Insanely Delicious Gluten Free Lemon Bars – Dairy Free Too!

Pin on PinterestShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on YummlyShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditShare on Google+Digg this

A delicious Gluten Free lemon bars recipe with the best gluten free shortbread crust. They’re the tastiest gluten free dessert bars you’ll ever try and dairy free too.
A delicious Dairy Free and Gluten Free lemon bars recipe with the best shortbread base. They're the tastiest gluten free dessert bars you'll ever try! |Lemon Squares |

Gluten Free Lemon Bars

Over Christmas I wanted to make mince pies, they are traditional British
pies filled with mincemeat and are common all over the UK during the festive period, I was yearning for a taste of home and so decided to throw some together at the last minute.

I’ve made Mince Pies with gluten free pastry in the past, I adapted a gluten shortcrust pastry recipe from an old British cookbook and they worked very well as I remember.

Now perhaps it’s because I’m totally disorganized or simply a function of being on the wrong side of forty, but I couldn’t remember which book or which recipe I’d used previously, so in a rush I turned to Google and pulled up a recipe for gluten free pastry off the internet, what could possibly go wrong?

“They’re a little bit chewy, Mom” said my ten year old son, he was being very generous.

They were basically inedible and tough as old boots. There was nothing else for it but to trash them, and I never did get around to trying Mince Pies again as all the Christmas busyness took over and we simply moved on to cooking other sugar filled goodies instead.

Well I’m happy to report that my gluten free Lemon Bars work well and the shortbread crust is perfect!

No baking disasters with them so far and no complaints from my son or anyone else in the house. They were so tasty that I ended up giving away some away for fear that I would eat the whole lot while the kids were at school.

A delicious Dairy Free and Gluten Free lemon bars recipe with the best shortbread base. They're the tastiest gluten free dessert bars you'll ever try! |Lemon Squares |

The crust when mixed will be very soft and not like regular gluten cookie or shortbread dough, this is ok, you just need to adjust your expectations!

The consistency is probably more like thick frosting and so I used an offset spatula to spread it over the parchment paper lined baking pan, it baked up really nicely and although it was soft when cooked, it was not crumbly.

It’s important to chill it fully in the fridge for about two hours to allow it to set up before cutting it into squares.

I prefer to use my own All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend for all my baking recipes, I find that I get better results that way.

If you are buying a ready made All Purpose Flour blend then I’d advise you to buy one with NO added gums as there’s no way to know how much gum is in there and I’ve found the results for this and other recipes to be inconsistent with certain brands.

I prefer to measure out and add the Xanthan Gum myself as you need differing amounts depending on the type of thing you are baking. I also use Dairy Free Margarine that is suitable for baking (some will NOT work well in baking) but if you’re not avoiding dairy butter will be a good substitute.

If you are gluten and dairy free then I think you’ll love my dairy free Lemon Curd and these really tasty gluten and dairy free Lemon Donuts from Fearless Dining.

*This post may contain Amazon affiliate links*


Lemon Bars - Gluten Free
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Quite possibly the best gluten free shortbread crust ever, and the lemon topping is delicious too!
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 20
  • 175g (Approx. 1.5 sticks) Dairy Free Margarine (or butter if you don't need to avoid dairy)
  • 75g (1/3 cup + 1 tbspn) sugar
  • 250g (Approx 1.5 cups (see notes!) ) gluten free all purpose flour
  • 1tsp xanthan gum (omit if your flour has any gums added)
  • ½ tsp gluten free baking powder
  • 300g 1½ cups sugar
  • 120mls ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 30g ¼ cup all purpose gluten free flour, or cornstarch
  • gluten free powdered sugar to dust
  1. *Please read the notes first!*
  2. You will need a 9x13 baking pan, line the base and sides with parchment paper
  3. Preheat your oven to 350f
  4. Cream butter (or margarine) and sugar in mixer.
  5. In separate bowl add flour, xanthan gum, baking powder and mix well. Omit the Xanthan gum if you are using a ready made flour mixture which has gum added.
  6. Add flour mix to butter/sugar and mix well until combined.
  7. Your 'dough' may be soft, especially if you used dairy free spread. If you find it is super soft then put it in the fridge for half an hour to firm up a little
  8. Press your dough into the lined baking pan and spread out evenly with an offset spatula, I sometimes find that the back of a spoon works well too.
  9. It's hard to tell when looking at the baking pan, but try and get the dough spread with an even thickness.
  10. Bake at 350 for 20 mins or until lightly brown.
  11. While base is cooking make the filling, mix all the topping ingredients except the powdered sugar. When base is cooked pour over topping and return to the oven to bake for a further 30 minutes or until the center is set and no longer moves when you shake the pan.
  12. Cool for two hours in the fridge, dust with icing sugar when fully cooled and cut into squares.
1. I bake by weight as I find that gives the most consistent results, especially when baking gluten free. One cup of your gluten free flour blend may not weigh the same as my blend, all the commercially available blends have different mixes and ratios of flour in them. I’ve weighed cups of different blends of flour and noted that a cup of gluten free flour can vary in weight from 125g up to as much as 170g depending on how you scoop it, and what type of mix you use. You can see how this could drastically alter the outcome of a recipe.

