Small-Batch Lemon Bars
Lemon bars are one of the EASIEST desserts to make and they're guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. I love the soft lemon filling paired with the buttery, crisp shortbread crust. The flavor is beyond delicious: It’s so bright and zingy, with all the lemon from the juice and zest. They’re simply irresistible! I think my favorite part of these Small-Batch Lemon Bars is how easy they are to make. Instead of making a proper curd, these bars have a simple filling mix that gets poured over the base and bakes up like curd. The hardest part of this recipe is waiting for the bars to cool and finish setting, but I have faith in you!
Cooking Time3 hr
- For the Shortbread Crust
- 6 tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter, melted
- 3 tablespoons (36 g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3/4 cup + 1 tbsp (101 g) all-purpose flour
For the Lemon Filling
- 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons (15 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/3 cup + 2 tsp (90 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice, about 2 whole lemons, see Ingredient Tip
- Powdered sugar, for dusting ,optional
Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Lightly grease a 9 x 5–inch (23 x13–cm) loaf pan with butter or cooking spray, then line it with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the two long sides. Lightly grease the parchment with butter or nonstick cooking spray, then set aside the pan.
For the crust, in a medium bowl, mix together the butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add the flour and stir until it’s completely combined. The dough will be thick. Press the dough firmly into the prepared pan, making sure the layer of crust is nice and even. Bake the crust for 20 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned. Remove the pan from the oven and, using a fork, gently poke holes all over the top of the warm crust, but not all the way through the crust. Set it aside.
For the filling, in a medium bowl, sift together the sugar and flour. Whisk in the eggs, then the lemon juice until the ingredients are completely combined. Pour the filling over the warm crust. Bake the bars for 20 to 22 minutes, or until the center is relatively set and no longer jiggles. Give the pan a light tap to test. Remove the bars from the oven and cool them completely at room temperature, about 2 hours. I like to then stick them in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours until they are chilled, to make slicing them easier, but this is optional.
Once the bars are cool, lift the parchment paper out of the pan using the overhang on the sides. Dust the top of the bars with the powdered sugar, if using, and cut them into squares before serving. For neat squares, wipe the knife clean between each cut. Leftover lemon bars can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
For these lemon bars to have a nice citrus flavor, you need to use fresh lemons; avoid the imitation lemon juice that comes in a bottle. When choosing lemons, make sure to look for ones that are fragrant and have bright yellow skins. They should be firm, plump, and heavy for their size. Avoid lemons that have blemishes, soft spots, or green spots, or any that are hard and wrinkled.
Lemon bars can be frozen for up to 3 months. Cut the cooled bars (without the powdered sugar topping) into squares, then place them onto a baking sheet. Freeze the bars for 1 hour. Individually wrap each bar in aluminum foil or plastic wrap, then place them into a large bag or freezer container. Thaw the bars in the refrigerator, then dust them with the powdered sugar before serving.
Reprinted with permission from Simple Small-Batch Baking by Mike Johnson. Page Street Publishing Co. 2022. Photo credit: Mike Johnson.
Read NextOreos Cookies & Cream Football Dip