Lemon bars are such a refreshing summer treat, but if you ask me the truth, I can have these delicious bars throughout the year.
What fascinates me most about Lemon bars beside the bright sunshine yellow color is the tangy, sweet and refreshing taste. It’s an absolute mood booster. Also I love that these can be stored in the refrigerator for over a week which is great, right?
Traditionally the custard filling for lemon bars is made using eggs followed by a bake. But today, I am so excited to share the vegan version of this fantastic sweet and tangy treat, which is both dairy and egg-free and extremely easy to make. My recipe includes making a shortbread crust that bakes for 18-20 mins, followed by preparing the lemon custard that sets to chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. And then to finish these gorgeous lemon bars, a generous dusting of powdered sugar is what it takes to complete this dessert.
How to make Vegan Lemon Bars?
The first thing needed to make these creamy lemon bars is to prepare the shortbread crust base. The base is an easy mixture of flour, vegan butter or refined coconut oil, sugar, and a pinch of salt. This pastry mix is then spread evenly in a lined baking pan and baked for 18-20 mins at 350F. As the base gets ready, it’s time to make the lemon custard, using lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, cornstarch powder/agar agar powder, and a combination of non-dairy milk with coconut cream. To bring out the bright yellow color, you could either use a drop of yellow food color or even a pinch of turmeric.
So in a nutshell, this recipe is a combination of bake and set to chill method. I am sure that an absolutely no-bake version would also be possible if the base is made using grinded nuts and dates, quite similar to the no-bake cheesecake recipes.
But for now, lets take a look at these delicous vegan lemon squares.
Vegan Lemon Bars Recipe
Shortbread Crust Base
- 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar. You could use either brown or white as it would not make any difference to the taste.
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1tsp vanilla essence just for a nice aroma
- 1/2 cup melted vegan butter or refined coconut oil.
Lemon Custard Filling
- Juice from about 4 large lemons . That would make about 3/4 cup of fresh lemon juice.
- 1/2 tbsp of fresh lemon zest
- 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar. You can add more sugar here depending on the level of sweetness you enjoy.
- 1 cup any plant based milk. I used Oatly’s oat milk.
- 1/4 cup of full fat coconut milk. I used the cream here to add that extra bit of richness. If you’d like you can use just use the full fat coconut milk.
- 1 1/2 tablespoon of agar agar powder (plant-based gelatin) OR
- 6 tablespoons of cornstartch
- a pinch of turmeric for the yellow color or a drop of yellow food color (depending on what you have at home)
- Powdered sugar for dusting over the lemon bar squares.
- Preheat your oven to 350 F.
- For the Base: As we need to get the base ready first, in a large mixing bowl, add in all the shortcrust pastry ingredients and the melted butter. You could also use coconut oil, but make sure to use a refined version just to avoid any strong coconut oil smell in your dessert.
- Using a wooden spoon or better still, your clean hands, mix and combine all the dry ingredients.
- The dough will be thick and a little greasy too (ofcourse).
- Now spread this mixture evenly on a parchment paper lined loafpan or a 8 by 8 baking pan, pressing it firmly to create a uniform base.
- Pop you pan in the oven for 18-20 mins. You would notice the edges turn slightly brown. Set this aside and let’s work on the custard filling.
- For the Custard Filling: In a medium saucepan, add the lemon juice, lemon zest (for the extra tangy flavor), granulated sugar and plant-based milk of your choice.
- Also add in the agar agar powder or cornstarch. Whisk this mixture well to dissolve the agar agar powder/cornstarch so as to avoid any lumps.
- Heat this over low-medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves.
- As the mixture thickens, add the coconut milk cream and the yellow color, either using turmeric or a drop of yellow food color.
- Once you’ve checked the sweetness, pour this custard over the crust, resting in the baking pan. Using a spatula or the back of a spoon even out the surface and gently tap the pan on the counter to ensure the custard settles evenly.
- Let it sit on your counter at room temperature for about 10 mins and then let it chill in the refrigerator for around 2 hours or more.
- By this time your custard would set and you can literally see it looseing up from the sides.
- Carefully lift the parchment paper from the pan and place it on your counter or chopping board.
- Using a sharp knife, divide the custard cake into equal sized squares.
- Genrously dust powder sugar (which I should have done more 😀 ) on top and that’s it. These delicious lemon bars are ready for a long awaited bite.
These lemon bars are so creamy, custardy (if that’s a word) and so refreshing. These are also a great accompaniment for a tea parties and alike.
How long can these be stored?
I have succesfully stored them in air-tight containers for a little over a week and they have been at their best. However, you’d need to dust more powdered sugar later on (if you like) since they seem to dissolve/dissappear . LOL
Can you make Gluten-free Vegan Lemon Bars?
Yes, you certainly can. Though I personally have never made a gluten-free vegan lemon bar recipe, I am sure that using a gluten free flour, that goes into making the shortbread crust base would change this recipe into a gluten-free version.
Do you like other lemon flavored desserts?
If your’re a lemon flavor fan like me, check out my simple vegan lemon cake recipe that’s tangy, flavorful and super soft.
My inspiration for this recipe?
I love looking for ideas to create simple everyday vegan recipes. For this one, I’d love to mention the following food bloggers:
Enjoyed the recipe?
Did you try this recipe out? If you have and you loved it as much as I did, please drop in a comment, share and help spread the love by sharing a picture on Instagram and tagging me @frommyvegandiary.
I’d love to know what you think. ❤