Lemon Bars

March 11, 2015
15 Ratings
  • Makes one 8-inch pan
Author Notes

These tart and tangy lemon bars come from the legendary Alice Medrich. I made a couple of changes to her original recipe by browning the butter for the crust, reducing the sugar in the filling just slightly, and increasing the lemon zest to suit my personal tastes. —Yossy Arefi

What You'll Need
  • For the crust:
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • For the topping:
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup strained fresh lemon juice
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
  1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil; allow some to hang over the sides of the pan. Lightly grease the foil.
  2. To make the crust: Slice the butter into tablespoon-sized pieces. In a light-colored saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter while stirring constantly. The melted butter will foam a bit, then the foam will subside. Keep cooking the butter until the milk solids turn golden brown and the butter has a nutty fragrance, 7 to 10 minutes. Take the butter off the heat and pour it and all the browned bits from the pan into a heat-safe bowl to cool slightly.
  3. When the butter has cooled, add the sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add the flour and mix until just incorporated. Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.
  4. Bake the crust for 20 to 25 minutes, until it is golden brown.
  5. Meanwhile, make the topping: Stir the sugar and flour together. Whisk in the eggs, followed by the lemon zest and juice.
  6. When the crust is done, turn the oven down to 300º F. Slide the oven rack with the pan on it out of the oven and pour the filling into the hot crust. Slide the rack back into the oven and bake until the topping is set and does not jiggle in the center when the pan is tapped, 20 to 25 minutes. Set the pan on a rack and let the bars cool completely in the pan.
  7. Lift the cooled bars out of the pan, using the foil as handles. Slice the bars into 16 or 25 squares and dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving. Store leftover bars in the fridge for up to a week. The crust will soften over time.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Jeanne Cooper
    Jeanne Cooper
  • JulieS
  • Natalie Bullion
    Natalie Bullion
  • Vicki Chui
    Vicki Chui
  • Änneken
Yossy Arefi is a photographer and stylist with a passion for food. During her stint working in restaurant kitchens, Yossy started the blog Apt. 2B Baking Co. where, with her trusty Pentax film camera, she photographs and writes about seasonal desserts and preserves. She currently lives in Brooklyn but will always love her native city of Seattle. Follow her work at apt2bbakingco.blogspot.com & yossyarefi.com.

15 Reviews

apnuyen December 6, 2023
Very solid lemon bar recipe and came together quickly! I love that the recipe uses whole eggs only.

I managed to fit this into an 8-inch round tin since I didn't have a 9-inch square, and it worked out well.

I used a mix of Meyer lemon and regular lemon juice (ratio of 4:1) and I also maybe added some hazelnut meal to the crust, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly 😅
Jeromezone December 3, 2023
I made these for a Xmas party pot lock and they were delicious. The browned butter is truly the key to these rich delights. I used light brown sugar successfully. The only odd thing was that the lemon topping would sometimes separate from the bottom crust while eating so they had to be carefully handled. Lovely recipe.
mtabeling April 22, 2022
I am an experienced baker, and this is, quite possibly, the worst lemon bar recipe that I have ever made. Great, intense, lemon flavor, but like gummy bears -- and I didn't over bake!
Jeanne C. January 10, 2022
This is the bomb! It taste better than store bought. I made it last night, and it's all gone now, even my mother who doesn't like sweet treats loves this recipe. This will definitely be added to my repartee. Thank you Food52 and Yossy Arefi for posting this!
JulieS September 16, 2018
These are in the oven now and smell SO good! I was thinking that and interesting variation would be to add some chopped fresh rosemary or a smidge of dried, crushed lavender to the crust. Has anyone tried anything like that?
apnuyen December 6, 2023
I went a little kooky and added some freshly ground black pepper to the crust, and then I added a squeeze of lavender bitters to the filling, plus a ton of ground vanilla to both crust and filling. Nothing was overwhelming and I felt it just added some subtle dimension, as I can't stand single note desserts lol
Natalie B. April 9, 2018
These were spectacular with my extra meter lemons from the tree!! I added extra zest. Yum. Think I’ll make another batch today.
Vicki C. March 7, 2018
Delicious recipe! If anyone else is wondering if you can reduce the sugar for the filling even more, I did 2/3C Sugar and it still tastes great!
Kim February 10, 2018
I agree with the brown butter comments, it sets this recipe apart. These are terrific, my boyfriend loves them and often throws lemons in the shopping cart when we grocery shop together. 🙂
Änneken October 16, 2016
I agree with Sydney: the brown butter really makes you go WOW!!! when you taste the finished product. This will be my go-to recipe for lemon bars from now on. Thanks, Yossy!!!
Sydney T. June 17, 2015
If you're thinking to yourself, "I'm just gonna melt the butter instead of browning it," for the crust, stop that thought right now. I thought the brown butter was just to be different, but WOW. It really does make it. Awesome recipe. :)
Jacquie May 28, 2015
Next time I would use a 9 X 9 pan. The cakey layer was too thin. Otherwise Yum
Francene September 27, 2018
Jacquie---the recipe calls for an 8" pan. If you use a larger pan (like the 9" you're suggesting) the crust will be even thinner, which is what you are trying to avoid.
barabaann October 15, 2020
My crust was very loose. Not at all like pie crust. Is this correct? Also, it needed 30 minutes in the oven.
Suemcal April 23, 2023
I had the same problem! I followed instructions and proportions to a T and the dough for the crust is more like batter. Maybe my butter had very high water content? No idea. It’s a disaster … still in the oven not baking after 35 minutes, I might start all over with a more traditional crust. So disappointed.