Grandma Ila Nelson's Lemon Dream Bars

"This recipe came from Whitefish, Montana and was given to me years ago by a dear friend. It had been passed down from her family for generations. I love the fragrance and flavor of lemons. This is by far the easiest and best tasting lemon bar I have come across. I have made it for bake sales, gifts, and simply to serve, and I always have requests for the recipe."
photo by Tinkerbell photo by Tinkerbell
photo by Tinkerbell
Ready In:
24-36 bars




  • For Crust: In medium sized bowl, stir together flour and powdered sugar.
  • Cut in butter with pastry blender or the tines of two forks. Press into greased 10x15x1 pan. Bake in 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes.
  • For Filling: Beat together eggs, lemon juice, zest and juice of fresh lemon, flour, sugar, baking powder and coconut. Mix well and pour over hot crust. Return pan to oven and bake uncovered for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on wire rack.
  • For Frosting: Beat together butter, lemon juice, vanilla and powdered sugar. Spread over filling when cool.
  • Cut into bars & serve. Store covered.

Questions & Replies

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  1. Cindy W.
    My copy of this recipe is packed away, so I figured a copy is bound to be on the net. This link came up first, and that gave me a giggle. So did the description of the recipe coming down for generations. A lemon dream bar recipe was developed in the test kitchens of Betty Crocker back in the late 40s or early 50s - my copy of the recipe if a photocopy of the page in the Christmas Cookie book printed by BC when my mother was a young bride. Dream bars track back a bit further and feture a mixture of finely chopped walnuts or pecans with the coconut. The folks at BC developed the lemon variant - and thereby geave us all lemon bar perfection. For indeed, these are the best of all lemon bars. Trust me on this, if you have enjoyed these, and if you enjoy nuts, next time you make the bars reduce the coconut to 1 1/4 cups and add 1 cup finely chpped nuts.
  2. wildpansy95
    The only thing I did different was to sprinkle toasted coconut on top of the frosting because I had some. This bar is decadent!! Thanks so much for the recipe.
  3. HB28094
    Wow! These are amazing! I served them at my daughter's baby shower and I had 30 requests for the recipe. They are so lemony without being overwhelming and the crust and frosting are devine. Thanks for such a time honoured recipe that truly lives up to its reputation! Cathy
  4. torie t.
    Very good and very rich, just what I want in a lemon bar. Loved the frosting. Thanks for the great posting.
  5. Tinkerbell
    I know I'm not supposed to talk with my mouth full... but these are just too good to put down! By far the best lemon bars I have ever tasted. The crust is light & flaky & the filling really is a dream. Lemony in flavor with a beautiful texture that gently balances the smooth & creamy filling with chewy coconut. The quick lemon frosting is just the cherry on top. I used 2 fresh lemons for this recipe, as I had them on hand. They yielded plenty of juice for the 8 Tablespoons called for & the remainder I considered the "juice of one lemon". I have no doubt that these sunny bars are always a hit when served. We'll be making them again. Thanks for sharing your special recipe, Jennifer! Made, enjoyed & reviewed for Pick-A-Chef Spring 2008.


  1. Cindy W.
    Reduce coconut to 1 1/4 cups add 1 cup finely chopped nuts - walnuts or pecans.



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