Sweet-Tooth Friday: Vegan Lemon Bars

Hey everyone, it’s Matt.  I’ll hand it off to Christine in just a second, by I believe I owe you some shirt winners!

Ready?  The five winners of the No Meat Athlete t-shirts are: Bridget (from Pounding Pavement and Plants), sals, Larissa, Kelsey, and Shannon (from Tri 2 Cook).  Congratulations, and thank you again for all the encouraging comments about my blog birthday.

And speaking of shirts, I just got in a shipment of 72 new ones, including about 15 each of the coveted women’s small and medium technical shirts, which I just cannot seem to keep in stock.  So if you’ve been waiting for one, get it before they’re gone again!

And I always love when people send me photos, here are some of the recent NMA representers!

Blogger and veggie mom, Mama Pea:

Nicest commenter in the world, Erica from Itzy’s Kitchen:

Twitterer and homebrewer Andy, who sported the carrot pride in his first half marathon:

Casey, husband of Emily from the Front Burner, pounding a green monster:

My Daily Mile pal Meredith, who blogs at Sweat Every Day and is running her first 10K tomorrow:

Maria, from Real Fit Mama, and her daughter Linsey, who are running a half marathon to support ASPCA (which you can support, by the way):

And this guy, whose photo was snapped by Caroline of See Cat Run while they ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon (and he was wearing Vibram Five Fingers!):

Thanks for the photos everyone, keep ’em coming!

Ok, here’s Christine…

Vegan Lemon Bars from Veganomicon

Happy Sweet-Tooth Friday!  This is Christine, at your service with another healthy dessert!  Though I’m totally smitten with last week’s wholesome quinoa muffins, I couldn’t let the month of Veganomicon go by without exploring the more indulgent side of their recipes.  There are were so many yummy choices, but I finally decided on Vegan Lemon bars.

Agar agar: The final frontier

I think up until now I had tried almost every vegan trick in the book…except agar agar!  I got my agar powder from iHerb.com with Matt’s first time customer code so I pretty much just had to pay for the shipping.    Agar powder is a vegan alternative to gelatin —you’ve probably heard by now that your Easter Peeps and gummy bears are made with pork, cow and horse products.

Agar, on the other hand, is actually derived from red algae or seaweed.  It thickens when heated which makes it perfect for jellies and custard-style desserts (but makes me nervous that the ocean may gel over some particularly hot day!).  It also can be used as a vegan filtering agent in beers (remember when I learned that some beer wasn’t vegan?)

“Cafe-style lemon bars are here!”

I was a little skeptical of that claim, but healthy-bakers can rejoice!  These are indulgent and tangy just like the egg-yolk, gelatin, and butter versions.  For the vegan margarine, I used Earth Balance’s natural shortening, which only has four ingredients: expeller pressed palm fruit, soybean, canola, and olive oil.  I know these are called lemon bars, but my dad just got back from Key West so I actually used the key lime juice he brought me!  Even he was impressed how much these tasted like little key lime pies.

Vegan Lemon Bars

reprinted with permission, from Veganomicon


  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus additional to decorate the finished bars
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup nonhydrogenated vegan margarine


  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 3 tbsp agar flakes
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric
  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp arrowroot powder
  • 1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest (from 2 large lemons)
  • 1/4 cup soy milk

Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.

Prepare the crust:
Pulse the flour, confectioners’ sugar, and cornstarch in a food processor.  Add the margarine in spoonfuls and blend 8 to 10 seconds, and then pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared baking pan and press firmly into an even layer with slightly raised sides, so that it can hold in the filling.  Refrigerate for about 30 minutes and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake the unfilled crust for 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven, and let cool.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling:
In a saucepot, soak the agar in the water for 15 minutes.  Use the time while it soaks to zest your lemons and squeeze your lemon juice.  Mix the arrowroot into the lemon juice to dissolve.
When the agar has been soaked for 15 minutes, turn on the heat and bring the mixture to a boil.  Boil for about 10 minutes, or until the agar is completely dissolved.  Add the granulated sugar and turmeric, and boil until they have dissolved, about 3 minutes.  Turn down the heat to medium and add the arrowroot mixture, then add the lemon zest and soy milk.  Whisk constantly until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.  It should not be rapidly boiling, but low bubbling is okay.
Pour the mixture into the prepared crust.  Let cool for 20 minutes and then refrigerate for at least 3 hours, until the filling is only slightly jiggly and has set.  Use a sifter or a fine-mesh strainer to sprinkle the bars with confectioners’ sugar.  Slice in squares and serve.

