These lemon cheesecake bars are creamy, zesty, and can be made sugar-free! Combining a gluten-free oat-based crust and melt-in-the-mouth dairy-free cheesecake filling, these vegan lemon bars taste decadent but are surprisingly healthy! Perfect for sharing at potlucks, BBQs, parties, Mother’s Day, and more!
Decadent, Creamy, Vegan Lemon Cheesecake Bars
If I were to tell you these lemon cheesecake bars are gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and can even be made sugar-free, would you believe me that they are still incredibly rich, and creamy?! Because they are! I love tart treats like a lemon sheet cake and lemon coconut balls. I’ve even shared a firmer lemon cheesecake tart before. This time, though, I’m sharing these fluffy, light egg-free lemon bars.
These gluten-free cheesecake bars are truly mouthwatering, with a delicious combination of sweet and tart flavor, creamy filling, and slightly crunchy, chewy crust. The dessert is super easy to prepare and requires just 10 ingredients.
The simple crust comprises just 6 wholesome ingredients and no refined sugars – using dates to help sweeten and bind it together. The result is far healthier than the regular shortcrust base used for lemon bars and is a version I use often. For example, with this chocolate strawberry cheesecake, eggless cheesecake, mango tart, and vegan chocolate pie!
Meanwhile, the lemon cheesecake filling is 100% dairy-free, relying on silken tofu to create the creamy, melt-in-the-mouth texture (something I’ve also taken advantage of with these indulgent cheesecake brownies). Eating a soy-free diet? No problem! There are soy-free options in the recipe notes too!
Best of all, this healthy cheesecake recipe requires just one food processor or blender and a baking pan – that’s it! In no time at all, you’ll be enjoying mouthwatering vegan lemon bars!
The Ingredients and Substitutions
The Gluten-Free Crust
- Oats: I used rolled oats, use gluten-free certified, if necessary, for gluten-free cheesecake bars. For a grain-free version, use buckwheat groats.
- Shredded coconut: Unsweetened shredded coconut is best. Alternatively, use 65g nuts of your choice, walnuts, almonds, pistachio, etc. For a nut-free version, you could use sunflower seeds.
- Dates: Use soft pitted dates. I recommend Medjool dates which taste great and are usually soft. If using smaller, harder/dryer dates, they may need to be soaked in hot water to soften.
- Vanilla extract: Helps to add ‘cookie’ flavoring naturally to the vegan squares.
- Milk: Use any plant-based milk. I use coconut milk for these vegan lemon bars.
- Salt: Just a pinch to enhance and balance the flavors.
The Healthy Cheesecake Filling
- Silken tofu: One package of firm silken tofu helps to create the perfect creamy vegan cheesecake filling. Check the recipe notes for soy-free alternatives.
- Lemon: You’ll need the juice and zest, so make sure to use fresh lemon. Wash it before zesting and preferably use organic lemons.
- Sugar: I actually made sugar-free lemon cheesecake bars by using Xylitol in place of sugar. However, you can use regular sugar too. You’ll need granulated sugar for the filling and powdered to dust over the bars before serving.
- Coconut oil: This will help to add richness and texture to the vegan lemon cheesecake filling.
- Cornstarch: This is needed to thicken the lemon vegan cheesecake filling. You could also use arrowroot starch.
- Turmeric (optional): For extra yellow color in the vegan lemon bars.
For the full ingredients list, measurements, complete recipe method, and nutritional information, please read the recipe card below.
How to Make Vegan Lemon Cheesecake Bars
I recommend using a kitchen scale to measure the ingredient in grams for the best and most accurate results.
Step 1: Prepare the gluten-free crust
- First, process the oats, coconut, and a pinch of salt in a blender or food processor. Then add the dates, vanilla extract, and plant-based milk. Process until you have a crumbly mixture that holds together when pressed between your fingers.
If it isn’t sticky enough, add one more date – optionally soak it beforehand to soften it.
- Then, line a 7×7 or 8×8-inch pan with parchment paper (with a slight overhang) and press the crust into the pan, using the back of a spoon to level it.
Step 2: Prepare the lemon vegan cheesecake filling
- Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.
- To prepare the filling, combine all the filling ingredients in your blender/food processor and process until smooth and creamy.
- Pour the lemon filling over the crust and tap the pan against your kitchen counter to release any air bubbles.
Step 3: Bake the lemon cheesecake bars
- Bake the vegan lemon bars in the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the edges begin to look slightly dry. Then remove it from the oven and allow it to cool before transferring to the fridge for a further two hours (minimum).
The vegan cheesecake will still be wobbly when you first remove it from the oven. Allowing it to chill before slicing it into bars is critical, so try not to be impatient.
- Use the overhang of parchment paper to help pull the lemon cheesecake out of the pan and then slice into bars, dust with a little powdered sugar, and enjoy!
You can cut the cheesecake into 6 large bars as I have. Alternatively, cut the vegan lemon bars into slightly smaller 8 bars (cut the bars through the center horizontally and vertically, then slice each quarter in half.). You could even make them into bite-sized pieces by cutting those pieces in half for 16 pieces (perfect for a dessert party tray!). Make sure to wipe the knife between cuts for the cleanest slices.
How to Make-Ahead and Store?
Make-ahead: These lemon cheesecake squares slice better when well chilled, so I recommend making them a day in advance, then slice and powder with sugar right before serving.
To Store: Store leftover bars in the refrigerator, covered, for up to a week.
To freeze: Lay the vegan squares on a baking tray (with space between), freeze until solid, then transfer to a freezer-safe container/bag and store for up to 1 month. Allow the bar to thaw in the refrigerator.
