Lemon Bars with Shortbread Crust
Lemon bars are a sweet and tangy dessert that’s made by making a buttery shortbread crust and pouring a lemon filling on top of the crust. It is then baked and cut into squares.
8 -inch square baking pan
Ingredients in this Thumbprint Cookies Recipe:
Butter: This recipe calls for unsalted butter. I like using unsalted butter because I’m never quite sure how much salt is inside a stick of salted butter.
Sugar: Granulated sugar is what I use for this lemon bar recipe.
Vanilla extract: You don’t have to use vanilla extract in this recipe, but if you do, I recommend using the pure vanilla kind instead of imitation vanilla.
Salt: Kosher salt is what I always use when baking this recipe.
All-purpose flour: Some people sieve the flour. I choose to live dangerously, so I don’t.
Lemon juice: Nothing beats using fresh lemons when making this recipe. My favorite lemons are Meyer lemons. I like them because they can be found in almost every grocery store. I always pick medium lemons whenever I want to make lemon bars.
Lemon zest: The best way to zest a lemon is by using a microplane or a grater. Before juicing them, I usually first roll them on a cutting board, slice them in half and squeeze out the juice.
Eggs: Use large room-temperature eggs for this recipe.
Powdered Sugar: This is also known as confectioners’ sugar and it’s optional.
Why are my lemon bars not setting?
Undercooking your lemon bars will cause them not to set. If you notice that your bars are a little soggy, bake them a little longer until their center is wobbly but not runny.
Why are my lemon bars rubbery?
Your lemon bars have a crust on them because you probably overbaked them. Your lemon bars are ready when the edges start to brown and the filling isn’t jiggly at the center.
Why did the top of my lemon bars crack?
Baking them at a high temperature or over-cooking them will cause the top of the bars to crack.
Why do my lemon bars have a crust on top?
Your lemon bars have a crust on them because you probably baked them too long.
What is the best way to cut lemon bars cleanly?
The best way to cut lemon bars cleanly is by using a sharp knife. Some people spray non-stick oil on their knives and others run their knives through warm water and wipe it dry before cutting. I prefer to place the lemon bars in the refrigerator for about 2 hours before cutting them. When cutting remember to wipe the knife clean in between cuts.
What can I use instead of lemons?
You can use limes instead of lemons.
Can I use shortening or lard instead of butter?
I wouldn’t recommend it. Using shortening or lard instead of butter will totally change the flavor of the lemon bars.
Why did the powdered sugar on my lemon bars dissolve?
Powdered sugar tends to dissolve when put on bars that are warm. It’s best to wait for the bars to cool at room temperature or in the fridge before dusting them with powdered sugar.
When should I dust the lemon bars with powdered sugar?
I prefer to dust my lemon bars with powdered sugar right before serving them.
Can lemon bars be frozen?
Yes! You can freeze lemon bars for up to 3 months!
Can I make the crust in the food processor?
You certainly can!
Can I use a premade crust for this recipe?
You can totally use a premade crust for this recipe.
Can I use 1:1 gluten-free flour for this recipe?
Yes! You can use 1:1 gluten-free flour for this lemon bar recipe.
My lemon bars are too tart. How can I fix this?
Sprinkling powdered sugar, spreading cream cheese or your favorite jam over it will do the trick. You could also reduce the amount of lemon juice the next time you make lemon bars.
My crust ended up on top and the filling was on the bottom. What did I do wrong?
You probably let the crust cool for too long. You might also have overbaked the crust.
Can I bake it and serve it the next day?
Yes, you can totally bake it and then serve it the next day. I would place it in an airtight container and place it in the fridge. The next day, I would remove it and wait for it to get to room temperature before serving it.
For the Crust:
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ¼ cup sugar granulated
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
For the Lemon Curd Filling:
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup sugar granulated
- ½ cup powdered sugar optional
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and line your 8-inch square baking pan with foil or parchment paper.
- In a large bowl combine your melted butter with sugar, flour, vanilla extract, and salt. You can use a hand mixer or stand mixer to do this.
- Place the dough into a lined baking pan and pat it into an even layer. A foil overhang or parchment paper lining and overhang will make it really easy for you to remove the bar from the pan.
- Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the edges of the crust begin to turn golden brown. Using a fork, poke holes in the crust. This will keep the crust from floating to the top after you pour in the filling.
- In a medium bowl beat eggs and then add fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, all-purpose flour, and sugar.
- Remove the pan from the oven and pour the filling over the warm crust. Return the pan back into the oven for another 30 minutes or until the edges start to brown and the filling isn’t jiggly at the center.
- Remove the bar from the pan and place it on a wire rack to cool. After it cools, transfer it to a cutting board and cut it into bars. Dust powdered sugar on top of your homemade lemon squares and serve them on their own or with a warm cup of tea.