Ta-da!  Perfect vegan lemon bars!  Using the turmeric to get that lemony-yolk color is genius, and you can’t taste that little bit at all.  Maybe next time I can use a pinch of matcha powder to help show off the key lime.   This recipe says it makes 12 bars, but those are definitely 12 huge cafe-sized bars.  If you’re serving them at a get-together, I think they could be cut into 24 or more pieces for easy snacking.

That’s it for this week!  Thanks again to Isa and Terry for letting us showcase some recipes this month.

Until next time, stay sweet!

xoxo Christine



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  1. oh my gosh, this recipe is awesome! i am making it this weekend, thanks 🙂 congrats to your winners!
    .-= janetha b´s last blog ..odds & ends. =-.

  2. OMG Lemon bars used to be my fav! You’ve inspired me to explore the world of agar-agar

    Love the t-shirts too!!
    .-= ashley´s last blog ..Live for Today =-.

  3. Aw! Thanks for the shout out 🙂 All of the new shirt pics are fab and congrats to the winners. These bars look incredible! I love anything lemony or limey! Another great recipe Christine! Hope you guys all have a fabulous weekend (thank goodness its finally here!!)
    .-= Erica´s last blog ..Vegetarian Split Pea Soup =-.

  4. Those lemon bars look great. I have never used agar agar and actually just heard of it this week. I have been trying to make coconut milk yogurt at home and can’t get it to thicken and heard that this would be a great alternative!

  5. Mmmm lemon bars are my mom’s favorite dessert! I bet if I made these and told them there weren’t any eggs she’d flip
    .-= Evan Thomas´s last blog ..Celebrate! =-.

  6. I love love love the Veganomicon cookbook. It’s one of my favourites. I’d seen this recipe in there- thanks for testing it out! They look delicious in those photographs. Might just have to give them a try now that you’ve recommended them 🙂
    .-= Sagan´s last blog ..The Living Healthy in the Real World Guide to Budgeting =-.

  7. These bars are really good! I tried one (okay…I tried four) and was surprised at how much these taste like the “real” thing. No one would guess these are vegan.

  8. Love the No Meat Athlete shirts!!!

    And the lemon bars look fantastic! I love lemon in desserts 🙂
    .-= Ashlei´s last blog ..It’s Finally Friday! =-.

  9. I love all the NMA shirts out there!!! And those lemon bars look fantastic- but that’s no surprise on Sweet Tooth Friday 😉

  10. The shirts are so cute! Love them.

    I love Veganomicon…but have never tried any of the dessert recipes. These look good!
    .-= Lauren´s last blog ..Chickpea Patty Recipe =-.

  11. What are the women’s technical tees sizing like? Do they run small, run big, run “normal” ?????
    .-= Monica @ Musings of the Granola Girl´s last blog ..Homemade Granola & A Soy Debate =-.

    • Monica, I think they’re pretty normal. Mainly because out of all the orders, only 2 or 3 people have ever needed to exchange them. But if it doesn’t fit, you can always exchange it!

  12. I just purchased a Woman’s small Tech tee 🙂 And I’m so excited to rock it! Most people can’t believe how much I exercise/run without eating meat. So I’m going to wear that shirt with pride. Thanks for providing such an AWESOME shirt!

    PS I want to try those lemon bars 🙂 They look delish!
    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..Single eating: the leftovers dilema =-.

  13. Hey Matt I stumbled across your blog. I love your t-shirts!!!

    I’ve been vegan for almost 4 years but just started reading Thrive to help out with my husbands workouts and with mine. Anyways, great blog to all of you that post. Keep it up.

