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🍋 Cooks Illustrated Lemon Bars

Cooks Illustrated Lemon Bars

⏲ Total Time
2.23 hours

🧂 Ingredients - Crust

  • 🌾 120 g all-purpose flour
  • 🍬 50 g granulated sugar
  • 🧂 1 tsp salt
  • 🧈 113 g unsalted butter

🧂 Ingredients - Filling

  • 🍬 198 g granulated sugar
  • 🌾 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 💨 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 🧂 0.5 tsp salt
  • 🥚 3 large eggs
  • 🥚 3 large egg yolks
  • 🍋 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 🍋 0.67 cup lemon juice
  • 🧈 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 🍬 some confectioners' sugar (optional)

🍳 Cookware

  • 1 foil
  • 1 8 inch square baking pan
  • 1 bowl
  • 1 fine-mesh strainer

📝 Instructions - Crust

Step 1

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350°F. Make foil sling for 8 inch square baking pan by folding 2 long sheets of aluminum foil so each is 8 inches wide. Lay sheets of foil in pan perpendicular to each other, with extra foil hanging over edges of pan. Push foil into corners and up sides of pan, smoothing foil flush to pan.


Do not use an aluminum pan because the acid from the lemon juice can react with the aluminum, leaving a metallic taste.

Step 2

Whisk all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, and salt together in bowl. Add melted unsalted butter and stir until combined. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and press into even layer over entire bottom of pan (do not wash bowl). Bake crust until dark golden brown, 19 to 24 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking.

📝 Instructions - Filling

Step 3

Massage the granulated sugar with the lemon zest until fragrant.

Step 4

While crust bakes, whisk granulated sugar and lemon zest mixture, all-purpose flour, cream of tartar, and salt together in now-empty bowl. Whisk in eggs and egg yolks until no streaks of egg remain. Whisk in lemon juice (4 lemons). Transfer mixture to saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and registers 160°F, about 5 to 8 minutes. Off heat, stir in unsalted butter cut into 8 pieces. Strain filling through fine-mesh strainer set over bowl.

Step 5

Pour filling over hot crust and tilt pan to spread evenly. Bake until filling is set and barely jiggles when pan is shaken, 8 to 12 minutes. (Filling around perimeter of pan may be slightly raised.) Let bars cool completely, at least 1.5 hours. Using foil overhang, lift bars out of pan and transfer to cutting board. Cut into bars, wiping knife clean between cuts as necessary. Before serving, dust bars with confectioners' sugar (optional), if using.

🔗 Sources