I recognise that most Americans are used to the cup method which is why I also include those measurements,but they may not give you accurate results. If you are a keen gluten free baker I would encourage you to invest in a scale, you can get one for only $10 - $15.

2.I prefer to use my own homemade gluten free flour blend as it's cheaper and I get really great results.

3. If you can, avoid buying flour with gums already added. The reason for this is that you have no way of knowing how much gum is in there and that also can alter the outcome of the recipe. So for example, too much gum can give you a more sticky texture in a cupcake. And though the cupcake recipe will still work, it won’t be as nice as if you measured and added the gum yourself.

4. One potential problem with most lemon bars recipe is that the liquid lemon mixture can sometimes make the shortbread soft on the top, though not all the way through. I've found that if you have the lemon mix ready to go straight on the shortbread as soon as it's cooked and then quickly get it back in the oven, that helps a bit. Secondly, if you let the lemon bars fully cool and then chill in the fridge the shortbread base will crisp up nicely. The only sure fire way to avoid this issue is to make a kind of lemon curd mixture for the topping, but that's more involved and time consuming and requires cooking it on the stove top first so I've just stuck with the traditional way of doing it.

5. If you have to use Dairy free margarine as I do please make sure you find one that is suitable for baking. Some margarine brands have a lot of water and will be sure to disappoint if you try to bake with them, I typically use Earth Balance.


A delicious Dairy Free Gluten Free lemon bars recipe with the best shortbread base. They're the tastiest gluten free dessert bars you'll ever try! Gluten Free Lemon Squares, gluten free dairy free lemon bars, gluten free lemon desserts, gluten free lemon recipes


  1. says

    Wow! These look so delicious! I’ve not mastered gluten free pastry yet but I bet you could possibly use the shortbread recipe as a pastry base, it would be perfect!

  2. says

    Hi Sheena! This recipe is just the thing to brighten up a drab wintry day. I used to make lemon bars frequently back when I could do gluten. I’m happy to have a GF recipe now! Pinning! Have a lovely week. 🙂

  3. JennS says

    i am a newbie to gluten free baking, it’s tricky! I used Glutino flour and xanthum powder, followed the recipe exactly, but it was a dud. The crust did not set up correctly and the lemon filling literally had a crust on it. Weird?. Since I am inexperienced baking gluten free, do you have any idea what I did wrong. The taste was good, but nothing like a real lemon bar. Thanks if you have any advice.

    • says

      Hi Jenn, Thanks for getting in touch and I’m so sorry they did not turn out for you! I’ve made these several times and they always turned out ok, the only time they did not I had used a flour blend with gum already added and they were just a smushy mess, but everything else was the same with the recipe. I usually make my own flour blend or use a mix without gums added. Firstly it looks like the glutino flour blend has acacia gum added to it, now I’m not familiar with that ingredient but I’d imagine it’s an alternative to xanthan or guar gum in which case you would not need to add any additional xanthan gum, that may have given you a more sticky dough. Did you use a 9×13 pan? It will alter the cooking time if the pan is a different size.

    • Sarah says

      I had the same result. My lemon topping also had a hard crunchy crust on top, and the bottom was very sticky, it seemed like the filling seeped down to the bottom of the pan? I followed the recipe exactily, including making a gf flour blend like the one you use/suggest. Not sure why it didn’t turn out, I am also fairly experienced, we’ve been gluten free for 6 years. But still, my family ate them. They were very sweet and I like mine a little more lemony than these turned out.

