Vegan Lemon Bars: A Simple Gluten-Free Recipe

vegan lemon bar gluten free
Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pexels - Canto Photography

Whether you bring these vegan and gluten-free lemon bars to barbecues, baby or bridal showers, bake sales or potluck dinners – they will have everyone asking you for the recipe. Traditionally speaking, these tangy bars are made using flour, butter, eggs, and sugar, but we thought we’d take a different approach.

This recipe proves that baking with dietary restrictions doesn’t compromise on flavor. Even just thinking about the tangy citrus flavor of a vegan lemon bar is enough to get your mouth watering.

For best results, organic lemons are the way to go as their flavor is both stronger and slightly sweeter than conventionally cultivated lemons. Better yet, purchase organic lemons grown on American soil from states like California, Arizona, and Florida.

Vegan Lemon Bar Ingredients

gluten free lemon bar
Top with fresh, seasonal fruit for a beautiful pop of color. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Frank Zhang)

For the Filling:

  • ¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • ½ cup maple syrup 
  • 1 cup full-fat fair trade coconut cream
  • ¼ cup cornstarch 
  • Optional: ⅛ teaspoon turmeric (for color)

For the Crust:

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup gluten-free oats
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp date sugar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp melted fair trade coconut oil 

How to Make Gluten-Free Lemon Bars

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a glass baking dish (9×9 inches). 
  2. Add the almonds, oats, sea salt, and date sugar to a food processor and pulse until a fine flour is produced. 
  3. Transfer your flour mixture to a mixing bowl and add the maple syrup and melted coconut oil. 
  4. Stir with a wooden spoon until a loose dough is formed. If it crumbles when you squeeze it, add a bit more melted coconut oil. 
  5. Spread the mixture evenly in the baking dish. Then press down firmly with your hands until it is well packed and evenly distributed. 
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, then increase the heat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake until both the edges and the center are nicely browned. This should take approximately 5 minutes. 
  7. Remove from the oven and allow your gluten-free, vegan lemon bar crust to cool slightly. 

While the crust is baking, you can make the filling: 

  1. Add the lemon juice, zest, maple syrup, coconut cream, turmeric, and cornstarch to a medium-sized saucepan and whisk until the cornstarch has dissolved.
  2. Heat over medium heat and allow the mixture to thicken, whisking constantly so it doesn’t burn. The mixture should be thick, but still fluid — like custard. 
  3. Spread the liquid evenly over the slightly cooled crust, then return to the oven to bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for another 15 minutes. 
  4. Allow the vegan lemon bars to cool on the counter for at least 30 minutes before moving them to the fridge. 
  5. Leave in the fridge until the mixture has set, then cut into bars or squares and enjoy! 

Baking and Storage Tips

gluten-free lemon bar
Freezing them in individual squares allows you to take out only what you need. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Flickr - John )

You can easily make these delicious vegan lemon bars in advance, in fact it’s recommended! Making them 1 day before you want to consume them allows the flavors to fully develop, resulting in a better taste.

Fridge: when stored in an airtight container, these gluten-free lemon bars will last up to 1 week in the fridge.

Freezer: these bars will keep up to 3 months in the freezer. Place the individual bars spread out on a baking tray, flash freeze them for an hour, and then pack them into an airtight container. Allow them to thaw in the fridge before serving.

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