Perfect Lemon Bars

For a very, very long time, I’ve been on the search for The Perfect Lemon Bar. There are just certain times when lemon bars, and only lemon bars, will do. In Brian’s words regarding lemon bars, “I never, ever crave lemon bars but when they are in front of me, I can’t stop eating them.” I, on the other hand, do crave lemon bars. I remember with fondness growing up and making lemon bars nearly every Sunday, or so it seemed, and then stuffing my face with half the pan while watching Anne of Green Gables and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers week after week after week. But as I’ve grown up and matured just oh, so much, the lemon bars of my youth needed a slight upgrade to more lemon flavor and a more delicate crust (although I am still happy watching AofGG and Seven Brides over and over and over; my poor boys).

After tweaking my mom’s recipe, I realized it was surprisingly close to the Cook’s Illustrated recipe at which point I called off the search. I’d found The One.

Perfect Lemon Bars

These lemon bars have a wonderfully substantial ratio of crust to filling. I just can’t get enough of that buttery, tasty shortbread (made even more tender with the surprising addition of a bit of cornstarch). And while the lemon filling is perfectly and very robustly lemon, it doesn’t overpower in a way that makes you think “wow, I’m not going to be able to eat anything lemon for a week!” after tasting one. The play of lemon and sugar and eggs really works resulting in a delightfully creamy, fresh, lemony filling. Yum.

As a sidenote, in my search for The Lemon Bar, I tried a highly recommended recipe by Ina Garten. While I have nothing against her and don’t like throwing anyone under the recipe bus, so to speak (I kind of want to be her when I grow up, in fact), her lemon bar recipe, for me, was sickly sweet (3 cups of sugar!) and too tart. This version, right under my nose thanks to my mom and CI, is perfectly perfect.

Perfect Lemon Bars

One Year Ago: Make-Ahead Sausage and Egg Breakfast Bake
Two Years Ago: Blueberry Fool
Three Years Ago: Perfect Corn on the Cob

Perfect Lemon Bars

Yield: Makes 9X13-inch pan of bars

Perfect Lemon Bars


    For the Crust:
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar, plus extra to sprinkle on bars
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons butter (1 1/2 sticks), at cool room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • For the Filling:
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, from 2 large lemons
  • 2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, from 3 to 4 large lemons
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • Pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)


  1. Place an oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9X13-inch baking pan with foil or parchment paper and lightly grease the foil/parchment.
  2. Stir together the flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, and salt (this can be done in a food processor or in a large bowl by hand). Add the pieces of butter and cut the butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender, two knives or your fingers (taking care not to melt the butter too much - you might try freezing the butter and grating it into the dry ingredients on the large holes of a box grater) or process in the food processor for 8 to 10 seconds and then as needed until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared pan and press into an even layer on the bottom and about 1/2-inch up the sides of the pan. Refrigerate for 15-30 minutes. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
  3. For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, salt, and flour in a medium bowl and then stir in the lemon zest, juice and milk to combine.
  4. Pour the filling onto the warm crust (it's important that the crust is still warm!) and reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake for about 18-20 minutes until the filling feels slightly firm to the touch. Cool the bars to room temperature, sprinkle with additional powdered sugar and cut into bars.

Recipe Source: adapted slightly from Cook’s Illustrated (used salted butter instead of unsalted, lowfat milk instead of whole milk, and a few other very minor changes) in combination with my mom’s 40-year old recipe

203 Responses to Lemon Bars {Perfected}

  1. If you put the word perfect before lemon bars, I just have to try them! It´s an elusive recipe, and I think it´s made worse by the difference in the lemons throughout the year. But I love your comments on this one. And they look so perfectly perfect! btw, I agree 100% with your comment about IG recipe.

  2. Lemon bars are my favorite dessert! These look heavenly!

  3. Becky says:

    Yum! My love for lemon is second only to my deep love for chocolate. I’ll totally give these a try!

  4. Jen T says:

    Yum! Lemon bars are one of my family’s favorite! Will give these a try. Thanks!

  5. Tricia` says:

    These look delicious. I will certainly try your recipe.

  6. I have been waiting for you to post this. Lemon bars are my fav! Can’t wait to try this recipe. Thanks!

  7. Gen says:

    This recipe is almost exactly like Emeril’s Super Lemony Lemon Squares. The only difference is he has an optional 2TBS limoncello in the filling, which I’ve never used. And I have to agree, this recipe is really amazing. I, too, like lots of crust and I can’t stop eating these once they’re made. 🙂

  8. Deb says:

    I really do not care for lemon anything, but lemon bars is one thing that I will eat that has lemon in it. Thanks for sharing, I will have to try these for sure.

  9. I love lemon bars but have never tried making them. Now that I have the perfect recipe, I think I’ll have to!

  10. kimberlee says:

    My weakness. So funny how you describe baking something and devouring them while watching weakly shows. I use to bake brownies every Sat and devour half the pan while watching 21 Jump St.
    I tried making lemon bars from scratch. Once. That didn’t go so well. So now I am loyal to Krusteaze. And I tried their recipe suggestion on the box of adding cream cheese to them and they blew my mind. They weren’t cheesecakey so much, like Baker’s Square Lemon Supreme pie. Which I don’t understand why I don’t like because I LOVE cream cheese AND lemon meringue pie. But not that together. So if you ever see the box of Krusteaze in the store, check out the recipe on the back, you should love it. And they also have lime bars. Margaritas anyone?

