You'll love these Vegan Lemon Bars with creamy, zingy and bright lemon curd filling sitting atop a rich, buttery shortbread crust. Easy to make with simple ingredients and so delicious!
When life gives you lemons make Vegan Lemon Bars!
These lemony, tart, sweet, buttery bars are giving me life right now. Can't stop. Won't stop. SO good!
Those layers and that texture! The mouth-puckering lemon tartness balances perfectly with the sweet, crisp, shortbread and the lemon curd filling (adapted from my very popular vegan lemon curd recipe), is irresistibly thick, creamy and smooth.
In this post - Everything you need to make the best Vegan Lemon Bars:
I make my lemon bars thicker and a little zingier than most, and that's what sets them apart. A lot of fresh lemon juice and zest goes in. They are really lemony and substantial. If we are going to dessert we are going to dessert in style, and make it worth every single bite!
All you'll be needing to make this egg-free lemon bar recipe are some fresh lemons and vegan pantry staples:
And a few ingredient notes:
- Lemons - These must be real lemons because we will be using lemon juice and lemon zest. The zest is where most of the flavour is and although store-bought bottled lemon juice is convenient it just doesn't have the same flavour as fresh lemon and zest. I promise you'll taste the difference!
- Flour - I have only tested this recipe with all-purpose flour but I think a good gluten-free baking flour should work ok.
- Vegan Butter - This is essential in this recipe for buttery flavour and the correct shortbread texture.
- Sugar - This should be white granulated sugar or cane sugar. Anything darker will ruin the lovely colour of the filling and affect the flavour of the shortbread. Research what brands are vegan in your area (here the 2 big sugar producers, Rogers and Red Path, are both vegan), or just go straight for the organic ones. They are vegan by default wherever you are in the world.
- Plant milk - My preference is canned light coconut milk for extra richness but any unsweetened plant milk is ok to use.
- Cornstarch - This is what sets the lemon curd in this vegan recipe. No more eggy-tasting lemon bars! Eggs are simply not necessary.
- Turmeric - This is necessary for colour. Because the lemon bars are egg-free they wouldn't look very yellow without it. You cannot taste the turmeric at all.
Optional - Powdered sugar for dusting!
Expert Tip - Try switching the lemon zest and juice for grapefruit, blood orange, regular orange, or lime juice and zest!
How To Make Vegan Lemon Bars
Ok, here we go. These are much easier to make than you might imagine!
- Mix up the shortbread dough. This is a simplified shortbread using melted vegan butter so there's no whipping or creaming to do and it takes just a couple of minutes. Once mixed press it into a parchment paper lined 8 x 8-inch pan.
- Bake the shortbread crust.
- In a small saucepan make the lemon curd.
- Pour the lemon filling mixture over the shortbread base and refrigerate. The filling does not need to be baked but needs a little time to set.
You can leave the bars glossy and gorgeous just as they are, or dust the tops with powdered sugar right before serving.
Chef's Tip - Before dusting with powdered sugar, I recommend blotting the top of the lemon curd filling very gently with some kitchen paper to soak up any moisture. This will ensure the powdered sugar doesn't get damp and remains powdery.
How To Cut Lemon Bars Cleanly
Use a very sharp straight-edged knife (not a serrated one). Run the knife under a hot tap then shake it off so it's just a little damp. Slice cleanly in one downward motion. Clean the blade and reheat/dampen it between cuts.
Storing Vegan Lemon Bars
Store lemon bars in the fridge for up to 1 week although the shortbread crust is at its very best in the first few days. They are best stored without the dusting of powdered sugar. They can be removed from the fridge for several hours when serving but if you don't finish the pan, pop them back in the fridge after.
I have found they do best stored uncovered or covered in something breathable in the fridge. If you cover them with clingwrap or foil, or put them in an airtight container, condensation forms and they can get a bit damp and sticky.
You should totally give these gems a try!
If you try this recipe, let me know how you like it by leaving a comment and rating below! And be sure to join my mailing list for more deliciousness!
Vegan Lemon BarsAuthor:
For the shortbread crust
- ¾ cup (165 grams) vegan butter
- ⅓ cup (66 grams) sugar , granulated white or cane sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1½ cups (187 grams) all purpose flour , (plain flour in the UK)
For the lemon curd filling
- 1½ cup (300 grams) sugar , granulated white or cane sugar
- 8 tablespoons (66 grams) cornstarch , (cornflour in the UK)
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- zest of of 2 lemons
- 1 cup (240 mls) freshly squeezed lemon juice , about 5 to 6 lemons
- 1 cup plant milk , light canned coconut milk is my preference for extra richness
- Preheat oven to 325 °F (165°C) and line an 8 x 8-inch pan with parchment paper. Use enough to come up over the edges and act as handles so you can easily lift the bars out when ready.
- Make the shortbread crust. Melt the vegan butter and sugar together in a small pan on the stovetop over medium heat, or gently in a microwave. If using a microwave save on washing up by doing this in the mixing bowl you will be using to mix the shortbread.
- Transfer the melted mixture to a mixing bowl (unless you used a microwave and it's already in there), then add the cornstarch, vanilla, salt, and flour. No need to wait for it to cool. Mix together with a wooden spoon or spatula to make a thick cookie dough.
- Press the dough into the lined pan and even it out with a spatula, the back of a spoon, or your hand.
- Bake the shortbread crust for 25 to 30 minutes until just starting to turn golden around the edges. Black/dark pans cook quicker than light pans so if using one be sure to check at 25 mins and don't leave for 30. Remove from the oven and leave in the pan, on a wire rack.
- Make the lemon curd filling. Add the sugar, cornstarch, salt, turmeric and zest of 2 lemons to a small pan. Stir together.
- Very gradually add the lemon juice, stirring as you go to work out any lumps, then pour in the milk.
- Place the pan over medium low heat and whisk or stir constantly (don't stop as lumps will form) until it starts to thicken. Keep whisking until it gets really thick and when you lift the whisk and drizzle, clear tracks form and stay across the top. There is a picture in the post that shows what it should look like.
- When it reaches that stage, turn off the heat and immediately pour over the shortbread base.
- Let it cool down a little then put in the fridge uncovered to set for at least 4 hours.
- Once set, very carefully lift out onto a cutting board. Run a long sharp knife under a hot tap, shake excess water off, then cut into 9 squares. Reheating/damping the knife as needed to get clean cuts.
- Dust with powdered sugar if desired. I recommend patting the top of the bars gently with some kitchen paper to absorb any moisture before doing this.
Nutritional information is provided for convenience. The data is a computer generated estimate and should be used as a guide only.
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