juice and peel for the lemon just leaves you with something that is best called, “Vaguely Citrus Bars.”

    Maybe grapefruit extract would’ve perked this up? Whatever. I’m done – sticking with the lemon. So, so much better. :)

  145. I have made these lemon bars twice in the past 3 weeks. I can’t get enough of them!!! I’m glad I found you through Pinterest. Thanks for sharing!!!

  146. I made these for a party (as well as the chocolate whiskey and beer cupcakes) and it was a hit. My mom begged me to make more the following day because she loved them so much. And my entire life, she has said lemon bars were one of her least favorite desserts. Not anymore!

  147. I used to make these lemon bars regularly at a gourmet deli where I worked…after a dinner party one night I discovered that they are insanely good if you drizzle fresh raspberry coulis on top and forget them in the freezer for 5-10 minutes. Mmmm

  148. I discovered your blog about a month and a half ago and since then been through your archive at least 5 times. New things always pop out at you depending what your craving.
    Anyhoo, this however is the first thing I’ve made form the smitten kitchen, well not made per say but they are currently baking away!
    I am being tempted and persuaded to put a dollop or meringue on the cut up squares and grill the tops. To help the tartness but the idea of mini lemon meringue slice bites is much too tempting.
    This story aside, thank you for your terrific blog! I feel brave enough to attempt new things with your recipes on my side.

    Emily
    xo

  149. Hi Deb,

    I made these last night with the thin lemon layer but the lemon layer turned out chewy. Why do you think it turned out that way? See below possible answers…lol
    1. I over baked it (20 mins). You did not say how much time for the thinner layer.
    2. The flour was too much. I saw another recipe online where the flour was 2 tbsp for a half recipe.
    3. I halved the recipe, maybe the proportions don’t work as well?
    4. I have a convection oven. Maybe it dried up the top?
    5. I used a glass baking dish layered with parchment.

    I really want this to work as lemon bars are my absolute favorite baked goods and I only know one place who makes them the way I like them. Would be better if I make them myself.

    BTW, I have many other favorites and successful attempts from your blog. Good work!

    Thanks!
    Charlotte

  150. Just baked these this morning. Used a pyrex dish, didn’t measure it but I think it is about 9×13. I did the 1:1 cookie and lemon. Made the cookie bottom, chilled it for 30 mins. While waiting for that, I made the lemon topping and preheated my oven. Then baked the cookie for 20 mins and immediately when that was finished, put the lemon topping on top and baked it for 17 mins (no cooling time in between). Turned out D-Lish! Thanks for the great recipe!!!

  151. Thanks for the recipe. I’ve been making a lemon bar recipe that everyone seems to like…but my husband, currently serving in Afghanistan wants REALLY lemon-y ones and ones with zest (the recipe I’ve been using doesn’t use zest)…Sooooo, just made them. Waiting for them to cool so I can get them all wrapped up and off to Afghanistan. Thanks!! :D (and they SMELL divine!!)

  152. Absolutely great recipe – I was looking for a recipe with much more topping than one I’ve tried a couple of times before and loads of lemon, and these were just the job. I took them into work today to find that a colleague had also made lemon bars (total coincidence). I think it’s fair to say he might be using this recipe from now on…

  153. Deb, we met at Temple Beth El in early December when you did that wonderful demo. I introduced myself and told you about my cousin, Ellie Krieger.
    My husband was on an ice tea kick and bought about 30 lemons. Little did he know that you don’t need 30 lemons for ice tea. So I was stuck with all these lemons. When your husband hands you a lot of lemons, make lemon bars! I decided on your recipe. They came out so delicious and perfect. I made the thick lemon version and I will make these again. So refreshing and tangy!

  154. Thank you for an easy recipe to follow which contains ingredients that everyone has in their pantry/fridge. I love that there are not a gazillion ingredients. I will be making this with the thicker lemon layer because, to me, anything less is a tease.

