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Lemon Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

I won a baking contest at Purdue University with this recipe for lemon bars with cream cheese frosting. I think you’ll love the dreamy topping. —Michael Hunter, Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • Total Time
    Prep: 20 min. Bake: 20 min. + cooling
  • Makes
    2 dozen


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest


  • In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Beat in eggs and extract. Combine flour and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in lemon zest.
  • Spread into a greased 13x9-in. baking pan. Bake at 350° for 18-22 minutes or until center is set and edges are golden brown. Cool completely.
  • For frosting, in a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Beat in confectioners' sugar, lemon juice and zest. Frost top and cut into bars. Store in the refrigerator.

Test Kitchen tips
  • These rich bars are moist, almost like cake, with a pleasant lemon flavor.
  • When the edges are lightly browned and pull away from the sides of the pan, it's ready to come out of the oven. The center will look set.
  • Nutrition Facts
    1 bar: 243 calories, 11g fat (7g saturated fat), 59mg cholesterol, 145mg sodium, 34g carbohydrate (27g sugars, 0 fiber), 2g protein.
    Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links.

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    Average Rating:
    • Tania
      Feb 21, 2021

      Nothing wrong with this recipe. Adjust the cooking time and make sure it’s done and it’s great. It’s a bar, not a cake, and tastes fantastic.

    • Dianne
      Dec 23, 2020

      Sounds awesome

    • Justin
      Dec 19, 2020

      We recommend a sharp zester. Or more pliable lemons. Or skip this all together and just juice it. We followed other suggestions about adding leavening and this was mostly successful. We waited until the edges were golden brown and the middle was set. However, upon taking it out of the oven, the middle caved. If this happens to you we recommend a good “MUSH” along the edges to even it out. Looks good!

    • Eva
      Jun 18, 2020

      I'm only 13 and these came out perfectly, the reason you think it need leavening is because you need to bake it a little while longer than the suggested time. Also get a larger pan to bake it in so it will spread out and not need to burn the edges.

    • Crystaldj
      Feb 23, 2020

      As the recipe sits right now, it's very disappointing. It definitely needs some sort of leavening added to it. Wish I had thought of that before I tried to bake it!

    • Nancy
      Jan 20, 2020

      Something is wrong with this recipe! Followed it exactly, and it was a complete mess. There’s no leavening-is that a mistake? Baked it much longer without success. On a positive note, the frosting is delicious.

    • Christy
      Dec 11, 2019

      The flavor is wonderful, however the bars didn't rise as much as shown in the picture. It was a runny mess. Maybe it needs some leavening.