This easy Sugar Free Lemon Bars Recipe comes together in minutes. When you are craving a fresh and vibrant dessert my keto low carb lemon squares will be the perfect fix. This simple bar recipe is also gluten-free, grain-free, and Trim Healthy Mama friendly.
I love when readers send me recipes to test. Last month, I received this dough recipe from John in my email and I was intrigued by the use of milk powder. I gave it a try subbing in the heavy cream powder I had in my cupboard. It was a great dough! Very easy to work with and easier to make than a fathead type dough. It reminded me of the cream cheese dough I use in my pecan tassies.
Add in my current craving for light and refreshing spring flavors and this recipe for low carb keto lemon bars was born. I served these to friends a couple of days after making them and everyone loved them.
Are Lemon Bars Keto?
Traditional lemon squares are not keto friendly. They are full of carbs from the sugar and white flour used in them. That's why I wanted to develop a recipe for low carb sugar free lemon bars!
Ingredients in Almond Flour Crust:
- Almond Flour - Blanched almond flour has a mild flavor that works well in low carb baked goods. It has a tender crumb that is perfect in cakes, crusts, breads, muffins, cookies, rolls, pies, and biscuits.
- Heavy Cream Powder - you can sub in whole milk powder if necessary but this recipe was developed with heavy cream powder. I do offer other crust options in the next sections of this post.
- Coconut Flour - Coconut flour helps to balance the natural oiliness of almond flour since it is drier and absorbs more liquid than other keto diet friendly flours. A little goes a long way.
- Sugar-Free Sweetener - I like to use my homemade blend blend of xylitol, erythritol, and stevia in my recipes. By using a combination of sugar alcohols with stevia you can use half the amount required of 1:1 sweeteners and regular sugar.
- Cream Cheese - This makes the crust soft and tender while giving a boost of flavor!
- Eggs - Eggs are the binder to hold the crust together.
Crust for Gluten Free Sugar Free Lemon Bars
This cream cheese based crust mixes up in no time. Just add the ingredients for the crust to your stand mixer and turn it on. If you don't have a stand mixer you can mix this by hand or with an electric mixer.
This dough is unique in its use of heavy cream powder or whole milk powder. This makes the crust softer and enhances the flavor in the gluten free lemon bars.
If you'd prefer a crust without heavy cream powder try my Low Carb Pie Crust or the shortbread crust in my Pecan Tassies recipe.
How to Make Keto Lemon Bars
The filling for my lemon squares recipe is made easily either by hand or in your stand mixer. You just want to mix the ingredients until they are smooth. As long as you are using softened cream cheese and melted butter the filling comes together quickly.
Ingredients in Sugar Free Lemon Filling
Only 6 simple ingredients to make the perfect lemon custard filling for low carb lemon bars.
- Sugar-Free Sweetener - my sweetener is twice as sweet as sugar so you need less than other brands.
- Butter - regular salted butter is fine. The salt balances the sweetness of the other ingredients and highlights the tang of the lemon.
- Heavy Cream - aka heavy whipping cream. Using cream makes these so creamy.
- Eggs - whole large eggs are necessary for this recipe.
- Cream Cheese - I just use the store brand most of the time. Make sure to use full-fat cream cheese in this recipe.
- Lemon Juice - freshly squeezed is best for the most vibrant lemon flavor. If you must use bottled lemon juice also add some lemon extract.
Expert Tip - for a bolder lemon flavor add a teaspoon or two of lemon extract or lemon zest. You can even add some zest to the crust!
Can I use bottled lemon juice for lemon squares?
I don't recommend using bottled lemon juice for a dessert when lemon is the star flavor. The flavor just isn't as vibrant as squeezing fresh lemons. If you have to use bottled lemon juice make sure to choose one that tastes good. The rest of the ingredients are costly enough you don't want to have boring bland keto lemon bars from using a lesser quality bottled juice.
How to store Sugar Free Lemon Bars
I recommend storing this in the refrigerator since they have a lot of dairy ingredients in them. They will last a week in an air tight container in the fridge.
Can I Freeze Sugar Free Lemon Bars?
Yes! You can freeze lemon bars. Just freeze with a bit of space between them on a waxed paper or parchment-lined cookie sheet for an hour or two. Once they are thoroughly chilled wrap individually with plastic wrap.