  155. I made these this weekend to take to a tailgate–lemon bars a year-round treat in my book!
    I made them exactly as written and, as others noted, ended up with a top layer that looked more like yellow cake–opaque and eggy rather than gel-like. The inside did have that gel consistency and the dusting of powdered sugar helped with the optics, but I’m wondering if this was an overbaking issue (I did 30 minutes with the full 1:1 ratio).
    I also want to caution people to perhaps underbake the crust. I did mine for 15 minutes (deliberately erring on the low side of the range) which got it to a very pale golden color. However, after I cooked the whole thing for 30 minutes (crust plus filling), the bottom had gotten very, very dark–essentially burned. I may have had the dish too close to the heat, but I wish I had gone with shorter baking times on both parts of the process. I should also note that my oven is AWFUL–an expensive (though thankfully I rent and therefore didn’t sink my money into it) Italian monster that cooks unevenly and has ruined more food than I care to recall.

  156. These tasted incredible (the crust was crumbly, but so delicious we didn’t mind) but how do you keep the top fresh in the oven? The lemon mixture developed a brown, thick almost crust-like thing on top. Your pictures show the creamy, soft lemon mixture that I got on the interior, but there was the more rubbery top layer that didn’t taste or look very good. Tips for avoiding this? Thanks!

  157. I actually think that is fairly normal (well, not rubbery, but a bit of a crust) for lemon bars. Mine, I think, were slightly underbaked because my old oven always ran cool and slow.

  158. Made these lemon bars tonight but I processed them like your whole lemon tart recipe. Whew! Too much pith in there. I will strain next time, but without the pith pieces it tastes amazing! I love lemon and the crust is so good!

  159. I think there is a mistake in the amount of flour for the topping. 1 cup is a lot – most lemon bar recipes have 3 or 4 TBSP. My bars came out with a “cakey” topping – definitely edible, but looking nothing like the picture (yellow and custardy), or like lemon bars usually look.

  160. Deb-I made the lemon bars in your cookbook..AMAZING! Absolutely decadent, and buttery and lemony..and best of all..EASY! No rolling out dough, juicing or zesting! Will make them again and again!

  161. These had amazing lemon flavor! YUM! I should have listened to your advice about a smaller amount of filling. I made every effort to cook them 5 minutes passed set, but had to put them back in the oven, even so. Not being able to wait until they were adequately cooled (guests were waiting anxiously) we made an effort to serve them, anyway. Had to change the name to lemon pudding bars. :)
    Triangles…I thought you meant it, though we only cut rectangles. Triangles could be smaller and how cute!
    As to how long they will keep…who knows? They didn’t last!
    Wonderful site. We keep coming back again and again.

  162. Would these lemon bars freeze well? My father in law gave me a dozen gorgeous Meyer lemons, the last from his tree, but they are all ripe and going to go bad soon if I don’t find a use for them. Looking for some treats that can save well. This recipe looks promising, if I can freeze part. Thanks!

  163. I absolutely love the idea of using a whole lemon (sans seeds) for this recipe. After hearing your talk at PowerHouse Books last night I’m going try that out. Thanks!

  164. I made this last night as a Valentine’s day dessert. I halved the recipe and made it in a 9″ non-stick springform for a more formal appearance. I didn’t grease the pan due to laziness, nor bring the crust up the sides (same reason) and the lemon curd stuck to the edges of the pan and required jabbing at with a popsicle stick. The bottom slid off perfectly, though. Next time I’ll either do the crust properly or wrap a ribbon of baking parchment around the edge.

    I think I overcooked it; the curd separates from the crust when cut with a fork, which it probably wouldn’t if it were less solid. I’ll know for next time.

    Still, utterly delicious. And that’s with the lemon zest measured by packing it in to the measuring spoons, which I assumed was the right way because otherwise it’s far too variable.

    I do have a question; why does one chill the crust before baking? I didn’t bother as I was already running late (a holiday tradition for me) and it turned out fine.

  165. My mom hosted an “afternoon tea” with some of her lady friends, and asked me to make some traditional “afternoon tea” desserts. So I went hunting for a great lemon bar recipe, and this one turned out perfect! The ladies loved it! Thank you!

  166. Thank you again for a wonderful stop at Modesto in St. Louis today. I bought all the ingredients and will be making the lemon bars with the whole lemon on Sunday! (And I can’t wait to give my daughter Ella her birthday present on Tuesday. I don’t know who will be more excited!)

    Keep the wonderful veggie recipes coming!

  167. So I have had making these stuck in my head since they were brought up at your Tattered Cover reading last week. Thank you for such a fun evening.

