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Lemon Bars with Graham Cracker Crust

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A delicious recipe for classic lemon bars but with a graham cracker crust! We use Ina Garten’s lemon bar recipe for the filling and pour it over a crust of toasted buttery graham crackers. This shortcut not only tastes delicious, but it takes a fraction of the time to make.

A stack of tangy lemon bars on a graham cracker crust

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How To Make Lemon Bars With a Graham Cracker Crust:

Makes 24 lemon bars.

Ingredients you’ll need for the crust:

  • 18 sheets (2 packs) of honey graham crackers
  • 1/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 10 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • pinch of salt

I’m using a variation of my perfect homemade graham cracker crust recipe, which is adapted for a 9×13 inch pan.

For the lemon bar filling:

This recipe was lightly adapted from Ina Garten’s Lemon Bar recipe.

  • 3 cups of granulated sugar
  • 1 cup of fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon zest
  • 7 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup of all purpose flour
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Make the graham cracker crust:

Preheat the oven to 400° and spray a 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray. Line the center of the pan with parchment paper. Cut a piece large enough to let the paper hang over the sides of the baking dish. This creates a sling and makes getting the bars out of the pan easier! Spray the parchment with cooking spray too.

Break your graham crackers into big pieces and put them in the bowl of a food processor.

Add the sugar and the pinch of salt. Process the ingredients until only a few big lumps of graham cracker remain.

Pour in the melted butter and pulse until the crumbs are crushed fine and evenly moistened. They should clump together slightly.

Pulse the graham crackers with sugar and butter for the crust base

Pour the crumbs into the prepared baking dish and use the bottom of a glass to press the crumbs into an even and compact layer.

Press graham cracker crumbs into an even and neat layer

Pop the baking dish into the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up. This is optional if you don’t have the freezer space, but it helps keep the crumbs in place when we brush on the egg wash later.

Once the cracker mixture has firmed up, pour the beaten egg over the crust and use a pastry brush to distribute the egg wash evenly over the surface.

Pop the baking dish in the oven and bake the crust at 400° for 12-15 minutes until the outer edges of the crust begin to brown.

Make the lemon filling

While the graham cracker crust is baking, combine the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, eggs, and flour in the bowl of a blender or food processor. Add the flour last to prevent clumping. Blend until smooth and well mixed, about 20-30 seconds.

Once the crust is baked, remove it from the oven and turn the temperature down to 350°.

Pour the lemon mixture over the hot graham cracker crust.

Pop the baking dish back into the 350° oven and bake for 30-35 minutes.

The lemon bars are done when the center doesn’t jiggle and the sides look puffed. Some slight browning around the edge is ok, but the top of the bars should be very light in color.

Remove the bars from the oven and allow them to cool to room temperature, for about 4 hours.

Finished lemon bars out of the oven

Once cooled, cut into 24 squares and dust with powdered sugar before serving.

How do you neatly cut lemon bars?

The best way to cut lemon bars is:

  1. By using a sharp knife,
  2. Cutting the bars while they’re cold
  3. Having a warm, damp cloth nearby to clean the knife in between cuts.

To cut up your lemon bars, run a knife in between the corners of the lemon bars and the edge of the pan (get down to that graham cracker crust!) Use your parchment paper sling to carefully remove the bars and set them on a large cutting board.

Using a large chef’s knife, trim all the jagged edges off the bars to make a neat and even rectangle.

Next, cut the rectangle in half to make two squares. If your knife is long enough, do this in one cut. Wipe the blade clean with a damp cloth.

Cut the lemon squares in half

After cutting the rectangle into two manageable squares, divide each of those squares into 3 long strips (6 strips total). Cleaning the knife in between each cut.

Cut the squares into strips

Then cut each of the strips in half and then half again to create 24 lemon bars. Wipe the knife clean in between each cut.

A row of neatly cut lemon squares

Storing Lemon Bars

When storing your bars, always make sure they’re kept in an airtight container or wrapped tightly in plastic.

Can Lemon bars be left out?

The best way to store lemon bars is in the fridge. The filling contains a lot of eggs, which is not the ideal food for storing at room temperature. Keeping these in the refrigerator will slow the growth of bacteria and keep the bars from breaking down quickly.

With that being said, it’s totally fine to leave lemon bars out at room temperature for a few hours at a party or while they’re cooling.

Just wrap any leftovers tightly and pop them in the fridge or freezer when you’re done serving them.

Lemon bars with a crisp graham cracker crust

Freezing Lemon Bars

These bars freeze beautifully–which is great because this recipe makes enough for a crowd!

To freeze, store the lemon bars in an airtight and freezer safe container and pop them in the freezer. If you need to stack the bars, put a piece of parchment paper in between the squares. This will prevent sticking.

When you’re ready to eat, just take the bars out of the freezer and let them thaw at room temperature (about 30 minutes) or in the fridge.

Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!

Can You overcook lemon bars?

Yes, lemon bars can go from perfect to overcooked very easily. It can be hard to tell when the bars are done because you can’t really stick a toothpick in them like you can with a cake. Overcooking leads to a rubbery filling–not delish.

To prevent overcooking, make sure your bars are in a properly sized pan–too much filling in a small pan will give you overcooked edges and gooey middles.

You’ll know the lemon bars are done when they have puffed up and the center does not look wet and does not jiggle.

Lastly, you don’t want the bars to brown. Some browning around the very outer edge is ok, but the top of the bars should not be browned.

Making lemon bars in an 8×8 pan:

Sometimes you only want a few lemon bars, and that’s ok!

