Gooey Lemon Cake Bars

Turn your favorite Gooey Butter Cake into a Lemon dessert! Gooey Lemon Cake Bars will make you quite happy, and nobody has to know you started with a mix!

Gooey Lemon Cake Bars

Click HERE to save recipe to Pinterest!

Once upon a time there was a cute food blogger named Aimee.

She LOVED lemon desserts.

The end.

This post was previously published in May 2013. As I’m still a lover of all things lemon, I thought you’d all enjoy this updated version, complete with a food video too!

Slice of Gooey Lemon Cake Bars

Seriously, there is not much else to say about this recipe. I am in love with all things lemon! These lemon bars are made simple by using a cake mix (gasp!!!). I know, I don’t use a mix often, but back off. It’s summer.

Almost summer. Which means absolutely nothing except I wanted an excuse as to why I used a mix. Oh yeah, I used a mix on this because that’s what the recipe calls for!

I based these lemon bars off of this easy Gooey Butter Cake recipe. By just changing it slightly they become a whole new dessert. You can make these even prettier by adding some fresh raspberries or strawberries on top as a garnish.

But they don’t need any help in making them tastier. These cake bars are divine. Try them yourself.

How to make Gooey Lemon Cake Bars:

  • Start with your favorite cake mix! I use Duncan Hines Lemon Cake mix….but choose YOUR favorite.
  • Add softened butter and egg to cake mix, and press this into the bottom of your 13×9 baking dish. This will create the crust.
  • Beat your filling until light and fluffy and spread it over the top of the cake mix crust. BAKE for about 40-45 minutes. Do not overcook.
  • Once you’ve removed the Lemon Bars from the oven, cool on wire rack. When cool, place bars in refrigerator for at least 4 hours (this is a must!!). Top with powdered sugar and enjoy cold!

If you love these sweet Lemon Bars, then you may also enjoy:

  • One of my favorite recipes on the website is for these Lemon Cheesecake Bars. Cookie dough with cheesecake and lemon. What’s not to love??? Plus they freeze well too!
  • Lemon Berry Mini Bundt Cakes from Sweet C’s Designs are a fresh, light, and delicious breakfast bundt cake full of yogurt, raspberries, blueberries, and lemon flavor!
  • These Lemon Bar Cookie Cups from Barbara Bakes are easy to make, and easier to serve than lemon bars.  If you’re a lemon bar lover, you’ll love this cookie cup version.
  • Do you love poke cakes? One of our favorites is this super simple Lemon Poke Cake recipe! Let me know what you think πŸ™‚
  • If you’re looking for the best Lemon Bars with Shortbread Crust, this one is it. Easy cookie crust with a sweet and tangy lemon filling and lemon glaze, topped with powdered sugar!

Plate of gooey lemon cake bar

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Gooey Lemon Cake Bars recipe and video:


Yield: 16 servings

Gooey Lemon Bars

Gooey Lemon Bars
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Chill Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 45 minutes

Turn your favorite Gooey Butter Cake into a Lemon dessert! Lemon Cake Bars will make you quite happy, and nobody has to know you started with a mix!


For the crust:

  • 1 box (18.25oz) Lemon Cake Mix (I used Duncan Hines)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 egg

For the filling:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, butter and egg. Press into the bottom of a 13x9 baking dish. Combine cream cheese, sugar, vanilla eggs in a mixer. Beat until fluffy. Pour over crust. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 40-45 minutes (I underbake mine a little to get that definitive separation in layers). Remove from oven and cool completely.
  2. Refrigerate for 4 hours (or overnight) for best flavor. ENJOY.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 slice

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 291 Total Fat: 13g Saturated Fat: 7g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 4g Cholesterol: 64mg Sodium: 297mg Carbohydrates: 41g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 28g Protein: 3g
*Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietitian for special diet advice.

Gooey Lemon Cake Bar photo collage

Gooey Lemon Cake Bars: easy lemon bar recipe using a cake mix and a cheesecake topping. EASY too!

See the recipe Gooey Lemon Cake Bars on YouTube


**There may be affiliate links in this post! By clicking on them, or purchasing recommended items I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love! Thank you for supporting Shugary Sweets! See my disclosure policy for more info**

99 comments on “Gooey Lemon Cake Bars”

  1. These look beautiful Aimee, lemon desserts are the best πŸ™‚

  2. Lemons are the best and I love using cake mixes!

  3. These look so delish! I am having such a love affair with lemon right now and I am always in love with gooey cake so this is definitely a win win.

