by Olena

Healthy Lemon Bars

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Olena Osipov
5 from 3 votes

These Healthy Lemon Bars have a moist, fluffy almond flour crust with a zesty, refined sugar-free lemon bar filling! Best of all, these gluten free lemon bars take under 10 minutes of hands-on prep and can be frozen for up to three months! Perfect for special occasions, potlucks, BBQs, and picnics!

These almond flour lemon bars are also the perfect addition to your healthy gluten-free bakes rotation, along with these healthy snickerdoodles, protein cookies, and almond flour banana muffins!

stack of healthy lemon bars

Zesty, Gluten-Free, Healthy Lemon Bars

If you even slightly like lemon in your desserts, like these lemon zest gluten free muffins, lemon zucchini muffins and lemon zucchini bread, then you will go crazy for these healthy lemon bars. Not only are they packed with sharp, zesty lemon flavor and a creamy, custardy lemon filling, but they also have a moist, flavor-packed almond flour crust.

Unlike traditional lemon bars filled with more butter, refined sugars, and white flour (with a shortcrust base), this healthy lemon bar recipe uses unrefined maple syrup, almond flour, and lower quantities of sugar and butter! Better yet, even with those ingredient swaps, they still taste creamy, sweet, and like most decadent lemon dessert!

healthy lemon bars dusted with icing sugar on a counter

Best of all, you can’t even tell that these are gluten free lemon bars! Is it too cheesy of me to say sweet lemony dreams are made of these?! Especially during the warmer Summer months, when I love to wake up to a glass of lemon water, too!

In fact, these almond flour lemon bars make for a wonderful addition to any potluck, game day, BBQ, Easter party, or other special occasions alongside appetizers like this healthy 7 layer dip, black bean nachos, and turkey sliders!

I just enjoyed them with my family as part of an easter platter. We even had some cheeky almond flour carrot cake, too!

Ingredients and Substitutions

For the Crust

  • Almond Flour: Almond flour is the perfect choice for these gluten-free lemon bars; it’s fluffy, moist, and gets the job done well every time! I tend to use superfine blanched almond flour for most of my almond flour recipes (like this almond flour chocolate cake and almond flour brownies), but you may also be able to use almond meal.
  • Cornstarch: This will help absorb extra moisture in the dough and keep it from becoming ‘soggy.’ Arrowroot would also work.
  • Butter: This will help to bind everything together – plus, who doesn’t love a bit of butter?! You could potentially use coconut oil instead for dairy free lemon bars, but I believe the butter will produce a softer, less crumbly crust. You should also try my lemon butter chicken – one of our most popular healthy lemon recipes!!!
  • Maple Syrup: Maple syrup is the only sweetener I use for this entire healthy lemon bars recipe to keep it refined sugar-free. However, feel free to swap it out with another sticky syrup like agave or honey (will have a stronger flavor).
  • Vanilla extract: I use natural, pure vanilla extract for the best results.
eggs, lemons, maple syrup, vanilla extract, butter, almond flour, cornstarch

For the Lemon Filling

  • Eggs: You need four large eggs. I prefer using organic free-range eggs but any will work, of course.
  • Lemon: You’ll need lemon juice and zest. For these healthy lemon bars, I love to use fresh, juicy Meyer lemons, not bottled juice, for the best results! Regular lemons work as well.
  • Maple Syrup: This unrefined sugar is perfect for sweetening the lemon bars without adding tons and tons of sugars. Feel free to swap it with the liquid sweetener of your choice (including a sugar-free alternative, if preferred). However, note that it will impact the flavor.
  • Cornstarch: This will help to thicken the lemon filling into the right consistency.

I also use cooking spray (Misto).

How to Make Healthy Lemon Bars

  • Prep the baking tray: Preheat the oven to 350F/175C, then line an 8×8-inch baking dish with parchment paper (leaving a slight overhang) and spray with cooking spray. Then set aside.
  • Prepare the gluten-free lemon bar crust: In a medium bowl, combine the almond flour, 1 tbsp cornstarch, melted butter, maple syrup, and vanilla and stir well. Once thoroughly mixed, transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and flatten/spread it with your hands/a spatula. Then bake for 15 minutes.
  • Mix the lemon filling: Meanwhile, as the crust cooks, combine eggs, the lemon juice and zest, maple syrup, and cornstarch in a large bowl and whisk well until there are no lumps (from the cornstarch).
  • Add the filling over the crust: Carefully pour the filling in one corner of the pan (abrupt pouring will lift the crust). Then place it back in the oven and bake for a further 15-20 minutes, or until the lemon bar filling is firm with a slight jiggle in the middle.
  • Chill and slice: Remove the lemon bars from the oven and allow them to cool for 30 minutes at room temperature and then about an hour in the refrigerator until firm. Then cut the square into 9 equal pieces, optionally dust with icing sugar, and serve!

Alternatively, you could make little lemon bars (12 or 18 pieces depending on how big you want them) or bite-sized healthy lemon squares (chop each square into four smaller pieces for 36 pieces or make 16 larger squares).

How to Make Ahead and Store

Make ahead: These lemon bars taste best when chilled. And this is the best healthy lemon bar recipe ever because it has to be chilled only for 1 hour. You can also make them the day before, store in the fridge and slice before serving. If you want to dust them with powdered sugar, then only do so right before serving; otherwise, the sugar will melt into the bars.

Store: You can store these healthy lemon bars in a cool, dry place for 1-2 days or the fridge for up to 5 days.

