These lemon bars are a classic treat, and for me, always remind me of summer. Something about the light citrusy flavour and softness of the shortbread layer just makes me want to be decadent and have an afternoon tea party in the garden (if I had one that is).
They're also a great item to impress at a bake sale or to bribe your co-workers into liking you more / giving you less work. Lemon bars are so widely loved!
✏️ Making a tasty and easy recipe
I've always been a big fan of lemon bars. They're such a classic treat, and I can't get enough of their zesty deliciousness.
This easy recipe is one I've been using for as long as I can remember. It always delivers on the promise of tangy and creamy lemon curd over a buttery shortbread base layer.
🥘 Ingredients notes
- As with many of my baking recipes, I recommend starting with room temperature ingredients for these lemon bars. This will improve the consistency and ease at which your ingredients will mix together.
- I prefer to use vanilla extract rather than vanilla essence, as it has a better stronger flavour. It’s a purer vanilla taste as it’s less processed than vanilla essence.
- Always sieve your flour. I used to be a bit lazy and skip this part, but it really makes such a difference to get you a lump-free mixture.
- When measuring your ingredients, I always recommend using weights rather than cups for greater accuracy. This is especially important for the amount of flour.
🔪 Equipment notes
- I like to use digital scales for weighing my ingredients as it's easier and more accurate than other scales (or using no scales!). I'm a fan of these KitchenAid or Salter ones!
- Use measuring spoons for your tsp and tbsp amounts where possible. Make sure the scoops filled with your ingredients are levelled before adding them to your mix!
- For these lemon bars (and almost all of my traybakes), I like to use a 9inch / 23cm square baking pan. Even if your pan is a non-stick one, I'd recommend greasing and lining your tin with parchment paper / greaseproof paper.
I usually keep my lemon bars in an airtight container at room temperature. They should last for up to 4 days stored like this.
If you live somewhere hot (lucky you!), I'd recommend storing these bars in the fridge instead. Your lemon bars should keep for up to a week in the fridge. Take them out of the fridge for 30mins before serving to bring to room temperature. A cold shortbread base would be pretty hard to bite into!
💭 Top tips for success
If your lemon bars are a bit too soft, pop them into the fridge to firm up the lemon curd more. This can sometimes make your shortbread layer a bit hard though. If you're doing this, be sure to take these out of the fridge 30mins before serving.
To decorate the lemon bars, I like to dust a healthy amount of icing sugar over the top. The snowy white dusting makes them look so much better. I also find that added sweetness helps to balance the tartness of the lemon.
If you’ve got any specific questions on making these simple lemon bars, please feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll try my best to help out!
♻️ Alternatives and substitutions
These bars are made with lemons, but this could easily be swapped for limes. As limes are usually smaller than lemons (or they are in the UK), add a third lime for the zest and juice into this recipe.
Equally, trying this with other citrussy fruits could be amazing too! I am planning to give oranges and grapefruits a go. Though if anyone has other suggestions to try, please let me know! I love hearing what people have tried and getting inspiration from fellow baking fiends.
For a gluten-free version, you can swap the regular plain/all-purpose flour for a gluten-free plain/all-purpose flour blend of the same quantity.
To be safe, always check your other ingredients for allergen warnings on the nutritional label, as they may have cross-contamination warnings.
🧁 Other goodies
So, I definitely recommend that you whip up a batch of these classic lemon bars! But as an avid home baker, I’m sure you’re asking yourself “what next?”.
Love a shortbread bar? Me too! Check out my raspberry bars for more fruity and buttery shortbread joy.
If you love all things lemon, why not whip up a batch of my gluten-free lemon almond shortbread cookies or my best ever lemon white chocolate cake, made with this tasty lemon white chocolate no-cream ganache - so zesty and fresh!
Or if you’d like to hear about our latest recipes, why not subscribe to our newsletter?
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- 200 g (1 cups) unsalted butter
- 90 g (½ cups) golden caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 200 g (1⅔ cups) plain flour (all-purpose)
- 300 g (1½ cups) caster sugar
- 50 g (½ cups) plain flour (all-purpose)
- 4 eggs
- 2 lemons' zest and juice
- Pre-heat oven: 180°C / 160°C (fan) / Gas Mark 4 / 350°F
- Cream together the butter and sugar until fully combined.
- Add in the vanilla extract and sift in the flour and mix together until a smooth dough forms.
- Line a 9inch square baking tin with greaseproof paper and press the dough into the base of the tin, making sure to press firmly until you get an even layer. You can use your hands or the back of a large spoon.
- Using a fork, poke little holes across the base to help it cook, then bake in the oven for 25mins until lightly golden.
- While the base bakes, make the curd filling by sifting the flour into a large bowl and mixing with the sugar.
- Beat in the eggs, lemon juice and zest until smooth.
- Once the base has baked, pour the curd mix over the part-baked shortbread and bake for a further 18-20mins until very pale golden.
- Allow the lemon bars to cool before cutting into slices. The bars will firm up as they cool.
- Try swapping the 2 lemons for 3 limes for a twist on this classic.
* The nutrition information provided is an estimate based on an online nutritional calculator and actual values may vary.