Lemon Bars Recipe

Brace yourself, I finally created lemon bars without processed sugar!

Now I’m not going to sugarcoat this (although I kinda did… literally). Just because these are clean doesn’t mean you can chow down. They are high in fat and calories, so adjust your eating plan accordingly for special occasions. (Eating one of these bars/squares is about the same as eating 1 Lara Bar.)

Three of these Clean Eating Lemon Bars sit on a wooden cutting board with half a lemon sitting next to them.

The truth is, I had to make this three times. The first time, the filling didn’t set at all, and I essentially has a lemon syrup over cashew crust. Mini Chef lovingly refers to it as my “lemon disaster” (which he ate a bunch of… oh, to have a 6-year-old metabolism!). The second one turned out pretty well, and the third one never gelled as much as the second one. So I went back to the recipe for #2.

I will tell you that these are pretty soft in the middle. They do not set like a traditional lemon bar. But they do set enough to get them cut and plated, and boy, are they delicious! The cashew crust gives them some chew, and the lemon juice flavor comes through nice and tart. It’s a fantastic combination!

And now that I’ve finished this recipe, I have to say I will never make these clean-eating lemon bars again. Not because I don’t love them, but rather because I do, just a little too much. I could eat the whole pan! It’s a good thing I’ve met a few people in this town, or I’d really be in trouble. I have to give this stuff away, or I’ll never reach my goals. But for special occasions, this dish is fabulous!

And if you’re really concerned about the nutrition data, you can always cut them a bit smaller. It was a totally worthy sacrifice as far as I’m concerned, and I’m happy to have given it a try!

Note: These can be frozen for up to 3 months if wrapped well. Allow them to thaw on the counter for 30 minutes before serving.

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Clean Eating Lemon Bars Recipe

Lemon Bars

Delicious lemon bar cookies without the processed sugar.
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 18 squares
Calories: 201kcal


Crust Ingredients

  • ¾ lb. raw cashews
  • 8 large Medjool dates (pitted)
  • 3 tbsp. honey

Filing Ingredients

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ¾ cup Sucanat (blended until fine – coconut sugar works too)
  • 2 medium lemons (juiced)
  • cup whole wheat pastry flour (OR white whole wheat flour)


  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • In a food processor, grind the cashews for approximately 20 seconds or until you have a coarse nut meal.
  • Add in the pitted dates and honey and blend further for approximately 1-2 minutes or until everything is well blended.
  • Empty the mixture out into an oiled 8 x 12 casserole dish (a dish that is slightly bigger is fine too.).
  • Spread the mixture out evenly over the bottom of the casserole dish and then press down firmly to create a firm crust.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together all the filling ingredients. Mix well to get rid of any clumps from the flour.
  • Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 25 minutes.
  • Cool enough to be able to set it in the fridge, and then chill in the fridge overnight. Cut into squares and serve.
  • Note that when you take it out of the oven, the filling will still have some jiggle to it. This will go away as it chills.


Please note that the nutrition data given here is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible.


Serving: 1square | Calories: 201kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 5mg | Potassium: 232mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 73IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 2mg

Recipe from the Gracious Pantry archives, originally posted 6/24/14.

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    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Kiarna – I hope you enjoy them!

  1. Jodi Hufendick says:

    I was so excited!!! I have always loved lemon bars and really wanted to be able to eat them occasionally. Okay, crust is all Paleo, yes! Wait, the filling has flour? Ugh. Sorry Tiffany. Why does there have to be flour in the filling? Is that why it wouldn’t set before? Could you use arrowroot powder instead? What it boils down to is that as a Paleo eater I just can’t eat sweets any more. Sigh.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Jodi – Yes, the flour sets the filling. If you prefer, you could try making a custard instead. Not sure how arrowroot would work. I haven’t tried.

    2. Arrowroot is more like cornstarch than flour but they are both used as thickening agents. I’d imagine if you use arrowroot, you wouldn’t need as much as the recipe calls for.

      1. The Gracious Pantry says:

        Suzanne – Thanks for the input! 🙂

  2. Hi Tiffany, these look delicious! Just wondering if it would be ok to substitute raw almonds for the cashews because I have plenty of almonds on hand and no cashews. Thanks!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Jamie – I don’t think it would hold up as well. You would have to mix in some sort of binding agent. Possibly an egg, but I think that would really alter the flavor. Cashews are perfect simply because they bind together so well when ground up. Maybe try making some almond milk with the extra almonds?

  3. Hi Tiffany, I have sugar-in-the-raw in my pantry. Would it be ok to use that instead of sucanat?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Michele – You can certainly use it, but I don’t believe it’s clean. I’m still researching all the different sugars though…

  4. Hi Tiffany,

    I made these this weekend and there was by far not enough filling to cover the crust. For my second batch I only used half the crust and put it in an 8×8 pan, and it still didn’t look as thick as the filling in your pictures above. Might it be 2 cups lemon juice instead of the juice of 2 lemons? Something definitely seemed amiss. They taste great though! 🙂


    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Cady – Ya, something is definitely off there. The recipe is correct, it’s only 2 lemons. I’m trying to think what could have gone wrong, but I’m stumped. 8×8 should have worked just fine. I will have to mull this one over. Are you positive you followed the recipe exactly?

  5. Hello Tiffany,

    Is there anything that can be used for the crust to substitute for the cashews? I have a nut allergy but I can eat seeds.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Naomi – I haven’t tried it with seeds, but I imagine it could work. Though it may get a little crumbly on you when you dish it out. Worth a shot though!

  6. Hi Tiffany, can I use coconut oil instead of sucanat?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Namida – One is oil and one is sugar. So I would not substitute one for the other, no. What are you trying to avoid?