Tart and sweet, these gluten-free lemon bars are like little squares of sunshine on a plate. They’re adapted from this lemon curd recipe, but I swapped a few ingredients in order to create an impossibly rich and smooth lemony custard texture.
Because I don’t know about you, but I have strong opinions about lemon bars with thin, lumpy custard layers. (Nope and nope.)
In this recipe, I’ve paired a chewy, lemon-zest infused crust with an extra-thick layer of melt-in-your-mouth creamy lemon filling. It’s sweet but not too sweet, so refreshing, and naturally gluten-free and dairy-free.
Tip for Making Lemon Bars
Lemon squares are traditionally made by baking the crust for a little while, then adding the filling and baking everything together until the custard is ready.
That’s the method I use, but there’s a trick to making it work: You must pour the lemon filling in while the crust is still warm from the oven. If the crust cools, it will float to the top while the custard bakes and your lemon bars will be upside down. (Ask me how I know.)
To avoid upside down bars, I measure all my my filling ingredients before popping the crust in the oven to bake so that I’m sure to have the filling ready as soon as it comes out. It’s worked every time.
Also, if you’re a serious lemon lover, you may also want to try these recipes:
Easy Gluten-Free Lemon Bars Recipe
- lemon zester
- small bowl
- sharp knife
- medium bowl
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- small pot
- Hot pad (or trivet)
- ⅔ cup lemon juice
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 6 eggs
- 3 egg yolks
- ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- ¾ cup honey
- 2 tbsp arrowroot powder
- 2 tbsp very hot water
- organic powdered sugar (optional)
- lemon slices for garnish (optional)
- 1 ¾ cups blanched almond flour
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 medium egg
- coconut oil (for coating hands and baking pan)
- Preheat your oven to 350°F.
- Lightly oil an 8×8 baking dish with coconut oil and then line it with parchment paper. (The oil helps hold the parchment paper in place.)
- Use a lemon zester to remove the zest from one of your lemons, then cut the lemon into quarters and squeeze the juice into a small bowl. Continue this process with as many lemons as needed to get ⅔ cups of juice.
- Crack 6 whole eggs and 3 egg yolks into a medium bowl and whisk them together.
- Measure out ¾ cup of honey and set it aside for the lemon filling. In just a minute you’re going to make the crust and pop it in the oven to bake a little before adding the filling. Once the crust is pre-baked it’s important to immediately (but gently) pour in the filling and place the bars back in the oven. If the crust cools before the filling is poured in it floats to the top, so you’ll want to be able to mix everything together quickly.
- Now that I’ve explained that, let’s make the crust! Place all your crust ingredients except the egg in a food processor and pulse until combined. Add the egg and pulse again until the dough starts to ball up. Easy peasy.
- Use a spoon to scoop the slightly sticky dough into your baking pan. Lightly oil your hands, then use your fingertips and palms to press the dough evenly into the bottom of the baking dish. Bake for 8 minutes.
- While the crust is baking, it’s time to make the filling. Add the lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of lemon zest, ¼ teaspoon vanilla and ¾ cup honey to the bowl with with the eggs. Whisk everything together until it’s well combined.
- Mix some hot (but not boiling) water with the arrowroot together until it forms a slurry, then whisk the slurry into the filling ingredients. The water should be hot but not near boiling, because that will cause the arrowroot to become gummy.
- When the crust is ready, remove it from the oven and set the pan on a hot pad or trivet.
- Pour the lemon custard filling into the pan with the pre-baked crust, then immediately return the pan to the oven and bake the lemon bars for 25-30 minutes or until set in the center. When it’s ready, it should feel slightly jiggly in the center but not liquid. Allow the lemon squares to cool for at least 2 hours before serving.
- Serve at room temperature or chilled. Personally, I prefer them at room temperature because it highlights their custardy creaminess, so I store mine in the fridge but let them sit out at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to an hour before serving.
- Although I rarely use refined sugar in my house, I do sometimes dust these with organic powdered sugar if it’s a special occasion and I want them to be extra pretty. If you plan to dust yours, just keep in mind that they have to be dusted just before serving or the powdered sugar will dissolve into the custard.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions I receive about baking lemony gluten-free desserts.
