Best Vegan Lemon Bars Recipe with Lemon Curd

The Best Vegan Lemon Bars recipes are made with a zesty Lemon Curd. This recipe offers a perfectly proportioned shortbread crust topped with a lightly sweet, tart, lemon curd filling. This vegan lemon tart recipe is made with minimal ingredients. Vegan lemon desserts are non dairy and eggless, making them perfect for so many people. Make these dessert bars into gluten free vegan lemon bars as well.

A stack of lemon squares with the text above them reading, Best Vegan Lemon Bars!
These vegan lemon squares are amazing!

Being vegan can involve some sacrifice, but not where dessert is involved. If want to have a special treat for the weekend, try these dairy free lemon bars.

At first I wasn’t sure if I could make square bars vegan. But it didn’t take me long to realize how quick, easy, and delicious eggless lemon bars can be!

I was never a fan of the lemon earlier in my life. When the waitress would ask, “Would you like some lemon with your tea?” I’d respond, “No thanks.” But with a little more emphasis on the NO, if you know what I mean.

I think that’s the thing with converting your diet to a more plant-based, whole food way of living, your taste buds changes. For some reason, now I love lemons.

Several lemon squares with powdered sugar on top on a white counter.

How to Make Vegan Lemon Bars

Making vegan lemon bars is a simple process. I’ll walk you through it step by step!

Step One: Make the Vegan Shortbread Crust

Let’s start by making the vegan shortbread crust. The ingredients are: vegan butter (I use Earth Balance), flour, and powdered sugar. Combine those in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Press this into the bottom of your prepared pan.

The crust is pressed into the bottom of a baking dish for lemon bars.

Step Two: Choose Your 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 looks like.

A stack of lemon bars on a wooden tray.

Or you can choose to make the simple vegan lemon curd:

Several slices of lemon bars on a white counter.

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.

Option One: Tofu Lemon Curd

To prepare the the tofu lemon custard, otherwise known as 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).

A zester with lemon zest sits on top of a food processor bowl with silken tofu in it.
Use silken tofu to create no egg lemon bars!

I know it sounds odd adding nutritional yeast flakes and turmeric to a lemon curd, but it’s only a little bit and it gives it a nice, sunny yellow color.

Pulse this until smooth and then pour it over the crust.

Option Two: Simple Vegan Lemon Curd

I like the look of the traditional lemon bar with its more translucent lemon curd. My question was could I make the traditional lemon bars vegan? After some experimentation I was so pleased with the results! I call it a simple vegan lemon curd.

Besides, sometimes you need vegan lemon bars no tofu, if you’re dealing with people with allergies. So, if you’re making your lemon bars with the simple lemon curd, in a bowl combine the lemon juice, sugar, milk and cornstarch.

Stir to combine the cornstarch. Pour into a saucepan over medium heat. Stir 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 – 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Once the mixture thickens, remove from heat, add the lemon zest, coconut oil, and turmeric. Stir to combine. Pour this curd over prepared crust. 

Step Three: Bake, Cool and Sprinkle

For the tofu lemon curd bars: Place the pan in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until the edges of the crust are golden.

For the simple lemon curd bars: Bake for 30 minutes, until the sides are golden brown and the filling is slightly firm. It may be a little jiggly. 

Once done, remove the vegan squares from the oven, allow them to cool for a little bit and then transfer to the fridge to chill for 1 – 3 hours. Once chilled, remove from the fridge. Grab the foil and remove the bars from the pan. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut bars.

Powdered sugar is being sprinkled on cut dessert bars.

What You’ll Love About these Healthy Vegan Lemon Bars

Lemon bars are sort of like a lemon tart, except baked in a square pan. The nice thing is then you can cut the slices into squares which is much more convenient for packing in lunches, etc.

These dairy free bars are also egg free as well. That’s right, these vegan lemon bars are made with no eggs. The lemon curd is made with silken tofu and it tastes so good!

These dessert bars are a sweet treat that are easy to make and an amazing sweet treat.

A stack of four lemon squares with more bars and a lemon behind it.

Of course l used fresh lemons. I think it would be interesting to try a meyer lemon to make it even zestier!

