Creamy Vegan Lemon Bars (GF)

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Squares of our incredible gluten-free vegan lemon bars recipe

Lemon bars.

So elusive.
So tricky.
So very not vegan (or gluten-free)…until now.

Blender with ingredients for making our creamy homemade vegan lemon bars

Friends, vegan lemon bars (!!!) made with just 10 ingredients, naturally sweetened, and gluten-free! I know, I’m excited, too.

The almond-oat crust is adapted from my Peanut Butter and Jelly Snack Bars, and somehow ends up tasting reminiscent of graham cracker crust! It’s my new favorite thing, besides this über creamy filling.

Pouring vegan lemon bar filling over gluten-free crust for our lemon bars recipe

The filling is comprised of soaked cashews, coconut cream, lots of lemon juice + zest, maple syrup, arrowroot starch (for thickening), and sea salt. That’s it!

I didn’t know what would happen if I blended it all up and baked it, but it turns out, it ends up tasting like a lemon bar with a cheesecake-like texture. SWOON!

Wood platter with squares of our gluten-free vegan lemon bars recipe
Board of homemade gluten-free vegan lemon bars sprinkled with powdered sugar

Friends, you’re going to LOVE these bars! They’re:

Creamy
Rich
Lemony
Not too sweet
Simple
Surprisingly healthy
Portable
& Delicious

These would make the perfect dessert for so many things: Bridal showers (I know), baby showers (I know!), study dates (yass girl), office gatherings (the least exciting, but still really cool). Even if you don’t have anywhere special to be, these would make a delicious treat to have around the house for snacking (but watch out – you’ll want 2 or 3).

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment it, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a picture #minimalistbaker on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with. Cheers, friends! Now excuse me while I dive into one of these magical bars.

Stack of healthy lemon bars for the perfect creamy gluten-free vegan dessert

Creamy Vegan Lemon Bars

Creamy, naturally sweetened vegan lemon bars made with 10 simple ingredients and a delicious gluten-free crust.
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Batch of Creamy Vegan Lemon Bars topped with lemon slices and powdered sugar
4.75 from 257 votes
Prep Time 5 hours
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 5 hours 45 minutes
Servings 9 (bars)
Course Dessert
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Vegan
Freezer Friendly 1 month
Does it keep? 2-4 Days

Ingredients

FILLING

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup coconut cream* (the hardened portion at the top of full-fat coconut milk)
  • 2 Tbsp arrowroot or cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (2 large lemons yield ~1/2 cup or 120 ml)
  • 1 heaping Tbsp lemon zest (1 large lemon yields ~1 heaping Tbsp or 4 g)
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (plus more to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp organic powdered sugar (optional // for topping)

CRUST

  • 1 cup gluten-free oats
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 4-5 Tbsp coconut oil (melted)

Instructions

  • Add raw cashews to a mixing bowl and cover with boiling hot water. Let rest for 1 hour (uncovered). Then drain thoroughly.
  • In the meantime, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and line an 8×8 inch baking dish with parchment paper.
  • Add oats, almonds, sea salt, and coconut sugar to a high speed blender and mix on high until a fine meal is achieved.
  • Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and add maple syrup and melted coconut oil, starting with lesser end of range (4 Tbsp or 60 g as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size) and adding more if it’s too dry. Stir with a spoon to combine until a loose dough is formed. You should be able to squeeze the mixture between two fingers and form a dough instead of it crumbling. If too dry, add a bit more melted coconut oil.
  • Transfer mixture to parchment-lined baking pan and spread evenly. Then place parchment paper on top and use a flat-bottomed object, such as a drinking glass, to press down firmly until it’s evenly distributed and well packed.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, then increase heat to 375 F (190 C) and bake for 5-8 minutes more, or until the edges are golden brown and there is some browning on the surface. Remove from oven to cool slightly, then reduce oven heat to 350 degrees F (176 C).
  • Once cashews are soaked and drained, add to a high speed blender with coconut cream, arrowroot starch, lemon juice, lemon zest, sea salt, and maple syrup. Mix on high until very creamy and smooth.
  • Taste and adjust flavor as needed. I added a bit more lemon zest and maple syrup. It should be very lemony, and not overly sweet.
  • Pour filling over the pre-baked crust and spread into an even layer. Tap on counter to remove any air bubbles.
  • Bake for 20-23 minutes or until the edges look very slightly dry and the center appears “jiggly” but not liquidy.
  • Let rest for 10 minutes, then transfer to refrigerator to let cool completely (uncovered) – at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  • To serve, slice and sift with powdered sugar (optional). Store leftovers in the refrigerator, covered, up to 4 days, though best within the first 2 days.

Video

Notes

*If you open your can of coconut milk or cream and the cream is not separated from the liquid, that’s ok! Just try and tip out as much of the rich, firm white part and leave the liquid behind. It’s not crucial that it’s entirely cream. But the more cream, the richer the bars will be!
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated without organic powdered sugar.
*Crust adapted from my Peanut Butter and Jelly Snack Bars.

