Lemon Bars

Old Fashioned Lemon Bars

Old fashioned Lemon Bars

If you haven’t tried them yet you are in for a very sweet treat.

Lemon bars in my opinion are quite sweet but with a surprising tart pucker at the end!

This recipe has been with me for a very long time and was a best seller when I owned my bakery.

The shortbread base is a cinch to mix up and the custard, well it is so creamy and so lemony!

Old Fashioned Lemon Bars

These little gems are typically served on buffet style dessert tables and cut into bite sized pieces.

The portions you will see that I made are actually quite large, but you can feel free to cut them any which way your heart desires!

4.0 from 3 reviews
Lemon Bars
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Preheat oven to 350° F
Prepare your pan as shown in the video, but don't forget to grease it like I did!
Serves: 15 Bars
For the Shortbread Base
  • All Purpose Flour 3 cups (390g)
  • Granulated Sugar ¾ cup (150g)
  • Unsalted Butter 1½ cup (339g)
For the Filling
  • Eggs Large 6 (300g)
  • Granulated Sugar 3 cups (600g)
  • All Purpose Flour ½ cup + 2 tablespoons (80g)
  • Baking Powder ¾ teaspoon (4g)
  • Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice ¾ cup (180ml)
  • Lemon Extract (optional) 1 teaspoon
  • Lemon Zest optional 1
For the Base:
  1. First you must prepare the shortbread base, by combining the flour and sugar in the mixing bowl and blend on low speed to combine well.
  2. Add the room temperature butter all at once and mix on low-medium speed until it is all combined well.
  3. Turn out the entire shortbread mixture and begin to press very firmly and evenly into all the edges and corners making sure that the entire cookie base is very even in all spots.
  4. Bake the shortbread base for the lemon bars while you prepare the filling.
  5. The base will bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.
  1. Prepare the filling by combining all the dry ingredients including the sugar together in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the eggs and the extract and the lemon juice and whisk to combine very well.
  3. Once the shortbread base has baked completely, you DO NOT COOL THE BASE, pour the filling directly onto the shortbread in the pan.
  4. Bake for approximately 25-35 minutes longer, until the entire lemon filling is set, slightly puffed and there should be no signs of liquid custard in the center of the pan.
  5. Remove from oven, cool completely and then serve with powdered sugar.
Lemon Bars may be kept at room temperature for 1 day, or refrigerated for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.

I do not freeze lemon bars, but some people do. I have never felt the need to do so.

For the 12″ x 18″ Pans

4.0 from 3 reviews
12" X 18" Lemon Bars
For those who want to use the 12X18 pan simply grease and line with parchment paper as you normally would
Serves: 12X18 pan
For the Shortbread Base:
  • All Purpose Flour 4 cups
  • Granulated Sugar 1 cup
  • Unsalted Butter 2 cups
For the Filling:
  • Eggs large 8
  • Granulated Sugar 4 cups
  • All Purpose Flour 1 cup
  • Baking Powder 2 teaspoons
  • Lemon Juice 1 Cup
  • Lemon Extract 1 teaspoon
  • Lemon Zest optional 1

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      1. Gretchen mine were a wreck. I don’t know what I did wrong. The base ride rised more then I thought and when I put the custard in it over flowed and barely any was in the bars. Also I had to add water with the base bc it wasnt coming together. They were just a wreck.

        1. Oh wow, I wonder if you measured correctly? 9 times out of 10 it is a measuring error that causes a recipe to fail. The crust should barely rise at all,click here for more on Measurements

  1. Hi Gretchen, I put lemon curd as a final top for looks and more lemony taste.

    Thanks for another great recipe and entertainment!

  2. 1st time I had lemon square was about 3 years back at New York’s famous Magnolia’s Bakery , and i became fan of lemon squares.

    I am sure your lemon squares are even better, but they had a layer of shortbread on the top too, how can that be achieved ?

  3. Hye Gretchen. Great recipe. But how can I avoid the top layer from cracking ? Any tips maybe? Thanks.

    P/s: I’ll try it, but half the 9×13 recipe.

  4. Hello gretchen thanx for another beautiful recepie..just gonna try it tomorrow coz its so simple. And also there is a question came in my mind for a change can i make orange bars by using same recepie just by replacing lemon with orange juice,extract nd orange zest? Wat abt it?will it taste good? Sorry if i asked a silly question….

  5. Hi Gretchen. I was just wondering whether I can substitute the butter with anything else for the shortbread base recipe. If so what can I use and what quantity?

  6. Dear Gretchen,
    Once again, you have totally amused us with another wonderful recipe. A question: Can I replace lemon juice with other fruit juices or purees (concentrated and natural)?


  7. Hi Gretchen! I was wondering if I could reduce the sugar in this recipe and if so how much could I reduce without affecting the recipe?

    Btw, I made this last week and it was great everyone loved it, but my parents thought it was too sweet and not tart enough. To be fair, their tastebuds just so accustomed to sour things that they can eat a whole lemon without even puckering!

    1. yes these sure are sweet! You can experiment with taking out some of the sugar, just remember baking is a science and a delicate ratio of ingredients.
      (wow sounds like mom & dad are hard core!)

      1. Hi I have tried Gretchens recipe several times and it’s wonderful. I agree with sweetness. I’ve reduced recipe to 5 cups sugar and 240ml lemon juice. It turned out perfect


  9. Thanks for the recipe. We love the lemon bars, but I need a really good recipe for lemon pie. Mine tastes good but if I make it the night before it always gets weepy, making the crust soggy. Any ideas?

