5-Ingredient Lemon Bars

This easy lemon bars recipe is made with 5 ingredients, including lots of freshly-squeezed lemon juice to make these lemon squares nice and tangy and not overly sweet.

Lemon Bars

Raise your hand if you grew up loving lemon bars!

Meeeeee too. ♡♡♡

Granted, I’ve long been the girl who will make a beeline for lemony anything on a dessert table.  But back in the days of church basement potlucks and summery picnics and bake sales galore, these classic lemon bars (or as they were also called, “lemon squares”) were always my absolute faves.  I’ve always loved the balance of the rich and buttery shortbread crust paired with that famous creamy lemon filling.  And over the years, I’ve tinkered around with the recipe until I’ve learned how to make these lemon bars just the way I like them — perfectly tangy and lemony, not overly sweet, and made with the perfect ratio of flaky shortbread to creamy filling.

Best of all, I’ve also simplified the recipe down to just 5 easy ingredients with 15 minutes of prep time.  So you can whip up a quick batch anytime you’re feeling those lemony dessert vibes to share with those you love!

We’ve actually already baked up a few batches this spring to take to various parties and share with friends here in Barcelona.  And — as continues to be our experience as expats here — it has been so fun getting to introduce our European friends to the magic that is lemon bars for the first time!  Our neighbor lady who runs an antique store down beneath our flat actually confessed to us last week that she ate the entire plate of lemon bars that we brought her before they made it back home to her husband.  And another friend immediately begged me for an “American baking lesson” to teach her how to make them for herself.  And yet another friend has already requested them for a party next week.  Clearly, the whole world loves a good lemon bar.  ;)

So grab a handful of fresh lemons, and let’s bake up a batch of this sunshiny dessert together!

5-Ingredient Lemon Bars Recipe | 1-Minute Video

Easy Lemon Bars Ingredients

Easy Lemon Bars Ingredients:

These lemon bar ingredients couldn’t be easier!  You simply need the following 5 ingredients:

  • Fresh lemons: We will use both the zest and the juice of fresh lemons for this recipe.  (If you don’t already have a good lemon juicer, I’m obsessed with this one!)
  • Eggs: Four large ones, which will serve as part of our filling.
  • Butter: Nice and cold, which we will cut into the flour to make our shortbread crust.
  • Powdered sugar: We will use a bit for the crust and more for the filling.  If you have the time, I recommend sifting your powdered sugar through a fine-mesh strainer when adding it to the filling to prevent lumps.  (<– But it will still be delicious and just fine even if a few lumps sneak in there!)
  • Flour: Just a few tablespoons, to help the lemon filling set up.  I also recommend sifting the flour along with the powdered sugar to be sure that it’s not clumpy.

How To Make Lemon Bars

How To Make Lemon Bars:

To make this lemon bars recipe, simply:

  1. Make the crust.  Either in a food processor (the easiest method!) or by hand (also works just fine), mix the crust ingredients together until they form a fine crumbly texture.  Pour the mixture into a parchment-lined 8-inch square baking pan, then press it in firmly to form an even layer of crust.  And bake for 20 minutes until golden.
  2. Make the filling. Meanwhile, as your crust is baking, whisk all of your filling ingredients together in a mixing bowl until combined.  Try not to over-mix, to avoid having a million bubbles rise to the top of your filling.  (<– But if that happens, or if your powdered sugar is too chunky, feel free to just pour the filling through a fine-mesh strainer to get it nice and smooth again.)
  3. Pour the filling on the hot crust.  Alright, timing is important with the next step!  As soon as you pull the hot shortbread crust out of the oven, go ahead and pour the filling mixture onto the crust immediately.  The eggs in the filling will immediately begin to cook and form a seal between the crust and the rest of the filling, which will prevent your crust from getting soggy.
  4. Bake again.  Then go ahead and pop the pan back in the oven for about 20 minutes.  You don’t want the lemon filling layer to get too golden or puff up to where it cracks — you just want it to bake long enough so that it sets.
  5. Chill the bars.  Then remove the pan from the oven and let it cool for awhile on a baking rack, followed by a few hours to chill in the refrigerator.  Dust with extra powdered sugar on top if you would like.  Then slice, serve, and enjoy!

The Best Lemon Bars Recipe

Possible Variations:

Want to customize your lemon bars recipe?  Feel free to:

  • Use Meyer lemons: Lemon bars are also delicious when made with rich Meyer lemons in place of traditional lemons.
  • Use a different kind of citrus (or a blend): These bars can also be made instead with fresh lime juice, fresh orange juice or fresh grapefruit juice.  Or, feel free to combine your favorite citrus fruits too.
  • Skip the powdered sugar: Classic lemon bars are usually dusted with powdered sugar.  But if you’re looking to cut down on the sweetness of this dessert, feel free to skip that step altogether.

5-Ingredient Lemon Bars

More Favorite Dessert Recipes:

Looking for more spring and summer dessert recipes?  Here are a few of my faves:

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Lemon Bars
4.6 from 9 reviews

5-Ingredient Lemon Bars

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 16 bars 1x

Description

This easy lemon bars recipe is made with 5 ingredients, including lots of freshly-squeezed lemon juice to make these lemon squares nice and tangy and not overly sweet.