  168. Even after an extended cook time AND time to set in the fridge, my lemon topping is still runny :( Would sticking it back in the oven now that it’s cooled be an option? Or should I leave it to cool overnight (it’s already been cooling for an hour)

    I may have put too much lemon juice in…

  169. These turned out delicious, thanks Deb. Another success story from your site. I like lots of lemon so I appreciated you giving instructions for both ways. I couldn’t find my 13 x 9 baking sheet so cooked them in a same sized metal baking dish. No problems at all and I’m glad that I took your advice and sprayed the dish with Pam.

  170. I just used made these in a 13 x 9 cake pan with 4 meyer lemons. The bars were sweeter than I expected. Less tart compared to lemon bars that I buy in stores. I think that this recipe is best with regular lemons if you want more tartness instead of meyer lemons which are known to be sweeter. I also baked the crust for 15 mins after chilling in the fridge for 30 mins (the directions didn’t seem to indicate how long to chill for so I just chose a time). I used the 1:1 ratio and the bars were done at 25 minutes. I think I could have even taken them out a few minutes earlier because by 25 minutes the bars had developed a slight crust on the top. These were definitely easy to make and I would make them again!

  171. help, i made these today and they are such a dissapointment :-( , the are rubbery and would surely bounce if dropped… what did i do wrong, i consider myself a good & accomplished home cook and very rarely have a flop, please help?

  172. Finally, a lemon bar that really tastes like lemon! I actually cut the crust recipe in half to fit in a 9×9 pan, and then just made the batter for the “thinner” bar. Works perfectly! I love your website! Everything I have made so far has met with high praise from family and friends.

  173. I was distractedly make these last night (for the tenth or so time) and I accidentally added the sugar for the lemon layer to the butter for the crust and creamed them together before realizing my mistake. Oops! Any ideas for a recipe that calls for 1C of butter and 1 1/2 C sugar creamed together so I don’t have to waste these ingredients? I would even prefer to double or triple a cookie recipe than throw the butter and sugar out.

  174. I have been making this recipe for years and I love it but your right. I like 1:1, better so I double the crust. I also agree with your take on the filling, it’s intense and too soft. I have tried to tweak it without sucusse! Please update me if you find a better version!

  175. Made this and the chocolate espresso shortbread cookies tonight and noticed for this one, like some others, that the filling is more sand-coloured than yellow. I’m curious as to why this happened. I baked both the crust (which turned out wonderfully) and the filling for the minimum recommended times and I used the full ratio of filling. Could my oven be stronger than I know and I overcooked it? It was still gell-y in the centre so did I undercook it and the colour would have changed had I waited longer? It tastes good either way but the bar is unexpectedly chewy.

  176. These are delicious.

    I prefer mine more tart then sweet, so I used 4 lemons but the powdered sugar topping was a perfect ending!

    The best recipe ever!

    Thank you so much for sharing!

  177. I was going to make mini lemon tarts for my yearly family picnic, but both of my kiddos got sick the week before the picnic, and while we will be well enough to attend, I am too worn out to sit there and press out 24 mini tart crusts. A nice big double batch of these lemon bars is going to be just the thing to satisfy my desire for lemony and tart LIKE, and have the easy no fuss making and baking instructions that I need right now while my brain is below the level of Common Zombie. When I googled Lemon Bars and saw Smitten Kitchen pop up as number three on the list, it was number one for me. You have never failed me yet! Thank you for doing all the trial and error so that I don’t have to!

  178. Hey, I made these this morning but they came out horribly. The lemon filling wasn’t lemony enough and was way too thick/starchy and the after they came out of the oven the crust and the topping were separated…

  179. I made these today – wonderful. I used a 9×9 pan so the crust was thick and had too much filling. I used little tamekins for the extra filling and they were fantastic! Did not have powdered sugar and used KAF sparkling white sugar which worked well.

  180. Adding a note from my experience and a personal preference for the filling: mix dry and wet ingredients separately, stir wet into dry to incorporate. Dumping all of the filling ingredients into a bowl and mixing produced small lumps of flour; not very appealing looking.

  181. My co-workers loved these lemon bars. They were devoured and many were disappointing they missed out. Almost all the treats i bring to work are from your recipes.