Keto Dessert Bar Recipes
I love cookies but a lot of the time it's easier to just press a batter into an 8x8 baking dish. I default to bars and brownies over scooping individual cookies quite often when making low carb recipes. Here are some of my favorite easy keto recipes for bars.
Keto Chocolate Cake Bars with Cheesecake Swirl
Peppermint Cookies and Cream Bars
Tagalong Peanut Butter Cookie Bars
White Chocolate Peanut Butter Blondies
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- 3 oz cream cheese softened
- 1 ¼ cup almond flour
- ¼ cup heavy cream powder (or whole milk powder)
- 2 tablespoon coconut flour
- 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon Joy Filled Eats Sweetener (or see alternatives in recipe notes)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup Joy Filled Eats Sweetener (or see alternatives in recipe notes) finely ground
- 6 tablespoon butter softened
- ¼ cup cream light or heavy
- 3 eggs
- 2 oz cream cheese softened
- 3 tablespoon lemon juice
- zest of one lemon
- Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8x8 baking pan lined with parchment paper.
- Beat softened cream cheese with paddle attachment in a stand mixer, scrape the bowl and then add the remaining ingredients.
- Add remaining ingredients into the mixer and mix all together. Mix until mixture leaves sides of the bowl. It is a very soft and delicate dough.
- Press into the bottom of the 8x8 baking dish. Bake the crust for 10 minutes.
- Mix together the ingredients for the filling in the stand mixer until smooth. Pour over the pre-baked crust.
- Bake for 30-35 min or until the filling no longer jiggles if the pan is gently shaken. Cool completely. Gently lift the parchment paper to remove the bars from the pan. Cut into 12 pieces. Sprinkle with powdered sweetener right before serving if desired.
Originally Published April 10, 2019. Revised and Republished June 18, 2021.
Hi!! I have tried a number of your recipes and they were delicious. Just finished making this one and it almost looks like the butter separated from the filling and is on top, kind of like a puddle. Have you ever had something like that happen before... I just saw another person above also had trouble with it setting, so I'll see if the fridge helps.
Hi Maria, I haven't had the butter separate. I'm not sure what that would happen. I hope they are better after chilling!
Great recipe! I was looking for something similar to cheesecake, but not exactly cheesecake, and this is it. Lemony and moist. I also added little raspberries, yummy!
Hi Taryn! This looks fabulous. I am considering buying the heavy cream powder but was wondering if you could tell me if you have other recipes that would include this in their ingredients? Can you list them if possible? Thank you!
I also use it in my Chai Tea Mix and Hot Chocolate Mixes.
Silvia L. says
I want to make this ASAP! One question, though. I worry about the amount of cholesterol in many keto recipes and wonder if you've ever substituted the equivalent egg product instead with good results?
I have not. I think all egg white would work. I'm not sure what 'egg product' you mean.
Can I use heavy whipping cream instead of the powder?
No, sorry. If you prefer you can just buy powdered milk at a grocery store. The carbs may increase slightly but not by much.
If using Lakanto Monkfruit sweetener as the sweetener/sugar, how much should I put in for the crust and filling? I’m confused since you stated above to put in 1.5 times what the recipe calls for but then in a comment reply to say to use half.
1.5 tbsp in the crust. 1.5 cups in the filling.
No, the comment I think you are referring to asked the opposite. If a recipe calls for lakanto how much would she use of my sweetener. That would be half.
Kaytie Long says
These taste amazing and so easy to make.
sorry but I am a little confused on the amount of sweetner used in your recipes. You said you use half of amount needed as called for in recipe. So if I make your sweetner do I use what is called for in your recipe or half that amount? For instance your lemon bar recipe calls for 1 cup of your sweetner in the filling ...is that the amount I need or half that amount/ Sorry if this sounds obvious...but just want to make sure before I would ruin a recipe. Thank you can't wait to try it.
When making my own recipes with my sweetener use the amount listed. This would be 1 cup for the lemon bars.
You use half the amount in recipes that call for table sugar, erythritol, lakanto monk fruit, swerve, etc.
what can you use instead of Heavy cream powder.
Powdered milk. Or if you'd prefer a crust without try my https://joyfilledeats.com/pie-crust/ or the crust in this https://joyfilledeats.com/pecan-cup-cookies-thm-s/ recipe.
Ardis middleton says
It says one cup of sweetner for the filling. Is that right??
Yes. One cup of powdered sweetener.
