These are the lemon bars you’re gonna wanna make!
If these lemon bars are good enough for Miss Paula, they are good enough for all!
Trust, my babies.
OMT will never ever lead you astray: this is the best lemon bar recipe I have to offer.
If you’re in a hurry, click the handy “Jump To Recipe” button at the top of the post for the printable recipe card at the bottom and start gathering the ingredients.
You can come back and read the story about how this easy lemon bar recipe came to be one of my family’s favs, once yours are done and you’re happily eating them!
As a heads-up: this is not an original OMT recipe (no worries – giving credit where due!).
These are lemon bars, Paula Deen style, yo.
Can we just take a moment and love on Paula Deen?
Thank you, Miss Paula, for your enduring love affair with all thangs butter.
You’ve made us better bakers for it.
The role of butter in baking an old fashioned lemon square recipe:
This is a note to all the new bakers out there: Do. Not. Be. A’Feared. Of. Buttah!
Butter in baked goods is your friend. Your BFF.
Without butter, your baked goods just won’t have that eye-rolling deliciousness.
Plus, the texture of whatever you’re baking just won’t be as satisfying without butter.
Full fat butter contributes to the flavor of everything you’re baking, as well.
But the best role of butter in baking is it gives everything a superior mouthfeel.
What is mouthfeel?
Definition of mouthfeel: the sensation created by food or drink in the mouth.
What this means specifically is the satisfying crunch of toast between your teeth, or the creaminess of a high-end ice cream on your tongue, and the POP! of lemon in the custard filling of these lemon bars when it hits your taste buds.
Have you ever had rolled biscuits made with butter?
Holy Macaroni. To. Die.
If you tried to make them without butter, you’d experience a sad face emoji – probably the throw-up face emoji too.
Mouthfeel is essential to enjoying what you’ve baked, so use butter.
Alrighty, to the story of how my love affair with Paula Deen’s Lemon Bars came to be:
A couple of years back, I shared the story about how I would make my beloved mother-in-law a chocolate cake every year for her birthday.
For years, she ooohed and awwwwed over the different chocolate cakes I made her, until one day, maybe 20 years in, she revealed, as we were about to cut the cake, “I don’t like chocolate cake.”
Um ~ Scooby Doo head fake here ~ W-H-A-T THE W-H-A-T?!
To say I was dumbfounded is an understatement.
How had I never noticed?
And the Academy Award goes to…
My Mother in Law!!!
She’d like to thank me for the many years of opportunity to FAKE IT!
I asked her why she hadn’t told me earlier, like 19 years earlier.
She could have avoided the torture ON. HER. BIRTHDAY. for all those years.
She said she didn’t know how to tell me that she wasn’t a fan of chocolate cake; she didn’t want to hurt my feelings.
Really, it’s the sweetest reason, but COME ON!
It’s still a running joke when her birthday rolls around. I always give her a, “I’ll bring the cake. Chocolate, right?”
Since that revelation, I have made her all kinds of things for her instead of chocolate cake.
There have been pies and cookies and bars, in all flavors, excluding chocolate.
Her favorite flavor is lemon, so I’m always on the lookout for lemon dessert recipes in advance of her birthday.
Then one year, I happened upon this recipe that I wanted to try out a few months earlier than her birthday.
For Mother’s Day, I made her Paula Deen’s Lemon Bars.
Two things about baking this lemon bar recipe:
1: No, I wasn’t trying to kill her with butter.
2: I think I can safely say it was the best Mother’s Day present she ever ate.
STOP LICKING YER SCREEN!
Holy moly, I’m telling y’all, they are as delicious (maybe more) as they look.
For the next part, I hope Miss Paula doesn’t get upset.
I did tinker with this old-fashioned lemon square recipe.
Are you surprised?
I am a recipe tinkerer – hear me roar!
Important Lemon Bar Recipe Note:
If you ever read a recipe and you start to think about how you might do it differently to fit your family’s needs, then you understand why I’m always changing bits and pieces of recipes I come across.