  11. Teresa R. says:

    I am a huge fan of cooks illustrated cookbooks. A few years ago I bought several on eBay but it seems like I never take time to sit down and look through them. Anyway, my family loves lemon bars and I know these will be great!

  12. Shannon says:

    I agree that it is so hard to find just the right combo for lemon bars and so I had given up on making them. Can’t wait to try these. They sure look perfect!

  13. I don’t even like lemon flavored desserts but these look beautiful and absolutely scrumptious!

  14. Liz says:

    Love lemon bars. Thanks Mel. I think I already copied this one. You offered it a while back. Happy 4th!

  15. Oh yes… lemon bars! Can’t wait to try your recipe!!!

  16. I saw others comment that they never crave lemon bars. I’m not sure I ever crave them either; can only say that I do like them…but then I make them and simply CAN NOT stop eating them! I’ve been making a recipe for, umm, 25 years that friends say are the best. Our recipes differ slightly but both have a lot less sugar than Emeril’s! I’m going to make yours next time; I’m now dying for a taste test comparison!

  17. Caroline says:

    These look divine:) I can’t wait to make them!

  18. Stephanie C says:

    I too crave lemon bars even though I’m a confirmed chocoholic.There are days when even chocolate doesn’t cut it. I’ve used the same recipe for over 25 years but I’ll have to try these, my recipe doesn’t have cornstarch. If it wasn’t so hot & humid today I’d try them right away. So now the craving begins……

  19. tahny says:

    Ok, I don’t know if I love AofGG more or lemon bars?! Eating these beautiful tart, buttery squares while watching my favorite movie series….that IS perfect!!!!

  20. Jordyn says:

    Lemon Bars are one of my favorite desserts! I prefer them with a lemon glaze, though, instead of powdered sugar. I think I might try your bar recipe and replace the powdered sugar on top with a glaze. 🙂

  21. CC says:

    I loved Ina Garten too, but her lemon bar recipe is horrid. Thank you for giving us a new alternative!

  22. I love all things lemony! Especially this time of year! My mom would go crazy for these too! So glad you have the perfect ones for us to make! 🙂

  23. Katie says:

    You named two of my favorite movies of all time. Along with one of my favorite desserts, and this was a perfect post just for me. Can’t wait to try these lemon bars!

  24. Katie says:

    Made these to share with our neighbors tonight. They are perfect! Perfectly sweet, perfectly tart! Loved by everyone!

  25. Amanda_AB says:

    Oh Mel, How you always seem to know what I need on a Wednesday morning. Lemon bars, pure perfection!

    Also wanted to say how very much I love you site. I can always count on your recipes to make delicious meals that my whole family will eat. Thank you for making meal planning easy and very enjoyable…not to mention tasty.

  26. These really do look like the perfect little lemon bars! I want a dozen! … And I ain’t takin’ them to no party.

  27. Michelleou says:

    Hi Mel! These lemon bars look so good! Do you think you can freeze lemon bars, or will it ruin the texture? Also, how long do these stay good at room temperature for or would you recommend storing them in the fridge?

    • Mel says:

      Michelleou – I’ve had bad luck freezing lemon bars so I don’t recommend it. The one time I tried it, the texture was super funky after thawing. I would say these stay good for 2-3 days. I like to store them in the refrigerator.

      • Joanne Kemmerer says:

        Thank you for the warning about freezing. But it is good to know I can make these on Friday. The Open House party is Sunday afternoon.

  28. Lana says:

    Ina Garten is my hero indeed. But there have been a few ‘misses’ I’ve made from her recipe collection. For instance, there was the famous Truffle Butter Pasta debacle of Christmas Eve 2010. FOUL. I guess our palettes can’t agree on everything. So yeah, I don’t think the 3 cups of sugar lemon bars would sit well with me. Nasty.

  29. Emily Marie says:

    I love you for these. I *have* been craving lemon bars, even went out and bought lemons a little bit ago and then didn’t do anything with them because I didn’t have a reliable recipe. So thank you for these, I’m sure they will be perfect!!

  30. Ava says:

    Are lime and lemon bars interchangeable?
    (will try this recipe one day)

  31. Lin says:

    I’ve been on the search for an easy lemon bars recipe and here you are posting one! This is why I love your blog so much 😉

  32. Michelle Garringer says:

    Thanks Mel, i had a bag of lemons in the fridge and was looking for recipe ideas when i saw your post. they turned out EXCELLENT! i’ve had good recipes with shortbread crusts but the cornstarch does bring it to a whole other level of yummy. thanks for the yummy homemade recipes you post 🙂

  33. Charlotte says:

    How did I know you would love Anne of Green Gables?? (did I mention I have an Anne??)–just finding kindred spirits makes lemon bars more delicious–and I’m glad you mentioned Cook’s Illustrated–we just got one for Christmas that I’ve only skimmed, so I may need to move it to my easytoreach cupboard now! 🙂 Best wishes w/ all of the house-improving!

