★★★★★

Gooey Lemon Cake Bars

Turn your favorite Gooey Butter Cake into a Lemon dessert! Gooey Lemon Cake Bars make everybody happy and no one has to know you started with a box of cake mix!

For more easy cake mix recipes, try our delicious lemon poke cake next. Or give our cake mix cookies a try for a unique treat.

Lemon cake bars cut into squares and dusted with powdered sugar.

Why this Recipe is Best

I based today’s lemon bars off of this easy Gooey Butter Cake recipe. By just changing it slightly they become a whole new dessert.

If you love lemon treats as much as I do you’re going to fall head over heels for these cake bars! They’re full of zesty lemon goodness, like sunshine in bar form. Sure to brighten your day!

  • This recipe starts with a cake mix for easy assembly.
  • The bars have a soft gooey topping, baked on a cake mix crust.
  • You can store them in the refrigerator or freezer.

If you’re loving lemon, be sure to try our delicious, from scratch, lemon cake recipe. Don’t forget to try the lemon frosting too.

Ingredient Notes

Ingredients needed to make gooey lemon cake bars.

Lemon Cake Mix- Start with a boxed mix for today’s easy recipe. Any brand will do.

Cream Cheese – Choose the “block” not the tub of cream cheese and use full fat cream cheese for best results. Don’t forget to let it soften at room temperature for a few minutes first.

Powdered Sugar – This is used to sweeten the gooey layer, and you’ll want to dust the finished dessert with more for a pretty presentation!

PRO TIP- We love making our own homemade vanilla extract, but if using store bought, be sure it’s pure extract, not imitation (for best flavor).

Step by step photos showing how to make lemon cake bars.

Easy Instructions

STEP 1. Make the crust. Combine the cake mix, butter and egg until well mixed. Press into the bottom of a 13×9 baking dish.

STEP 2. Make the filling. Combine the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and eggs in a mixer and beat until fluffy. Pour over the crust.

STEP 3. Bake, cool and refrigerate. Bake the bars in a 325 degree oven for 40-45 minutes then let cool completely. For best flavor, refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight before serving.

Tips and Tricks

  • Make sure to let your butter and cream cheese come to room temperature. This is important!
  • When in doubt, underbake. My bars are ready to come out of the oven at about 40 minutes. Underbaking also helps show the definitive separation in layers.
  • Chill well. I know the cake smells so good when it comes out of the oven, you’ll be tempted to dig in right away. But cooling the bars and then chilling them for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator before serving helps them firm up to the right texture. I also LOVE the taste of these bars best when they’re cold.
  • Top with powdered sugar. These bars look best with a dusting of powdered sugar on top to add a sweet decorative touch!
Gooey lemon cake bars in a 13x9 glass dish cut into squares.

Recipe FAQs

Are powdered sugar and confectioner’s sugar the same?

Yes! It’s labeled as one or the other, depending on the brand. So if your box says “confectioner’s sugar” it can still be used in this recipe.

Can I make gooey lemon cake bars in advance?

Absolutely. Bake the bars the night before and keep them covered with foil or plastic wrap in the fridge overnight.

Can you freeze lemon cake bars?

Yes! After baking and cooling, slice the cake bars and place in an airtight, freezer safe container (or ziploc bag). When ready to enjoy, allow to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy.

More Lemon Recipes

Yield: 15 servings

Gooey Lemon Cake 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! Gooey Lemon Cake Bars make everybody happy and no one has to know you started with a box of cake mix!

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 1 box (15 ounce) Lemon Cake Mix
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg

For the filling:

  • 8 ounce cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, butter and egg. Press into the bottom of a 13x9 baking dish.
  2. Combine cream cheese, sugar, vanilla eggs in a mixer. Beat until fluffy. Pour over crust.
  3. 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.
  4. Refrigerate for 4 hours (or overnight) for best flavor. ENJOY.

Notes

  • When in doubt, underbake. My bars are ready to come out of the oven at about 40 minutes.
  • Chill well. I know the cake smells so good when it comes out of the oven, you'll be tempted to dig in right away. But chilling this for at least 4 hours before serving helps it firm up to the right texture. I also LOVE the taste of these bars best when they're cold.
  • Can this be made ahead of time? Absolutely. Bake them the night before and keep them covered with foil or plastic wrap in the fridge over night.
  • See blog post or more recipe tips and tricks.
  • Nutrition Information:

    Yield:

    15

    Serving Size:

    1 slice

    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 310Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 69mgSodium: 317mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 0gSugar: 30gProtein: 4g

    *Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietitian for special diet advice.

    Did you make this recipe?

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    About Aimee

    Aimee is a dessert lover (specifically rice krispie treats), workout enthusiast, self-taught foodie, and recipe creator.

    Learn more about Aimee.

    Affiliate Disclosure:**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**

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    Posted on March 22, 2018

    Comments & Reviews

    1. 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 🙂 I heart this fun and delicious cake!!!

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

      And gooey cake is the best kind of cake!

      1. So far, so nice 🙂 Thanks for stopping by Averie. can’t wait to see your nobake cookie, love summer desserts!

    3. 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

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

    5. 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!

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

    7. Lemon treats are on my list too – this one looks awesome! I love how easy it is 🙂

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

    9. Is it weird that I do a little dance everytime you post a lemon recipe? Love lemon, need this in my life 🙂

    10. 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.

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