Vegan Lemon Cheesecake Bars (No-Bake)
These vegan lemon cheesecake bars are an absolute must for lemon dessert lovers. They are incredibly zingy and bursting with fresh lemon flavour as well as an undertone of creamy vanilla from the cheesecake layer.
These Bars are:
- Fresh and light
- Zingy and citruss-y
- Bursting with flavour
- Creamy and smooth
- Hinted with vanilla undertones
- No-Bake and easy to make
- Can be adapted as gluten-free
Let’s talk about the crust and cheesecake layers
Being no-bake makes the crust and filling of these bars incredibly straight forward to make. The crust is made from a combination of coconut and oat, which compliment the lemon and vanilla flavours of the cheesecake layer so well.
Ingredients for Vegan Lemon Cheesecake Bars:
- Toasted coconut flakes: this gives the base a delicious buttery toasted coconut flavour. If you can’t get your hands on the flakes, you can use desiccated coconut in their place.
- Rolled oats: Oats make the perfect crust for no-bake recipes. Use gluten-free if you want to keep these lemon cheesecake bars allergy-friendly.
- Flaky salt: A touch of salt lifts the flavour of these bars. Kosher salt or Himalayan salt work too, just avoid regular table salt.
- Medjool dates: These work as the sweetener and binding agent for the crust. If your dates are hard, try soaking them in some warm water beforehand.
- Coconut oil: Coconut oil solidifies at room temperature, and helps to bind the base ingredients together as well as acting as a setting agent for the cheesecake filling.
- Cashews: These nuts are perfect for no-bake cheesecakes due to their creaminess and slightly cheesy flavour.
- Coconut cream: Full fat coconut cream adds richness and helps to set the cheesecake filling.
- Vanilla soya yoghurt: Plantbased yoghurt is a game-changer when it comes to no-bake cheesecakes. It adds flavour, tanginess and lightness.
- Pure maple syrup: These lemon bars are sweetened with a touch of maple syrup, you can also use agave nectar.
- Fresh lemon juice and zest: For that fresh and zingy lemon flavour.
- Vanilla extract: Make sure you opt for a brand that is vegan-friendly such as Neilsen Massey pure vanilla extract and Taylor and Colledge vanilla bean extract.
How To make no bake vegan lemon cheesecake bars
(full recipe and instructions in the recipe card at the end of this page)
make the crust
First add the dry ingredients (toasted coconut flakes, rolled oats and flaky salt) to your food processor and blitz them down to a crumb consistency. Breaking them down into a crumb before adding the wet ingredients will prevent there from being big chunks of coconut in the crust. Add in the wet ingredients (dates and coconut oil) and blitz again until everything sticks together and you’re left with a dough consistency. Line the base and sides of an 8″ square pan with parchment paper and press the dough into the base of the pan using a spatula or flat bottomed glass.
make the lemon cheesecake filling
The cashews will need to be soaked ahead of time which gives them a silkier, creamier mouth feel. Plus, it helps with making the blending process much easier on your kitchen equipment! Add the cashews to a bowl and cover them with filtered water. Leave them to soak for about 4 hours, then rinse them clean and drain before use. Note: If you’re in a hurry – don’t worry you can soak them in boiling water instead, then rinse and drain.
Once you’ve soaked the cashews, the filling couldn’t be easier. Simply add all of the ingredients to your high speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour the filling into the pan and gently tap it on your work counter to remove the air bubbles. Place in the freezer to set for about an hour while you prepare the lemon curd topping.
Let’s talk about the lemon curd topping
These bars are brought to the next level with an ultra zingy layer of lemon curd jelly. This layer is essentially vegan lemon curd with a little setting agent added to it to prevent it from being too liquid and spilling all over the edges of the bars. That said, you can definitely skip the agar-agar (setting agent) and just coat these bars with a saucy lemon curd topping if preferred.
Ingredients for the egg-free lemon curd topping:
- Fresh lemon juice and zest: Fresh is key here, you don’t want to use bottled lemon juice.
- Oat milk: Any plantbased milk will work here, make sure you opt for a gluten-free milk such as coconut, if you want to keep these bars suitable for celiacs.
