These vegan strawberry lemonade bars scream SUMMER. They're made with just a handful of ingredients, including one surprise vegetable addition!
These strawberry lemonade bars are based on the vegan lemon bars in my cookbook*. If you've made those or if you've glanced at the recipe, then you know there's something sneaky and special about these particular lemon bars.
Not only are they totally plant-based, they also contain a surprise vegetable ingredient.
Any guesses what's tucked away in these sweet, custardy, tangy bars...?
If you guessed POTATOES, then you'd be right!
Seriously. Yukon gold potatoes are part of what gives these bars their texture.
Traditional lemon bars are made with eggs, and it can be tricky to achieve the right texture in a recipe that's so reliant on them. But I'm telling you, potatoes are where it's at. They impart a creamy, custardy texture in these bars and their natural starches also serve to stabilize and set the base. Win-win.
To make these summery strawberry lemonade bars, you'll start by preparing the crust. This particular crust is a go-to in my bar recipes. It's reminiscent of a traditional shortbread, and works well in an array of recipes, including these Vegan Twix Bars and these Peanut Butter Chocolate Ganache Bars.
This crust is super simple to make and requires just one bowl and six ingredients.
To make it, you'll whisk together oat flour, coconut flour, and sea salt. Then, stir in melted coconut oil, maple syrup, and a splash of vanilla. The texture will be quite soft and spongy. Press the crust mixture into a lined square baking pan, and bake it for just 12 minutes, or until its edges are just barely turning golden.
While the crust bakes, you'll get to work on the filling. Peel and dice a Yukon gold potato. Measure out one cup and steam it in a steamer or steamer basket until it's fork-tender.
While the potato steams, wash, hull, and slice 1 cup of strawberries. In a pinch, you can use thawed frozen strawberries, but I find that fresh strawberries offer the brightest, richest flavor.
Add the strawberries to a food processor and process until puréed.
Once the potato is ready, add it to the food processor with the strawberry purée along with ¾ cup fresh lemon juice, arrowroot starch (for thickening), coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and sea salt (or kala namak).
If you have kala namak (black salt) on hand, now's the time to use it. Its sulfuric flavor is incredibly reminiscent of eggs and infuses the filling with a custardy, egg-like undertone.
Do note that it's a bit smelly when it's first added to the mixture, but its sulfuric nose will fade as the filling sets.
Once everything has been added to the food processor, process for two minutes, or until completely smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.
Transfer the filling mixture to a large saucepan and whisk constantly over medium heat for five minutes, or until the filling thickens and becomes slightly translucent. This process activates the arrowroot starch, which helps thicken and set the bars.
Once the filling has thickened, pour it over the cooled crust. Freeze for three hours, then transfer to the refrigerator and continue to chill for another three hours or until the filling has set enough to slice.
Alternatively, if you don't want to mess with transferring between freezer and fridge, you can simply chill in the refrigerator overnight. The freezer step is merely there to expedite the chilling process.
Quicker the chill, the sooner you can enjoy these sweet, tangy strawberry lemonade bars.
I hope you love these summery dessert bars as much as I do. If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don't forget to tag a photo #blissfulbasil on Instagram.
Vegan Strawberry Lemonade Bars
- 1 cup oat flour
- ¼ cup coconut flour
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Strawberry Lemonade Filling
- 1 cup peeled and small-cubed (⅓-inch cubes) Yukon gold potato (about 1 medium potato)
- 1 cup fresh hulled or thawed frozen strawberries
- ¾ cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 to 4 large, juicy lemons)
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot starch
- ½ cup coconut oil, melted
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon kala namak (black salt) or fine-grain sea salt
For the Crust
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Line an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper (Double-check your pan size—a 9 x 9-inch pan won't work for this recipe).
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the oat flour, coconut flour, and sea salt. Add the coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla, and stir well to combine. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. The dough will be soft and slightly spongy.
- Scoop the dough into the lined pan, and use your fingers to press and spread it into an even layer. Just keep working it out toward the edges of the pan until you have a thin, even layer. Use a fork to poke several holes across the surface to vent.
- Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the edges are just barely turning golden and the crust feels softly set but not yet crisp. Let cool completely in the pan.
For the Strawberry Lemonade Filling
- The potato needs to be measured precisely, so make sure you have exactly 1 cup of small-cubed potato, and steam it in a steamer or steamer basked for 20 to 25 minutes, or until fork-tender. (Avoid steaming in the microwave.)
- Add the strawberries to a food processor and process until puréed.
- Once the potato is ready, add it to the food processor along with the lemon juice, arrowroot, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and kala namak. Process for 2 to 3 minutes, or until completely smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.
- Transfer to a large saucepan and whisk constantly over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the filling thickens and becomes slightly translucent. Be careful not to overheat.
- Pour the filling over the crust. Loosely cover the pan and chill in the freezer* for 3 hours. Then, transfer to the refrigerator and chill for another 3 hours, or until the filling has set well enough to slice. The filling will continue to firm up and thicken the longer the bars are refrigerated, so keep this in mind if you prefer a denser, thicker filling.
- Gently lift the bar out of the pan. Slice into 16 small squares. If desired, sift a bit of powdered sugar over top.
- Return the bars to the parchment-lined pan and keep chilled. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
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