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Zesty Lemon Bars Recipe

Zesty Lemon Bars are a sweet, tangy treat that are perfect for any occasion. These bars have a buttery crust and a lemony filling that's both tart and sweet. They're simple to make and they're sure to be a hit with anyone who tries them. They're a great choice for a summer picnic or a festive holiday dessert. With their sweet and tangy flavor, these bars are a refreshing way to end any meal.

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Photos of Zesty Lemon Bars Recipe

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Most of the ingredients for these Zesty Lemon Bars are pantry staples, including butter, sugar, and flour. However, fresh lemon juice and lemon zest are key to achieving the tart, zesty flavor. When shopping, look for firm, bright yellow lemons that feel heavy for their size - this indicates they are juicy. Use a zester or a fine grater to get the zest, which is just the outer yellow skin of the lemon. Be careful to avoid the bitter white pith underneath.

Zesty Lemon Bars Ingredients

Unsalted butter: This will be used to make the crust. The unsalted variety is chosen so you can control the amount of salt in the recipe.

Sugar: For sweetness in both the crust and the lemon filling.

Flour: Provides structure to the crust.

Large eggs: Gives the lemon filling its custard-like consistency.

Lemon juice: Provides the tart, tangy flavor that characterizes lemon bars.

Lemon zest: Adds an extra punch of lemon flavor to the filling.

One reader, Ferdy Saxton says:

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The zesty lemon bars recipe is a game-changer! The crust is perfectly buttery and the filling is just the right amount of tangy. It's a delightful treat that never fails to impress. I love how easy it is to make, and the end result is always a hit with my family and friends.

Ferdy Saxton

Key Techniques for Perfect Lemon Bars

How to prepare the crust: Combine the butter, sugar, and flour in a food processor and process until the dough comes together into a ball. Press the dough into an 8 by 8 inch pan and bake for 22 to 25 minutes.

How to prepare the filling: In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, eggs, lemon juice, and zest. Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes while the crust bakes, then whisk it again before pouring it onto the crust.

How to bake the lemon bars: Bake the crust with the filling for 30 to 35 minutes, removing it before it starts to brown.

How To Make Zesty Lemon Bars

We are not kidding when we say you can make lemon bars with a crusty shortbread and zesty lemon filling using only 5 ingredients.

Preparation: 5 minutes
Cooking: 45 minutes
Total: 50 minutes



For the crust:

  • 12tbspunsalted butter,frozen and cut in small pieces
  • 6tbspsugar
  • cupsflour

For the filling:

  • cupssugar
  • ¼cupflour
  • 4large eggs
  • ¾cuplemon juice
  • 1tbsplemon zest


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. Line baking pan both ways with parchment paper with overhang.

  3. Add the butter, sugar and flour to a food processor.

  4. Let process for 20-30 seconds or until the dough comes together into a ball.

  5. Press into an 8 by 8 inch pan and bake for 22 to 25 minutes.

  6. Combine the 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/4 cup flour, 4 eggs, lemon juice and zest in a large bowl.

  7. Whisk well and let sit for 15 minutes while crust bakes.

  8. Whisk just before pouring onto crust.

  9. Then bake the crust with the filling for 30 to 35 minutes (remove before it starts to brown).

  10. Serve.


  • Calories: 237.40kcal
  • Fat: 9.99g
  • Saturated Fat: 5.89g
  • Trans Fat: 0.35g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 2.71g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.62g
  • Carbohydrates: 34.81g
  • Fiber: 0.44g
  • Sugar: 23.78g
  • Protein: 3.12g
  • Cholesterol: 69.40mg
  • Sodium: 19.57mg
  • Calcium: 13.03mg
  • Potassium: 47.28mg
  • Iron: 0.40mg
  • Vitamin A: 92.86µg
  • Vitamin C: 4.91mg

Crucial Technique Tip for Zesty Lemon Bars

When zesting the lemon, make sure to only grate the bright yellow skin, avoiding the white pith underneath. The white pith is bitter and can affect the overall taste of your lemon bars. Using a microplane zester can help achieve this. Also, for an extra burst of flavor, consider using fresh lemons instead of bottled lemon juice. Fresh lemons tend to have a more vibrant and tangy flavor that can really elevate your lemon bars.

