These vegan lemon bars are super creamy, cashew-based, and are no-bake! They’re full of lemon flavor, are maple-sweetened and are also paleo.
The pictures and the video don’t do these bars justice. At all. They’re really so much better than they look!
This recipe is based on my paleo vegan key lime pie. The filling of that recipe really tastes just like regular key lime pie filling.
For today’s recipe, imagine key lime pie – but with lemon. There’s no maple or cashew taste. Just lemon flavor.
One difference between the lemon bars and the lime pie recipe is that I needed a little more sweetener for the lemon bars, which I find really odd. Is lemon sourer than lime?
Not too sweet
Lemon bars can sometimes be sickeningly sweet. I love lemon curd but regular lemon bars are just too much for me.
These lemon bars are definitely different! For another not-so-sweet treat, try my paleo vegan lemon cookies.
A note on the sweetener – be sure to use light maple syrup! While my bars didn’t taste anything like maple syrup, I’m guessing yours will if you use a darker grade maple syrup.
If you’re vegan, also check out my post on Is Maple Syrup Vegan? Some manufacturers use an animal product during production, that’s not required to be on the label, that you may or not be okay with.
I first made these paleo lemon bars with raw unsalted cashews. If you want to make raw lemon bars, go ahead and use raw cashews and untoasted coconut.
If you don’t care about them being raw, definitely go with roasted cashews and coconut! It adds so much flavor.
The other thing to remember is salt. Don’t be skimpy with the salt, especially in the filling.
If your filling tastes flat or boring, you’re missing salt. My cashews were super salty and I know every brand is different, so I can’t give you an exact amount of salt.
I also tested these vegan lemon bars with partly bottled lemon juice and less zest, but I don’t recommend futzing around with that. It’s just like in my paleo lemon curd – you want to use freshly squeezed juice!
If you’ve ever tried no-bake vegan or paleo crusts, you’re probably familiar with how wet or even soggy they can be.
Not this one! It’s not crisp like a baked wheat-based crust, but it’s definitely not soggy. At least it’s not as long as you don’t over-process the crust mixture in the blender.
If you prefer a whole wheat crust, use the coconut sugar cookie crust I used in my gluten-free key lime pie bars. It’d go great with this filling!
I tried to make them a pretty, bright yellow color like regular lemon bars so I added some turmeric but I could definitely taste it. I had the same problem when making vegan custard.
The turmeric taste wasn’t strong, but I didn’t want anything messing with the lemon taste. So you won’t find it listed in the recipe (and it’s not used in the pictured bars). I doubt anyone will care about the drab color once they’ve had their first bite of these delectable vegan lemon bars!
This recipe “only” yields an 8″x8″ pan, but you can cut the bars pretty small. I made 1.5x the original lime pie recipe so that the bars would be super thick.
They’d be great for Easter like these carrot cake paleo magic cookie bars. Both would make great Easter desserts!
Once they’re baked
They last for several hours at room temp. They’re best when still a bit cold, though.
These bars freeze great, too. They take about 1-2 hours to defrost at room temperature. You can also let them defrost overnight in the fridge.
Do I need a food processor?
Whether or not the filling for these bars works in a food processor, I don’t know. One of the commenters in the key lime pie recipe did it with success, but I just can’t imagine them coming out 100% creamy with no chunks of cashews. I’d love for someone to prove me wrong, though. :)
I hope you’ll enjoy them! If you make this recipe, I’d love to see pictures of your creations on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Please hashtag them #texanerin so I can find them. :)
Paleo Vegan Lemon Bars (no-bake)
- Prep Time:
- Cook Time:
- Ready in:
- Yield: 16-20 bars
- 3/4 cup (65 grams) unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 1/2 cups (218 grams) roasted cashews
- 2 tablespoons + 3/4 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 cups (218 grams) roasted cashews, soaked for 1 hour1 (there's no sub for the cashews)
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (252 grams) unrefined coconut oil, very soft or melted (do not use cold coconut oil!)
