Lemon bars are light, refreshing, and taste like summertime. There’s something so wholesome and pure about them, and it’s hard to resist their tart, tangy flavor. If you’re in search of a summery dessert that will take you back to simpler times, look no further than this easy and delicious lemon bars recipe.
The Origins of the Lemon Bar
Lemons have been eaten and enjoyed across cultures since ancient times. They originated in northwestern India and were introduced to southern Italy around 200 A.D. Spanish explorers are believed to have planted the first lemon trees near St. Augustine, Fla., in the 1500s, where they thrived in Florida’s warm, tropical climes. By the 1870s, the state’s booming commercial lemon-growing industry was shipping out 140,000 boxes of lemons every year.
Bar cookies – culinary descendants of brownies and fudge – first appeared in the 1930s, but there is no specific person credited as the inventor of lemon bars. Although the two ingredients for lemon bars – shortbread and lemon curd – have each existed separately for centuries, they didn’t pair up until the 1960s.
The first known printed lemon bars recipe appears in a 1962 edition of the Chicago Daily Tribune. The recipe was submitted by Eleanore Mickelson for the column “Today’s $5 Favorite Recipe.” It calls for two eggs and three tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice, compared to four eggs and juice of two lemons in this recipe.
In 1963, Betty Crocker published a similar lemon bars recipe that omits flour for curd, and it’s been a popular dessert ever since!
Need a taste of sunshine? Learn how to make lemon bars by watching the video below, or download the lemon bars recipe card.
How to Make Lemon Bars
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
For lemon filling:
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- Confectioner’s sugar
- Preheat oven to 350˚ F. To make the crust, combine butter, 2 cups flour, and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl and blend until combined. Press dough into an ungreased 8-inch x 8-inch baking pan. Prick all over with a fork and bake for 20 minutes or until firm.
- While crust bakes, make lemon filling. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/4 cup flour, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and lemon zest.
- Remove crust from oven and pour in lemon filling. Return lemon bars to oven and bake 25-30 minutes, removing before they turn golden brown. Cool completely to room temperature in pan.
- Refrigerate until filling is firm, minimum 2 hours. To serve, sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.
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