Time-Saving Tips for Preparing Zesty Lemon Bars

Prepare the ingredients: Gather all the necessary ingredients and measure them out before starting to make the recipe. This will help you work more efficiently and prevent any last-minute scrambling for items.

Use a food processor: Use a food processor to quickly and evenly combine the crust ingredients, saving time and effort compared to mixing by hand.

Multi-task: While the crust is baking, use that time to prepare the filling. This way, you can make the most of your time in the kitchen and streamline the overall process.

Chill the bars: After baking, allow the lemon bars to chill in the refrigerator to speed up the setting process, making them ready to serve sooner.

Substitute Ingredients For Zesty Lemon Bars Recipe

  • unsalted butter - Substitute with coconut oil: Coconut oil can provide a similar richness and flavor to the crust while also adding a hint of coconut flavor.

  • sugar - Substitute with honey: Honey can add a natural sweetness and moisture to the crust, and it also complements the lemon flavor well.

  • flour - Substitute with almond flour: Almond flour can be used as a gluten-free alternative and adds a nutty flavor to the crust.

  • sugar - Substitute with maple syrup: Maple syrup can be used as a natural sweetener and adds a unique depth of flavor to the filling.

  • flour - Substitute with cornstarch: Cornstarch can be used to thicken the filling and create a smooth texture, similar to flour.

  • eggs - Substitute with applesauce: Applesauce can act as a binding agent and add moisture to the filling, creating a similar texture to eggs.

  • lemon juice - Substitute with lime juice: Lime juice can provide a tangy and zesty flavor similar to lemon juice.

  • lemon zest - Substitute with orange zest: Orange zest can provide a citrusy aroma and flavor similar to lemon zest.

Creative Ways to Present Lemon Bars

  1. Elevate the lemon bars: Instead of serving the lemon bars in a traditional square shape, consider cutting them into elegant rectangles or triangles for a more refined presentation.

  2. Garnish with fresh berries: Add a pop of color and freshness to the plate by garnishing the lemon bars with a mix of fresh berries such as raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries. This will not only enhance the visual appeal but also add a complementary flavor to the zesty lemon bars.

  3. Dust with powdered sugar: Before serving, delicately dust the lemon bars with a light sprinkling of powdered sugar. This will create a beautiful contrast against the golden crust and add a touch of elegance to the dessert.

  4. Accompany with a citrus coulis: Create a vibrant citrus coulis using a blend of lemon and orange juice. Drizzle a small amount of the coulis on the plate before placing the lemon bars, and use the remaining coulis as a decorative element on the plate.

  5. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream: Present the lemon bars with a small quenelle or dollop of freshly whipped cream on the side. The creamy element will balance the tartness of the lemon and provide a luxurious touch to the dessert.

  6. Incorporate edible flowers: Introduce a touch of sophistication by incorporating delicate and edible flowers as a garnish. Choose flowers such as pansies or violets to add a visually stunning and gourmet touch to the presentation.

  7. Arrange on a decorative platter: Instead of a regular serving plate, consider presenting the lemon bars on a decorative platter or a slate board to elevate the overall visual impact of the dessert.

  8. Add a citrus twist: Enhance the presentation by incorporating thin slices of lemon or twists of lemon peel as a decorative element on the plate. This will reinforce the citrus theme and add a visually appealing component to the dish.

Essential Tools for Making Zesty Lemon Bars

  • Food processor: A food processor is a versatile kitchen appliance that can be used for various tasks such as mixing, blending, and chopping. It is ideal for making the crust for the zesty lemon bars as it can easily combine the butter, sugar, and flour into a dough.
  • Baking pan: A baking pan is a rectangular or square pan used for baking the crust and filling of the zesty lemon bars. It provides a sturdy and even surface for baking.
  • Parchment paper: Parchment paper is used to line the baking pan for easy removal of the zesty lemon bars after baking. It prevents the bars from sticking to the pan.
  • Whisk: A whisk is essential for mixing the ingredients for the lemon filling. It helps to combine the sugar, flour, eggs, lemon juice, and zest thoroughly.
  • Mixing bowl: A mixing bowl is used to combine the ingredients for the lemon filling. It provides a spacious and convenient vessel for whisking the filling mixture.
  • Measuring cups and spoons: Measuring cups and spoons are necessary for accurately measuring the ingredients such as sugar, flour, and lemon juice for both the crust and the filling of the zesty lemon bars.

