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How To Make Aunt Martha's Perfect Lemon Pie Bars

Published: April 18, 2019 • 
Last Modified: May 7, 2024
Published: May 7, 2024

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The Butteriest Shortbread Crust And The Tangiest Lemon Filling

When our oldest granddaughter graduated from college, I decided it was time to make real lemon pie bars like Aunt Martha's. For this important occasion, I wanted her to have real, from scratch lemon pie bars for her party.

I've been making simple but delicious lemon bars from a cake mix for years, but real lemon pie bars are like diamonds compared to zirconia.

lemon pie bars

When I married my farm boy all those years ago, I was fortunate to receive many bonuses. Lucky for him, the rascal, it was the least he could do!

I was blessed with an instant extended family living nearby, which I never had as a first-generation American. My husband gave me a gaggle of wonderful aunts on both sides of the family, who immediately made me feel like I belonged.

And I'm going to tell you, they all could cook! Every one of them! Aunt Martha was the baby girl in a string of nine children, and she gave me this amazing recipe! I'll always picture her sitting on "her" end of the couch, passing out Juicy Fruit gum. I loved her so much!

Aunt Martha didn't have a food processor, but her recipe for lemon pie bars uses ingredients you probably have on hand today, so you can whip up a panful in no time. You don't even need to wash the food processor between steps!!

Lemon Pie Bars Are So Easy To Make

Combine flour, powdered sugar, and cold butter in a food processor and pulse until the mixture becomes a buttery dough.

Use your fingers to pat it into a thirteen-by-nine-inch pan, bringing the sides up a little as you do.

Bake the crust for 15 minutes at 350 degrees while you make the filling. AND YOU DON'T NEED TO WASH THE FOOD PROCESSOR! Oh, sorry. Was I shouting? I just get excited when it's this easy.

When you take the crust out of the oven, it should be lightly browned. Don't wait for it to cool before pouring the filling on top.

I used fresh-squeezed lemon juice this time just because I had one lemon in the fridge. Besides, I love the smell, and I love using the old green juicer the Streff aunties gave me. See the chip on the handle? It's just part of why I love it so much.

I added a little bottled lemon juice to make 1/4 cup and when I don't have a lemon, no sweat, I use bottled juice. (But I do miss adding a little lemon zest like I do when I use fresh.)

Pour all the filling ingredients into the food processor and give it a good spin so everything is well-blended.

Then, pour the filling over the still-hot crust and pop it back into the oven. Bake for 25 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and slightly blistered.

Don't you love the teeny sifter? I sure do! It's old as the hills, another hand-me-down from the Streff sisters. It's the perfect size to sift a little powdered sugar over the bars while they're coming out of the oven and still a little steamy.

The pictures are from two different batches of lemon pie bars. I am sad I waited so long between bakes, but I won't let that happen again! This is my favorite bar cookie by far.

Lemon Pie Bars Create Happy Memories Make Some Today

One bite and I am swept back to taking my little girls into town and stopping by the low white house with the broad porch on the big corner lot. We were met by three doting Aunties who passed out hugs, kisses, and Juicy Fruit gum.

In this picture, big sister Aunt Dora summoned the girls to the front porch for a picture in the cute dresses she sewed for them using her own pattern made of brown paper sacks. They were such proud little fashionistas. The Streff aunties were a blessing and a joy.


Yield: 20 bars or 40 if cut into triangles

Lemon Pie Bars

lemon pie bars

Light, buttery, crisp crust with a pie-like lemon filling that forms a slightly crunchy powder-sugar-dusted top.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes



  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup cold butter (cut in pats)


  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 1 to 2 tsp lemon zest, to taste (optional)
  • 4 Eggs


  1. Pulse crust ingredients in a food processor until well blended. Press into an ungreased 13" x 9" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
  2. While the crust bakes, combine the filling ingredients in a food processor and process until well blended. 
  3. When the crust is baked, pour the filling over the still-hot crust and bake for an additional 25 minutes or until the top is slightly blistered and lightly browned.
  4. Dust with powdered sugar while still warm.
  5. Cut into squares and serve with fruit if desired.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 226Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 89mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 0gSugar: 23gProtein: 3g

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