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LEMON BARS - From Cook's Illustrated


I have had many compliments that these are the best lemon bars... ever!
Makes 16 2-inch bars

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Rate this recipe 3.7/5 (51 Votes)


  • Crust:
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 1 1/4 C unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C powdered sugar (plus more to decorate the finished bars, if desired)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 Tb (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 1-in pieces
  • Filling:
  • 7 large egg yolks, plus 2 large eggs
  • 1 C plus 2 Tb granulated sugar
  • 1/4 C finely grated lemon zest (the zest of two lemons) **zest the lemons before squeezing for
  • juice
  • 2/3 C lemon juice (the juice of 2 lemons)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 Tb (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 3 Tb heavy cream



Step 1

Before beginning, read the entire recipe and measure all ingredients.
The warm filling must be added to the warm crust.
Start preparing the filling when the crust goes into the oven.

Be sure to cool the bars completely before cutting them.

1.) For the crust: Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Fold two 16-inch pieces of foil or parchment paper lengthwise to measure 9 inches wide. Fit first sheet in the bottom of the greased pan, pushing it into the corners and up the sides of the pan (the overhang will help in removal of the baked bars). Fit the second sheet in the pan in the same manner, perpendicular to the first sheet. Spray the sheets with more non-stick cooking spray.

2.) Place flour, powdered sugar and salt in a food processor and process briefly. Add the butter and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds, until the mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared pan and press firmly with your fingers in to an even layer over the entire pan bottom and slightly up the sides. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3.) Preheat the oven to 350* and adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Bake the crust for 20 minutes.

4.) For the filling: In a medium-sized non-reactive bowl (glass or stainless steel), whisk together the yolks and whole eggs until combined (about 5 seconds). Add the granulated sugar and whisk until just combined. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice and salt. Whisk until combined.
Transfer the mixture to a medium-sized non-reactive saucepan (the heavier the better). Add the butter pieces and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the lemon curd thickens to a thin sauce-like consistency and registers 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes. Immediately pour the curd through a single-mesh stainless steel strainer set over a clean non-reactive bowl. Stir in the heavy cream; pour the curd onto the warm crust immediately.

5.) Bake until the filling is shiny and opaque and the center 3 inches jiggle slightly when shaken, about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 45 minutes. Refrigerate until completely chilled.

6.) Remove the bars from the pan using the foil or parchment handles and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares, wiping the knife clean between cuts, as necessary.

7.) Sprinkle powdered sugar over the bars, if desired.

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