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Gluten-Free & Vegan Lemon Bars (Without Vegan Butter)

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Happiness exudes when you take a bite of these bright and citrus-flavored vegan lemon bars! These lemon bars are also gluten-free and made from scratch. This sweet dessert is a twist on the classic lemon bars recipe to make it dietary friendly, perfect if you are on a vegan or gluten-free diet.

Vegan gluten-free lemon bars without vegan butter

These vegan lemon bars are made with an oat and rice flour coconut crust, which is then topped with a homemade lemon curd and dusted with powdered sugar for the finishing touch. And, there is no need for vegan butter in this recipe as it uses coconut oil!

This recipe uses simple ingredients that offer a big flavor turnout. The hardest part is to not eat all the bars! They are that addictive. This is an easy vegan lemon bars recipe that is great for the spring and summer months when you want a light and refreshing dessert to slice and serve up.  

Make sure to try out my vegan lemon blueberry cake for another lemon recipe that makes for an amazing dessert.

Overhead shot of my vegan gluten-free lemon bars without vegan butter

Recipe Highlights

  • These vegan & gluten-free lemon bars are full of lots of tangy lemon flavor in each bite. 
  • The creamy lemon filling is made from scratch and full of fresh lemon flavor. This is the perfect recipe for a summer dessert.
  • This is a sliceable dessert that can be served up to guests, or made just for you to snack on at the end of the day. 
  • Simple ingredients that you might already have on hand in your kitchen and pantry make this an easy recipe to prepare.
  • Make-ahead friendly! So, if you want to prep these easy lemon squares the night before you sure can. They also work well for potlucks and parties.

Ingredients Needed For These Vegan Lemon Bars

The full list of measurements for each ingredient is in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post. 

  • Flour – I used oat flour and a white rice flour to make the gluten-free crust for these bars. I opted for a gluten free flour blend to add layers of flavor and texture to the crust. 
  • Sugar – Granulated sugar is used for the shortbread crust and the lemon curd filling. You could easily use coconut sugar for this recipe, but the flavor and texture will be slightly different.
  • Coconut – Shredded unsweetened coconut is used for the buttery shortbread crust. It not only adds texture but the coconut flavor compliments the lemon flavor. 
  • Coconut Oil – You will use some melted coconut oil for the crust as the binder. Now, you could also use a vegan butter.
  • Salt – Salt is going to enhance all the flavors of this sweet treat. Do not skip this ingredient!
  • Water – A little water is needed to create the proper consistency for the crust. 
  • Lemons – For a bolder lemon flavor you can use Meyer lemons. If you can’t get your hands on them then classic lemons work. You will use lemon zest and lemon juice for the lemon bar recipe. 
  • Coconut Milk – Reach for a full-fat coconut milk as it is going to really offer that rich and creamy texture, which you need for the bar filling. 
  • Cornstarch – Cornstarch is the thickening agent. Now if you don’t want to use that you can opt for arrowroot powder or xanthan gum. I find the cornstarch offers the best results but you can adjust the recipe as you see fit. 
  • Turmeric – You will use a little turmeric for the coloring of the bars. I find that it adds a gorgeous yellow color, and makes them look nice without the artificial colors. 
  • Powdered Sugar – You will use a little powdered sugar to dust on top of the delicious vegan lemon bars at the very end. Slice and serve up on a baking tray and devour! 
Vegan gluten-free lemon bars dusted powdered sugar and made with coconut oil and gluten-free flour

How To Make These Vegan & Gluten Free Lemon Bars

Preheat the oven and then use parchment paper to line your 8×8 pan. This is great for easy removal of bars. 

Next, you will work on the shortbread crust. In a medium bowl add your flour, sugar, coconut, and salt. Stir well. 

Then slowly work in the coconut oil, and then add a little water at a time until the texture is crumbly but holds shape. 

Press dough into the pan and spread to an even layer. Bake as directed until lightly golden brown. 

As the crust is cooking, in a medium saucepan add the sugar, cornstarch, zest, and a pinch of turmeric. 

Work in the coconut milk and lemon juice and whisk until there are no more lumps, on medium heat. 

