Looking for a light and luscious spring or summer dessert? I’ve made this recipe for the Best Lemon Bars ever, for many occasions and they are always a hit!
Anyone that knows me, real life friends and family and any of you long time blog readers, knows that I am a self-proclaimed chocoholic! Yes, if given a choice, I will almost always choose chocolate chip cookies, brownies or chocolate cake over any other dessert any day of the week. That is, besides lemon, specifically when the best lemon bars ever are on the dessert table!
I get my intense love of chocolate from my Mom, as it has ALWAYS been her top choice for a sweet treat. But that love for luscious and tart lemon desserts, well that comes exclusively from my Dad. Lemon (or any citrus desserts for that matter) are hands down my Dad’s favorite dessert.
In fact, I can vividly remember making lemon bars, both from scratch and from a box mix, many a time with my Dad growing up. Of all the lemon dessert recipes out there, lemon bars are his absolute favorite.
Because of this over the years, I have tried many lemon bar recipes, but today’s lemon bar recipe, has been my ‘go to’ recipe for a long, long time. I’ve made it for various events, from luncheons for clients to making it year after year for my Grandmother’s birthday party and of course, whenever a lemon bar craving hits.
What I like about this lemon bar recipe, is that the shortbread crust is buttery and flaky and the lemon topping is tart and custardy. So many other lemon bar recipes I’ve tried have a more ‘cakey’ lemon topping and I prefer a true lemon curd, which is what this recipe produces.
To me, this is what makes for a perfect lemon bar and since I have made this recipe so many times without issues and receiving rave reviews from hundreds of people, I have deemed them, in my opinion, the best lemon bars.
I don’t often go around declaring recipes “the best ever” since I know everyone’s tastes and preferences are different, but since I want Kitchen Concoctions to be a place where I share my favorite, a.k.a. tried and true, a.k.a. “go to”, a.k.a. best recipes ever, I am working hard to test, re-test and photograph all these “best recipes” to get them all published here. And to make sure these “best” recipes are easy to find, I’ve started a new “best recipe” category tag and you will eventually find all of these recipes here.
Now, I know what you are thinking, “what about all the other recipes here on Kitchen Concoctions? Are they not your best work?” Well of course they are! But these ‘best recipes’ are all the classic recipes that I make over and over again. Like One Bowl Brownies, One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes and Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs. These recipes will always be the ones I turn to when a brownie craving hits or I want spaghetti and meatballs for Sunday Supper! Not that I won’t make and remake other recipes I share, because of course I do, but, you know, there are just those basic and classic recipes that you need to have in your arsenal for everyday livin’. And that’s what these are!
Helpful Tips and Information:
Make Ahead: The lemon curd topping can be made up to a week in advance of the crust and stored in an airtight food storage container. The prepared lemon bars can also be made in advance, and stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Or if individually wrapped in plastic wrap and placed in an airtight container, lemon bars can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or frozen for up to 2 months.
Kitchen Tip: To get the most juice out of your lemons, use the palm of your hand to roll lemons on counter top or cutting board before cutting lemons in half to juice. OR microwave lemons for 10 seconds before cutting and juicing.
Money Saving Tip: Don’t throw out those leftover egg whites! Egg whites can be stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator for 2-4 days and used to make an egg white omelet or this Mint Chocolate Chip Baked Alaska.
- Shortbread Base:
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
- Lemon Curd Topping:
- 4 large egg yolks
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large lemons, juiced and zested
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- ¼-1/3 cup powdered sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8-inch by 8-inch by 2-inch baking pan with parchment paper or heavy-duty aluminum foil, leaving enough parchment paper to overhang on the sides. Set aside.
To make the shortbread crust, in a large bowl stir together both sugars and the flour. Using a pastry cutter, fork or your fingers; cut cold butter into flour mixture until coarse crumbs are formed. If needed, use your hands to shape dough into a ball.
Pat the dough into the prepared pan, wet hands with a little bit of water, if needed, to help press dough into the pan. Use a fork to prick the dough all over.
Bake crust on middle oven rack at 325 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned and the top is a pale golden color but not brown.
Meanwhile, prepare lemon curd topping. Place a small strainer over a bowl and set aside.
Heat a large, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Add egg yolks and granulated sugar and cook, whisking constantly, until well blended and pale yellow in color, about 3-4 minutes. Slowly whisk in lemon juice, butter and salt. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, for 5-6 minutes, or until sauce is thickened and deep yellow in color. Lemon curd must not come to a boil. Lemon curd is ready when it coats the back of a spoon but is still liquid enough to pour.
When the curd has thickened, pour it at once into the strainer. Using the back of a spoon, press un-til only the coarse residue remains. Discard residue and stir in lemon zest.
When the shortbread crust is baked, remove from the oven, and lower oven temperature to 300 degrees F. Pour prepared lemon curd on top of the shortbread crust, and return to the 300-degree oven for 10 minutes.
Allow lemon bars to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Once cooled completely, refrigerate the lemon bars in the pan for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Right before serving, place the powdered sugar in a mesh strainer and tap the strainer with a spoon to sprinkle a thick coating of powder sugar evenly over the lemon curd topping.
Using the overhanging parchment paper, lift the lemon bars out of the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Using a long, sharp knife, cut into bars; wiping the knife blade with a paper towel after each cut.
The powdered sugar will start to be absorbed into the lemon curd after several hours, but it can be reapplied again as needed.
Storing: Store prepared lemon bars in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Or if individually wrapped in plastic wrap and placed in an airtight container, lemon bars can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or frozen for up to 2 months.
Doubling: This recipe can easily be doubled to be baked in an 9x13-inch pan.
Recipe adapted from Rose's Christmas Cookies by Rose Levy Beranbaum via Epicurious