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Lemon Bars with Shortbread Crust: A Sweet and Tangy Delight

I’ve included some videos below for those who prefer to watch rather than read. If you’re looking for a delightful dessert that’s both simple and impressive, lemon bars with a shortbread crust are a perfect choice.

These bars combine a buttery, crumbly shortbread base with a thick, creamy lemon filling, making them an irresistible treat. Whether you’re planning a picnic, a BBQ, or just a treat at home, these lemon bars will surely be a hit.

Making lemon bars is easier than you might think, requiring only a handful of ingredients and a straightforward process.

You’ll need fresh lemons to capture that vibrant, tangy flavor and a few pantry staples like flour, sugar, and butter. The balance between the sweet shortbread and the tangy lemon curd creates a rich, melt-in-your-mouth experience that everyone will love.

Don’t worry if you’re new to baking—these lemon bars are perfect for beginners.

You can customize them with your favorite toppings or enjoy them plain. With this versatile and crowd-pleasing recipe, your lemon bars will be the star of any gathering.

Exact Ingredients (+ Possible Substitutes)

For making lemon bars with a shortbread crust, you’ll need simple ingredients:

Shortbread Crust:

  • All-purpose flour: 1 1/2 cups
    • Substitute: Gluten-free flour blend (1:1 ratio)
  • Granulated sugar: 1/2 cup
    • Substitute: Powdered sugar (same amount)
  • Salt: 1/4 teaspoon
    • Substitute: Sea salt (same amount)
  • Unsalted butter: 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks), cold and cut into small pieces or grated
    • Substitute: Dairy-free margarine or coconut oil (same amount)

Lemon Filling:

  • Granulated sugar: 1 1/2 cups
    • Substitute: Cane sugar (same amount)
  • All-purpose flour: 1/4 cup
    • Substitute: Cornstarch (same amount)
  • Eggs: 4 large
    • Substitute: Flax eggs (1 tbsp flaxseed meal + 2.5 tbsp water per egg)
  • Fresh lemon juice: 2/3 cup (about 3-4 lemons)
    • Substitute: Bottled lemon juice (though not as fresh)

Tips:

  • Using fresh lemon zest adds extra flavor.
  • Ensure butter is cold to create a flaky crust.
  • Sifting the flour and sugar together helps avoid lumps.

These ingredients make a delicious lemon bar with a balanced sweet and tangy flavor, and a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth crust. Feel free to try the suggested substitutions to fit your dietary needs.

Instructions


  1. Preheat oven
    Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).



  2. Prepare the pan
    Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Allow some overhang for easy removal. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.



  3. Make the crust
    In a mixing bowl, cream 1 cup of softened butter until smooth. Add 2 cups of flour and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar. Mix until it forms a dough.



  4. Press the dough
    Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.



  5. Bake the crust
    Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes or until just starting to turn golden. Remove from the oven and let it cool slightly.



  6. Prepare the filling
    In a large bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar and 1/4 cup flour. Beat in 4 eggs until well combined. Add 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice and mix until smooth.



  7. Pour the filling
    Pour the filling over the warm crust.



  8. Bake again
    Bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until the filling is set and does not jiggle when you gently shake the pan.



  9. Cool and cut
    Allow the bars to cool completely in the pan. Once cool, use the overhang to lift the bars out of the pan. Cut into squares or rectangles.



  10. Dust with powdered sugar
    If desired, dust the top with powdered sugar before serving. Enjoy your lemon bars!


Tips, Tricks & Storing

Tips

  • Use Fresh Lemons: Freshly squeezed lemon juice gives the best flavor. Avoid bottled juice.
  • Room Temperature Eggs: They mix better with other ingredients. Let them sit out for about 30 minutes before using.
  • Prevent Stickiness: Line your baking pan with parchment paper. It makes removal easier and prevents the bars from sticking.

Tricks

  • Pressing the Crust: Use the back of a spoon or your fingers to evenly press the shortbread crust into the pan. Make sure it’s packed tightly.
  • Testing Doneness: When baking the filling, give the pan a gentle tap using an oven mitt. If the center doesn’t jiggle much, it’s done.
  • Cooling Completely: Let the bars cool completely before cutting. It helps set the filling and makes slicing easier.

Storing

  • In the Refrigerator: After cooling, place the lemon bars in an airtight container. They can last up to 4 days chilled.
  • Freezing: If you want to store them longer, wrap each bar in plastic wrap and then place them in a freezer bag. They can last up to a month this way. Thaw in the refrigerator before serving.

Keep these tips and tricks in mind for the best lemon bars every time!

Recipe Variations & Serving Suggestions

Lemon bars can be customized in many ways to suit your taste. Here are a few variations:


  • Berry Lemon Bars: Add fresh blueberries or raspberries to the lemon filling before baking. The tartness of the berries pairs well with the lemon.



  • Coconut Lemon Bars: Mix shredded coconut into the filling or sprinkle it on top before baking for a tropical twist.


You can also adjust the crust:


  • Nutty Crust: Substitute half the flour with ground almonds or pecans to give the crust a nutty flavor.



  • Whole Wheat Crust: Use whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour for a healthier option.


To serve lemon bars, consider these ideas:


  • With Fresh Fruit: Garnish your lemon bars with fresh berries or fruit slices for a colorful and tasty presentation.



  • Ice Cream or Whipped Cream: Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream to add a creamy contrast to the tartness.



  • Powdered Sugar: Dust the tops with powdered sugar for a classic look and extra sweetness.


Making these simple changes can give your lemon bars a new flavor and presentation, keeping them exciting every time you make them.

Benjamin Happy Muncher

Hi, I'm Benjamin. I love cooking, long walks, and my girlfriend! Here you’ll find simple and delicious recipes that you can make in 30 minutes or less.