Homemade lemon bars are a citrus lover’s dream, and this easy Meyer lemon bars recipe is no exception. The zesty lemon topping is tart but also sweet, refreshing, and beautifully bright.
The base is a soft shortbread that melts in the mouth. It is the perfect vessel to carry the lemon layer.
This easy lemon squares recipe use Meyer lemon juice. Meyer lemons are actually a cross between lemon and orange so it is sweeter than other varieties.
As this recipe uses a large quantity of fresh lemon juice, the sweetness of the Meyer lemon helps to balance out the tartness.
Substitute lemon varieties
If you love lemon bars that are zingier in flavor, you could use regular lemons. Varieties such as Eureka, Lisbon, or Yen Ben. Or, use a mixture of fresh orange juice and a tarter lemon. You could change it completely, use grapefruit instead, and turn these into grapefruit bars.
If making substitutions, avoid using pure orange juice as this won't have enough flavor or acidity to cut through the sugar. It needs lemon alongside it to balance it out.
There is a lot of lemon in a lemon bar. It doesn’t have the word lemon in the title for nothing. For most people who love citrus, all this lemon zest and lemon juice isn’t a bad thing.
However, as there is such a concentrated amount of lemon juice used in lemon bars, it can sometimes result in a bitter or metallic taste for certain people with sensitive taste buds.
It is often thought that the culprit is using metal saucepans or utensils when making the lemon curd but this isn’t always the case and the aftertaste can still be present even when using non-reactive plastic, glass, or silicone.
Use a 9x9 inch ( 23 x 23 cm) square baking tray or one of similar size.
Alongside the lemons, this recipe uses simple pantry ingredients. So, if you've got a bursting Meyer lemon tree you'll be all set!
- Lemons - As discussed up above, this classic lemon bar uses Meyer lemons.
- All-purpose flour - this is used in the shortbread base
- Granulated sugar - cuts through the lemon bar tartness
- Butter - a key ingredient in the buttery shortbread base
- Eggs - this helps the creamy lemon curd filling set
- Salt - enhances flavor
Step by Step
The shortbread crust
The base layer is made from a shortbread mixture. Shortbread is a cookie with a high butter content and this makes it very tender and buttery when baked.
In a food processor, or using a pastry cutter, mix together the softened butter, flour, lemon zest, sugar, and salt until it creates a soft and crumbly dough.
Line a 9x9 inch ( 23 x 23 cm) baking tray with parchment paper, then press this mixture firmly into the tray. Bake it for approximately 20-22 minutes until lightly browned and just baked through.
The lemon curd
The lemon layer is essentially a lemon curd, made with lemons, eggs, sugar, and a little flour for stability. Don't pre-cook the curd, simply whisk it together and pour it over the baked shortbread layer.
Whisk the flour and the sugar together first to get rid of any flour lumps. Then add in the eggs and lemon.
Bake the lemon bars again until the lemon curd has set. Slightly shaking the pan will show if it has set or not. There should not be a wobble to the curd.
Serving and storing
Once baked, cool the lemon squares to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least an hour before slicing. Dust powdered sugar over the top at the time of serving.
Store lemon bars, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Freeze lemon bars for up to three months.
Freezing individually - Cut the cooled lemon bars and place the sliced bars (without powdered sugar), onto a sheet and put in the freezer for about an hour until firm. Wrap each bar in foil or plastic wrap or place them in an airtight container and freeze.
This recipe makes approximately 16 lemon bar slices.
Meyer lemon bars FAQ
Lemon bars can be frozen for up to three months. They can be frozen individually or as one whole. Cut the cooled lemon bars and place the sliced bars (without powdered sugar), onto a sheet, and put the freezer for about an hour until firm. Wrap each bar in foil or plastic wrap or place them in an airtight container and freeze.
They are best stored in the refrigerator
You can use Eureka, Lisbon, or Yen Ben.
If the lemon curd mixture was beaten too long this can cause cracks in the baked curd. A too-hot oven temperature can also be the cause.
This is a sign that the curd layer was not set and could have done with a longer baking time.
This is a thin layer of foam created from beating the eggs in the lemon curd layer. It's totally normal.
Looking for other bars? Try this blueberry pie bar recipe. Or keen for more citrus instead? Try these zesty orange scones with cardamom or use those extra lemons to make some homemade lemon curd.
This recipe is written using grams as the main measurement.
If you don't have a kitchen scale US* cup equivalents are also included, however, using a kitchen scale to measure grams will give the best, and most consistent results. *US cup sizes are smaller than metric cup sizes.
Meyer Lemon Bars
A sweet and tangy lemon curd layer over a soft, melt-in-the-mouth shortbread base.
- 200g (1 ⅔ cup) all-purpose flour
- 50g (¼ cup) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 170g (¾ cup) softened butter
- 200g (1 cup) granulated sugar
- 30g (4 Tablespoons) all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- pinch of salt
- 120g (½ cup) fresh Meyer lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C).
- In a food processor, or using a pastry cutter, mix together the softened butter, flour, lemon zest, sugar, and salt until it creates a soft dough.
- Line a 9x9 inch ( 23 x 23 cm) baking pan with parchment paper, then press this mixture firmly into the tray. Bake it for approximately 20-22 minutes until lightly browned and just baked through.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and the sugar for the lemon layer until well combined. Add in the eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt, and whisk until smooth. Pour the mixture of the baked base and place it back in the oven.
- Bake for around 20 minutes until the lemon layer has set. Giving the pan a little shake should see that there is no real wobble left to the lemon layer.
- Once baked, cool the lemon squares to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least an hour before slicing. Powdered sugar can be dusted over the top at the time of serving.
For a tarter slice, use eureka or Lisbon lemons or limes.
The cup sizes given are for US cups. Note that these are smaller than metric cup sizes. For best results, use grams.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 222Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 71mgSodium: 136mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 1gSugar: 18gProtein: 3g
Delicate and tangy. Thanks for a lovely, simple and delicious recipe.
So pleased you liked them!