Quantcast

Gluten Free Lemon Bars

Gluten Free Lemon Bars

A simple lemony shortbread crust with a tart, refreshing lemon custard, these gluten free lemon bars are so easy to make. Perfect for any occasion, from potlucks to bake sales. 

A simple lemony shortbread crust with a tart, refreshing lemon custard, these gluten free lemon bars are so easy to make.

Smooth, creamy and tart classic gluten free lemon bars seem to be beloved by nearly everyone. If you don’t love them, or anything lemon flavored, then this recipe is not going to be for you. 

But if you’re a lemon lover (and if you are, then you have to try our lemon pound cake and our lemon meltaway cookies), you are going to love these bars. The crust is the perfect blend of chewy and crunchy, and the custard is lemony cool and fresh. 

A simple lemony shortbread crust with a tart, refreshing lemon custard, these gluten free lemon bars are so easy to make.

Promise you’ll use freshly squeezed lemon juice

Conventional lemons are available year-round, but we do tend to get the best ones in the dead of winter. A little sunshine for an overall dreary season, I guess! 🌤Meyer Lemons, which are thought to be a cross between oranges and lemons, aren’t available year-round. They seem to be most plentiful in the middle winter through the very early spring (why do I always want to capitalize ‘spring’ but leave winter as is?)

All this is to say … there is really just no excuse for using bottled lemon juice. I’ll never be able to grow my own lemons, but I’ll bake with them forever and ever because lemon-flavored things are almost as universally loved as chocolate-flavored things. 

I vow never to use bottled lemon juice in baking (or otherwise for that matter). Baking and cooking mean applying heat, and heat intensifies flavors. If the flavor isn’t great at the start, just wait until you bake with it.

A simple lemony shortbread crust with a tart, refreshing lemon custard, these gluten free lemon bars are so easy to make.

Anyway, you’ll need at least one fresh lemon for the lemon zest so your crust, and not just your filling is pucker-worthy. These lemon bars are no joke. You’ll never confuse them with any other flavor. I believe the term is ROBUST. đź’Ş

If you’ve ever had lemon curd, which is similar to a lemon pudding or custard, this filling will taste similar. Unlike lemon curd, though, the filling in these bars is baked, not cooked. It will be firm enough to bite into once it’s set in the refrigerator. 

A simple lemony shortbread crust with a tart, refreshing lemon custard, these gluten free lemon bars are so easy to make.

How to make these gluten free lemon bars

To make these bars, you will have to place the pan in the oven twice. I promise it’s not a big deal, though.

The crust is a relatively sticky dough that’s made with gluten free flour, confectioners’ sugar (to keep it light), lemon zest, salt, and melted butter. Just press it into the pan with an offset spatula (or even just a spoon) and bake it just until it’s set. 

There’s no leavening in the crust, so it won’t rise very much at all. Baking it alone prevents it from getting soggy when you add the filling. 

As the crust is cooling, make the filling by whisking eggs, granulated sugar, baking powder and lemon juice. Pour the filling right on top of the blind-baked crust and pop it back in the oven to bake until the filling barely jiggles when it’s shaken from side to side.

As the filling is baking, if you peek in the oven (not advisable, but if you can’t help it) before the last 7 or 8 minutes, you’ll think that the bars will never actually set. It will seem almost like a liquid for most of the baking time. As long as you haven’t changed the recipe and your oven is at the proper temperature, it will set.

A simple lemony shortbread crust with a tart, refreshing lemon custard, these gluten free lemon bars are so easy to make.

Ingredients and substitutions

There are dairy, eggs, and two types of sugar in these decadent lemon bars. I don’t regret any one of those ingredients, but if you can’t have one of them, here’s what I’m thinking:

Dairy-free: The only source of dairy in these bars is the butter in the crust. That’s good news if you’re dairy-free. The crust should still turn out if you replace the butter with half Earth Balance buttery sticks and half Spectrum brand nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening. You can also use Melt Vegan Butter or Miyoko’s Kitchen Vegan Butter in place of the butter entirely. Watch the salt, though, since butter replacements tend to be quite salty (unlike shortening, which contains no salt).

