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Easy Lemon Bars with a shortbread crust and tangy lemon curd filling have the perfect balance of tart and sweet. An easy dessert recipe for spring!

plate of homemade lemon bars on the counter.

Grandma’s Easy Lemon Bars Recipe

This is my grandma’s lemon bars recipe, and it makes the BEST lemon bars ever! These lemon shortbread bars have a buttery shortbread crust topped with a tart lemon curd center and a dusting of powdered sugar on top — the perfect blend with tons of lemon flavor! If you like lemon desserts, you’ll love these easy lemon bars!

My grandma’s recipe is actually called lemon squares, but we always called them bars. Since they’re made in a 9X13 pan and cut into a bar shape, I guess that makes sense.

If you don’t have fresh lemons, get them! You need fresh lemon juice and zest to to give these old fashioned lemon bars an extra burst of lemony flavor, or zing. If you have extra lemon juice, try lemon chicken piccata or lemon blueberry muffins.

lemons, eggs, butter, sugar, salt, powdered sugar and flour.

Ingredients Needed

You only need a few simple ingredients for this classic dessert. Full amounts are in the printable recipe card below.

  • All purpose flour — for the crust and filling
  • Cold butter — to make the buttery crust. I use salted butter, but unsalted butter is fine.
  • Powdered sugar — for the crust and to dust on top
  • Salt — just a pinch to cut the sweetness of the crust
  • White sugar — to sweeten the lemon curd
  • Eggs — large eggs to form the filling
  • Fresh lemons — You will need lemon juice and zest from 3 small or 2 large lemons

You’ll also need a zester, grater or microplane for the lemon zest. If you have a food processor or stand mixer with paddle attachment — great! But you don’t need any fancy cooking gadgets to make lemon bars. Grandma didn’t have them!

How to Make Lemon Bars with Shortbread Crust

Start with cold butter — It’s essential for a flaky crust. Then, use a pastry cutter, 2 knives or forks to cut the butter into the flour and sugar. It will look like lumpy wet sand, but that’s what you want!

cut flour and butter and sugar for shortbread crust with 2 forks

Next, press the crust mixture into the prepared baking pan using your hands or the bottom of a measuring cup. I love using parchment paper because it makes it easy to remove the bars. But, you can grease the pan or use foil if you want.

Make sure the crust is pressed tightly against the sides of the pan in an even layer. It helps keep the lemon curd from spilling over the crust.

pat shortbread crust in pan with hands

While the crust is baking, make the lemon curd in a large bowl. I use a hand mixer on medium speed to mix the filling. You can use a wire whisk or

mix lemon curd filling with mixer for easy lemon bars

When the crust is light golden brown, and the center is firm, it’s done. There may be little air bubbles, but this is totally fine. Pour the filling on the crust right away — as it cools, the crust will shrink a little, and you don’t want filling spilling out over the edge. The filling will be a pale yellow color when it’s done — it’s bright yellow when you slice it!

easy lemon bars baked in pan with parchment paper

I like to sprinkle some sifted powdered sugar over the top of the bars when they’re still warm. This way it sticks to the bars. You can add more before serving, if you want. Let the bars cool down a little, then pop them in the fridge for an hour or so before cutting.

You can try cutting them while they’re still warm, but they’re so much easier after they cool down and firm up. And, they’re cool and so refreshing when you eat them cold!

easy lemon bars with powdered sugar stacked on white plate

Do lemon bars have to be refrigerated?

Yes, they do need to be refrigerated. They keep for about 1 week in an airtight container in the fridge.

How long do lemon bars last in the fridge?

Homemade lemon bars are best if eaten in 3 to 4 days. But, they probably won’t last that long — people eat these right up! You can wrap them up and freeze in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.

Helpful Tips

Be sure to use cold butter so the crust is nice and flaky.

Roll the lemons back and forth on the counter before squeezing to release more juice. Also — zest the lemon before slicing!

Pour the filling over the warm crust straight from the oven. It will shrink a little as it cools, and the filling may run over the edges. A cool crust will also absorb some of the filling, and it won’t be as thick.

Use parchment paper to easily remove the bars from the baking pan.

More Lemon Dessert Recipes

Lemon lovers will enjoy these delicious desserts!

5 from 11 votes

Easy Lemon Bars with Shortbread Crust

By: Dee
Easy Lemon Bars with a shortbread crust and tangy lemon curd filling have the perfect balance of tart and sweet. An easy dessert recipe for spring!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
refrigeration: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 20


For the shortbread crust

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup powdered sugar plus more for dusting on top of bars
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

For the lemon curd filling

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 6 tablespoons lemon juice from about 3 to 4 medium lemons
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest you can use more for extra lemon flavor
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For the shortbread crust

  • Preheat oven to 350℉
  • Prepare a 9X13 baking pan by lining with parchment paper or greasing with cooking spray or butter
  • Cut butter into small squares in large mixing bowl. 
  • Add flour and powdered sugar and use pastry cutter or 2 forks or 2 knives to cut butter into flour mixture until texture is coarse and crumbly
  • Press mixture evenly into prepared cake pan, making sure edges are pressed tightly up against sides of pan
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until light golden brown. While crust is baking, prepare filling 

For lemon filling

  • Add eggs to large mixing bowl, and beat with mixer until slightly foamy
  • Mix in the sugar, 1 cup at a time, then add flour, and mix well
  • Add lemon juice and zest, and mix thoroughly
  • Remove crust from oven, and pour filling evenly over warm crust
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until top is set and springs back lightly when touched. Don’t let the top get too brown 
  • Remove from oven, and run a knife or spatula around the edges of crust while still warm. Sprinkle sifted powdered sugar lightly over crust, if desired, and allow to cool
  • For best results, refrigerate for at least 1 hour before cutting into bars. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Add additional powdered sugar, if desired, before serving



Use cold butter for a flaky crust.
Make sure crust is touching edges of the baking pan to prevent filling from running out.
Don’t wait for crust to cool before topping with filling. Pour filling over crust as soon as it comes out of the oven.


Calories: 225kcal, Carbohydrates: 34g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 24mg, Sodium: 110mg, Potassium: 23mg, Sugar: 23g, Vitamin A: 285IU, Vitamin C: 2.1mg, Calcium: 5mg, Iron: 0.7mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
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easy lemon bars with shortbread crust and powdered sugar topping on white plate

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Recipe published in 2019 and updated in 2024.

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Recipe Rating


  1. John says:

    Easy to make! Even dad can do it! So very lemony! Kids eat them up too!5 stars

  2. James says:

    My daughter has made these twice already. Simple to make and the taste is awesome.5 stars

    1. Dee says:

      That’s wonderful, James! I’m super happy that you liked them! 🙂

  3. Krista says:

    Lemon bars are my favorite! I cannot wait to try yours!5 stars

  4. Erin | Dinners,Dishes and Dessert says:

    These would disappear in our house!5 stars

    1. Dee says:

      I can’t believe how fast they went here!

  5. Jacque says:

    These remind me of what my mom used to make. I can’t wait to give these a try and see how easy they are.5 stars

    1. Dee says:

      I hope you get a chance to try them. Thanks, Jacque!

  6. Jade says:

    These look the perfect bite!5 stars

  7. Cindy Gordon says:

    Lemon bars are a classic dessert. These look like the ones my grandma used to make!5 stars

    1. Dee says:

      Grandma’s recipes are the best! 🙂

  8. Anna says:

    Lemon bars are my favorite! I need to make these soon!

  9. Jennifer says:

    These lemon bars are the BEST!!! SO easy to make too! 🙂5 stars

    1. Dee says:

      Thanks so much, Jennifer! They really are. 🙂