Lemon Bars

You may have noticed that I don’t post many dessert recipes on Popular Paleo. That’s not because I have a problem with eating treats on Paleo, believe me, I don’t! I just don’t have the knack for them the way so many others do.  However, I have been searching high and low for a knock-my-socks off lemon bar and have yet to find one that I 100% believe in.  Not to say that this creamy-lemony-custardy-sweet-but-not-too-sweet dessert unicorn isn’t out there, I just haven’t met it yet. So I did what comes natural and tried to throw something together myself.  Normally when it comes to desserts this nets out in a lot of wasted ingredients, but not this time. I like what I made and hope you do too!

Paleo Lemon Bars on www.PopularPaleo.com

1 cup almonds
1 cup pecans
1/4 cup medjool dates (about 6 of the regular size)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp Celtic sea salt
1 egg

the juice from 4 lemons (approx. 3/4 cup)
1 tsp lemon zest
8 eggs
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup raw honey
1 TBSP arrowroot flour + 1/2 TBSP of hot water

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees (Fahrenheit).

Make the crust first by dumping all of the ingredients, except for the egg, into a food processor. Let this go until it gets to a “pebbly-sand” texture—well before it turns into butter. Then add the egg and process again just until the egg is fully incorporated and the nuts break down into “coarse sand.” I sure hope those textural references make sense!

Press the crust batter evenly into the bottom of an ungreased baking dish and set aside. The baking dish I like to use is an old stoneware baker, which is odd-sized at 9 x 9. It’s my favorite dish for this kind of recipe, I can’t go back to glass after going stone. If you don’t have one this size, I’d suggest using an 8 x 8 and enjoy a thicker crust. Thin-crusted lemon bars are no bueno…
Lemon Bars 3 | Popular Paleo
For the filling, combine all of the ingredients using an electric mixer or by hand with a whisk except for the last line item—the arrowroot and water.  Once the lemons, eggs and other stuff is mixed up, make a slurry using the 1/2 TBSP of hot water and tablespoon of arrowroot flour. Mix the slurry into the batter and gently pour over the pressed nut crust waiting in the baking dish.
Lemon Bars 4 | Popular Paleo
Bake this for 30 minutes in a 325 degree oven. Don’t worry if it gets a little crackly once it’s done cooking. I haven’t met a Paleo lemon bar that doesn’t do this.

As tough as it is, this needs to be cooled completely before eating. Do your best!

Paleo Lemon Bars on www.PopularPaleo.com | Gluten and dairy free, sweetened with honey.


PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.


  1. becca says

    My husband made these and followed the directions to a T, but ours got really brown on top and were gloppy still (almost not fully cooked… it moved around when pushing the pan back and forth) after 30 mins. We were afraid to cooked them longer as they might blacken on top. Does anyone know what the issue might be?

    • says

      I might be able to help. :-) Are you in America/using Fahrenheit? And you didn’t substitute anything for the honey? (coconut products, for example, are sensitive and often overcook the way you’ve described). I’ve made these personally about 5 times, and have had them made by others who enjoy the recipe as well. We can throw around some scenarios to figure out what may have happened — they’re really a great recipe and I would hate for you to miss out. And I’m so sorry you had a batch that already didn’t work for you. Let’s troubleshoot!

      • Christine says

        I just made these and mine were also very brown on top. I had to cook them for an extra ten minutes. I am in Canada and I didn’t substitute anything except I used regular honey, not raw. They still tast good, but they don’t look as nice as they would if they were nice and yellow on top. I too would like to know what I might have done wrong!

  2. Kate Sinon says

    Can you double the recipe (using a 9 x 13 pan)? Or would it be better to make 2 separate recipes using the 8×8 pans?

    • says

      I know for sure that two separate pans would work. I haven’t tried cooking in a larger dish and don’t want to steer you wrong. I’ll put this on my to-do list to test out, so that I can update the recipe to answer this in advance for people. Thanks for the question!

  3. Jennifer says

    This recipe beats all of the other paleo lemon bar recipes I’ve tried. I can’t have honey right now, but they turn out delicious using light, grade A maple syrup and a couple tbsps of coconut sugar. I bake it in a parchment lined ceramic dish. I suspect if I forego the parchment, then my crust wouldn’t float to the middle of the lemony goodness during baking. They’re so good. I wouldn’t care if they came out upside down. Thank you for this recipe!

  4. Carrie says

    Can I substitute Great Lakes Gelatin for the eggs? I have a sensitivity to eggs & have had luck with pale cookie recipes using gelatin as an egg substitute. Curious if you think it would still work here since there are so many eggs, and also if it would effect the bake time?

