Beginner's Lemon Bars

Nathalie Dupree prepares a simple lemon bar recipe great for beginner's. (Chris Hanclosky/Staff)

Beginners' Lemon Bars

Makes about 36 bars

Whether for weddings, funerals, church suppers or picnics, lemon bars are always popular. I love making them because I know they’ll be a hit.

For those who are taking their first steps to making pies and custards, this is no-fail. The “short” crust, really a cookie crust, pats out and the custard goes on top. The novice should take special care to grate just the yellow rind of the lemon with no white pith attached. — Nathalie Dupree


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

4 large eggs

Grated rind of 1 lemon, no white attached, optional

Confectioners’ sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 13x9-inch baking dish.

Mix together 2 1/4 cups of the flour, butter and confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl until a soft dough forms. Remove and press dough into prepared pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven.

Beat the sugar, the lemon juice, the remaining 1/4 cup flour, the eggs, and the lemon rind until well mixed. Pour over hot crust. Return to the oven and bake an additional 20 minutes or until set.

Cool on wire rack and cut into bars when cool. The center will be soft like a custard or pie filling. Sift confectioners’ sugar over tops. Separate with parchment or waxed paper if layering to store. These will keep a couple of days at room temperature, covered; refrigerated up to a week; or wrapped well in an airtight container and stored in the freezer up to 3 months.

Nathalie Dupree is the author of 14 cookbooks, including the James Beard award-winning “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking.” She lives in Charleston and may be reached through