    1. Hey Eva and Gretchen,

      I totally agree with gretchen is kind of the nature of lemon meringue pies, mostly if you are using a custard cause starches tend to get watery as time goes by, one thing I’ve done over time and helps to keep the crust from getting soggy is blind bake it, wait till it cools completely, then with a pastry brush, brush the whole crust with egg white (not egg wash, just egg white) and bake for 5/10 more minutes depending on the size of your pie. This creates a protein barrier, kind of like film, on top of the crust that helps prevent the liquids from getting it soggy!! Hope it helps

      1. Hi Gretchen. Could these be made with key lime juice instead of lemon juice? If so, could I put some toasted and chopped coconut in the shortbread base? Thank you for everything.

  10. Hi Gretchen, love your channel 🙂
    I was just wondering what adjustments would need to be made if I used ‘farm fresh’ eggs…meaning they are not ‘large’. How many would I need to put in (for both recipes please!)?
    Thanks in advance 🙂

      1. made the lemon bars yesterday. As welcome back treat for hubby! They are super lemony and delicious! Definitely going in my favourite list . I wish I could post a pic!
        Thanks for the recipe upload

  11. The first recipe says 15 bars. What size pan should I use, i am guessing 9×13. I just want to make sure that’s the right pan

    1. Well, I used the 9X13 in the video- I got 15 bars. (The portion size is entirely up to you, you can cut them differently and get 24 bars or 30 bars or 9 bars- like its up to you)

  12. Hi Gretchen, I was wondering how mich of the sugar in this recipe I should reduce if I don’t want it to be too sweet 🙂

  13. hello gretchen. im kc from the philipppines love your videos. thank.you for sharing your recipes ☺ i have a question if i want my lemon squares less gooey and more cakey do i just add more flour? would that affect the cracked top? cause i want the top of my lemon square to have a crack on it. hope you could give me some tips! thank you!

  14. Can I use pecan bar bottoms on lemon bars? Can I freeze them and
    For how long? I Have made many of your cakes and cookies.
    You are where I go to for all my recipes.

  15. Hi gretchen

    if i make the lemon bars 3 days before when i need them, will the shortbread stay crispy when i serve them?


    1. Not as crispy as the day they are made- like right out of the oven, but even after day1 they are less crisp, its just the nature of a cookie that has moist custard on top and has to stay in fridge

  16. Hi Grethen! Thanks for the wonderful recipe. I noticed in your video you waited until the next day to cut the lemon bars. Do I need to wait that long or can I cut them within several hours after making them? Thanks for your time and this is a great recipe and a keeper for sure!

  17. Hey Gretchen, these Lemon Bars are to die for!! They remind me of my Double Crusted Lemon Pie. This recipe is definitely a keeper, and with your permission I would love to keep it alive and pass it down to my Children, and them to their, with credit to you of course. Because it’s fabulous.

  18. Do you think this would be good with your sugar cookie as the base instead of shortbread? My husband doesn’t like shortbread.

  19. I get requests to make these bars, from people who don’t like lemon bars. I just made another batch last night and people are salivating, waiting to get into them for the office party. And it’s only 8am where I am.

    Great recipe, Gretchen!

  20. Hi Gretchen…love these bars- posted to your facebook page on my first HORRIBLY FAILED attempt
    my question is- if I want to make a Raspberry bar what would you recommend –
    Can I just add a raspberry flavor rather than lemon flavor/juice? OR do a raspberry preserve and omit the lemon filling all together? Thanks !

    1. I had a similar recipe like this and used one pint or 3/4 cp of crushed raspberries instead of the lemon

    1. You can leave the zest out, it does impart a beautiful lemon flavor to the bars though, yes to disposable- just be very careful in transporting the liquid lemon to the oven in flimsy disposable pans

  21. Hi Gretchen! I was wondering if the lemon filling would be okay to use in a lemon empanada (did I even spell that right?)? I was thinking that I would make the filling and bake it first then let it set, and then spooning it into my empanada circles, and then baking the whole thing (not brave enough to try frying them yet.) Would that work or would I need to find a different recipe? Thank you so much!

  22. The finished bars look VERY different than the bars shown in the photos, which led me to watching the video…. BAIT & SWITCH (ha ha)

  23. What size pan did you use for the first Lemon Bars recipe? Also on my oven which setting do I use Conventional or Convect Setting?

  24. Hi Gretchen. Are there any tricks to keeping the powered sugar on top of the lemon bars looking fresh? The powered sugar always seems to get a melted, discolored look to it after a few hours or overnight on top of the lemon bars.
    I sprinkle the powered sugar on after the lemon bars are cooled but always have to sprinkle more on if serving later because of the melted appearance. Just wondering if there is anything else I can do besides adding another layer of powered sugar on top. Thank you!

  25. Love these and make them all the time! I cut and freeze and wrap in saran wrap in individual serving pieces then put in a freezer ziplock! Works great!

  26. Hi Gretchen ive been looking for this recipe forever. I used to eat lemon squares as child and would be disappointed when I taste lemon bars in parties… . Now my childhood fantasies have come true thank you. Now making several batches for family gatherings. Thanks so much for sharing.

  27. I got given a load of lemons, so this was an obvious choice. However, I was unable to eat it because I found it unbearably sweet. I have to find some friends to give it to! Shame, as it smelled wonderful while baking.

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