Egg-free: There are 4 eggs in this recipe. I’m afraid I don’t believe that you can replace all 4 of them with an egg substitute and achieve anything like the texture of these smooth, creamy custardy bars. So sorry!

Sugar: The confectioners’ sugar should be able to be replaced with Swerve brand powdered sugar replacement. That tends to work quite well. You can try replacing the granulated sugar with Swerve brand granulated sugar substitute or Lankato monkfruit granulated sweetener. Sugar replacements tend to be drying, though, so you may have to add some moisture to the filling. Try another tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Lemons: Since you’ve already promised to use freshly squeezed citrus in this recipe, we don’t have to revisit that point. If you’d prefer a lime-flavored bar, try my key lime pie bars. They’re similar in texture, and simply amazing. 

Gluten free flour blends: I do specify my gum-free gluten free flour blend for this recipe, which is made with a mix of mostly superfine white rice flour, with potato starch and tapioca flour/starch. There is no xanthan gum in this recipe. I’ve found that it makes for an almost chewy, gummy filling. It’s not nearly as important for the crust as it is for the filling. You do need a scale to make the blend, but if you must purchase a blend to use, I’d try using Cup4Cup. It contains xanthan gum, but much less and is a very light, starchy blend.

 

A simple lemony shortbread crust with a tart, refreshing lemon custard, these gluten free lemon bars are so easy to make!A simple lemony shortbread crust with a tart, refreshing lemon custard, these gluten free lemon bars are so easy to make. Perfect for any potluck! https://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/gf-lemon-bars-for-dad-plain-lemons-for-me/A simple lemony shortbread crust with a tart, refreshing lemon custard, these gluten free lemon bars are so easy to make. Perfect for any potluck! https://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/gf-lemon-bars-for-dad-plain-lemons-for-me/A simple lemony shortbread crust with a tart, refreshing lemon custard, these gluten free lemon bars are so easy to make. Perfect for any potluck! https://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/gf-lemon-bars-for-dad-plain-lemons-for-me/A simple lemony shortbread crust with a tart, refreshing lemon custard, these gluten free lemon bars are so easy to make. Perfect for any potluck! https://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/gf-lemon-bars-for-dad-plain-lemons-for-me/A simple lemony shortbread crust with a tart, refreshing lemon custard, these gluten free lemon bars are so easy to make. Perfect for any potluck! https://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/gf-lemon-bars-for-dad-plain-lemons-for-me/

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 9 to 12 bars

Ingredients

1 2/3 cups (233 g) basic gum-free gluten free flour blend (superfine white rice flour + potato starch + tapioca starch/flour)

1/2 cup (58 g) confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Zest of 1 large lemon

9 tablespoons (126g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

4 eggs (200 g, weighed out of shell), at room temperature

1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice of 4 to 5 lemons)

Directions

  • Preheat your oven to 325°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan, line with criss-crossed pieces of parchment paper that overhang the sides, and grease the parchment paper. Set the pan aside.

  • Make the crust. In a medium-sized bowl, combine 1 cup (140 g) of the flour, confectioners’ sugar, salt and lemon zest and whisk to combine, breaking up any clumps of lemon zest. Add the butter and mix with a fork until well-combined. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking dish in an even layer. Place the baking dish in the center of the preheated oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until firm. Remove from the oven and allow to cool briefly.

  • Make the custard layer. In a medium-sized bowl, place the eggs, granulated sugar, baking powder, lemon juice and remaining 2/3 cup (93 g) flour, whisking vigorously to combine after each addition. Pour the custard mixture into the baked crust and return the pan to the center of the oven. Bake until just set (about 25 minutes). The custard is set when it does not jiggle more than a tiny bit in the center when the pan is shaken gently back and forth. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 20 minutes.

  • Place in the refrigerator to chill until firm, about 2 hours and up to overnight. Remove the bars from the pan by running a butter knife or thin spatula around the perimeter of the baking dish, and then lifting the bars out of the pan by the overhung pieces of parchment paper. Dust lightly with confectioners sugar, and slice into 9 or 12 squares with a large knife. Serve chilled.

