This is the best lemon bars recipe! Made with a buttery shortbread crust, this small batch recipe yields 3 to 4 small lemon bars – a wonderful amount for anyone cooking for one. The classic lemon filling is the perfect balance of tart and sweet. These bars are so easy to make too!
This lemon bars recipe has been a long time in the making. Lemon bars have always been a favorite dessert of mine.
Years ago, when my kids were all living at home I would make big trays of these citrus bars for my family to enjoy. My kids and my husband loved them and I loved seeing their faces light up when they saw the bars on the counter.
I’ve wanted to create a small batch lemon bars recipe for many years but scaling down my large batch recipe was quite a challenge.
Every element of this dessert needed to be perfect – the filling had to be soft but not runny. The flavors had to be balanced; not too tart and not too sweet, and the crust needed to be soft yet sturdy enough to hold the filling.
From time to time I would revisit my small batch recipe notes to see what I could tweak to make them right.
While the bars were always tasty, they were never quite perfect. Until now…
Homemade Lemon Bars
A few weeks ago, a reader emailed me requesting a recipe for a small batch of lemon bars. This email excited me because frankly, I had forgotten about this recipe. Her email became my “excuse” to pull out my notes and focus on it again.
I love hearing from readers and always want to provide you with new single serving recipes for your favorite foods.
I know that lemon bars are a favorite dessert for many so I’m thrilled to announce that after much testing and adjusting, we now have this wonderful Small Batch Lemon Bars recipe.
These perfect lemon bars have a buttery shortbread crust, a custard-like filling that has just the right balance of tartness and sweet, and a filling that is not runny or too messy.
I’ve tested the bars using different sized baking dishes to see which ones worked best. In the pictures shown, the lemon bars were baked in a 5-inch baking dish.
I also tested them in smaller round 8.5-ounce ramekins. If you use ramekins this size, the recipe will yield two.
How To Make Lemon Bars
All great lemon bar recipes begin with a tender, buttery shortbread crust.
For the crust, you will need:
- softened butter
Note: this shortbread crust is a tried and true crust recipe. You will also find it used in our Pecan Pie For One recipe.
Making lemon bars is a two-step recipe. You must first make and bake the crust.
Baking the crust without the filling allows to crust to set without absorbing too much of the moisture from the lemon filling which would make the crust soggy.
Lemon Bar Filling
Perfect lemon bars require an absolutely perfect filling and I have to say this filling meets all expectations.
You will need:
- one egg
- lemon juice
After baking the crust, make the filling and pour it over the crust.
Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in a 350° F (177° C) oven.
How To Store Lemon Bars
Since this is a small batch recipe, you won’t have many bars to store. But if you choose to store a couple, just cover the bars and refrigerate. They will stay good for up to 3 days.
Tips For Making The Best Lemon Bars
Follow these easy tips to guarantee the best small batch of lemon bars:
The Best Size Dish To Use For A Small Batch Of Lemon Bars
Use the baking dish that is recommended in this lemon bars recipe or use one that is very close in size. The size of the dish you use matters greatly when making these bars.
If you use a dish that is too large, the bars will be flat and might cook faster.
If you use a dish that is too small, the filling might overflow and the baking time might be longer.
The dish I use most often in this recipe is a 5-inch baking dish.
When I want to make two individual desserts, I will use two 8.5-ounce ramekins. I would like to point out that the ramekins I use state that they are 8.5-ounces but actually hold a little over 8-ounces of liquid.
The Perfect Lemon Bars Crust
When making the shortbread crust, be sure to press the dough firmly and tightly into the pan. You can do this by using the back of a spoon or the bottom of a drinking glass.
Also remember to bake the crust without the filling first. The crust needs a little bit of a head start. Bake it for about 18-20 minutes before adding the filling.
The Perfect Lemon Bars
I would suggest blending the lemon filling with an electric hand mixer. You could whisk the filling by hand but the sugar won’t fully incorporate into the mixture as well. It will still taste incredible, but won’t be a bright yellow color.
You will know when the lemon bars are done with the edges begin to brown slightly and the center is no longer jiggly.
Allow the bars to cool completely before slicing them into squares. This may take about 30 minutes of cooling time in the pan and then additional time on a cooling rack.
Favorite Lemon Recipes
If you like these lemon bars, you might also enjoy these wonderful single serving lemon recipes:
For more information on the cooking and baking dishes I use in our “recipes for one”, please visit our FAQ page.
For examples of the dishes used at One Dish Kitchen, please visit our Store page.
Small Batch Lemon Bars Recipe
For The Crust
- 2 1/2 tablespoons butter , softened
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
For The Lemon Filling
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
Make The Crust
- Mix together the butter and sugar until well blended. Add the flour, cornstarch, and salt and mix until combined.
- Press the dough firmly into the prepared baking dish using the back of a spoon. Bake 18-20 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Make The Filling
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar, flour, and lemon juice until very well mixed. Pour the filling over the crust and bake 15-17 minutes, until edges begin to brown lightly and center is not jiggly.
- Remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool completely.
- Top with powdered sugar, if desired.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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