With a shortbread base and lemon curd topping that’s tart and not-too-sweet, these Lemon Bars are really easy to make. Tastes like a Lemon Tart – but so much more straightforward!
These Lemon Bars are like a simpler form of Lemon Tart which is made with a shortcrust pastry that’s chilled, rolled out, blind baked then cooled before filled with lemon curd, then baked again, then cooled.
Beautiful. Elegant. Impressive.
But for the days when you don’t have time for all that, Lemon Bars is what you make! It’s incredibly simple: the base is blitzed in a food processor, pressed in a pan, baked, then just pour over a simple lemon curd mixture and bake again.
LOVE the lemon curd! Jammy, a bit custardy, tangy and not-too-sweet. Hits the spot!
Ingredients in Lemon Bars
Here’s what you need to make these Lemon Bars.
For the shortbread base
The same ingredients I use in my shortbread – because that’s exactly what we’re making!
Flour – Just regular plain / all-purpose flour.
Rice flour – Makes the shortbread more crumbly. I don’t use it in my classic shortbread cookie recipe because it doesn’t improve the end result (due to the particular method I use). But for the quick ‘n easy food processor blitzing method used in this recipe, it helps keep the shortbread base “short” (ie crumbly), the signature texture we all know and love about shortbread.
Substitute with cornflour / cornstarch which yields a very similar result, or even ordinary flour will work fine (the base will not be quite as crumbly like shortbread, it’s more like a vanilla cookie).
Butter – Cold, unsalted, cut into cubes to blitz into sand with the flour.
Icing sugar / powdered sugar – The fine grains are required to make tender, crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread. Regular sugar makes tougher shortbread – that’s not what we want! 🙂
Pinch of salt brings out the other flavours. Standard practice in sweet baking – doesn’t make it taste salty.
Lemon curd filling
In my “proper” Lemon Tart, I ask you to separate eggs and use extra egg yolks for the lemon curd. Not today! Sticking with whole eggs.
Eggs – 3 large ones, which are 55 – 60g / 2 oz each, sold in cartons labelled “large eggs”. No need to bring them to room temperature (which I usually call for in baking recipes!). The eggs set the lemon curd when baked.
Caster sugar / super fine sugar if you’ve got it, because the finer grains ensures it dissolves into the curd more easily. However, regular sugar (granulated sugar) is fine too.
Flour – Just a bit helps to ensure the curd sets properly. We don’t use flour in the Lemon Tart filling because it’s made “properly”. But today, we’re going easy!
Fresh lemon! We’re using the zest and juice today. Zest for beautiful lemon flavour, and the juice for tang!
Making lemon bars
Promised easy, and easy it is! Here’s how to make this lemon bars:
SHORTBREAD LEMON BAR BASE
In my pre-appliance days (read: when I was a poor uni student), I used to make shortbread using my fingers to rub the butter into the dry ingredients. These days, I’m lazy and use my food processor. Few pulses, and it’s done. Bonus: no worries about hot little fingers melting the butter!
Blitz – Put the shortbread ingredients in a food processor with the standard “S” blade. Blitz 5 to 10 times until it turns into a loose sandy mixture.
Press – Pour it into a paper lined 20cm/8″ pan with overhang so you can lift the Lemon Bars out once set. Spread the base mixture out then use something with a flat base to press it in firmly. I use a measuring cup.
⚠️ Be sure to press it firmly right into the corners and right up to the wall of the pan so the lemon curd won’t leak down the sides and make the base soggy.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges are light golden.
Remove from oven and fill with curd straight away. ⚠️ Don’t let it cool as the base will shrink, causing the curd to run under the base which will make it soggy. Been there, done that!
Lemon curd – While the base is in the oven, whisk the lemon curd ingredients together.
Pour the filling onto the base.
Bake for 20 minutes until the top is set but still soft. There might be a small crack or two on the surface, that’s entirely normal and gets covered up with a dusting of icing sugar!
Cool – Fully cool on the counter then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before slicing to serve!
Optional – To make it pretty, dust with icing sugar. It will sweat, so do this just before serving.
Eat on the go.
I love these lemon bars not only because they’re so easy to make, but also because I’m a big fan of baked goods you can eat on the move with one hand. Don’t get me wrong. I won’t turn down a big fat slice of cake, nor can I walk away from a freshly cooked apple crumble.
But they involve plates and cutlery. (And ice cream and cream).
Whereas lemon bars and the like? I won’t even break stride as I swipe one when I walk past, then devour on the go.
Dangerous. Handy. And delicious.
Which also means it makes excellent food for taking to school bake sales, gatherings and morning tea at work. Just – easy to eat. High appeal factor!
– Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Easy Lemon Bars
- 3/4 cup plain flour (all purpose flour)
- 1/4 cup rice flour (or cornstarch/cornflour) (Note 1)
- 1/2 cup icing sugar / powdered sugar , sifted
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 110g / 1 stick unsalted butter , cold, cut into 1cm / 1/2" cubes
Lemon Curd Topping
- 3 large eggs (55-60g/2oz each)
- 1 cup caster sugar / super-fine sugar (sub regular sugar)
- 2 tbsp plain flour (all purpose flour)
- 1 tbsp lemon zest (do this before juicing)
- 1/2 cup lemon juice (2 – 3 lemons)
- Preheat oven to 180C/350F (160C fan). Spray a 20cm/8" square tin with oil and line with baking/parchment paper with overhang (so it can be lifted out once cooked).
- Base – Place Shortbread Base ingredients in a food processor fitted with the standard "S" blade. Pulse 5 to 10 times until it becomes like sand. (Or use tips of fingers, Note 2). Pour into the tin, spread, then press firmly into the base, pushing it right up to the edges. Using something flat to press in is helpful!
- Bake base for 20 minutes or until golden on the edges and pale golden in the middle. Remove from oven. (⚠️ Note: don't let it cool, pour in curd immediately).
- Lemon Curd – While the base is baking, place Lemon Topping ingredients in a bowl and whisk until combined.
- Bake 20 minutes – Pour Lemon Curd onto base, then bake for 20 minutes until the topping is set but still soft.
- Cool – Remove from then oven and cool on the counter for 1 hour, then fridge for at least 2 hours. Slice into 16 squares. Dust with icing sugar (confectionary sugar) and serve!
Originally published April 2016. Updated with an improved recipe with a more custardy lemon curd and an improved base. Plus much needed sparkling new photos and recipe video. And who doesn’t want to see a Life of Dozer update – Then and Now??
I love bars and slices.
Easy to eat on the go!
Life of Dozer
Part of the fun of re-publishing old recipes (aside from improving them and replacing old photos) is seeing Life of Dozer Then and Now.
Except….it dawned on me that nothing has changed, other than more grey hairs on his face. Proof:
THEN – 2016
(The original Lemon Bars publication date)
What I wrote in 2016: Dozer….in disbelief that none of these Lemon Bars came his way….
Now – 2023
Dozer….in disbelief that none of these Lemon Bars came his way….