- Organic caster sugar: If you’re based in the US, be sure to use organic sugar, as non-organic is often not vegan!
- Coconut cream: This adds richness to the lemon curd, which usually comes from egg yolks.
- Cornflour: Also known as cornstarch, this helps to thicken the curd.
- Agar agar powder: This is the plantbased setting agent which will take turn the curd into a jelly.
How to make vegan lemon curd
Add the fresh lemon juice and zest, oat milk and organic caster sugar to a saucepan over a medium heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer and allow it to reduce for 10 minutes. This will intensify the flavour and create a lemon-y syrup base for the curd. Transfer the lemon mixture to a heat proof jug.
Next, make a roux by melting the coconut cream in the saucepan and adding the cornflour. Whisk well to form a paste, and add the lemon mixture back to the pan in small increments, continuously whisking well to incorporate the mixture. Once all of the liquid has been added back to the pan add in the agar-agar powder, allow the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes, whisking it every 30 seconds or so. Agar-agar needs to be heated in order to activate it’s setting properties, once cooled it will then jellify. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool slightly for 10-15 minutes.
Pour the lemon curd over the cheesecake in an even layer and place back in the fridge to set for 3-4 hours. I don’t recommend freezing the cake once the lemon curd has been added. This is because when frozen and defrosted, the ice crystals can mess with the consistency of the jelly layer.
RECOMMENDED TOOLS TO MAKE THESE NO-BAKE LEMON CHEESECAKE BARS
HERE ARE SOME OTHER FRESH NO-BAKE RECIPES THAT I THINK YOU’LL LOVE
Vegan Lemon Cheesecake Bars (No-Bake)
- 1 cup toasted coconut flakes
- 1 cup gluten-free rolled oats sub with regular rolled oats
- ½ tsp flaky salt
- 7 medjool dates pitted
- 1 tbsp coconut oil solid
- 1 ½ cups cashews soaked *see notes
- 1 cup coconut cream or canned full fat coconut milk *see notes
- ½ cup vanilla soya yoghurt or coconut yoghurt
- 3 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp lemon zest
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 tbsp coconut oil solid
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp lemon zest
- ½ cup oat milk or coconut milk for gluten-free version
- 1 cup organic caster sugar
- 2 tbsp coconut cream
- 4 tbsp cornflour or cornstarch
- ½ tsp agar-agar powder
- 1 cup coconut cream optional
- fresh lemon zest optional
- To make the crust, add the toasted coconut flakes, rolled oats and salt to your food processor and blitz for a couple of minutes until they form a crumb consistency.
- Add the dates and coconut oil and continue to blend until the mixture sticks together to form a dough.
- Line the base and sides of an 8" square pan with parchment paper and press the dough into the base of the pan using a spatula or flat bottomed glass. Set aside.
- To make the filling, add all of the ingredients to your high speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
- Pour the filling into the pan and gently tap it on your work counter to remove the air bubbles.
- Place in the freezer to set for about an hour while you prepare the lemon curd topping.
- For the lemon curd, add the fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, oat milk and caster sugar to a saucepan and bring to a simmer on a medium heat. Simmer for 10 minutes to reduce and intensify the flavour, stirring every so often. Transfer the lemon mixture to a heat proof jug.
- Add the coconut cream to the saucepan and place back on the medium heat. Once the coconut cream has melted add the cornflour and whisk well to form a paste. Add the lemon liquid back to the saucepan a little at a time, whilst continuously whisking to incorporate the mixture.
- Once all of the liquid has been added back to the pan add in the agar-agar powder, allow the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes, whisking it every 30 seconds or so.
- Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool slightly for 10-15 minutes.
- Remove the cheesecake from the freezer and pour the lemon curd on top in an even layer.
- Place the cheesecake in the fridge to set for 3-4 hours, or overnight if preferred.
- Once set, remove the cheesecake from the pan and slice into servings. Decorate with piped coconut cream and fresh lemon zest if desired.
- These lemon bars will store well in the fridge in an airtight container for 4-5 days.