  • Recipe originally published in 2011, updated in 2015 and modified again (photos, video, text mostly new) in 2019. 

Love,
Nicole

 

Comments are closed.

  • Diana
    May 26, 2020 at 7:28 PM

    These were the very first lemon bars I’ve ever had in my life. I’d try adding vanilla to the crust, and lemon zest to the custard. The recipe doubled really well tho!

  • Melanie G Brewer
    January 22, 2019 at 2:47 AM

    Those look so good!! I have always loved lemon bars, but after being diagnosed with Celiac, I figured I wouldn’t be able to have them anymore! Now I can!! Thanks!

    • Nicole Hunn
      January 22, 2019 at 7:55 AM

      There’s absolutely nothing we can’t make gluten-free, Melanie. :)

  • JoAnne Polan
    January 21, 2019 at 7:37 PM

    Hi Nicole, I am new to gluten free cooking, and I am very excited to try your new recipe, but I do not how to break down your requirements for the flour. It states that I need 1 & 2/3 cups (233 g) basic gum-free gluten free flour blend (superfine white rice flour + potato starch + tapioca starch/flour). How much of each do I need. I am afraid to spoil these lemon bars. My daughter loves lemon and I would like to surprise her. Can you help me. Jo

  • Cathy Enyeart
    January 21, 2019 at 2:58 PM

    Have you ever frozen these? I need to bake some desserts for a Non Profit’s auction, and I will be out of town, so I need to make something that I can freeze. I was also thinking of making your Chocolate Caramel Shortbread.

    • Nicole Hunn
      January 21, 2019 at 3:33 PM

      Hi, Cathy, I’ve refrigerated the bars, individually wrapped, for up to a week with no problem, but I haven’t frozen them. I’m really not sure how well they would fare in the freezer, I’m afraid. The filling is really a custard, and that typically doesn’t freeze particularly well. Sorry!

  • CHARLAINE MARTIN
    January 20, 2019 at 10:09 PM

    You may be able to use VeganEgg in place of real eggs. VeganEgg can be made into scrambled eggs and omlets, or in baking. You have to follow the directions on the package for it to turn out right.

    • Nicole Hunn
      January 21, 2019 at 8:09 AM

      I’ve heard of that, Charlaine, but I’ve never tried it. Glad you’ve had a good experience with it!

  • Diana
    July 18, 2015 at 12:39 PM

    Made for mom (a lemon lover) for her day some years ago. These are the BEST lemon bars EVAR. I don’t even like lemon. It is one of my go to recipes when I am entertaining because everyone loves them. Only dislike I have is a 9×13″ batch (double recipe) doesn’t last long enough.

  • Tiffany Langford
    July 17, 2015 at 4:34 PM

    Why gun free flour? I only have Better Batter, what will it do?

  • Yolanda Hopkinson
    July 15, 2015 at 10:48 AM

    Did you use gluten free baking powder too ???

  • Bernadette
    July 15, 2015 at 9:39 AM

    Hi Nicole
    I have these in the oven right now. They smell amazing and can barely wait for them to chill. I shall be taking some in for the caretaker at work tomorrow as he’s such a sweetheart. I bet he won’t even guess they’re gluten free.
    I only have one big problem with your recipes – they are all soooo yummy that I’ve put on too much weight…!
    Thank you so much for all your great recipes.

  • Lynn A. Decker
    July 13, 2015 at 9:44 PM

    I made these last night. It was really hot in my kitchen, so maybe that interfered. The crust was really WET (like, greasy), and took forever to bake (and ithe was full of bubbles, like a pancake that’s ready to flip). I think I overbeat the custard, as it was kind of bubbly. All that said, I soldiered on, and it came out pretty well. Brought it into work today, and didn’t tell anyone it was GF.