  4. You had me at gooey. Add the fact that it’s lemon and I’m hooked.

  5. What a fabulous recipe! This cake looks so good!

  6. Love lemon desserts! And nothing wrong with using a cake mix! A girl can’t do it all!

  7. Is it weird that I do a little dance everytime you post a lemon recipe? Love lemon, need this in my life πŸ™‚

  8. The fact that you put gooey in the title makes me want to make (and eat!) these immediately. They look sooo good!

  9. Lemon treats are on my list too – this one looks awesome! I love how easy it is πŸ™‚

  10. I think you got the number of servings wrong – you added a 6 when it should really just say 1 πŸ˜‰

  11. I’ll back off the cake mix thing…I’d totally eat these up! Gotta take short cuts when you can, and these look scrumptious!

  12. Pinned these!! Looks amazing! πŸ™‚

  13. I am sooooo in love with lemon! And gooey cake bars. I just made some the other day. OMG.

  14. I love lemons too….so I’d fight ya for a piece of this for sure! πŸ™‚

  15. Hahaha! Love it! Best intro to a lemon recipe post by a blogger…ever! Well, you are pretty and have gorgeous blue eyes. But, who doesn’t love gooey cake when lemon is involved? Fabulous idea for summer…or anytime! Thanks, Aimee! xo

  16. LuAnn

    I’m confused about this recipe, I pour the cream cheese icing on top BEFORE baking?
    thank you

  17. I don’t use a mix often, but back off. It’s summer. <– LOL I can hear the comments now πŸ™‚ I have a cookie recipe next week that's nobake. It's summer, who cares πŸ™‚

    And gooey cake is the best kind of cake!

  18. nessa

    MMM….I love lemon!

  19. There once was a good blogger friend named Jocelyn who loved desserts made from cake mixes.

    I heart easy breazy desserts that start from a mix, but you knew that already πŸ™‚ I heart this fun and delicious cake!!!

  20. I could eat an entire plate of these! They look so ooey gooey and lovelyyyy πŸ˜€

  21. This is the absolute perfect, easy dessert for summer! Pinned!!

  22. I’ve got that same lemon love affair! Love this simple recipe and of course, love your presentation and photos!

  23. Oh these bars look heavenly Aimee! Anything with lemon is just perfection in my book πŸ™‚

  24. Love lemon desserts! These bars are amazing! Nothing wrong with taking shortcuts here and there!

  25. YAY more lemon! Tis the season and cake bars are amazing! Especially when they are gooey and smothered in frosting!

  26. Pinned this before I even read the post, they look that good!! Who cares if it’s a cake mix, it’s lemon deliciousness!!

  27. These look so good! I love the creamy top layer. I’ve made gooey butter cake with yellow cake mix but never thought to make it lemony!

  28. Sounds delicious, but I think I will try using lemon juice instead of vanilla. What do you think?

  29. I love lemon, too. We just bought a baby lemon tree, and I’m really hoping we can keep it alive. How awesome would it be to just walk into your backyard and get a lemon? I’m definitely trying this recipe.

  30. I love lemon bars! These look fantastic and I love how simple they are!

  31. I love lemon bars πŸ™‚ this looks fantastic!

  32. LOVE lemon bars; these look so yummy! Beautiful pics Aimee!

  33. Rebekah

    Are you supposed to bake these bars with the cream cheese topping on them? Or do you put it on after? The instructions say to bake it with the topping but the picture looks like you put it on after baking.

  34. Oh I love me some lemon, too, Aimee! These look awesome.

  35. angie

    Can I use lemon extract instead of vanilla or will it overwhelm it?

  36. Anonymous

    Mine did not turn out like picture at all!!! Crust was all brown…top was okay but certainly not as light and yummy looking as yours. I used the same cake mix…not a fan.

  37. Sue

    I sent the message above

  38. I made this today, and mine looks nothing like yours. I am so bummed. It’s such a simple recipe, I thought for sure it would be fail-proof. Sad day πŸ™ Does it need to bake at a lower temperature? My edges were pretty brown, but my cake crust was dense and lost all it’s pretty yellow color. It tasted like cheesecake with a little lemon. I so wanted it to look and taste like yours πŸ™ I made some strawberry sauce & topped it with that. It redeemed it a little. Just can’t seem to figure out where I went wrong.

    • Amber, bummer! I make gooey cake bars all the time with this recipe, swapping out different cake mixes for the base flavor. I honestly don’t know what could have gone wrong?! Mine definitely has a lot of lemon flavor, and stayed quite yellow (clearly πŸ™‚ The only things I can think of would be is to check your oven temperature? Although, I know with all your baking it’s bound to be close to accurate! Sorry I have no other help for you πŸ™

  39. Carrie

    I have made these twice now. The first time I added some extra lemon just and some zest to the cream cheese topping and I got rave reviews. This time I just left it per your instructions. I am sure they will be great either way! Thanks so much for the great recipe!

  40. kay biel

    Can these bars be frozen?

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  43. maria

    Do you have to use a “cake mix”? I like making food from scratch.

