You know how the saying goes, “When life gives you lemons, make lemon bars.” Or something like that anyway. Lemon bars are so delicious that even people who don’t care for lemons often like lemon bars.
But, can you freeze lemon bars? You can! Make sure to avoid dusting the lemon bars with powdered sugar before freezing as this can make them gummy. Instead, place the lemon bars in a freezer-safe container, where they can be stored for up to 6 months.
Sure, you could just whip up a mix from a box, but if you want your lemon bars to really pop, we’ve got all the details for you. We plan to walk you through lemon bars, from the prep work to the thawing stage if you choose to freeze them.
Keep reading to be well on your way to those lemon bars we know you’re dreaming of!
Prepping for the Perfect Lemon Bars
Making lemon bars doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out process. There are tons of amazing recipes for great lemon bars. We will share our favorite recipe for lemon bars with you later on, but for now, let’s talk about prep work.
I know what you’re thinking, ‘this article has a whole section on prep, these are going to be too challenging.’
But you might be pleasantly surprised to find that all of our recommendations and steps as you follow through the processes are fairly simple and do not take an exorbitant amount of time for any part of the process.
You don’t have to have a specific reason to make lemon bars, but we hope you’re hungry for that zesty treat when you do.
Whether you need treats for an event, a snack for your afternoon tea, or just want a simple dessert option, lemon bars are definitely right for you!
Prepping to make your lemon bars is quite minimal.
To make one batch of the perfect lemon bars, we recommend a medium mixing bowl and an 8-inch square baking dish. If you want to make a large batch, you can double the recipe and convert it over to a 9 x 13 baking dish.
Total prep time only takes about 15 minutes once you have all of your ingredients gathered.
Here is a list of the ingredients you will need for your lemon bars.
Ingredients for Lemon Bar Prep
- 1/2 cup butter – at room temperature
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- Dash of salt
- Zest from one large lemon
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 TBSP fresh lemon juice
- 3 TBSP all-purpose flour
- 1/2 TSP baking powder
- 2 large eggs
As you gather your ingredients, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. You should also grease your baking pan or layer the bottom with parchment paper to make cleanup simple and prevent the bars from sticking to the pan.
If you’re not familiar with zesting a lemon, it is not a challenging task. There are tools, such a small grater that can be used to zest a lemon.
Using the zest from a real lemon in this recipe brings out the natural flavors and makes the treat just a bit sweeter as well.
How to Zest a Lemon
Use a fine grater or microplane to zest a lemon for the best results and the easiest zesting. If you do not have one of these available to you, you can also zest your lemon with a vegetable peeler or a small sharp knife.
The zest of the lemon is the outermost part of the rind, which has a rich flavor and adds additional flavor to your lemon bars.
You do not just want to peel the lemon and cube up the peel as the flavor comes from just the outermost portion of the peel. If you avoid the white area of the rind, you will not have much of the bitterness that accompanies lemons.
You can purchase lemon zest, but fresh is the best. There are tools made specifically to zest lemons, such as the lemon zester or lemon grater.
Carefully use one of the aforementioned tools or a small kitchen knife to grate or peel the outermost layer of the lemon. You do not want to peel away white, or you are peeling too deeply.
Use the peeler or grater only the very top layer of the rind. This will be a very thin layer and trust us when we say your lemon bars will thank you!
Making Perfect Lemon Bars
Using the ingredient list provided in the prep section, it’s not time to make your delicious lemon bars. This recipe yields about 9 servings or 9 total lemon bars.
If you wish to get more bars, you can double the batch or make multiple batches. Doubling the batch works quite well and you can freeze the extra bars.
Instructions for Making Lemon Bars
By this time, you have already greased your pan or layered it with parchment paper. You’ve zested your lemon and your oven is warmed to 350 degrees and ready to bake.
Below is a step-by-step instructional for making the lemon bars, directly from our favorite recipe.
- Mix the crust first. In a medium mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup room temperature butter, 1/4 cup of powdered sugar, 1 cup flour, and a small pinch of salt. Mix on low speed until ingredients are combined.
- Spread the crust mixture into the bottom of your pan, pressing it out evenly into the pan. Bake the crust mixture for 10 minutes and then set it aside.
