perfectly tart lemon bars

Josh loves lemon bars.  I mean really, really loves them.  In our (nearly) four years together guess how many times I have made them for him? Zero.  I know, I’m evil.

He has even gone to the extreme measures of sneaking a box of Krusteaz Lemon Bar Mix into our shopping cart when I am not looking, knowing that I am offended by ANY “boxed mix” residing in our pantry.  (Did he really think I was going to pull it out one day and make them!?)  Poor guy.

Truth be told, the reason I had never made them is sort of ridiculous.  Nailing their texture terrifies me.  There.  I said it.  And you know what?  I’m not even sure that the texture of these came out correct, but I don’t care.  They were insanely yummySo good that I promise another four years will not go by before I make them again.  And again.  And again.lemon_bars_2a

Lemon Bars

Adapted from Averie @ Averie Cooks


For the crust:
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), very soft
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 heaping cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
pinch salt, optional and to taste
For the filling:
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice (about 2 juicy medium lemons)
2 tablespoons half-and-half (whole milk or cream are okay too)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional and to taste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons lemon zest loosely packed
confectioners’ sugar, for dustinglemon_bars_1
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease 8-by-8 pan with butter or cooking spray, line with aluminum foil, and then grease again.
  2. For the crust:  Using a large bowl, combine all “crust ingredients” and mash the butter into the mixture using a spoon.  Mix until a sandy  mixture forms.  Place mixture in oven prepared pan and (using fingers) press into a flat layer of crust.  Prick with fork to create air/steam vent.  Bake crust for 12-15 minutes, until crust has just barely set but is not golden or brown.
  3. While crust is baking, prepare filling.  In a large bowl- combine eggs, sugar, lemon juice, half and half, and vanilla.  Whisk until smooth.  Add flour, and whisk until all flour lumps are gone, followed by lemon zest.  Pour mixture over crust.
  4. Bake for 16-20 minutes until the top has just “set” and isn’t jiggly or runny.  Some looseness and movement is normal.
  5. Cool bars at room temp for 1 hour, and then cover and refrigerate for at least three hours before topping with powdered sugar and serving.  Store extra bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.

As far as I am concerned, these are perfection.  You’re welcome, babe. 





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10 Responses to perfectly tart lemon bars

  1. Thanks for trying my recipe! Glad you love them and are deeming them perfection! 🙂 I worked long and hard on this recipe and agree! I am super picky with lemon bars 🙂

    • prettyplainjanes says:

      Its such a great recipe, Averie!! Thank YOU for sharing! I absolutely love how they perfectly capture the “true lemon” tartness, but are still sweet like a bar should be. 🙂

  2. sounds delish! I never had lemon bars until a few months ago when we decided to try out a new fantastic restaurant near our house that had them on their dessert menu. SO good! afterwards I bought the smitten kitchen cookbook and used her lemon curd recipe mixed with Martha’s graham cracker crust and lemme tell you, they didn’t last long in OUR house! don’t worry though, i’ll be testing this recipe out as soon as I get the chance 😉


    • prettyplainjanes says:

      Thanks Jenn! ANYTHING where lemon is concerned does not last long around here! We are lemon lovers! 🙂

  3. Lisa says:

    Yum!! I love lemon bars too! These look divine!

  4. Oh those look delicious! Lemon bars are one of my MOST favorite sweets!! I’ll have to bookmark this so I can try it!
    tessa lynn

  5. Pingback: lemons, lemons, lemons | pretty plain janes

  6. Catherine says:

    I am super picky about my lemon bars, and was having a hard time finding a recipe that was tart enough.
    I LOVE these!! The filling is almost a lemon meringue pie consistency, so tart and perfect.
    Thank you! 🙂

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