Lemon Shortbread Crumble Bars: The ULTIMATE Lemon Lover's Dessert!
Lemon Shortbread Crumble Bars: The ULTIMATE Lemon Lover’s Dessert!

Lemon Shortbread Crumble Bars: The ULTIMATE Lemon Lover's Dessert!

5 from 1 reviews
Lemon Shortbread Crumble Bars
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
THIS IS IT. The best lemon dessert ever! No seriously: these bars are the perfect balance of buttery, sweet, tangy, creamy, crunchy, and EASY. You have to make them!
Serves: 9-12
Crust Ingredients:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup Plugrá butter
Cheesecake Ingredients:
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • zest of 1 lemon (reserve a little for topping)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 egg, room temperature
White Sugar Streusel Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons cold Plugrá butter, cubed
  • lemon zest for topping
  1. Make the crust: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with a foil sling. Process the flour, powdered sugar, and salt together for a few seconds before adding in the chunks of cold butter. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with about 6-8 pulses or until it looks like small peas. Press the mixture into the baking dish with the flat bottom of a glass or small dish. Bake for 20 minutes or until very lightly browning. When you remove the crust from the oven, increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees F.
  2. Make the streusel topping: While the crust bakes, combine the flour and sugar in a food processor by pulsing a few times. Add in the cubed butter and pulse 6 or 7 times until the butter is the size of small peas and is coated in the flour/sugar mixture. Stick the streusel in the fridge until you're ready to use it.
  3. Make the filling: Beat the cream cheese until it's fluffy. Add in the zest, sugar, lemon juice, and egg, and beat until combined. Pour the filling over the hot crust and spread it evenly. Top with all of the streusel (spread around evenly) and bake for 23-25 minutes or until the filling registers 160 degrees on a thermometer. Stick the finished bars in the fridge to chill for a few hours before topping with lemon zest, slicing, and serving.


38 Comments on Lemon Shortbread Crumble Bars: The ULTIMATE Lemon Lover’s Dessert!

  1. Judy
    April 19, 2015 at 10:22 pm (6 years ago)

    Brush weekly when she’s bathed . Water additive daily . every other day teeth cleaning bone treats.

  2. Michelle
    April 19, 2015 at 11:22 pm (6 years ago)

    Being around vets for many years and a daughter in vet school they just kinda chuckle at trying to brush their teeth on a regular basis…and cats? Fuggedaboutit!! If you see tarter building up on the teeth it’s much easier on you, the animal and your sanity to drop them off at the vets for a teeth cleaning. Do it about once a year and they will be fine. I live in Deep South and it is about $90 to have it done

    • Barbara Derhammer
      April 20, 2015 at 8:35 am (6 years ago)

      it costs us about $300 for a cleaning counting any extractions in Tennessee.

      • Julie Ruble
        April 20, 2015 at 9:10 am (6 years ago)

        Same, Barbara — in Raleigh, NC. So expensive! And they ask us to do it every year, but it’s only started in the last few years.

  3. Kristine @ Kristine's Kitchen
    April 20, 2015 at 12:21 am (6 years ago)

    These lemon bars! They look amazing! I am totally making them soon.

    And sorry, I have zero advice on brushing dog’s teeth. 😉

  4. cristina
    April 20, 2015 at 12:59 am (6 years ago)

    I’ve been seriously looking for a delicious lemon-shortbread crumble bar after tasting one at a restaurant and this looks like what I’ve been looking for! Delicious and can’t wait to try…thanks for sharing! 🙂

  5. Kristen @ A Mind Full Mom
    April 20, 2015 at 7:36 am (6 years ago)

    This dessert looks incredible. But the dog thing–just a reminder of one more thing I must do–ha!! I have a 9 month old puppy, guess I better start cleaning her teeth!

  6. Linda
    April 20, 2015 at 7:48 am (6 years ago)

    Wow! These look so good for spring!

    Sorry, I am not a dog owner. And if I was I would not brush their teeth.

