Recipe courtesy of Miriam Garron for Food Network Kitchen

Vegan Lemon Bars

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Like our favorite traditional lemon bars, these vegan ones are tangy, not too sweet and super lemony. But as the topping—a combination of vegan sugar, flour, cornstarch and cashew milk—is egg-free, it’s boiled rather than baked on the shortbread base. The sunny color comes from a pinch of turmeric in lieu of egg yolks (don’t worry, you won’t taste it). Using a virgin coconut oil in the base lends a lovely coconut note. Refined coconut oil is fine, too, but it is flavorless. You can replace the oil in both the base and topping with vegan butter (see Cook’s Note).
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 6 hr 45 min (includes setting time)
  • Active: 45 min
  • Yield: Sixteen 2-inch squares or thirty-two 1-by-2-inch bars
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Ingredients

Base:

Topping:

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with two 8-by-16-inch pieces of aluminum foil so the foil extends over all 4 sides.
  2. For the base: Pulse the flour, confectioners’ sugar, lemon zest and salt in a food processor to combine (about 4 long pulses). Scatter bits of the chilled coconut oil across the top and pulse about 10 times to distribute the oil; the mixture will be dry and sandy. Sprinkle the cashew milk over the top and pulse about 6 times to form a homogenous and sticky dough, like a soft sugar cookie dough. 
  3. Spoon chunks of the dough evenly across the prepared pan, then press it firmly but gently into the bottom, sides and corners, wetting your hands slightly with cool water to keep the dough from sticking to them. Poke 12 or so holes across the dough with a fork.  
  4. Bake until the edges of the dough are light golden brown and the top is dry, about 30 minutes. About halfway through, it may puff away from the pan in spots; poke those spots with a fork or carefully press back down with your hand. Continue to bake, checking once or twice more and repeating as needed. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and set aside.  
  5. For the topping: Whisk together the granulated sugar, cornstarch, flour, lemon zest and turmeric in a small saucepan. (The color won’t turn bright yellow right away, so don’t be tempted to add more turmeric.) Whisk in the cashew milk and lemon juice.
  6. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, about 5 to 6 minutes. Once it comes to a boil, continue to boil and whisk for 2 minutes more. The bubbles will get slower and pop bigger as the mixture thickens; you can reduce the heat to a strong simmer if you are concerned a bubble might burst and burn your hand.  
  7. Remove from the heat, add the coconut oil and whisk until melted and thoroughly incorporated. Scrape the mixture over the baked base and spread to the sides of the pan in an even layer. Cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Cover with foil and refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 8 hours.
  8. When the bars are ready, lift the foil from the pan using the overhangs, then slide the base onto a cutting board. Let the bars come to room temperature, about 1 hour or more, depending on the temperature in your kitchen.
  9. Slice into sixteen 2-inch squares or thirty-two 1-by-2-inch bars (they are very rich, so you may prefer the smaller size). Dust the tops with confectioners’ sugar before serving (see Cook’s Note). The bars will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days.

Cook’s Note

Vegan butter, such as Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks, can be used in place of the coconut oil if you have a coconut allergy or prefer vegan butter products. The confectioners’ sugar will start to dissolve after a few hours, so if you aren’t going to serve all the bars right away, only dust what you need.

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