  34. Lia says:

    Thank you for this recipe! I have a summer party to go to tomorrow; I did a search on Pinterest for “lemon”, and this was the best-looking photo of the bunch. : ) I’m glad there’s no butter in the lemon topping – butter should be tucked into flaky little pockets of dough, not makin’ my lemon all butter-flavored. And I just realized this was a recent post! Perfect timing!

  35. Andrea says:

    Thanks for posting these, Mel. I needed to make dessert for the 4th, and I had no lemons but plenty of limes. I reduced the salt a bit, used limes, and added one drop of green food coloring. The lime bars are delicious!

  36. Claire says:

    Okay, your description of Sundays growing up fits mine exactly! I’m so glad you went for a thicker crust – I can’t get enough butter, ever! Thanks again, Mel! “Bless your beautiful hide!”

  37. bluebaker says:

    These look amazing. i’m going to make these next Sunday. The crust in the recipe I currenty use is hard to cut through, so I’m interested in a crust that is a little softer and less brittle. Btw, 3 of your recipes made an appearance at our July 4th bbq- grilled island chicken ( which out-did 1 other meat choice), the sugar cookie bars- I kept the icing white and added red white and blue star sprinkles ( they were so cute),But the grand finale was the red white and blue layered drink, which I made at the last minute , and everyone was already at the table, so when I brought the big, clear pitcher in, they were all amazed. I felt like I was on food network.

  38. Radhika says:

    Love the look of this. Need to make it ASAP. There goes my diet 🙂

  39. Tyler says:

    Thanks for all the recipes. Just wondering….the oven I have here will only fit an 8X8, maybe a 9X9 square glass pan (IT SUCKS!!)….what do you suggest? Cutting the recipe in half just doesn’t seem like it would result in the proper ratios, although that would be the easiest it seems….any help?? Thanks

    • Mel says:

      Hi Tyler – hmmm, that’s a good question. I’d probably halve the recipe and use a 9X9 pan. I think the amounts would be way too much for an 8X8. Even with a 9X9, when you make the crust, eyeball it because you may want to only add 3/4 of it (but I think a full halved recipe of the filling should be fine). Good luck!

  40. Monica says:

    Hi Mel,

    Made the lemon bars today – PERFECT. Perfect amount of tartness versus sweet and I loved the crust! I’ve tried several lemon bar recipes and I think this is THE one!

    Thanks for sharing and hope you had a great weekend –

  41. Alison says:

    Made these for the fourth, delicious! Loved the crust. Definitely my new lemon bar recipe, thanks for sharing.

  42. Sheila says:

    I made these lemon bars for dessert tonight and as with all your recipes, they were delicious! I have made your French Bread Rolls many times. For a family picnic, I decided to use this roll recipe and make pepperoni rolls with it. Oh, the compliments and I am truly expecting Food Network to call me any time now . . . 🙂

  43. Heidi H. says:

    I tried these–and loved love loved them!

    But my crust was not super. I think it must have been due to the butter being too soft. I blended it all in my Ninja, but the butter didn’t crumble evenly and I had spots of good crust and spots of bad crust. I will try grating it next time!

  44. Sophie says:

    Is it okay to use shortening instead of butter with this recipe?

  45. […] desserts and they matched the color theme – double score! I love all of the recipes from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe that I have tried and so although I hadn’t had this recipe before, I knew they would be good. […]

  46. Kimiko says:

    OMG Mel, I just had to come back to this post to let you know how glad I am that you shared this recipe. I’m currently eating these lemon bars right now and they truly are “perfect!” They remind me so much of my mom’s lemon meringue pie. Thank you for my new favorite lemon bar recipe. 🙂

  47. Cammee says:

    My mom never made Lemon Bars, but I had an aunt that made them for family parties. I would eat so many I would be sick. Now they are a staple and I confess, I sometimes have to make them in the winter to satisfy lemon cravings! I can’t wait to try these perfect ones!

  48. Frances says:

    I followed your recipe and just took my lemon bars out of the oven. I can’t wait to try it out! It’s the first time I’ve made lemon bars so… 🙂

  49. Misty says:

    Lemon Bars were the first thing I ever baked by myself! I was 12 years old and SO proud that I made them no less than 50 times in one year, eating most of them before they’d even cooled in the pan. I still have my handwritten/doodled/colored recipe card that I penned when I was 12 and this new recipe will go alongside of it 🙂 Can’t wait to try these!

  50. Laura O says:

    I made these last night and they were heavenly! Just like a ray of sunshine!!

  51. Trinity says:

    I just made these today & they are truly perfect! Thank you so much!!

  52. Ellie says:

    I made these for Labor Day. I wanted them to be the best lemon bars I’ve ever tasted, but I’m not sure they were. Don’t get me wrong – they were very good, but not mind-blowing the way some commenters are saying.

    Love Mel and her recipes. She’s definitely right, though – these are better than the Ina Garten recipe.

  53. rose says:

    hi: i don’t have 9×13, but i have 10×15 pan, do you know if i need to add half recipe to this in order to fit in my pan? thanks.