    • July 14, 2015 at 7:59 AM

      Hi, Lynn, I’m honestly not sure what could have caused those issues. It’s a very simple shortbread crust, one I’ve made dozens of times, so the first thing that comes to mind is always whether you made any substitutions, and/or whether you baked by weight. It sounds like your proportions were off!

      • Lynn A. Decker
        July 14, 2015 at 8:33 AM

        I don’t know, either. I almost always bake by weight (unless I’m making something from an old family recipe), and I’ve made shortbread before. I didn’t make any substitutions, either. I used King Arthur’s GF (gum-free) flour. Just had to bake the crust for a LONG time. They TASTED delicious, in the end, and that’s the important part, right? :)

        • July 14, 2015 at 2:16 PM

          I’m afraid I think it’s the flour blend, Lynn. King Arthur Flour’s blend is very, very starchy, and also kind of coarse so it doesn’t combine well in such a simple recipe and tends to take longer to bake. :(

  • youngbaker2002
    July 7, 2015 at 9:34 AM

    your lemon bars are one of our favorite recipes! we made the older version for Easter and EVERYBODY loved them. my little sister wants me to make the chocolate chip cookie cake for her 9th birthday in a couple days so that’s what we’re making next.

  • Jo
    July 6, 2015 at 11:19 AM

    our 10-year old daughter made these today all on her own with lemons from our tree and eggs from our chickens. She was diagnosed 2.5 years ago with a grain alllergy and it has been tough on her. She has discovered a love of GF baking. We live in South Africa, but are coming to USA to visit family at the end of the year, so i will be getting her your book for Christmas.

    • July 14, 2015 at 8:00 AM

      Sounds like your daughter has a bright future as a baker, Jo! So glad she found something she loves. :)

  • Melissa Welty
    July 6, 2015 at 3:08 AM

    Made some for the 4th. Put homemade strawberry syrup on top, so not too sweet. Amazon lost my potato starch, so had to sub cornstarch, but it worked, everyone raved over them. Non GF peeps could not tell the bars were gluten free.

  • Marilyn McLeod
    July 5, 2015 at 4:03 PM

    I just got your new Classic Snacks cookbook for my birthday (at my request!) and it’s AWESOME! These lemon bars remind me of my dad who loved lemon bars in my growing up years. I’m going to make some very soon.. in honor of my dad (and ME… as lemon is one of my favorites for desserts). If I baked everything that I love in your cookbooks (I have two now) I would be baking for at least five years!

    • July 6, 2015 at 9:07 AM

      Marilyn, that is music to my ears (eyes?)!! Thank you so much for the kind words—and for your support in buying the cookbooks!

  • July 5, 2015 at 11:53 AM

    Oh my, I am making these ASAP! I haven’t had a lemon square in years which is too many, so thank you for updating what I’m sure was already a great recipe :)

  • Yvonne Kadelski
    July 5, 2015 at 11:11 AM

    My husband is diabetic. Can you substitute the granulated sugar for sucrolose? Thanks.

  • July 4, 2015 at 9:38 AM

    Thank you, Victoria!

  • Chelsea
    July 2, 2015 at 5:06 PM

    How can I make this recipe with regular flour?
    How much to substitute?
    Thanks!!!

    • July 4, 2015 at 9:38 AM

      I’m afraid I really don’t know, Chelsea. I recommend you find another recipe, as gluten free recipes really are different. Sorry!

    • Angela
      July 11, 2015 at 6:39 AM

      I just made this recipe with regular flour (plain) and it worked brilliantly and I didn’t change any measurements. It is a delicious slice and I will definitely make it again

  • Victoria
    July 1, 2015 at 4:11 PM

    Would it work to double this and make in a 9×13? Or should I just do 2 smaller ones? Going to a block party and want to share this party with everyone!

    • July 4, 2015 at 9:39 AM

      I think you could double everything and make it in a 9-inch x 13-inch pan, Victoria. You’ll just have to increase baking times. And make sure you don’t bake it in glass!

Back to Top

Where should I send your free guide?

By entering your email, you're agreeing to our Privacy Policy. We respect your email privacy, and will never share your information.