Extra Tart Lemon Bars by Special Request

Extra Tart Lemon Bars by Special Request

These are my favorite lemon bars because they are really tart, the crust is crisp and the ratio of crust to lemon is just right.  Not too much crust and a whole lotta lemon.  If you aren’t a fan of really tart lemon bars, there is a less tart option, but this is how I like them.

The one drawback of this recipe is that they can be a little tricky to cut.  The top may crack some as you pull them out of the pan.  Luckily, a heavy shower of powdered sugar at the end hides imperfections, yummm.

Extra Tart Lemon Bars
Adapted from Lemon Squares recipe in “Stars Desserts” by Emily Luchetti

Print-Friendly Recipe


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice


  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (See Note)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup powdered sugar for dusting

NOTE:  If you don’t like your bars quite so tart, you could cut the lemon juice by 1/3 or even 1/2.  If you do, I recommend adding the zest of one lemon to increase the lemon flavor without quite so much lemon tartness.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.  If you can, line the bottom and sides of a 9 X 13-inch pan with a contiguous piece of aluminum foil that comes up about 2 inches over the long edges of the pan.  (I’m a big fan of heavy duty aluminum foil that comes in larger sheets).  You will use this extra later to lift the cool bars out of the pan.  If you can’t line the pan in this way, you may want to just skip lining the pan.

LEARN FROM MY MISTAKE:  You may notice that I lined my pan with parchment in my photos.  I had an “issue” where it kept curling back onto my crust during baking and I had to add aluminum around the outside of the pan to hold it up.  Also, because I only lined two sides of the pan, some of the lemon filling snuck under the parchment making things messy later.  Avoid my mistake and line the pan, the bottom and all four sides with one very large contiguous piece of aluminum foil.

Combine the flour and the powdered sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Using the paddle attachment, add the butter and mix on low speed until the mixture is the dough comes together and is the size of small peas.  It goes from being kind of a sandy dry mixture to this pea stage pretty quickly (quickly followed by being one big ball of dough, which is too much mixing).

Press the crust into the bottom of a 9 X 13-inch pan.  The crust is very thin, which is what makes it good.  Don’t worry, there is enough to cover the bottom.

Bake the crust for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.  Don’t undercook here, you want the crust to be crisp so that it can hold the filling later.

To make the filling, degrease the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.  Whisk together the eggs and sugar in a large bowl until smooth.  Whisk in the lemon juice and then the flour.  Pour the lemon filling on top of the baked crust.

Bake the lemon bars for about 40 minutes or until the lemon filling is set.

Allow the bars to cool completely before slicing into bars.  Dust with powdered sugar.  Store extra bars in the fridge.

Although this can be picked up and eaten, I think it is best served with a fork.  And I would never make it for a bake sale because the finished bars are very delicate, super delicious, but delicate.