white plate of lemon bars

Easy Lemon Bars

  • Author: Emma
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes (plus cooling time)
  • Yield: 18 bars 1x


This easy recipe for creamy, old fashioned lemon bars with a shortbread base is a family favorite!  They’re super easy to make from scratch for a crowd at an Easter meal or just for a spring snack.



For the Shortbread Base

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed (230g)
  • 2/3 cup caster sugar (127g)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (250g)

For the Lemon Custard Topping

  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups caster sugar (287g)
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice (177 ml)
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour (40g)
  • Zest of 1 medium lemon

For the Decoration

  • 1/4 cup icing sugar (32g)


Making the Shortbread Base (15 minutes + 15 minutes baking)

  1. Lightly butter a 9 by 13-inch cake pan and line the base and sides with parchment paper.
  2. Pour the flour into a medium mixing bowl and add the butter.  Rub the fat into the flour by pinching the cubes of butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Stir in the sugar, then continue working the dough until it’s smooth and all the flour is incorporated.
  3. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.
  4. Bake at 350 F for about 15 minutes, until a light golden brown around the edges.  Let the pan cool on a wire rack until the topping is ready.

Making the Topping & Baking the Bars (10 minutes + 30 minutes)

  1. Grate the lemon zest, then place all the filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk by hand until everything is smooth and well blended.
  2. Let the filling stand for 10 minutes to help it thicken, then whisk it again and pour on top of the shortbread base.
  3. Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes until the custard is fully set and just a hint of golden around the edges.
  4. Let the bars cool completely in the pan.

Decorating & Serving the Bars (5 minutes)

  1. Lift out the lemon bars by the parchment paper and dust them all over with sifted icing sugar.
  2. Slice into 18 pieces.  Store leftover bars in the fridge.


  • Feel free to use bottled lemon juice or freshly squeezed.  You can even try combining the two.
  • If you whisk the filling with an electric mixer, it will create more air bubbles in the mixture, resulting in a less smooth top when it’s baked (like in the photos).  Whisking by hand will result in fewer bubbles and a smoother top.
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