  7. Jan K
    April 20, 2015 at 11:09 am (6 years ago)

    Oh, how I LOVE lemon!!!! Can’t wait to try these. As for the Dog’s teeth, I have tried to brush their teeth but I gag as much as they do so we had to try something. I’m just finishing my 1st bottle of Oratene: http://www.amazon.com/Oratene-Veterinarian-Drinking-Water-Additive/dp/B00BU9O3TO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1429540955&sr=8-1&keywords=oratene
    It is a enzymatic cleaner for your dogs teeth. We are quite happy with the results. We also give them bones to chew to aid in cleaning their teeth. This won’t completely do away with dental cleaning at the vet’s office, but it will delay it. There is a direct link between healthy teeth, gums and breath and the general health of your dog.

  8. Olivia @ livforcake
    April 20, 2015 at 11:49 am (6 years ago)

    I can’t help you with the tooth brushing since I don’t think we’ve EVER done it with any of our pets! Hilarious.

    The bars look absolutely amazing. Lemon desserts are my fave!

  9. erin
    April 20, 2015 at 12:12 pm (6 years ago)

    We just asked our vet this question since we recently brought home our darling, furry, 15 week old baby. She says that if you wrap some gauze around your pointer finger and just gently rub all the teeth inside and out as best as you can, every few days is fine by her. She says it’s easier to get your dog used to it if you use your finger instead of a toothbrush. Then a once a year vet teeth cleaning is fine.

  10. Danae @ Recipe Runner
    April 20, 2015 at 12:24 pm (6 years ago)

    Well I don’t have a dog, but I have two cats and have unsuccessfully tried to brush their teeth a couple times, they wanted nothing to do with it! Love these lemon bars! The crumble on top might be my favorite part!

  11. Renee
    April 20, 2015 at 12:28 pm (6 years ago)

    I YUM’d this! This looks amazing, I can’t wait to try it!

  12. Donna @The Slow Roasted Italian
    April 20, 2015 at 1:04 pm (6 years ago)

    These look fabulous Julie. I am trying them soon. Wowza. BTW, we used to have cats and our vet told us the same thing. It never happened. We now have a 5 year old daughter and I gave my husband the chore. It never gets done if one always thinks the other is doing it. LOL

  13. Lorraine
    April 20, 2015 at 1:41 pm (6 years ago)

    Hi Julie. I guess I’m one of those crazy people who actually brushes my dog’s teeth! I should say we have two dogs. Our older one used to get her teeth professionally cleaned, but she’s now too old to go under the anesthesia. Her teeth are terrible now and I think they’re really hurting her. I wish I’d done the daily brushing with her. Our 2 1/2 year old gets hers brushed daily after she’s done eating and they’re perfectly white and healthy. Here’s the toothpaste we use if you’re interested. It’s got a nice vanilla smell unlike some of the meat flavored pastes out there.
    Best to you and your pup!

  14. Catherine
    April 20, 2015 at 2:23 pm (6 years ago)

    Dear Julie, My little guy barely lets me bath him…I couldn’t imagine what he would do if I tried sticking a brush in his mouth. I give him dental bones though.

    As for these bars, they sound lovely and bright…beautiful spring treat. xo, Catherine

  15. Shaeon H
    April 24, 2015 at 12:10 am (6 years ago)

    The topping says 6 tablespoons cup sugar–is that 1 cup plus 6 tablespoons?

    • Julie Ruble
      April 24, 2015 at 12:25 am (6 years ago)

      Nope, just 6T. The word “cup” was leftover from recipe development. Sorry about that!

  16. Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom
    April 24, 2015 at 8:54 am (6 years ago)

    Julie, can’t help you with the “Do you guys brush your dog’s teeth?” question .. but I will help devour these lemon shortbread crumble bars!!! And HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY!!! Hope you celebrated in style with loved ones! 🙂

  17. Joanna
    April 24, 2015 at 4:11 pm (6 years ago)

    My teenage daughter and I absolutely love your blog. We look forward to every new post and get so excited when our little third world country (the Solomon Islands) has the ingredients to bake your recipes. This yummy lemon recipe will only take the substitution of limes, and we will be baking together! Hope you have a very happy birthday with lots of good food and fellowship 🙂

  18. Foodiewife
    April 25, 2015 at 1:11 pm (6 years ago)

    I think you and I share a love of lemon treats, and keep ’em coming. Ever since I saw that you posted this, they’ve been calling me. My waistline might object, but I don’t care…must have these. (Hope you resolved the dog teeth brushing dilemma. Ugh.)