    • Mel says:

      Rose – I think one and a halving the recipe would actually be too much for your size of pan. If I were you, I’d use aluminum foil to make a barrier inside of your pan to approximate the 9X13-inch size and then just proceed with the recipe as normal..

  54. rose says:

    that’s a good idea. thanks. Rose

  55. Tamitown says:

    I just made the lemon bars. Final cooling period in progress. Crust is aromatic and beautiful. Just like shortcake. My house smells like angels farted. Filling turned out perfect. Perfect balance. Its a countdown til we attack. Dessert may come before dinner. A good sign.

  56. Amanda says:

    Holy Cow….. I made these this morning and OMG…. So good. Just the right amount of lemon. I added 4T extra of butter and used my food processor to make crust. I also added one extra egg white to the filling… Thank you for the wonderful recipe. They sure are addicting.

  57. Richelle says:

    I am not a fan of lemon for dessert. I just don’t really get the sour taste into sweet things. My husband however, is the opposite so he decided to make it one day. Did I mention he does not really cook except for his infamous spaghetti, a.k.a secret sauce comes in a jar? Well, he found your site—thank goodness!! The lemon bars were AMAZING! Just perfect! I am now a fan! Many thanks!!

  58. irene says:

    I made these and presented them to a friend at work. She had originally planned on sharing them, but after her first bite, she covered them up on her desk to keep for herself! Thank you for sharing this great recipe!

  59. Angie says:

    I just made these. The crust is delicious. A basic buttery shortbread. The filling is just the right amount of lemony and sweet. It hasn’t completely cooled, I left it in the oven closer to 30 mins and it is still kinda loose/gooey. Hopefully it firms a tad. I made a raspberry curd and marbled it in the bar. It pairs nicely. Overall, a good recipe worth giving a shot.

  60. Bar Grating says:

    I loved Ina …………………………Thank you for giving us a new alternative!

  61. MARINA hernandez says:

    feliz Año 2014!!! mel…
    Since a find your blog, is a most , that every time i need
    a recipe..i will find it in your blog….i have a small yellow lemon tree at mi house
    that produce a lottt of lemons, and i want a desert recipe for my happy new year family party..and this recipe ….goodness!! The lemon bars were AMAZING! Just perfect!! Many thanks!!

  62. Alison says:

    I made these Lemon Bars for a party recently and I had more than one person come up to me and say – “these are the best Lemon Bars I’ve ever had.”

    I’m making them again this weekend. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  63. Coralie says:

    My new go to recipe, I cut the sugar in the lemon custard by 1/4 ~ amazing, woke up early to make dessert for lunch after church, yes they are that easy!

  64. These are perfect! Just found your website today and made these. Oh my goodness, I can’t wait to try more of your recipes!

  65. Deb says:

    “Perfect” is right! These are delicious and SO easy to make. You won’t find a better lemon bar recipe.

  66. Connie says:

    I really wanted to love these, but unfortunately, my results weren’t as good as the name, picture or description implies. The cookie layer wasn’t as thick as depicted even though I used a 9 x 13 pan. The crust didn’t brown either. The filling was tasty. Keep in mind that powdered sugar “melts away” and must be replenished before service. And, Lemon Bars do not keep so I would recommend making and serving in the same day. I will keep looking because this recipe is NOT perfect, although it was appealing due to less sugar.

  67. Keri says:

    Just made these for a party tomorrow and they turned out pretty good. I personally thought the filling wasn’t quite sweet enough so next time I’ll add a little more sugar or maybe just a little less lemon juice. The crust was amazing though!!

  68. Christine S says:

    Just finished making these up and they are delicious. Technically they need to cool more but I couldn’t resist and I might eat the entire thing by myself. Easy to make and prep. Thank you for sharing!

  69. Melissa says:

    I made these last weekend and they were THE BEST lemon bars ever. I won’t tell you how many I ate. AMAZING!

  70. Joyce says:

    Hi Mel
    I live in Italy and the lemon trees in our neighbourhood are loaded with fruit at the moment so I’ve been making lemon desserts and sweets. Your lemon bars were just delicious and I posted the recipe (which I modified slightly as I preferred a little less sugar) on my blog: Thanks for a really yummy teatime treat.

  71. […] Crust adapted from Martha with filling from Mel […]

  72. DJ says:

    The filling was delicious but the crust was really hard.

  73. xochilt jimenez says:

    I followed the recipe to a T, and mine came out NOT so Perfect :/….When I took them out the top looked firm and how the directions describe…I let it cool for over two hrs then went in to take a bite…First reaction, “ugh gooey and taste like I’m eating a quiche” I don’t think the filling layer cooked all the way, compared to the picture above mine definitely does not looked throughly cooked. This recipe has too much of an egg taste for me, personally. And although I had read reviews about more than 3 eggs on any given lemon bar recipe would taste egg-ish…I still wanted to try this recipe, because of its title…But I believe that next time I will go with a recipe that calls for 2 eggs instead of 4…

    Now I’m facing the decision…

    To put or not to put in back in the over, even though its cooled for 2hrs….Hmm I guess i’ll give it try since the taste wasn’t what I thought it would be.

