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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!

Fork taking a bite out of a lemon bar

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!

Frosted Lemon Bar on a white plate with flowers in background

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:

  • lemon cake mix
  • lemon pie filling
  • eggsThe three ingredients for easy lemon bars -- lemon cake mix, lemon pie filling, and eggs.

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!

How to Make Frosted Lemon Bars

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Once the bars are completely cool, prepare the frosting. Combine cream cheese, sugar, butter, and vanilla extract in a large bowl.
  4. 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).
  5. Spread frosting in an even layer on top of the cool lemon bars. Slice and serve immediately, or store bars in the refrigerator.

Frosted lemon bar with a bite taken out of it

The End Result

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!

Frosted Lemon bar on a white plate with pastel sprinkles

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!

Top Tips for Making Frosted Lemon Bars

  • Make sure to lightly grease your baking pan so you can easily remove the baked bars. You can also line the baking pan to be extra safe.
  • 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).
  • Make sure to use softened, room temperature butter to avoid a lumpy frosting.
  • Make sure to cool the bars completely before frosting or it will melt and probably slide off.
  • You can prep these bars in advance and store in a cool dry place until ready to serve or 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.
  • Decorate these bars with your favorite sprinkles.

Lemon bar on a plate with lemons in the background

Other Easy Dessert Recipes that You Might Enjoy:

Lemon bar on a plate with lemons in the background

Fannie's Frosted Lemon Bars

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Cooling Time 2 hours
Total: 2 hours 45 minutes
Servings 24 bars
Calories 238.7 kcal
With help from a boxed cake mix, Fannie's Frosted Lemon Bars are a perfect easy dessert to welcome Spring!

Ingredients
  

For the Bars:

  • 1 (15.25 ounce) box lemon cake mix
  • 1 (22 ounce) can lemon pie filling
  • 4 eggs

For the Frosting:

  • 1 (8 ounce) package 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

Instructions

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.

Notes

  • Make sure to lightly grease your baking pan so you can easily remove the baked bars. You can also line the baking pan to be extra safe.
  • 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).
  • Make sure to use softened, room temperature butter to avoid a lumpy frosting.
  • Make sure to cool the bars completely before frosting or it will melt and probably slide off.
  • You can prep these bars in advance and store in a cool dry place until ready to serve or 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.
  • Decorate these bars with your favorite sprinkles.

Nutrition

Serving: 1barCalories: 238.7kcalCarbohydrates: 38.6gProtein: 2.6gFat: 8.5gSaturated Fat: 4.4gCholesterol: 49mgSodium: 197.5mgSugar: 29.8g
Keyword: Cake Mix Recipe, easy lemon dessert, lemon bars
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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