The best lemon bars from scratch now baked in a loaf pan! Small Batch Lemon Bars with a melt in your mouth shortbread crust, a thick tart lemon filling, and a dusting of powdered sugar on top is an easy lemon dessert for two.

Close up of lemon bar
As much as I love small batch brownies and small batch chocolate chip cookie bars, I love a good lemon dessert.

And sometimes making mini lemon meringue pies take too long, so you need something super easy.

Take these Small Batch Lemon Bars as an example.

They have a melt in your mouth shortbread crust with a tart lemon curd filling and a dusting of powdered sugar on top. How can you not love a good lemon bar?

Of course when you’re baking for two, your waistline really doesn’t want a full batch. That’s why I scaled them down to bake in a loaf pan!

As simple as these lemon bars for two may look, I lost track of how many rounds I went through. Six maybe?

The crust was too thick. Now it’s too thin. The filling isn’t thick enough. The filling melted into the too thin crust. It’s browning too much. It’s not browning enough.

So many variables, but I finally figured out my small batch lemon bars.

This recipe makes 4 lemon bars or 8 lemon squares. They’re a bit delicate so it’s easier to serve them as mini lemon bars than large rectangles.

Although like with any loaf pan recipe, you can cut them as big as you want.

Hand grabbing Small Batch Lemon Bars made in a loaf pan

Ingredients For Small Batch Lemon Bars

To make your lemon bars for two, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Flour: Helps bind the crust together as well as thicken the filling so it’s not too runny.
  • Powdered sugar: Because powdered sugar has some cornstarch in it, it provides structure while also keeping it light and soft.
  • Salt: Makes sure your lemon dessert isn’t bland
  • Butter: Gives your shortbread crust that melt-in-your-mouth texture. Do not use margarine.
  • Egg and egg yolk: Adding the extra egg yolk makes your filling a little creamier. You don’t want the additional egg white or it’ll be too wet.
  • Granulated sugar: Sweetens the filling as well as helps set it up with the egg.
  • Baking powder: Helps with the filling rising in addition to the egg.
  • Lemon zest and juice: Can’t have lemon bars without lemons! The juice of one lemon is typically 2 tablespoons, depending on how large and juicy your lemon is. Since I call for 3 tablespoons, you’ll need roughly 1 + 1/2 lemons.

Lemon Bars cut into squares

What To Do With Leftover Egg Whites

Adding an egg yolk to lemon bars from scratch is necessary, but it also adds a leftover egg white to your fridge. That’s why I rounded up what to do with leftover egg whites.

Patting dough into loaf pan for Small Batch Lemon Bars

How To Make Small Batch Lemon Bar

Through multiple rounds of testing, the best way to make mini lemon bars is baking the crust at 350F, adding the filling immediately so it “bakes” to the hot crust and prevents leaking, then turning the oven down to 325F.

Baking the entire recipe at 350F resulted in a little too much browning (albeit delicious browning).

However, baking the entire recipe at 325F resulted in the crust taking much longer to brown.

Here’s how to make your lemon bars for two:

  1. Add the flour, sugar, salt, and cold butter to a food processor and pulse until butter is finely cut into the flour, looking dry and powdery. Resist adding any liquid. Alternatively you can make it by hand using a pastry blender and a large bowl.
  2. Pat the dough in the bottom of a loaf pan then bake at 350F until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.
  3. Whisk together the egg, egg yolk, and both sugars in a large bowl until sugar dissolves and mixture looks pale yellow. Then whisk in the flour, baking powder, zest, and juice. Don’t whisk too much air into it.
  4. Turn the temperature down to 325F then immediately pour the filling over the hot crust. This helps to create a seal, keeping the crust from getting soggy.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set and golden brown. Cool for 30 minutes into the pan then carefully remove to finish cooling.
  6. Dust with powdered sugar then refrigerate before serving.

Lemon bars on a marble cutting board

How To Store Lemon Bars

Cooling small batch lemon bars is always the toughest part, mainly because I’m impatient when there’s a fresh batch of lemon bars waiting to be devoured.

As tempted as you may be to skip it, refrigerate them for at least 2 hours, not only to make cutting easier but to also develop flavor. If you can wait overnight, even better.

To store lemon bars, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Lemon Bars on cutting board

Can you freeze lemon bars?

Although these small batch lemon bars don’t make a lot, you still may want to freeze some leftovers for later. Luckily they freeze really well for up to 4 months!

I highly recommend freezing them uncovered on a baking tray for about an hour until firm then wrapping each individual square in plastic wrap then transferring to a freezer-safe plastic bag.

That way they don’t stick together while frozen.

To defrost lemon bars, thaw them overnight in the fridge or let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Lemon bars on a marble cutting board

More Loaf Pan Recipes

Enjoyed these lemon bars for two? Here are more loaf pan recipes:

Close up of lemon bar

Small Batch Lemon Bars

Yield: 8 squares
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Chill Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes

The best lemon bars now baked in a loaf pan! Small Batch Lemon Bars with a melt in your mouth shortbread crust, a thick tart lemon filling, and a dusting of powdered sugar on top.


  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

Lemon Filling

  • 1 whole egg, room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar plus more for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1-2 lemons)


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9x5 loaf pan then line with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a large food processor, add the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the cold butter and pulse until butter is finely cut into the flour and a dough forms, about 1-2 minutes. Resist adding any liquid. It'll seem really powdery then eventually turn into a dough.

    Alternatively you can add the ingredients to a bowl and use a pastry blender to make the dough.
  3. Transfer the mixture to the loaf pan and pat evenly into the bottom. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on the edges.
  4. Meanwhile, make the filling: In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolk, and both sugars until sugar dissolves and mixture looks pale yellow. Try not to whisk too much air into it. Whisk in the flour and baking powder then the lemon zest and juice.
  5. Once the crust has finished baking, turn the temperature down to 325F. Give the filling one last whisk (it'll be runny) then immediately pour over the hot crust and put back in the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set and golden brown (it may slightly wiggle but top should be solid when touched).
  6. Cool in the pan for 30 minutes then carefully remove and transfer to a wire rack. Cool until room temperature.
  7. Dust with powdered sugar then refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Cut into squares.

    Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.


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First published March 5, 2018