Try this recipe to get the most delicious Vegan Lemon Bars you’ve ever had, with a bright lemony flavor and the perfect amount of tang! With the most perfect vegan shortbread crust and a tangy lemon filling, you’re going to absolutely love these bars!
These vegan lemon bars are a super easy and simple shortbread crust with a tangy-sweet lemon layer that tastes incredible. The best part is that you need less than 10 ingredients to make this at home in about 45 minutes (plus time to chill)! And only 20 minutes of that is active time.
And if you love lemon desserts, then I’m sure you’re going to enjoy my vegan lemon tartlets. They’re delicious and incredibly easy to make. Or try your hand at making these Moroccan semolina cookies that are the perfect lemon ghriba!
Read on to learn exactly how to make this delicious vegan lemon bar recipe today!
- What are Vegan Lemon Bars?
- Why This Is The Best Vegan Lemon Bars Recipe
- What You Need to Make Vegan Lemon Bars
- How to Make Vegan Lemon Bars Step by Step
- Tips For Making the Best Vegan Lemon Bars
- Serving Suggestions
- Recipe Variation Ideas for Vegan Lemon Bars
- Frequently Asked Questions
- How to Store Leftover Vegan Lemon Bars
- You'll Like These Citrusy Desserts
What are Vegan Lemon Bars?
Vegan lemon bars are perfect for those following a vegan or plant-based diet. This recipe involves a buttery shortbread crust made with ingredients like flour, powdered sugar, and vegan butter, and a zesty lemon filling prepared with fresh lemons, almond milk, and cornstarch.
You’ll end up with delicious, classic flavors, but without using any animal-based products. It’s simple to make, delicious, and perfect for the holiday season or any time of the year when you’re looking for a delicious, tangy dessert.
These bars are a great way to introduce your friends and family to vegan desserts that don't compromise on taste or texture. What’s more, the buttery shortbread crust provides a beautiful contrast to the tangy lemon curd filling. It’s a dessert that's guaranteed to impress others while also fitting into your vegan lifestyle.
Why This Is The Best Vegan Lemon Bars Recipe
- Easy to make: With this recipe, you'll find that making vegan lemon bars is incredibly easy. The instructions are simple and straightforward, from making the buttery shortbread crust to the zesty lemon curd filling.
- Family-favorite: These vegan lemon bars are sure to become a family favorite. The combination of a flaky crust and tangy lemon filling is a combo that both kids and adults will love.
- Adaptable: This recipe is versatile enough to suit all dietary needs. It is vegan and can be made gluten-free by using gluten-free flour. Plus, you can add your favorite toppings, like powdered sugar or fresh berries, for an extra special touch.
- Delicious: These bars are incredibly delicious, boasting a perfect balance of sweet and tart flavors. The lemon zest and juice give the filling a fresh, vibrant taste that pairs perfectly with the rich, buttery shortbread crust.
What You Need to Make Vegan Lemon Bars
All you need are some incredibly simple, pantry-staple ingredients to make this delicious vegan lemon bars recipe at home.
Here's an overview of the specific ingredients for this recipe. To check out the exact ingredients and measurements, please scroll to the recipe card below.
For the Vegan Crust:
- All-purpose flour: This is the base of our crust. It gives the crust structure and helps it hold together.
- Powdered sugar: Also known as confectioners' sugar, this ingredient adds sweetness to the crust and helps it get that tender, melt-in-your-mouth texture.
- Vegan butter: This is the fat in our crust recipe. It gives the crust a wonderful, buttery flavor, while keeping the recipe 100% vegan.
- Salt: A pinch of salt is all you need to enhance the flavors of the other ingredients in the crust.
For the Lemon Filling:
- Granulated sugar: This is the primary sweetener for our lemon filling. It balances out the tartness of the lemon and gives the filling its smooth texture.
- Lemon juice and zest: These are the stars of our lemon filling. The juice provides the tart, refreshing flavor, while the zest adds an extra punch of lemony goodness.