Nutrition (1 of 9 servings)

Serving: 1 bars Calories: 326 Carbohydrates: 24.3 g Protein: 5.9 g Fat: 24.6 g Saturated Fat: 13.7 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 61 mg Fiber: 3.3 g Sugar: 11.4 g

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  1. The Vegan Goddess says

    This is a delicious healthy treat! You can tweak it to your taste — sweeter or more lemony and tart.

    The crust reminded me of graham crackers and was easy to make.

    I didn’t sprinkle confectioner’s sugar on it but it isn’t necessary.

    This would make a great dessert menu item for a vegan restaurant or shop.

  2. Brooke says

    I was planning on making these for my mom for Mother’s Day, but oats are a food sensitivity of hers. Do you have any suggestions for a replacement?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Brooke, another reader mentioned subbing almond flour with success! Otherwise, perhaps quinoa flakes, but you may need to compensate with a little more sweetener since oats have a slightly sweet flavor and quinoa flakes are more bland. We hope your mom loves the lemon bars!

  3. Mama says

    Used a different crust recipe because I made the bars into a 10″ tart and upped the ingredients for the filling a bit. Came out AWESOME. So luscious and flavorful. I would up the zest next time, but that’s small potatoes in terms of tweaks. Just a wonderful recipe. Thank you so much. Oh! And for those of you out there feeding people of all different food preferences and allowances, this was an across the board pleaser no matter if the crowd is vegan, gluten free, cane sugar free or not. The lemon flavor is so bright and dominant. I will say that my child wasn’t a big fan because he said it was too tart. I prefer a dessert that is slightly sweet but not cloying, however for kids, the maple could be upped.

  4. Jen T says

    I was drawn to this recipe from your recent vibrant citrus recipes post. My family doesn’t like coconut. Refined coconut oil is fine but what would you suggest to substitute for the coconut cream?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Jen, The coconut cream is pretty essential for the right texture here. You could possibly increase the cashews by ~1/2 cup and use a bit of water, maybe 1/2 cup, to blend the filling, but we haven’t tried it and cannot guarantee results. We do have a more classic lemon bar recipe coming up in the future that you and your family might prefer!

  5. PJ says

    Hello community! I have made this with meyer lemons and loved it. Has anyone tried using lime juice instead of lemon? Our lime tree is loaded and literally dropping delicious fruit on the ground. Thanks!

  6. Tulsi says

    Love this recipe so much. Easy to make and incredibly delicious to eat. Just doubled the recipe for a function tomorrow. Can’t wait to bite into one! Cheers

  7. Brigitta says

    Hi :) I would like to ask about the starch. I am allergic to corn and I don’t have arrowroot. Do you think I could substitute with potato or tapioca starch? Or I have used psyllium with success before in a raw vegan cheesecake.But im not sure about baking it.
    Thank you :)

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Brigitta, we think tapioca starch might work! We wouldn’t recommend psyllium in this one. Hope that helps!

    • Nicole E Brown says

      Hi, Brigitta,
      I tried replacing the cornstarch with potato starch 1 to 1. The lemon topping had a very gummy texture. So I would not recommend it.

      I did sub almond flour for the shortbread layer and it was very delicious.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Alex, another reader mentioned subbing almond flour with success! Otherwise, perhaps quinoa flakes, but you may need to compensate with a little more sweetener since oats have a slightly sweet flavor and quinoa flakes are more bland. Hope that helps!

  8. Jayme says

    For the crust, after it’s baked for 15 minutes at 350, do you remove it from the oven, wait for the oven to hit 375 and put it back in? Or do you leave it in while the oven is preheating to 375 and count that as the additional 5-8 minutes?

  9. Wendy says

    Love this recipe! The bars are delicious! I love it so much I’ve tried a number of times to make it into a full cheesecake, but never had success. 😩 Would looove to have a full size cheesecake like this! Any tips? I’ve tried reducing the temp and baking longer, water bath, glass and metal pans.. nothing seems to work to make it a round cake. I’m stumped!

  10. Donna says

    I have made this dessert 3 times in the past month. I made it first for a vegan family member who loves lemon desserts. It was a big hit and I keep making it!!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks so much for the lovely review, Donna. We are so glad you’re enjoying the recipe! Next time, would you mind leaving a star rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! xo

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Yes! You could use vegan butter or a neutral-flavored oil, though it may be more crumbly. Hope that helps!

  11. Sarah Bradley says

    Is there a way to make the crust without using my almonds? My husband would love these but can’t eat almonds (cashews are fine). Excited to try them! I love all your recipes!!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thank you for your kind words, Sarah! You can use walnuts, pecans, or cashews. We’d suggest reducing the oil since they naturally have more in them.

  12. Alina Kazakova says

    Wow, thank you so much for this recipe! They are so easy and quick to make. I even went a bit freehand with the proportions as I was making a bigger batch, and they turned out amazing! And the taste is delicious!! ❤️