      • says

        Hi Sarah, I’m so sorry they did not work out for you, that’s very disappointing. I will ask my baker friends if they have any ideas as to why that might happen, I’ve never had mine cook with a crust on top so I’m not sure why that would happen either, I’ll let you know what I find out. I have seen a few people comment on other Lemon bar recipes (gluten free and regular) that they had similar issues with a soggy crust but it doesn’t seem to happen to everyone. I’ll see if I can find a fix, I appreciate you letting me know.

  4. Sarah says

    These look delicious! I am curious, is there any other sweetener that could substitute the sugar in this? Thanks

    • says

      Hi Sarah, I’m on vacation and just found your comment in my spam folder so apologies for the delay! I’ve only ever made it with sugar, but I know another blogger who makes a lot of low carb baking and she uses swerve sweetner a lot so you perhaps you could try it with that? It’s made from erthyritol which is very low carb but it does not agree with me (I have lots of gut issues 🙂 ) so I’ve never cooked with it.

  5. Kim says

    I made these today with my daughter. Our entire family loved them! Certainly didn’t taste like a gf recipe. The shortbread crust was very tasty. Wondering if you’ve tried other toppings to create other desserts? Thanks

    • says

      Hi Kim, I’m thrilled that they turned out well for you and they were enjoyed by all!! 🙂 With these bars I have made them with grapefruit juice, and with lime juice. The grapefruit was a very subtle flavor, but nice. I’ve also made the same lemon recipe but added in whole raspberries to the lemon mix. I was just wondering yesterday if I could make a shortbread cookie that would work in a layered strawberry shortcake type dessert – watch this space! 😉

      • Kim says

        Oh these ideas sound great ! I can’t wait to see a strawberry shortcake dessert. I’ll keep watching!!

  6. Heather says

    When I measure out and weigh 1 1/2 cups flour it is closer to 150 grams, not 250 grams as indicated in the recipe. Is it possible that the measurement reference should actually be 2 1/2 cups flour?

    • says

      Hi Heather, I’m not sure what flour you are using but 150 grams per 1.5 cups seems very low for any type of flour, the average that seems to be stated online (for wheat flour) is 125g per cup and it would typically be more if you are using gluten free flour. I was baking a different recipe this week and my gluten free flour mix weighed 160g per cup, so that would make 1.5 cups of that mix at just under 250g. If you have a scale then stick to using that, it’s the most accurate.

  7. c says

    Has anyone tried using coconut oil instead of margarine or butter? Or is there another dairy free substitute?

    • says

      Hi, I have not tried this with coconut oil so I’m not sure how it would turn out. If you do try it with coconut oil I’d try it with the oil in its solid form, not liquid.I don’t know of any other dairy free alternative I’m afraid.

  8. Marie says

    Hi, crazy question… Can you use spelt or whole wheat pastry flour instead? I am allergic to dairy but have no gluten issues. Thanks! Btw these look amazing 😊

    • says

      Hi Marie,

      I think it probably would work with whole wheat flour, but I can’t promise that it will because I’ve never tried it. The amounts I have may not be exactly right for a wheat flour crust, but I think it would be pretty similar, let me know if it works!

  9. says

    Hi, I made the flour blend, and measured in grams, and my crust was very dry, crumbly and not moist at all. I’m not sure what I did wrong, I double weighed everything, and it was all correct. It’s baking now, but I have no clue if it will work at all. Any ideas?

  10. Beth says

    I made these for a Christmas gathering and they turned out fabulous! I used organic cane sugar in the crust and half organic cane sugar, half maple syrup in the filling to make it a little heather. They tasted as good as traditional lemon bars. A keeper for sure!

    • says

      Hi Beth, I’m thrilled that they turned out so well for you and I appreciate you taking the time to let me know! What a great idea to sub some of the sugar for maple syrup, I bet they tasted fantastic!

  11. Rosanna says

    I just made these for a potluck, and after taste testing them I have to say that they’re pretty wonderful! I added about 1.5 TBSP lemon zest to the filling to make them even more tart and lemony, and I used about 1 TBSP less sugar than called for in the crust and the filling. I thought 1/4c cornstarch seemed like a lot so I used 3 TBSP and the filling set up nicely. I didn’t have any xanthan gum but the crust seems fine without it. This made a very thin bar for me, not as tall as yours look but I did have a little less volume since I didn’t use as much sugar as called for. There are a few gluten and dairy free families coming to the potluck, I’m so happy to have a “normal” tasting dessert to bless them with!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *