Lemon Bars with Coconut

May 14, 2014
Lemon Bars with Coconut - These healthy, gluten-free lemon bars with coconut are the perfect mix of sweet and tangy .. with a surprise of coconut in the crust

For as long as I can remember, I served him desserts made of chocolate

Happiness is Chocolate Cake

Photo Credit: YouHappyIHappy.com

This dear friend of ours

Until, as fate would have it, a birthday dinner in his honor.  Wanting something he'd remember, a 14-layer chocolate cake was born. It took the better part of two days to construct, an awful lot of head-scratching and turned out as beautiful and delicious as a sugary masterpiece could be

Not long after, in casual conversation with his wife. “Chocolate really isn't his thing. “  As a quiet look of dismay washed across my face, “Wait, you knew that, right?”

“But I made the cake. “  She smiled,

“And he ate it.”  She smiled some more

“Come to think of it; he's eaten all of the chocolaty desserts I've baked over the years.”


Lemon Bars with Coconut - These healthy, gluten-free lemon bars with coconut are the perfect mix of sweet and tangy with a surprise of coconut in the crust

“So if he doesn't like chocolate, what DOES he like?”


“Lemon (?!)”


Life lesson #3975 – Never assume.  Ask the question

Lemon Bars with Coconut - These healthy, gluten-free lemon bars with coconut are the perfect mix of sweet and tangy with a surprise of coconut in the crust

As the years passed, we caught a groove he and I.  New desserts crossed his plate: gingerbread, oatmeal-raisin cookies, and homemade vanilla ice cream.  Life was good

Until I caught the bug for healthy cooking

It went unsaid.  The fear of unfortunate desserts

Turns out, this lover of pretty much anything, as long as there are sugar and half-and-half involved, has become my litmus test.  If I can please someone with a sweet tooth, I'm probably on to something

The official thumbs-up has been given to the lemon bars

Lemon Bars with Coconut - These healthy, gluten-free lemon bars with coconut are the perfect mix of sweet and tangy with a surprise of coconut in the crust

This is a recipe for lemon lovers if there ever was one

A filling that's nice and thick with great flavor and a beautiful, silky texture.  The custard sits on top of a crust similar to a coconut macaroon, sweetened with maple syrup and pre-baked.  It's perfectly sticky, sweet, and gooey.  Although substantial enough to hold its own without turning soggy.

A few thoughts.  I upped the original custard recipe by about half, toasted the coconut, and used fresh lemons for the juice.  It's not a massive commitment to citrus fruit and worth it for a flavor that needs to shine

Ours were served plain, although I imagine they would also be great with some roasted balsamic strawberries and a few extra sprinkles of toasted coconut sprinkled on top



~ Adapted from The Little White Kitchen

Lemon Bars with Coconut


  • Crust
  • 6 Tbsp coconut oil, melted, but not hot, divided
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • pinch salt
  • 2 egg whites (save the yolks to use in the filling)

  • Filling
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup lemon juice around 3 lemons
  • 2 Tbsp lemon zest
  • ½ cup almond flour

  • 3 Tbsp powdered sugar (for dusting)


  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • Line a 9x13" baking dish with parchment paper
  • In a small saucepan, over low heat, toast the shredded coconut in one Tbsp coconut oil, until lightly browned

  • Make the Crust
  • Melt the remaining 5 Tbsp coconut oil in a saucepan on low heat.
  • Add maple syrup, toasted coconut, almond flour, and salt. Stir until combined. Remove from the heat.
  • Add the two eggs whites to the coconut mixture in the pan and keep stirring for about a minute.
  • Spread the coconut mixture into the prepared baking dish, using the back of a spoon or spatula. Press it down firmly, so it becomes quite compact.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes (or until lightly golden brown) and remove it from the oven.

  • Prepare the Filling and Assemble
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs + the 2 egg yolks with an electric mixer until frothy.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and beat for two more minutes.
  • Pour the mix over the baked crust in the baking dish. Bake for around 16-19 minutes or until edges are light brown and center is set.
  • Let the pan cool for at least 10-15 minutes before slicing the bars.
  • Dust with coconut flour, powdered sugar, or a few extra toasted coconut flakes
  • Serve at room temperature.
  • The bars can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.
Serves: 18
Nutrition + Show
Calories 215
Total Fat 16.7g
Saturated Fat 9.7g
Carbohydrates 13.4g
Fiber 2.5g
Sugars 10g
Protein 4.7g
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  • Reply Terra May 17, 2014 at 3:07 am

    My hubby adores chocolate, I adore anything fruit, so we always find a way to compromise. I am so excited to find a healthier version of lemon bars, they sound fabulous! Take care, Terra

    • Reply sexyveggie May 17, 2014 at 4:03 am

      Thanks so much Terra!

  • Reply Diane May 30, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    I was here for the first time, I will probably try this delicious looking recipe, I was wondering if you have any recipes for diabetics.

    Thanks keep up the great work which I am sure I will be savoiring some of of those recipes 🙂

    • Reply sexyveggie May 30, 2014 at 7:08 pm

      Hi Diane,

      Thank-you so much.

      Yes .. most of the recipes found on the site are diabetic friendly. I cook & eat from a philosophy of blood sugar stabilization. All include nutritional information so you can judge portion size, calories, and if you need to, for example add a side of protein to create a balanced meal.


