Creamy Lemon Bars
The BEST Lemon Bars Recipe! A buttery shortbread crust topped with a creamy lemon filling. The perfect balance of sweet and tart in each creamy bite!
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 12 ounces cream cheese softened
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 2 large eggs*
- 2-3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest** from about 2-3 lemons (adjust to suit your taste)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice from about 2 lemons
- sweetened whipped cream for serving
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a 9x9 square baking pan with foil or parchment paper. Grease it well, set aside.
Using a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar for 1-2 minutes, until smooth and combined. Add flour and salt and beat until just combined (the mixture will be crumbly, but it should hold together if you squeeze it with your fingertips).
Dump the dough into the prepared pan and press it gently into an even layer. Be careful not to pack it in too tightly, or the crust will be hard to cut through. If necessary, moisten your fingers or palm with water to keep the dough from sticking. Bake the crust for 10 minutes. While the crust is baking, prepare the filling.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat cream cheese until smooth and combined. Add sugar and flour and beat until well combined. Add eggs, lemon zest and vanilla and beat until combined. Slowly add the lemon juice (I like to do this with the mixer running), beating until the lemon juice is fully incorporated.
Pour the batter into the crust and return to the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the filling is set. Place the pan on a cooling rack, cool to room temp, then cover and refrigerate until completely chilled (several hours). Note: I like to serve these slightly chilled. I remove them from the fridge 30 minutes before serving to allow the crust to soften up a bit. Serve topped with whipped cream.
*Most of the yellow color is coming from the egg yolks. I find that pasture-raised, organic eggs tend to have a more deep yellow color, and I prefer those. This recipe will work with any brand/type of large eggs, just be aware that a more pale yolk will result in a lighter yellow end result.
**When grating a lemon, only use the yellow part of the skin, not the bitter white pith. A microplane grater works well for this. Use anywhere from 2-3 tablespoons based on your taste preference.
Calories: 315kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 86mg | Sodium: 130mg | Potassium: 71mg | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 670IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 1mg