No Bake Lemon Bars (Gluten Free, Paleo + Vegan)
These No Bake Lemon Bars are incredibly smooth and creamy with a bright and tart lemon flavor. These gluten-free, paleo and vegan lemon bars come together quickly and easily in a blender.
So, I’ve got a lemon bar curse. Despite having a baking blog for over seven years, and baking for many, many years before that, lemon bars have always eluded me.
It’s a frustrating fact for both me and my mom, who has always loved lemon bars. And trust me – I’ve tried SO many recipes. I’ve tried the classics, like Ina’s which always worked for my mom. I tried making my own recipes. I’ve tried making them paleo, and vegan.
Yet somehow, I’m cursed with the most bizarre phenomenon of the crust somehow ending up on TOP of the lemony filling. Sometimes it’s a giant bubble, sometimes it looks like someone flipped the bars over because the crust is ALL on top. It’s so weird, and it’s been happening to me for so long, that I accepted lemon bars just weren’t in the cards for me.
But recently, I decided enough was enough. I was going to make lemon bars, and they were going to be successful, and they were going to be delicious. The solution? NO BAKE LEMON BARS. Without any time in the oven, there was no time for them to go horribly wrong.
They’re creamy and sweet and delightfully tart. Yes, they are different from the more traditional baked lemon curd style of lemon bar, but they’re a delicious lemon bar of their very own :) now let’s talk about how to make them!
No Bake Lemon Bars!
The crust is made super simply with just a few ingredients: almond flour, coconut butter, coconut oil, and just a tablespoon of maple syrup for a little bit of sweet and stickiness. You can substitute more coconut oil for the coconut butter if necessary, but it really helps the crust firm up nicely without getting too oily. If you don’t have coconut butter, you can always make your own!
The filling is made with a base of soaked raw cashews. Soaking the cashews in filtered water for many hours helps them soften up, so they blend into creamy perfection with the rest of the ingredients. Coconut milk helps with the creaminess as well, and some coconut oil is blended in too, which helps the bars firm up nicely.
Maple syrup is added to sweeten – if you’d like, you can use any other liquid sweetener that you prefer. A touch of vanilla extract is added, and of course, the lemon. A hearty dose of lemon juice is added because I like them tart! I used 1/3 cup of lemon juice and a full tablespoon of lemon zest. You can use a little less lemon juice if you don’t want a super tart lemon bar.
The ingredients are poured over the crust, smoothed out, and frozen until firm before cutting and serving. The resulting lemon bars are a delightfully tart and creamy take on a classic! They’re definitely simpler to make too…at least for me :) I hope you’ll give these refreshing bars a try. Enjoy!
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No Bake Lemon Bars
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 16 bars 1x
- Category: Dessert
These No Bake Lemon Bars are incredibly smooth and creamy with a bright and tart lemon flavor. These gluten-free, paleo and vegan lemon bars come together quickly and easily in the blender.
For the crust
- 1 cup almond flour
- 2 tablespoons coconut butter
- 2 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
For the cheesecake
- 2 cups raw cashews, soaked for at least four hours or preferably overnight, drain and rinse before using
- ¼ cup full-fat coconut milk, shaken
- ¼ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
- ⅓ cup pure maple syrup
- ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice, use ¼ cup if you want it a little less lemony – you can always add more!
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Line an 8” square pan with parchment paper for easy removal, and grease well with coconut oil. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, stir together the almond flour, melted coconut butter, melted coconut oil, and maple syrup. Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.
- In a high-powered blender (I used my Vitamix, but most powerful blenders should do the job), combine all of the filling ingredients and blend for about 2-3 minutes, or until the mixture is silky smooth and creamy.
- Once it’s smooth, taste the mixture and adjust the sweetness/tartness levels, if desired. Pour the filling into the prepared pan over the crust and smooth the top. Hit the pan hard against the counter a few times to get out any air bubbles.
- Place in the freezer to set for at least 3 hours or until completely firm before slicing and serving.
- When serving, I recommend running your knife under hot water to warm it up before cutting the lemon bars with the still-hot (dried) knife. Serve frozen or let them thaw at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before serving. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to three months.
Rachel, these look absolutely amazing! I’m always in awe at how you get your bars to always look so creamy even though their vegan! Gorgeous! pinned.
Looks delicious! Unfortunately can’t have almonds though. Any substitute suggestions? Not sure if another nut flour or maybe tigernut would be comparable
Hi Eric, you could use any nut here, just process it in a food processor or blender until it’s ground into a fine floury meal.
can you just use normal almond meal?
Hi Elliott, for this recipe yes you can!
These look so amazing! I love anything lemon :) I follow the SCD diet, so could I sub honey for the maple syrup?
Yes definitely! Hope you enjoy them, Shayna.
They look amazing… im already soaking my cashews to make them tomorrow. Where do you find coconut butter? or do you just make it?
