Easy Lemon Bars

These easy, zesty lemon bars are so easy to make and make a show stopping dessert topped with torched meringue. They are the perfect addition to picnics or bake sales finished with a dusting of powdered sugar.

Easy lemon bars

Ingredients needed 

  • Butter. I used salted butter but unsalted butter can be used, just add a pinch of salt to the pastry dough.
  • Flour. All purpose flour works fine here.
  • Sugar. 
  • Fresh lemons. You will be using fresh lemon juice and lemon zest for this recipe. The bottled/concentrated stuff will be much too acidic for the lemon filling.
  • Lemon zest. 
  • Eggs.
  • Vanilla extract. 
  • Salt. 
  • Swiss Meringue (optional).
Gooey lemon bars with torched meringue.

How to make lemon bars

  1. Make the crust: In the bowl of a food processor combine the butter, sugar, flour, salt and lemon zest. Pulse until the mixture just comes together. (This can also be done in the bowl of a stand mixer or by hand. Just make sure the ingredients are well-combined.) Line a square baking pan (9″x 9″ / 22cm x 22cm) with baking or parchment paper on all sides then press the dough into the bottom and flatten with the bottom of a glass or measuring cup. Bake in a preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside while you make the filling.
  2. Make the lemon bar filling: Whisk together the lemon juice, sugar, eggs, flour and vanilla extract until smooth. Pour onto the crust and place back in the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes or until the filling is set and no longer jiggles when you move the pan. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes on a wire rack then carefully remove from the pan and allow to cool completely before slicing. At this point you can serve the lemon bars with a dusting of powdered sugar or make the Swiss meringue topping.
  3. Swiss Meringue topping (optional): I love decorating these bars with pretty meringue swirls but it’s an entirely optional step. A dusting of icing / powdered sugar or a dollop of whipped cream will be just as delicious. Follow the instructions in the recipe card below to make Swiss meringue which is a more stable meringue and pipes beautifully.

Can you freeze lemon bars?

Yes, lemon bars (without meringue topping) freeze quite well. Allow the baked bars to cool completely then wrap in a layer of parchment paper followed by a layer of foil (or place in a freezer bag). Place in the freezer and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before slicing and serving.

Do lemon bars need to be refrigerated?

If you plan on serving them on the same day of making, they don’t need to be refrigerated. If you would prefer to make them a day or two ahead, stack them with parchment paper in between each layer in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for a few days.

Lemon bars with easy crust and torched meringue.

Lemon recipes

  1. Lemon Meringue Pie
  2. Mini lemon curd cheesecakes
  3. Easy lemon drizzle cake
Easy lemon bars

Easy lemon bars

These easy, zesty lemon bars are so easy to make and make a showstopping dessert topped with torched meringue.
4.41 from 10 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Easy lemon bars, easy lemon bars recipe, Lemon bars
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Cooling time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours
Calories: 408kcal
Author: Alida Ryder
Servings: 9

Ingredients

For the crust

  • 1 cup butter room temperature
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • pinch of salt

For the filling

  • 1 cup lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • cup sugar
  • 5 extra-large eggs
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Swiss meringue (optional)

  • 2 egg whites
  • ½ cup sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F.
  • Line a square baking dish (9"x 9" / 22cm x 22cm) with baking or parchment paper on all sides.
  • In the bowl of a food processor combine the butter, sugar, flour, salt and lemon zest. Pulse until the mixture just comes together.
  • Press the dough into the bottom of the prepared baking dish and flatten with the bottom of a glass or measuring cup.
  • Bake in a preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside while you make the filling. 
  • Whisk together the lemon juice, sugar, eggs, flour and vanilla extract until smooth. Pour onto the crust and place back in the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes or until the filling is set and no longer jiggles when you move the pan.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes then carefully remove from the pan and allow to cool completely before slicing. 
  • Swiss Meringue topping (optional): Combine the egg whites and sugar in a large glass/metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisk/stir the mixture until the sugar has dissolved. To test, rub a little of the mixture between your fingers. If you feel sugar granules, continue stirring, if it's smooth remove it from the heat. 
  • Using a hand mixer whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and the mixture is completely cool.
  • Transfer to a piping bag then decorate the bars. Torch the meringue with a blow torch and serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 408kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 116mg | Sodium: 51mg | Potassium: 103mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 37g | Vitamin A: 168IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 1mg

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