Classic lemon bars are typically made with a butter, egg, lemon, and sugar filling on a wheat crust. But these vegan lemon bars blaze their own trail. They’re free of all dairy, eggs, and gluten, but still tender and zesty with bold citrus flavor.
Vegan Lemon Bars with No Dairy, Eggs, Gluten, Nuts, or Soy!
This recipe was originally shared with us by Enjoy Life Foods more than a decade ago. Today, we’re giving it a big update, and I have added this quick FAQ for the most unique ingredient in these vegan lemon bars, agar.
- What is Agar Agar Powder? Agar agar is a gelatinous substance derived from red algae. It’s been used in Asia for centuries and has become quite popular in the vegan community as a gelatin substitute.
- Are there any Substitutes for Agar Agar? You can use gelatin in place of it. The bars would still be allergy-friendly, but they would no longer be vegan. Some vegan websites also state you can simply substitute starch in equal amounts for the powder. So in this case, you would use 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon starch.
- Can I use Agar Flakes? In theory, ou can substitute 1 tablespoon agar flakes for the 1 teaspoon agar powder. This hasn’t been tested with this recipe.
Special Diet Notes: Lively Vegan Lemon Bars
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, plant-based, and vegetarian. Just be sure to choose the dairy-free milk beverage that suits your dietary needs.
- 1⅓ cups water
- 1 teaspoon agar agar powder (see Agar Note below)
- ⅔ cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 large lemons)
- 3 tablespoon non-GMO cornstarch (if using arrowroot starch or tapioca starch, color and clarity will change)
- 2 (6-ounce) boxes Trader Joe's or Enjoy Life Soft-Baked Snickerdoodle Cookies
- 1¼ cups sugar
- ¼ cup plain dairy-free milk beverage
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (from two large lemons)
- Powdered sugar, for garnish
- Line an 8×8-inch baking dish with parchment paper.
- Pour the water in a medium saucepan, add the agar agar powder, and let it soak for 15 minutes.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and starch until the starch is dissolved.
- When the agar is done soaking, place the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring the agar mixture to a boil, whisking gently (do not incorporate any air) to prevent it from settling at the bottom of the pot. Boil for about 10 minutes, or until the agar is completely dissolved.
- While the agar cooks, press the cookies into your lined baking dish to evenly and completely cover the bottom.
- Add the sugar to the agar mixture in your pot and boil until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Lower the heat to medium. Whisk the lemon-starch mixture again, and then whisk it into the agar mixture. Add the milk beverage and lemon zest, and whisk constantly but gently, until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. It must come to a boil to thicken.
- Pour the mixture into your prepared crust. Let it cool for 20 to 30 minutes, and then refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or until the filling is set.
- Slice the lemon bars into squares. Use a sifter or a fine mesh strainer to sprinkle the bars with powdered sugar just before serving. (The bars will absorb the powdered sugar if left to sit).
- Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.