8 ratings

Very Tangy Lemon Bars 2.0 Recipe


Very Tangy Lemon Bars

An esteemed New England cooking magazine once pronounced my lemon bars too sour, though my cooking students and guests continue to declare them the best ever. Perhaps it’s a New England versus California thing. I mention this so you will know what you are getting into here: very special (and very tangy) citrus bars with a tender, crunchy crust.

Adapted from “Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-your-Mouth Cookies” by Alice Medrich.


For the crust:

  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (4.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

For the topping:

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (7.875 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ½ teaspoons finely grated lemon zest,* preferably from an organic or unsprayed fruit
  • ½ cup strained fresh lemon juice,* preferably from an organic or unsprayed fruit
  • Confectioners' sugar for dusting (optional)


For the crust:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven.

In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter with the sugar, vanilla, and salt.
Add the flour and mix just until incorporated. Press the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the crust is fully baked, well browned at the edges, and golden brown in the center.

For the topping:

While the crust is baking, stir together the sugar and flour in a large bowl until well mixed. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the lemon zest and juice.

When the crust is ready, turn the oven down to 300 degrees. Slide the rack with the pan out and pour the filling onto the hot crust. Bake for 20-25 minutes longer, or until the topping barely jiggles in the center when the pan is tapped. Set on a rack to cool completely in the pan.

Lift up the foil liner and transfer the bars to a cutting board. If the surface is covered with a thin layer of moist foam (not unusual), you can blot it gently to reveal the zest by laying a square of paper towel on the surface and gently sweeping your fingers over it to absorb excess moisture. Remove the paper and repeat with a fresh piece if necessary. Use a long sharp knife to cut into sixteen 2-inch or 25 daintier bars. Sift confectioners' sugar over the bars just before serving, if desired.