lemon bars

by Patricia on August 18, 2010 · 14 comments

lemon bars

Dear friends, I made lemon bars. I made them and I ate them and ate them. And then I sent them away.

Truth: I cannot be left alone with an entire batch of lemon bars.


It all started when a friend gave us a bag of lemons. I love lemons. But I was paralyzed by the question: what do you do with that many lemons?

A few options that came to mind:

My original thought was to make lemon marmalade but I wanted something quick. These weren’t Meyer lemons so it’s probably for the best anyway.

Then it hit me: lemon bars.

I looked up my trusty old recipe and soon discovered 2 issues:

  1. it used a 13×9 inch pan but mine exploded a few weeks ago.
  2. it only called for 2 lemons and I had lots

But I’m better than that. I’m not going to let silly things like that stand in my way. I came up with a creative solution for the pan issue, and started thinking of other ways to use the rest of the lemons.

making lemon bars

Part 1 of the creative pan solution: an 8×8 inch pan.

making lemon bars

Part 2 of the creative pan solution: a mini cheesecake pan that I received as a gift several years back and have used maybe twice before. I hate to have things sit around unused so this was a perfect plan.

It’s a neat pan, sort of like a muffin tin with holes in the bottom and little circles that fit over the holes (so you can push out the cheesecakes or whatever you make in it).

making lemon bars

I even cut out parchment circles to fit it. What does that say about me?

Nevermind my idiosyncrasies…

Let’s make some lemon bars:

First, let’s pretend that the 8×8 pan I’m using is really 13×9, mm’kay?

(Side note: In case you are interested, the mini cheesecake pan held about half the recipe (or a little less) and baked for a few minutes less… I started checking on it halfway through the baking time).

Line your pan with foil, leaving a little extra hanging over the short ends (you’ll use this as a handle to lift it out of the pan later). Lightly grease the foil (nonstick cooking spray is good for this) and set the pan aside.

making lemon bars

Mix together 1 1/2 cups flour

making lemon bars

and 1/2 cup sugar.

making lemon bars

Cut up 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) of cold butter and add it to your bowl.

making lemon bars

Using a pastry blender or your fingers or a food processor, cut the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs. Very much like when making pie crust or biscuits.

making lemon bars

This is what I mean by “coarse crumbs”.

making lemon bars

Press this into your pan to form the crust.

You probably want to take off your rings before doing this. Otherwise, you might press your engagement ring into the crust and turn it into a buttery-floury mess. But you know what? It’s not the end of the world, just a little messy.

Bake the crust for 15-17 minutes at 350 degrees or until it is lightly browned.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…


In theory you will use 2 lemons. My lemons were so big I only used 1.

making lemon bars

Zest your lemon(s) until you have about 1 tablespoon of zest.

making lemon bars

Juice your lemon(s) until you have about 1/3 cup. That was one big lemon… (also, I’m no hand model).

making lemon bars

Put the eggs into the bowl of your mixer (or into a mixing bowl if you don’t have a mixer).

making lemon bars

Beat on medium high speed until eggs are thick and lemon-colored, about 3 minutes… if you don’t have a mixer, you can use a whisk and some muscle.

Turn the mixer to low and add 1 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, the lemon zest and juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. Beat until combined.

Pour this over the warm crust and then bake it for another 15 minutes or until the filling is just set and golden around the edges.

lemon bars

Sift powdered sugar over the top while it is still warm. Then let it cool on a wire rack.

lemon bars

Once it is cool, remove from pan using your foil handles.

lemon bars

Cut into squares or bars, enjoy 1 or 2, and then pack up the rest to send away. You’ll thank me later.

Lemon Bars

adapted from Good Housekeeping Baking

This is one of those go-to recipes that you pull out again and again. And it never disappoints.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), cold and cut into small pieces

Zest of 1 large lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
1/3 cup lemon juice (about 1-2 lemons)
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Powdered sugar for dusting the top.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13″ x9″ baking pan with foil, extending it over the edge of the pan. Lightly grease the foil.
  2. Make the crust: Combine flour and sugar. With a pastry blender, food processor or your fiingers, cut in butter until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Sprinkle dough evenly into the prepared pan and pat firmly into the bottom. Bake 15-17 minutes or until lightly browned.
  4. Make the filling: In the bowl of a mixer, beat eggs until thick and lemon-colored, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low; add lemon zest and juice, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Beat until blended, scraping bowl occasionally.
  5. Pour the lemon filling over the warm crust. Bake 15 minutes or until the filling is just set and golden around the edges. Cool on a wire rack.
  6. While still warm, sift powdered sugar over the top.
  7. When cool, remove from pan using the foil (lift using the foil hanging over the edges of the pan). Cut into squares, bars, or whatever size you like. Enjoy!

See also:

Lemon Bars on FoodistaLemon Bars


1 stacy September 19, 2010 at 7:00 pm

I accidentaly stumbled here, luv it lot……I am big fan of lemon juice but never thought of cooking it like you. I know lemons is rich in vitamin C and I eat a whole variety of fruits everyday, even on an empty stomach so as to detoxify myself. But if I bake the fresh fruit, all nutrients will die…. and i will feel guilty to make a seemingly fancy sugary bar

2 TeresaC August 23, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Lemon happens to be my favorite fruit. I drink a glass of warm lemon water every morning to kickstart my metabolism. Love the lemon bar recipe. I have never baked anything like that before so I’m going to try. Thanks for the recipe and what a lovely blog you’ve got!

3 Meagan August 23, 2010 at 9:28 am

My last batch of lemon squares was a complete disaster, but this makes me want to try them again!

4 Maria August 21, 2010 at 7:54 pm

One of my favorite summer treats!

5 Zana December 2, 2012 at 3:21 am

This is my favorite lemon bar rpceie, probably of any I’ve ever had OR made. I love that they are zingy with lemon zest, buttery and not too sweet. Thanks so much for the rpceie! Though I do love chocolate, lemon desserts speak to me more and more as I get older

6 Pam August 20, 2010 at 11:13 am

These are fabulous. You made me laugh out loud with the parchment paper thing and your idiosyncrasies! The pans are a great thing, lemons even better and you did it all perfectly. So glad to find you and thanks for the laugh!

7 Jessica August 19, 2010 at 2:35 pm

I have to make these for me and Hubby! He loves anything lemon!

8 Rachel Cotterill August 19, 2010 at 1:09 pm

I’m loving the sound of these. I love any kind of lemon cake :)

9 Alison August 19, 2010 at 9:55 am

I’m the exact same way. Lemon-flavored desserts have some kind of power over me that I just can’t explain! Sometimes my Nonny and I will make Lemon Bars and eat them all within a few hours. Alarming.

10 Michelle August 19, 2010 at 8:12 am

I am totally making these today for the Rotary fund raiser on Saturday, are you guys gonna be in Arnold? There is a music/wine festival thing in town… and by the way your hands look great!!

11 Eliana August 19, 2010 at 6:31 am

I have no will power around anything lemon either. If I had these in front of me I would totally be tempted to eat an entire batch. they look awesome.

12 Evan @swEEts August 19, 2010 at 6:06 am

I’ve been looking for a good lemon bars recipe and now I have one! They look delicious.. and I’m like you, there’s no way I could eat just one!

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