No-Bake Vegan Strawberry Shortcake Bars are incredibly creamy from the cashew base and taste just like strawberry shortcake! No baking necessary to make these gluten-free, Paleo, and vegan bars.
Raise your hand if you love strawberry shortcake!!
Is your hand up?! If it is, you’re probably going to be very, very excited about the contents of this post, because this is some insanely good strawberry shortcake goodness! Get your berries ready.
These strawberry shortcake bars, though, were not intended to be strawberry shortcake bars. I had been envisioning a cashew crusted bar, with a lusciously creamy vanilla bean-flavored filling, topped off with strawberry halves. The idea was sparked when I spotted this photo on Instagram (go drool over her whole account too, if you haven’t seen it yet).
The recipe built itself in my head, and I immediately scrawled it down in my recipe notebook. I envisioned them as strawberries + cream bars, or something like that. As soon as I took my first bite though, all I could taste was strawberry shortcake. Without any intention, I replicated the flavors of one of my favorite summertime treats. They were soooo darn dreamy, you guys.
My strawberry shortcake thoughts were immediately confirmed when my boyfriend took a bite and declared that they totally tasted like strawberry shortcake, without me having described them as such. So Strawberry Shortcake Bars, they are.
Let’s make Vegan Strawberry Shortcake Bars!
First up: the crust! We make it with a combination of raw cashews and almond flour, held together with coconut oil and dates. The dates also help to sweeten it up. Add a sprinkle of salt, and that’s all! Then, just press it into your pan.
For the filling, you’ve got to have soaked cashews. This is the most annoying part of the recipe because it means you need to think about making them at least four hours ahead of time to get your cashews soaking in cold water. This helps the cashews soften up, which helps them blend into the most lusciously creamy filling.
If you don’t have time to soak the cashews, you can pour boiling water over the cashews instead and let them soak for about an hour. The filling won’t be quite as smooth and creamy but it will still be delicious!
Bonus: the whole recipe is made in the food processor or high-powered blender (I used my Vitamix, as usual). There’s no need to wash it between crust and filling. Win!
Once your cashews are nice and soft, combine them with coconut milk, coconut oil, maple syrup, lemon juice, and vanilla in the blender or food processor. I use vanilla bean powder. It’s my favorite stuff ever, but vanilla extract or a scraped vanilla bean also works. Then just blend, blend, blend into oblivion. I just let my Vitamix run for a few minutes while I clean things, and it turns out sooooo creamy and smooth.
Pour your filling over the crust and place your strawberry halves all over. It doesn’t matter whether your strawberries are fresh or frozen since you’re putting them into the freezer anyways. Freeze them for a few hours to firm up before slicing and serving!
I like letting them thaw at room temperature for about 15 minutes to let them soften a bit, but they’re so refreshing straight from the freezer too. I had to give these away so I didn’t eat them all! Strawberry shortcake fans, these are a must-try!! Enjoy :)
Looking for more delicious no-bake recipes?!
- Chai Cheesecake Bars (Paleo + Vegan)
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars (Paleo + Vegan)
- Layered Blueberry Cheesecake (Paleo + Vegan)
For the crust
- 3/4 cup raw cashews
- 1/4 cup almond flour
- 4 pitted Medjool dates
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
For the cheesecake
- 2 cups raw cashews (soaked in cold filtered water for at least four hours or preferably overnight (see Notes))
- ½ cup canned coconut milk (shaken)
- ¼ cup coconut oil (melted and cooled (use refined coconut oil if you want no coconut flavor))
- ⅓ cup pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean powder
- 2 cups strawberries (halved)
- Line an 8×8” pan with parchment paper and grease well with coconut oil. Set aside.
- Add the cashews, almond flour, pitted dates, coconut oil and salt to a food processor or high-powered blender and pulverize until it comes together into a sort of sticky dough, with small bits remaining. Don’t over process, or it’ll turn into nut butter! Press the date dough evenly along the bottom of the prepared pan.
- In the same food processor or high-powered blender (no need to wash between – I used my Vitamix, but most powerful blenders should do the job), combine all of the filling ingredients except the strawberries and blend for about 2 minutes, or until the mixture is silky smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides as necessary. You may need to add a bit more coconut milk or lemon juice to get it to blend smoothly if your blender isn’t super high-powered.
- 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. Smooth out the top and tap the pan hard against the counter a few times to release any air bubbles. Press the strawberry halves into the bars.
- Place in the freezer to firm up for at least 3 hours before cutting. I recommend running your knife under hot water to warm it up before cutting the bars with the still-hot (dried) knife. Let them thaw at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before serving.
- Store leftovers tightly wrapped in the freezer.
You can also pour boiling/very hot water over the cashews and let them sit for about an hour if you want to speed up the process – it won’t be quite as creamy as soaking for longer, but it will do the trick!