    Oh Christine, I’ve made those lemon bars, yum!
    .-= JoLynn-dreaminitvegan´s last blog ..Mothers milk and corned seitan and cabbage stew…. =-.

    • Hi JoLynn, sorry I somehow missed this comment; I don’t get notified on comments to Christine’s posts…

      You’ll love Thrive, especially if you’re already vegan. So much good stuff about energy in there. It’s a hard diet to follow day-in and day-out, but the principles are so solid and you can apply them to whatever extent you wish.

  14. Those look amazing! I just made (non-vegan) lemon bars this weekend for the first time in ages, and they were good, but I’m not used to so much dairy and egg anymore, so I’ll definitely be giving these a shot.

  15. Oh! You reminded me that I made these a year or two ago! Though they weren’t identical to non-vegan lemon bars IMO (they lacked a creaminess factor), they are SUCH an awesome treat. A little time-consuming, sure, but worth it!

  16. I made these yesterday and followed the recipe, but they never set. The filling was so thin that I added a slurry with another tablespoon of arrowroot, and even after refridgerating overnight, the filling is still runny. they taste delicious, but I have no idea what went wrong.

  17. So glad to have an egg and butter-less lemon bar recipe! (I got my hands on a copy of Veganomicon after reading this recipe here 🙂

    Would the recipe still work if I substituted almond or rice milk instead of soy? (I am not allergic, but I happen to have those milks around the house at the moment…)

  18. Wow… These look yummy. Thanks for the recipe

  19. going to try these lemon bars tonight, with dumplings!

  20. Making these again! Using less agar agar this time! YUM!

  21. These bars are delicious, but to describe them as ‘healthy’ is a bit of a stretch. White flour, margarine, sugar and lemon isn’t really a healthy or nutritious combination of ingredients. Delicious, yes. Healthy, no.

  22. These turned out pretty well. Flavor was very nice. The only problem I had was that they came out almost too gelatiny. The filling part was quite thick and as a result never stuck to the crust. I think I will add less agar or cornstarch next time.

  23. oooh i’ve made these lemon bars from Veganomicon SO MANY TIMES. they turn out excellent. i take them to work and nobody believes me that they are completely vegan. love them.

  24. These look really good! Matt, I am not getting any reply from your customer service email address, really need help getting a shirt ordered – thanks!

  25. Tried it today – used coconut oil, xylit and nut flour instead. Worked perfectly fine and was so delicious.
    Thanks for sharing.

  26. Hi 🙂 These look great! I’m curious if you’ve tried working with pectin instead of agar? Doesn’t pectin gelatinize liquids? I may try both as a fun cooking experiment, but thought I’d ask for input from anyone who has already experimented with pectin.

  27. Megan Porter says:

    Just made these. They have a lovely gelled texture and are delish! I skipped the turmeric so mine are a more brown, yellow but so good!

  28. Animanalia says:

    Margine????? YIKES!!! Can you substitute coconut oil?

    • Animanalia says:

      Sorry, I meant MARGARINE???? YIKES!!! I’ve got a nursing baby on my lap kicking and pulling everything as I type. Can you use coconut oil instead?

  29. I tried these out last night for company, and i have to say i was sadly disappointed. I may have made them wrong, but they ended up quite rubbery, not lemony enough, and the filling didnt adhere to the crust at all really. Usually veganomicon rocks, but these arent like any lemon bars i recall.

  30. Green Trees says:

    Thanks for posting this recipe! For any less experienced bakers/cooks, do not make the rookie mistakes I made: using a small sauce pan despite doubling the filling ingredients, and not having all the filling ingredients measured and ready before turning on the heat (boiling over agar and sugar on and inside my entire stove top). But, I appreciated that this vegan lemon bar recipe seems like it might have stayed solid at room temp after it set (which I doubted for coconut cream/butter recipes), and did not contain tofu or banana!!


  1. […] is not a recipe I’ve made from scratch, but is a mash together of the Lemon Bars recipe from Veganomicon, and the meringue cookies from Vegan Street (minus the chocolate), which is based on the meringue […]

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