Classic lemon bar recipes: 6 retro ways to make these delicious treats

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In these lemon bar recipes (also called lemon squares), a tangy citrus mixture bakes on top of the buttery cookie crust, making it all into some rich, sweet and delicious bar cookies.

Tangy lemon squares (1977)

Photo by elenademyanko/Deposit Photos

Tangy lemon squares (1977)

Yield: 20 bar cookies
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (unsifted)
  • 2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour (unsifted)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup instant 100% pure lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and the 1/2 cup powdered sugar until fluffy.
  2. Add 2 cups of the flour, beating until blended.
  3. Spread evenly over the bottom of a well greased 9- by 13-inch baking pan.
  4. Bake in a pre-heated 325 F degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl beat eggs until light and foamy.
  6. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating until thick and blended.
  7. Add lemon juice, remaining 1/3 cup flour and baking powder; beat until thoroughly blended.
  8. Pour lemon mixture over baked crust and return to oven, bake 15 to 25 minutes until golden brown and custard is set.
  9. Remove from oven and sprinkle evenly with the 2 tablespoons powdered sugar.
  10. Let cool.
  11. To serve, cut in small squares or bars. Makes about 20 bars.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 257Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 115mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 1gSugar: 24gProtein: 3g

Click Americana offers approximate nutrition information as a general reference only, and we make no warranties regarding its accuracy. Please make any necessary calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe, and consult with a qualified healthcare professional if you have dietary concerns.


Cake mix lemon bars recipe from Sunkist

You can’t change the weather, but you can brighten up the day (1974)

Bake up a batch of Sunkist Lemon Bars. With a package of Betty Crocker Sunkist Lemon Cake Mix. Or Sunny Orange Bars with Betty Crocker Sunkist Orange cake Mix.

Both have tart, tangy natural fruit flavor. And you make them even sunnier by adding real lemon or orange people.

They’re easy to make. Sunny to taste. And sure to brighten up any day.

Vintage 1970s cake mix lemon bars recipe from Sunkist

Sunkist Lemon Bars recipe

Ingredients

1 egg
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 package Betty Crocker Sunkist Lemon cake mix
2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. grated lemon peel
1/4 cup lemon juice
Powdered sugar, if desired

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix 1 egg, butter and dry cake mix until crumbly. Reserve 1 cup. Pat rest into ungreased 13x9x2 inch pan. Bake 15 minutes or until light brown.

Beat 2 eggs, sugar, baking powder, salt, lemon peel and juice with rotary beater until light and foamy. Pour over hot crust; sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. Bake 15 minutes or until light brown. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cool. Cut into bars 2×1-1/2 inches.

Makes 32 bars

Vintage Cake mix lemon bars recipe card from Sunkist 1975


Island lemon bars recipe (1975)

From the Lancaster New Era (Pennsylvania) Feb 24, 1975

Grand winner in the First Annual General Mills Elizabethtown College Bake-Off was Lynette Kean, a freshman from Wenonah, New Jersey, who dazzled the judges with her Island lemon bars, an unusual recipe hailing from the Virgin Islands.

Crust:

1-1/2 cups soft butter
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 cups flour

Thoroughly mix butter, sugar and flour. Pat into a flat pan and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Filling:

3 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
6 eggs, beaten
6 tablespoons lemon juice
Rind of 3 lemons, grated

Mix beaten eggs, lemon juice and rind, add to sifted dry ingredients and mix well. Pour over crust and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar while still warm. Cut into bars after cooling for 25 minutes.

MORE: “Busy-day” lemon cheesecake recipe from 1959


Classic walnut lemon bars recipe (1972)

The Los Angeles Times (California) August 17, 1972

This walnut lemon bar recipe has stood the test of time.

Ingredients

3 egg yolks
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup sifted flour
Walnut Lemon Topping, see below

Directions

In small bowl of electric mixer at high-speed, beat yolks until thick and ivory color.

In medium or large bowl, cream butter and sugar; add beaten yolks; beat gently to combine. Fold in flour, 1/4 cup at a time.

Spend in a buttered square cake pan (8 by 8 by 2 in.). Bake in a preheated 375 F degree oven for 20 minutes.

While still warm, pour walnut lemon topping over base and let set; cut into small bars.

Walnut lemon topping:

Mix 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts with 1 tsp. grated lemon rind, 1 tbsp. lemon juice and 1 egg yolk.

