Recipe Review

I Tried the Viral 2-Ingredient Lemon Bars and I’d Absolutely Make Them Again — But There’s a Catch

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Two ingredient Lemon Bars.
Credit: Kiersten Hickman

Can you really make dessert with just two ingredients? It sounds a little too good to be true, but according to this 2-Ingredient Lemon Bar recipe posted by Sarah Olson, owner and blogger for Retro Potluck, it is possible. Plus, with over 100,000 shares of this recipe online, it seems there is a large following of people who agree. With those two simple ingredients you’ll have a 9×13-inch pan of lemon bars ready to go. Top with powdered sugar, and voilà! Dessert is served. But … does it really work?

I, of course, had to put my baking skills — and tastebuds — to the test. So I grabbed those mere two ingredients at my grocery store and got to baking. Here are my honest thoughts.

Get the recipe: 2-Ingredient Lemon Bars

How to Make 2-Ingredient Lemon Bars

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, fold together a box of angel food cake mix and a can of lemon pie filling. Grease a 13×9-inch pan and transfer the batter, smoothing out the top. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Let the dessert cool on a rack for a couple hours before slicing and serving. If you want, top with powdered sugar or drizzle with a vanilla icing.

Credit: Kiersten Hickman

My Honest Review

I’m really sad to say this but … these really aren’t bars. While this is still a delightful dessert and I did thoroughly enjoy it, I can’t with good faith say that this recipe made bars. Instead, it just made a really moist, lemon cake.

In my opinion, I think a “bar” — whether it be for a snack or a dessert — should be denser and have a structure that holds well when you pick it up. In particular, a lemon bar should have a crust underneath it that helps to hold that lemony filling, making it easy to pick up and snack on without falling apart in your hand.

These 2-ingredient lemon bars don’t do that; it’s simply cake. Sure, you can pick it up with your hand and eat it, but if you don’t have a napkin underneath it while you take a bite, it will likely fall apart and get all over the floor. This dessert was much easier to eat with a plate and a fork.

Will I make it again? Absolutely. I actually really liked the taste of this treat, and I also couldn’t get over how easy it was to put together. But the texture of it is far too light and airy to be considered a true lemon bar.

Credit: Kiersten Hickman

Tips for Making 2-Ingredient Lemon Bars

  1. Top with a frosting. Well, like I said, these bars are more resemblant to cake. So if you’re not the biggest fan of powdered sugar on dessert, I think you could also get away with an icing or even a frosting of some kind. I even think a whipped cream with cream cheese could do really nicely here.
  2. Play around with variations. Given that these lemon bars are made with a lemon pie filling, you could also experiment with other types of creamy pie filling flavors. Key lime pie or pineapple could be nice here. I’m also curious what would happen with other kinds of pie fillings, like strawberry or blackberry. The experimenting possibilities feel endless, so why not play around with a flavor you really love?

    Get the recipe: 2-Ingredient Lemon Bars