Vegan lemon bars feature a zesty lemon curd with a perfectly-proportioned shortbread crust. You’ll love that this vegan lemon tart is made with minimal ingredients. This recipe is non-dairy and eggless, making it perfect for so many people.
Being vegan can involve some sacrifice, but not where dessert is involved. If you want to have a special treat for the weekend, try these vegan lemon bars.
At first, I wasn’t sure if I could make lemon squares vegan. I mean, lemon curd is almost pure eggs! But soon I realized how quick, easy, and delicious egg-free lemon bars can be!
Serve these lemon bars with drizzles of blueberry syrup over the top for color and flavor!
How to Make Vegan Lemon Bars
You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.
Making vegan lemon bars is a simple process. I’ll walk you through it step by step!
- Make the crust by pulsing flour, butter, and powdered sugar in a food processor.
- Press into the bottom of a pan.
- Make the vegan lemon curd by adding the lemon juice, sugar, milk, and cornstarch in a saucepan.
- Cook over medium heat while stirring.
- Bring it to a low boil and reduce heat to a simmer.
- Remove from heat and stir in the remaining ingredients.
- Pour the curd over the crust.
- Bake until the sides are golden brown and the filling firms up.
- Remove from the oven and allow it to cool.
- Transfer to the fridge and chill until set.
- Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
- Slice into bars, and serve.
- Lemon — We’ll use both the zest and the juice of the lemon.
- Oats — I used rolled oats for this recipe, but you can substitute instant oats.
- Chia — We’ll add some ground chia seeds to create a thicker texture. You can use whole chia seeds; I just prefer ground because it creates a smoother finished texture.
- Syrup — I used maple syrup, but you can substitute agave nectar.
- Milk — We’ll use almond milk for the best overnight oats! Substitute your favorite plant-based milk.
- Yogurt — I love adding some plant-based yogurt (plain, unsweetened) for an even more tangy flavor.
- Protein Powder — I add some vanilla protein powder for increased flavor and nutrients. If your protein powder is not sweetened, you may want to add an extra teaspoon or two of sweetener.
- Cornstarch — We’ll use cornstarch to thicken the lemon curd topping.
- Turmeric — A pinch of turmeric makes that lemon curd sunny yellow.
- Flour — All-purpose flour works great, or you can use whole wheat pastry flour, or gluten-free flour.
- Vegan butter — I use Earth Balance buttery sticks, Miyoko’s, or homemade vegan butter.
- Lemon — We’ll use both the zest and the juice from a lemon.
What Lemons are Best for Lemon Bars?
Look for thin-skinned lemons that do not have green spots. You may think bigger lemons would yield more juice and flavor, but this is not always the case because larger lemons have thicker skins. Each lemon should yield about 1/4 cup or more of juice. To get the most juice possible out of your lemons, you can zap them in the microwave for about 10 to 15 seconds, then roll them firmly on the counter.
For the best lemon bars, you want a perfect ratio of crust to filling. I love these tips from Cooks Illustrated on the science of lemon bars!
Option #1: Vegan Lemon Custard
I’m providing two options for the lemon curd: The first option is a tofu lemon curd. This is what the tofu lemon bars look like.
As you can see, the simple vegan curd creates lemon bars that are much more translucent. Both bars taste amazing, but the simple vegan curd bars have a more traditional look.
- To prepare the tofu lemon curd, combine silken tofu, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, nutritional yeast flakes, and turmeric in a food processor. (I didn’t even bother cleaning out the food processor from step one).
- Pulse this until smooth.
- Spoon it over the unbaked crust.
I know it sounds odd adding nutritional yeast flakes and turmeric to lemon curd, but it’s only a little bit and it gives it a sunny yellow color.
Quick Fix Tip
If your sauce develops lumps, finish cooking it in the saucepan and then remove it from heat. Add the remaining ingredients and transfer it to a food processor or blender and pulse in short bursts until the lumps are gone.
Option #2: Simple Vegan Lemon Curd
I like the look of the traditional lemon bar with its more translucent lemon curd. Besides, sometimes you need vegan lemon bars without tofu if you’re serving people with soy allergies.
- Combine the lemon juice, sugar, milk, and cornstarch in a saucepan.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar.
- Bring it to a low boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cook 2–3 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Once the mixture thickens, remove from heat, add the lemon extract, coconut oil, and turmeric. Stir to combine.
- Pour this curd over the prepared crust.