- 6 tablespoons (90 grams) coconut cream (the top, solid part from a can of full-fat coconut milk that's been refrigerated overnight)
- 3/4 cup (180 milliliters) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2/3 cup (158 milliliters) maple syrup (I recommend the lightest kind, Grade A)
- 3 tablespoons (12 grams) lemon zest
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- pinch of salt, or more to taste
For the crust:
For the filling:
- Line an 8"x8" pan with a piece of parchment paper.
- Prepare the crust. Heat a pan over medium-high heat and add the coconut. Stir frequently until nicely toasted. Do not walk away from the pan as the coconut starts to burn very quickly! Pour the coconut into a small bowl and let cool for about 5 minutes. You can skip the toasting step but I think it adds so much flavor to the crust!
- Place all the crust ingredients in a high-powered blender and process at low speed until the mixture starts to clump together. Don't process so long that it becomes pasty. When you pinch some of the mixture between your fingers, it should easily clump together. If it doesn't, add a tiny bit of water and process again until it does.
- Press onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Make sure there aren't any holes and really press down to compact it.
- Place the pan in the freezer while you prepare the filling. The fridge will also do if you don't have space in the freezer. It should be firm before putting the filling in.
- Wipe out the blender jar using a paper towel and place all the filling ingredients in there. Blend for about 30-60 seconds at high speed until totally smooth.
- Pour the filling over each crust.
- Refrigerate for about 4 hours or until firm. If you're in a hurry, place the pan in the freezer.
- Refrigerate bars in an airtight container for up to 3 days. If you freeze them for a while, they'll need about 70-80 minutes at room temperature to defrost or about 1 1/2 - 2 hours in the refrigerator. Once properly defrosted, they should be totally creamy.
- Place the cashews in a small pot, pan or mug and cover with boiling water. Let sit for 1 hour. Drain the water.
- While I'm sure the crust can be made in a food processor, I'm not sure about the filling. It definitely wouldn't be as smooth (using a high-power blender, it's totally smooth) and it may not work at all. If you try it anyway, let us know how it goes!
75 comments on “Vegan Lemon Bars (no-bake, crazy creamy, rich!)” — Add one!
2 comments are awaiting moderation!
Could Brazil nuts replace cashews? (I’m allergic to cashews.)
I’ve never used Brazil nuts, as we don’t have them around here. Do they behave like cashews in desserts? Is Brazil nut cream a thing (like cashew cream)? I just googled it, but I’m not finding the answers to my questions. Sorry that I can’t be more helpful!
A very tasty and refreshing treat!! I love the crust!
I’m so glad that you enjoyed it! Thanks for your feedback. :)
Just made this and it is amazing!
I’m so glad that you enjoyed them! Thanks for your feedback and I’m really sorry for just now seeing it.
Just found your site…..it’s wonderful……can I use coconut butter for the coconut oil?
Just made a batch of the butter and anxious to use.
Thank you so much.
I’m so sorry for my slow reply (I just got back from vacation!). I’m glad you found the site! Coconut oil isn’t really interchangeable with anything. You have to use coconut oil in these (or regular butter). Sorry about that!
Can’t wait to try this. Are these bar at all similar to the hail merry lemon tarts? They also have a cashew coconut filling. I’m obsessed with those, so I’m eager to try these!
I’m so sorry for just now seeing your question! I’ve never tried them so I really don’t know. But I swear they’re REALLY delicious. :) Hope you’ll enjoy them! I’d love to hear how they come out.
OMG this is delicious I made it for Easter!
Yay! I’m glad to hear that! Thanks for your feedback and sorry for my slow reply. :)
Lemon bars are my favorite. No PALEO lemon bars are my favorite. Can’t wait to dig in!
I hope you’ll enjoy them!
These lemon bars look amazing -so rich and creamy! I can’t wait to give them a try!
I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as we did!