Storing and Freezing Lemon Bars: A Guide

  • Allow the lemon bars to cool completely before storing or freezing. This will ensure that the filling sets properly and the crust remains crisp.

  • To store the lemon bars, cut them into squares and place them in an airtight container. Separate each layer with a piece of parchment paper or wax paper to prevent the bars from sticking together. The lemon bars will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

  • If you want to freeze the lemon bars, wrap each square individually in plastic wrap, making sure to remove as much air as possible. Place the wrapped bars in a freezer-safe container or a resealable plastic bag. Label the container with the date and contents. The lemon bars can be frozen for up to 3 months.

  • To thaw frozen lemon bars, transfer them from the freezer to the refrigerator and let them defrost overnight. Alternatively, you can leave them at room temperature for about an hour before serving.

  • For the best texture and flavor, bring the lemon bars to room temperature before serving. If desired, dust the bars with powdered sugar just before serving to freshen up their appearance.

How To Reheat Leftover Lemon Bars

  • The best way to reheat leftover zesty lemon bars is to preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the lemon bars on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and heat for 8-10 minutes, or until warmed through. This method helps to preserve the texture of the crust and prevents the filling from becoming too runny.

  • Another option is to use a microwave. Place the lemon bars on a microwave-safe plate and heat for 15-20 seconds at a time, checking the temperature after each interval. Be careful not to overheat, as this can cause the filling to become too hot and lose its texture.

  • If you prefer a slightly crispy crust, you can reheat the lemon bars in an air fryer. Set the temperature to 350°F (175°C) and heat for 3-4 minutes, or until warmed through and the crust is crisp.

  • For a quick and easy method, you can also enjoy leftover lemon bars at room temperature. Simply remove them from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving to allow them to come to room temperature naturally. This is a great option if you're short on time or prefer a softer texture.

  • If you find that your leftover lemon bars have become a bit dry, you can add a touch of moisture by brushing the top with a small amount of lemon juice or simple syrup before reheating. This will help to revive the flavors and keep the bars moist.

Interesting Fact About Lemon Bars

The zesty lemon bars recipe is a classic dessert that originated in the United States. These tangy and sweet bars are a popular choice for picnics, potlucks, and parties. They are easy to make and can be stored in the refrigerator for several days, making them a convenient treat for any occasion.

Is Making Lemon Bars at Home Cost-Effective?

This zesty lemon bars recipe is quite cost-effective for a household. The ingredients are simple and commonly found in most kitchens, making it an affordable option. The use of lemons and eggs is budget-friendly, and the recipe yields a generous portion, making it suitable for a family of four. The approximate cost for this recipe would be around $10, making it an economical choice for a homemade dessert. Overall Verdict: 9/10

Are Lemon Bars Healthy or Unhealthy?

The zesty lemon bars recipe, while undeniably delicious, is not particularly healthy. Here's why:

  • The crust is made with a significant amount of butter and sugar, which are high in saturated fat and added sugars.
  • The filling also contains a large quantity of sugar, contributing to the overall high calorie content of the dish.
  • The recipe uses refined flour, which lacks the beneficial fiber and nutrients found in whole grain alternatives.

Despite these drawbacks, the lemon bars do offer some positive aspects:

  • Lemons are a good source of vitamin C, which supports immune function and skin health.
  • Eggs provide high-quality protein and essential nutrients like choline and vitamin D.

To make this recipe healthier, consider the following suggestions:

  • Reduce the amount of sugar in both the crust and filling by at least 25%. You can experiment with natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup to partially replace the sugar.
  • Substitute half of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour or almond flour to increase the fiber content and add a nutty flavor.
  • Decrease the amount of butter in the crust and replace some of it with Greek yogurt or mashed avocado for a healthier fat profile.
  • Incorporate additional lemon zest into the filling to intensify the lemon flavor without increasing the sugar content.
  • Serve the lemon bars in smaller portions and pair them with fresh berries to add more nutrients and fiber to the dessert.

Editor's Opinion on This Lemon Bar Recipe

The zesty lemon bars recipe is a delightful balance of sweet and tangy flavors. The buttery crust provides a perfect base for the luscious lemon filling, creating a harmonious blend of textures. The use of fresh lemon juice and zest adds a vibrant and refreshing citrusy punch, making this dessert a perfect choice for any occasion. The recipe is straightforward and easy to follow, allowing for a delicious treat to be enjoyed by all.

