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These easy lemon bars can be made 3 different ways by substituting the lemon for lime or grapefruit! They are super tangy and delicious. Any way you make them, you can’t go wrong!
Lemon bars are a favorite dessert in our house. Actually any kind of lemon dessert is a favorite around here. This lemon poppyseed cake is on my top 3 favorite cakes list. SHH don’t tell the other cakes!
But back to these super easy and classic lemon bars! They are easy to make, can be made dairy free, and don’t take a lot of time to put together.
Easy lemon bars
I love these bars because I usually already have all the ingredients to make them in my house when the mood strikes. Here’s what you need to make these bars:
- butter or a butter substitute ( I like Earth Balance for this)
- confectioners sugar
- kosher salt
- 6 eggs
- lime, lemon or grapefruit juice (fresh or bottled!)
- white sugar
I mean, thats only 7 ingredients! And nothing too crazy.
How to make lemon bars
Start by making the shortbread crust. Trust me this is so easy. If you know me, you know I hate making pie dough. BUT, I actually love making this shortbread crust!
All you do is mix together softened butter, confectioners sugar, flour and salt. This is easiest in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Make sure the butter is room temperature or else the dough won’t come together nicely. You know its ready when it balls up in the mixer bowl and isn’t sticky at all.
I actually totally LOVE the way it feels it’s SO smooth. Like I wanna take a nap on it LOL.
No you cannot substitute regular white sugar for the confectioners sugar.
The confectioners sugar is what makes the crust melt in your mouth! You won’t get the same results if you use regular sugar. The dough should be super smooth. Press it down into a 9×13 inch pan that is lined with parchment paper. Allow the parchment to overhang by 2″ on all sides. This will allow you to pull the bars out cleanly and in one piece!
While the crust is baking, make the filling.
In a medium size mixing bowl combine:
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup lemon, lime, or grapefruit juice
- zest of your citrus of choice (you can go a little or a lot on this- your choice!)
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup all purpose flour
Whisk the ingredients together well. You don’t need the mixer for this, you can do it by hand. If you want to do it in the mixer, use the whisk attachment.
Set aside until the crust is finished baking.
Filling the crust
The crust does not have to be completely cool when you fill it. Just make sure it is not piping hot. A good 5 minutes is enough to cool down.
Whisk the egg mixture one final time before pouring it into the crust. It should be foamy before you pour it in!
Top the mixture with more zest if you like and then head to the oven to bake.
Baking the lemon bars
Bake these super easy lemon bars on 350° F on the lower rack in your oven for 30 minutes. The top will look crusted over, white and foamy. The edges will be golden brown. The middle of the bars should still be a little jiggly!
Let the bars cool on the counter for an hour, then chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving or overnight.
How to serve
Once the bars are chilled, cut them into squares. You can probably get about 12-16 bars depending on how big you cut them. They feed a crowd if you cut them smaller!
Dust the bars with confectioners sugar and garnish with zest or slices of your chosen citrus.
Also serve them cold!
That’s why I love this recipe because you can take it straight out from the fridge and it doesn’t need time to warm up.
You can however leave them out of the fridge for a couple hours and nothing will happen to them, they won’t melt or anything. Just put them back in the fridge when you’re done serving them. This is not a store on the countertop type of dessert.
We love these bars especially in the summertime because they can easily be adapted using grapefruit or lime juice instead of lemon. Another fun lime dessert to make would be this lime jello salad.
How to cut:
To cut the lemon bars nicely make sure you have a large chef knife.
Every time you make a cut into the bars you should wipe off the knife so that the bars stay clean. Make a long cut down the middle of the bars, doesn’t matter if it is vertical or horizontal. Then cut those 2 parts in half again. Next going the other way, cut the bars into squares!
Freezing lemon bars
I don’t recommend freezing these bars but they keep up to a week in the fridge!
Make ahead and storage tips:
- you can totally make these up to 2 days in advance and store them in the fridge
- don’t cut them until ready to serve
- keep them covered and stored in the fridge for up to 7 days
If you love citrus recipes, try these:
Easy Lemon Bars- 3 ways to make!
- 1 cup butter or butter substitute softened
- 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 6 eggs large
- 1 cup lemon, lime, or grapefruit juice fresh or bottled
- 1-2 tsp zest
- 2.5 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup all purpose flour
Make the crust
- Preheat your oven to 325° F and line a 9×13 inch baking dish with parchment paper leaving a 2"overhang on the sides.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter, confectioners sugar, flour, and salt. Mix on medium speed until a soft ball of dough forms. The dough should come together in one piece and not be sticky.
- Press the dough firmly and evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes. The crust is ready when the middle is firm and the edges are golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes.
Make the filling:
- Raise the oven temperature to 350°F. In a medium sized bowl whisk the eggs, juice, zest, sugar and flour until it is combined well and foamy looking.
- Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 30 mins.
- The bars are done when the edges are golden brown and the top is foamy and slightly firm. The middle should still be a little jiggly.
- Cool the bars on the counter for 30 minutes then chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Cut and serve cold with dusted confectioners sugar and more zest!
- 2-3 grapfruit depending on size
- 6-8 lime depending on size
- 6-8 lemons depending on size
Molly Pisula says
Love the idea of making lemon bars with other citrus options. These all look so fantastic. Can’t wait to try the grapefruit ones!
A definite do over recipe. Plan to eat at least half the pan in one sitting!
Thank you SO much Margalit! I am so happy you enjoyed them!!!
Thanks for this recipe. One quick Q though. Can I use 8×8 square pan for this recipe, and how many?
Sam Adler says
Hi Anne! you can use an 8×8 for this but the bars will be much thicker and will need about 10-15 minutes more baking time. I wouldnt make the recipe and then divide it into 2 pans because then they would be too thin. Cant wait to hear how you like them!