- Almond milk: This non-dairy milk adds creaminess to the filling, and helps bind the other ingredients together. You can substitute it with any other non-dairy milk of your choice.
- Cornstarch: This is our thickening agent. It helps the lemon filling set up and hold its shape when you cut into the bars.
How to Make Vegan Lemon Bars Step by Step
Making this incredible vegan lemon bars recipe at home is super easy and will give you great results every single time. Here's how to make it step by step:
- Preheat your oven: Start by preheating your oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Prepare the shortbread crust: In a food processor, combine all-purpose flour, powdered sugar, chilled and cubed vegan butter, and a pinch of salt. Pulse until the mixture forms coarse crumbs.
- Press into pan: Press this mixture into the bottom of a greased 9x9-inch baking dish, creating an even layer. Pop this in your preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until it turns a light golden hue.
- Prepare the lemon filling: While the crust is baking, in a small or medium saucepan, combine granulated sugar, fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, almond milk, and cornstarch. Whisk this mixture together until well combined.
- Cook the lemon filling: Place your saucepan over medium heat and cook the mixture, stirring continuously. You'll want to keep going until it thickens and comes to a gentle boil, which usually takes about 5–7 minutes.
- Combine the crust and filling: Once your crust is done baking, remove it from the oven. Immediately pour the lemon curd filling over the hot crust, and make sure that it is evenly spread.
- Allow to cool and set: After the lemon bars have cooled, refrigerate them for at least 2 hours. This allows them to fully set and develop their delicious flavor.
- Slice and serve: Once chilled, cut the vegan lemon bars into squares or rectangles. If you like, dust the tops with a little powdered sugar or serve with fresh berries.
Tips For Making the Best Vegan Lemon Bars
- Perfect yellow color: For the best color, zest the lemons properly, only removing the outer yellow part of the peel. This will contribute to the vibrant yellow color of the bars. Squeeze the lemons thoroughly to extract as much juice as possible, and if you prefer a deeper yellow, add a pinch of turmeric.
- Chill adequately for perfect texture: Allow the lemon bars to chill for at least 2 hours. This not only lets them fully set, but also helps develop the right texture and flavor.
- Grease or line your baking pan: To prevent the crust from sticking to the pan, make sure to grease it or use parchment paper before pressing in the shortbread crust mixture.
- Adjust the sweetness to your taste: You can control the sweetness of the lemon bars by adding more or less powdered sugar in the crust, or adjusting the amount of granulated sugar in the lemon filling.
- Chill and cube your vegan butter for the crust: For a flaky and tender shortbread crust, ensure your vegan butter is chilled and cubed before mixing with the other crust ingredients.
- Press the crust evenly and firmly: When pressing the crust into the baking pan, use the back of a spoon or your fingers for an even distribution and a sturdy base for the lemon curd filling.
- Use fresh lemons: For the best flavor, use fresh lemons in your lemon filling. Bottled lemon juice just doesn't capture the same fresh, vibrant taste.
- Stir the filling continuously: While cooking the lemon filling over medium heat, stir continuously to prevent lumps and to ensure it thickens evenly.
- Avoid overcooking filling: Once the lemon filling has thickened and come to a gentle boil, remove it from the heat promptly to avoid overcooking. The filling will continue to set as it cools and chills in the refrigerator.
- Garnish for presentation: To enhance the presentation, you can garnish the lemon bars with additional lemon zest, fresh herbs like mint or basil, or edible flowers before serving
- For a refreshing morning, pair these yummy vegan lemon bars with a cup of hot herbal tea. The tartness of the lemon filling and the buttery shortbread crust offer a delicious contrast to the mild tea flavor.
- Craving a dessert with a twist? Serve these vegan lemon bars with a dollop of coconut cream on top. The cream adds a deliciously creamy texture that compliments the tangy lemon filling and the crunchy crust.
- Hosting a dinner party? Serve these vegan lemon bars as a light dessert after a hearty meal. Their bright, citrusy flavor makes them a refreshing end to any dinner.