    • says

      I would not recommend that substitution, mainly because the dessert/custard itself is the egg. You’d have to bloom the gelatin with a liquid and I’m not sure that water and lemon juice would really offer the right texture. It’s possible that something could work with coconut milk, lemon and gelatin, but I haven’t worked with that yet to be able to offer an alternative. Sorry about that!

  5. niccie says

    Am waiting for these to cool now! Smells amazing! To avoid a lot of cracking put a large dish of water at the bottom of the oven :) (also works with cheesecakes) mine only has 2 tiny cracks. Thanks for a great recipe!!!!

  6. Amy Locati says

    I had to cook mine 10 minutes longer to set. They look nothing like yours, very eggy and kind of gloppy. Not smooth and pretty like yours do. I used a stand mixer so I assume that would mix all the ingredients up fairly well. They taste fine, just wish they looked more appetizing.

    • says

      Hey Amy! The first question I gotta ask is if you let it cool fully before diving in? My brain goes there because you describe what it looks like fresh from the oven–very eggy, custardy and not like a smooth curd lemon bar. The bars gotta be totally cool (or even better, cold) to get the texture in the pictures above. These are so great I want to make sure we get it right for you to enjoy–both texturally and taste wise :-)

    • says

      Hi Kelsey – I haven’t made the recipe with another nut to tell you definitely which would be the best substitute for almonds. My initial guess is that cashews could work. In fact, if I were do draft an alternate for the bars, I would pick cashews first. No promises, but that’s the direction I can point you in. Thanks for your question!

  7. jeanne says

    I was jonesing for lemon curd this very afternoon, and here you’ve done my homework for me! I’m one week in to a Whole30, so these will have to wait a few weeks, but I’m very excited to try these – thank you!

  8. Annette says

    I’m sorry but I just couldn’t wait. I ate ’em while they were still quite warm and seriously, I think I have found some lemon perfection. These are just sooooo good and I haven’t even tried them cool yet. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.

      • Samy says

        Hi, me again, can I use corn flour or something else instead of arrowroot flour or tapioca flour? It seems difficult to get hold of?

          • popularpaleo says

            I was just at the store the other day, saw that and wondered the same thing. I’m gonna go with yes. But you should google it to be sure if you want to be 100% confident.

        • popularpaleo says

          I buy arrowroot and tapioca right on the shelf from my run of the mill, chain grocery store. Try a health food store if yours doesn’t offer it or you can always order online. You’ll find everything you need here, in Kitchen Essentials. Select “The Paleo Pantry” to find Paleo-friendly products, these included. http://popularpaleo.com/in-the-kitchen/

        • Samy says

          Is that nope to coconut oil substitute and yes to regular instead of raw honey? I saw another paleo blog that said not to use extra virgin coconut oil and to use refined coconut oil instead? Would you agree with that? Thanks so much for your replies and for this blog x

          • popularpaleo says

            Yes, you can use whatever honey you’d like. No, there isn’t a substitute to coconut oil.

            Between virgin and refined, virgin is the best option. But more importantly make sure that it is organic. Choosing an organic coconut oil ensures that no chemicals were used at any point in harvesting oil such as to deodorize the extracted oil.

            One thing to remember is that “refined” essentially means processed. We want to focus on foods that are close to nature as possible, with minimal tampering.

            Consider reading this article by Mark’s Daily Apple for more information: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/coconut-oil-health-benefits/#axzz2nSdGLiPC

  9. Jackie says

    I made these a while back and they turned out wonderful!! My non- paleo friends scarfed them down! I topped them with blueberry “jam” (blueberries, honey, and chia seeds) and the combination was amazing!! I want to make these as tarts for a work birthday dessert…if I made these in mini tart pans would I have to change the cooking time or ratio of ingredients??

    • popularpaleo says

      That jam idea sounds amazing!!!! For making into minis (awesome idea too!), I’d just eyeball it. I don’t know how many pans you have or what size they are so I can’t really guess — but just divide evenly and go with it. It’d consider cooking them in a water bath too if you can (like you would with a cheesecake). It should help stabilize the filling. Maybe check on them at 20 minutes just to see if they need the full 30? I’m totally guessing here! Let me know how it turns out!

    • popularpaleo says

      I never tried freezing them… We go through the whole batch within a couple days, so the opportunity hasn’t been there. Next time I’ll set a piece out and see how it does. (And PS – THANKS! Glad you liked them!)

  10. says

    Since I’m the only one who likes lemon at my house, I made a half batch of these and put them in four ramekin dishes. I used a bain marie method to prevent the custard cracking by placing my four little ramekin dishes in an 8X8 pan with 2 cups of hot water in the pan. I also added a tiny pinch of lavender blossoms before cooking. They were delish!!!

  11. Melinda says

    We made this tonight….SOOOO good! The family was eating, quiet, eyes rolling back in their heads. =) Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe. My family thanks you too, because since mom went paleo/primal, everyone did. They miss treats. I’m happy it was easy to make!

