The sweet, buttery soft shortbread cookie crust and the luscious creamy filling with a zesty lemon flavor gives these Lemon Bars the perfect balance between sweet and sour.
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When the weather warms up, there’s just something about lemon that is so satisfying! Whether it’s your favorite glass of lemonade, Lemon Sherbet, Lemon Lush, or these Zesty Lemon Bars, I seem to crave lemon constantly during late spring and summer! My palate just demands fresher and zestier desserts!
Other lemon bars seem to skimp on the crust to the point where the crust just sort of disintegrates into the zesty lemon filling leaving a sticky mess to try and get out of the pan. But not this lemon bar recipe! These lemon bars have a hefty shortbread crust layer that is sturdy and balances the lemon filling perfectly!
Common Lemon Bar questions answered:
Do you put Lemon Bars in the fridge?
Yes! After they have cooled to room temperature, keep the lemon bars in the refrigerator until they’re ready to be eaten! You can keep them covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If you know you’re not serving these lemon bars right away, then wait to dust them with powdered sugar until right before serving them!
How long can you keep lemon squares?
As long as they’re kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator they’ll be good for up to 3 days.
Can you freeze a lemon bar?
Yes! Follow my directions below!
- Once the lemon bars have cooled to room temperature, do not dust them with powdered sugar! Instead, slice them and place them 2-inches apart on a foil-lined baking sheet.
- Place them in the freezer until frozen-solid, about 3 hours.
- Then, wrap each lemon bar in plastic wrap.
- Finally, place the lemon bars in a freezer zipper bag and write the date on the bag. Lemon bars can be frozen for up to 2 months.
- To thaw you can either place the wrapped lemon bar(s) in the refrigerator overnight or leave the bar(s) at room temperature for about an hour. Right before serving dust with powdered sugar.
How much zest is in 1 lemon?
Generally, you will get about 1 Tablespoon of zest from a large lemon. This is my favorite zester for testing citrus, fresh ginger, Parmesan cheese, chocolate, etc.
How much juice is in 1 lemon?
Generally there are about 3 Tablespoons of juice in a large lemon. You’ll need about 4 large lemons for this recipe. Make sure you set 2 of them aside for the shortbread crust and filling before you juice them! This is my favorite tool for juicing lemons.
Cook’s Note – Zesty Lemon Bars Recipe:
- I like my lemon bars super zesty, so that’s why I put a little bit of lemon zest in with my shortbread crust, too. If you’d rather scale back on the zest or you don’t like a powerful lemon flavor, then simply leave the lemon zest out of the crust and the filling.
- You can keep these lemon squares covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days (make sure they’re completely cooled before you pop them into the refrigerator!). If you know you’re not serving these right away, then wait to dust them with powdered sugar until right before serving them! If they were previously dusted before going into the refrigerator, simply re-dust them again before serving.
- I have this fine mesh strainer set and I love using the small one for anytime I need to give a fine dusting of powdered sugar or cocoa over anything!
Cook’s Tools – Zest Lemon Bars Recipe:
More Delicious Lemon Recipes:
- Lemon Lush
- Lemon Cream Pie Cheesecake Dip
- Copycat Olive Garden Lemon Cream Cake
- Peach Lemonade
- Lemon Cream Pie Float
- Lemon White Chocolate Pudding Cookies
ONE YEAR AGO: Mom’s Zucchini Bread
TWO YEARS AGO: Pizzeria Salad Wrap
THREE YEARS AGO: Horchata Recipe
If buttery shortbread and flawless lemon filling if your thing, then there’s nothing better than these Lemon Bars! Give them a go and let me know what you think!
Zesty Lemon Bars Recipe with Shortbread Crust
- 1¼ cup all-purpose flour, sifted
- ½ cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
- Zest of 1 lemon, about 1 Tablespoon of zest
- 5 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Zest of 1 large lemon, about 1 Tablespoon of zest
- ⅔ cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed from about 4 large lemons
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- powdered sugar, for dusting
MAKE SHORTBREAD CRUST:
Move the oven rack to the middle, and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper, leaving a nice overhang on all four sides.
- Add the flour and sugar to the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine.
- Add the butter and pulse until the dough almost looks like a cohesive dough, this will take about 15-20 1-second pulses.
- Press the dough into an even layer into your prepared pan. Bake the shortbread crust until it’s lightly golden in color, about 15 to 20 minutes. Move the crust to a wire rack to cool. Leave the oven on.
MAKE THE LEMON FILLING:
- While the crust cools, in a medium saucepan whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, granulated sugar, and salt. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice and cook over medium-low heat, while stirring constantly with a rubber scraper. Keep stirring until the filling is thickened and pudding-like, 8-10 minutes.
- Place a fine-mesh strainer over a medium-size bowl. Pour the lemon filling into the strainer and use your rubber scraper to press the mixture through. Make sure you scrape the underside of the strainer into the bowl.
- Stir in the butter until it’s melted.
- Pour the filling over the slightly cooled crust and spread into an even layer.
- Bake the lemon bars until the filling is set, about 15-20 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 1-2 hours.
- Use the foil or parchment overhang to lift the lemon bars from pan. Use a knife to cut the bars into 9 squares.
- Dust the lemon squares with powdered sugar just before serving.
This Zesty Lemon Bars recipe first appeared on Food, Folks and Fun in May 2013. I’ve since updated the recipe and pictures. Here are a couple of pictures from when I first made these Lemon Squares in 2013.