Once it is thick and translucent, pour the curd over the crust, and then bake for an additional 15 minutes. 

Place the creamy vegan lemon bars on the counter to cool, and once cooled cover with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate to fully set up. 

Then before serving, dust with powdered sugar, slice, and serve.

Storage

You will find that these lemon bars need refrigeration. Place in an airtight container and store in the fridge for 4-5 days. You will find with each day the bars can dry out a little bit. 

You can also freeze the lemon bars if you would like. Place in a freezer container or freeze-safe bag and freeze for 2-3 months. Then, thaw in the fridge overnight before you plan to eat them. 

Vegan gluten-free lemon bars on a plate ready to eat

Recipe Tips and FAQs

  • Make sure to cook the curd slower so that you get a nice smooth texture. If you don’t allow it to cook long enough while stirring, often the texture will be off.
  • Make sure that you use a prepared pan. Otherwise, the bars will get stuck in the pan, and be hard to remove. I have made this mistake myself and it is not pretty.
  • It is a must that you allow the bars to set up for at least a minimum of 2 hours before slicing them. It is preferred you let them sit overnight. Otherwise, the lemon curd filling will not be set up properly.

Can I use regular flour to make vegan lemon bars? I have not tested this recipe with all-purpose flour. Every flour acts a bit differently, so it is not advisable to do a 1:1 swap for the flour. This recipe is intended to be gluten-free.

Do vegan lemon bars taste different from traditional lemon bars? The texture and flavor are very similar to a traditional lemon bar recipe. The crust is the biggest difference in flavor. But, this recipe is just as delicious and satisfying as a classic recipe. 

These are the best vegan lemon bars that are also gluten-free. If you try this recipe for yourself, let me know what you think. We love making these for cookouts, family get-togethers, or just a midnight sweet craving.

Craving more dessert recipes?

Vegan Lemon Bars (Gluten Free)

Vegan gluten-free lemon bars without vegan butter
These vegan lemon bars are also gluten-free. They are tangy, sweet, and perfectly delicious.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Serving Size 16 bars

Ingredients

Shortbread crust

  • ¾ cup oat flour
  • 6 Tbsp. white rice flour
  • 5 Tbsp. white granulated sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. shredded coconut unsweetened
  • 4 Tbsp. coconut oil melted
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1-2 Tbsp. water as needed

Vegan lemon curd

  • ¾ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ⅓ cup coconut milk full fat
  • 1 ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric optional (for coloring)
  • powdered sugar to top

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Line an 8” x 8” baking pan with parchment with a bit of overlap for easy removal.

Make the shortbread crust

  • In a bowl, combine the oat flour, rice flour, granulated sugar, shredded coconut, and salt. Stir to evenly distribute.
  • Stir in the coconut oil until small clumps form.
  • Add in 1 Tbsp. water and stir until dough begins to hold together. Add more water as needed, till the crust begins to hold together but still has some crumbles.
    Gluten free lemon bar crust dough
  • Press the crust dough into lined pan, forming an even layer.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes until lightly brown at the edges. While baking, prepare the lemon curd.
    Baked gluten free vegan lemon bar crust

Make the vegan lemon curd

  • In a medium pot, combine the sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, and turmeric if using. Whisk to distribute evenly.
  • Add just enough coconut milk while whisking to form a thick slurry with no lumps. Once smooth, add the rest of the coconut milk and lemon juice.
  • Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes thick and slightly translucent.
  • Pour lemon curd over baked base and return to oven for 15 minutes until there is slight browning around the edges.
    Baked lemon bars
  • Allow to cool for 30 minutes at room temperature before covering and moving to the fridge to cool for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
  • Once completely cool, remove from pan. Dust with a generous layer of powdered sugar just before serving and cut into even squares. For the easiest cutting, heat a very large knife under hot water and rinse knife between slices.

Notes

In standard lemon bars, the color comes from the egg yolks. To get a rich lemon color here you can use turmeric or a couple drops of food coloring. This has no impact on taste. Without it, the curd layer will just be a very pale yellow.

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