Zesty Lemon Bars

zesty lemon bars
Look at those beautiful layers!

My number one go to for summer bbqs and get togethers? Lemon bars all the way! These zesty lemon bars are full of tangy lemon flavor and scream summer time.

The best part about these bars? For me, it’s the shortbread crust. You will love how well it pairs with the light lemon filling. Best of all, these bars come together with ease and look deceivingly impressive!

If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time, then you know that I prefer bold flavors. If I’m promising lemon, then you’re going to taste it by golly! That being said, these lemon bars pack a citrusy punch. If you like a milder flavor, I recommend omitting the lemon zest and getting your citrus flavor from lemon juice alone.

zesty lemon bars

Ingredient Line Up

  • All purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar
  • Salt
  • Unsalted butter
  • Large eggs
  • Lemon juice – Use fresh lemons! The bottled stuff truly doesn’t do the trick. I use a handheld lemon juicer to make this less messy.
  • Lemon zest – You will need this for “zesty” lemon bars! If you prefer a mild lemon flavor, you can omit the zest.
  • Pure vanilla extract
  • Confectioners’ sugar – This is optional to dust the tops right before serving.
zesty lemon bars

Tips for Zesty Lemon Bar Success

  • Use a pastry cutter or two forks to incorporate the butter into the shortbread crust mixture.
  • Let your filling sit until all of the bubbles are completely gone. I start mixing my filling together as soon as my crust goes in the oven, and the bubbles are always gone by the time the crust has finished baking.
  • Use a glass baking pan for lemon bars. Metal baking pans do not react well with the acid of the lemons!
  • Use a parchment overhang in your baking dish to easily remove your bars.
  • Room temperature eggs and lemon juice are essential here.
  • Take the time to sift your dry filling ingredients. This will ensure your filling is light and not clumpy!
  • Feel free to switch up the citrus in this recipe! Key lime bars and blood orange bars are my favorite varieties.

Lemon Bars

Lemon bars are perfect for summer bbqs and get togethers! The shortbread crust pairs perfectly with the tangy lemon filling.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 9 Squares


Shortbread Crust

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature

Lemon Filling

  • 4 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice room temperature
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract


  • Preheat oven to 350F and line a 8” glass, square baking dish with parchment paper. Leave a bit of parchment to overhang the sides for easily removal after baking.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar for the shortbread crust.
  • Use a pastry cutter or two forks to cut in the softened butter.
  • Once incorporated, press the shortbread crust into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.
  • While the crust is baking, prepare the lemon filling. Whisk the eggs together in a medium bowl.
  • Sift the sugar, flour, and salt together and add in with the eggs. Whisk to combine.
  • Whisk in the vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Set the filling mixture aside until all the bubbles are gone (about 15 minutes).
  • Once the crust is done baking, pour the lemon filling onto the hot crust.
  • Lower the oven temperature to 325F and bake an additional 30 minutes, or until the filling is set.
  • Once completely cooled, remove the bars from the pan and cut into squares. Dust with confectioners sugar if desired.
Keyword lemon bars

More Recipes for Citrus Lovers

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