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3 Ingredient Lemon Bars

These 3 ingredient lemon bars have big lemon flavor, but they’re super easy to make. Anyone who enjoys a traditional lemon bar will love this great recipe.

You can find all of the ingredients at almost any grocery store. And you can use either regular or gluten-free ingredients.

lemon bar on a plate beside a pan of lemon bars

I make mine with gluten-free because I have a sensitivity to things with wheat flour. Fortunately, the food manufacturers have improved gluten-free products to the point of making most of them taste just like the original version.

It’s nice to have something yummy in your recipe box for those occasions when you only have a little time.

Best Lemon Bars

You can make some of the best desserts with cake mix and pie filling. Just be prepared for people to ask for your recipe. It’s up to you whether you want to divulge your secret.

Also be prepared for someone to tell you that you’re cheating. When this happens to me, I smile, shrug, and say, “Maybe so, but it works.” They’re still homemade lemon bars in my book.

These are so delicious that you might not want to make them any more difficult than they have to be. And why should you? The end results are what count, right?

Lemon is one of my favorite flavors, so I have to be careful after I make them. If I don’t watch out, I’ll eat them until they’re gone … in one sitting. 

These are also called cake mix lemon bars. They’re delicious no matter what you call them.

3 Ingredient Lemon Bars Ingredients

This recipe only calls for 3 ingredients. However, I’ll list the optional items you may add if you want to make your lemon bars extra special.

Brace yourself. It’s a short ingredient list.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this easy lemon bars recipe:

  • Box of yellow cake mix (or lemon cake mix if you want extra lemony flavor) – regular or gluten-free
  • Can of lemon pie filling
  • Stick of butter (softened, not melted)
cake mix, lemon pie filling, and butter

Optional ingredients:

  • Confectioners sugar (aka powdered sugar)
  • Lemon zest

You can use store brand or national brand products and get the same results. It really doesn’t matter.

If you prefer airy lemon bars, use a box of angel food cake mix instead of yellow cake mix. 

You can also mix lemon juice with white frosting (turns it into lemon frosting). Spread it over the top instead of using powdered sugar.

Another way to make these lemon bars more appealing is to place thinly sliced fresh lemons over the top.

Prepare to Make Lemon Bars

First of all, gather all of your ingredients. It’s important to do this to make sure you have what you need. 

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Then spray a 7” x 11” baking pan or dish with nonstick cooking spray. Or you can use parchment paper instead of the spray.

How to Make 3 Ingredient Lemon Bars

In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry cake mix and butter. Mix until crumbly. 

I prefer to do this with a pastry blender, but mine is still packed in boxes that I won’t unpack until we move into our new house.

So I used a fork, which is fine. But it takes longer.

butter cut into dry cake mix

You can also use an electric mixer. But I choose not to because it takes as long to clean the blades as it does to do it by hand.

Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.

It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should be level. 

bottom crust of lemon bars pressed into pan

Bake for 10 minutes and remove from the oven.

Next, pour the pie filling over the crust and spread it out until it is even. Try to resist the urge to put a spoonful of it into your mouth.

lemon pie filling spread over bottom crust

Now sprinkle the remaining cake mix and butter mixture over the top.

Gently press it down to make sure it sticks.

Top crust before cooking

Put it in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes. When the top starts to turn golden brown, it’s ready.

Some ovens are hotter than others, so you may want to start checking for doneness at 22 minutes. If the top isn’t golden brown at the 25 minute mark, leave the pan in the oven for another 3 minutes.

golden top crust on 3 ingredient lemon bars

Remove it from the oven and let it cool for about 15 minutes. If you want to add powdered sugar, sprinkle it over the top. 

Now cut it into 2” squares and serve. Place whatever is left in the refrigerator.

Tips

I normally use a small strainer to sprinkle the powdered sugar. However, I didn’t have mine at hand, so I used a spoon. And as carefully as I could, I sprinkled it over the top.

powdered sugar sprinkled over the top of the 3 ingredient lemon bars crust

Although the powdered sugar adds a nice touch, it isn’t necessary and tastes just as good without it.

After it cools, cover it in plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out. If you don’t eat the whole pan of them, refrigerate what’s left.

