Vegan Lemon Bars


I’ve had lemon desserts on my radar since eating that phenomenal vegan lemon meringue pie at Veggie Galaxy back in November. Quite frankly, two months is far too long to go lusting after lemons.


Rather than attempting a pie this time, I decided to try my hand at lemon bars. The filling is similar, so I knew bars would satisfy my craving, but without the scary vegan meringue topping. I still don’t know how they do that, although I remember them saying something about soy? One of these days, I WILL figure it out. And I’ll make sure to share the secret when I do.


Lemon bars can also be kind of tricky when you don’t bake with eggs or gelatin, and although a lot of recipes rely on cornstarch to thicken the filling, I’m not always the biggest fan of the texture it creates. It can sometimes taste a little…off. So I consulted my much-loved VeganomiconΒ cookbook, and found that their recipe uses agar agar flakes. This was a totally new-to-me ingredient, but after a quick Google search, I learned that agar agar is aΒ vegetarian substitute for gelatin that’s made from seaweed. Sounded interesting.


Of course, I immediately planned a trip to Whole Foods to pick some up, and crossed my fingers that it would actually work and not be nearly $8 down the drain (it’s pricey!). I also tried to stay focused on the agar when I went in the store, but inevitably came out with salad bar and kombucha as well. I just don’t think it’s possible to come out of Whole Foods with a single item.


Anyway, because it was my first time using agar agar flakes, I went with the Veganomicon recipe, which I knew wouldn’t let me down. But instead of using their super indulgent, sugary crust, I went with a lemon bar crust from Eat Live Run, and just used Earth Balance instead of butter. It made significantly less crust than the Veganomicon recipe, but as I’ve mentioned before, I’m a filling girl at heart. The crust is simply a vehicle to get as much filling from plate to mouth without making a mess of whatever I’m wearing. In most cases this is yoga clothes, but still.


This recipe turned out so well! I had my doubts about the agar agar flakes, but they really were very easy to work with. You just let them sit for about 15 minutes in water, and then boil until they’re dissolved. And the best part? You don’t even have to own the Veganomicon cookbook to make these – the recipe is posted on the No Meat Athlete blog! I do, however, highly recommend that cookbook. I’ve yet to make a recipe that hasn’t been incredible.


The only thing I might change the next time I make lemon bars is using a touch less turmeric for the yellow coloring. It may have just been the brand of spice that I used, but the yellow was a bit too saturated.



Leave a Comment

  1. Those look awesome! I’m a big fan of lemon desserts. I feel like people either love them or hate them. I’m a lover. So glad you’re using recipage now. It’s pretty much awesome except I still can’t get it in my actual posts w/o breaking my feed. I tried it again today, no dice.
    I usually wait a couple of weeks before updating plugins for the fear of exactly what happened to you yesterday. I’m glad I didn’t update that one! I literally just last night got the courage to update WP. Thankfully no whammies there.

    1. Amanda says

      I haven’t tried recipage in my posts yet. There’s only so much technical drama I can handle in one week. haha And I’m going to be much more careful about updating WP and plugins. Definitely smart to wait it out before updating!

  2. Gena says

    I have made these very lemon bars, and absolutely loved them. Agar is a bit of a tough ingredient, but not once you grow accustomed.

    1. Amanda says

      Yes, I love how “lemony” the bars turned out – the flavor is great. Now I just need to figure out what to do with all that extra agar… πŸ™‚

  3. Nicole says

    Get Hannah Kaminsky’s book Vegan Desserts for an awesome vegan meringue recipe! You’ll laugh when you see how easy it is to make.
    I am a big fan of agar flakes. Check out my latest recipe for another way to use up your extra agar πŸ™‚

    1. Amanda says

      Thanks for the recommendation! I will definitely check out that book (and then likely feel embarrassed for not being able to figure it out!).

      Your dark chocolate mousse cups sound divine. Time to seek out some full fat coconut milk… πŸ™‚

  4. Andrea says

    These look awesome! I’m always on the hunt for delicious vegan desserts (I’m not but many of my friends are) ~ can’t wait to try these!

    1. Amanda says

      Thanks, Andrea! These turned out great and they were pretty easy to make too. πŸ™‚

  5. I’ve been wanting to try a vegan key lime pie from Peas and Thank You (here is the recipe: forever and she specifically uses agar agar powder, not flakes. So every time I’m at Whole Foods, I look for it and all I find is flakes. Good to know that those work too. Like you said, they are pricey and I just wasn’t going to risk it since I’m not even vegan πŸ™‚

    1. Amanda says

      I wonder if you could just process the agar flakes into powder? I have no idea if that’s the same thing, but I’m pretty sure flakes will work fine. It might just take a little longer to dissolve them in the liquid.