- For a healthier treat, try pairing these vegan lemon bars with a smoothie made from fresh fruits, oats, and coconut milk. The smoothie's natural sweetness balances the tartness of the lemon bars, creating a well-rounded snack or dessert.
- If you're on the go, these vegan lemon bars make a convenient snack. Just wrap them in parchment paper and enjoy their delicious flavor and texture anywhere, anytime.
- Looking for a late-night treat? These vegan lemon bars, served with a glass of almond milk, make a satisfying, guilt-free dessert before bed. The creamy almond milk perfectly compliments the tart lemon filling.
Recipe Variation Ideas for Vegan Lemon Bars
This delicious vegan lemon bars recipe is so flavorful and easy to make you'll want to try out some of these delicious variations! Here are some great ideas:
- Gluten-Free: If you're looking for a gluten-free dessert, this variation is perfect for you. Simply replace the all-purpose flour in the crust with a gluten-free flour blend. The result is a tasty treat that everyone, regardless of dietary restrictions, can enjoy.
- Other Citrus Flavors: Feel free to experiment with different citrus flavors. You can substitute the lemon juice and zest with lime, orange, or grapefruit for a variation of flavors in your vegan bars.
- Try it with Oats: For a heartier crust, replace half of the flour with oats. The oats will give the crust a chewy texture and a slightly nutty flavor, adding a new dimension to your vegan lemon bars.
- Make it Creamy: For a creamier filling, try adding a dollop of coconut cream to your lemon filling mixture. This will give your vegan lemon bars a rich, creamy texture that pairs perfectly with the tart lemon curd filling.
Frequently Asked Questions
For this vegan lemon bars recipe, all-purpose flour is the best choice. It creates a firm, buttery shortbread crust that pairs perfectly with the tangy lemon filling.
Any brand of vegan butter that you prefer can be used. Just make sure it is chilled and cubed before adding it to the food processor to achieve the best texture for the shortbread crust.
The lemon filling, which includes ingredients like lemon juice, lemon zest, almond milk, and cornstarch, will thicken on medium heat in about 5-7 minutes. It is ready when it comes to a gentle boil and has a curd-like consistency.
How to Store Leftover Vegan Lemon Bars
Fridge: Place the leftover vegan lemon bars in an airtight container. They can be stored in the fridge for up 3 to 4 days. It is crucial to keep them refrigerated to maintain their texture and taste.
Freezing: If you've made a larger batch and want to store them for longer, you can also freeze your vegan lemon bars. Wrap them well in plastic wrap or place them in a freezer-safe container. They can be frozen for up to a month. When you're ready to enjoy them, let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
You'll Like These Citrusy Desserts
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Vegan Lemon Bars (Easy Recipe)
For the crust:
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
- In a food processor, add the all-purpose flour, powdered sugar, chilled and cubed vegan butter, and a pinch of salt. Pulse the mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.
- Press the crust mixture into the bottom of a greased 9x9-inch baking pan, forming an even layer. Bake the crust in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until it turns lightly golden.
- In a small or medium saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, almond milk, and cornstarch. Whisk the mixture together until well combined.
- Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook the mixture, stirring continuously, until it thickens and comes to a gentle boil. This usually takes about 5-7 minutes.
- Once the filling has thickened, remove the saucepan from the heat.
- Once the crust is done baking, remove it from the oven and pour the lemon filling over the hot crust. Make sure the filling is evenly spread.
- Once cooled, refrigerate the lemon bars for at least 2 hours to allow them to fully set.
- Once chilled, cut the lemon bars into squares or rectangles. Optionally, dust the tops with powdered sugar or serve with berries.
Iryna Bychkiv is the founder and writer of the culinary website Lavender & Macarons, where she shares clean, European-inspired recipes that are delicious, easy to prepare, and made with wholesome ingredients. Iryna loves creating meals that are simple yet healthy and unique, including vegan and vegetarian recipes.
Iryna is also a freelance writer for MSN and Associated Press Wire.