If you LOVE lemon, these Classic Lemon Bars are for you! Tart, velvety lemon curd is balanced by a crisp, buttery shortbread crust. Happiness is only 45 minutes away!
Lemon bars are to dessert what Tigger is to Winnie the Pooh. You’d be hard-pressed to find a friendlier, more accessible, sunshine-y, or more extroverted sweet treat.
The perfect bars for me and my family pack a pucker that’s tamed by a slightly sweet, buttery, and crisp shortbread crust. The lemon curd is firm enough to hold its shape when cut, but still rich and creamy like pudding.
HOW TO MAKE LEMON BARS
Lemon bars are made in two steps: the shortbread crust and the lemon curd filling. Here’s what to do:
- First: Blind bake the crust until it looks dry and is slightly golden around the edges.
- Second: Pour the filling directly onto the warm crust and bake until it’s set, but not spongy. The filling should have very small bubbles across the top and not jiggle.
The baked curd can go from done to over done in a matter of minutes, so it’s important to stay by the oven during the final bake until you know how the recipe performs in your kitchen.
GLASS VS METAL BAKING DISH
If you use a glass baking dish, use the longer cooking times of 25 minutes for the crust and 12 minutes for the curd.
If using a metal baking dish, both the crust and the curd will cook more quickly. Use the shorter cook times of 20 minutes for the crust and 10 minutes for the curd.
HOW TO CUT AND SERVE LEMON BARS
This is really just for clean lines. If you aren’t persnickety about presentation, let the bars cool on the counter for about 20 to 30 minutes then dive in!
If, however, you want that crisp, clean line of shiny yellow curd with each slice, it’s best to do what your mother told you, and practice patience:
- Cool the bars on the wire baking rack for 30 minutes, followed by 30 additional minutes uncovered in the refrigerator.
- Once cold, run your knife around the edge of the pan. Use the parchment sling to lift the entire slab of lemon bars onto a cutting board.
- Use a long knife to cut your desired lemon bar shape—squares, rectangles, or triangles. For uniform shapes, trim the outer edge by 1/8 of an inch before cutting into bars.
- When cutting, don’t drag the knife through the bars. Press from the top down. Wipe your knife clean between slices.
Dust with powdered sugar just before serving. If you dust with sugar too early, the sugar will absorb into the bars and look slimy.
HOW TO STORE LEMON BARS
If you’re planning to eat your lemon bars same day, then by all means put them in a container on the counter, and nibble away to your heart’s content.
However, if you want to make them ahead and take them to a friend’s place, then it’s best to follow a few rules.
To Take to a Party
- Keep the entire pan, uncut, in the fridge for three days. Cover with foil.
- Cut and dust with powdered sugar just before heading to your soiree!
To Store at Home
- Cut into shapes.
- Store in the fridge in a single layer in a container with a lid for up to five days. If you need to layer them, put a sheet of parchment paper between layers.
- Dust with powdered sugar on an as-needed basis.
HOW TO FREEZE LEMON BARS
If you’d like to freeze lemon bars for later, place the baked and cooled lemon bars in a single layer inside your container; cover with a sheet of parchment paper; then add a second layer. Followed by another piece of parchment. The parchment prevents ice crystals from forming on the curd. Don’t add more than two layers, or you could smoosh the tender lemon curd.
Frozen lemon bars will keep for up to one month. To thaw, put them in the fridge or set them on the counter for about 40 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving.
TROUBLESHOOTING LEMON BARS
Why is my lemon curd grainy?
- In the case of baked lemon bars, the most likely culprit is unincorporated flour. Whisk well, my friends. Whisk well.
Why didn’t my lemon curd set? Why is my curd runny?
- If you doubled the recipe and didn’t adjust the cooking time appropriately.
- You didn’t let it cool long enough. Curd continues to firm up as it cools.
- For this recipe, we’re adding flour to the curd, and baking it. Both things help the curd hold its shape.
- If you are curious about unbaked curd, check out our Lemon Curd recipe for more information.
How can I make the lemon curd layer more firm?
- The best way to firm up lemon curd is to cool it. Place it in the fridge.
- If you’ve already baked it, already cooled it, and it’s still not firm, tell everyone you meant to do that, and serve it in bowl with a dollop of whipped cream! OR start over, add an extra tablespoon of flour to the curd, and bake it for longer.
LOVE LEMON? WE’VE GOT YOU COVERED!
- It’s always a good idea to keep a jar of Lemon Curd on hand.
- Pillowy Lemon Meringue Pie might be calling your name!
- Step into the savory side with Meyer Lemon Risotto!
- Try this utterly delicious Lemon Pound Cake.
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