  6. I LOVE lemon bars – they’re one of my favorite desserts. These look incredible!

    1. Amanda says

      Mine too! I’m obsessed with anything lemon.

  7. vogelstar says

    ok I have been looking for a good lemon bar that doesn’t taste eggy. I want to make these this week and then lock myself in my house and eat them all to myself. Is that wrong?

    1. Amanda says

      Not wrong at all. πŸ™‚

  8. Jimbo says

    Elina, agar flakes and agar powder are interchangeable.

    1 teaspoon of agar powder = 1 tablespoon of agar flakes & vice versa.

  9. sweet road says

    I love the Veganomicon! I have been meaning to try the lemon bars but I don’t have all the ingredients yet… good to know that the recipe is a keeper though! Now I’ll have to go to the grocery store.

    1. Amanda says

      Yes, definitely worth making a trip to the grocery store! They’re super lemony – which is just the way I like them. πŸ™‚

  10. Cierra says

    These look delicious!

    Versa whip is a brand of isolated soy protein (it comes in a powder) that you can use to make vegan meringues. It whips up beautifully and will even brown when torched (because of the sugar) I go to the culinary institute of America, so that’s where I’ve used it. But I’m sure you can buy it online. And it is so easy to use! Just like traditional meringue powder!

    1. Amanda says

      Thanks, Cierra! I’m going to have to see if I can find some of that Versa whip. I just recently posted a recipe for vegan meringue cookies using Ener-G egg replacer and was amazed at how closely the texture resembled real egg whites.

      P.S. So jealous you’re in culinary school! I took a few baking classes at a school near me (Cambridge School of Culinary Arts) and loved it!

  11. j3nn says

    This is why I bought an expensive bag of agar agar the other day: Amazing recipes like this!! I can’t wait to try. Love the bright yellow. Lemon is so delicious, both sweetened and sour. πŸ™‚

    1. Amanda says

      I held my breath a little when I used the agar agar for the first time in this recipe, but I can attest that it’s worth the hefty price tag. πŸ™‚

  12. This looks pretty amazing. I am going to have to try these!

    1. Amanda says

      I hope you do!

      P.S. Love your name – that’s my middle name. πŸ™‚

  13. Valerie says

    I Love anything that involves lemons, and one can’t have enough lemon bar recipes in their life. πŸ˜€ These look so bright and airy…delicious reminders that spring is on it’s way!
    (Site mishaps make me nauseous, I’m glad you were able to get everything sorted out.)

    1. Amanda says

      Thanks, Valerie! Yes – I find myself going to town on citrus fruits right now. I can’t wait for spring!

  14. kat says

    Those look delicious! I can’t get over the fact that they are vegan!!

    1. Amanda says

      Thanks, Kat! I think most people wouldn’t be able to tell they’re vegan.

  15. Ashlae says

    I love the Veganomicon lemon bars – yours look beautiful! And it’s not possible to leave Whole Foods with one item. I went in to get flour this morning, rolled out with $50 in crap I probably could have done without.

    Also, I wrote a meringue recipe for the Daring Bakers – if you scroll to the bottom of the page, the recipe is there πŸ™‚ – it uses EnerG egg replacer, which I don’t really like.. but hey! it’s vegan meringue.

    1. Amanda says

      Spending $50 at WF is way too easy. There’s always a new product to try or a random ingredient I’ve had my eye on for months.

      I’ll check out your post! I just recently posted a meringue recipe using the Ener-G replacer. πŸ™‚

  16. Alex says

    If you want to make vegan meringue, you can use a nitrogen whip charger (ISI Gourmet whip) & dehydrator.

    Use your favorite fruit juice and sugar (3:1 ratio) and heat to combine.

    Then add 7% (by mass) methyl-cellulose of your sugar/juice mixture and 2% Xantham Gum. Mix this very thoroughly with an electric whisk or stand mixer (Xantham Gum takes some effort to incorporate).

    Once it’s all combined, pour into a pastry bag and dispense onto a dehydrator tray. Dehydrate completely – the result should be similar to egg white-based meringue.

    1. Alex says

      Scratch the charger, all you need is a dehydrator.