In a small saucepan, boil 1/2 cup sugar with 2 tablespoons water to 250 degrees on a candy thermometer (firm ball stage). Add to walnut mixture, stirring only enough to blend.

Classic lemon bar recipes 6 retro ways to make these delicious treats
Lemon bars photo by Voltan1/Envato

Lemon light bars have winning touch (1970)

A creative twist turns a frosting mix into a bar cookie. Another unusual twist turns a package of lemon gelatin into a cookie glaze. 

Such creative ideas are found in this recipe for Lemon Light Cake Bars — the recipe that recently won Mrs. Earl Wyman from Pembina, North Dakota, a trip to the 1970 Pillsbury Bake-Off.

What made Lemon Light Cake Bars a Bake-Off recipe finalist in the cake-frosting category? They’re convenient to prepare. excellent in appearance and taste, and popular in appeal. Simply, the recipe idea, the recipe itself and the baked cookies meet the requirements of a Bake-Off winner!

ALSO TRY: Lemonade chiffon pie with lemonade crust recipe (1956)

Convenience is woven into these Lemon Light Cake Bars in several different ways. A frosting mix is used to make the cookie and the glaze. Thus, by simply opening a box of mix, you avoid measuring many other ingredients.

Also, these cookies are easily-available basic ingredients, thus eliminating special shopping trips.

The one-bowl and one-step mixing methods make these bars simple to mix. They bake for a half-hour and can be glazed ten minutes later. In less than an hour’s time from start-to-finish, Lemon Cake Bars are ready-to-serve. 

They’re simply good to eat, too — that’s why they rate high in flavor and taste appeal. Also, the glaze and coconut toppings make them pretty enough to serve for afternoon tea.

In addition, they’re popular in appeal. Whether served at an afternoon kaffeeklatsch, at a dinner party, or at a family night supper, these cookie bars quickly become people-pleasers. (You will find you’ll be baking them often!)

Why not bake up a batch of Lemon Light Cake Bars, then try creating a Bake-Off winning recipe using at least one box of Pillsbury cake or frosting mix?

Photo by elenademyanko/Deposit Photos

Lemon light cake bars

Yield: 48
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 13-1/2 ounces Pillsbury Lemon frosting mix
  • 1-1/4 cups Pillsbury all purpose flour
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut
  • 3 ounces lemon flavored gelatin
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

Instructions

  1. Generously grease and lightly flour 15x10x1-inch jelly roll pan: or 13x9-inch baking pan.
  2. Measure 2-1/3 cups dry frosting mix by lightly spooning into cup and leveling off; reserve remaining frosting mix for the glaze.
  3. In larger mixer bowl, combine 2-1/3 frosting mix, flour, corn syrup, butter and eggs.
  4. Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes until smooth.
  5. Spread in prepared pan.
  6. Bake at 350 F degrees for 25 to 35 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, and crust is light golden brown.
  7. Cool 10 minutes.
  8. Prepare the glaze: In small mixing bowl, combine gelatin and boiling water.
  9. Stir until gelatin dissolves.
  10. Add reserved frosting mix and butter; beat until smooth.
  11. Spread the glaze over slightly warm bars
  12. Sprinkle with coconut.
  13. Cool; cut into bars.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 48 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 98Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 23mgSodium: 38mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 0gSugar: 6gProtein: 2g

Click Americana offers approximate nutrition information as a general reference only, and we make no warranties regarding its accuracy. Please make any necessary calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe, and consult with a qualified healthcare professional if you have dietary concerns.


Classic lemon bars (1974)

From The Berkshire Eagle (Pittsfield, Massachusetts) August 17, 1974

Photo by elenademyanko/Deposit Photos

Classic lemon bars

Yield: 48
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon rind
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Blend first four ingredients (food processor works wonderfully) and pat into bottom of jelly-roll pan.
  2. Bake in preheated 325 degree oven for 15 minutes.
  3. For topping: Beat eggs.
  4. Add remaining ingredients (except powdered sugar).
  5. Mix well.
  6. Pour on top of partially baked pastry.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.
  8. Remove and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
  9. Cool and cut into bars. Makes 4 dozen.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 48 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 106Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 42mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 0gSugar: 12gProtein: 1g

Click Americana offers approximate nutrition information as a general reference only, and we make no warranties regarding its accuracy. Please make any necessary calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe, and consult with a qualified healthcare professional if you have dietary concerns.

ALSO TRY: Triple lemon ripple cake with cream cheese recipe from 1982

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