The way to make the best lemon bars is to use a buttery shortbread crust and real lemon curd as the filling. These classic lemon bars are bright and tart with the perfect contrast of crust and filling.

Lemon Bar squares decorated with a lemon slice and sprinkled with powdered sugar


The best lemon bars start with a slightly sweet and buttery shortbread crust. The crust is topped with a thick layer of real lemon curd.

The lemon curd for these bars is made without flour and without cornstarch, keeping the color bright and the flavor fresh and tart! These bars are very reminiscent of lemon meringue pie!

Variation Ideas

Lemon Meringue Bars: Top these bars with a dollop of soft, silky meringue. If desired, toast the meringue with a small kitchen torch.

Citrus Bars: Swap the lemon juice and zest with another type of citrus fruit like grapefruit or lime.

Lemon Bars with Graham Cracker Crust: Swap the shortbread crust with a crunchy graham cracker crust.

How to Make the Best Lemon Bars

The process of making the best lemon bars is actually quite easy. Simply follow this step-by-step process.

Prepare the Crust

Shortbread crust comes together very quickly by combining the ingredients in the mixing bowl all at once. The mixture will be very crumbly when it goes into the parchment-lined pan.

Use damp fingers to firmly and evenly press the dough into the pan and use a fork to dock the dough all over. Par-bake the crust before adding the lemon curd filling.

Prepare the Filling

All of the ingredients for the lemon curd go into a medium saucepan all at once. Whisk these ingredients together and cook over low heat, stirring continuously, until the curd starts to bubble and thicken.

Strain the prepared curd into a bowl or right over the prepared crust. This will catch any lumps that may have formed and produce silky smooth lemon bars.

Lemon curd being strained through a mesh strainer


Tent the baking pan with foil, making sure it does not touch the lemon curd filling. This will provide a steamy environment for the lemon bars to create a very smooth glossy top. Bake the bars for about 15 minutes to set the lemon curd.

Lemon curd filling on top of the crust

Cool & Chill

After the bars are cooled to room temperature, chill them for at least an hour in the refrigerator to completely set the filling before serving.


Lemon bars should be stored covered in the refrigerator to prevent spoilage and to keep the filling set.

Lemon Bar squares decorated with a lemon slice and sprinkled with powdered sugar

Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

  • Cooking the lemon curd on low heat while whisking continuously is key to making a smooth curd. Even though the curd will be strained, this technique minimizes the chance of coagulated eggs in your filling.
  • Fresh lemon juice is truly the only way to go to make the absolute best tasting lemon bars. One lemon usually yields about 2-3 tablespoons of juice so you will likely need about 5-6 lemons for this recipe.
  • The lemon juice could be swapped out with other citrus juice to make various citrus bar flavors!


If you loved this delicious recipe, you might like to try these other lemon recipes!

Lemon Bar squares decorated with a lemon slice and sprinkled with powdered sugar
Yield: 16 Bars

How to Make the BEST Lemon Bars

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

This recipe makes the absolute best lemon bars! A buttery shortbread crust is matched with real lemon curd filling creating lemon bars that are bright and tart with the perfect flavor contrast of crust and filling.


For the Shortbread Crust

  • 113 grams (4 ounces, 1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 67 grams (⅓ cup) granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 120 grams (1 cup) all-purpose flour *see note for gluten free substitution

For the Lemon Curd Filling

  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar
  • 240 grams (1 cup, 240 milliliters) fresh lemon juice (from about 5-6 lemons)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • pinch of salt
  • powdered sugar, for dusting if desired



  1. At least 30 minutes before baking, set the butter out at room temperature to soften. Measure out the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C. Line an 8x8 inch (20x20 cm) or 9x9 inch (23x23 cm) square baking dish with parchment paper and set aside.


  1. In a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the room temperature butter (113 grams/ 4 ounces), granulated sugar (67 grams/ ⅓ cup), vanilla extract (½ teaspoon), salt (one pinch), and flour (120 grams/ 1 cup) until it becomes very crumbly.
  2. Pour the crumbs into the prepared pan and use damp fingers to press the dough evenly into the pan. Use a fork to dock the dough all over. Bake for 20-22 minutes until the edges of the crust begin to brown.


  1. While the crust is baking, prepare the lemon curd. Add the whole eggs (4 large), egg yolks (4 large), granulated sugar (200 grams/ 1 cup), fresh lemon juice (240 grams/ 1 cup), lemon zest (1 tablespoon), and salt (one pinch) into a medium saucepan and whisk together.
  2. Heat over low heat, whisking continuously until the mixture bubbles and thickens.
  3. Pour the lemon curd through a fine mesh sieve over the par-baked crust. Loosely tent a piece of foil over the pan, making sure it is not touching the curd. This will create a steamy environment for the bars resulting in a very smooth and shiny top.

Bake and Serve:

  1. Bake for 15 minutes.
  2. Remove the piece of foil and allow the bars to cool to room temperature. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.
  3. These lemon bars are very tart and thick, therefore cutting them into 16 pieces is the perfect size. Dust squares with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.
  4. Store leftover lemon bars covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


Gluten Free Lemon Bars: Swap the all-purpose flour with a gluten free flour blend such as Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1-1 Baking Flour or another brand of gluten free flour blend.

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