Lemon Bars, take one

My mom has made lemon bars before, and I remembered liking them. So, I asked if we could make a pan of them.

We decided to try the recipe in my mom’s Baking Illustrated cookbook because we wanted to see how it compared to the lemon bars we usually have.

These lemon bars are definitely different-they have a crispier crust and they have a lot more lemon filling on them.  My mom’s mom said she thought they were a lot like lemon meringue pie, except without the meringue.

I personally felt they were a bit too lemony, but if you really like lemon or if you really like lemon meringue pie, you would probably enjoy making (and eating!) these.

(Kristen’s note: I thought the crust on these bars was REALLY good….kind of shortbread-like. And at first, I agreed with Lisey and thought the lemon filling was a little much.  But after I ate a few, I changed my mind, and decided I liked them.)

Next week, we’ll make our other lemon bar recipe, which is not quite so lemony, and then we’ll share that recipe with you too (and we’ll tell you which one we think is better!)

First, combine flour, confectioner’s sugar, and salt in a food processor.  Then add the butter and process it until it looks like this:

Press into a greased 8×8 inch pan.

Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Then bake the crust for 20 minutes.

While the crust is baking, make the filling.

In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks and whole eggs.  This takes a lot of eggs!

Whisk in the granulated sugar, and then the lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt.

Then pour the whole mixture into a saucepan and add 4 tablespoons of butter, cut into pieces.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the curd is 170° F and thickens a bit.

Set a mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the lemon curd through so that the lemon zest and any cooked egg bits are strained out.  Our curd got kinda thick, so we had to use a spoon to push it through.

Stir in 3 tablespoons of heavy cream.

Then take the crust out of the oven (it should be ready by now) and pour the hot filling over the hot crust.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the middle part of the filling wiggles just a little when you shake the pan.

Take the bars out of the oven and let them cool on a wire rack for 45 minutes.  When they’re completely cool, sift powdered sugar over the top of the bars.  This is optional, but I think you should do it because it makes the bars not so tart and because it makes the bars look delectable!

Be warned, though…after a day or two, the powdered sugar melts into the bars, so then they don’t look quite as nice.

Let us know what you think of these if you try them!

Lemon Bars

Printable Lemon Bar Recipe

For the crust

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 1-inch pieces

For the lemon filling

7 large egg yolks, plus 2 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2/3 cup lemon juice (from 4 or 5 medium lemons), plus 1/4 cup finely grated zest (we used 1/8 cup of zest)
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
3 tablespoons heavy cream
Confectioners’ sugar, optional

In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt; pulse to combine.  Add the butter, and pulse until the mixture is light yellow and looks like coarse meal.  Press into a greased 8×8 inch square baking pan.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Bake crust for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

While the crust is baking, make the filling.  In a non-reactive bowl, whisk egg yolks and eggs together.  Whisk in sugar, then whisk in lemon juice, zest, and salt.

Pour into a non-reactive saucepan and add the butter.  Cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture reaches 170° F and thickens slightly.  Pour through a fine-mesh sieve to remove zest and any cooked egg bits.

Pour hot filling over hot crust (it should be done baking by now).  Bake bars for 10-15 minutes, or until center of bars barely jiggles when pan is shaken.  Cool bars on wire rack for 45 minutes.

Optional: When bars are completely cool, sift powdered sugar over the top.


  1. Wow, I really, really like the sound of this recipe. I AM a fan of tart, lemony things– lemon curd specifically– and the heavy cream also takes it over the top! My go-to lemon bar recipe has this same crust, but the filling isn’t cooked before baking. Coincidentally, I made those yesterday- so I can’t wait to try these to compare!

  2. The lemon bars look so good.
    I want to point out that your insructions say whisk in granulated, you forgot to write “sugar”, but I’m sure everyone understood what you meant.

  3. Lemon Bars, take three? Here’s another interesting recipe that was posted today. Perhaps you can hold a Lemon Bar Bake-Off after the holidays. On a cold winter day, Lemon Bars always remind me of summer.


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