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Old Fashioned Lemon Squares


These old fashioned lemon squares are easy to make and absolutely delicious. With a flakey shortcrust and tangy lemon top, these are just like the ones your Grandma would make.

Lemon Squares on a plate

I love lemon. As far as desserts go, if I could only ever have one flavour for the rest of my life, I would pick lemon. I know that would surprise a lot of people, because I’m a well known chocolate lover, but when it comes to desserts and treats, I love the fresh, tanginess of lemon. These lemon squares, or bars as some prefer to call them, would top the list.

This recipe for old fashioned lemon squares is special. It is a recipe that has been in my family for many years, very likely more than 70 years. As far as we know it originates back to my Great Granny C. It is quite possible it goes back further, but we don’t know for sure. Unfortunately I never met my Great Granny as she passed before I was born, but I have definitely been told all about her, and especially what a great baker she was. These lemon squares are fondly remembered by everyone who had the fortune of eating them from her kitchen.

Lemon squares in a stack

It took a while to track down this recipe, but thanks to some detective work from my mom, and a cousin, we found it. After making these myself I can see why they are so fondly remembered, they are absolutely the best lemon squares I’ve had.

I hope your family enjoys them as much as we do.


Start by making the crust. This is a shortcrust, so there are only three ingredients, four if you count the tiny pinch of salt.

Add the ingredients to a food processor and pulse until it resembles fine crumbs.

I’m not sure how Granny C. did this part as the instructions are not extensive, I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t have used a food processor, most likely using a fork or pastry blender instead. If you prefer you can certainly do it that way too.

Press the crust into an ungreased 9×9 pan. It will be very dry and crumbly, but I promise, it will come out beautiful and flakey. Place in the oven to bake for 20 minutes until set.

After baking the crust remove it from the oven so you can top it with the lemon filling.

Simply whisk all the ingredients for the filling together and pour it over the crust. The recipe calls for the juice and zest of one large lemon. For me, that was about four tablespoons of juice (I picked a really big lemon), you can use more or less depending on your taste.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until top is set.

Remove from the oven, allow to cool completely, then remove it from the pan, cut it into squares and dust it with powdered sugar.

Serve them to your family and watch them disappear.

Lemon Squares on a plate

Does your family have any favourite recipes that have been handed down through the generations? Leave me a comment and let me know.


  • I’ve mixed the crust ingredients and it is very dry, will it be ok? Yes, as long as you remember to put the butter in there, it will work out. Just press it into the pan and let the cold butter do its magic.
  • Can I use bottled lemon juice? For sure, if you don’t have lemon on hand and want to use bottled juice, you absolutely can. You will want to use 3-4 tablespoons depending how much lemon you like.
  • Can you freeze lemon bars? Yes you sure can (and they are pretty great frozen). Make sure you cut them into squares before freezing and if freezing in layers in a container be sure to separate the layers with wax paper or parchment paper.
  • Do lemon bars need to be refrigerated? Because of the custard layer, lemon bars should be refrigerated if you are not going to eat them within a day. Just place them in an airtight container, they should last a couple weeks.
Lemon bars in a stack


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Lemon squares in a stack

Old Fashioned Lemon Squares

Old fashioned lemon squares just like Grandma's. These easy to make squares have a flakey short crust and tangy lemon filling. Perfect for afternoon tea or a light dessert.
4.72 from 49 votes
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Course: Cookies & Squares, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 16 Squares
Calories: 132kcal
Author: Deanna


For the Crust

  • 1 Cup Flour All purpose
  • 1/2 Cup Cold butter cut into cubes
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • Pinch of Salt

For the Top

  • 1 Cup Icing sugar plus additional for dusting the top after baking
  • 2 Large eggs beaten
  • 2 Tbsp Flour All purpose
  • 1/4 tsp Baking powder
  • 1 Large lemon, juiced 3-4 tbsp juice
  • Zest of same large lemon 2 tsp


For the Crust

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  • Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it resembles fine crumbs
  • Press into an ungreased 9×9 pan.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven to add lemon top.

For the Lemon Top

  • Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees
  • Whisk all the filling ingredients together and pour over the base.
  • Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until top is set.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  • Run a knife along the edge of the lemon bars to loosen it from the pan, then turn it out onto a cutting board.
  • Cut into 16 squares, then dust with powdered sugar.


Calories: 132kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 36mg | Sodium: 59mg | Potassium: 22mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 207IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 1mg
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