In just 25 minutes of hands-on time, you can transform two lemons into a bakery-quality treat. Here's how.
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With a sugar cookie-like crust and sweet-tart citrus topping, the lemon bars you likely know and love from your local bakery or farmers' market stand might seem like something that would take all day. But busy mom/TV host/cookbook author/entrepreneur/designer Joanna Gaines just shared a recipe that even she—with her overflowing plate—can carve out time to make.

"Tastes like summer," @magnolianetwork captions their Instagram video clip about these sunshine-hued bars. We're definitely craving some of those rays now after taking a peek at the lovely and surprisingly low-fuss recipe for Mina's Lemon Bars!

The easy dessert recipe appears in Gaines' cookbook Magnolia Table (buy it: $16.59, Target) and recently debuted on a new episode of her discovery + TV show that shares the same name. It's the final course for her ultimate menu for "A Light Lunch" with friends.

"On these warm, sunny days I love an excuse to take lunch outside to the garden, especially if a few close friends are coming over to join me. So today I'm creating a light lunch that's made for sharing," Gaines explains in the season 3, episode 3 recipe recap. "As a light (and buttery) finish, I'm making my homemade Lemon Bars for dessert."

A portrait of Joanna Gaines next to a photograph of Lemon Bars covered in powdered sugar
Credit: Getty Images / Larry Busacca / voltan1

Gaines cuts to the chase, skipping the Curry Chicken Salad, Cauliflower Couscous and Peach Caprese—which are all also on our summer recipe bucket list after watching the whole show—and gets to the bars at the beginning: "I make dessert first because I love dessert. I need it ready the moment I'm finished cooking, and I always have to sample the first bite," she says. We like your style, Joanna! Quality control is necessary, after all… 😉

To make the lemon bars, start with the crust. Melt 2 sticks of butter in a medium saucepan, then gather the dry ingredients, including flour, powdered sugar and salt. Whisk until smooth, then use a fork to gently incorporate the melted butter (ICYMI, here are the 3 whisks Gaines says every kitchen needs).

"You don't want to overwork it, because you want the crust to be nice and flaky," Gaines says.

Line a 9- x 13-inch glass pan (such as this Pyrex; buy it: $13.99, Target) with parchment paper, then press the crust around on the bottom of the pan. Bake for about 20 minutes until the crust is lightly browned.

As that cooks, assemble the filling by whisking together a couple of lemons-worth of fresh citrus juice, sugar and eggs. Pour this filling atop the partially-cooked crust, and bake for 15 minutes. At this point, tent the pan with foil and bake for about 15 minutes more, or until the center of the filling looks set when you give the pan a little nudge.

Remove the lemon dessert from the oven, dust with powdered sugar and allow them to cool completely before slicing.

"There's nothing like a lemon bar to brighten up your day, folks," Gaines says as she takes her first taste test bite.

Fans agree, chiming in on the Instagram post with reviews like, "I am obsessed with lemon bars and have tried a million recipes. I have to say this one is the best. I will never try another lemon bar. This one is perfect," and "just made these yesterday! I always add an extra lemon because I live for tang. 🍋🤣💕 They are the best!"

Try Mina's Lemon Bars recipe so you can see if you agree, then keep those extra lemons handy to stir up Joanna's Watermelon-Mint Lemonade to sip alongside. Peak summer vibes, achieved!