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Lemon Bars with Cake Mix take a classic and make it even simpler!! It’s still a little tart and a little sweet, and perfectly delish.

These easy Lemon Bars with Cake Mix take a twist on a classic Lemon Bar. Try Lemon Cream Cheese Bars for another favorite, bright dessert!

Powder sugar topped lemon bars with cake mix stacked on a white plate

Lemon bars with a shortcut

Lemon Bars are one of my most favorite dessert recipes! I’m generally a chocolate girl, but there is just something about these slightly tart treats that really gets me.

While Lemon Bars themselves aren’t terribly difficult, they do take a bit of time. I made these sweet squares even more simple by adding a twist – cake mix!

Lemon Bars with Cake Mix are still delicious, but just a bit easier to whip up making them a perfect go-to sweet for sharing!

Ingredients for lemon bars with cake mix

ingredients tips

  • Use room temperature ingredients, specifically the cream cheese and eggs. They will incorporate much easier and more smoothly when they are not cold.
    • Don’t forget to beat the eggs before you add them to the mixing bowl. Add 2 eggs to a separate medium bowl. Beat vigorously until the eggs are light and frothy. This can take a few minutes.
  • How to zest a lemon: You will only need 1 lemon to get 1 teaspoon of zest. The zest is simply grated lemon peel. They are quite flavorful and harmless to ingest. You can use a citrus zester, the small side on a cheese grater or a paring knife to shred the peel into small pieces. For more of the lemon flavor, increase the amount of zest you add.
  • Baking Dish: I used a 9×13 glass dish to bake these lemon bars. If you use a metal pan you may need to shorten the bake time and be sure to line the metal pan with parchment paper. Due to the citrus, the lemon bars can sometimes take on a metallic taste.
    Whether you use glass or metal, be sure that it is a 9×13 inch pan. Any larger and the bars will over bake. A smaller pan will yield under baked in the middle and a crispy crust.
  • Cake Mix-A standard box of lemon cake mix is 15.25 oz. Duncan Hines, Pillsbury and Betty Crocker are all readily available in my grocery store and each works for this recipe. Other similar cake mixes should work as well.
    • Note that you are ONLY using the dry cake mix. Do not make a batter.
    • You can use a yellow cake mix, but you will need to add lemon extract
    • When you press the cake mixture in the bottom of the dish, it should not be crumbly. Mix in a bit more melted butter if needed.
mixing the batter for lemon bars with cake mix

how to make them

PREP. Grease a 9×13 pan and turn oven to 350.

CAKE MIX. Blend cake mix, 1 egg and butter until smooth. Press into your greased 9×13 pan.

CREAM CHEESE. Blend cream cheese, 2 eggs, vanilla powdered sugar and lemon zest until creamy and smooth. Spread over your the first mixture in your pan.

BAKE + SERVE. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until edges are golden brown (middle may sink in a bit). Top with powdered sugar and ENJOY!

layering lemon bars with cake mix in a glass baking dish

garnishes and variations

For me, a classic lemon bar is topped with powdered sugar, but as always it’s fun to change things up from time to time. A few tasty ideas include:

  • use a lemon glaze
  • sprinkle lemon zest on top
  • add toasted coconut flakes
  • use a cream cheese frosting
  • add fresh fruit such as blueberries, raspberries or strawberries
baked lemon bars with cake mix in a glass baking dish

storage tips

Make ahead of time: Lemon bars can easily be made ahead of time. In fact, they need an hour or so to cool and set before serving so be sure that you make them at least a couple hours before you want to serve them.

STORE: They can be stored in an airtight container on the counter for 2-3 days, in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for 1-2 months.

FREEZE: If you want to freeze them, wrap the entire block, or each piece with plastic wrap. A large block can be wrapped again with foil. Smaller pieces can be stored together in a freezer Ziploc. Thaw before serving.

squares of lemon bars with cake mix on a newspaper, served with milk

For more easy cake mix desserts, try:

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5 from 108 votes

Lemon Bars with Cake Mix Recipe

By: Lil’ Luna
Lemon Bars with Cake Mix take a classic and make it even simpler!! It's still a little tart and a little sweet, and perfectly delish.
Servings: 12
Prep: 7 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 47 minutes

Ingredients 

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Instructions 

  • Grease a 9×13 pan and turn oven to 350.
  • Blend cake mix, 1 egg and butter until smooth. Press into your greased 9×13 pan.
  • Blend cream cheese, 2 eggs, vanilla powdered sugar and lemon zest until creamy and smooth. Spread over your the first mixture in your pan.
  • Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until edges are golden brown (middle may sink in a bit).
  • Top with powdered sugar and ENJOY!

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 12g, Calories: 445kcal, Carbohydrates: 72g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 80mg, Sodium: 450mg, Potassium: 64mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 54g, Vitamin A: 550IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 118mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
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About Kristyn

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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5 from 108 votes (100 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




18 Comments

  1. Debra says:

    5 stars
    I think these are delicious! I added the juice from the lemon to the cream cheese mixture, definitely gonna make again! I took a warming piece out but decided to chill them in fridge, can’t wait till they’re cold! Thanks for posting!

    1. Lil'Luna Team says:

      You’re welcome!! So glad you enjoyed them!

  2. Melissa Moore says:

    Mine looks like a cake? What happened?

    1. Lil'Luna Team says:

      Hmmm… I’m not sure. Did you make the two layers – the cake mix “crust” layer (step 2) and then the cream cheese layer (step 3) on top of that?

  3. Robyn L Farley says:

    5 stars
    Oh my word!!!!!! DELISH
    Thank you

    1. Lil'Luna Team says:

      You’re welcome!!

      1. LaCynda says:

        Got them in the oven now cooking! They look so delicious! Can’t wait to try them once they cool off!!

  4. Rose LaBarge says:

    not totally aweful but not something I would spend time or ingredients making again. very little lemon flavor and texture is not pleasant

    1. Lil'Luna Team says:

      Thanks for the feedback and for giving the recipe a try!

  5. Agnes says:

    5 stars
    These lemon bars are such a great, tasty summer treat! The cake mix makes the recipe that much easier. Thank you!

  6. CP says:

    5 stars
    I am astonished at how well these turned out, they were so sweet and perfectly tart all at once.

  7. Kristen says:

    5 stars
    I made these one afternoon for my kids, I had to tell them though I only made a half-batch for them to try at first since I had already eaten half the bars before I stopped myself.

  8. Sue says:

    5 stars
    I usually buy a lemon bar mix, but I like this even better. One day I’ll make them completely from scratch. Until then, this recipe is perfect.

  9. Olivia says:

    5 stars
    An easier version of a lemon bar. We enjoy a good lemon bar that taste good and not hard to make.

  10. Lil'Luna Team says:

    5 stars
    The cake mix makes these the easiest bars to make!! They are so soft & chewy & have the perfect lemon flavor!