Vegan Lemon Bars

Vegan Lemon Bars

I love bringing vegan desserts to social gatherings. I usually don’t mention that what I’ve brought is vegan, and nobody is the wiser. However, people that know me well know that whatever I bring will be vegan, so I do occasionally get grilled on ingredients. And I do occasionally come across a friend or family member who won’t try something on account of the fact that it contains tofu, agar, or some other thing only a vegan would put into their dessert.

Vegan Lemon Bars

It’s awesome when it works out that I don’t have to put anything unusual in. This is especially true when I go and develop a recipe expecting it to be super complicated and require some serious kitchen engineering, only to find that it comes together simply and easily with a bunch of ingredients that (relatively) normal people are likely to be familiar with.

These lemon bars are one example of such a dessert. Honestly, I expected to have to throw in some tofu, or agar, or something, because the lemon curd filling you find in lemon bars is typically made with a bunch of eggs. I did a trial run using plain old coconut cream and cornstarch instead of eggs, and was totally delighted when it worked. I was even more delighted when my husband brought them to work and everyone was shocked that they were vegan.

The crust is equally void of non-weird vegan ingredients, unless you consider coconut oil to be weird, which I don’t. A conventional crust would be made with butter, but the coconut oil and a splash of almond milk did a fantastic job of replacing that.

Vegan Lemon Bars

The bars do take some time to set, but I promise if you’re patient, they’ll do their thing. If you’re bringing them to a social gathering you may want to make them a day in advance so they have plenty of time for that.

Vegan Lemon Bars

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 16 bars

Vegan Lemon Bars

Coconut oil shortbread crust is baked up to tender perfection and topped with a luscious coconut cream lemon curd to make these vegan lemon bars.

Ingredients

    For the base:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, softened a bit but not melted
  • 1/2 cup unflavored soy or almond milk
  • For the lemon curd:
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice (about 4 to 6 lemons)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch turmeric (optional, for color)
  • 3/4 cup coconut cream (see note)
  • For topping:
  • Powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly oil a 9 x 9 inch square baking pan.
  2. Make the base by stirring together the flour, sugar and salt together in a medium mixing bowl. Add the coconut oil and cut it in using a pastry cutter or a fork, until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in the milk to form a dough, continuing to stir or mix with your hands until it's nice and uniform.
  3. Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking pan. Place it into the oven and bake just until the edges begin to brown, about 20 minutes.
  4. While the base bakes, make the curd. Place the the lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, lemon extract, salt, and turmeric (if using) into a small saucepan. Whisk until uniformly combined. Place the saucepan over medium heat and whisk in the coconut cream. Continue to whisk the mixture constantly as it heats up. The mixture should thicken up quickly once it gets to a simmer. Cook about 1 minute more, continuing to whisk vigorously, then remove the saucepan from the heat.
  5. Once the base comes out of the oven, pour the lemon mixture over it, and smooth it out into an even layer. Return the pan to the oven and bake about 15 minutes longer. You should see a few bubbles forming in the curd by this time.
  6. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer it to a cooling rack to cool. The curd will continue to set as it cools. Once it has cooled completely and the curd has set, slice into 16 bars.
  7. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

Notes

Look in the international foods section for coconut cream, right next to the canned coconut milk. Trader Joe's and Thai Kitchen are two popular brands. If you can't find it, simply place a can of full fat coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight to chill. When you open the can, it should have separated into solids and water. The solids are the coconut cream.

http://ohmyveggies.com/gingery-vegan-lemon-bars/

Alissa

About Alissa

Alissa Saenz crafts vegan recipes for her blog Connoisseurus Veg. When she’s not cooking and blogging about it, she’s probably engaging in some form of yoga, arts & crafts, or lawyering.   Read more from Alissa →

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Comments

  1. Molly says

    I am beyond excited to try this recipe! Lemon bars used to be my favorite dessert, but I haven’t had them since becoming vegan about 5 years ago. I will be making these for Easter. Thank you!!

  2. Shannon says

    Sounds really good, I’ll need to make them with a gluten free flour blend, but think that should work out fine:) Thanks!!

  3. says

    These look absolutely perfect. Love the idea of coconut oil in lemon bars. Aren’t you clever with the addition of turmeric too! 🙂 Overall I love how these are healthier but still quite accessible.

  4. says

    Alissa, I love the “non weird” ingredients! I experience the same type of grilling when I bring a dish! Love how these bars don’t have too many ingredients 🙂 Great post!

  5. megan w says

    can this curd be used without baking? like a lemon cream? or does it get to hard or grainy if you put it in the fridge? hoping to be able to use it with aquafaba pavlova 🙂 thanks!!

    • AlissaAlissa says

      I’m not sure because mine went right into the bars. I can say that right out of the pot the texture was great, but coconut cream gets semi-solid when chilled, so if you stick it in the fridge it might firm up quite a bit. You might be able to let it soften up at room temperature or even substitute a different kind of non-dairy milk. If I have a chance to give it a try I’ll let you know!

  6. Hélène says

    I tried this recipe last night and was very excited to offer a vegan version of lemon squares for my vegan daughter. Much to my disappointment, the short bread crust was not a success….the lemon curd was amazing, but sadly, the crust was tough and stuck to the bottom. I followed the recipe exactly, and did not over work the dough but it just didn’t work for me! Also, I found that it was too thick, could have used less flour for a thinner base. Next time, I think I will use the gluten free crust from Elana’s pantry version and use this curd- as it really was very yummy.

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