Want to learn how to make lemon bars? These 9 ingredient lemon bars are creamy, easy, and irresistible. Here’s how to make the Best Lemon Bar Recipe!
Lemon Bars are such a classic dessert recipe. They’re always a crowd pleaser and I can eat a whole tray by myself when the mood strikes! While you might think all lemon bars are the same, these lemon bars my go-to take on the recipe. They are super creamy lemon bars and you’ll notice in the photos, they sit taller than most bars!
How are they so creamy? Well, that’s thanks for my secret ingredient, sweetened condensed milk! Having the sweetened condensed milk mixed into the lemon filling, the lemon bars don’t taste super tart and you’re going to want seconds when you bite into the luscious creamy lemon bar filling!
We also use a graham cracker crust for these bars so not only do you have a creamy texture to them, the crust gives it a nice crisp crunch and holds up the lemon filling so well.
Why You’ll Love These Bars
- There’s not a lot of active cooking time: while the overall time says 3 hours and 32 minutes, 3 of those hours are the lemon bars chilling in the fridge! You spend around 10 minutes actively mixing and preparing the bars to be baked and the rest of the time is spent baking in the oven.
- They’re creamy and luscious: when you bite into these lemon bars, the filling is so creamy, luscious, and soft. You’re going to want to grab a second one!
- Perfect as a make ahead dessert: since these lemon bars need to chill in the fridge, they are the perfect dessert to make the day before for bake sales, parties, pot lucks, etc.
What You’ll Need To Make Creamy Lemon Bars
For the Crust
- Graham crackers – to crush them finely, you can run them through a food processor.
- Butter – make sure to get unsalted butter as we are already adding salt to the filling.
For the Lemon Filling
- Egg yolks
- Lemon zest
- Sweetened condensed milk – be sure to double check that it is sweetened condensed milk. While evaporated milk looks similar, they aren’t the same!
- Lemon juice
For the Whipped Cream
- Heavy cream – cold, and not room temperature
- Powdered sugar
How To Make Lemon Bars
Prepare the oven and equipment – Preheat the oven to 350F and line an 8×8 pan with foil or parchment paper. Leave an overhang on the sides for easy removal once cooled.
Make the crust – In a small bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, salt, sugar, and melted butter. Mix until fully combined then firmly press the crumbs in the bottom of the pan.
Bake the crust – Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool completely. Leave the oven on.
Make the lemon bar filling – In a medium bowl combine the yolks and zest. Beat with a hand mixer until thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Mixing constantly, add the sweetened condensed milk in a steady stream until fully combined. Add the lemon juice and mix until fully combined.
Combine the filling and the crust – Pour the filling over the crust. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the filling is set and no longer jiggly.
Chill the lemon bars – Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Place in the fridge for 3 hours or until thoroughly chilled.
Make the whipped cream – In a medium bowl beat the cream and sugar to stiff peaks, be careful not to over whip the mixture. Spread or pipe the whipped cream onto the cooled bars.
How to Store Lemon Bars
Place your creamy lemon bars in an airtight container or tightly wrapped in the fridge for up to a week. These are the perfect make ahead dessert since they last up to a week, just make sure to hold off on the whipped cream if you’re not serving immediately!
How to Freeze Lemon Bars
You can freeze an entire tray of creamy bars by wrapping it up before storing in the freezer or you can wrap and store individual bars. Lemon bars without the whip cream can be stored for 3-4 months in the freezer. When ready to eat, thaw them in the fridge overnight.
Can I use store-bought lemon juice?
Fresh lemon juice is key for this lemon bar recipe. You’ll taste a difference if you use store-bought lemon juice as they tend to contain preservatives. The lemon juice flavor is not as bright or flavorful as freshly squeezed lemon juice!
Can I use pre-crushed graham crackers?
Yup! You can save yourself some time by purchasing graham cracker crumbs if you prefer.
Can I use store-bought whipped cream?
If you rather not make your own whipped cream, store-bought is fine.
Do I have to let the crust cool before adding the filling?
Yes – this is important. You don’t want to pour your egg based filling onto a hot crust and pan as it can cook your egg mixture prematurely and can make your lemon bars taste off or separate.
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Best Lemon Bar Recipe
- 9 sheets graham crackers finely crushed
- ¼ tsp salt
- 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 5 large egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 2 cans sweetened condensed milk
- 1 ¼ cup lemon juice freshly squeezed
For Whipped Cream:
- ½ cup heavy cream cold
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Line an 8×8 pan with foil or parchment paper. Leave an overhang on the sides for easy removal once cooled.
- In a small bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, salt, sugar, and melted butter. Mix until fully combined. The mixture should be the texture of wet sand.
- Firmly press the crumbs in the bottom of the pan.
- Bake the crust for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool completely. Leave oven on.
- In a medium bowl combine the yolks and zest. Beat with a hand mixer until thickened, about 3-5 minutes.
- Mixing constantly, add the sweetened condensed milk in a steady stream until fully combined.
- Add the lemon juice and mix until fully combined.
- Pour the filling over the crust. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the filling is set and no longer jiggly.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Place in the fridge for 3 hours or until thoroughly chilled.
For Whipped Cream:
- In a medium bowl beat the cream and sugar to stiff peaks, be careful not to overwhip.
- Spread or pipe the whipped cream onto the cooled bars.