Millie’s Old Fashioned Lemon Bars

These lemon bars, with the buttery crust, the tangy lemon curd, and the kiss of powdered sugar, are an old classic that is always sure to please. This is a quick and easy recipe that epitomizes the taste of summer.
Glass pan of lemon bars with a shortbread crust and dusted with powdered sugar
I am very particular about lemon bars. I like just about any brownie, cookie, or pie, but a lemon bar has to be a delicious symphony of textures and flavor.

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In other words, a great lemon bar has to have a crumbly, slightly salty, buttery shortbread crust. It has to have a thick layer of lemon curd that is a perfect balance of sweet and tangy. Oh, and the curd should be custardy, not gelatinous, like jello. Finally, it should have a sweet dusting of powdered sugar to bring it all together.

I have made many variations of a lemon bar and they were good. However, some were overly sweet, others way too tart. A few didn’t have enough of the lemon flavor that I adore.thus, I became intrigued with how I could add depth of flavor without compromising the delicious lemony flavor.

Old fashioned lemon bars dusted with powdered sugar

What I discovered is that a hint of vanilla mellows the acidity of the lemon and a few tablespoons of heavy cream adds that luscious mouthfeel that I was looking for.

The shortbread crust, which is a bit sweet and a bit salty, provides a wonderful textural contrast to the creamy lemon curd. All in all, a perfect lemon bar.


  • Use only fresh lemons in this recipe.  Bottled lemon juice is way too acidic and has an odd aftertaste to it.
  • Roll the fresh lemons on the countertop before zesting and slicing in half. This will help you to get all of the juice out of them.
  • I prefer using a glass baking pan for these lemon bars.  A glass pan will not react to the acid in the lemon juice.  I have detected a very mild metallic taste when baking the bars in a metal pan.
  • Using a bench scraper helps to get perfectly clean square cuts.
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Glass pan of lemon bars with a shortbread crust and dusted with powdered sugar



An easy recipe for old fashioned lemon bars.



For Crust

  • 1 cup salted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour

For Filling

  • 2 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup flour
  • 6 extra large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Line the bottom of a 9×13-inch glass baking pan with parchment paper. Leave a bit hanging on each side to make removing the bars from the pan easier. Set aside.
  3. For the crust: in the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and powdered sugar. Add in the vanilla and mix. Slowly add in the flour. Mix until the flour is fully combined into the butter and sugar. The mixture will be crumbly.
  4. Using your hands, press the crust mixture into the parchment lined baking pan. Be sure to evenly press the crust down into the pan – especially the corners.
  5. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until very lightly browned around the edges. Remove from oven and set aside.
  6. For the filling: In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and flour.
  7. In a separate medium bowl, beat the eggs, vanilla, and heavy cream together. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and whisk together until fully combined.
  8. Stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest. Whisk the mixture until smooth and creamy.
  9. Pour the lemon mixture over the warm shortbread crust.
  10. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the center is set and it doesn’t jiggle in the center. Don’t over bake.
  11. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
  12. When ready to serve, use the paper overhang to lift the bars from the baking pan.
  13. Dust with powdered sugar.
  14. Using a bench scraper or a large knife, cut into 24 squares.
  15. Serve chilled.
  16. Enjoy.


  • Serving Size: 1



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