Expert Tips

I love simple vegan desserts, and I’m sure you do too! Use these tips and tricks to make these healthy vegan lemon bars the best every time:

  • Make these into vegan gluten free lemon bars by using gluten free baking flour in place of the flour in the crust
  • For a change of pace, use a graham cracker crust in place of this shortbread crust. Combine 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs with 1/4 cup of vegan butter or coconut oil. Press that into the bottom of your prepared pan.
  • If you’re concerned about sugar, substitute Swerve for the sugar in this recipe. It subs in a 1:1 basis for sugar and I’ve had great success with it
  • I use vegan butter in this recipe but if you prefer you can make the crust with coconut oil instead
  • Be sure and prepare your pan by lining it with foil, then spraying with vegetable spray. This helps you remove the bars from the pan after they’ve cooled
  • Be sure to tamp down the crust before adding the curd, this will prevent the crust from rising to the top while baking.
  • If you want to prevent the bars from cracking, place a cookie pan below it in the oven and fill with water. The steam from the water will add moisture to the oven.
  • You can find silken tofu in the produce section of most grocery stores. It may or may not be refrigerated. It’s often found in a small box rather than the larger tubs. If you can’t find silken, just use medium tofu instead
  • For Curd Option #2, I call for coconut oil. Be sure to use the kind that is solid at room temperature rather than the kind that is liquid.
  • I use just a bit of nutritional yeast flakes to add color and a little flavor
  • I like to top these bars with powdered sugar, but that’s optional
  • For the best egg free lemon bars, you want a perfect ratio of crust to filling. I love these tips from Cooks Illustrated on the science of lemon bars!
A stack of several dessert bars on a white counter.

Love Vegan Lemon Recipes?

If you love these easy vegan lemon bars, you’ll definitely want to try these other vegan lemon dessert recipes too:

A stack of several lemon bars with two lemons behind it.

That’s it for this vegan lemon bar recipe!

I hope you love this recipe as we do! Have you tried it? Be sure and leave a comment and a rating of this recipe below and then take a quick photo and share it with me using #namelymarly on Instagram. I love seeing your creations!

A stack of several lemon bars with two lemons behind it.

Vegan Lemon Bars

These Vegan Lemon Bars are a delicious, healthy, egg-free treat for the whole family to enjoy!
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Vegan Lemon Bars
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Resting Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 9
Calories: 204kcal
Author: Namely Marly

Ingredients

Vegan Shortbread Crust

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup vegan butter sliced
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

Tofu Lemon Custard (Option #1)

Simple Vegan Lemon Curd (Option #2)

  • 3/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups plant-based milk
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric

For Serving

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8X8" 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 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 25-30 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 – 2 hours. Once chilled, grab both sides of the aluminum foil and remove from the pan.

For the Simple Lemon Curd (Option #2)

  • If you're making your lemon bars withe the simple lemon curd, in a bowl combine the lemon juice, sugar, milk and cornstarch. Stir to combine the cornstarch. Pour into a saucepan over medium heat. Stir 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 – 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 zest, coconut oil, and turmeric. Stir to combine. Spoon out the lemon curd over 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 – 3 hours. Once chilled, grab both sides of the aluminum foil and remove the bars from the pan.

To Serve:

  • 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.

Notes

Be sure to tamp the crust down in the pan. This can help prevent the crust from rising to the top while baking.
A note on tofu: Option #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.
Nutrition Facts
Vegan Lemon Bars
Amount Per Serving
Calories 204 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 2g10%
Sodium 83mg3%
Potassium 87mg2%
Carbohydrates 27g9%
Sugar 14g16%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 480IU10%
Calcium 14mg1%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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.

Enjoy!

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43 Responses to Best Vegan Lemon Bars Recipe with Lemon Curd

    • You’re welcome! We love making lemon squares, especially for spring and summer desserts!

  1. Hi there. I love everything lemon and would love to give this recipe a go but was wondering if I may use coconut butter instead of margarine which I am not a big fan of. Thanks!

    • Hi Lucia. I haven’t made this with coconut butter before, but I think it would do fine. One idea would be to try Earth Balance’s Coconut Spread. I think it’s formulated to do well in baked goods. If you try it, let me know how it goes!

  2. These look amazing and easy! (two pluses in my book!) I was wondering, do you drain the silken tofu before using for this recipe? I know draining silken tofu on paper towels is pretty standard, but I wanted to make sure the extra liquid wasn’t needed for this recipe! I’m going to a BBQ next weekend, and I’m thinking of making and bringing these. 🙂

    • Silken tofu comes with a very small amount of liquid in the container. I drain that out. But I don’t press the tofu or drain it out on paper towels. It’s a easy recipe and so tasty too. I hope you enjoy your BBQ. Sounds like fun!

    • Thank you for replying! Our family BBQ was postponed until next weekend, but I wanted to try these, so I made them just for me. SO GOOD! And I even was naughty and impatient, and cut them well before they were cooled. They were super soft, but still tasty, and they firmed up beautifully in the fridge. These are just AMAZING. I’m super excited to bring them this weekend! Great recipe. Thank you!

