“Classic Lemon Bars! Creamy, sweet & tart lemon filling on top of a lemon shortbread cookie crust. Garnished with powdered sugar and lemon zest!

How to make classic lemon bars

Visual learner? Watch me make these classic lemon bars from start to finish!

Need a little dose of lemon sunshine? Let me introduce you to my little friends, LEMON BARS!! Lemon bars are trending like crazy now and for good reason!

They are a burst of Spring, sunshine, and happiness!! That buttery cookie crust topped with creamy, sweet & tart lemony custard filling and a dusting of powdered sugar… these are the flavors that make taste buds sing!

classic lemon bars

So let’s make classic lemon bars, shall we! Oh, and don’t worry about the calories; Spring 2020 is postponed. Enjoy with reckless abandon.

How Do You Make  Classic Lemon Bars From Scratch?

Oh honey it’s easy, don’t you worry! Once you make homemade lemon bars you’ll probably never go back to buying them from stores.  The fresh, bright lemon flavor is unlike anything you’ll ever buy, let me tell ya! To make these classic lemon bars, we’ll  start by making and parbaking the crust. Next comes the super simple lemon filling. Stir it up, pour it into the parbaked cookie crust and bake! Once it comes out of the oven, let it cool. Next, dust with powdered sugar and cut! Easy, peasy lemon squeezy!

What kind of crust is best for classic lemon bars?

Most recipes for classic lemon bars use a shortbread or graham cracker crust. Both are super easy to make and pairs perfectly with lemon bars since they aren’t too sweet. For this recipe, I’m going with a lemon shortbread cookie crust. It’s fantastic and produces a buttery crust that is slightly chewy, yet firm and crisp enough to hold up to all that luscious lemon curd filling. The texture combination of the crust and filling is so amazing.

classic lemon bars

What should classic lemon bars look like when done?

Lemon bars that are cooked, cooled, and set properly should be firm to the touch. It’s normal for the bars to be slightly soft in the center when they come out of the oven. This center will firm up as the bars cool to room temperature. I prefer a nice firm set so I refrigerate them for an hour so that the texture is more dense and creamy.

Do I need to refrigerate lemon bars?

Yep, you sure do! Thankfully classic lemon bars taste great cold or room temperature. Any leftovers will need to be refrigerated.

classic lemon bars

Can you freeze classic lemon bars?

Yes, lemon bars are very freezer-friendly and even taste divine straight out of the freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator to get that creamy texture.

How do I cut classic lemon bars cleanly?

Cutting classic lemon bars neatly can be a challenge. A nice tip to remember when cutting lemon bars neatly is to clean the knife after each cut. To get even bars, start by cutting down the middle to make two even halves. Then cut the halves into fourths and the fourths into fourths. Makes sense?

If you’ve never tried making classic lemon bars then give this recipe a try! They are perfect for special occasions like baby showers, bridal showers, and weddings! Or simply to add a little brightness in your day!

Need more sweet & tart lemon sunshine?

glazed lemon brownies recipe

Lemon Brownies

lemon pound cake recipe

Lemon Pound Cake Cookies


Baked Lemon Doughnuts

classic lemon bars

Get the Recipe: Classic Lemon Bars

4.38 from 43 ratings
"Creamy, sweet & tart lemon filling on top of a lemon shortbread cookie crust. Garnished with powdered sugar and lemon zest! A pure classic!"
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 44 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 4 minutes
Servings: 16 bars



  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (do not melt)
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon extract
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour


  • powdered sugar
  • lemon zest


  • Preheat oven to 325 F.
  • Line a glass 9x9 inch pan with parchment paper (leaving enough overhang to be able to lift the bars out of the pan). Set aside.
  • To make the crust, in a bowl, combine the butter and powdered sugar until creamy and combined.
  • Add the vanilla extract, lemon extract and lemon zest.
  • Stir in the flour and salt, stirring until the mixture turns into a dough.
  • Gather dough into a ball.
  • Press the dough evenly and firmly into the prepared pan. (see note)
  • Bake for 18 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and prepare the filling.
  • To prepare the filling combine the egg and sugar in a large bowl and whisk until combined.
  • Whisk in lemon juice, zest, lemon extract, and vanilla extract.
  • Whisk in flour until flour is dissolved.
  • Pour filling into prepare pie crust.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until middle is set and firm to the touch.
  • Remove from oven and let cool.
  • Once cool, refrigerate for about 1 hour (optional but creates an amazing firm texture)
  • When ready to cut, lift bars from pan with parchment paper. (remove parchment before cutting)
  • Cut bar in half and then fourths. Cut each fourths into fourths.
  • Using a sifter, dust bars with powdered sugar and garnish with lemon zest.
  • Serve cold or room temperature.


Be sure to really press the corners and sides of the crust tightly against  the parchment paper. This will prevent the filling from running underneath. Also do not pull the parchment away from the sides of the bars until they are cooked and set.
Like more lemon filling? Double the filling recipe! (Be be warned, a little goes a long way! I prefer an even crust to filling ratio so I never double)
Cuisine: American, southern
Course: bars, cookies, Dessert, Snack
Tried this recipe?Mention @divascancook on Instagram or tag #divascancook.