New This Month

Zesty Lemon Bars


This recipe, courtesy of Amy Scherber and Toy Kim Dupree, can be found in "The Sweeter Side of Amy's Bread."

  • Yield: Makes 20 bars


For the Crust

  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, plus more for pan
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

For the Topping

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons plus 3/4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center of oven. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

  2. To make crust: In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, confectioners' sugar, cornstarch, and salt; process to combine. Add butter to processor and process until mixture is pale yellow and resembles a coarse meal, about 10 seconds. If you don't have a food processor, whisk together flour, confectioners' sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large bowl. Add butter and work into flour mixture using a pastry blender or your fingers.

  3. Pour crust mixture into prepared baking dish, pressing down with your fingers to create a 1/4-inch-thick layer along the bottom and 1/2-inch up the sides, pressing firmly at the edges to seal. Transfer pan to freezer and freeze for 30 minutes. Transfer to oven and bake, rotating pan once during baking, until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, make the topping: In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, and flour; stir in lemon juice, milk, and salt until well combined.

  5. Remove baking pan from oven. Stir topping and pour into warm crust. Return pan to oven and continue baking until topping is just set but not browned, about 20 minutes.

  6. Transfer baking pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into 20 squares. Serve immediately or wrap each bar tightly with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Reviews Add a comment

  • micheleinsandie
    21 NOV, 2016
    I have made Martha's zesty lemon bars for years. Yes, they do or did include lemon zest. The other zesty recipe is the Meyer's Lemon candied and pureed into this recipe. I prefer the candied pureed Meyers lemons in my recipe. More raves!
  • MS12120306
    30 APR, 2014
    Like it, but it needs tweaking. While there may be some objection to zest, this dish needs the zest of two lemons in the topping (very finely grated off a Microplane). What you get with just the juice is a citric acid bomb with not as much lemon taste as you might imagine there would be. There is also probably a half cup of sugar too much in the filling. The first sensation in the mouth is over-the-top sweetness which quickly gives way to the citric acid with lemon fighting to be noticed.
  • haleforty
    10 MAR, 2014
    if you like a more lemony layer, try these: i love them. they're tart and sweet, and lemony. a perfect balance.
  • DemeterQ
    5 JAN, 2012
    These are the best lemon bars I have ever made. I have not made them since getting a new oven, but with my old oven they were a little raw on top. So to fix I turned on the broiler but kept them on the bottom rack. They were then cooked perfectly and just lightly browned on top.
  • chefchel
    8 DEC, 2011
    I have made this for the last few years substituting the butter with canola oil, and the milk with almond, coconut, or rice milk for a great dairy free alternative.(Keep measurements the same) Even dairy lovers enjoy these! If you are in pinch for lemon juice I recommend Minute Maid's 100% lemon juice concentrate (no preservatives or additvies), I use the entire bottle and it makes these wonderfully tangy!
  • fluffygeckos
    16 MAY, 2011
    These lemon bars came out delicious!!!! everybody who tried them LOVED them! I cut the sugar to 1 1/2 cups instead of 2 and they were still sweet. the only problem was that they were a bit gooey and sticky to eat. but other than that they were lovely!
  • okricky
    28 APR, 2011
    I have made this recipe and it is great before pouring curd on crust have added toated sliveed almonds they float to the top when baking. Then when cooled have made a raspberry puree just the juice and glazed the top. Raves all around
  • aurinha
    7 MAR, 2009
    I made it and i love the taste of curdle and the crust, so easy to do. I'm brasilian, my dad and friends that eat thinck its too acid, whem eated hurts next the ear, hehe.. i had to eat all the bars, but i did not maght ...i'll try to do the curdle with orange juice next time. aurinha
  • AndreaRobin
    4 MAR, 2009
    I finally got a chance to make these and I have to admit they were pretty good, I found the crust a little to buttery tasting, but my friends who were here all loved it and asked for the recipe. and if it were up to my husband, I would definately make ths again, he really loved them!!!
  • MS10461102
    26 FEB, 2009
    I am disappointed with this recipe. Adding the liquid (to the hot crust) made the eggs curdle. I am an experienced cook. Has this happened to anyone else?