Classic Easy Meyer Lemon Bars With Shortbread Crust
Lemon bars - crisp, buttery shortbread crust and creamy lemon curd filling, make this classic a popular favourite. This is a simple recipe. From making the crust in the food processor to just whisking and pouring your filling into the pan (no mixer needed). They bake up beautifully with the nicest lemony filling that is just enough tart and sweet - not too sweet, but just enough to meet the tartness right in the middle. These were a total hit with my family - they were gone so fast and they thought these were just the best lemon bars. I was hoping to save one for a friend of mine who adores lemon bars but not this batch. None made it alive after a day. Another batch is definitely in order soon. Make sure and make one for yourselves as well - you will love this easy lemon bars recipe. They are the most perfect lemony sweet treat or dessert.
Lemon Bar Ingredients:
I love this lemon bar recipe because not only is it simple to make with a delicious filling with a buttery press in crust but it also requires just a few ingredients. Here is what you will need:
- Butter: I use chilled butter that I cut into he dry ingredients like you would with a pie crust. It is the base of the shortbread crust. I have been told that some make this recipe using melted butter stirred into the dry ingredients but I have not tried it.
- Sugar: I used a combination of confectioners sugar and granulated sugar. the sugar sweetens the crust and lemon curd filling layers. Feel free to skip the confectioners sugar and use only granulated if you prefer. I reduced the amount of sugar by 1/4 cup in the filling from the original recipe because I like my Bars more tangy then overly sweet but feel free to increase to 1 cup in total for a sweeter filling.
- Flour: I used all purpose flour in the base and the filling. It is needed to give structure to the filling. I have never used Gluten free 1-1 flour in the filling before but it works great for the crust and should work in the filling too.
- Vanilla Extract: I use just a splash of pure vanilla extract in the short bread crust to add just a bit of extra flavour.
- Salt: I like to do a very small pinch in both the crust and the filling to balance out the sweetness.
- Eggs: Eggs are basically what provides the entire structure for the filling so in this recipe they cannot be replaced. My original version of this recipe called for 4 eggs and 1 yolk for and ultra rich filling. I have experimented a lot with this recipe and have come to the conclusion that only 3 eggs are needed for a deliciously balanced filling that is not too rich but rich enough with a nice citrusy sweet zing.
- Lemon Juice & Zest: Freshly squeezed lemon juice and zest is always best for lemon bars. I used Meyer lemon the first time I made these and loved it but these are equally delicious with any variety of lemons or any kind of citrus for that matter like oranges, limes and grapefruit. I really like adding zest to my filling because it really intensifies the flavour of the lemon in the filling. that is optional and for aesthetics some chose to leave it out and that is totally fine.
How to make Lemon Bars:
- Prepare the crust: I use a food processor but you can definitely use a pastry cutter or your fingers to prepare the crust.
- Pre-bake the crust: this ensures you don’t get a soggy bottom - a crisp short bread crust that can hold up to the filling
- Prepare the filling: Whisk all of the filling ingredients together just unit nice and smooth. Some like to sift the flour in to ensure no clumps form but that is optional
- Bake: Pour the filling on the warm crust, then bake for around 20-25 minutes or until the center is just about set.I usually start checking it after the 15-18 minute mark. I recommend you do that too as oven temperatures vary.
- Cool: cool the lemon bars on a rack until they are room temperature then wrap and chill then in the fridge for 1-2 hours until set. Slice them while they are chilled and serve them cold or allow to come to room temperature. dust with powdered sugar of you wish.
Tips, Storage & Freezing:
- AIR BUBBLES ON TOP OF BAKED LEMON BARS: The air bubbles on top of the baked lemon bars are completely normal. It’s the air from the mixture rising to the surface. They come from the air of the beaten eggs. They rise to the surface when the eggs cook in the filling. Regardless, the lemon bars taste the same and after dusting them with confectioners’ sugar the bubbles won’t be visible. You can try to gently whisk or stir the eggs and filling trying to reduce the amount of air incorporated but its one of those things that if you don’t beat them enough your eggs won’t be incorporated enough and you definitely don’t want that.
- WHAT PAN IS BEST FOR BAKING LEMON BARS: I have heard that using metal pans lends a bit of metallic flavour to the lemon filling in the bars. That makes sense because acidic things do affect food cooked in reactive cookware but I really didn’t notice it when I used my coated metal pan. Lining the pan with parchment paper definitely will help if you only have a metal pan to use otherwise you can use a glass baking dish or a ceramic one as well.
- HOW TO STORE LEMON BARS: Cover and store leftover lemon bars in the refrigerator for up to 1 week
- FREEZE: Lemon Bars are freezer-friendly: Once they are cooled, place cut bars in a single layer in a tray and freeze for 1 hour. Then cover each bar individually tightly with aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap. Place into a large bag or freezer container to freeze. Freeze for up to three months. Before serving, remove them from the freezer and let them thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Sprinkle with Confectioners’ sugar before serving, if desired.
- CAN I MAKE THESE BARS INTO A LEMON CURD TART: Absolutely you can. You can easily make these in a 9 inch round tart pan with a removable bottom. Same baking time same measurements just in tart form.
- This recipe can easily be doubled and made in 9x13 pan
If you love these lemony bars you will love these recipes too:
- Lemon Ricotta Cake
- Lemon Ricotta Cookies
- Lemon Bundt Cake
- Gluten Free Lemon Custard Cream Tart With Swiss Meringue
- Easy Lemon Almond Madeleines With a Raspberry Glaze
- Mango Tart/Bars
For the crust
- 1¼ cup all purpose flour
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- pinch of salt
- 10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tsp lemon zest (optional)
For the filling
- 3 eggs room temperature
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 tablespoons Meyer lemon zest (or any variety of lemons). This is optional
- ½ cup Meyer fresh lemon juice (or any variety of lemons)
- A pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar for dusting after they are baked
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- Grease or Line an 8 x 8 square baking pan (glass pan or ceramic baking dish preferably) with parchment paper then spray with nonstick spray.
- In the bowl of a food processor add the flour, the lemon zest, both sugars and salt and pulse to combine.
- Add the butter and vanilla and pulse until the dough comes together.
- Empty out the dough from the food processor into the prepared pan and gently press the dough into it and bake for 20 minutes.
- While the crust is baking, make the filling.
- In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar, flour, lemon zest, lemon juice and pinch of salt.
- Carefully pour the filling over the warm crust and bake for another 20-22 minutes or until the filling is just barely set. (I start checking at the 18 minute mark)
- Allow the lemon bars to cool at room temperature then wrap with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to cool and set completely for at least 1-2 two hours or overnight before cutting and serving.
- Cut the bars and allow them to come to room temperature before serving or serve right from the fridge dusted with powdered sugar and with slices of meyer lemon before serving. (For easy removal make sure to use a knife around the edges to release them from the pan.)
- Making the crust without a food processor: You can easily mix everything with your fingers or a pastry cutter or You can melt the butter and then mix the melted butter, sugar, vanilla extract, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the flour and stir to completely combine. Transfer dough to prepared pan and press firmly into bottom of prepared pan then bake as directed.
- Sifting the flour into the eggs will create a smoother filling
- This recipe can easily be doubled and made in 9x13 pan
Adapted from Chatelaine and Amanda Frederickson