- As the crust cools, prepare the lemon filling per the following instructions.
- Mix lemon zest from one large lemon and 1 cup of sugar into your mixing bowl. Mix in 3 TBSP of lemon juice, 3 TBSP of flour, 1/2 TSP of baking powder, and 2 large eggs. Mix until everything is well combined and the sugar has fully dissolved.
- Pour this mixture over the cooled crust.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until the fill sets up.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
- When the bars have fully cooled, sprinkle powdered sugar over the top.
- Serve and enjoy. Lemon bars can be stored in the refrigerator or frozen for later use.
These lemon bars are the best and natural zest from the lemons gives the bars a fresh flavor that you will certainly appreciate. The great thing about lemon bars is you can modify the recipe as you see fit or to fit your own lemon bar needs.
The overall process of prepping and making lemon bars is quite simple and from start to finish takes about 45 minutes. The majority of that time is waiting time while the crust and then the lemon bars bake.
In-Depth Guide to Freezing Lemon Bars
If you’re a planner who likes to do things in advance when you have the time, lemon bars are a great option for freezing and then thawing and using.
Freezing lemon bars is a simple process and we will walk you through every aspect of freezing them to be certain your lemon bars still taste great when you pull them from the freezer.
Lemon bars store well in the fridge, but this is a temporary solution at best. They do not stay good forever, so if you need to save your lemon bars, we recommend freezing them.
The good news is using lemon bars after freezing is so easy! In fact, you can eat them frozen if you wish.
Here are some of the pros and cons of freezing your lemon bars. As you will see from the list, the upsides of freezing far outweigh the downsides and freezing leaves you with a handy treat to pull out at your convenience.
The Pros to Freezing Lemon Bars
- The sugar and lemon both act as preservatives making freezing so easy and extending their freezer life.
- Conveniently pull them out of the freezer and serve. Minimal thawing is required.
- Unexpected guests? Pull out those lemon bars from the freezer.
- Great summer treats, especially after freezing. The cool sweetness just yells summertime.
- Simple freezing procedures require limited space or effort.
- Can be frozen for up to 6 months.
- Lemon bars do not lose flavor or texture when frozen and typically will not freeze burn either.
The Cons to Freezing Lemon Bars
- Freezing has the best results when done in a 2-step process.
- The powdered sugar layer on top can become gummy in the freezer, but if you plan to freeze you can withhold that until serving time.
- Upon thawing, sometimes the lemon bars can be sticky.
Now that you’re familiar with the basic pros and cons of freezing your lemon bars and you know the steps to prepping and making your lemon bars, let’s dig a bit deeper into the freezing process.
In-Depth Guide to Freezing Lemon Bars
Freezing lemon bars could be as simple as wrapping them and tossing them in the freezer, BUT if you want the best results when freezing your lemon bars read ahead for helpful tips and the recommended procedure for freezing lemon bars.
The taste of lemon bars is not affected by freezing them. In fact, lemon bars taste great straight out of the freezer.
But there are some specific steps you can take to avoid messy lemon bars when you take them from the freezer, as well as recommendations for avoiding clumping of your powdered sugar.
If you know ahead of time that you are going to be freezing all or a portion of the lemon bars you make, skip the final step of sprinkling powdered sugar onto the bars.
This step should be done at the time of serving as freezing can cause the powdered sugar to become gummy.
There are various methods you can follow for freezing your lemon bars, but we will share with you what works the BEST. These steps are what have been shown to provide the best overall results when freezing lemon bars.
How to Freeze Lemon Bars
Keep in mind that there is always a simple way to do things, but then there is always the best way.
You will find that the best way for freezing lemon bars is also relatively simple and if you follow all of the steps, you won’t be disappointed in the end.
- Make your lemon bars as directed. However, skip the final step for spreading a layer of powdered sugar over the lemon bars as the powdered sugar can become gummy when frozen.
- Be sure you allow your lemon bars to cool completely to avoid gooey or sticky lemon bars.
- For the best results, you should let your lemon bars pre-freeze prior to wrapping them for final freezing. We recommend setting them in a flat layer on a baking sheet or in a plastic container and allowing them to freeze for 2-3 hours. You can freeze them overnight if it is more convenient.
