This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
A delicate shortbread crust topped with a tart-sweet, perfectly gooey lemon custard. My Mom’s Lemon Bars are the best!
We’ve all eaten many lemon bars and I’m sure that many of you have baked dozens of them. The recipe I’m sharing today, however, is my mom’s recipe, and it is spectacular.
Her recipe calls for powdered sugar in the base layer. I did not understand the significance of this seemingly small difference until I grew old and wise and realized I should always trust my mother. It does something magical and wondrous to the texture of the bars and I will always make them this way from this point forward, forever, and ever, amen.
Mom always used regular lemons but I highly recommend using Meyer lemons if you can get your hands on them. They are naturally sweeter and far juicier than the regular variety. Thanks to our mild California weather, my little Meyer lemon tree produces pretty much year round, so I can bake up a batch of these whenever the desire strikes.
This is a dangerous thing.
The grocery list is sweet and simple – All-purpose flour, granulated sugar, butter, salt, powdered sugar, lemons, and eggs.
Using an electric hand mixer, blend together the softened butter, 2 cups flour, and 1/2 cup powdered sugar.
Press the mixture down into an ungreased 13″ x 9″ baking pan. I’m using a rimmed baking sheet here but any standard 13 “x 9” pan will work just fine. Pop the pan in a 350 degree oven for 18 to 20 minutes or till lightly golden brown around the edges.
While the base layer is baking, let’s get working on the ooey gooey lemon topping.
Mom’s original recipe does not call for lemon zest but when I’m using Meyer lemons, I love to use some of the zest. Just like the juice of the Meyer, the zest is sweet and deelicious! This microplane does the job fast and easy.
Grab a mixing bowl and whisk together the 4 eggs. Add the granulated sugar and salt and whisk again.
I’m using my handy, dandy citrus squeezer to get every last bit of juice from my lemons. Keep squeezing till you 1/2 cup of juice, or very close to it.
Add the lemon juice to the egg mixture.
In order to add some texture to the topping, we will add some flour. Add 1/4 cup flour to the mixture and whisk to combine.
The lemon topping is happy and complete.
Pour the lemon topping over the pre-baked base layer while it is still warm from the oven.
Place the pan back in the oven for another 20 minutes.
Pull it out of the oven when the topping appears to be set and it is just beginning to lightly brown. See that little blemish there? We don’t need to worry about it because once it has cooled completely, we’re going to cover the whole thing with powdered sugar.
See? Problem solved.
Slice into serving sized pieces…
Mom’s Lemon Bars
- 1 cup butter softened
- 1/2 cup powdered confectioners' sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 lemons juiced (approximately 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice - use Meyer lemons if available)
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest optional
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a medium bowl, use an electric hand mixer to blend together softened butter, 2 cups flour and 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Mix for about 3 minutes until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press into the bottom of an ungreased 9" x 13" inch pan. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or till lightly golden at edges.
- While base layer is baking prepare the topping. In medium sized mixing bowl, whisk eggs well. Add 2 cups granulated sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt and whisk to combine. Whisk in lemon juice and lemon zest (if using). Finally, whisk in 1/4 cup flour until well incorporated. Pour over the warm, baked crust. Return to the oven for an additional 18 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees until topping appears to be set and is just beginning to lightly brown.
- Allow to cool completely then sprinkle surface liberally with powdered sugar. Cut into serving sized pieces and store in an airtight container.