There are so many great recipes for Lemon Squares aka Lemon Bars. For a long time, I considered this one the best. As of now, I still do.
Smooth Lemon Squares Filling
Originally from Cook's Illustrated, this recipe has a slightly creamier, smooth lemon filling thanks to some half & half cream. I think the half & half is what makes these better, as it curbs the acid from the lemon. Also, being a fat, it carries the flavor and helps prevent the lemon bar filling from tasting quite so eggy.
Melted Butter Crust
Over the years I've changed the lemon bar crust. The original one from CI calls for cold butter, powdered sugar and cornstarch and is made in a food processor. I like to use extra soft/almost melted butter, granulated sugar and flour. The crust is just as good (though the texture is different) and it's a lot more convenient. If you want a firmer crust and don't mind using the food processor, the original powdered sugar & cornstarch version is in the notes.
8 Inch Pan Lemon Squares or ⅛ Sheet Pan
I've always made these in a metal pan, but I'm pretty sure using an 8 inch glass dish would be fine. If you need to make a larger batch, the original 13x9 inch pan recipe is here. Recently, I made them in a ⅛ sheet pan. The bars come out thinner, but still very good. I think the thin ones are a little easier to eat, and I kind of like the ratio of crust to filling. But either pan size will work just fine.
Even Less Eggy Tasting -- Update
These Lemon Squares aren't eggy tasting, but if you are really sensitive to egg and want to make double sure you don't taste it, you can try this tip. Crack the eggs into a bowl before using and use a fork to remove the chalaza (also known as "white stringy stuff". It sort of helps, but you'll still taste some egg. I do think it makes the filling smoother.
Quite Possibly The Best Lemon Squares Ever
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (130 grams), pastry flour okay too
- 4 tablespoons granulated sugar OR powdered sugar (50 grams granulated or 30 grams powdered)
- ⅛ teaspoon salt, increase to ½ if using unsalted butter
- 8 tablespoons salted butter, gently melted (114 grams)
- 2 large eggs
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar (130 grams)
- 1 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour (9 grams)
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice, strained if you have time
- 3 tablespoons half & half (light cream) Or use 1 ½ T. cream and 1 ½ T. milk
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- Grease and flour an 8 inch square metal pan or a ⅛ sheet pan. You can use parchment paper or foil if desired, but be sure to grease and flour the lined pan.
- In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Pour in the gently melted, cooled, butter and stir to make a soft dough. Press into the bottom of the greased pan. Chill the dough lined pan for about 30 minutes or until ready to bake.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. When oven is preheated, bake the pre-chilled crust (above) for 18-20 minutes or until edges are very lightly browned. If you prefer a less browned crust, bake at 325 for 25 to 28 minutes.
- While the crust is baking, crack the eggs into a bowl and use a fork or tweezers to remove the white stringy things (chalazae).
- A few minutes before the crust is ready, whisk together all filling ingredients until smooth. REDUCE OVEN HEAT.
- Again, reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Stir filling, then pour filling over the warm crust. Bake for 20 minutes or until filling no longer appears wet and shaky. It won't look completely done, but if small bubbles have formed on the surface it should be ready to remove. It will set as it cools.
- Set on a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Lift from pan, place on cutting board, dust with extra powdered sugar, trim edges and cut into bars.
Firm, Powdery, Food Processor Version Crust
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons flour (114 grams)
- ⅓ cup powdered sugar (40 grams)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch (16 grams)
- ⅜ teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks (84 grams)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. When oven is preheated, bake the pre-chilled crust (above) for 18-20 minutes or until edges are very lightly browned.