Why This Recipe is a Winner
- Adding vegan butter to the shortbread crust produces a rich and buttery crust
- Using fresh lemons makes the curd taste zesty and fresh
- Two ways to make the lemon curd gives you options for a delicious and easy dessert recipe, regardless of the ingredients you have on hand!
Cover and store bars in the fridge. They will keep up to 5 days. They can be cut into individual slices and frozen for up to 2 months.
What are Vegan Lemon Bars?
Lemon bars are sort of like a lemon tart, except baked in a square pan. The nice thing is you can cut the slices into squares which is much more convenient for packing in lunches, etc.
These vegan lemon bars are a sweet treat that is easy to make and a real crowd favorite.
- For a change of pace, try using a vegan graham cracker crust in place of the shortbread crust
- Make gluten-free vegan lemon bars by using gluten-free baking flour
- You can make the crust with coconut oil instead of butter
- Line your pan with foil, then spray it with vegetable spray to help remove the bars from the pan after they’ve cooled
- Tamp down the crust before adding the curd to prevent the crust from rising to the top while baking
- If you want to prevent the bars from cracking, place a shallow pan below it in the oven and fill it with water. The steam from the water adds moisture to the oven
- You can find silken tofu in the produce section of most grocery stores. If you can’t find silken tofu, use medium-firm tofu instead
My mom is very picky in desserts but when I made this (curd version) she couldn’t help but share with other people that ‘my daughter made this’.
These are the BEST vegan lemon bars! I made a half batch today using the Simple Lemon Curd (Option #2). The crust and curd were very easy to make… they were delicious!
Vegan Lemon Recipes
If you love these easy vegan lemon bars, you’ll definitely want to try these other vegan lemon dessert recipes too:
That’s it for this vegan lemon bar recipe!
Vegan Lemon Bars
Tofu Lemon Custard (Option #1)
Simple Vegan Lemon Curd (Option #2)
- ¾ cup lemon juice
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 ½ cups plant-based milk
- 5 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- ⅛ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Line a 9×9-inch square pan with foil. Give the foil a light coating of vegetable spray.
- Combine flour, butter, and powdered sugar in a food processor and pulse for several seconds, until combined, but still crumbly. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Top with either the Tofu Lemon Curd OR the Simple Lemon Curd.
For the Tofu Lemon Curd (Option #1)
- If you're making your lemon bars with the tofu lemon curd: In the same food processor bowl (no need to wash it out), add the tofu, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, nutritional yeast, and turmeric. Pulse until completely smooth. Pour the lemon filling over the crust and evenly distribute across the pan.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the sides are golden brown and the filling is firm (if it's still overly jiggly, you should cook it a few more minutes).
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool. After it's cooled, transfer to the fridge and chill for 1 to 2 hours. Once chilled, grab both sides of the aluminum foil and remove it from the pan.
For the Simple Lemon Curd (Option #2)
- If you're using the simple lemon curd, in a saucepan combine the lemon juice, sugar, milk, and cornstarch. Stir to combine the cornstarch. Cook over medium heat while stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar and to prevent lumps as the mixture thickens. Bring it to a low boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly. The mixture should get fairly thick. If you get lumps, simply pulse the curd in a food processor or use an immersion blender.
- Once the mixture thickens, remove from heat, add the lemon extract, coconut oil, and turmeric. Stir to combine. Spoon out the lemon curd over the prepared crust.
- Bake for 30 minutes, until the sides are golden brown and the filling is slightly firm. It may be a little jiggly.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool. After it's cooled, transfer to the fridge and chill for 2 to 3 hours. Once chilled, grab both sides of the aluminum foil and remove the bars from the pan.
- Sprinkle the tops of the bars with powdered sugar. Slice into bars and serve.
- Store lemon bars in the fridge. They will keep up to 5 days.
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TofuOption #1 calls for “silken” tofu. You can find that in the produce sections of a lot of U.S. grocery stores and definitely at health food stores. It may or may not be refrigerated and most typically I find it in a small “box” type container rather than a plastic tub. If you can’t find silken tofu, then buy a soft or medium regular tofu. The nutritional estimates are provided for the tofu curd. For Simple Curd (option #2), be sure to allow the curd to thicken in the saucepan before proceeding. Also, use the kind of coconut oil that is solid at room temperature. You can sub coconut oil for the vegan butter in the crust.
The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
This post was originally published in 2019 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2021.