Easy Lemon Bars with Graham Cracker Crust have a perfectly puckery, creamy lemon filling in a sweet graham cracker crust. The perfect dessert for lemon lovers.
- More Delicious Lemon Desserts
- Why You'll Love This Recipe
- What to do with Leftover Egg Whites
- How to Get the Most Juice Out of Lemons
- Homemade Graham Cracker Crust
- How to Make Lemon Bars with Graham Cracker Crust
- Storage & Freezing
- Expert Tips
- Get the Stuff I Use
- More Delicious Desserts
- Let's Stay in Touch
- Easy Lemon Bars with Graham Cracker Crust
Love lemon desserts? Then you'll go crazy for these easy Lemon Bars with Graham Cracker Crust.
These creamy lemon bars start with a generous layer of luxurious custard made from fresh lemon juice, sweetened condensed milk, and rich egg yolks.
The rich, creamy mixture is then baked in buttery homemade graham cracker crust that's nice and thick.
They're filled with bright, fresh lemon flavor and have the same smooth, creamy texture as a key lime pie -- but in lemon bar form.
These delicious lemon dessert bars are practically perfect in every way.
More Delicious Lemon Desserts
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Zesty lemon filling and a thick, buttery graham cracker crust
Easy lemon bar recipe with simple ingredients
Creamy lemon squares bursting with fresh lemon flavor
Perfect bars for Easter, baby showers, and spring parties
Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full list of ingredients.
Graham cracker crumbs. This graham cracker crust is thick and sturdy. You'll need 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs, or 15-16 graham crackers.
Butter. One stick of melted unsalted butter adds rich buttery flavor and binds the crust.
Granulated sugar. Sugar is necessary in a graham cracker crust because it melts in the oven and hardens when cooled to help the crust hold its shape.
Egg yolks. Egg yolks thicken the creamy lemon bar filling and make it smooth and luxurious.
Sweetened condensed milk. Sweetened condensed milk adds sweetness and creamy milky flavor.
Fresh lemon juice. If possible, please use freshly squeezed lemon juice -- you'll need 4-6 large fresh lemons depending on their size. Bottled lemon juice will work, but the flavor isn't nearly as fresh. I use regular lemons, but you can use Meyer lemons for a sweeter, less-tart flavor.
Lemon zest. Add the zest of two lemons for even more tart, puckery lemony flavor.
Salt. A dash of salt helps bring out all the flavors.
Powdered sugar. Totally optional, but a dusting of powdered sugar is a pretty and sweet finishing touch to lemon bars with graham cracker crust.
What to do with Leftover Egg Whites
There's a ton of potential in those six leftover egg whites! You can:
Make an omelet. For tomorrow morning or breakfast-for-dinner tonight!
Freeze them. Pour them into a freezer safe container and freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator.
Whip up a Lemon Poke Cake. Using only whites in white cake mix keeps the color pure white.
Indulge in Strawberry Brownies. Delicious gooey strawberry bars with cream cheese filling.
Make coconut macaroons. Check out my easy recipes for Cranberry Almond Macaroons, White Chocolate Lime Macaroons, Mocha Chocolate Chip Macaroons, and Vanilla Macaroons.
How to Get the Most Juice Out of Lemons
Want to know how to get the most juice out of your lemons? Here are two easy tricks:
- Roll the lemon over the countertop with the palm of your hand. Apply firm pressure, which helps break up some of the segments inside the fruit and release the most juice.
- Microwave each lemon for 20-30 seconds. The heat softens the fruit and makes it easier to squeeze out the most juice.
Homemade Graham Cracker Crust
The homemade graham cracker crust for these lemon bars is made from my go-to recipe that I use for this No-Bake Cheesecake, Pumpkin Pie, and Chocolate Pudding Pie.
It's thick, sweet, and buttery and works perfectly in a pie plate or a square baking dish. Plus, you can use it for baked or no-bake recipes.
The only adaptation I made for these lemon bars with graham cracker crust was using white sugar instead of brown sugar and I skipped the cinnamon.
It's a delicious graham cracker crust recipe -- and about a million times better than the crumbly, flimsy ones in grocery stores.
Click this link to get the recipe.
How to Make Lemon Bars with Graham Cracker Crust
1. Prep the oven and pan.
Preheat the oven to 350.
Line a 2-quart non-metal baking pan -- 8x8, 11x7, or similar size -- with parchment paper with an overhang for easy removal.
Metal pans can cause lemon bars to pick up a metallic taste.
⭐Pro Tip: To keep the parchment paper from moving around when you press the graham cracker crumbs into it, smear a little butter or spray a little water on the bottom and sides of the pan before lining it with parchment paper.
2. Make the graham cracker crust.
Crush graham crackers into fine crumbs in a food processor or blender. Or place them in a ziptop bag and crush with a rolling pin.
Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter in a small bowl. The consistency should resemble wet sand.