Scale

Ingredients

Shortbread Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cold butter, diced
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon

Lemon Filling Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. Combine all of the crust ingredients in a food processor.  Pulse until the mixture reaches a fine crumble consistency.  You want the butter to be well combined, but to stop before the mixture turns into a ball.  (Alternately, you can combine the crust ingredients together in a mixing bowl with a pastry cutter or a fork.)
  3. Sprinkle the crust mixture evenly into the prepared pan.  Then press the mixture down firmly to form an even layer.
  4. Bake the crust for 20 minutes, or until it is lightly golden on top.
  5. Meanwhile, whisk the lemon filling ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl until combined.  If your powdered sugar or flour are too chunky or there are lots of bubbles whisked into the filling, feel free to just pour the filling through a fine-mesh strainer to get it nice and smooth before adding it to the crust.  (But if there are a few little clumps, that’s ok too!)
  6. Once the crust is done baking, remove the pan from the oven and immediately pour the lemon filling on top of the hot crust.  Return the pan to the oven and bake for 18-20 more minutes*, or until the lemon filling has set.
  7. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer to a wire baking rack to cool until the bars reach room temperature.  Then transfer to the refrigerator and let the bars chill for at least 2 hours.
  8. Sprinkle the tops of the bars with extra powdered sugar*, if you would like, then slice and serve!

Notes

*If baking these bars in an 9 x 9-inch baking dish, cooking time will be a few minutes less.

*If you would like to add on decorative lemon slices, I recommend adding them just before serving since the lemon juice soaks out fairly quickly into the powdered sugar topping.  To minimize the juiciness of the lemons, I blotted my lemon slices briefly on a paper towel before adding them to the bars. :)

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5-Ingredient Easy Lemon Bars

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18 comments on “5-Ingredient Lemon Bars”

  1. I remember… my fancy Aunt Cathy made a large plare of luscious Lemon Bars for us children every Easter. I can still see the pretty plate she used forty+ years ago.
    I know what I’m making next month 😉 , and probably this week… .

  2. I just made these, and I’ll admit I did not strain my filling. I’ve never made lemon bars before, but these have small white spots across the top. Is this normal and a product of my not straining? Or did something go horribly wrong?

    • Ah, it may just be that the powdered sugar or flour was a little bit clumpy. Nothing horribly wrong at all — they should still taste great! :)

  3. My all time favorite. I love anything with lemons.

  4. You and Barclay must be delightful neighbors, gifting lemon bars like that! These look AMAZING. I always pin every one of your recipes, so I thought it was about time I said thank you so much for your beautiful, cheerful, inspiring blog and recipes! You are one of my favorite food bloggers (and I follow a lot of food blogs!). Thanks, Ali!

  5. 4 stars
    Easy, delicious and beautiful on a platter! Spring in a pan! I do recommend straining the mixture.

  6. Oh a lot of love for lemon bars over here! They look so yummy, I loved the about adding on decorative lemon slices too! Little Tips and hints like this go a long way in cooking, baking and all things kitchen right? Thanks for sharing the recipe and pictures look amazing. Have a great week… p.s ill be back with a rating when I have made them :P

  7. I haven’t had lemon bars in YEARS. Will definitely be making a plan to bake these soon as the recipe looks so easy and the bars look delicious!

  8. 5 stars
    these turned out perfect! They have the perfect lemon flavor without being too sweet like most lemon bars. I can always count on your recipes being perfect! I have made so many from your site and they never disappoint. Thanks!

  9. 5 stars
    The tamale recipes are fantastic. The Asian slaw is to die for

  10. 5 stars
    My husband just made these for our Easter dinner tomorrow and wow, they are absolutely gorgeous. We could not wait, so we had a small sample and we were not disappointed. Thank you :)

  11. 4 stars
    Usually, lemon bars are too sweet for me. The filling in these is PERFECT. I needed 3.5 regular lemons. My batter was a bit lumpy, but I didn’t want to deal with the strainer, so I poured it in the food processor, pulsed a few times, and then let it rest so the bubbles could pop.

    I had an issue where the filling went down the sides of the pan and seeped along the bottom. Did I let the crust bake too long? It wasn’t browning, so I left it about 25 minutes and noticed it had pulled away from the edges a bit. Perhaps I should try 375 instead?

    I will say that you DEFINITELY want to use parchment paper – the filling that leaked out was absolutely glued to the pan and I’m sure non-stick spray would have nothin’ on it!

    I gave this 4/5 stars because of my issues. I will DEFINITELY be trying these again, and would love your advice!!! :D

    Thanks for a great recipe! Just as easy as those boxed mixes, and WAY tastier.

  12. 3 stars
    The crust here came out too thick for my liking. It was thicker than the lemon filling and overwhelmed the bar. Next time, I’d make in a larger pan. But the lemon filling was nice and tangy.

  13. 5 stars
    This was my first time making lemon squares and they turned out fabulous! Everybody loved them. I will be making these again, that’s for sure. Thanks for the recipe!

  14. Can i use limes instead of lemons?

  15. This is amazing. There’s nothing the like the lemon flavor in this. Limited ingredients but a punch of flavor.

  16. 5 stars
    You had me at lemon bars! These are amazing and I love how easy they are to make. The more lemon, the better!

  17. 5 stars
    Sooo good! I grew up in Southeast Asia so baking was not a big part of our cooking. I love cakes/cookies with lemon in it! Going to give this recipe a go!