  44. Kate

    Mine turned out dense and not light or fluffy like the picture. I’m thinking I baked it too long. And, I baked mine using my convection oven. Next batch will be with the regular oven and I will watch the time. Also, my topping never got what I would call light and fluffy, so I will make sure the eggs are at room temp along with very soft cream cheese. I think the recipe is super easy, but the little things matter a lot if you want the perfect result. Thanks!

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  47. I just shared this recipe on my β€œWeekly Round-up” series of top recipe finds! This week was all about lemons, so I knew this was a must add. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful recipe with us!

  48. Judy

    Recipe for the frosting on these lemon bars. Didn’t see it anywhere and would love it to finish them like yours. Yummy! Thanks.

  49. Kent Carthey

    Very disappointed. They were neither gooey nor lemony. In addition to the fact that the recipe does not give different baking times for glass and metal pans, I nearly burned out the motor of my small, hand held mixer beating the dough, But let’s get to what’s advertised. Perhaps living in Costa Rica where lemon flavors everything, I found simply using the cake mix fairly bland and with no additives with lemon in the topping, there was no addition zing.
    Adapting the first time, I added 1/4 cup of lemon juice to the batter making a somewhat crumbly base (I’d adjusted cooking time as well) and added the zest of three limes to the topping. It still didn’tr reach the desired intensity. On my final try, I layered in a strong glaize of homemade lemon on top of the cake then added the zest of five limes to the topping and when serving added a combination of lime and lemon zest for color and flavor.

  50. Lena Epperson

    My RANT of the year… All these wonderful recipes that use Duncan Hines cake mixes that call for 18.5 oz. that are now 16.5 and even 15.25 (Betty Crocker, which isn’t as tasty as Duncan Hines). . I have an AMAZING Earth Quake Cake that I’ve made over the years, Lemon Blossoms that are to die for… and POOF! The ratio is off. I’d rather pay more for the cake mixes then have the 1% companies make us believe we’re getting the same amount for the same price. Ok… hopping off my soap box. I’m still going to try this recipe with the 15.5 oz box.

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  52. Anonymous

    is the butter and eggs for the crust seprate, (like extra from the eggs and milk the box says to add) or is it part of the cake mix ingredients?

  53. Jess

    I only have a 16.50 oz box…do I need to change the recipe to account for the difference?

  54. Dawn

    Love the recipe, but my gooey topping browned. It doesn’t look dreamy like yours. What did I do wrong? I cooked it for the specified time.

  55. I used lemon in stead of vanilla yum

  56. Melissa

    I see the chocolate recipe you based this one off of also has 1/2 cup butter in the filling (as I know traditional gooey butter cakes do) So, just to be sure, no butter goes into the filling of this lemon alternative?

  57. Vickie

    Thank you for “freshening up” an old but good recipe! Was going to make gooey butter bars for a church dinner this weekend. After reading this post, I would like to make a change in my plans but I need a little help-I have a yellow cake mix as I was going to use to make the traditional gooey butter bar recipe. I would like to convert to a lemon version, using the yellow cake mix. I was thinking of adding lemon extract to the cake mix along with some lemon zest. To the filling I would use lemon extract instead of vanilla and add some zest. My question is, do you think I should add some fresh lemon juice to some part of the recipe to bring out additional lemon flavor? I have a Duncan Hines yellow cake mix if that helps. If you think I should go ahead and use a lemon cake mix, that’s fine as well. Was trying to use what I had on hand. Thanks for any advice!

    • I would say you will be fine with the yellow cake mix. If it were me, I would make the cheesecake filling more lemon-y by adding in zest and lemon extract (and just let the “crust” layer be the yellow cake mix part). I would use one fresh lemon, zest the entire lemon, and I would add 1 tsp lemon extract. Let me know what you decide and how it turns out πŸ™‚ ENJOY!!

  58. Looks delicious! We love anything lemon at my house.

  59. Vickie

    I took your advice, used my yellow cake mix, added the zest of one lemon and switched the vanilla extract out with lemon extract to the filling-the flavor was spot on. I’m afraid if I had added lemon to the cake mix, it might have been too much. Thank you for your suggestions!

  60. Pat L.

    This sounds like a great recipe – I only have a single layer (8.5 oz) lemon cake mix – could I cut this recipe in half and bake in single 8″, 9″ square or round pan?

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  63. Cait

    THIS IS A CHEAT! BEWARE! and it’s the MFGR.’s fault. There are no 18.25 oz cake mixes available for sale today. I
    I keep a seal tight container of yellow or white boxed cake mix in my cupboard for this problem 2/3 cup of this will bring the 15.25 to 18.25. This can really help! I noticed this cause I found an old box in the back of my pantry, so I started checking.

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  65. Debbie

    Would this recipe work with DH strawberry cake mix instead of lemon?Β 

  66. Beth Iuliucci

    Do you grease the pan first?

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