Lemon Shortbread Bars start with a simple buttery shortbread crust, and are topped with a creamy lemon filling. Top these with a shake of powdered sugar for the ultimate lemon bar experience!
Creamy Lemon Bars
There are a million different lemon bar recipes out there. I’m guessing you’ve already got a favorite one. But if you are reading this, I’m thinking you might be willing to try a new one! So c’mon – give this one a try!
When it comes to shortbread, I love a Vanilla Bean Shortbread Cookie and some Jam Thumbprint Cookies (that are basically made of shortbread dough). The crust on these bars are sturdy, thanks to just the right ratio of ingredients.
Now let’s talk about the lemon filling. It is indeed creamy, but also just the right combo of tart and sweet – like any great lemon bar should be!
I actually started with a thinner bar, but decided to increase the ingredients for a THICK and creamy lemon shortbread experience. Like a thinner bar? Decrease the servings in the recipe card slightly and use the same sized pan.
- Lemons – You’ll need three large lemons – zest one and then squeeze it. Plus squeeze the other two.
- Butter – I use unsalted butter for this recipe, because that’s what I keep stocked. Salted butter works too.
- Sugar – Granulated sugar is required for the most amazing lemon bars.
- Flour – Use all-purpose flour!
- Vanilla – Vanilla extract always provides amazing flavor to any baked good.
- Eggs – Five large eggs help provide needed structure to the filling. Make it and you’ll see!
- Salt – Just a pinch needed.
- Powdered Sugar – A few sprinkles of powdered sugar will cover up any blemishes on the tops of the bars. Plus it tastes great too!
How to make Lemon Shortbread Bars
Prep. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Then add a piece of parchment paper to the pan, cutting the paper in the corners to get it to fit.
Make the shortbread crust. In a medium bowl, add softened butter and sugar and use a hand mixer to blend together. Add vanilla and flour and mix again until very well combined and somewhat creamed together. The mixture will be a little bit thick.
Press crust into a pan. Use your hands to add the dough into the pan, and then press evenly to all areas of the pan.
Bake. Bake the crust for 20 minutes, or until slightly browned on top.
Prep lemons. Zest one of the three lemons and set aside. Squeeze three lemons, or enough to get 3/4 cup of fresh lemon juice.
Make lemon filling. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Then add the beaten eggs, fresh lemon juice, and zest – and mix again.
Bake again. Pour the filling mixture on top of the just baked crust. Bake again for 30 minutes, or until filling is set in the center.
Cool bars. Let bars sit in the pan for 30 minutes to cool. Then when able, use parchment paper to lift the bars out of the pan to a cooling rack. Continue to let cool, or set bars in the refrigerator.
Serve. Add some sifted powdered sugar to the top of the lemon bars to serve. Slice! You can serve these at room temperature or chilled.
YES! You’ll need to par-bake the crust as instructed to keep it from being soggy. As mentioned, you want a sturdy crust to support the lemon filling.
When the outside of the bars are turning golden and the middle is set (no longer jiggly), they are done.
If you notice a white bubbly crust on top of your baked lemon bars, that’s ok. It’s normal and a natural result of using eggs in this recipe. That’s why we use some powdered sugar on top. To cover it up!
Yes, it’s advised to store lemon bars in your refrigerator after they cool (due to the eggs in this recipe). They’ll stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to five days.
Yes, you can freeze baked and cooled bars. Just wrap tightly and freeze for a couple of months. When ready to eat, let them thaw in your refrigerator and enjoy.
Other delicious lemon recipes
Besides the lemon recipes mentioned in the top of this post, I’ve got others to recommend! Here are a few more.
- Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream Frosting
- Glazed Lemon Bundt Cake
- How about a lemon flavored (aka lemonade!) cocktail? Try my Strawberry Lemonade Vodka Slushies, Strawberry Vodka Lemonade, or Pink Lemonade Vodka Slush!
Lemon Shortbread Bars
For the crust:
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter – softened
- 6 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the center:
- 5 large eggs
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice – from about 3 lemons
- zest of one lemon
- powdered sugar – for dusting
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper, overlapping the sides.
- Prepare the crust. In a bowl, combine the butter, sugar, flour, and vanilla. Use a hand mixer to blend together, until somewhat creamy. Press into the bottom of the baking dish.
- Bake crust for 20 minutes, or until slightly browned.
- Prepare the middle layer. While the crust is baking, combine the sugar and flour in a mixing bowl. Whisk in eggs, lemon juice, and zest until well combined. Pour this mixture over the baked crust and return to oven for 30 additional minutes, or until the filling is set. Remove from oven to cool slightly.
- Place bars in the refrigerator to finish cooling and to store.
- Add a dusting of powdered sugar before serving.
- When the outside of the bars are turning golden and the middle is set (no longer jiggly), they are done. Don’t over-bake!
- Store lemon bars in your refrigerator after they cool (due to the eggs in this recipe). They’ll stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to five days.
- You can freeze baked and cooled bars. Just wrap tightly and freeze for a couple of months. When ready to eat, let them thaw out in your refrigerator and enjoy.