Don’t ever let a recipe stop you. See something you can tweak that will make it better for you?
How I tweaked Paula Deen’s lemon recipe masterpiece:
The recipe called for using the butter completely softened.
Nope. Negatory. No can do Paula Deen!
I used the butter before it reached room temperature, while it was still cool, yet not cold.
Such a small change that made a big difference.
Making a crumbly mixture with room-temp butter won’t work. The softened butter will completely mix with whatever you add to it.
To get the perfect crumble, you must use butter before it reaches room temperature.
My modification was perfect; the crust turned out delicious and light.
Wondering what the verdict was with my MIL – did she approve of this easy lemon dessert recipe?
She did – she loved this particular lemon bar recipe and all other tweaks that followed!
I know because I asked her, as she was licking her fingers and wiping powdered sugar off her shirt, her face and her fingers.
She gave me an OMGOODNESS eye-roll with a YES! smile.
Ahhh, that’s what I was looking for!
What about Pink Lemon Bars?
I grow pink lemons and for a fun twist, if you find pink lemons at the grocers, you can also use them!
Pink lemons have a tart finish, so the bars would have more of a POP! on your taste buds, than a smooth creamy lemon.
Play! Go wild!
If you love lemon desserts, if you love sweets, if you love Paula Deen – you’re going to love these bars.
SIDE NOTE: I also grow my own Meyer Lemons and when they come ripe in the fall, I squeeze the juice and freeze in ice cubes to use specifically in this recipe.
It makes me insanely happy to have this juice in the dead of winter and to make these bars when I’m craving a light springtime lemon pick-me-up.
Do you have to use Myer Lemon juice?
Use what you gots, my babies; they’ll be delicious either way.
Meyer lemons are a sweeter variety with less twang – using them in baking has a subtle difference in taste.
They are definitely proffered lemon for baking, but I will use what I have on hand.
How do you store leftover lemon bars?
Hahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaa and HA!
You’re kidding me, right?
Leftovers? I can’t even decide if this question is a prank or a for realzy.
On the chance that this is a legit question, you should cover them tightly and store them in the fridge for three to four days (still laughing – they’ll NEVER EVER last that long).
You know, if you and all you shared with aren’t already storing them in yer belly!
I have never put these bars in the freezer, so not sure, based on their custard consistency, that they’d do well frozen, so I’m leaving that experiment to you.
Are you looking for healthy lemon bars, IE dairy free, gluten-free or vegan?
Uh-oh. You best keep on moving.
These bars are good for what ails your spirit, not your holy temple of flat abs and strong core.
Healthy, they are not (although, they do have real lemon juice, so a serving of fruit?!)
I can say this, as one who has almost met Jesus on at least three occasions: some days you need to feed your spirit butter in order to keep moving forward.
Ain’t nothing wrong with a splurge now and again.
I’m pretty sure Jesus would agree.
Happy Baking, Y’all!
P.S. Here’s a link if you’d rather have Pink Lemonade Bars.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
- Pinch salt
- 2 sticks butter, at room temperature
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Lightly grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch pan.
- Make the crust by combining the flour, confectioners' sugar, and salt in a large bowl.
- Cut in the butter to make a crumbly mixture.
- Press the mixture into the prepared pan. You may need to dip your fingers into a little flour or confectioners' sugar to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- Mix the eggs, granulated sugar, flour, and lemon juice.
- Pour this over the baked crust and bake for 25 minutes longer.
- Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar, if desired, when the bars are done.
The recipe calls for room temperature butter, but that seemed a little to soft to me, so the only modification I made to the recipe was using the butter before it reached room temperature, while it was still cool, yet not cold.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1 bar
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 311Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 77mgSodium: 118mgCarbohydrates: 47gFiber: 1gSugar: 32gProtein: 4g
Original post: April 27, 2015. Updated May 13, 2021.
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Rest yer weary fingers.
Except to click on the image.
You still have enough strength for that.
YOU CAN DO IT!