Recipe Review

My Honest Review of Ina Garten’s “Fan Favorite” Lemon Bar Recipe

published Mar 31, 2020
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Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Brett Regot; Design: The Kitchn

Let’s be honest: Ina Garten’s recipes are pretty much always in the mix when it comes to celebrity recipe showdowns. It was no different for lemon bars: Ina Garten’s recipe averages a 4.5 star rating and has more than 700 reviews — many of which describe it as the absolute best. It’s also labeled as a “fan favorite” on Food Network’s website.

When I read the recipe for the first time, I was struck by a few things. The first is that it calls for six extra-large eggs. I only ever keep large eggs on hand (as is true, I would assume, of most home cooks and bakers), and so I was a little frustrated that I wouldn’t be able to use the carton of eggs I had on hand.

The second thing that jumped out to me was the amount of sugar in the recipe. Ina calls for 3 cups in the filling alone, which is more than twice as much as any of the other recipes I tried. Ina does, however, incorporate plenty of lemon juice and zest into her bars, which I hoped would balance out the sweetness.

Here’s what happened when I gave Ina’s lemon bars a try.

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Brett Regot; Design: The Kitchn

How to Make Ina Garten’s Lemon Bars

The first thing you’ll do is heat the oven to 350°F. Add 2 sticks room temperature butter and 1/2 cup granulated sugar to an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat until light and fluffy. Add 2 cups all-purpose flour and continue to mix until just combined. Transfer the dough mixture to a well floured surface and, using well-floured hands, gather it into a ball. Transfer the dough to a baking dish, pressing it into a flat layer on the bottom and 1/2-inch up the sides. Let it chill in the fridge, then bake for 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

For the filling, you’ll whisk together 6 extra-large eggs, 3 cups granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons lemon zest, 1 cup lemon juice, and 1 cup flour. Pour it into the crust and bake for about 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Cut into triangles and dust with powdered sugar.

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Brett Regot

My Honest Review of Ina Garten’s Lemon Bars

All my love to the Barefoot Contessa, but this was not my favorite recipe of hers. I found the bars to be way too sweet — I could barely handle one bite, let alone an entire bar. The crust was also a little too chewy — it tasted as if the filling was blending into the crust.

I did find Ina’s tip to use floured hands for working with the dough to be extremely helpful. And the triangular shape is fun! But between the fussy ask for extra-large eggs and the borderline obscene amount of sugar, I likely won’t make it again.

Credit: Amelia Rampe

If You’re Making Ina Garten’s Lemon Bars, a Few Tips

1. Reduce the amount of sugar. If I were to make these again, I’d reduce the amount of sugar in the filling by at least 1 cup.

2. Line the dish with parchment paper. Creating a parchment paper sling that hangs over the sides of the dish allows you to cut the bars on a cutting board instead of inside the dish.

Rating: 4/10

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Brett Regot; Design: The Kitchn