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How long can I keep lemon bars?

Lemon bars are a delicious and refreshing treat that can brighten up any occasion. But like any baked good, they have a limited shelf life. So how long can you keep lemon bars before they go bad? Here is a comprehensive guide on storing lemon bars and how long they will stay fresh under different conditions.

How to Store Lemon Bars

Proper storage is key for preserving lemon bars and extending their shelf life. Here are some tips on how to best store lemon bars:

  • Allow lemon bars to cool completely before storing. Do not store them while still warm as this can lead to condensation which makes them soggy.
  • Store lemon bars in an airtight container like a storage box or ziplock bag. This prevents moisture loss and keeps the bars from drying out.
  • Make sure the container is clean and dry before storing the bars. Any moisture or contaminants can encourage mold growth.
  • If frosting or glaze has been applied, allow it to set completely before covering and storing.
  • For longer shelf life, consider wrapping individual bars in plastic wrap before placing in an airtight container. This provides an extra moisture barrier.
  • Store lemon bars in the refrigerator if possible. The cold temperature helps preserve freshness.
  • Avoid storing lemon bars with foods that have strong odors like onions or garlic. The smells can seep into the bars and alter the flavor.

Following these tips will help lemon bars stay fresher for longer in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

Unrefrigerated Shelf Life

When properly stored in an airtight container at room temperature, lemon bars will generally stay fresh for 2-3 days. Here are some signs that lemon bars have gone bad when left at room temperature:

  • Drying out – Bars become overly hard and dry.
  • Mold growth – You may see fuzzy mold growing on the surface.
  • Cracking of frosting – Any frosting or glaze can become dried out and cracked.
  • Off smells or flavors – Bars smell rancid or taste bitter.

For best quality and flavor, lemon bars are really best consumed within 24 hours of baking. The citrus flavor starts to diminish after a couple days at room temperature. Refrigeration extends the shelf life for 5-7 days.

Refrigerated Shelf Life

Refrigerating lemon bars can prolong their shelf life significantly. Properly stored bars will usually last 5-7 days in the refrigerator before quality starts to decline. Here are some tips for fridge storage:

  • Allow bars to cool completely first, then cover tightly before refrigerating.
  • Use an airtight container and store bars on a shelf rather than in the door where the temperature fluctuates.
  • Avoid overcrowding the fridge which reduces air circulation.
  • Monitor refrigerator temperature and keep it at 40°F or below.
  • Consume refrigerated lemon bars within 5-7 days for best flavor.

Signs that refrigerated lemon bars have spoiled include mold growth, drying out, cracking of glaze, and off odors or flavors. Refrigeration can extend the shelf life, but bars will not last forever.

Freezer Shelf Life

For long term storage, the freezer is best for preserving lemon bars. Properly frozen bars will keep for 2-3 months before quality deteriorates. Here are some freezing tips:

  • Allow baked and glazed bars to cool completely before freezing.
  • Wrap bars tightly in plastic wrap or place in freezer bags, removing as much air as possible.
  • Arrange bars in a single layer in the freezer until hard, then stack them if needed.
  • Avoid freezing bars for longer than 2-3 months for best texture and flavor.
  • Thaw frozen lemon bars in the refrigerator before serving.

Frozen lemon bars may experience some texture changes after thawing, such as a slightly denser or more crumbly crust. But the flavor should remain intact.

How to Tell if Lemon Bars Are Bad

Here are some common signs that your lemon bars have spoiled and should be discarded:

  • Mold growth – Any fuzzy mold spots mean the bars have spoiled and should be thrown out.
  • Dried out – If the bars are overly hard and dried out, they are past their prime.
  • Cracked glaze – Cracked or weeping glaze or frosting indicates the bars are too old.
  • Off smell – A rancid, sour or rotten smell means lemon bars have spoiled.
  • Off flavor – Bars should taste fresh and lemony. A bitter or off taste is a sign they should be discarded.
  • Crumbly crust – The shortbread crust may become crumbly and dry if bars are kept too long.

When in doubt, remember the old saying “When in doubt, throw it out.” Don’t take chances consuming lemon bars that seem old or past their prime.


Lemon bars can stay fresh for 2-3 days at room temperature when stored properly in an airtight container. For longer shelf life, refrigerate bars for 5-7 days or freeze for 2-3 months. Check for signs of mold, drying out, off smells or flavors to determine if lemon bars are still good to eat. Following proper storage methods will help you enjoy delicious lemon bars without having to worry about foodborne illness!