  74. A Visitor says:

    After hunting on the internet for a recipe that looked like “the” one, I found yours. I just made these. ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS. Thank you

  75. Lisa S says:

    I just made these today for a Spring lunch at work tomorrow. I don’t know what I did wrong but the filling ran underneath the crust and it turned out to be a gooey mess. It’s like I have lemon upside down bars. I lined the pan with parchment and pushed the crust up the sides 1/2 inch like the recipe says. Disappointed that I can’t share these tomorrow.

  76. Lyndi says:

    Made these today and they were fantastic! A friend gave me some beautiful Meyer lemons from her tree and they were perfect for this recipe. Definitely a keeper!
    Next on list my list to try are the crispy burritos. Thanks for sharing!

  77. Kate says:

    I made these for a friend’s birthday and they were a big hit! I had searched for the perfect lemon bar a few years back and given up but I think this is it. I almost made in Ina’s glad I saw this one. Thank you

  78. Lori says:

    These lemon bars are incredible! Thanks, Mel!

  79. […] (you might just need to bake the bars a bit longer).  I adapted the recipe slightly from this recipe, with great […]

  80. Liana H says:

    Mel, these lemon bars are perfect. I made half a batch for Easter yesterday and everyone devoured them! They are simple to make and the taste is amazing! My first attempt at lemon bars were Ina Garten’s recipe but they were terrible! Lucky for me I turned to your website and found the perfect recipe. I knew you would not disappoint. Everything I make from this site tastes awesome. Many thanks!
    Liana from Canada

  81. Mary says:

    Could I halve this recipe to fit an 8×8 inch baking pan? Also, could you describe the consistency of the bottom layer/crust? It says to cut in softened butter till the mixture resembles coarse crumbs but I don’t think softened butter has that effect. Cold butter does. So I’m a little confused about how the crust mixture should look like after cutting in the butter.

    • Mel says:

      Mary – Yes, it can be halved for an 8X8 inch pan although the crust may be a bit thicker. And the texture of the crust is like coarse crumbs, even with the softened butter – it’s just slightly softer to the touch.

  82. Amy says:

    Wow, these look perfect! Just what I have been looking for! Thanks, Mel!

  83. angie says:

    HOLEY MOLEY! These are the BOMB!
    Thank you again for another out of this world recipe!

  84. Kaye says:

    Marvelous! I’d never made lemon bars before. These came together so nicely & were an absolute HIT! This is now a staple recipe for me. Thank you!

  85. viktoriya says:

    Could you use bottled lemon juice? Would the taste be any different?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Viktoriya – I would definitely try and use fresh lemon juice – because the lemon flavor is so predominant, I think the bottled lemon juice will make it taste less fresh (and kind of plasticky).

  86. DeAnn says:

    Thank you for this lemon bar recipe! It is the best I’ve ever made.

  87. Viktoriya says:

    How would you store these?

  88. Michele says:

    Can you substitute anything for cornstarch? Maybe flour…

    • Mel says:

      Michele – Good question but I’m really not sure since I haven’t subbed anything. Worth a try, though. Good luck if you try it.

  89. Mommy Melissa says:

    Just pulled these out, stuck a tooth pick in the center to have a taste of the filling…Yummo! I doubled the recipe and placed in disposable 9×9 pans… We like thick crust and filling… Baked 35 minutes. Sure they will be absolutely amazing tomorrow at work… Thanks for the recipe 🙂

  90. Toby le rone says:

    High, this recipe looks great and I’d love to give it go but I’m in England and we use metric measurements over here. If you know the conversions to grams it would be great if you could post it on here. If not, just tell how many ounces are a cup measurement?

  91. B. J. Apsley says:

    Mel: Just recently discovered your web site and have found lots of recipes I want to try. Today, I wanted to make something special to send to my brother for his birthday and he loves lemon bars. Made these today and the whole family fell in love with these. Definitely a keeper. Can’t wait to try more recipes from this site. Thanks!/bj

  92. Roberta Klink says:

    Why do you have to line your pan with foil/ parchment paper and why do you have to build the crust up 1/2 inch up the sides. I never do that with my lemon bar recipe, which I might assume is equally delicious. I thought yours sounded interesting with the addition of the cornstarch in the crust so I’m going to give them a try, but just wondering why the lining and building of the sides????

    • Mel says:

      Roberta Klink – I always line my pan with foil since it makes for much easier cleanup (especially with the sticky lemon bar filling). I like building up the sides so there is crust encasing a lot of the filling but you don’t have to do that.

  93. janet says:

    just didn’t think very highly of the filling reminded me more of lemon curd than lemon bars. the crust was ok thought might try the crust with a different filling

  94. I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your blog.
    It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to create your theme?
    Great work!

  95. Becky says:

    A couple months ago, I starting baking every week for my husbands employees. (It helps me curb my baking desires and sends away a lot of unneeded sweets since it is only my hubs and I). So far this is the only lemon bar recipe that I have tried that I love. I want to be selfish and eat the whole pan over a few days instead of sending the bars into work with him tomorrow. I have decided to work my way through all of your bar recipes, so next up for everyone are the sugar cookie bars. 🙂

  96. Leonie says:

    I made these yesterday after having disaster after disaster making lemon bars… Lemon omelets anyone? Anyway, this one is perfect. Perfect perfect perfect! My 3 year old loves them and he rarely eats lemon things. I left off the sugar dusting at the end because I prefer them that way. Thank you for this wonderful (and successful) recipe!