I love lemon everything so am digging this recipe. What a great sweet treat!
Thanks! Hope you’ll enjoy them. :)
Lemon filling curdled. Any tips?
Was your coconut cream cold? That’s the only thing I can think of!
These were so good! A few deviations from the actual recipe:
My cashews weren’t salted or roasted
I did not use lemon zest but did use fresh lemon juice
I didn’t use vanilla extract because I didn’t have
Despite these changes, the end result was very creamy and tasty.
I’m happy that they came out well for you! And thanks for sharing your changes. :) Good to know that they work well with unsalted raw cashews. Thanks for your comment!
I hope Foil works because I didn’t have any parchment paper. Maybe I should not have used anything?? Also, hope my sister likes this vegan version….she is lactose free, so I was going for dairy free, and also a healthy version. I am bringing them to Easter Dinner, so I will let you know!!
I think foil would be fine! I hope you and your sister and everyone else will enjoy them. I think they’re delicious even for people who can eat dairy (like me) so hopefully she won’t mind that they’re vegan. :) Happy Easter!
These lemon bars look delicious! I love the creamy texture and would never have guessed it’s paleo!
Thanks! I hope you’ll get to try them out. :)
I just made this so it’s too late to ask now ;) But I didn’t have the right 8×8 dish and I also have always wanted to make a lemon pie type thing. So I put this in a pie shell. Do you think that will be good? like a cheesecake kind of? or way too intense? Thank you!
Sorry for just now seeing your comment! I think using a pie pan will work fine but since I haven’t tried it, I can’t say for sure! I don’t think it’ll be like a cheesecake but you might want to cut small pieces. I hope it worked out. :)
I’m allergic to coconut…what could I use instead of toasted coconut, coconut cream and coconut oil?
I’d have to recommend that you use a different recipe since the coconut cream and oil are a huge part of the recipe. Sorry about that!
Omg I just made these and couldn’t help but luck the insides of the vitamix! Can hardly wait till the set to try them!
Haha. Well that’s always a good sign! So happy you liked them. :) Thanks for your comment!
Would you roast your raw cashews, then soak them?
Yup! Someone mentioned using raw cashews instead of roasted and they liked it that way, so you could always just skip the roasting step.
These are sooooo good! For some reason, my Vitamix couldn’t handle the crust ingredients, so I used the food processor. Definitely will be making these again. Even my hubs who doesn’t like Paleo LOVED these! Will be trying some of your other desserts too! Thanks!
Aww, yay! Always a good thing when picky husbands approve. :) So happy that you both enjoyed the bars! Thanks a bunch for your comment.
Can cashew butter be used?
I haven’t tried it but I’m guessing it’d work if you use the same amount (by weight) for the filling. It wouldn’t work for the crust.
ERIN!!!! I have made a healthy lemon bar recipe in the past & shared them with my co-workers, who typically love everything I make. One of my co-workers has mentioned that her favorite of all the treats I’ve shared was the lemon bars but I haven’t made them again because they were gf but not Paleo & I stopped eating grains about 6 months ago. When I saw this recipe in my in-box, I was super-excited because I drew that co-worker’s name for her birthday & knew exactly what she’d like to have as a treat. Just as I suspected, she (and everyone else who tried them) absolutely LOVED them!! You – and your amazing recipes – are the BEST!! :)
Aww, yay! That’s awesome. So fun that you drew her name and got to bake these for her! I’m happy that she, you and everyone else enjoyed the bars. Your comment made my day. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave such a nice comment! :)
I used a food processor. It took a while to cream the nuts, but it worked fine. I just left it on while I went about other business in the kitchen until the texture looked good.
That’s awesome! I’m very happy that these are able to be made in a food processor. :) Thanks a bunch for your comment!
I have raw cashews on hand. How do I roast them?
Here’s some info on how to roast cashews. :)
Can you use raw cashews?
