If you’re looking for a quick and easy dessert that is tangy and refreshing, then you should try making some easy lemon bars. Lemon bars are a classic dessert that have been around for decades. These sweet and tangy treats are the perfect dessert for any occasion, from a casual family gathering to a fancy dinner party.
History of Lemon Bars
As I researched the history of lemon bars, I discovered that the first widely published lemon bar recipe was printed in the Chicago Daily Tribune on August 27, 1962, and submitted by Eleanor Mickelson. However, mentions of lemon bars and lemon squares can be found in earlier community cookbooks or small local newspapers.
There are two basic elements to a lemon bar, lemon curd and shortbread, each with their own unique history. Shortbread cookies were first made in Scotland in the 1700s, while lemon curd dates back to the 1800s in England. The combination of the two to make lemon bars is a more modern creation.
Lemon bars have become a popular dessert in the United States, often served at parties, picnics, and other gatherings. They are known for their tangy and sweet flavor and their bright yellow color.
Easy Lemon Bars Recipe
Here is a delicious recipe for lemon bars with simple ingredients. It is super–flavorful and from all lemon desserts I make this one pretty often. Lemon zest and lemon oil are the secret ingredients that enhance the fruity citrusy flavor. 2 drops of lemon oil are enough to spice up your lemon bars:
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, cold
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup of lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 2 drops lemon oil
- Powdered sugar for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C).
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, powdered sugar, and salt.
- Cut in cold butter until the mixture is crumbly..
- Press the dough evenly into the bottom of a greased 9×13-inch baking dish.
- Bake the crust for 15—20 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar, flour, lemon zest, lemon juice, and lemon oil until well combined.
- Pour the lemon mixture over the baked crust and return to the oven for an additional 20—25 minutes or until set.
- Allow the lemon bars to cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar and cutting into squares.
Tips for Making Perfect Lemon Bars
As someone who has made their fair share of lemon bars, I have some tips to make sure your bars come out perfectly every time.
- If you’re short on time, use store-bought shortbread cookies for the crust instead of making it from scratch.
- Use parchment paper or aluminum foil to line your pan and leave an overhang. This will make it easy to lift the bars out of the pan and cut them cleanly.
- To prevent air bubbles in the filling, tap the baking dish on the counter a few times before baking.
- To make the crust extra crispy, bake it for an additional 5-10 minutes before adding the lemon filling.
- For best results, use fresh lemon juice and zest.
- To make the lemon bars extra tangy, add a little extra lemon juice or zest to the filling.
- For a sweeter filling, do the opposite: decrease the lemon juice and increase the sugar.
- Use a microplane to zest the lemons for the best flavor and texture.
- For a more decorative presentation, pipe whipped cream or meringue on top of the lemon bars before serving.
- To make cutting the lemon bars easier, chill them in the refrigerator for at least an hour before slicing.
- Store leftover lemon bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- To freeze the bars, wrap them in aluminum foil and store them in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Lemon Bar Variations
If you’re looking to mix things up a bit, there are plenty of ways to customize your lemon bars.
- For a twist on the classic lemon bar, try adding a layer of raspberry jam between the crust and lemon filling.
- For a creamier filling, add 4 ounces of cream cheese to the filling mixture.
- To make a lemon cheesecake, add 8 ounces of cream cheese and 1/4 cup of sour cream to the filling mixture.
- To make lemon cupcakes, bake the crust and filling in cupcake liners instead of a baking dish.
- To make a tart lemon filling, reduce the amount of sugar in the filling mixture and add more lemon juice.
- For a buttery shortbread crust, use salted butter instead of unsalted butter.
- For a gluten-free version, use a gluten-free flour blend in place of the all-purpose flour.
While classic lemon bars are irresistible, there are plenty of ways to mix things up and put your own spin on this classic dessert.
Cheesecake Lemon Bars
For a richer, creamier twist on lemon bars, try making cheesecake lemon bars. Simply mix together 8 oz cream cheese, 2 eggs, 1 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup lemon juice for the cheesecake layer and pour it on top of the shortbread crust. Bake as usual and enjoy the tangy, sweet combination.
Lemon Curd Bars
If you love the taste of lemon curd, try making lemon curd bars. These bars have a more tart lemon filling and a thinner crust. Simply make your favorite lemon curd recipe and pour it over a simple shortbread crust. Bake until set and enjoy the tangy, sweet taste.
Lemon Cookie Bars
For a fun twist on classic lemon bars, try making lemon cookie bars. These bars are made with a lemon cookie crust instead of shortbread and have a more crumbly, cookie-like texture. Simply mix together butter, sugar, flour, and lemon zest for the crust and bake until golden brown. Pour the lemon filling on top and bake until set.
If you’re looking for a portable, single-serving version of lemon bars, try making lemon cupcakes. Simply make your favorite lemon cupcake recipe and top with a tart lemon frosting. These cupcakes are perfect for parties or taking on the go.
Freezing Lemon Bars
If you want to make lemon bars ahead of time, they freeze beautifully. Simply wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to three months. Thaw at room temperature before serving.
Lemon bars are a classic dessert that are perfect for any occasion. They’re easy to make and always a crowd-pleaser. Whether you’re making them for a party, a potluck, or just for yourself, this recipe is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. With a buttery crust and a tangy lemon filling, these delicious lemon bars are the perfect balance of sweet and tart. So go ahead, give them a try and see for yourself why lemon bars have been a beloved dessert for generations.