Enhance Your Zesty Lemon Bars Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Roasted Asparagus: Try serving with a side of roasted asparagus drizzled with balsamic glaze for a savory and tangy contrast to the zesty lemon bars.
Grilled Pineapple: For a tropical twist, grill some pineapple slices and serve alongside the zesty lemon bars for a sweet and citrusy combination.
Mango Salsa: Whip up a fresh mango salsa with red onion, cilantro, and lime juice to add a burst of fruity flavor to your zesty lemon bars.
Coconut Rice: Serve the zesty lemon bars with a side of coconut rice for a creamy and slightly sweet accompaniment that complements the tangy lemon flavor.
Lemon Garlic Green Beans: Toss some green beans with lemon zest and garlic for a bright and flavorful side dish to pair with the zesty lemon bars.

Alternative Recipes Similar to Zesty Lemon Bars

Savory Beef Stew: This hearty beef stew is perfect for a cozy night in. Packed with tender beef, potatoes, and carrots, it's a comforting meal that will warm you up from the inside out.
Refreshing Watermelon Salad: This light and refreshing salad is the perfect way to enjoy sweet, juicy watermelon. Tossed with feta cheese, mint, and a tangy vinaigrette, it's a delightful summer dish.
Creamy Butternut Squash Soup: Velvety smooth and full of flavor, this butternut squash soup is a comforting bowl of goodness. With a hint of nutmeg and a dollop of cream, it's the ultimate fall soup.

Appetizers and Main Courses to Serve with Lemon Bars

Stuffed Mushrooms: Create a savory and indulgent appetizer by stuffing mushrooms with a flavorful mixture of cheese, herbs, and breadcrumbs. Bake until golden and crispy for a delicious bite-sized treat.
Bruschetta: Elevate your appetizer game with a classic bruschetta. Top crispy slices of bread with a vibrant mixture of tomatoes, garlic, basil, and balsamic glaze for a refreshing and satisfying starter.
Main Courses:
Chicken Alfredo: Indulge in a creamy and rich pasta dish that combines tender chicken with a velvety alfredo sauce. This classic Italian favorite is sure to satisfy your cravings for a comforting and flavorful meal.
Beef Stir Fry: Whip up a quick and delicious stir fry featuring tender strips of beef and an assortment of colorful vegetables. The savory and aromatic flavors of this dish will transport your taste buds to the bustling streets of Asia.

Why trust this Zesty Lemon Bars Recipe:

This zesty lemon bars recipe is a tried and tested classic, guaranteed to impress with its perfect balance of sweetness and tanginess. The lemon juice and lemon zest provide a burst of citrus flavor, while the buttery crust adds a delightful crunch. Our recipe has been meticulously crafted and perfected, ensuring foolproof results every time. Trust in the quality of our ingredients and the expertise behind this recipe, and you'll be rewarded with delectable lemon bars that are sure to become a family favorite.

Want to share your experience making these tangy treats or have a twist on the classic lemon bar recipe? Join the discussion in the Baking and Desserts forum and let us know your thoughts on these Zesty Lemon Bars!
What is the best way to store zesty lemon bars?
The best way to store zesty lemon bars is to place them in an airtight container and refrigerate them. They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Can I freeze zesty lemon bars?
Yes, you can freeze zesty lemon bars. Once they have cooled completely, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place them in a freezer-safe container. They can be stored in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. When ready to eat, allow them to thaw in the refrigerator before serving.
Can I use bottled lemon juice instead of fresh lemon juice?
While fresh lemon juice is preferred for the best flavor, you can use bottled lemon juice as a substitute if needed. Just be sure to use 100% pure lemon juice without any added sweeteners or preservatives.
How can I tell if the zesty lemon bars are done baking?
The zesty lemon bars are done baking when the edges are set and the center is slightly jiggly. Be careful not to overbake them, as they will continue to set as they cool.
Can I reduce the amount of sugar in the zesty lemon bars?
You can reduce the amount of sugar in the zesty lemon bars slightly if you prefer a less sweet dessert. However, keep in mind that the sugar not only adds sweetness but also helps with the texture and structure of the bars.

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