- Wrap sections or individual bars in saran wrap and place them in a gallon freezer bag. Store in freezer for up to 6 months.
Freezing the lemon bars, even with the 2-step freezing process, as you can see is a simple process to follow. After you have frozen the lemon bars and you are ready to use them, you must then determine the best way to thaw for use.
How to Thaw Lemon Bars
Thawing your lemon bars is simple. There are no special thawing steps and no reheating required. Lemon bars can be eaten frozen and they are still soft and taste great as well.
If you prefer to allow your lemon bars to thaw full, here are some steps to have the best-thawed lemon bars with minimal stickiness.
- Upon removing lemon bars from the freezer, immediately unwrap and set out on a plate or serving tray.
- Your lemon bars will thaw very quickly. You only need to set them out about 30 minutes prior to use.
- If you want extra time for your lemon bars to set out, you can pull them out of the freezer the night before, unwrap them and set them in the fridge. This will keep them cool but allow them to thaw.
- Sprinkle powdered sugar over the bars and serve!
No matter how you prefer your lemon bars, freezing them and thawing them works quickly and smoothly.
Be sure to unwrap the lemon bars immediately upon removing them from the freezer to prevent them from being overly sticky or gooey.
Now ask yourself, what is holding you back from making lemon bars and freezing them? We asked if you can freeze lemon bars and maintain the flavor, and the answer is an absolute yes.
Lemon bars are one of the simplest snacks to both freeze and thaw because aside from a few minor tweaks, there is no detailed process that takes hours to complete.
Your lemon bars are ready to eat fresh within an hour of prep time and if you freeze the lemon bars, they can be eaten immediately or set out for less than an hour.
There are no challenging regimens to follow here, just keep in mind the useful tips such as holding the top layer of powdered sugar until ready to serve or pre-freezing the bars before wrapping and freezing long term.
If you follow these simple guidelines, you may just find you have a new favorite treat. Not only do they taste delicious – fresh, frozen, or thawed – but also they are super simple to make.
You’re not likely to mess these up when you follow instructions!
If you do need to freeze lemon bars that already have the powdered sugar sprinkled on top, we recommend wrapping each bar in a small square of wax paper and then wrapping them tightly in plastic wrap.
This will preserve the powdered sugar and prevent it from becoming messy.
We sincerely hope this guide is helpful to you, from the beginning of prepping to make lemon bars to the end of thawing and serving lemon bars.
We know all of this information can certainly be overwhelming and you might still have questions.
We invite you to check out our common questions below and we hope that these frequently asked questions will provide further insight and answer any further questions you may have.
Can I Store Lemon Bars in the Fridge After Thawing?
Lemon bars are preserved well by the sugar and lemon juice in them. When you freeze and thaw your lemon bars, the flavor is not jeopardized. You should be able to store them in your fridge for up to a full week after thawing.
Why Do the Lemon Bars Have to be Wrapped Separately?
It is recommended that you wrap your lemon bars separately to avoid the bars sticking together and deforming. The lemon filling can become sticky so wrapping them separately prevents any gooey filling sticking to another bar.
Keep in mind that you can freeze a full section together and cut the section to serve when you take it out of the freezer so you can wrap one large piece rather than multiple small pieces if you prefer.
Do I Have to Store Them in a Freezer Bag if I’ve Already Wrapped Them?
Using the freezer bag allows you to keep them all together and adds an extra layer of protection around the bars to prevent them from becoming freezer-burnt or smashed in your freezer.
If you do not want to use a freezer bag you can use a freezer-friendly plastic dish instead and you will have the same results.
However, we still recommend wrapping individual sections or bars with plastic wrap prior to placing in your dish or bag for final freezing.
We’ve detailed in this guide the steps that we recommend and believe to have the best results, but there are alternative options through your processes that you can utilize.
For your crust, you could use a graham cracker crust rather than a pie crust. To substitute a graham cracker crust, just use 1 cup of smashed graham crackers with 4 tablespoons of melted butter.
Another twist to your lemon bars would be to add some freshly squeezed juice from your lemon. You are zesting a lemon for your recipe, so put that lemon to use and add some fresh lemon juice to your lemon bars!
Happy lemon bar making to you!
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