- For a soy-free version: You can either use one cup of dairy-free thick yogurt or one cup of the thick coconut cream in a can of coconut milk (leave it to chill in the fridge overnight, then open, drain the liquid, and use the thick cream). However, as these options aren’t as thick as the silken tofu, I recommend adding one cup of soaked cashews (soaked in boiling water for one hour or overnight in room temp water). Otherwise, the bars won’t set properly. You could also use 350g (12.3oz) vegan curd (quark) or cream cheese without any cashews.
- Adjust the flavors: You can try the egg-free lemon bars filling raw. Give it a taste and adjust (more sugar, more lemon juice) if needed.
- Swap the citrus: As delicious as these lemon cheesecake bars are, did you know you can use the same recipe with lime, orange, or even grapefruit too?!
- When making ahead: Dust them with powdered sugar just before serving. Otherwise, it just melts into the cheesecake layer.
- Don’t overdo the turmeric: Keep in mind that the color will become more pronounced as it cooks.
More Creamy Vegan Desserts
- Blueberry cream pie
- Strawberry coconut cheesecake
- Vegan cheesecake tartlets
- Fruity cheesecake
- Raw vegan blueberry cheesecake
- Strawberry Mousse
- Vegan chocolate pudding
- Banana pudding
If you try this gluten-free lemon cheesecake bars recipe, I’d love a comment and ★★★★★ recipe rating below. Also, please don’t forget to tag me in re-creations on Instagram or Facebook with @elavegan #elavegan – I love seeing them
Lemon Cheesecake Bars
- 1 cup (90 g) oats gluten-free if needed (see notes)
- 1 scant cup (65 g) shredded unsweetened coconut (see notes)
- 1 Pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup soft pitted (100 g) dates
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp (40 ml) plant-based milk (I used coconut milk)
- 1 (12.3 oz) package (350 g) firm silken tofu liquid drained (see notes for soy-free alternatives)
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh lemon juice
- Zest from one lemon
- 1/2 cup (90 g) Xylitol or sugar
- 3 tbsp (42 g) coconut oil
- 2 tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot starch
- 2 tbsp powdered Xylitol or icing sugar (for dusting)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 Pinch of turmeric for color (optional)
- I recommend measuring the ingredients in grams on a kitchen scale.
- To make the crust, process the shredded unsweetened coconut, oats, and pinch of salt in a blender or food processor.
- Add the dates, vanilla extract, and plant-based milk and blend again until you have a crumbly mixture which holds together when you press it between your fingers.
- Press the crust into a 7x7″ or 8×8″ baking pan lined with parchment paper.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
- To make the filling, blend all the "filling ingredients" in a blender or food processor until very smooth and creamy.
- Pour the cream on top of the crust.
- Bake in the oven for about 35-40 minutes (or until the edges appear slightly dry) and let cool. The center will still be wobbly, but that's fine. It's best to put the baking pan into the fridge for a couple of hours to set. The cream will firm up once it cools. Cut into bars and dust with powdered sugar. Enjoy! Store leftovers in the fridge.
- For a grain-free option use buckwheat groats instead of oats.
- Coconut: You can use 65 grams nuts of choice instead of shredded unsweetened coconut.
- For a soy-free version, use 1 cup of the thick cream of a can of coconut milk (put the unopened can in the fridge overnight, don't shake it, and use only the thick cream, not the water).
- Another possibility would be to use 1 cup of soy-free yogurt (e.g. coconut yogurt).
- Because silken tofu is thicker than yogurt and coconut cream though, I would suggest also adding 1 cup of soaked cashews (soak in hot water for an hour, then discard the water) otherwise the lemon bars will be too soft.
- You could also use 12.3 oz (350 grams) of vegan curd (quark) or vegan cream cheese instead of silken tofu and leave out the 1 cup of soaked cashews!
Nutrition information is an estimate and has been calculated automatically
IF YOU ARE USING PINTEREST, FEEL FREE TO PIN THE FOLLOWING PHOTO:
Made the recipe on the weekend, and it turned out amazing! The bars are super silky, soft, and delicious. My hubby loved them too.
I was not able to make these. I followed the recipe and the filling never hardened; it’s like a lemon pudding pie rather than bars. It’s also not sweet enough. My family felt the lemon was overpowering and a bit bitter. Not sure what happened, but my family didn’t like them.
Hi Lisa, sorry to hear your family didn’t like them. If they didn’t firm up properly, you could increase the baking time or add a little more cornstarch next time. Also, add more sugar to taste, as every taste differs.
Hope this helps. 🙂
I had such a success with your mango pie so I had confidence in this one. The only thing I changed was vegan butter instead of coconut oil and brown sugar instead of xylitol. I baked for 35 minutes but it was still too soft. I baked again at 355 degrees for 15 minutes and texture was better. Next time I will add agar agar powder to make it solidify because the cornstarch didn’t cut it. Still very yummy though! Thanks for the recipe!
Hi Michelle, every oven is different, and it also depends on the size of the pan. If it was small, then it will take longer. I am happy you loved the taste! 🙂
This and your mango pie crusts are sooooo good! And so healthy! I’m pretty sure I’ll be making you a trusted blogger pretty soon. You do great work! ????
Thank you, Michelle! I am so glad you like them. 🙂
Can you line the pan with a coating of coconut oil instead of parchment paper?
Hi Mike, I think that should work. 🙂
I make dessert every week for a Vegan Lunch Meet-up I host in Roseville, CA. Today I brought these lemon bars.
Everyone said this is the BEST dessert ever – and I’ve been bringing weekly desserts since November.
I used soft coconut butter instead of coconut oil and I didn’t bake them – delicious!
That’s amazing, Twyla! I am so glad you like them. I assume you left out the cornstarch since you didn’t bake them?
Thanks for your feedback. 🙂