  19. Beth Elmaleh Stapleton
    May 13, 2015 at 2:01 pm (6 years ago)

    I have a 9-year-old lab, with beautiful, white teeth. She hasn’t needed a vet-provided cleaning yet. I started her off with Plaque Off, which I added to each meal. That seemed to work ok, but when my cat (who was also using it) developed tartar, I switched to Zymox (also an enzyme additive) which I add to their water. The enzymes not only prevent, but supposedly help to decrease existing tartar. My dog only eats raw, grain-free food, which I also think helps. Her health overall has improved immensely since we switched to raw and removed all grains. Finally, chewing bones and horns designated for chewing (and only when supervised), flannel tug toys (they are like floss), and other toys is fun, engaging and good for their teeth.

    The raw, grain free diet is expensive, but I’d be spending the same amount on vet bills and medicine, and my dog would still be suffering – Her skin allergy cleared up, she’s lean and healthy, instead of bloated and lethargic. She looks and acts half her age. I highly recommend it!

    The recipe sounds delish – I’m going to try it! Thanks.

  20. Averil
    May 23, 2015 at 4:26 am (6 years ago)

    love both dogs and lemons so ideal post for me!
    Greyhounds are prone to having bad teeth, and can find anaesthetic difficult, so I have discovered stag antlers work wonders on tartar, plus they love gnawing on them! They don’t smell as much as bones do, and don’t make a mess either. I presume you’ll be able to get them from a big pet store which is where I get them from here in Scotland.

  21. Rachel
    May 27, 2015 at 3:36 pm (6 years ago)

    I wish I could help with the dog teeth thing… our poor 12 year old dog has terrible teeth (like they don’t seem like they hurt him, but they look gross and he has bad dog breath) but he’s too old to go under anesthesia for a teeth cleaning. With our one year old dog (that we got at ~8 weeks), I was so sure I was going to start messing with her teeth when she was really young to get her used to it… but I got so overwhelmed with other aspects of dog training that those good intentions fell by the wayside. I’m hoping her extreme love of chewing (on bones, and everything else) helps hers stay a little cleaner.

    We are great dog owners in some ways (they get LOTS of great walks and off-leash adventures) and terrible in others… like seriously they’re lucky to get a real bath once every few months. And I’ve totally given up on trimming their nails myself (SO stressful) – it’s $9 to have our vet tech doing it and SO worth it for me, haha.

  22. Heather
    June 14, 2015 at 10:22 am (6 years ago)

    Hi! These sounds fabulous. Do you use salted or unsalted butter? I usually bake w/unsalted but thought I’d double check. Thanks!

    • Julie Ruble
      June 15, 2015 at 7:40 pm (6 years ago)

      Thanks, Heather! I always use unsalted unless otherwise noted.

  23. Rachel
    June 15, 2015 at 7:36 pm (6 years ago)

    I just wanted to say hi! And thank you! I made these bars today and they were UNBELIEVABLE. Without question one of the best things I have ever eaten! 🙂

    • Julie Ruble
      June 15, 2015 at 7:39 pm (6 years ago)

      Hooray!! That is so great to hear! So glad you enjoyed them as much as we did, Rachel! Thank you!

  24. Kelly
    May 18, 2018 at 2:46 am (3 years ago)

    BEST Lemon bars ever!!! Making them again this weekend. Anyone know if you can freeze them for later, in a food sealer bag? Thought I might try it and take them on some camping trips ….. ?

    • Julie Ruble
      May 18, 2018 at 1:14 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks Kelly! I haven’t tried it, but I’m betting they’ll be fine! The cheesecake layer might suffer a little in texture but I think they’ll still taste good!

  25. Kelly
    May 19, 2018 at 2:21 pm (3 years ago)

    I will try some and see how they come out. Will only freeze a few from this batch so if they don’t do well, won’t lose many for eating 😉


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