  182. Hi Deb! Huge fan of yours and love this recipe. I am making them for the second time and have had trouble baking the crust prior to putting in the filling. It is a possibility it is my oven giving me the trouble, (we rent and its an old oven) but it takes way longer to get the crust to a light brown than 15 minutes. I turned up the heat a bit and that seemed to work last time. Everyone enjoyed them, but the crust was a little too dark (still totally edible though!). In this next mix I am trying the less-thick filling and baking the crust at 420. And I admit, I forgot to chill the dough the first time around, I was in a rush for a party! I chilled the dough this time and poked holes in the crust before baking. This seemed to have done the trick! Any suggestions on future baking with a maybe somewhat un-predictable oven?

  183. Yes! I definitely recommend purchasing an oven thermometer. They are very cheap and will help you know for sure whether your oven is the temperature you think you’re setting it for. If you think it’s especially uneven, buy two, put one in the front and one in the back. (I do this. You don’t want to know how different the two temperatures often are!) The second more global piece of advice is to always consider baking and cooking times just estimates. Ovens are different, baking pans work differently… they’re intended for guidance, not religious adherence. I hope that helps!

  184. I used a shallow 9 x 13 pan and the crust puffed up too much so I couldn’t add much filling. This of course shortened the baking time by about 10 whole minutes (glad I kept checking!) Although they didn’t look luscious, they sure tasted terrific. I still proudly served them to guests at football party. Next time, I’ll dock the crust and use a pan with higher sides cuz I got a lemon tree that just won’t quit. Bring on more lemon recipes, please!

  185. I have to add my comment that as an accomplished and former professional baker I experienced horrible results with these lemon bars and wasted an entire bag of organic lemons in the process. I went against my intuition using a cup (!) of flour for the full batch of filling bars and ended up with a rubbery treat to feed my chickens. I used an oven thermometer, so that was not the problem. It is clearly too much flour for the quantity of liquid, although I noticed you specify extra large eggs while most people use large for all baking. That’s the only thing I can come up with to explain this disaster. Sigh. I wish I had read all of the other comments first….

  186. How long do you chill the dough? And why do you preheat the oven so far in advance? My dough is chilling — but my kitchen is like an oven! :-(

  187. UPDATE: The lemon bars were delicious. I cut them with two heart-shaped cookie cutters — medium and small — and they were a huge hit at book club. Thanks, Deb!

  188. Absolutely scrumptious! ( isn’t scrumptious a great word?:)). I used the first curd which came out perfect it was a little soft but it’s still scrumptious!
    Thanks Deb!

  189. I just baked these, with the full amount of flour, and they came out almost perfect. … almost.

    I suspect that the rubbery results people are reporting are from baking it too long or too hard. I was using a glass baking pan (not having a metal one) and our oven is always slow, so I turned it up to (what it claims is) 370. (Oven thermometer? What’s that? :-)

    Even before cooling, the bars are translucent in the middle, just like the picture. But the top 1/8 inch is rubbery. And right at the edge of the pan it’s a lot more rubbery.

    If I bake these again, which I probably will…

    1) For the filling, I’ll mix together the flour and sugar before I mix in the wet. I don’t know if you ever edit your posts, but this would’ve made a lot of difference in the clumping I (and several other people) experienced.

    2) Once I add the filling, I’ll treat the thing like a custard rather than a baked good – bake it slower and longer, and be more careful to pull it out within five minutes after it’s set. (This time, it was already set when the timer went off at 30 minutes, and I left it in another 3 to be sure.)

    3) I’ll use less crust. This recipe almost has a slice-of-bread-with-jam vibe. Most lemon bars I’ve had don’t have dry crust underneath, and this definitely did. (Maybe I should have cooled the crust more before adding the filling, to let it soak in? But I still think it’s breadier than most lemon bars I’ve had.)

    4) I’ll use a metal baking dish. Glass takes too long to heat up. By the time the 1/2″ edges of dough started to cook, they had already slumped.

    Finally, Deb, a question: With so much liquid in the filling, is there any risk of activating the gluten if I use a mixer rather than whisking? I did this time (and mixed it extra to try to avoid the clumps), and it seemed to not hurt anything, but I’m curious… is it possible to mix the filling too much, or does the liquid keep the flour from stretching/glutenizing?

  190. …And they’ve finally cooled enough for me to take them out of the pan.

    I take back what I said about using less crust. The corner square did indeed have a bread-with-jam vibe… but the inner ones are PERFECT. Not rubbery at all, and no dry layer in the crust.

    There was a layer of bubbles/foam in the middle 1/2 of the surface, which might have protected it some from the over-hot oven.

