Lemon squares are a favorite of mine, especially because this recipe was shared with me by my grandmother. Seeing her handwriting on a recipe card and baking these lemony treats is a special way that I remember her joy of baking these for family gatherings.
Lemon comes in a close second to chocolate in my ranking of desserts…usually. For these lemon squares, though, I’d pass right by a chunk of chocolate just to enjoy one (or two or three!) squares of these lemony sweets. This is my grandmother’s recipe and I have yet to be disappointed by it. I’ve made these squares in every home I’ve had in the past fifteen years—levels of humidity and various altitudes can do nothing to dim the bright taste of these lemon squares.
The key to successful lemon squares is to partially bake the crust first, then to add the lemon custard. Bake until the lemon layer is no longer jiggly and then allow the lemon squares to cool in the pan. Sift a dusting of confectioners sugar on top—a step that might date the appearance of the squares a bit, but yes, the recipe comes from the 50s and 60s! I’ve seen contestants on cooking shows receive poor marks for this outdated attempt at plate presentation but I still like it and sift away. My grandmother would serve it no other way!
Gluten free option:
Lemon squares are easily made gluten free if you substitute the traditional flour for a Gluten Free Flour Blend. In this recipe I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten 1 to 1 Baking Flour. In fact, the photos on this post are gluten free lemon squares made with the flour substitute.
My favorite lemon squares or lemon bars are easily made with a shortbread crust and a lemon custard layer baked on top. Finish with a sprinkle of confectioners sugar.
2 sticks of butter (1/2 lb)
1/2 cup of confectioners sugar
2 cups flour (If making the gluten free version, please choose to substitute a Gluten Free Flour Blend. I use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour)
For the Lemon Layer:
2 cups of granulated sugar
1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
zest of 2 lemons
1/3 cup of unsifted flour (If making the gluten free version, please choose to substitute a Gluten Free Flour Blend. I use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour)
1 tsp baking powder
For the Crust:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 13 pan (I use the butter wrapper).
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy then add the flour and blend well. Use your fingers to easily press the dough into the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
For the Lemon Layer:
Beat the eggs until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar, beat until think and well blended. Add the lemon juice, zest, flour and baking powder. Beat until thoroughly mixed. Pour over the slightly cooled crust.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden and the lemon custard is set.
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Looking for more recipes that my grandmother inspired me to bake? This Chocolate Pudding Pie is another nostalgic favorite for sure.
This recipe was originally published in April 2012 and was updated in March 2018.
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