Elizabeth Gregory says
Have read all the comments but didn't find an answer as to exactly how many portions this recipe is for. One place it says serves 12 and then the directions say to cut into 16 squares. Please clarify for me which it is as I follow a KETO woe. Thanks so much in advance for your reply Taryn!
Good catch! The nutrition facts are for 12 servings. I'll edit the recipe later so they match.
LINDA DALZIEL says
Can these be frozen
TERRI LITTLE says
I Made these for my Daughter's birthday, (lemon bars have always been her favorite) THEY ARE DELICIOUS!!! I made them exactly as the recipe reads. I wouldn't change a thing! Thank you!
Mary Speedie says
I have a friend who is allergic to all nuts. I am wondering if there is any recipe for a crust that does not use almond flour. I would like to make this to take to a church function so that I can have something desert like. If it has nuts like almond flour I would not be able to bring this recipe. I love lemon bars and I have been doing Keto since January this year.
You can sub in sunflower seed flour for the almond flour.
Hi! I’m struggling with carb counting here. This looks amazing but my fitness pal says the low carb sugar alone is 16 grams of carbs per serving. How are you calculating your nutrients? Thanks so much!! Eager to try these!
MFP is not subtracting the sugar alcohols. I subtract those manually.
I made these for Easter and they were amazing! I could not find whole milk powder so just used regular non fat milk powder since it was only 1/4c for the whole recipe. The lemon part was delicious... but the crust on this was DEFINITELY the star of the show. The texture is AMAZING! This is the first time I’ve had something with a THM crust that I enjoyed! Do you think I could use it for pies too? Seriously amazing!
Yes. The crust recipe came from my reader, John, and he said he uses it for mini tarts. It should work for pie too! Maybe not a wet fruit pie but definitely for a pudding pie, pumpkin pie, etc.
Hi! First of all, I would like to thank you for sharing all your wonderful recipes. I love trying them. I was really excited about this one because I LOVE lemon desserts. I have a couple questions because mine turned out less than perfect (it never set up, even with like 30 extra minutes of baking time). 1. My sweetener kept settling to the bottom of the filling mixture. Could this have had something to do with mine never setting up? 2. I only have a glass 8X8. I noticed while baking the crust that it did require about 5 minutes of extra baking time. Could that have had something to do with it? 3. Next, I am pretty sure (but not totally sure) this is the reason it didn’t set up. I tasted the filling and felt that the two TB of lemon juice was not enough. All I had was bottled left so I used that to add more. Do you think that is why mine didn’t set up? And finally, 5. What recommendations do you have for me to make this recipe so that’s it’s more lemony and also sets up?
Hi Jessica, yes I think that adding additional lemon juice was why your lemon bars didn't set. I would have suggested adding an extra egg to balance out the addition of more liquid. Did you chill it yet? It will firm up further in the fridge.
Thanks for your reply. So don’t laugh. The consistency of the filling even after if cooled quite a bit was like canned, condensed tomato soup. I didn’t think even refrigerating it would get it much thicker. So, I poured it out of the crust, put unflavored gelatin in it, and put it back in the crust. Don’t get me wrong. They had great flavor, and I love the crust. They just didn’t turn out like yours. I am thinking about just adding the zest of the lemon next time, or will that not work? What are your thoughts about my glass 8X8 and the sweetener not dissolving? Should I invest in a metal 8X8? The sweetener I used was a monk fruit and xylitol blend that is like your recipe for gentle sweet before you powder it in the food processor. Should I have used powdered or should that have made a difference?
Thanks so much!
I'm going to do a little more recipe testing with this recipe this afternoon. I think lemon zest would be good. And I think powdered sweetener should help too.
Did you double the amount of sweetener for the monk fruit blend?
I made a couple of slight tweaks to the recipe based on your suggestions and my recipe testing. I think it's perfect now. If you try it again let me know 🙂
I did not double the monk fruit sweetener, and they were plenty sweet.
Ok! That is awesome of you! I will let you know the next time I make these which will hopefully be soon!
Jennifer Farley says
Delicious and simple! Love it!
I love anything lemon flavored and these lived up to my expectations!
Is there a substitute to use for the heavy cream powder? Is there a ratio of using just heavy cream?
There is a section in the blog post titled "How to Make Crust for Lemon Bars" that talks about this. Regular cream would make it too wet. You can just sub in another dough. A couple are linked above.