The sweet, buttery soft shortbread cookie crust and the luscious creamy filling with a zesty lemon flavor give these Lemon Bars the perfect balance between sweet and sour. 

If you love these bars as much as I do, then I know you will also enjoy these Key Lime Bars!

Lemon Bars stacked on top of each other.

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! 

Taking a bit out of a lemon bar.

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. 

Lemon bar square dusted with powdered sugar.

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links. 

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. 

The ingredients for Lemon Bars.

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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 any time I need to give a fine dusting of powdered sugar or cocoa over anything! 

Cook’s Tools – Zest Lemon Bars Recipe:

8-inch square baking dish for purchase           Food Processor for purchase     Bread and Cake     3-Quart Saucepan for purchase               Wire mesh strainer set for purchase     Recommended glass bowls for purchase    Recommended lemon zester for purchase

More Delicious Lemon Recipes:

If buttery shortbread and flawless lemon filling if your thing, then there’s nothing better than these Lemon Squares! Give them a go and let me know what you think!

Zesty Lemon Bars with a shortbread crust.

ONE YEAR AGO: Mom’s Zucchini Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: Pizzeria Salad Wrap

THREE YEARS AGO: Horchata Recipe

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Best-ever Lemon Bars!
5 from 8 votes

Zesty Lemon Bars Recipe with Shortbread Crust

Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 3 hours
9 squares
The sweet, buttery soft shortbread cookie crust and the lusciously creamy filling with a zesty lemon flavor give these lemon bars the perfect balance between sweet and sour.



  • cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • ½ cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • ¾ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
  • Zest of 1 lemon, about 1 Tablespoon of zest


  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Zest of 1 large lemon, about 1 Tablespoon of zest
  • cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed from about 4 large lemons
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter


  • powdered sugar, for dusting



  • 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.
    Lemon Bars Step 2
  • Add the butter and pulse until the dough almost looks like a cohesive dough, this will take about 15-20 1-second pulses.
    Lemon Bars Step 3
  • 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.
    Lemon Bars Step 4


  • 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.
    Lemon Bars Step 5
  • 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.
    Lemon Bars Step 6
  • Stir in the butter until it’s melted.
    Lemon Bars Step 7
  • Pour the filling over the slightly cooled crust and spread into an even layer.
    Lemon Bars Step 8
  • 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.
    Lemon Bars Step 9
  • Use the foil or parchment overhang to lift the lemon bars from pan. Use a knife to cut the bars into 9 squares.
    Lemon Bars Step 10
  • Dust the lemon squares with powdered sugar just before serving.
    Lemon Bars Step 11


Serving: 1bar | Calories: 450kcal | Carbohydrates: 59g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 151mg | Sodium: 236mg | Potassium: 106mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 30g | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 2.3mg

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Best-ever Lemon Bars!

This 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. 

A slice of Zesty Lemon Bars on a cake stand with text overlay for Pinterest

Zesty Lemon Bars

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Recipe Rating


  1. Thank you so much for this recipe, I love this bars! I can’t wait to try it.

    1. You’re welcome. Enjoy! 🙂

  2. Hey roomie!

    This recipe looks incredible, I love lemon desserts.

    Keep up the good work 🙂


    1. Thanks, Angela! I love lemon desserts, too and this one was pretty easy to whip together. 🙂

  3. Charlotte Moore says:

    These look tasty!!!

    What a view you do have!!!

  4. What a beautiful lemony dessert. I’m not sure what it is about lemon but I always get excited when someone uses it in a dessert that I’ve not yet tried.

    1. Thanks, Maureen. I love all types of lemon desserts, too.

  5. I absolutely loved these lemon bars. I’ve tried other recipes and this by far was the best! I had to make it twice to make sure.

    1. I’m SO glad you loved them! They’re one of my favorites!

  6. Brian Jones says:

    They look fantastic, citrus flavours are so often my mojo when it comes to sweet treats. Excited to try these.

  7. Love all your detailed instruction! I feel like I can’t go wrong making this delicious dessert!

  8. Love my bars super zesty too! Perfect for a summer afternoon picnic 🙂

  9. Adriana Lopez Martin says:

    Lemon bars are one of my favorite treats, I have never made them but yoru recipe has inspired me I will adventure an try to make this yummy dessert,

  10. These Lemon Bars are THE BEST!

  11. How many whole eggs and how many just egg yolks? I don’t see it specified

    1. Hey Kayla, I just updated the recipe. Thanks for catching my mistake!

  12. Noel Lizotte says:

    Lemon means spring! I’m so ready for lemon flavored everything! This is a great dessert to start off the season!

  13. I love lemon bars! These look so delicious and I love that gooey texture ♥

  14. Well this sounds just perfect! I love lemony desserts and shortbread so this will be an amazing combo!

  15. Susan Carraretto says:

    I love how much lemon flavor these have! And so vibrant in color. Delicious!

  16. Renee Goerger says:

    I like my lemon bars zesty, too. These are perfect in flavor and consistency. Thanks for the great recipe!