    Using a buttered glass pan, I had no trouble with the bars sticking or separating. In fact, once I sliced them, I could actually slide them sideways in the pan to lift them out. (The pan is still about body temperature; if it cools enough for the butterfat to solidify, I’d expect them to stick a bit.)

    So, I’ll probably also take back what I said about using a metal baking pan. Glass should be slower, yes, and thus better for custard… right? (And I’m also thinking that letting the crust-and-pan cool more before I add and bake the filling will help keep the edges from overbaking.)

    Thanks, Deb!

  191. These are my go-to contribution for office parties, baby showers, and springtime events. I go nuts for these, my friends go nuts for these, and this is just a straight-up SOLID recipe. And I don’t even like lemon that much, ha! Thank you for this recipe, as it’s one I’ve used over-and-over again.

  192. These are amazing! I made these for Easter dessert and they turned out perfectly. I made them again this weekend at a higher elevation (over a mile high) and they didn’t set very well even after baking them for an extra 10 minutes. Do you have any suggestions for fixing this since I live at the higher elevation all of the time?

  193. the crust puffed up too much, used 7 large eggs instead of 6 extra large, dumped the flour in at the end and it got all clumpy so i broke out the immersion blender, had a terrible ceramic casserole dish instead of a regular 9×13 and STILL these are delicious. gooey crumbly punch you in the mouth with lemon AWESOME. hope y’all that are having trouble persevere!

  194. I did not like these at all. I just made these to bring to a party and I wont bring them with me. When i first looked at the recipe I thought it was odd that there was 2/3 c of flour. The Lemon portion is very rubbery, not smooth and I’m not happy. Im surprised because I usually like Smitten Kitchen’s recipes,

  195. I remember making this recipe after Ina’s show aired. I also remember, throwing it away. Waaaaay too much flour and sugar in the lemon filling. Unless you’re looking for a Rubbery Lemon Bars recipe, reduce the flour to 1/2 cup and the sugar to 2 cups and bake it gently at 300 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Oh, and I also recommend pouring the filling over the hot crust, rather than letting the crust cool, otherwise, you risk getting upside down lemon bars.

  196. I was looking for a lemon bar recipe and thought of yours. I did not make the one above but since I own a copy of your recipe book I made the whole lemon bar recipe. It is fantastic and just for that recipe worth the cost of the book. It was so easy all in the food processor and the filling set perfectly jiggled liked you said. I liked the ratio of filling to base as well.

  197. I make these every year for my company Christmas party, usually the night before, but this year I need to make them 2 days ahead. Do you think they will be okay and taste good still?

  198. A while ago I found your recipe and decided I was going to make theses lemon bars. The only problem was; at the time, I didn’t have any lemons. So I was pushed to do the unthinkable and used a lemon aid mix I had handy. Let me tell you, the result: tart, soft, custard that left a church group’s mouth watering for more. Although I for one strictly follow the belief of fresh ingredients are what make a fresh baked good, the substitute of one cup of lemon juice (for the thinker lemon custard= 1 cup of mix with one cup of water or whatever soots you) is one I will do again. When I make this recipe with fresh lemon juice it was crisp and fresh, from which I gathered a summer worthy sensation. My conclusion is that these lemon bars are the best Iv had and that wether you make them with Meyer lemons or cheap, four dolor country made lemonade mix, you will still be stunned and ecstatic with the result of these.

  199. Good morning SK! I am just about to get started with your lemon bars (our trees are hanging low with juicy fruit) and I am wondering about the flour amount; I weigh mine. Do you have a certain weight per cup of flour you use? KA Flour uses 4 1/4oz as their standard measurement, and I’ve seen some go as high as 5oz for a cup of AP flour. Thanks so much for all you do, and the inspiring photos! My family is drooling and the lemon tree loves you!

    1. Mary S. — I use 125 grams for 1 cup all-purpose flour, using the scoop/sweep method, pretty close to KA’s (which would be 120 grams, which also matches the bag-listed weight of their unbleached all-purpose flour). I’ve seen up to 5 ounces maybe in a Cook’s Illustrated recipe, but my cups never weigh that much.