Both the lemon bar filling and the graham cracker crust can be divided easily in half to fit an 8×8 baking dish.

The only thing you’ll need to do is watch your baking times.

Start checking the graham cracker crust around the 8 minute mark on the first bake. When you’re baking the lemon filling, start checking your baking time around the 25 minute mark, to prevent overcooking.

You’ll also want to reduce your eggs to 3 large eggs for the filling.

Variations and substitutions:

I love using Ina Garten’s lemon bar recipe as the filling for these bars. It’s super lemony, foolproof, and comes together quickly. With that being said, if you have your own favorite lemon bar filling, by all means, use that! Just make sure it’s enough filling for a 13 x 9 baking dish.

Or you can take a peek at these other subs and swaps:

  • Pioneer Woman has a great lemon bar recipe, this would make a fantastic filling
  • If you have a favorite recipe for creamy lemon bars or a no bake lemon filling, that would be great to use too!
  • Swap the graham crackers for vanilla wafers, lemon cookies, or crushed shortbread cookies, you’ll need about 2 2/3 cups of finely crushed cookies.
  • If you don’t have a blender or food processor, you can whisk the filling ingredients by hand. Whisk the lemon, sugar, and eggs together first, and then whisk in the flour slowly at the end. This will help prevent lumps from forming!
Easy Lemon Bars with a graham cracker crust among other lemon squares

Tips and Notes:

  • The graham cracker crust will require 2 full packs (18 whole crackers) from a 3-pack box. This also works out to be 2 2/3 cups (9 oz) of crushed grahams altogether.
  • The egg wash acts as a moisture barrier, keeping the graham cracker crust from getting soggy under the lemon filling. We used this same technique on our Apple Pie with Graham Cracker Crust.
  • Ina’s original lemon bar recipe calls for 6 extra large eggs. However, since I only ever have large eggs in the house, I’ve adjusted the filling recipe to use 7 large eggs.
  • You’ll need 4-6 lemons total for this recipe
  • This filling recipe does call for flour, which can lump easily in liquids. By using a blender and adding the flour as the last ingredient, you can ensure that your lemon bar filling will be completely smooth.
  • Use fresh lemons. The fresher the lemons, the more flavor you’ll get, as well as more juice and zest.
  • Do not use store bought lemon juice for this recipe. The flavor is totally different than a fresh lemon.

Other recipes you might like:

No Bake Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake

Apple Pie With Graham Cracker Crust

Air Fryer S’mores

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A stack of tangy lemon bars on a graham cracker crust

Lemon Bars With Graham Cracker Crust

Yield: 24 Bars
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Additional Time: 1 minute
Total Time: 1 hour 1 minute

An easy way to make classic lemon bars on a toasty graham cracker crust. It's a shortcut that not only tastes amazing, but cuts down the baking time!

Ingredients

Graham Cracker Crust

  • 18 sheets (2 packs) of honey graham crackers
  • 1/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 10 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, beaten

For the lemon bar filling:

  • 3 cups of granulated sugar
  • 1 cup of fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon zest
  • 7 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup of all purpose flour
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Instructions

    Make the graham cracker crust:

    1. Preheat the oven to 400° and spray a 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray. Line the center of the dish with parchment paper. cutting a piece large enough to let the paper hang over the sides of the baking dish. This creates a sling and makes getting the bars out of the pan easier! Spray the parchment with cooking spray too.
    2. Break your graham crackers into big pieces and put them in the bowl of a food processor. Add the sugar and pinch of salt. Process the ingredients until only a few big lumps of graham cracker remain.
    3. Pour in the melted butter and pulse until the crumbs are crushed fine and evenly moistened. They should clump together slightly.
    4. Pour the crumbs into the prepared baking dish and use the bottom of a glass to press the crumbs into an even and compact layer.
    5. Pop the baking dish in the freezer and for 10 minutes to firm up. *This is optional if you don't have the freezer space, but it helps keep the crumbs in place when we brush on the egg wash later.
    6. Once the cracker mixture has firmed up, pour the beaten egg over the crust and use a pastry brush to distribute the egg wash evenly over the surface.
    7. Pop the baking dish in the oven and bake the crust at 400° for 12-15 minutes until the outer edges of the crust begin to brown.

    Make the lemon filling

    1. While the graham cracker crust is baking, combine the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, eggs, and flour in the bowl of a blender or food processor. Add the flour last to prevent clumping. Blend until smooth, about 20-30 seconds.
    2. Once the crust is baked, remove it from the oven and turn the temperature down to 350°.
    3. Pour the lemon mixture over the hot graham cracker crust.
    4. Pop the baking dish back into the 350° oven and bake for 30-35 minutes.
    5. The lemon bars are done when the center barely jiggles and the sides look puffed. Some slight browning around the edge is ok, but the top of the bars should be very light in color.
    6. Remove the bars from the oven and allow them to cool to room temperature, for about 4 hours.
    7. Once cooled, cut into 24 squares and dust with powdered sugar before serving.

    Notes

    This recipe was lightly adapted from Ina Garten's Lemon Bar recipe

    Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 260Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 75mgSodium: 80mgCarbohydrates: 46gFiber: 1gSugar: 35gProtein: 3g

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    2 Comments

    1. My husband made these for me for my birthday and they’re delicious! He used an equivalent amount of Schar brand gluten-free graham crackers and they worked great! Great recipe!

    2. I can’t resist Lemon anything! I have my own Lemon Tree and I’m always searching for Lemon recipes! I hate to see good lemons go to waste! Of course there’s no way I can use them all so I donate to senior complexes! These are so delish! I take them to Party’s. Thank You for Posting this Recipe!

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