These lemon squares are delicious warm, but they’re just as good right out of the refrigerator.

These amazing lemon bars are so delicious you’ll want to make them often. And when other people taste them, they’ll request them for potluck dinners and special occasions.

lemon bar on a plate

More 2 or 3 Ingredient Dessert Recipes

I’m a huge fan of easy dishes that only have a couple or a few ingredients. Most of these are cake mix recipes that you can make in just a few minutes. 

All you need are a box of cake mix and one or two other things. Keep a variety of cake mixes in your pantry so that next time you need something quickly, you’re ready.

Here are some easy-to-make 2 or 3 ingredient desserts:

Cherry Chocolate Cake – Cherry pie filling adds richness to this delightful cake that’s often called a chocolate dump cake. 

2-Ingredient Lemon Cake – Lemon lovers will also love this. It’s slightly different from the lemon bars, but it’s just as good.

2-Ingredient Apple Cake – Of all of my dessert recipes, this is one of the most popular. There’s a good reason for this. It’s absolutely delicious!

2-Ingredient Peach Cake – Peach is one of my favorite fruits, so I make this as often as possible. Then I add even more peach flavor to the top, but it’s not necessary.

Easy 3-Ingredient Mug Cake – This recipe is perfect for those times when you only want one or two servings of dessert. You can make any flavor you want with this simple recipe.

3-Ingredient Pumpkin Cookies – Don’t wait until fall to make these delicious cookies. Stock up on pumpkin and make them any time of year.

3-Ingredient Cinnamon Apple Crisps – Check out this yummy treat from Southern Plate.

2 or 3 Ingredient Savory Dishes:

Best 2-Ingredient Biscuits – Yes, you absolutely can make biscuits with only 2 ingredients, and they’re really good!

2-Ingredient Bagels – It’s all about what you put on top that makes these different.

3-Ingredient Ro-Tel Chili – This is probably one of the best kept secrets in kitchens across America. It’s delicious and perfect for those nights when you’re hungry but rushed.

lemon bar on a plate

3 Ingredient Lemon Bars

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

These lemon bars are super easy to make with only 3 ingredients!

Ingredients

  • 1 box of yellow cake mix
  • One 14 ounce can of lemon pie filling
  • 1 stick of butter (softened but not melted)
  • 1/3 cup of powdered sugar (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Spray a 9” x 13” baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Combine the cake mix and butter in a large bowl. Mix until crumbly. 
  3. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes and remove from the oven.
  4. Pour the pie filling over the crust and spread it out until it is even.
  5. Sprinkle the remaining cake mix and butter mixture over the top. Gently press down to make sure it sticks.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes or until it starts to turn golden brown.
  7. Remove from the oven and cool for about 15 minutes.
  8. Optional: Sprinkle the powdered sugar lightly over the top.
  9. Cut into 2” squares.

Notes

Cover and refrigerate whatever you don’t eat right away.

These lemon bars are delicious either warm or cold.

Every oven is different. If yours cooks hotter, bake the lemon bars for 22 minutes before checking. Or if it doesn’t cook as hot, leave them in the oven for 27-30 minutes.

Nutrition Information
Yield 12 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 331Total Fat 12gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 5gCholesterol 35mgSodium 435mgCarbohydrates 54gFiber 1gSugar 30gProtein 2g

The nutrition information is a product of online calculators. I try to provide true and accurate information, but these numbers are estimates.

Did you make this recipe?

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See this recipe shared at Full Plate Thursday.

Please feel free to share!

Miz Helen

Thursday 30th of September 2021

Yummy Lemon Bars, wish I had one! Thanks so much for sharing your awesome post with us and come back to see us soon! Miz Helen

southernhomeexpress

Thursday 30th of September 2021

Hi Miz Helen! I'll definitely be back to your wonderful link party!

Angie

Sunday 26th of September 2021

Today I’ve had a craving for a lemon dessert. I’ve made lemon bars a few times and love them. Yours look very good. I would have a hard time only eating one!

southernhomeexpress

Sunday 26th of September 2021

Angie, I know what you mean about having a hard time eating just one. If they're the house, I'll eat them until they're gone. That's why I offer them to everyone around me when I make them.

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