    2. Amanda says

      Thanks, Alex! I hadn’t heard of this method before. I ended up using some Ener-G egg replacer to make meringue cookies:

      I don’t have a dehydrator at the moment, but it’s next on my list of kitchen things!

  17. Allison Smith says

    Hi Amanda
    If you want to make a Vegan Lemon Meringue Pie go to this website: and go to the “our show” tab where you will find a demonstration and recipe for the pie.
    Mr Nice Guy Cupcakes make all kinds of vegan cupcakes which are delicious, they have a shop at the Prahran Market here in Melbourne, they are also extremely lovely people.
    I hope you enjoy their website, please let me know what you think I have just found your blog and its now on my “favourites” list (for the internet)
    Greetings from ‘Down Under’
    Best wishes

    1. Amanda says

      Thanks, Allison! Unfortunately, the link isn’t working…maybe it’s just my computer though. I’ll try it again in a bit. I’m really excited to check out their recipe! πŸ™‚

      Edited to Add: I found the video on YouTube – SO excited to make this!!!

  18. Mark says

    Hi Amanda,
    Im a vegetarian here in Boston and want you to know that I love your recipes.However I can’t find the recipe for your Lemon bars. Can you help me with this? Am I missing the link somewhere

    1. Amanda says

      Hi Mark! I used a recipe from Veganomicon, which is posted on the No Meat Athlete blog. It’s linked within my post (towards the bottom):

  19. Mash says

    Hi Amanda lovely blog and fantastic looking recipe cannot wait to try these bars one question though what size is your pan I like the thickness of your fillin also can I substitute with lime would I need to decrease the juice quantity – I’ve been searchin like crazy for these bars without egg

    1. Amanda says

      I used a 9×13 inch pan. I think you could definitely make them lime bars! I’d replace the lemon juice with an equal amount of lime juice. πŸ™‚

  20. Lauren says

    Hi! I just started to make these and am having a dilemma. My crust sort of turned into a goopy batter rather than the crumbly kind you have pictured. I don’t have a food processor, so I tried to improvise–first by using my Vitamix (which just sort of got clogged), then by transferring the mixture to a bowl and adding in the rest of the margarine while using a hand mixer (a very complicated process, yes). Obviously the end result was not what it should have been. Do you think my problem lies more within a) not having the proper tools (i.e. food processor) or b) using tub margarine?

    1. Amanda says

      Hi Lauren! Sorry you’re having trouble with the crust. I’m thinking the issue might be with the margarine. The original recipe (on Eat Live Run) called for cold butter, which I replaced with cold Earth Balance. The coldness is key for texture and I’m wondering if the margarine was too soft/oily. It could also be that it simply got over-worked and turned more liquid than solid. If you attempt it again, I’d recommend cutting in the butter (or Earth Balance) by hand. Hope this helps!

  21. Lauren says

    That does help, thank you! I used Smart Balance Light, which might be softer than Earth Balance if my memory serves me correctly. I may hold out for some Earth Balance sticks before I attempt these again, just to be safe.

  22. AVH says

    Thanks for this recipe!

    While the flavor was good, I had two problems:
    1) The lemon part was just a bit TOO stiff.
    2) It completely separated from the crust, making it weird to eat.

    Any suggestions on a fix?

    1. Amanda says

      Hi there. This isn’t my recipe–it’s from Veganomicon. However, it sounds like you may want to decrease the agar-agar if the filling is too stiff/separating from the crust. I recently posted my own vegan and gluten-free lemon bar recipe if you’re interested in trying a different variation. (and no agar needed!)

      1. AVH says

        Thank you very much! I’m going to try the link.

  23. Vicki Germunson says

    Hi I would really like to make these but unfortunately I am the type of cook that actually has to go by a recipe and not by pictures if you want something to turn out good and delicious! So right now I’m kind of feeling a great deal of frustration because I cannot find a recipe anywhere except here where there are only pictures and no actual recipe to follow! I have chosen to do the agar agar lemon bars because there look closest to the non-vegan recipe and because of my diet I can’t do soy or nuts or coconut and I am now a very struggling Vegan! Please help me! I need a recipe!

    1. Hi Vicki! Both the crust and filling recipes are linked within the post (I used other bloggers’ recipes to make the bars: Eat Live Run and No Meat Athlete, respectively).

    2. Vicki Germunson says

      Thank you for telling me where to find the recipe I don’t blog so I was having an extremely hard time figuring things out thanks for rescuing me! Question #2 Can I replace the soy milk for almond milk and have it turn out Ok?

      1. Yes, that should work!


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