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.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated using generic ingredients, and is an estimate not a guarantee. For more accurate results, please refer to the labels on your ingredients at home.
Questions and Reviews
Excited to try these but am I seeing a 9×13 pan pictured or is that a 11×17 metal pan???
Hi Patty. That is a 9-x 13-inch rimmed baking sheet which works but I almost always use a 9- x 13-inch glass baking dish when I make these. Hope you love them!
Can the lemon topping be used by itself, made into edible custard?
I made them and they were delicious. My one problem was the crust. It did not come out as course crumbs; it came out to be a soft, sticky dough. I followed the recipe exactly as written. Can someone tell me what I did wrong?
I’m glad they worked out well for you. If the crust baked up well, I wouldn’t worry too much about the consistency of the dough. I’ve made this dough countless times and have never had the issue you are describing so I can’t say for sure what might resolve it.
This has been my go-to lemon bar recipe for years so I thought it was time to leave a review! It is the perfect balance of sweet and tart and that buttery base is to die for!
So glad you are enjoying them! 🙂
I made this for my boyfriend and his housemates. They loved it so much thank you!
Hi Eri! Mika told me you made them and I’m so happy they turned out well for you. Thanks for your comment and stay well 🙂
Have you ever made these using the WHOLE Meyer lemon? Or have any recipes for a Lemon Bar or Tart that utilizes the whole lemon?
Thanks in advance!
I made these these last week with my first harvest from my Meyer lemon tree. They were a spectacular hit! Thankfully I have more lemons on the tree, so we can easily do it again soon.
My only problem was that the bars in the center of my 9 x 13 pan were too soft, (watery, my husband said). Bars on the outer edges were perfect. I think next time I’ll use two 8 x 8 pans, and gift one to my son and his family. (They ask for these bars daily.).
Thank you for a really wonderful recipe.
An excellent recipe! We were gifted with some Meyer lemons and this was the first thing we made with them. A big hit with everyone in the family (except for the baker because she keeps getting requests for MORE batches!) Thanks for sharing!
This looks so good! Makes me think of summer mornings.
Wow their exactly like my recipe except I use 1 cup juice andsix eggs.I just made them 2 weeks ago.I’m sure there just as deliscious.I use the powdered sugar in the base also and some zest.Its almost like a shortbread base.yummy
I found your blog last night when I was looking for a really good lemon bar recipe. I’ve made them before with other recipes. Even though they were good I wasn’t wowed by them. I’m over the moon with your mom’s recipe and my family couldn’t get enough :). My search is over, it will be my go to recipe now. Thank you for sharing it.
Thank you Tasia! We feel exactly the same way about them 🙂