This Vegan Lemon Bars recipe features a zesty lemon curd with a perfectly-proportioned shortbread crust. You’ll love that this vegan lemon tart is made with minimal ingredients. Vegan lemon desserts are non-dairy and eggless, making them perfect for so many people.
Serve these lemon bars with drizzles of blueberry syrup over the top for color and flavor!
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!
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!
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)
- all-purpose flour
- powdered sugar.
Combine these ingredients in a food processor and pulse in short bursts until it’s all combined. Press this into the bottom of a prepared pan.
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 look like.
Or you can choose to make a simple vegan lemon curd:
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 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).
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.
Pulse this until smooth and then pour it over the unbaked crust.
Option Two: 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.
To make it, combine the lemon juice, sugar, milk, and cornstarch in a saucepan. Place this over medium heat and 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 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.
Regarding the coconut oil, be sure to use the kind that is solid at room temperature.
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.
Step Three: Bake
For the tofu lemon curd bars: Place the pan in the oven and bake 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 lemon bars from the oven, allow them to cool for a little bit and then transfer to the fridge to chill 1–3 hours. Once the bars are chilled, remove them from the fridge. Remove the bars from the pan and sprinkle the top of the dessert with powdered sugar and cut into squares.
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 in place of the flour in the crust
- 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 the crust, but if you prefer you can make the crust with coconut oil
- Be sure to line your pan with foil, then spray it with vegetable spray. This helps to remove the bars from the pan after they’ve cooled
- 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 shallow pan below it in the oven and fill 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. 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 tofu, use medium-firm tofu instead
- 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!
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:
- These Vegan Blueberry Lemon Pie Bars are amazing!
- You’ll fall head over heels for this Vegan Lemon Meringue Pie!
- Everyone loves these bite-size Lemon Cookies!
- Top it all off with this refreshing Italian Basil Lemonade!
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 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 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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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.