  • Reply Emilie July 2, 2015 at 2:07 am

    Starting to really love lemony-things for the first time, so these are just perfect! Thanks 🙂

    • Reply sexyveggie July 2, 2015 at 7:19 pm

      Thanks so much Emilie

  • Reply Becky Jarratt March 21, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    I made these lemon bars today, as we’re anticipating a snowstorm on the east coast. They are profoundly dangerous to have in the house when you may be snowed in for two days!

  • Reply Linda February 4, 2018 at 11:10 am

    5 stars
    Every now and then, I get a Sunday morning all to myself. When I do, I make myself breakfast and coffee, head out to the patio and bask in the early morning light, the quiet, and the joy of reading every blog post of yours since the last time I had a Sunday morning all to myself. And every time I get to, I think I should let you know how much I enjoy it…so today I am.

  • Reply Elle February 4, 2018 at 3:41 pm

    5 stars
    I just dug deep into your archives to find an apricot/ginger cookie recipe I recalled making. For some reason, our family cannot agree on cookies, but I remember that one made everyone happy. Sifting through several years of blog posts to find the recipe made me realize what an incredibly complex, rich, delicious, wondrous story you have already lived!

  • Reply Sarah Bailey April 20, 2018 at 3:08 pm

    5 stars
    OK these look absolutely amazing, I have to admit I LOVE a lemon dessert and come on who doesn’t love a bit of coconut! The perfect pairing.

  • Reply Maria April 20, 2018 at 4:09 pm

    5 stars
    How timely! We’re hosting a Nancy Drew themed 12th birthday party in 2 weeks. In the ND movie, lemon squares are either her or her housekeeper’s signature snack. They’re used to coerce a reluctant witness to spill their guts. We’ll definately try this for the party.

  • Reply Dalene April 21, 2018 at 1:27 am

    5 stars
    Lemon lovers like me are surely loving not only the yummy cake but also the recipe itself. And just like him, I will have lemon if not chocolate. I love how lemon adds a very unique sweet taste to cakes and other pastries as well. Anyway, the lemon bars have a really nice cut too and I can already imagine how sweet they taste now that mustard is a perfect topping!

  • Reply Lauren April 21, 2018 at 9:45 am

    Aii, lemon bars, the stuff of every church social EVER.

  • Reply Stella April 21, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    5 stars
    I am usually not a huge fan of anything with lemon but I like the sound of this recipe. I am a lover of anything with coconut in it. I can definitely see myself snacking on some Lemon Coconut Bars.

  • Reply Lianne April 21, 2018 at 2:41 pm

    You have just made my week. Merci. 🙂

  • Reply Bethany April 21, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    You had me at “Lemon bars.” But first, I have to try your ginger apricot cookies!

  • Reply Nora April 21, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    There are about 452,005 Lutheran women in Minnesota who are slumbering with good dreams because you posted a lemon bar recipe. 🙂 But these bars look like they’d kick the booty out of what I’m used to eating.

  • Reply Johnny April 22, 2018 at 12:03 am

    I’m not a big dessert guy, however if its something lemon favoured then I have to try it. This recipe was amazing!

  • Reply David Allen Elliott April 22, 2018 at 12:05 pm

    5 stars
    It’s funny I was out in Solvang with my girlfriend this weekend and she found out for the first time I loved lemon so much. She’s a chocolate person. And it’s not that I don’t like chocolate. But I used to be more allergic to it. And so I got used to liking more fruity flavored desserts. Lemon was one of my first loves with those desserts. And these lemon bars look amazing. I will have to make this soon.

  • Reply Mellissa Williams April 22, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    5 stars
    I’m glad the gave a thumbs up to the lemon bars, they look absolutely delicious! I can just imagine the look on your face when his wife said that to you about the chocolate!

  • Reply Komal April 22, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    I would love a 14 later chocolate cake! Lol. Love this recipe! A lot of gluten free and healthy items going into this. I would love to try it!

  • Reply Yolanda April 22, 2018 at 4:23 pm

    5 stars
    Our whole family loves lemon and this looks like something we all would enjoy, going to try to make this next weekend for our family gathering!

  • Reply Joanna April 23, 2018 at 2:54 am

    5 stars
    I like the idea of a crust that resembles a macaroon. They are some of my favorite cakes in the world, especially the pistachio ones. I do like chocolate but I like other flavours as well. I think it depends on the season, if it’s hot or cold outside. I would be surprised too if someone would say they don’t like chocolate 🙂

  • Reply Rachael April 23, 2018 at 4:49 am

    I LOVE lemon cake and lemon bars…oh and those lemon muffins with lemon curd inside. Yum. Just can’t get enough of lemony goodness and these bars look blooming incredible.

  • Reply Anne April 23, 2018 at 5:37 am

    This recipe is being saved for use for a girls’ night gathering I’m having in a couple of weeks. Thanks!

    I had a tasty lemon bar recipe a few years back but it was completed beaten by a coworker’s recipe at some potluck event. Hers called for a smidgen of almond extract and it was amazing! I might have to halve your recipe (the light-on-the-lemon version) and try a bit o’ almond in one half.

    I still can’t believe she showed me up like that.

  • Reply Lindsey April 23, 2018 at 6:34 am

    ok, lemon, dessert you know that you are always on to a winner. My favourite dessert is anything with Lemon, whilst I am not a major coconut fan, these beauties do look great and refreshing.

  • Reply Emily Leary April 23, 2018 at 8:23 am

    5 stars
    Those look like little squares of perfection! The topping sounds amazing (I love anything lemony or sweetened with maple syrup) and the coconut and almond base… yum!

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