Chef John's Lemon Bars

4.8
(1,205)

This is one of my favorite cookies of all time, although technically they're closer to a pie than a cookie. Nothing prepares you for that intense, awesome sweet-tart lemon flavor and custard, perfectly contrasted against that crisp, sweet buttery shortbread cookie.

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Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
50 mins
Additional Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 40 mins
Servings:
16
Yield:
1 8x8-inch pan

Ingredients

For the shortbread crust:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • ½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature

  • ¼ cup confectioners' sugar

  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

For the lemon layer:

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 large egg yolk

  • 1 cup white sugar

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest

  • 1 teaspoon confectioners' sugar, or to taste

Directions

  1. Place an oven rack into middle position in oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly oil an 8x8-inch baking dish.

  2. Place 1 cup flour and butter in a mixing bowl and mash with the back of a spatula or wooden spoon until thoroughly combined. Mix in 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract, and salt; mash mixture together until mixture looks like a slightly crumbly cookie dough.

  3. Moisten your fingers with a little water and press dough into bottom of prepared baking dish. Use a fork to prick holes all over the crust.

  4. Bake crust on center rack in the preheated oven until crust edges are barely golden brown, 22 minutes.

  5. Beat eggs and egg yolks together in a bowl; whisk in white sugar and 2 tablespoons flour until smooth. Add lemon juice and lemon zest; whisk for 2 minutes. Pour lemon custard over crust.

  6. Bake on center rack until custard is set and top has a thin white sugary crust, 25 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting into bars. Dip knife into very hot water, run around the edge, and cut into 16 squares. Dust cookies with 1 teaspoon confectioners' sugar.

    close up view of a stack of Lemon Bars on a blue plate
    littlegool25

Cook's Note:

To add a meringue topping, whisk 1 egg white in a bowl until it forms a ribbon, add 1 tablespoon of white sugar, and whisk until mixture holds soft peaks. Spoon meringue into a resealable plastic bag, cut a corner off the bag, and squeeze meringue on top of cut bars in a decorative pattern. Brown meringue lightly with a kitchen torch.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

153 Calories
7g Fat
22g Carbs
2g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 16
Calories 153
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 7g 9%
Saturated Fat 4g 20%
Cholesterol 51mg 17%
Sodium 47mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 22g 8%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 15g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 2mg 11%
Calcium 9mg 1%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 26mg 1%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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