Get ready for the most delicious lemon bars with a graham cracker crust! You only need 8 ingredients to make these simple and fresh lemon bars. They make the perfect dessert for parties, baby showers, or just a special weekend treat!
This extra thick lemon curd rests on top of a delicious graham cracker crust. The graham cracker crust is baked first before pouring the lemon curd on top and baking again. I always decorate my lemon bars with confectioners’ sugar! If you’re looking for more lemon desserts, check out my lemon poppy seed bundt cake.
Tell me about this recipe!
- These lemon bars are packed with fresh lemon juice and lemon zest, giving you a tart and tangy lemon bar rather than a bar that is overly sweet.
- The graham cracker crust is made first, giving you time to make your lemon curd. The bars are then baked again with the lemon curd on top.
- Lemon curd is made over the stove. While other recipes have you just pour whisked eggs and lemon juice together, I found making a lemon curd on the stovetop gives you a thicker and firmer lemon layer. I also found that not cooking it on the stove before baking led to a white layer as well as bubbles on top.
The printable recipe card with the full list of ingredients and instructions can be found at the bottom of this post.
- Lemons: we need fresh lemons for the zest and juice in the lemon layer, be sure to use lemons and not bottled lemon juice!
- Sugar: we’re using light brown sugar in the graham cracker crust and then regular sugar in the lemon curd. There isn’t too much sugar in the lemon curd so it isn’t overly sweet!
- Cornstarch: using cornstarch, also known as cornflour in the UK, will mean our lemon curd can thicken up so we have a nice thick layer that isn’t flimsy
- Graham Crackers: as this recipe is called lemon bars with graham cracker crust we obviously need graham crackers! If you live in the UK you can substitute graham crackers for digestive biscuits, though I found the crust to be a bit richer compared to using graham crackers.
How to make this recipe
Step 1: Preheat your oven to 375 and line a 8×8 pan with parchment paper, butter the pan (I found this makes it easier to remove your lemon bars after compared to not greasing the paper!). Crush graham crackers in a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor then place the graham crackers in a large ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin.
Step 2: Add in your melted butter, salt and light brown sugar and pulse until all the crumbs are moistened. No food processor? Pour the crumbs into a bowl and use a spoon to mix with the melted butter, salt and light brown sugar.
Step 3: Pour the crumbs into your prepared pan. I like using a rubber spatula to firmly press into the pan evenly, though you could also use the bottom of a metal measuring cup. Bake for 15-18 minutes, it should be slightly golden on top. Let it cool and reduce the oven temperature to 300.
Step 4: While your crust is baking start making your lemon curd! In a small saucepan, whisk together half of your sugar, your lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and cornstarch over medium heat. Whisking until the sugar has completely dissolved, then allow it to come to a boil. Whisk constantly until it slightly thickens, this takes about 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Step 5: In a medium bowl, whisk together your egg, egg yolks and the rest of your sugar until it is smooth and thick. This should take about one minute.
Step 6: While whisking your egg mixture, slowly pour in about half of your hot lemon mixture a tablespoon at a time.
Step 7: Now pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan over medium-low heat, whisking constantly. Whisk for about 5 minutes, until it is thick. You’ll know it’s done when you can dip a spoon into the curd and it covers the spoon without dripping down. Take the pan off of the heat and add the butter a piece at a time, whisking constantly.
Step 8: Slowly pour in your lemon curd on top of your graham cracker crust. At this point the crust shouldn’t be hot anymore. If the crust is too hot it might break apart when you pour the curd in. Bake for 30-35 minutes. The middle might still jiggle but the sides should have set. Let it cool at room temperature then place in the fridge for at least 3 hours before slicing.
- I make sure that all of my ingredients are at room temperature before I start the recipe, so pull out all of the ingredients about an hour or two before you start baking.
- I highly recommend using a weighing scale and measuring out your ingredients the metric way. It makes a huge difference to your baking and is the most accurate way to bake!
- Allow the graham cracker crust to cool slightly before pouring the lemon filling in. If the crust is too hot, the hot lemon curd might break apart the crust.
- Squeeze the lemon juice over a fine meshed sieve so you don’t have any of the lemon bits or pips going into your filling.
Frequently Asked Questions
The main reason for lemon bars cracking is overbaking them. Either you’ve baked them for too long or you’ve baked them at too high of a temperature.
Yes, lemon bars should be placed in an airtight container and refrigerated.
The sides of the lemon bars should be set, but the middle will still jiggle a bit when you take them out of the oven.
Try these desserts next!
Lemon Bars with Graham Cracker Crust
- 1 8×8 baking pan
- 1 egg room temperature
- 5 egg yolks room temperature
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 150 grams sugar
- pinch kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest from about 2 lemons
- 170 ml lemon juice
- 113 grams unsalted butter room temperature
- Confectioners' sugar to decorate
Graham Cracker Crust
- 150 grams graham crackers crushed
- 84 grams unsalted butter melted
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 43 grams light brown sugar
- Preheat your oven to 190°C/375°F. Line your pan with parchment paper so you have a sling (this will make it easier to take the bars out) and butter the bottom and sides.
- Pulse your graham crackers in a food processor until fine. Pour the melted butter, light brown sugar and salt and pulse until it is completely moistened.
- Pour the crust into the bottom of the pan and use your fingers, the bottom of a metal measuring cup or a silicone spatula to press gently into the bottom. Make sure it is completely even. Bake for 15-18 minutes until set and golden brown, then take out to cool.
- Reduce oven temperature to 150°C/300°F.
Make Lemon Curd
- In a small saucepan, add the lemon juice, cornstarch, lemon zest, salt and half of your sugar. Cook over medium heat while whisking until the sugar has dissolved. Once it begins to boil, whisk constantly until it has thickened slightly and then remove from the heat. This part in total takes about 5 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, egg and rest of the sugar until it is smooth and thick. This will take about 1 minute.
- While whisking, slowly pour in your hot lemon mixture into the eggs until you have added half of the lemon mixture.
- Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan and whisk constantly over medium-low heat, until it is thick enough to cover the back of a spoon and running a finger through it it should leave a line – this will take up to 5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and whisk in your butter, a small piece at a time, making sure you allow the butter to completely melt before adding the next piece.
- Pour the still hot curd over your crust, use an offset spatula to cover it evenly. Bake for 30-35 minutes, the middle will still be a bit jiggly but the sides will have set. Remember to lower the oven temperature!
- Let the lemon bars cool completely at room temperature, then store in the fridge for at least 3 hours before slicing. Slice and then sift powdered sugar on top.