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Homemade Lemon Bars stacked on a serving tray in the background, with flowers and a small plate showing two lemon bars in the front

Best Lemon Bars – A Family Recipe

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Sunshine on a plate! Straight from my grandmother Nama’s kitchen, these Homemade Lemon Bars are a treasured family recipe. Lovingly passed down for three generations, this recipe is surprisingly easy to prepare with readily available pantry ingredients. Bursting with citrusy flavor from both fresh lemon juice and zest, the addition of a unique ingredient makes them lighter than other, more dense lemon bars. And, with the perfect balance of sweet and tart, these homemade lemon bars appeal to both young and old, making them a delightful dessert for any occasion, from family dinner to bridal showers or graduation celebrations.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cooling time: 120 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 50 minutes
  • Yield: 15 to 24 bar cookies 1x



Cookie Crust

  • 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup powdered (Confectioners’) sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

Lemon Filling

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest (about 2 medium lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (reduce to 1/4 teaspoon above 7,000 feet)
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt


  • 1 tablespoon salted butter , melted
  • 3/4 cup powdered (Confectioners’) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk (or more)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Optional (see note below): line a 7 by 11-inch pan with parchment paper.

Cookie Crust

  1. With an electric mixer, blend together the butter and powdered sugar until smooth, fluffy, and light in color, around 3 to 4 minutes. Add the flour and mix just the mixture starts to form clumps. Don’t overmix.
  2. Press dough into the bottom of the 7 by 11-inch baking dish.

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside (don’t turn the oven off).

Lemon filling

  1. Again with the electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together just until light in color and well blended. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, baking powder and salt and blend until just mixed. Spread over top of cooked crust.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until set – gently press the top with your finger to test. (Lemon filling will have puffed up and then settled down a bit). Set aside to cool in the pan for at least one hour before frosting.


  1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk all ingredients together until frosting consistency. Add more milk if too thick or more sugar if too thin.
  2. Spread over the top of the cookies.
  3. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Cut into bars (either 18, 24, or 28, depending on how large you want the cookies to be).
  4. Store the cookies, covered, in the refrigerator. Can serve cold or at room temperature.


Note about baking dish: If you line the pan with parchment paper the cookies will be easier to remove from the pan. However, you won’t get those browned, chewy edges; your choice.

High altitude: No adjustments are necessary up to 7000 feet. Above that level, reduce the baking powder to 1/4 teaspoon.

Gluten free: Substitute 1 cup gluten-free flour and 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum for the 1 cup flour. Double-check that all of your other ingredients are also gluten-free.

  • Author: From "A Well-Seasoned Kitchen®" by Sally Clayton and Lee Clayton Roper
  • Category: Cookies, desserts
  • Method: bake
  • Cuisine: American