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Lemon Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

I won a bake-off 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, about 5 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 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:
    • 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.