These Gluten-free Lemon Bars are a lighter version of the oh so popular dessert. They're lower carb with an egg-free option so you can indulge without the guilt!
Since I am a super busy mom like many of you, I don't have time to do much baking--but I do love to treat my family to healthier versions of baked goods when I can. These Eggnog Cookies, Pumpkin Snickerdoodles, and Vegan Macaroons are some of our favorites.
Lemon Bars are another treat that I loved when I was younger, so I was thrilled to be able to develop a healthier version for us to enjoy.
I pulled this recipe together in the summertime, which isn't the best time to bake, of course, but two weeks ago, the temperature "dipped" down into the 70's and so I grabbed the opportunity to do some quick baking. I made my simple Oat Bran Muffins and also tried out a new recipe.
And boy did we get a winner! Luscious Lemony Goodness!
Gluten-Free Paleo Lemon Bars
The inspiration for these bars are the Lemon Coconut Bars from Amy Green. I showed the recipe to my son and well, both of us were inspired to give them a whirl! In fact, he jumped up and down with the sweetest smile on his face, so I just had to bake them.
The only problem was, my oldest has a life-threatening allergy to eggs, so I just had to create two versions and then bake several batches with eggs and several batches of Vegan Lemon Bars so that my oldest wouldn't be left without a special treat :-).
Well, even with all of those batches, these taste soooo good, that both batches were gone in a flash.
Vegan Lemon Bars
The Vegan Lemon Bars don't look nearly as pretty and the filling pretty much soaked into the crust, but they were still quite tasty and my egg-allergic son loved them.
Recipe Notes & Tips
- Flour Options: I try not to be a gluten-free flour purist--meaning that I don't typically spend much time trying to get the "perfect" gluten-free flour blend. I do, however, like using sweet brown rice since it adds a bit of "hold togetherness". Too much buckwheat doesn't taste great, though, so be careful if you choose to bake with it.
See my Gluten-Free Baking Tips for more on that. Use organic almond flour for grain free or paleo, Any nut or seed flour would work.
- Soaking and dehydrate the sunflower seeds first makes them lighter and adds a boost of nutrition.
- Arrowroot Alternatives: Tapioca starch or cornstarch for the arrowroot. Rice flour will work in a pinch. For low-carb or THM, omit completely.
- I grate my lemon zest with this super microplane grater.
- Here's my Easiest Coconut Milk which is a great homemade option for coconut milk.
- Instead of topping the lemon bars with coconut, you could just dust them with some powdered sweetener. Read here how to Make Your Own Powdered Sweetener / Sugar Substitute.
- Here is a great brand of stevia scoops. Read this post on how to use stevia. If you wish, you could sub about 1/4 - 1/2 cup of a different sweetener to taste.
- You can substitute any healthy sweetener for the honey, but if using granulated, add 2 Tbsp water (see How to Substitute Sweeteners).
- Here's how to make Homemade Liquid Stevia. You can also use about 1/4 cup of another healthy sweetener of choice and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract instead of vanilla liquid stevia.
Special Diet Options
- Keto / Low-carb / THM:S: Use almond flour (reduce the fat in the crust by 1/2). Use a low carb sweetener like xylitol works well for low carb, organic erythritol does as well and we love this low carb sweetener. Get 20% off using code wholenewmom.
- AIP: Use organic tiger nut flour instead of regular GF flour and the seeds as well. I haven't tried this but I think it would work out fine with a little tweaking. Use AIP sweeteners like honey, coconut sugar, or maple syrup.
- Grain-free / Paleo: Use almond flour as instructed above.
- Egg Alternatives: Use Powdered Egg Replacer for an egg free, or use a gelatin egg for an egg-free version that is low carb. If you use a gelatin egg, you might end up needing to blend the filling in a high-powered blender to get it to be pourable.
Other Healthier Desserts
Here are some other healthified desserts you might enjoy!
- "Almond Joy" Bars - Seriously delicious--we make these all the time!
- Homemade Chocolate / Carob Chips--ditto on the above. Make them all the time!
- Almond Butter Cups - like Reese's but healthier!
- Chocolate Chunk Coconut Macadamia Cookies
Luscious Lemon Bars (gluten free with low carb, paleo, AIP, and vegan options)
- 4 eggs (or egg substitute--see Recipe Notes)
- 1/2 cup honey (use see Recipe Notes for alternatives)
- 1/4 tsp vanilla liquid stevia
- 1 Tbsp arrowroot powder (see Recipe Notes for alternatives)
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup coconut milk (or other dairy-free substitute. Regular milk can also be used)
- 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (or more as desired--optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan (I use coconut oil to do this.) You can also use 2 8x8's with not much difference in the end result.
- Place the flour, sunflower seeds, and gelatin in the bowl of a food processor and process until the seeds are finely chopped.
- Add the coconut oil and sweetener and pulse until the mixture is crumbly meal, similar to a pie crust. Be careful not to over-process.
- Press the mixture into the prepared baking pan(s).
- Bake for 8 – 10 minutes, until crust is lightly browned.
- While the crust is baking, start preparing the filling.
- Put the eggs (or egg substitute) in the food processor and pulse until the yolks are broken. Add sweeteners, arrowroot (or cornstarch) lemon zest and juice, and milk. Pulse several times until combined.
- When the crust is finished, pour the lemon mixture over the crust (no need to wait for it to cool).
- Sprinkle shredded coconut or sweetener evenly over the top of the bars.
- Bake 15–20 minutes, until the filling is set. Cool completely. Cut and serve. Store in the refrigerator (especially the ones with eggs in them :-))
I'd love to hear what you think about these bars once you try them!
Hope you enjoy these as much as we do!