Cakey Lemon Brownies


These easy-to-make bar cookies have the chewy, cakey texture of a brownie, but all of the bright and tangy flavor of a lemon bar. The batter is made with fresh lemon zest and juice, plus a secret ingredient: a little melted white chocolate, which balances out the acidity, adds creamy sweetness, and keeps the crumb moist. To melt the white chocolate (you can use a baking bar broken into pieces or chocolate chips), heat it in a microwave-safe bowl on 50% power for 1 ½ minutes, stirring in 30-second increments until melted and smooth. You can enjoy these Cakey Lemon Brownies as-is, but the rich lemon-cream cheese frosting really takes them to another level. Make sure that the brownies are completely cooled before you spread on the icing so that it doesn't melt. Bring these bars to your next get-together or bake sale and prepare to be asked for the recipe!

Lemon Brownies
Photo: Photographer Victor Protasio, Food Stylist Jennifer Wendorf
Active Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 40 mins


Lemon Brownies

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup (4 oz.) salted butter, softened

  • 2 large eggs

  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest plus 2 Tbsp. fresh juice (from 1 lemon)

  • 2 ounces white chocolate, melted

  • 1 cup (about 4 1/4 oz.) all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Lemon Frosting

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened

  • 1 cup (about 4 oz.) powdered sugar

  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

  • 1 - 2 teaspoons whole milk


  1. Prepare the Lemon Brownies: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch-square baking pan with parchment, and lightly grease (with cooking spray). Set aside.

  2. Beat sugar and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating on medium speed until fully incorporated after each addition. Beat in lemon zest and juice. Beat in white chocolate. Whisk together flour and baking powder in a small bowl. Fold flour mixture into butter mixture until fully incorporated.

  3. Pour batter into prepared baking pan, and smooth to edges. Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs, 22 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack, about 1 hour.

  4. While brownies cool, prepare the Lemon Frosting: Beat cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 1 minute. Beat in powdered sugar on low speed until fully incorporated. Add lemon juice and 1 teaspoon milk; beat on high speed until smooth, about 1 minute, adding remaining 1 teaspoon milk, if needed. Spread over cooled brownies. Cut brownies into squares, and serve.

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