I usually order it online or get it at Sprouts, or I make it myself! You can sub with more coconut oil if you can’t locate it in time.
These look so dreamy and refreshing! I just posted a no-bake lemon dessert on my blog today =) I love citrus desserts during winter – especially when they’re this easy and healthy!
Could I omit the coconut oil?
Hi MJ, if you do these will be pretty soft so I wouldn’t recommend it. If you do though, just make sure to keep them frozen because they’ll melt easily when they’re not chilled without the coconut oil. Enjoy!
Impressive on your change up of the traditional lemon bar! Glad you finally made them to turn out great!
I have been eating strictly vegan and grain free for almost two years and this is THE MOST delicious “treat” recipe I have tried to date. And I love that it wasn’t complicated or full of crazy stuff! I subbed maple butter for the coconut butter simply because that’s all I had – and it worked so well as the birthday dessert in our house last night! Thank you so much.
Hi Jamie, thanks so much for the sweet comment – I’m so happy to hear it was such a hit! I really appreciate you sharing your feedback.
I made these today. I didn’t have coconut butter so I substituted almond butter. Otherwise I followed the recipe precisely. These were so tasty! The crust, in particular, was great and the consistency of the filling was smooth. I follow the SCD nutrition plan for health reasons and it is challenging to find dessert recipes that aren’t overly sweet or loaded with honey. Thanks for a delicious treat! Definitely a keeper.
So thrilled you’re enjoying the lemon bars, Amanda! Thanks so much for your feedback.
I made these fabulous bars for a family get together and they were loved by all. Thank you for sharing your recipes :)
So thrilled to hear that they were a hit! Thanks so much for sharing your feedback, Cindy.
These look sooo good! I love lemon anything. I have never tried making lemon bars but I am going to have to try these. I totally know what it’s like to have that one thing that you can’t cook to save your life but you conquered it. Mine is oatmeal, overnight oats, crock pot oatmeal. Oatmeal just wasn’t meant to be in my life lol.
Hahah that’s too funny!! Hope you try and love these lemon bars :)
A little more work than her usual recipes but so worth it. I loved these bars!! would make again :)
So glad you enjoyed the bars, Kayla :)
How much almond or nut meal would you recommend if replacing the raw chashews?
I wouldn’t recommend replacing the cashews – almonds aren’t as soft + creamy as cashews are so it wouldn’t be very creamy and the taste would be pretty different.
I mean just the meal. So I am using almond meal as you mentioned could be fine to use above. I’m asking how much to use in place of two cups raw cashews.
I’m stead of coconut butter could you use regular butter?
Hi Hailey, unfortunately not – they’re very different in flavor and texture and wouldn’t turn out the same. For the crust here, you could likely use an extra tablespoon or two of coconut oil in place of the coconut butter.
Would these lemon bars be good while traveling in an ice chest or traveling in general?
Hi Hailey, they need to be refrigerated. If the cooler is packed with ice, they should be fine but I wouldn’t recommend letting them sit unchilled for longer than an hour or so, or they will get very soft.
This is one of the most delicious vegan desserts I’ve ever tasted in my life! It’s going in my secret recipe chest. I didn’t have coconut butter, so I pureed dried coconut until it became somewhat creamy as a substitute. I was skeptical about the crust, but it tasted like delicate shortbread – yummmm!
So thrilled that you loved the recipe so much, Jessie! I appreciate the feedback :)
Hi. This looks so scrumptious – and healthy! We don’t have coconut milk. Can something else be used instead?
Hi Elizabeth! Most other dairy-free milks should be okay here.
Been craving lemon bars so I decided to try this recipe. I had never soaked cashews before, so my first attempt went a little “”sour”. Once I studied up on soaking cashew, however, I was back in business. I really enjoy these bars and they really weren’t hard to make. Not sure how difficult it is, but nutrition information would be appreciated. I didn’t see that listed. I did substitute Lakanto sugar-free (monk fruit) Maple Syrup for the pure maple syrup.
Hi Donna, thanks for your thoughtful feedback! I will add nutritional information to the recipe :) glad to know it worked well with the sugar-free sub!
This recipe is so quick and easy, especially compared to traditional lemon bars. They turned out DELICIOUS too! Lemon bars are a favorite dessert of mine, but finding a good (worth the time) gluten free option has been hard. I told everyone in my family about these ones, definitely will be a summer staple from here on out.
Thank you so so much for your feedback, Breanna! So glad you’re loving them :D
Anyway to make it nut free?
Unfortunately not, since cashews are the base of the filling.
Hey is it ok if I don’t have cashews or almonds for the cheesecake part because I did this recipe last time not adding cashews and it was fine just do you think its OK to not add cashews?
Hi Aubri, I wouldn’t recommend not adding the cashews, but if you’ve done it before and it worked, then you’d know better than me since I haven’t tried it that way!