Vegan Lemon Bars – Detoxinista

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Vegan Lemon Bars have a crisp gluten-free crust and a creamy lemon filling you’ll love. They’re the perfect dessert for when the weather warms up!

vegan lemon bars stacked on a white plate with pink background.vegan lemon bars stacked on a white plate with pink background.

While they don’t look exactly like classic lemon bars, these vegan lemon squares are loaded with delicious lemon flavor. They are a great option for those who need to avoid eggs or dairy. 

Featuring an almond flour shortbread crust, these bars are naturally gluten-free, but you can use any other crust recipe you prefer as the base.

Ingredients You’ll Need

All you need to create a crispy crust is almond flour, coconut oil, maple syrup, and salt. 

The filling is made with cashews for creaminess, along with plenty of lemon juice and lemon zest for a bright, tart flavor. Use fresh lemons for the best flavor, instead of store-bought lemon juice.

Coconut oil helps these bars firm up in the fridge, but if you want to avoid any coconut flavor you can use refined or expeller pressed coconut oil, which has zero coconut flavor. Vegan butter would also work here!

These lemon bars don’t have a bright yellow color, but you could add a pinch of turmeric to the filling for a naturally yellow hue. (Don’t add too much, or it may affect the flavor.)

vegan lemon bar ingredients labeled on a marble surface.vegan lemon bar ingredients labeled on a marble surface.

How to Make Vegan Lemon Bars

Preheat the oven to 350ºF and lightly grease an 8-inch square baking dish. Press a piece of parchment paper into the bottom of the pan for easy removal later. 

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the almond flour, coconut oil, maple syrup, and salt. Stir well until the dough sticks together when pressed between your fingers.

Transfer the crust mixture to the prepared pan and press it evenly into the bottom. It won’t feel like there’s enough crust at first, but it should spread out thinly over the entire bottom of the pan. (I tested this recipe with a 1/4 cup more almond flour and felt the crust overpowered the lemon layer in the finished bars.)

almond flour crust baked in square dish.almond flour crust baked in square dish.

Bake the almond flour shortbread crust for 15 minutes or until the edges are golden. Let it cool completely while you prepare the vegan lemon curd.

To prepare the filling, add the cashews to a high-speed blender and blend until they are finely ground, about 30 to 60 seconds. Use a spatula to scrape the cashews away from the sides and corners of your blender pitcher. 

vegan lemon filling blended together.vegan lemon filling blended together.

Add the fresh lemon juice, zest, coconut oil, and maple syrup to the blender, then secure the lid and blend again. The filling should be smooth and creamy. Taste it and make any adjustments you see fit. (Keep in mind the flavor will be slightly milder when chilled.)

Pour the lemon filling over the cooled crust and smooth the top with a spatula. Place the pan on a flat surface in your freezer to freeze until firm, about 4 hours.

vegan lemon filling chilled and sliced into bars.vegan lemon filling chilled and sliced into bars.

When the lemon filling feels very firm to the touch in the center of the pan, you can slice the bars into 16 pieces and serve chilled.

Dust them with powdered sugar on top, if you’d like a classic lemon bar look.

lemon bars sliced into squares on parchment paper.lemon bars sliced into squares on parchment paper.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can lemon bars be stored?

These will keep well in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Serve them directly from the freezer for the firmest texture. They will soften when you leave them at room temperature, so try to serve them chilled right away.

How else can you thicken lemon bars?

A combination of cornstarch and coconut milk could also be used to thicken a lemon bar, but I haven’t tested this alternative yet. Agar powder is another popular thickener, which is used in my Vegan French Silk Pie. You’d have to heat either of these options in a saucepan to thicken, or bake the filling in the oven until set. (I’ll report back when I have a cashew-free alternative.)

What if I don’t have almond flour?

Try a half batch of my oat flour pie crust. If you don’t keep oat flour on hand, you can blend rolled oats in a blender to make it quickly. 

Looking for more vegan desserts? Try Vegan Chocolate Mousse (made with silken tofu), Whipped Coconut Cream, Almond Milk Ice Cream, or Vegan Freezer Fudge.

vegan lemon bars stacked on a white plate with pink background.vegan lemon bars stacked on a white plate with pink background.

Vegan Lemon Bars

Vegan Lemon Bars have a crispy gluten-free crust and creamy lemon filling you’ll love. They are the perfect summer dessert, made without eggs or dairy.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Chill Time:: 2 hours

Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes

Servings: 16

Ingredients

Lemon Filling

  • 1 cup whole cashews (not roasted or salted)
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil (see notes)

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF and lightly grease an 8-inch baking dish. Press a piece of parchment paper into the bottom of the dish for easy removal later.

  • In a mixing bowl, combine the almond flour, coconut oil, maple syrup, and salt. Stir well until the dough sticks together, then transfer it to the prepared baking dish. Press it evenly into the bottom of the pan. It won’t be very thick, but it should create a thin layer that covers the bottom of the pan. Bake this at 350ºF for 15 minutes, or until lightly golden brown around the edges. Let it cool completely.

  • To make the filling, add the cashews to a blender and blend briefly. (This way you won’t get any big chunks of cashews in your filling.) Add in the lemon juice, zest, maple syrup, and melted coconut oil, and blend again until silky smooth.

  • Pour the filling over the cooled pie crust then smooth the top with a spatula. Set the pan on a flat surface in your freezer to set until firm, about 2 hours, or let it chill overnight.

  • When the filling feels firm to the touch, use a large knife to slice 16 small bars and serve chilled. (Wipe the knife between each slice for a clean look.) These bars will soften if they sit out at room temperature for too long. For a softer filling, you can serve them from the fridge instead. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Notes

Nutrition information is for 1 of 16 bars. This is automatically calculated and is just an estimate, not a guarantee.
Coconut Oil Note: If you’re not a fan of coconut flavor, choose a refined or expeller-pressed coconut oil for this recipe. It will add almost zero coconut flavor compared to using virgin or extra-virgin coconut oil.
Update note: This recipe was updated in May 2021 to be bars, rather than just lemon filling in muffin cups. If you miss the original recipe, you can use 1/2 cup cashew butter, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons raw honey, 3 tablespoons coconut oil, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, a pinch of salt, and 2 teaspoons of lemon zest to fill 12 mini muffin liners. Freeze until firm, and garnish with extra lemon zest, if desired.
(Photos updated in April 2024.)

Nutrition

Calories: 164kcal, Carbohydrates: 13g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Sodium: 39mg, Potassium: 90mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 1IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 32mg, Iron: 1mg

If you try these Vegan Lemon Bars, please leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how you like them.



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