Freeze: Place the gluten-free lemon bars on a baking tray, not touching, and freeze until solid. Then transfer them to a freezer-safe bag for up to three months. Whenever you have a craving, just pop one onto the counter (or within the fridge) to thaw for a while and enjoy semi-frozen or thawed completely.

gluten free lemon bars stack garnished with lemon slice

FAQs

Can I make these lemon bars nut-free?


I designed these gluten-free lemon bars to use almond flour, so I haven’t tested a recipe with other gluten-free flour blends. However, you could try the recipe by swapping out the almond flour for sunflower seed flour/meal.

Cashew flour would also work if you just needed a substitute for the almonds but aren’t bothered about being nut-free.

Why does my lemon bar filling look curdled?


This can happen when you over-bake the lemon bars. When overcooked, the lemon custard can curdle, so be careful not to whack up the heat higher than suggested or overcook them. While curdled lemon bars will probably taste OK, they don’t look great.

Overbaking these healthy lemon bars can also cause the tops to crack a bit! All ovens vary and I tested this recipe in 2 ovens and baking time varied from 15 to 20 minutes.

Can I use another citrus for this recipe?


You sure can. It’s super simple to swap out the citrus in this healthy lemon bars recipe to make healthy lime bars, orange bars – or even blood orange bars. Use whatever is in season or in your kitchen at the time!

Can I substitute the eggs?


Unfortunately, no – or at least not without many more recipe tweaks that I have yet to try. If you use an egg substitute, you’ll end up with a completely different texture and flavor.

More Recipe Tips

  • Use the ‘spoon and level’ flour measuring technique: Spoon the flour into your measuring cup, then use the back of a knife to level it off. If you scoop the flour straight into the cup, then you’ll end up with too much and have a dense crust for this healthy lemon bars recipe.
  • Zest the lemons first: This may seem obvious to seasoned bakers, but for any kitchen novice, zest the lemon before squeezing the juice from them. It’ll be much easier!
  • Don’t whisk too much air into the filling: Otherwise, it may cause it to puff up in the oven and then collapse.
  • Cutting the squares: If you have difficulty cutting through these healthy lemon bars, it’s a good idea to wipe the knife down between each cut. That way, it’ll be easier and less messy!
  • Air bubbles in the lemon bars: If you have little air bubbles at the top of your baked lemon bars, don’t panic – this is normal and is just air releasing and rising from the eggs.
  • Adjust the lemon/sugar: Made a batch and wish they were more sharp or sweet? No problem, just adjust the amount of lemon juice or maple syrup next time!

More Healthy Dessert Bars

If you enjoyed this healthy lemon bars recipe, you may also enjoy recipes like this no bake strawberry cheesecake, peanut butter pie, or Nutella pie! Check out my complete collection of healthy desserts, too!

Healthy Lemon Bars

Healthy Lemon Bars {Gluten Free Recipe}

These Healthy Lemon Bars have a moist, fluffy almond flour crust with a zesty, refined sugar-free lemon bar filling! Best of all, these gluten free lemon bars take under 10 minutes of hands-on prep and can be frozen for up to three months!
5 from 3 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Chilling Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 55 minutes
Servings: 9 bars
Calories: 294kcal
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

For the Crust:

  • 1 3/4 cups almond flour
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup butter melted
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For Lemon Filling:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 lemon, zest of
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice 3 large lemons (I used Meyer lemons)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • Cooking spray I use Misto

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line square 8 x 8 baking dish with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, add almond flour, 1 tbsp cornstarch, melted butter, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Stir with spatula until well mixed, transfer to prepared baking dish and flatten with hands and spatula into an even layer. Bake for 15 minutes.
    Healthy Lemon Bars
  • In the meanwhile, in a large bowl, add eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice, maple syrup and cornstarch. Whisk very well until no white strands.
    Healthy Lemon Bars
  • Remove crust from the oven and very carefully pour filling on a side on top (abrupt pouring will lift the crust). Place back in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until firm but still a bit jiggly in the middle.
    Healthy Lemon Bars
  • Remove from the oven and let cool on the counter for 30 minutes. Then transfer to the fridge to firm up for another hour.
    Healthy Lemon Bars
  • Cut into 9 squares, dust with icing sugar (if you wish) and serve chilled.
    Healthy Lemon Bars

Store: In a cool dry place for a few days or freeze for up to 3 months.

    Freeze: I like to freeze lemon bars on a baking tray (not touching) until solid and then transfer them to a freezer safe bag for up to 3 months. Whenever you want one, just pop it out onto the counter or within the fridge to thaw.

      Notes

      • Honey: You can use honey but lemon bars will have more overpowering taste of honey. It is personal preference.
      • Bottled lemon juice: I recommend to use freshly squeezed lemon juice for best taste.
      • Cornstarch: It thickens the filling and absorbs the moisture in the dough. You can substitute with arrowroot powder.
      • Coconut oil: I believe you can use instead of butter, I have not tested though. Butter makes crust more soft and less crumbly.

      Nutrition

      Serving: 1bar | Calories: 294kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 86mg | Sodium: 76mg | Potassium: 110mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 264IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 92mg | Iron: 1mg
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      olena osipov in the studio

      Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

      My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys, a wife to Alex and we reside on magical Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. This is our healthy family recipes blog. Originally from Ukraine, I grew up on real food. As an adult, I struggled with diets for years because none worked long-term. Now for over 10 years, I cook easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

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