  200. I made these lemon bars this morning, because everything you do is awesome! And, lemon bars are my son’s and my favorite. I bake a lot, but I just haven’t been able to make an amazing lemon bar, at least not the way we like them. We buy lemon bars from a specialty shop in Saratoga Springs called Putnam Market. These lemon bars are the best in the world. Seriously. The crust is like a light shortbread and the lemon filling is like a tart firm lemon curd. Oh my, they are mouthwatering. Your photo looks just like the bars we buy. But, when I just took mine out of the oven, they were puffed up and, errr, cakey. ?? I made the lemon filling with the whisk attachment of my professional Kitchenaid. We’re having company and I want to cry. Help!! What did I do wrong?

  201. P.s. They baked for exactly 30 minutes in my oven. I made the thicker version. I baked them in a glass 9×13 Pyrex baking dish.

  202. Just bought your beautiful cookbook today. Went to the store right away and bought the stuff to make the lemon bars. One lemon seemed off to me, so I just checked your website and this recipe calls for a lot more lemon. I know the recipes are slightly different, but is one lemon really correct for the cookbook recipe?

    1. Hi Monica — Thank you. These are completely different recipes. This is a classic recipe, for the kind of lemon bars you might already know or have had growing up. The ones in the book are very different — they use one lemon only, and all of it, rind and flesh. I absolutely adore the book’s riff on lemon bars, but if you want a classic one, use these.

  203. Hi Deb,
    3 questions for my favorite blogger:
    How do you think coconut butter/oil will do in place of butter?
    Also, how would you convert 1/2 pound of butter to measurements?
    Lastly, not having a microplane or a grater- what can I use to make the lemon zest?
    Thanks!

  204. HI Rachel — I think coconut oil would be fine. 1/2 pound of butter is 2 U.S. sticks, 225 grams, etc. You can cut some zest (just the yellow) off your lemon with a sharp knife, very thinly (or use a peeler, but make sure you’re only taking a little off) and then mince it very well.

  205. Thank you! I used coconut oil and it was fantastic!
    One note, I baked the crust for about 24 minutes (in a good oven on 350) and found that it still wasn’t baked enough, didn’t even start to golden. Maybe it was just my luck.

  206. I would like to make this recipe for a dessert table at a wedding, but we will be travelling there and I don’t know about refrigeration there, I can keep it cold getting there .. Can I freeze this square? I love lemon and rarely is this featured at weddings with chocolate being the big ticket item. I love the look of meringue on these bars but don’t think I can freeze the lemon bars with it on.

    What other suggestions, I am making a butter tart bar as my Mom made the Ultimate Butter Tart and would like this to be on the table.

    1. Marilyn — Yes, I find that lemon squares freeze well. They’re not meringue; I just have powdered sugar on them (which is a nice way to pretty them up before serving). Maybe these Derby Pie Bars, too?

  207. Deb, do you have any more thoughts on the best way to freeze these DELICIOUS treats? They will be on of a few desserts made for a small wedding and I’d love to do as much prep in advance if possible. I successfully freezed them in the past by letting fully cool, covering and placing in freezer overnight. Then on the next day, pulling out to cut for cleaner lines and no sticking, and putting into an airtight container. Do you have a preferred method? And any timeline on how long they would be good for in the freezer? Thanks!

    1. Hi Sheena — I’d probably cut, then freeze them. But I’d cut them half-frozen, as you said, for cleaner lines. And with a hot, wet knife, which really helps. Keep them between layers of waxed or parchment paper in the freezer, not stacking them until they’re frozen firm or they’ll squish a little, and make sure the container or bag is sealed well. Things can last in the freezer for 6 months to a year, but it’s really about whether your freezer imparts a freezer-y smell/taste. If it does, don’t keep it there more than a few weeks or a month.

  208. I’m sending this late as in better late than never. When I looked up the lemon bar/square recipe in my old Joy of Cooking book, what do you think I saw? The same recipe as Ina Garten’s, the only apparent change being in the size of eggs. Ina always uses extra large. I think that Ina should have credited That very old source, and I pass it on to you and your readers.

  209. Actually she uses more flour than Joy of Cooking. That is it for any differences between the recipes.

  210. After paying $3.50 for a very disappointing lemon bar(soggy crust, overly eggy filling, almost no lemon flavor–if you sniffed the edge it smelled of egg, not lemon) at the farmer’s market last week I came home to make a small pan of these. 8×8, so half the crust, with the four egg amount of filling. I added some fresh raspberries to one side so each small square would have one big fat berry in it. I had two egg whites languishing in the fridge, so I beat them up with 1/4 cup of sugar and spread the meringue over the pan at the”just set” mark to brown the topping for the last five minutes. So no powdered sugar, but a nice sweet top nonetheless. Delicious!