With a measuring cup or glass with a flat bottom, press graham cracker mixture into the bottom of the pan and about halfway up the sides. Use your fingers to press mixture into the corners.
Use enough pressure to pack the crumbs into a compact crust, but don't press too firmly or the crust will become hard.
Bake the graham crust for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while you make the lemon bar filling.
3. Make the lemon bar filling.
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, and salt.
Add the lemon juice and lemon zest. Whisk until combined.
Pour the lemon mixture into the baked crust.
4. Bake, cool.
Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the center is set and the internal temperature is 145.
It should jiggle like set Jello, not slosh like liquid. The top should not be golden brown or have any cracks.
Cool on a wire cooling rack for one hour. Place in the refrigerator uncovered to cool completely for 2-3 hours.
Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
5. Serve, enjoy!
To serve, remove the entire slab of lemon bars from the baking dish, peel off the parchment or foil, and place the slab on a cutting board.
Use a sharp knife to cut the lemon bars into small squares or rectangles, wiping the knife between cuts for extra clean slices.
These bars are sweet and rich, so you can get away with cutting them pretty small. I cut the pan into 18 rectangles.
I start by cutting the slab into 3 rows by 3 columns, then I cut the columns in half. For 36 tiny squares, cut the rows in half, too.
If desired, sprinkle powdered sugar on top or serve with Cool Whip or whipped cream.
Storage & Freezing
Store leftover lemon bars covered in the pan or in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
To freeze lemon bars, wrap them in a double layer of plastic wrap and place in an airtight container or freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator.
I recommend freezing without the powdered sugar -- but you can always add a fresh dusting when thawed.
When pressing the graham cracker crust mixture into the prepared pan, use enough pressure to create a compact crust, but don't press too firmly or the crust can get hard.
Use fresh lemon juice. I know squeezing a cup of fresh lemon juice sounds like a pain, but it's worth it. Bottled lemon juice will work, but doesn't have the same fresh flavor.
Be careful not to overbake or underbake lemon bars. If they're not baked enough, they'll be runny, if they're overbaked, the texture will be tough. Bake them until the filling is set and jiggles like set Jello and the internal temperature is 145.
The most likely cause of runny or underset lemon bars is they weren't baked long enough. These lemon bars with graham cracker crust should be baked until the filling is set and reaches 145 degrees on an instant read thermometer.
Depending on how overcooked they are, lemon bars that have spent too much time in the oven can have a firm, dense texture, and a cracked, leathery, golden brown top.
Before you toss the whole batch, check the middle -- that part might be worth saving.
Yes. Lemon bars are made with egg yolks and condensed milk and should not be kept outside of the refrigerator for longer than 2 hours.
Get the Stuff I Use
I'm not a fan of guessing when something is done. So I use this digital Instant Read Thermometer for checking the internal temperatures of everything from chocolate chip cookie bars and banana bread to pork chops and chicken breasts.
This KitchenAid Food Chopper is perfect for grinding graham crackers for the homemade graham cracker crust. I also use mine for chopping nuts, making small smoothie bowls, and this yummy Oreo cookie crust.
More Delicious Desserts
Let's Stay in Touch
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Easy Lemon Bars with Graham Cracker Crust
Graham Cracker Crust
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs 15-16 graham cracker sheets
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 stick butter, melted
Lemon Bar Filling
- 6 egg yolks
- 2 14 oz. cans sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup lemon juice 4-6 lemons
- 4 teaspoons lemon zest 2 lemons
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar to sprinkle on top, optional
- Preheat the oven to 350. Line a 2-quart non-metal baking pan -- 8x8, 11x7 or similar size -- with parchment paper with an overhang for easy removal.
Make the Graham Cracker Crust
- Crush graham crackers into fine crumbs in a food processor or blender. Or place them in a ziptop bag and crush with a rolling pin.
- Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter in a small bowl until combined.
- Use a measuring cup or glass with a flat bottom to press the graham cracker crumbs into the bottom and about halfway up the sides of the pan. Use your fingers to press the crumbs into the corners. Use enough pressure to pack the crumbs, but don't press too firmly or the crust will become hard.
- Bake the graham cracker crust for 10 minutes. Let cool while you make the lemon bar filling.
Make the Filling
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, and salt. Add the lemon juice and lemon zest. Whisk until combined.
- Pour the mixture into the graham cracker crust. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the center is completely set and the internal temperature is 145. It should jiggle like set jello, not like liquid. The top should not be brown or have any cracks.
- Let cool on a wire baking rack for one hour. Place in the refrigerator to cool completely for 2-3 hours. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- If desired, sprinkle powdered sugar on top. Use a sharp knife to cut into small squares or rectangles, wiping the knife between cuts.
Storage & Freezing
- Store leftover lemon bars covered in the pan or in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- To freeze lemon bars, wrap them in a double layer of plastic wrap and place in an airtight container or freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator. I recommend freezing without the powdered sugar -- you can always add a fresh dusting when thawed.
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