Lemon Bars with Graham Cracker Crust

Elevate your Lemon Bars with Graham Cracker Crust instead of the traditional shortbread. Just mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter to make a bottom crust, top the graham cracker cookie crust with lemon curd, and bake until firm.

Read on for all the detailed tips and tricks for making the lemon curd and the graham cracker cookie crust. Or just grab your lemons, hit that Jump to Recipe button, and let’s make lemon bars!

cut lemon squares on an angle with three dusted with powdered sugar and one on its side.
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Ingredients

lemons, graham crackers, butter, eggs, and other ingredients on a countertop.

 

This lemon bar recipe has a graham cracker crust topped with thickened lemon curd. It doesn’t have many ingredients, and its sweet tangy taste comes from those fresh lemons.

In initial taste tests, tasters wanted a thicker graham cracker cookie crust and a bit more tang. Feel free to substitute graham cracker crumbs if you don’t have graham crackers in your house, but please use fresh lemons if possible in this recipe.

Want more lemon recipes? Check out a lemon blackberry loaf cake, lemon lavender cookies, or lemon apple curd.

Please see the recipe card below for complete information on ingredients and quantities.

Variations and substitutions

  • Start with graham cracker crumbs in place of whole graham crackers.
  • Switch out the lemons for Meyer lemons or limes.

Recipe tips and tricks

Grease a 8 or 9 inch square baking pan or line the pan with parchment paper and butter. Using parchment lets you lift out the lemon bars out and makes it easier to cut through the graham cracker crust without scratching your pan.

square baking pan lined with parchment paper secured with binder clips.

If you’re using graham crackers, pulverize them in a food processor. Mix the graham cracker crumbs with the sugar, then add the melted butter and mix well.

Press the graham cracker cookie crust firmly into the pan, being sure to press down the edges and corners well. I use a stiff silicone spatula, but any flat-bottomed tool will work.

square baking pan with pressed graham crust in parchment held by binder clips.

Don’t forget to remove those binder clips before putting the pan in the oven! Bake for about 16 to 18 minutes until the graham cracker crust starts to lightly brown. Let cool.

Meanwhile, make the lemon curd topping. This is an easier curd than my blackberry curd tart or lemon apple curd because you don’t need to temper the eggs. Instead, we combine the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice in the pan and bring them to temperature slowly, whisking constantly.

Remove the curd from the heat when the curd starts to thicken – it should be 160 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant read thermometer. Now beat in the room temperature butter cubes.

Pass the lemon curd through a strainer onto top of the graham cracker crust. It’s not like making caramel where you there’s a bit of urgency before things cool down, but try not to dilly-dally and get distracted after you remove the curd from the heat.

unbaked lemon bars in a square baking pan lined with parchment.

Bake the lemon bars for 8 to 12 minutes until the top is just barely set. They should still be a bit jiggly.

Let the lemon bars cool in the pan. If not serving right away, cover and refrigerate.

baked lemon bars in a parchment-lined pan.

Dust your lemon squares with powdered sugar before serving. If there’s some condensation on your lemon bars, you can gently blot it away before dusting.

lemon squares on a counter, some dusted with powdered sugar and one turned on its side.

Recipe FAQs

Do I need to refrigerate lemon bars?

Yes, because lemon bars have an egg custard, they should be refrigerated in an air-tight container. You can keep lemon bars in the refrigerator for about three days, although you may need to dust them again with powdered sugar before serving.

Can I freeze lemon bars?

Yes, lemon bars freeze very well. Just chill and then double wrap in plastic wrap.

How do I cut lemon squares so cleanly?

It’s easiest to get clean cuts if your lemon bars are chilled before cutting. Use a sharp knife and wipe it clean between cuts.

Do these lemon bars really have no condensed milk?

Some recipes use condensed milk in lemon bars for a much sweeter, richer flavor. Taste testers loved these lemon bars, because they’re all about lemon.

Check out other bar cookies from the Ugly Duckling Bakery cookie and brownie recipes, like:

Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-heart 💜💜💜💜💜 rating in the recipe card below. Let me know how much you loved it, or any problems you had, in the comments section further down.

Recipe

Lemon Bars with Graham Cracker Crust

5 from 2 votes
Category: Cookies
Cuisine: Unspecified
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Cooling time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 35 minutes
Servings: 16
Calories: 201kcal
Elevate your Lemon Bars with Graham Cracker Crust instead of the traditional shortbread. Just mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter to make a bottom crust, top the graham cracker cookie crust with lemon curd, and bake until firm. Once cool, use parchment to lift out the lemon bars, cut your lemon squares, and dust with powdered sugar!
Print Recipe

Equipment

  • 1 Food processor if using graham crackers

Ingredients

Graham cracker crust

  • 14 (218 grams) full-sheet graham crackers or about 1¾ cups of graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup (55 grams) well-packed dark brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons 85 grams unsalted butter melted and cooled slightly, plus more butter for greasing the pan.

Lemon curd

  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (32 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs lightly beaten
  • zest of 3 lemons
  • ¾ cup fresh lemon juice from 2 to 4 lemons
  • 4 tablespoons (57 grams) unsalted butter cut into ½ inch cubes and softened

Lemon squares

  • powdered sugar for dusting, optional

Instructions

  • Heat your oven to 325℉. Line your pan with parchment paper if you are using it, then butter your pan or parchment.

Graham cracker crust

  • Add the graham crackers to your food processor and blitz until they have been turned completely into crumbs.
    14 (218 grams) full-sheet graham crackers
  • Add the sugar and blitz to mix. Then add the melted butter and blitz to thoroughly combine.
    ¼ cup (55 grams) well-packed dark brown sugar, 6 tablespoons 85 grams unsalted butter
  • Press the graham cracker cookie crust thoroughly into the prepared pan and bake for about 16 to 18 minutes until the crust is just starting to lightly brown.
  • Remove and let cool.

Lemon curd

  • Whisk together the granulated sugar, flour, and salt in a medium sized sauce pan, ideally one with sloped sides if you have one. Then beat in the eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
    1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar, ¼ cup (32 grams) all-purpose flour, ¼ teaspoon salt, 4 large eggs, zest of 3 lemons, ¾ cup fresh lemon juice
  • Heat the sauce pan over medium low-heat, stirring constantly, for about 6 to 8 minutes until the curd starts to thicken and the temperature reaches 160℉ on an instant read thermometer if you have one. If the curd starts to steam, remove the pan from the burner and turn down the heat slightly.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the softened butter. Once the butter has been incorporated, strain the curd on top of the graham cracker cookie crust and bake for 8 to 12 minutes until the curd has just set. It should still have a bit of jiggle.
    4 tablespoons (57 grams) unsalted butter
  • Let the lemon bars cool in the pan. Cover and refrigerate if not serving immediately.

Lemon squares

  • Cut your lemon bars into 16 two-inch lemon squares. Then dust with powdered sugar to serve, if you like.
    powdered sugar

Notes

This lemon bar recipe makes 16 2 inch lemon squares.
Binder clips are a great tool to use when lining a pan with parchment. Just be sure to remove the binder clips before baking!
Pressing down the graham cracker crust well ensures that the graham cracker base will hold together and not crumble.
It’s important to heat the lemon curd slowly while whisking to prevent your eggs from scrambling!
Wiping your knife between cuts will help you to get lemon squares with clean edges.
Leftover lemon squares can be kept in the refrigerator for three days.

Nutrition

Calories: 201kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 60mg | Sodium: 135mg | Potassium: 58mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 279IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 1mg
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