Gluten-Free Lemon Bars
Why this recipe works
If you have been missing lemon bars on your gluten-free diet, these gluten free lemon bars will fix that! They are so good, you won’t even be able to tell they’re gluten-free.
A buttery gluten-free shortbread crust is topped with a thick lemon filling that is tangy and full of lemon flavor. The ratio of crust to lemon custard is just right, resulting in a tall lemon bar that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser at your next party.
While you have to cook the crust and filling separately, lemon bars are actually very simple to make. They require just a handful of ingredients and don’t even require an electric mixer.
The hands-on time for this recipe is very minimal. You just need to have patience while the bars chill in the refrigerator to firm up. This means that even novice bakers can whip up a batch of these tasty treats in no time.
You’ll love this recipe because:
- Gluten-free flour blend – I’ve tested this recipe with Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour in the blue bag (NOT the red bag which is their gluten-free all-purpose blend which is not good in my opinion). This blend already contains xanthan gum. I cannot guarantee that other brands of gluten-free flours will work as I have not tested them. I also have not tested this recipe using almond flour, so I cannot guarantee that will work either.
- Melted butter – While I use softened butter for my gluten-free shortbread recipe, I like to use melted butter for this shortbread crust. It’s easier and quicker to mix together and creates the perfect texture for this gluten-free lemon slice recipe.
- Lemon juice and lemon zest – In order to get tart lemon bars, you’ll need to use a lot of lemon juice and lemon zest. Do not use bottled lemon juice and do not skimp on the lemon zest. To get ⅔ cup lemon juice you’ll need about 3 large lemons or 5-6 small lemons.
- Granulated sugar – The granulated sugar is important to sweeten the lemon bars, but it also creates structure in the filling. I would not recommend lowering the sugar in these bars or substituting with a different sweetener.
- Eggs – The eggs are the most important part of this recipe, creating the lemon custard filling for the lemon bars. You can’t make this egg-free unfortunately as the eggs are integral. Be sure to use large eggs that are about 50g each. If you use medium eggs, you will need to use more eggs for the filling. Measure out 200g total eggs for this recipe.
Be sure to zest your lemons before you juice them! It’s much easier to zest them before slicing and juicing. Pick lemons that are heavy for their size, which will ensure they have the most juice. They should also have smooth skin, instead of bumpy. Older lemons will have less juice in them.
- Gluten-free graham cracker crust – If shortbread crust isn’t your thing, try making a graham cracker crust instead! You can use my gluten-free graham cracker recipe for the crust or your favorite store-bought gluten-free graham crackers. It’s SO good with the lemon filling, it almost tastes like a lemon pie this way!
- Lime juice or orange juice – If you’re out of lemons but have other citrus, give those a try instead! Zest some limes or oranges and juice them to make your very own lime bars or orange bars.
These gluten free lemon bars are very simple to make. The below steps with matching photos are meant to help you see the recipe being made at various stages. Pay close attention to the gluten-free shortbread crust preparation, the amount of lemon zest in the lemon filling, and the appearance of the lemon squares when they come out of the oven.
For the ingredient list with measurements, full instructions, printable recipe, and additional notes, please scroll down to the recipe card.
Yes, typically lemon bars contain gluten in the form of all-purpose flour in both the crust and as a thickening agent in the lemon filling. However, this gluten-free lemon bar recipe was formulated to specifically be gluten-free!
No, I do not recommend using bottled lemon juice. The flavor of fresh lemon juice is far superior, plus a lot of the flavor comes from the lemon zest in these bars, too. Bottled lemon juice can have a strange aftertaste.
Be sure that you allow the bars to cool for an hour at room temperature and then a full 2 hours before slicing in the refrigerator. They need to set up completely before you cut them into squares.
hints & tips
- Storage: Lemon bars are great for making ahead if you have a party coming up. Store baked lemon bars in a container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Freezer Option: Lemon bars freeze beautifully! For longer storage, you can freeze lemon bars by placing them on a sheet pan until frozen solid, about an hour. Then, transfer them to a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze up to 3 months.
- Thaw: You can eat lemon bars straight from the freezer (my favorite!) or let them thaw at room temperature until slightly softened, about 30 minutes to an hour.
More gluten-free bars to try
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Gluten-Free Lemon Bars
For the shortbread crust:
- 1 1/4 cups gluten-free flour blend (180g)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar (50g)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (melted (113g))
For the lemon filling:
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (300g)
- 1/4 cup gluten-free flour blend (36g)
- 4 large eggs (at room temperature (200g))
- 2/3 cup lemon juice (from 5-6 medium to large lemons)
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest (from 2-3 lemons)
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar (for topping (if desired))
For the shortbread crust:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and line a 8×8-inch glass baking dish with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the gluten-free flour, granulated sugar, and salt.
- Then, add the melted butter and vanilla extract. Stir until combined. The dough will be crumbly.
- Add the dough to the prepared baking dish and press into an even layer, using an offset spatula or the bottom of a measuring cup.
- Bake the gluten-free shortbread crust at 350F for 25-30 minutes, until the edges are browned and the center is no longer shiny. Remove from the oven.
For the filling:
- While the crust is baking, make the lemon filling. Add the granulated sugar, gluten-free flour blend, eggs, lemon juice and lemon zest to a large mixing bowl. Whisk until combined. Do not overmix.
- Add the lemon filling to the warm shortbread crust.
- Bake at 350F for 23-28 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned and the filling is set. Only the most inner point of the filling will be a little jiggly.
- Let the lemon bars cool at room temperature for an hour, then place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
- Dust the top with powdered sugar and then cut the bars into squares or rectangles.
- If you have celiac disease or are on a gluten-free diet for other reasons, be sure to double check all of your ingredients to ensure that they are gluten-free.
- This recipe has been tested with Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour (in the blue bag. This blend already contains xanthan gum. I cannot verify that other gluten-free flour blends will work in this recipe as I have not tested them.
- To avoid creating bubbles on top of your lemon bars, be careful not to overmix the filling, which can make the eggs too frothy. However, if you do end up with bubbles, don’t worry! Just sprinkle some powdered sugar over the top of the bars to create a beautiful presentation.
- For perfectly cut lemon bars, make sure to clean your knife with a towel between each slice. This will help you get sharp edges on every piece.
- To achieve the best results when making lemon bars, consider using a food scale to weigh your ingredients. Not only will this give you more accurate measurements, but it will also help you use fewer bowls and reduce mess. Metric measurements are included in the recipe card for your convenience.