  97. Ana says:

    someone made this recipe and tell me if it’s good? Thanks! 🙂

  98. Ana says:

    I made the recipe and the crust turned out hard (gummy) 🙁 What did I possibly do wrong?

  99. Kelly says:

    Love these lemon bars, love that there’s someone else out there who spent their childhood watching Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Thanks for the tremendously delicious recipe! 🙂

  100. Laura says:

    I have just discovered your blog and I am only sad it took me so long! I had a day at home today and had a “Mel’s Kitchen Cafe Baking Day”. I’m not kidding, I went nuts. Made these, Double Chocolate M&M Cookies & French Bread Roll burger buns. Perfect, perfect, perfect – all were completely amazing! Thanks so much for all the wonderful recipes…I can’t wait to try more! =)

    • Mel says:

      Wow, Laura! I wish I was at your house this weekend! That’s an epic day of baking. I’m so happy you are enjoying the recipes!

      • Judi says:

        I tried this recipe it was deli she’s to taste. But when I poured the lemon in the warm crust the crust floated. And the lemon was under the crust and between the parchment paper.

  101. David says:

    I needed a dessert for after a spaghetti dinner. My wife and I both thought “Lemon something”. I searched for lemon bar recipes. They were all so different; anywhere from 1 cup of lemon juice to 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. They, likewise, varied so much in the sugar content.

    Yours were a perfect balance. What sold me on them was the wonderful description you included that explained how you settled on this recipe. I look forward to exploring your other recipes.

    Thanks so much.

    Note: You forgot to include the salt in step 3. 🙂

    • Mel says:

      So glad you loved them, David – and thanks for the heads up on the salt!

      • Briana says:

        Hey Mel –

        These look great and I’m going to make them for a birthday party on Saturday. How far in advance can I make? And, how long can they safely be out of the fridge without going bad?


        • Mel says:

          I’ve made these up to a day in advance and kept them out of the refrigerator for a couple hours (probably longer if it’s not overly warm).

  102. Your recipes are the best, Mel! Today is my son’s birthday and he requested a lemon dessert so I’m headed to the kitchen now to make these. Thanks so much!

  103. yuklan says:

    if I want to make 1/2 a reciepe in a 9 inch square pan would I just divide all the ingrediants in the crust & filling in half or would I use the original amt for the filling
    as I ‘d like to keep the nice balance between the filling & crust, but just in 1/2 the amount?

    • Mel says:

      The surface area of a 9-inch square pan isn’t exactly half of a 9X13-inch pan but it should work pretty well to just divide everything in half.

  104. Chiara Jaffe says:

    H, Mel,

    Lemon bars are my mom’s favorite. I used your recipe for lemon bars for her birthday, and she loved them!! I am now going to check out your site for some recipes for dessert goodies for Christmas.

    Thank you so much!! You really do a great with your website. I truly don’t know how you have time with 5 kids. I am really impressed.

    Chiara Jaffe

  105. yuklan says:

    hi mel, I made the full recipe of lemon bars yes terday They came out delicious
    but my filling didn’t come out as firm as hoped. If want a firmer f illing how much
    more flour or cornstarch would I need to add. thank you

    • Mel says:

      I’m not really sure as the filling has always been firm enough for me. You’d have to experiment adding more flour or cornstarch. Sorry they didn’t turn out how you were expecting.

  106. Jill DC says:

    Hands down – the very best lemon bars I have ever made… or tasted. Wonderful, delicious crust that would be good on its own (think buttery shortbread cookie). And the lemon… wonderfully tart, not too sweet. Absolute perfection!!

  107. Nadine says:

    Is it salted butter or unsalted?

  108. Nancy says:

    Have been so excited to try this recipe and finally did today. Followed instructions but the crust burned after the 20 min baking time:(

  109. leanne says:

    Wow, these are amazing!

  110. Melissa says:

    Hi, there! These sound amazing! Did you use a metal 9×13 baking pan?

  111. Melissa says:

    Also, may I ask why you chose to use salted butter? Just curious.

  112. Sarah says:

    I just made these with Meyer lemons from my grandma’s tree in California. They are so good I think I could eat them for the rest of my life and nothing else!!

  113. Julie says:

    hello, can I use a 9 inch square pan to make this? And what kind of butter did you use? Salted or Unsalted?

  114. Julie says:

    Are lemon bars suppose to be soft on the inside? Sorry its my first time making 🙂

  115. Lisa says:

    Hi: I love these lemon bars – especially the crust! I’d like to use this crust for my lemon meringue pie. (I use the recipe from the New Best Recipe book). Do you think this crust would work in a pie plate? Also, any recommendation on how long to pre-bake it? Any guidance would be most appreciated!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Lisa – I haven’t tried this crust in a pie plate. It’s worth a try although I worry a little that because of the butter, it will slide down the sides of the plate while baking. You might want to line it with foil/pie weights and freeze it before baking. Good luck!