    • popularpaleo says

      This makes me happy :-) Good for you leading the charge! I have kiddos too and they always love when I make these lemon bars.

      Appreciate your message!

    • popularpaleo says

      First, I would suggest not using agave. It’s highly processed, much like high fructose corn syrup, and is not the “natural” product it is marketed to be. It’s possible that the agave threw off the sweet-to-sour balance?

  12. Liz says

    We tried & loved these lemon bars!! My family especially loved the nutty sweet crust. What do you think would happen if you used the crust to make some kind of cookie or bar? Without the lemon topping?

    • says

      Awesome! Hmmm… Not sure! I should really experiment with the crust as a base recipe for other treats. It might be good with warm cinnamon spices and dried cranberries for fall? I’ll have to play around with it.

  13. andrea says

    Can I use gelatin instead of arrowroot? And how much? What do you think, arrowroot is not SCD, I am trying to make this SCD, they look delicious!

    • says

      Honestly, I bet you could leave the arrowroot out altogether, without substituting gelatin. Usually tapioca flour is a common alternative, but I’m not sure how that plays into the SCD thing.

    • says

      Nope. I don’t count calories or track macros… I enjoy the freedom Paleo offers in that department. There are plenty of websites that can provide that information to you. Do a quick google search and see which one will meet your needs.

  14. Tia says

    These are delicious! I’ve made them a few times now. I leave mine in for 40 minutes because it’s not cooked in the middle after 30. Last time I added blueberries….amazing!

  15. Domenica says

    Hi there! I have to share my silly mistake for a giggle! My girlfriend sent my the link to your gorgeous recipe and I couldn’t wait to make it. So I just did and I couldn’t work out why it burnt. I set my oven to 300, as it didn’t go to 325, which puzzled me more. It just dawned on me that you were referring to Fahrenheit, not Celsius! A little if the top removed and it still tastes amazing! PS. 300 Celsius is 572 fahrenheit!

  16. Cassie Hagstrom says

    made these last night and I will definitely be re-making them in the future. I put mine in the refrigerator to chill overnight and they were a perfect cold treat on a hot summer morning! Even though they had a lot of eggs in there, the amount of lemon juice added just enough flavor to make them taste like true lemon bars!

    • says

      If it helps, I feel like the honey could be scaled back to 1/3 cup without compromising the quality too much. It’s not an overly sweet dessert as is, but I hear you. Sometimes we just gotta put the brakes on the treats for a while…

    • says

      Thanks, Estee! If you want to keep it Paleo, the answer is no. If you’re just looking for a good lemon bar recipe, then I can tell you that the custard-like filling is definitely worth using, but maybe find another crust from a regular recipe. This one is totally grain-free, dairy-free and sugar-free!

  17. katie p says

    I made these when we had non-“paleo” friends over this last weekend and we all LOVED them! thanks so much for the recipe. i would have to say this is probably the best paleo desert i’ve ever made, and we’ve been eating fairly strict paleo for about 2.5 years, so we’ve tried quite a bit! I feel like it could be pretty versatile to try with other fruit variations also… looking forward to trying some others.

    • says

      This makes my week, Katie! Thank you!!! Sometimes I come up with something and think its pretty decent, but then hearing back from you and others like you lets me know I’m on the right track. Appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment! So glad you and your friends liked it!

  18. says

    I love lemon bars and these look divine! Gotta try them out soon for sure :) Definitely following your blog, such a big fan of Paleo. Mind checking out my blog at adashofdelish.wordpress.com? Full of healthy recipes which devote themselves to fresh, real ingredients. Made a No-bake vegan key lime pie yesterday which turned out just great too, the recipe is on the blog if you like citrus-y pies!

  19. says

    Wowee!!! I just tried this lovely little delight and absolutely loved it!!! My 9 year old daughter finished off my supply with a delightful grin over the last couple days. She commented that it is a lot like cheesecake and I totally agree! This is truly a wonderful dessert, as I’m not fond at all of overtly sweet desserts. This treat totally satisfies my sweet tooth and tastes filling, while even giving me a little nurishing feeling of goodness. Thank you Ciarra! You are truly a star in this new food revolution!!! I can’t wait to try various flavor varieties. I think I may try raspberry next. :)

  20. says

    YUM! I had tried a paleo approved lemon bars recipe a while back and it was not good. Will have to try your recipe the next time I have a sweet craving. Your recipes never disappointment. :)

          • Maren says

            I made these and although they were delicious I found my crust was very wet. It did harden up after in the fridge for a day but was still not crusty or crumbly. Just wondering if this is normal. I could actually just eat the lemon filling as it is just the right amount of sweet and sour. I love that a small square of these totally satisfies me!


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