  211. Made these for thanksgiving. Loved them and will definitely make again. I did the full, thick layer of lemon. A couple tweaks that worked well: I used 2cups sugar in the lemon filling instead of the 2.5cups in the recipe.it was definitey tart but still plenty sweet for my tastes. I added a little almond extract to the crust dough per a suggestion above which I think really adds something. It took 8 lemons for me to get slightly over 1 cup juice, but I was just squeezing by hand ( no juicer). They were great, super lemony sour- tart ( esp given I cut out 1/2 c sugar) and a nice contrast taste to the other desserts.

  212. I have made these bars and the ones from the book. The ones from the book I really did not like – for some reason mine came out very bitter – I think there was too much rind (or maybe I left in a pip…? oops). These were great. I made them once according to recipe and they were delicious. The second time, I actually did half the amount of crust recommended and still spread it in a 9 X 13; and with the larger amount of lemon mixture. I am not going to lie, it was challenging to spread the dough that thin, and it was also a little hard to get the lemon bars on the edges out; but the result was worth it – very thin crunchy crust with delicious lemon-y gooeyness on top. I will make them again. Thank you for posting the recipe!

  213. Love this recipe, however, as stated by another person I did not achieve the gorgeous yellow color – more of a sand color instead. Any thoughts or ideas? Lemons were regular lemons and freshly purchased today. Followed the recipe exactly.

  214. Re, the lemon color — These may not have been as yellow as they look. It was a *few* years ago but I think it was the late-afternoon light I’m very fond of in food photos hitting the sides, making the color blow up. That said, some lemons are more pale inside, others more yellow. Largely, here, the color comes from the egg yolks and the zest.

  215. I chose to use the larger lemon portion, but used 5 eggs instead of 6. I had a significant amount of lemon custard left over after pouring as much as I could on top of the shortbread crust. I had tried to flatten the shortbread as best I could. In the end, it came out 50/50 custard/shortbread, which is what I was aiming for. Tastes marvelous, although if I make it again, I will use the smaller amount of lemon custard.

  216. Hi! I’d love to make this recipe for a lunch party on Saturday: here in Portugal, lemon bars are not a “thing,” so they’ll seem so fresh and exotic and I’m sure they’ll be a huge hit!

    However, I don’t have a 9″x13″ baking dish. i do have a standard tart pan with removable bottom – must be 9″, I expect. How would I convert the ingredients, baking times, etc. to make this switch?

    I don’t *think* I saw this information in the comment thread – apologies if I missed it!

  217. Just made these and didn’t have enough lemons so i added grapefruit juice and grapefruit zest. They are SOOOO good. The 1:1 ratio is perfect for my preference as well. I decreased the sugar in the filling and upped the salt in the crust (i noticed you said you upped the salt from Ina’s recipe but it looks like it’s the same as hers)…also put a little salt in the filling cuz that’s how I roll. I’ve struggled to find a lemon bar recipe that I really like and now this is it! You’ve nailed it again! :)

    thanks!

  218. Crust is soggy and bland tasting. Lemon topping is gummy. After dusting with powdered sugar, the sugar melts away overtime. I normally like Ina’s recipes, but these lemon squares are ultimately bad.

  219. This is a great recipe! I made it, and they look too good to be true! Of corse, they may not taste too good, cuz they are yet to be tasted, and I am a kid, with only a little baking experience. but I bet they will be fine, this is a good recipe.

  220. How would you advise making these into like bars with mint? I’d garnish it with mint leaves of course, but would there be a way to get a little more mint flavor into the bars without it being overpowering? (You know, like a mojito?)

    1. Ella — I think you could do a lime swap here and it would be fine. Maybe minced some mint and really rub it into the granulated sugar you’re going to use for the bars so it’s as scented as possible? And rum… somewhere!

    2. I haven’t made mojito bars, but I had great success turning these into margarita bars! I used limes instead of lemons, added a couple of tablespoons of tequila to the filling mixture, and sprinkled them with flaky salt as soon as they came out of the oven. And now I’m definitely going to have to try your mojito idea next time I make them!