Gluten-free all purpose flour blends tend to absorb liquid differently than almond flour, so unfortunately they probably won’t work in this recipe. Although I haven’t tested it, the nut-free flour that’s most likely to work is sunflower seed flour.
Something to keep in mind is that sunflower seed flour may turn slightly green when baked. It’s perfectly edible, just kind of different looking. Fortunately, acids like lemon juice tend to help preserve its beige color, so it may not be an issue for this recipe.
I hope you think it’s just right as-is, but if you want to dial things up or down the best way is to increase or decrease the amount of lemon zest used.
More Scrumptious Gluten-Free Desserts
Chocolate Chip Blondies – These chewy chocolate chip blondies are so easy to bake even a kid can do it. And I seriously mean that, because the recipe was created by my daughter Katie. It’s published in the Chef Junior Cookbook, which she wrote with several of her friends.
Fudgy Brownies – These brownies are one of my favorite recipes from Danielle of Against All Grains book, Meals Made Simple. She was kind enough to allow me to share them with you.
Jam Thumbprint Cookies – Soft & buttery, these cookies are easy to make and so delicious! Fill them with whatever jam makes your taste buds sing – raspberry, strawberry, peach, and blackberry are a few of our favorites.
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Hi Heather, This looks like a wonderful recipe. I’m curious if you have tried and/or recommend any egg substitute for the lemon filling portion? For the crust, I will use Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacement Powder. Unfortunately, chicken and duck eggs are high allergens/sensitivity for me and I’ve yet to locate/try quail eggs. I do so love egg tarts (dim sum), etc. and researching if there are viable alternatives. I also have reactivated Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) so this is a secondary concern as some believe eggs encourage viral activity. I’m already gluten and dairy free and now following the rest of my food sensitivity testing, but man, it’s tough! So miss scrambled eggs!
Although there are some recipes where eggs can be substituted, I’ve found that they tend to be ones where only 1-2 are being used to bind other ingredients together. In this recipe the eggs are providing structure and creaminess to the custard, and I don’t know of a way to substitute them.
Okay, I so just made these last night for a potluck today and left them overnight in the fridge. I made them as written and heeded the warning & poured the custard layer on the moment the crust came out of the oven and it still halfway flipped the crust to the top. I think my oven just bakes too quickly because mine tasted overdone and eggy rather than lemony on the edge pieces at 25 minute bake time. I let mine sit out to warm to room temp before sampling today thinking the edge pieces would be more creamy at room temp but nope, I think mine are just plain overdone. I tried a little bit from the middle and it is silken and delicious and I can tell the difference between the crust and the custard so I think this is how the whole is meant to be! Yours look absolutely amazing so I am sure my oven is just a pickle and my caution would be to watch for that jiggle in the middle & not rely on bake times because ovens differ 🙂 Now I’m going to see if you have a health-hacked flan recipe because that’s what this made me crave.
B. E. Cross
Could I substitute Grapefruit juice in place of lemon? Have an abundance of grapefruit. Tnks.
I have not tested this recipe with grapefruit so I’m not sure. If you tryout please let me know how it turns out. 🙂
Hey! Can you substitute tapioca flour for the arrowroot in this recipe ? Thank you !
These lemon bars are delicious! Could they be frozen for a make-ahead dessert?
I’m so glad you like them! When I was refining the recipe I made several batches at once and froze some simply because we couldn’t eat them all. I don’t know what the texture is like fully thawed, but my kids love grabbing one out of the freezer and letting it just partially thaw before eating it. They say it’s kind of like a frozen lemonade bar. 🙂
I made these according to the recipe for a birthday gift. The moment I poured in the filling, the crust floated & my heart sank thinking of all, those eggs & precious honey i waisted.
did you prebake the crust?
Marc in Atlanta
I’m in the process of making these and find that the ingredient measurements on the blog are different than the measurements given in the printed instructions. I was about confused until I realized this difference. I presume the blog measurements are accurate. Fingers-crossed the bars come out as good as they sound.