Best Vegan Lemon Bars

These healthy vegan lemon bars are light, citrusy, sweet, and creamy on top with a perfect shortbread crust on the bottom! They are made with whole-food ingredients and are dairy free, gluten free, and totally plant-based. 

Side view of Best Vegan Lemon Bars on a wood platter

Delicious and Healthy Vegan Lemon Bars

 

Spring to me brings lighter, fresh, bright meals and treats (in contrast to delicious winter comfort food). These vegan lemon bars are bursting with flavour that’s light, bright, and perfect for any celebration that the spring (or summer) season brings. Think Easter, Mother’s Day, or any other special occasion. 

Whether you are craving a sweet treat, or want to wow a small crowd, these vegan lemon bars are a must try!

Overhead view of Best Vegan Lemon Bars on a wood platter on marble background

What are lemon bars made of?

 

Lemon bars have been around forever. 

Traditionally these tasty bars feature a buttery shortbread crust with a lemon curd layer that’s baked in the oven to make a soft, velvety texture. The bars are usually a couple inches thick and are very sweet and tangy.  

Classic lemon bars contain white flour, butter, eggs, and a substantial amount of sugar making them neither plant-based or very health-conscious. I’m all for a good sweet treat and indulgence here and there, but it’s nice to have whole-food, plant-based alternatives to enjoy at any time! 

stack of 4 Best Vegan Lemon Bars with bite taken out of the top one

Ingredients for Vegan Lemon Bars

 

These delicious and easy vegan lemon bars are made with just 3 main ingredients for the crust, and  7 ingredients for the tangy lemon curd layer. They are focused on whole foods and plant-based vegan friendly ingredients that will give you a perfect dose of sweetness without all the butter and refined sugar! 

Here’s what you’ll need:

Crust:

  • Gluten free all-purpose flour (Bob’s Red Mill is great!)
  • Coconut palm sugar
  • Coconut oil or vegan butter
  • Water

Overhead view of Best Vegan Lemon Bars on a wood platter

Lemon Curd:

  • Coconut cream (canned, (***do not use canned coconut milk***))
  • Lemon
  • Pure maple syrup
  • Cornstarch
  • Vanilla extract
  • Turmeric (optional, to add natural colour) 

 

The gluten free flour mixed with the coconut oil and sugar makes a sweet and light crust reminiscent of traditional shortbread, and the coconut cream blends perfectly with the lemon and maple syrup to create a creamy and perfectly sweet lemon curd layer. 

Best Vegan Lemon Bars on a wood tray side view

How To Make Vegan Lemon Bars

 

Making these delicious bars is a really easy process. While they do need a few hours to set, the actual time to prepare the bars is minimal. 

Here’s what you’ll do:

 

1. Preheat the oven and line a 9″ square pan with parchment paper. 

2. Process the flour, sugar, coconut oil and water in a food processor until you get a dough. 

3. Press the dough into the pan and bake (***see notes about crust thickness in the recipe!)

4. Make the lemon curd by adding the curd ingredients to a saucepan over medium heat. 

5. Whisk until smooth and when the curd is thickened, pour over the baked crust layer. 

6. Set in the fridge for 3 hours then cut into squares and enjoy!

stack of Best Vegan Lemon Bars with bite taken out of top one

Fun Add-Ins or Swaps/Substitutions:

 

These lemon bars can easily be altered to make something a little different . If you are a fan of extra texture or different flavours you can play around with the optional additions or swaps below!

  • Lime Bars: Swap the lemon for lime to make creamy vegan lime bars. 
  • Berrylicious: Add in a berry twist by adding in 1/4 cup of fresh raspberries to the lemon curd mixture.
  • Toasted Coconut: Add extra crunch by topping the cooked lemon bars with a hefty sprinkling of lightly toasted coconut flakes

 

These vegan lemon bars are seriously delicious! If you are a fan of sweet treats, you’ll absolutely love this light and fresh citrusy dessert. 

Side view of Best Vegan Lemon Bars cut into squares

Have you ever made lemon bars, traditional or vegan? Tell me about it in the comments and be sure to pin the photo below the recipe to save it for later!

 

Side view of Best Vegan Lemon Bars on a wood platter

Best Vegan Lemon Bars

Yield: Makes 12-16 bars
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Chill Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 25 minutes

These healthy vegan lemon bars are light, citrusy, sweet, and creamy on top with a and perfect shortbread crust on the bottom! They are made with whole-food ingredients and are dairy free, gluten free, and totally plant-based. 

Ingredients

Shortbread Crust***

  • 1 cup all purpose gluten free flour (or 1-1 gluten free baking flour)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut palm sugar
  • 1/2 cup solid coconut oil or solid vegan butter (like Earth Balance brand)
  • 3 tablespoons water

Lemon Curd

  • 1 1/2 cup canned coconut cream (1-400ml can)***
  • 1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric (optional, for added colour)

Instructions

    1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a 8 inch square pan with parchment paper.
    2. In a food processor add flour, coconut sugar, coconut oil and the water.
    3. Process until you get a moldable dough.
    4. Press the dough mixture onto the bottom of the pan and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned on top, set aside to cool.
    5. Place all of the lemon curd ingredients in a saucepan and whisk until no lumps remain.
    6. Place the saucepan over medium to high heat.
    7. Stir regularly, with a wooden spatula or silicone spatula until the curd starts to thicken, then reduce heat to low and stir continuously until a thick curd consistency is achieved.
    8. Remove from the heat and pour the curd over the shortbread layer.
    9. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until set.
    10. Cut into 12 squares and enjoy!

Notes

*** You MUST use canned "coconut cream" not full fat coconut milk. You can find canned coconut cream in the same section as coconut milk in the grocery store but make sure it specifically says "coconut cream" on the can.

***In my photos you'll see the shortbread crust layer is thicker. I decided to reduce the amounts for the recipe to have a thinner crust layer and thicker curd layer, so you'll notice when you make the recipe that your crust does not look as thick as in the photos. If you prefer a thicker crust, double the crust ingredients amount.

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Best Vegan Lemon Bars pin 4

 

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Have a great weekend!

Christal // NITK

Author: Christal Sczebel

Christal is the creator of Nutrition in the Kitch. She's a Certified Nutritional Consultant, twice published author, gluten and dairy free recipe developer, food photographer, speaker, wife, and mama. Christal loves good food, all things wellness, and loves to travel. Her wellness philosophy is centred around balance and sustainable health, life's way too short for boring diets and restriction!

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    • Hi Angie, I do not, sorry! I find the online nutritional calculators too inaccurate as a lot of ingredients are user entered so I don’t want to take the chance of posting inaccurate info. You can try entering the ingredients into my fitness pal’s online recipe calculator and that should give you a “ballpark” amount!