  116. Kristen B says:

    Every time I have made lemon bars, I have the same problem.
    When I’ve cooled the bars & sprinkle the powdered sugar on top, it absorbs into the bar and disappears. This is even the day after I’ve made them. Any idea what the problem might be?

    • Mel says:

      Sometimes if the bars have been covered, they get a little moisture on the top and that can make the powdered sugar dissolve instead of stay on top.

  117. Stacey says:

    These were delicious and turned out perfectly just as everyone said. I love them. They’re not too tart, and absolutely the perfect lemon bar recipe. Thank you. I’m glad I found you, and I now follow you on Pinterest. Yay!

  118. Donna says:

    Hey, I have a question. So I bought unsalted butter -___-… so for the pinch of salt how much can I put for the crust?

  119. Katie says:

    My sister “commandeered” my 9×13 pan, would a glass one throw off the baking time at all?

    • Mel says:

      Hey Katie – decrease the baking temp by 25 degrees if using a glass pan and watch the time carefully – you may need to pull it out a few minutes early.

      • Patricia says:

        I’m so excited to bake these — they look amazing! I’ll be using a glass pan and will drop the crust baking temperature to 325 as suggested; do I need to make any changes to the oven temperature when baking the filling? Thank you so much for sharing. I’ve also been on the hunt for the perfect lemon bars…

        • Mel says:

          I’m not sure, Patricia, since I haven’t baked them in a glass pan. I’d suggest taking the temp down 25 degrees the entire time of baking and just keeping an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.

  120. Meghan says:

    Do you store these in the fridge?

  121. Ellen says:

    these just finished cooling. They are fantastic. Going to take to relative’s house for Easter dessert. These are definitely a keeper. Lemon taste is right on!!

  122. Jo says:

    Fantastic recipe, just the right amount of sugar. I added 1/3 of unsweetened coconut and more lemon zest to my crust. Everyone i shared a piece of lemon bar with said it was excellent and they were glad to be taste testers for this recipe. Good job and thank you for sharing your findings on your blog.

  123. Dee says:

    I have celiac and I’d like to replace the all purpose flour with a gluten free flour instead (rice flour, almond flour, chickpea flour, etc.). Do you think they will turn out the same if I switch up the flour I use?

  124. ANo Guerriero says:

    Is the milk necessary in The filling? If the milk were left out would the filling be firmer?

  125. Tüm Dersler says:

    i loved your recipe. i will use it with your permission

  126. Jenga says:

    Hi there, I have a question! 🙂 I’m in Australia and lemon bars/squares aren’t really a thing here so I’ve never had one before in my life, but in my head I expected a lemon curd/lemon meringue pie filling on a biscuity base. I tried your recipe and while they are absolutely delicious, I was surprised that the lemon filling was soft, eggy and spongey. Is this the way they are supposed to be or did I goof something up? I’m absolutely not complaining because they are very very delicious, I’m just wondering if I’ve earnt bragging rights or if I need to do better next time! XD Maybe I overcooked? Mine we’re a lot more brown on top than your’s.

    • Mel says:

      Hi Jenga – the filling, once baked, should be soft but still hold it’s shape – the way you described them, I think you probably made them the right way. It isn’t as creamy as a lemon curd. Try shaving a few minutes off the baking time if you make them again – that will help the filling stay a little softer.

  127. wow8kids says:

    How well do these freeze? If they don’t freeze, do you have a recommendation for one of your bar recipes that DOES freeze well and is super easy?

    I LOVE your blog. SO many great recipes! I love that when I try one, I know it’s going to be what you say it’s going to be.

  128. Jessica says:

    It’s so obvious all the “I’ll give it a try ” comments were paid for…

  129. Paige says:

    I’ve only cut into the corner and noticed the filling is soft (I baked them for 20 minutes). Can I put it back in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes to firm-up? Also the person who mentinoed her lemon bars came out eggy and spongy. Mine came out that way once, because I didn’t whisk the eggs thoroughly.

    • Mel says:

      You could try refrigerating to firm up the filling – not sure about putting it back in the oven but it’s worth a try if the filling is overly soft.

  130. Nancy Miller says:

    Can’t wait to try the lemon bars. I’m going to take them to a baby shower.

  131. Karen says:

    Has anyone tried to freeze these? How do they thaw?

  132. Becky says:

    Hi, I just found your lemon bar recipe and I can’t wait to try! May I ask does this lemon bar freeze well?

  133. Lori says:

    Just made these lemon bars this afternoon. I made one mistake but I had to share because they still taste AWESOME lol!! I measured 3/4 cup lemon juice instead of 2/3 cup. Luckily I noticed it before I added the milk, so I only used 1/4 cup milk to keep the total liquid at 1 cup. They are amazing, yes a little extra tart but they baked, set, look and taste superb. That’s when you know you have an amazing recipe to start with!! So glad I found you and your recipe. I’ll make these forever!!

  134. Jamie Warnick says:

    I was wondering if anyone had tried this recipe with oranges or limes?

