With help from a boxed cake mix, Fannie’s Frosted Lemon Bars are a perfect easy dessert to welcome Spring! The refreshingly sweet and slightly tart squares are slathered in a thick coat of cream cheese frosting for the ultimate treat!
What is it about spring that just begs for bright, fresh, lemon-flavored desserts?
Whether I’m looking for an easy potluck treat, serving something special for a Mother’s Day brunch, or adding a festive dessert to an Easter buffet, Lemon Bars are always a crowd-pleasing option!
Classic lemon bars are typically made with a shortbread crust, topped with a tangy lemon curd filling, and finished with a dusting of powdered sugar.
These lemon bars, on the other hand, kick it up a notch! They’re like a cross between a lemon sheet cake and a dessert bar, since they don’t include a shortbread crust (or any lemon curd at all). Oh, and that cream cheese frosting! It is absolute perfection.
Plus, these treats couldn’t be easier! The base of the lemon bars only requires 3 simple ingredients:
The recipe originally came from my neighbor, Fannie, who also shared this Easy Cheesy Broccoli Casserole with us last fall.
Fannie calls them “Lemon Pie Bars,” and while I debated calling them a “Lemon Cake,” I stuck with “bars” in the end.
After all, my husband, who doesn’t even like cake, DEVOURED these lemon bars. That’s right…I said it: they’re better than cake!
Keith’s complaint with cake is that it can sometimes be dry or spongey. Not here!
These lemon bars are dense (without being heavy), and incredibly moist. They are thinner than a piece of cake, so you can easily serve them to kids at a party and just let the kids eat them with their fingers — like brownies. That’s what my boys do!
No matter what you call them, I can assure you that these easy Frosted Lemon Bars are a wonderful way to usher in the new season on a very sweet note!
FANNIE’S FROSTED LEMON BARS
Fannie's Frosted Lemon Bars
Yield 24 bars
- 1 (15.25 ounce) box lemon cake mix
- 1 (22 ounce) can lemon pie filling
- 4 eggs
- 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened at room temperature
- 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 6 tablespoons salted butter, softened at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon milk, plus more as needed
Prepare the Bars:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Spray or grease a 10 x 15-inch baking pan with non-stick spray.
- In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to combine cake mix, pie filling, and eggs. The batter will be thick, but still spreadable. It’s fine if you have some lumps in the batter.
- Spread batter into prepared baking pan.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Allow bars to cool on a wire rack.
Prepare the Frosting:
- Once the bars are completely cool, prepare the frosting.
- Combine cream cheese, sugar, butter, and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Mix with an electric mixer to combine the ingredients, and then add 1 teaspoon of milk. Mix again until completely smooth and fluffy. If the frosting is still too thick, you can slowly add one more teaspoon of milk at a time until it reaches the desired consistency (I did not need more than 1 teaspoon of milk to get the frosting to a spreadable consistency).
- Spread frosting in an even layer on top of the cool lemon bars. Slice and serve immediately, or store bars in the refrigerator.
Note: Fannie recommended using a 10-inch by 15-inch baking pan, so that's exactly what I did. I have not tested the recipe with a different size pan, although a 9-inch by 13-inch pan would probably work well, too. The smaller pan, however, will result in thicker (more cake-like) bars. If you have a pan that is slightly larger than 10 x 15-inches, that would likely work as well (you will just have thinner bars).
Want to Prep Ahead? You can bake the bars in advance and keep them in the freezer (before frosting). You can also frost the bars and keep them in the refrigerator for up to 2 or 3 days in advance.
Serving Size 1 bar
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Total Fat 8.5 g
Saturated Fat 4.4 g
Cholesterol 49 mg
Sodium 197.5 mg
Total Carbohydrates 38.6 g
Sugars 29.8 g
Protein 2.6 g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.