    • Angela! I LOVE that you made these just for YOU! You are my hero! I mean, we’re always doing things for other people. We deserve a little Lemon Bars hot out of the oven for ourselves. 🙂

    • I love my lemon so I’ll be adding a tad bit of lemon extract on the next batch. I love how it has a custard consistency. I couldn’t wait for it to cool down so I had a hot lemon bar. lol, it was still yummy! I put the rest in the fridge and can’t wait to try a cold slice of this goodness. 🙂

      Thank you for the recipe! <3

    • Thanks for letting me know how it went Bree! That’s a great idea to add some lemon extract. Sometimes it’s nice being bold with it! Oh, and I’m with you – I can never wait for things to cool like I’m supposed to. Gah! 🙂

    • I love the anticipation you created. I’m sitting by the computer. Waiting. Hmm. I wonder if I should paint my nails while I’m sitting here. Or maybe I could get some work done. Nah! 🙂

    • It says in the recipe that it 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. Hope this helps.

  3. Hey Marly! These look fantastic. Thought the same thing about Meyer lemons . I wondered how much powdered sugar goes into the shortbread crust? Did I miss that somewhere? Thank you for another beautiful, easy recipe! Cannot wait to try.

    • Hi Julie! Thanks for your comment! I know the powdered sugar was originally in the recipe, so it must have accidentally gotten deleted when edits were made. Thanks for letting me know – it’s fixed now! 🙂

  4. Hello! I love your recipes, especially your Potato Salad!
    I eat oil free and wondered if you had any suggestions for the crust besides butter or oil? Thank you!

    • Hi there Dede! I have not tried this but this is what I would do to create an oil free crust: Substitute 1 cup almond flour for the all-purpose flour (to keep some fat in the crust), add a flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flaxseed + 3 tablespoons water), and the sugar. I think this should work. In fact, I may add this as an option for folks! 🙂

  5. You left the lemon zest out of the recipe for Option 2? Did you write lemon extract by mistake, or do you need both zest and extract?

    • Hi Susan! Actually, I was trying to keep Option #2 for the vegan lemon curd super simple so I used lemon extract and it worked amazing! However, you can add a teaspoon of lemon zest too if you’d like. Hope you love these vegan lemon bars!

  6. I made these today using option #2 the simple lemon curd and not sure where I went wrong but they have not firmed up at all. I even left them in the oven for way longer. They are in the fridge now but they are basically soup with a slight crust on top. Any suggestions or ideas where I might have goofed?

    • Hi Jay! Did the curd get thick in the saucepan? Most of the thickening occurs in the saucepan for this recipe. Also, the coconut oil should be the kind that is solid at room temperature. To prevent the crust from ending up on top, be sure to tamp down the crust in the bottom of the pan. I’ll add a note to clarify this in the instructions.

  7. The coconut oil I used was indeed solid. I thought the curd thickened up in the pan but maybe it wasn’t enough? What consistency should I be looking for? And when I say “crust” on top I don’t mean the shortbread crust that makes up the bottom of the lemon bar. I meant that the curd was slightly solid on top but fully liquid underneath.

    • Hi Lexie. Great question. Yes, absolutely you can use coconut oil. I’ll add this to the notes.

  8. Hi Marly,
    Hope you are safe and staying at home. Your recipe is amazing and delicious too. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. My mom is very picky in desserts but when I made this (curd version) she couldn’t help but to share with other people that my daughter made this
    Since I am trying my hand in kitchen in this quarantine mode, this recipe was an ultimate saviour.

    • Hi Puja! Thanks so much for your feedback. I’m honored to get a review from your mom too! Please give her a hug for me (at least a virtual one). We are in the same boat – staying home – and there is no flour to be found anywhere! Well, I did find some gluten-free flour and it works too. So glad we could connect. Stay safe!

  9. You’ve mentioned how you use silken tofu for dips, creamy soup, etc..Does the tofu melt??
    Reason I’m asking, I’m thinking queso..

    • Hi Amanda. I like the way you think! You can make something like that using silken tofu. Or you can use vegan cream cheese that is made from tofu as well. Here’s a link to my vegan queso recipe. Hope this is helpful!

    • I prefer option #2 because I like the translucent look of the lemon curd made with cornstarch. I did not notice a tofu taste with option #2, so it’s great, especially if you have some silken tofu on hand. Hope that’s helpful Rylyn!

  10. Hi,

    For the crust can I use plain flour or self raising flour and vegetable oil instead of all purpose flour and coconut oil with powdered sugar? But no graham crackers used. Hope to hear from you soon, thank you.

    • Hi Elizabeth. Let me see if I understand the question correctly. You’d like to use plain flour and I think that will work. I’ve never tried self-rising flour with this recipe, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work too. I’m assuming you’re hoping to use either vegetable oil or coconut oil in stead of the vegan butter? If so, I think either should work just fine, although I would lean toward the coconut oil. You’re correct, in that there are no graham crackers used in this crust. Hope this helps!

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