- 1 cup softened butter
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 pinch of salt
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 6 large eggs
- 1 cup lemon juice
- 2 lemons (finely grated zest ONLY)
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- icing sugar, lemon slices (optional)
- Prep:Heat oven to 350°F. Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper.
- Crust:Mix butter, sugar, vanilla and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in flour, then press into the prepared pan. Bake around 15 minutes in the hot oven.
- Filling:Whisk together sugar, eggs, lemon juice and lemon zest in a medium bowl until smooth. Whisk in flour and cornstarch until smooth.
- Finish bars:Pour the filling over the pre-baked crust. Bake around 20-25 minutes, until the bars are just set.
- Cool:Let bars cool to room temperature, then place in the fridge after about 2 hours. Decorate with icing sugar and slice to serve.
- Don’t over-mix the shortbread base once you’ve added the flour – only mix until the flour is combined. Otherwise, the base will turn out gummy instead of buttery and crumbly like a cookie.
- Mix the lemon filling just before pouring it over the hot crust, otherwise the eggs could start curdling if it sits on the counter too long.
- Do not overtake the bars, they should still have a bit of a jiggle when you take them out.
- Cool the bars well before slicing them, otherwise they’re still too creamy and won’t come out as neat squares.
- Butter: You can use margarine in place of the butter for the base. The taste and texture will be a little different versus using butter.
- Lemon juice: Bottled or fresh both work; fresh tends to curdle the eggs a little faster though, so do make sure to get the filling in the oven as soon as it’s mixed.
- Lemon zest: Feel free to skip if you don’t have any on hand. The zest does add an extra lemony kick, but the bars are still plenty tart without it.
- Other citrus: You can also use another citrus juice like orange or lime for a different flavor if you want.
- Cornstarch: If you don’t have any cornstarch, use 2 more tablespoons of flour instead. The filling will change texture a little, but it’s still delicious.
StorageThe bars keep well covered in the fridge for up to 3 days. The base tends to soften in the fridge, but they’re still delicious to eat.
This is one of my favorite desserts to whip up – it’s so easy, you’ll be convinced it won’t work. But don’t worry, this is not too good to be true, and the bars come out absolutely amazing with so little work in the kitchen.
I wasn’t always a fan of lemon desserts, but with age I’ve really come around to them 😉 It might help that lemon squares taste like shortbread smothered in lemon curd… Which is not a bad thing at all!