Sweet, tart, creamy lemon filling on top of a flaky shortbread crust, these lemon bars are the essential dessert for a BBQ or picnic! Ina Garten’s Lemon Bars recipe is lemon perfection and is the ONLY recipe you need for lemon bars. You can’t help but to smile while devouring this simple, beautiful, summer dessert.
I have a serious love for lemons. A SERIOUS love. I love making lemon desserts (my other top favorite being Lemon Biscotti!), but the all time, queen of lemon desserts HAS to be the lemon bar.
Lemon bars are the perfect summer dessert
Silky smooth, cool lemon curd on top of shortbread crust, dusted with powdered sugar…I have fond memories of having these bars on a summer day out by the pool or at family picnics & BBQs.
I’m a believer that for a classic treat such as this, you gotta keep it basic. Don’t be tryin’ to get fancy with lemon bars; you just don’t need to. They are DIVINE as is and this recipe showcases the lemon in all of it’s natural, beautiful, bright, citrus-y glory.
If you want to take it all the way with lemons, you need to make this recipe. Ina Garten has been an inspiration to me for so long. I love trying her recipes, they’re all so fabulous! I knew that her recipe for Lemon Bars would be no different.
What makes this one so spectacular?
This recipe tops all of the other Lemon Bar recipes because it uses the most lemon I’ve ever seen. It calls for 1 whole cup of fresh squeezed juice, along with a ton of lemon zest.
From my research, zest is missing in a lot of lemon bar recipes, and sorry, but that’s a fail. All of the oils and richness of the fruit lie within the zest. Gotta zest it up!
It totally takes these lemon bars from good to *I’m in lemon heaven, I’m speechless* – good.
This is going to be your go-to recipe!
My top tip:
If you can source yourself some Meyer Lemons, I definitely recommend it!! They are less acidic, sweeter and have a deeper, richer citrus flavor than normal lemons (since they are a hybrid of the mandarin).
Common Lemon Bar questions
Can Lemon bars be frozen?
I have not personally done this, but I did some research and the short answer is yes, lemon bars can be frozen! Once they are baked and cooled, cut into squares and wrap them up individually so they don’t stick together in the freezer. Allow to thaw overnight in the fridge and you’ll have perfect, make ahead lemon bars!
Can you leave lemon bars at room temperature?
Since this dessert is technically a custard, you should not leave them out for extended periods of time; especially in hot weather or in the sun. They will be fine to sit out at for a few hours, but for safety, store them in the fridge.
How to get lemon bars of the pan
This can get tricky. Just like, brownies or pie, the first cut is always the hardest! Here’s the secret to slicing and getting the bars out of the pan. Ensure that the bars are completely chilled. As the recipe instructs, the bars should be refrigerated for at least 2 hours. Even if they are ever so slightly warm, the custard will run right off the crust.
The other thing that helps is to have a special spatula that is perfectly sized for these squares. Starting with a corner piece, gently wiggle the spatula underneath the crust and push it under entire square. Slowly lift it up and you should have a perfect first piece!
Ina Garten's Lemon Bars
For the Crust:
- 2 sticks of butter softened
- 1/2 c granulated sugar
- 2 c all purpose flour
- 1/8 tsp salt
For the Filling:
NOTE: *you'll need about 6-7 lemons for the zest & juice*
- 6 extra-large eggs room temp
- 3 c granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp grated lemon zest
- 1 c freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 c flour
- Powdered Sugar for dusting the bars
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Line a 9x13 pan with foil and lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the flour and salt and mix just until dough forms.
- Press the dough evenly into the pan, building the crust up on all sides.
- Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Allow to cool for 20-30min.
- In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, zest, lemon juice and flour.
- Pour into the cooled crust. Bake for 30-35 minutes until filling is set (it can be slightly jiggly in the middle). Allow to cool to room temperature and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (best overnight).
- Dust with powdered sugar before cutting into bars and serving.
- Don't forget to zest your lemons before juicing them.
- If you can get Meyer Lemons, I highly recommend it! They are a little sweeter and have a deeper, richer citrus flavor.