Check out the two paragraphs above and below the second picture. :)
I used raw cashews. I like it fine
Thanks for letting us know!
I don’t think the color is drab at all! I love it! Plus they came out perfectly!
My son is a huge lemon fanatic and his birthday is right around the corner but unfortunately is allergic to nuts, so I can’t make this for him. Looks and sounds delicious though. Glad to see you back.
I’m sorry for all the nut-filled recipes! I know I post a ton of those these days. I hope your son will have a lovely birthday. :) Thanks for stopping by to say hi!
Do not apologize for all of the nut filled recipes. I love them. I just have a son who is allergic to all nuts or is advised to stay away from all nuts after testing positive for almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts. I am big on anything chocolate and peanut butter and that is what I gravitate towards and unfortunately most of my homemade goodies have nuts in them because they are typically healthier than anything else. I am sometimes at a loss as to what to make for my nut allergy son that is on the healthy side of sweet treats. I still want to try your lemon fudge recipe that uses coconut butter…I do believe. He might like those!
My lemon fudge is also cashew-based. :/ But I understand how hard it is to bake healthy without nuts. Since October, I’ve only eaten fruit, vegetables, meat, honey and coconut products (I prepared tons of recipes in advance so I’d have something to post). Turns out that I’m allergic / intolerant to a ton (or even most) of what I’ve been eating my entire life, except fruit, veggies and meat. Hopefully I can come up with some nut-free goodies soon!
Can he do seeds? There are a lot of great recipes using both sunflower butter and tahini.
Hi!I made these yesterday in a food processor they came out smooth and delicious 😉 Thanks for the the recipe!
Awesome! That’s great news. :) Thanks a bunch for your feedback! I’m so happy you liked them.
I’m obsessed! I’ve been looking for a healthy lemon bar that wasn’t loaded with chemicals!
It is my son’s birthday next week and he is a lemon fanatic!! Can’t wait to try!
what is the nutritional information carbs sugar protein etc
I don’t have that info but you can copy and paste the recipe here for the nutritional profile, if you’d like. :)
The texture of these looks absolutely perfect! What a yummy treat!
I’m a total sucker for anything lemon, and these sound so good!
Perfect spring time treat! Love the lemon!
These lemon bars look so creamy and perfect for spring!
These look so pretty and loved watching your video! Takes the intimidation out of trying new things.
Yum! The addition of cashews to this is such an amazing idea!
p.s. what do you think about using agave for some/all for the maple syrup in the filling? It’s lighter and sweeter, I think, so I’m going to try it and will let you know.
I’ve only used agave a few times years ago and so I really have no idea. You can always add more sweetener once everything is mixed together, so maybe start off with 1/2 cup?
You definitely made up for it! These look so good and springy and it’s trying so hard in our part of Germany to be spring so these are on for the weekend. AND love that you can freeze them. Hope you’re feeling your old self again.
Aww, thanks! I thought I’d better come back with a recipe that everyone could enjoy. :) I’m feeling a little better but it needs to be spring already! No more of this sunshine for an hour, then rain, then 10 minutes of sunshine stuff. It plays with my emotions. ;) I’d love to hear how the lemon bars come out. I hope you’ll love them as much as we did!
These lemon bars look sooooooo delish! Can u give me the break down of the nutritional value? I understand they are paleo but I am a diabetic and can’t eat syrup but I can use stevia. Thank you
Thank you! :) I don’t have that info but you can copy and paste the recipe here for the nutritional profile, if you’d like. I unfortunately have no idea if these can be made with stevia as I’ve never used it. Sorry about that!
I think they are beautiful, even though they’re not as yellow! They look creamy and delicious. I will come over and eat your “too big” lemon bar btw. IMPOSSIBLE. oh and ps, I’m with you, absolutely no futzing around with bottled lemon juice. Just don’t. :) Thanks for the link love!!
Thanks so much, Karen! :) And come on over! We’ll have a huge-pieces-of-lemon-bars eating party. :D