This easy lemon bar recipe with a shortbread crust calls for extra lemon and all the curd. I love a very curd filled lemon bar. The more lemony the bar the better. I like a 2/3 lemon curd to 1/3...or 1/4 shortbread bar base ratio.
Lemon bars are the perfect spring treat. The firm shortbread and soft lemon curd topping...just perfect! I love my lemon bars extra lemony so that's why I add in zest. But if you're looking for a subtler flavor, then zest isn't necessary. If you don't have a zester, you can also use a fine cheese grater or slice off the skin and cut into very small pieces.
Also, this recipe can be made with any citrus...limes or grapefruit would be delicious too! My recipe makes a thicker layer of lemon curd on top, which I love. If your bars get browned on the top or edges, no worries! You will cover with powdered sugar anyways.
I serve them chilled and keep them in the refrigerator for up to one week. Or you can keep or serve them at room temp, but only for about 2-3 days.
I made this recipe for The Little Market. You can go to their website to see the links to these products in the photos.
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Tips on Ingredients for Classic Lemon Bars
Usually the better the ingredients, the better your food will taste. However, I do like to go over which ingredients that you should have the best quality for and the others are those that I think don't need to be the highest quality. But again, if you don't have access to high quality, it will still be delicious! I also let you know if a certain type or style is best
These are the items that I have notes for, whether it's to buy the best quality or if there are specific notes about that ingredient.
- Butter: I always suggest using a good quality when it comes to your dairy. This always helps the texture and flavor profile. I personally am a big fan of butter like Kerrygold or Tillamook butter. Unsalted always!
- Flour: this can be a little controversial for SURE, but I am always a believer in a good all-purpose flour. Some just don't hold up the same. You will notice a change in flavor if you're using a good quality...or even just one that hasn't expired/been sitting in an open bag. Always be sure that once you open a bag of flour that you seal it back up thoroughly or that you place it into sealed jars.
- Lemons or citrus: I suggest using regular or Meyer lemons for this recipe. I've tested it with both and loved it. However, you could definitely try this with limes, grapefruit, or oranges. I haven't tested them, but if you want to, go for it!
Best Tips and Knowledge to make the best easy lemon bars with shortbread crust
- Stand Mixer: I make my dough from scratch and I use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. You could do this with a handheld mixer or even potentially a food processor or blender.
- Bake Time: Now, this is the difference of a very gooey top or set top. You 100% need to be keeping your eyes on the oven to make sure they don't overcook. But again, if they brown a little, no worries, you can coat in powdered sugar! It may jiggle just the slightest and that's okay.
- Cooling: You definitely need to cool them outside the fridge first for at least 1 hour. Then move to the fridge for about 1-2 hours to chill. I personally love to keep mine in the fridge so they are nice and cool when I go to eat them! I serve them chilled and keep them in the refrigerator for up to one week. Or you can keep or serve them at room temp, but only for about 2-3 days.
- Parchment Sling: Use a parchment sling to have an easy pull of the lemon bars out of the pan. And makes it much easier to then lay out to slice nicely.
- Cutting Lemon Bars: To get a nice clean cut, run the knife under warm water and wipe with a towel between each slice.
- Zester: If you don't have a zester, you can use a small side of a cheese grater.
- Metal vs. Ceramic/Glass Pan: You might hear arguments against metal pans because of the acid and metal. However, if your parchment sling is in place and your pan is safely coated, you should be fine and no metallic taste..
- Storing: Can be stored air-tight in the refrigerator for up to one week.
FAQs about Lemon Bars
I personally haven't tried other citrus with this yet, but it should be a similar process. You are more than welcome to try it out.
Yes! You will need to put them in something airtight before freezing. But then when you thaw, it's best to thaw in the fridge overnight and you may need to dab with a dry paper towel to get rid of extra moisture.
Sift lots and lots of powdered sugar on top. Lemon bars are moist on top. So dab with a paper towel and then add tons of powdered sugar. Also, adding sliced lemons or candied lemons can be beautiful!
Other Treats to Try
- Mixed Berry Pie
- Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies
- Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies
- Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Snickerdoodle Cookies
- Stand Mixer
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 eggs large
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup lemon juice
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- lemons sliced
- Preheat the oven to 325° F. Line the bottom of an 8x8" pan with parchment paper. Make sure the paper hangs over the sides so you can pull up the bars from the pan later, making it easier to cut the bars.
- In your stand mixer with a paddle attachment mix together the sugar, flour, and salt until thoroughly mixed. Add in the butter and vanilla and mix. It will be thick and crumbly. Press into the pan using a bottom of a measuring cup or flat-bottomed drinking glass. You want this to be packed in tight and even.
- Prick with fork about 10-15 times across the crust. Bake for 16-18 mins should not be browned yet.
- Make the filling while the crust bakes. In a large bowl or stand mixer, sift together your flour and sugar. Then in whisk the eggs, lemon juice and zest, and whisk until smooth.
- Pour the lemon mixture over warm crust and bake for another 20-22 mins, the middle should no longer jiggle (maybe just the slightest of jiggles).
- Remove from oven and let cool at room temperature, about 1-2 hours.
- When the bars are cooled, you can move them to the refrigerator another 1-2 hours until chilled.
- Once they are completely chilled, you will lift from the parchment paper and put bars on a cutting surface. Cut into squares (or rectangles or triangles). Sift powdered sugar on top or even add lemon slices for decoration.