  135. Nancy Miller says:

    I’ve been collecting recipes for lemon bars but not sarisfied with any — this one is just what I want with the shortbread-type crust. Try it this weekend for sure. I love your site and used many recipes. Yesterday I made the cornbread with zucchini, but made 12 wonderful muffins with it. They were delicious! Had them for dinner last night and breakfast this morning. Thanks for all the great recipes.

  136. lynna says:

    i love lemon bars. i did this recipe and i love the crust, but the filling was too wet for me. i would try adjusting the flour next time. but the richness of the feeling was lemony perfect.

  137. EILEEN BECK says:

    I bake “Xmas gifts” , so start Dec. 1st. I always freeze lemon bars and have not had any complaints. I have never tried this recipe, but will this year. I make a few different types of lemon bars as some of my family want very lemony and others not as tart.

  138. Carol Diamond says:

    Made these yesterday. Patted the crust with a heavy meat tenderizer, and the crust came out perfect. The filling, too,but I feel there is not enough lemon for the thickness of the crust. I am not a lemon bar aficionado, but, just eel there should have been more lemon. Can I make some more filling and pour it on top, cook for a while longer? Or top it off with dollops of lemon curd?
    I made the recipe exactly as written, BTW.

  139. Jenny says:

    Does this recipe double and fit in a cookie sheet? Or are the sides too shallow? I’m needing to make it for a large gathering.

  140. Ashley Bourne says:

    These lemon bars are so yummy! How do you get them to cut so cleanly?

  141. Amy says:

    I made these bars, but split them between an 8×8 ceramic and a 9×9 glass dish for reasons to long to explain here :)… I was worried the crust to filling ratio was too high (there was way less filling than what the pictures show and I was bringing this in for a co-workers birthday so I was a bit nervous), but it was actually a perfect balance of sweet & tart. I used a food processor to cut the butter into the crust and it worked amazing. I didn’t have a zester so I peeled the lemon and diced it really small which created delicious bits of caramelized lemon peel in the filling.

  142. Tammy says:

    Hi – I have a bunch of Pepperidge Farms chess cookies that I need to use. I was thinking of making crumbs out of them for the crust for lemon bars. If I do this, do I bake the cookie crust before adding the lemon filling on top? I guess I would since I would have to add butter to make the crust stick together right? What I found on line says to add butter & powdered sugar.

    • Mel says:

      I’m not really sure since I haven’t tried it with those cookies, Tammy – but I do think I’d suggest baking the crust.

      • Tammy says:

        Well, I don’t know if it was the cookie crust or what, but my bars didn’t work. They are a sticky mess. They tasre good, but I can’t cut them to make nice squares. Not sure what I did wrong. I’m normally a pretty good cook.

  143. Dee says:

    This is the Cooks Illustrated recipe, which usually is great. Unfortunately this one is a bomb. The base isn’t really shortbread…it falls apart. Maybe the cornstarch? The filling was thin and ran under the parchment and made them almost impossible to get out of the pan! They taste good but man, they are a mess. There is no way to serve them…and I have 20 women coming tomorrow AM. Ugh.

    • Mel says:

      Sorry to hear that, Dee! I know how frustrating it can be to make a recipe for company and not have it work out. I’ve made this dozens and dozens of times to great success – which I know doesn’t help you right now, but I wonder if something went wrong in the mixing or adding of ingredients? Again, sorry they didn’t work out for you.

  144. Joanne says:

    If I use 2 8in pans do I need to adjust time or temp? Thanks

  145. Sandi says:

    The Cook’s Illustrated Lemon Bars recipe has been my favorite for years! My only pet peeve (and this is true for most lemon bar recipes) is the powdered sugar on top. It’s necessary, but I always manage to inhale it and trigger a coughing fit, or get it on dark colored clothing. I finally found a solution – mix powdered sugar and milk, water or even lemonade or orange juice to make a thin glaze. You still get that hit of sweet contrasting with the tart, but it stays put.

  146. Diane says:

    This might not be quite my definition of “perfect,” but it is pretty close! I worried with the comments of crust and filling doing strange things, so I made it as close to the recipe as possible. However, next time, I won’t do the crust up the sides since that doesn’t do it for me. I also had to cook the filling longer than the suggested time, and maybe should have cooked it another minute or two (possibly because I used extra-large eggs). Yum, yum, yum. And so pretty.

  147. Jacob says:

    they turned out amazing! I am excited to be able to share them with everyone today!

  148. Katherine says:

    Mel, thanks for this recipe! I’ve made lemon bars before using another recipe but it stuck horribly to the pan and the crust was too flaky. Today I used your recipe for the 1st time and I love the tartness of the filling and the firmer crust.

    However, using 12 tbls butter didn’t get me coarse crumbs, even after pulsing for at least 15 seconds. I had to add 4 more tbls of butter to get it to that texture. It’s not as if I was packing down the dry ingredients either – I actually fluffed them up before measuring and leveling. Am I doing something wrong?

    • Mel says:

      Hmmm, not sure why that happened, Katherine. I think it might be a difference in how we each measure our dry ingredients – sounds like you might have had a little more flour in your mixture than I usually do. Sorry that part of the recipe gave you trouble!

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