These Vegan Lime Bars are tart and sweet with a creamy filling and tender crust. The green color comes from plant based whole foods – no food coloring!
St. Patrick’s Day calls for all things green. While you’ll find the internet saturated with bright green recipes made with chemical food coloring, these Vegan Lime Bars are naturally green in color from real plant based whole foods!
It might not make them quite as bright and bold, but they are every bit as delicious. And you don’t have to feel guilty about eating more than one!
Ingredients you need
Ingredient notes and substitutions
Pistachios ~ Technically, you can use any nut for the base of these vegan lime bars. I chose pistachios for their green color and mild, sweet flavor. Choose raw, shelled nuts instead of roasted or salted for best texture and flavor.
Flour ~ I used whole wheat flour, but you can use all-purpose or even a 1:1 gluten free flour blend.
Coconut Oil ~ It is important to use room temperature coconut oil. It should be soft, but still solid. NOT melted. Do not sub for another type of oil as it will not work.
You can use refined or unrefined coconut oil. Unrefined will provide a slight coconut flavor in the final dish. The coconut flavor works well with lime, so it’s up to you which you prefer.
Tofu ~ For this recipe, you’ll want to use silken tofu. This kind of tofu is very soft and falls apart easily. You may find it packaged in water in the refrigerated section next to regular tofu, but if you can’t find it there, check the Asian aisle for small shelf staple boxes. If your grocery store has a vegan or plant based section in the produce aisle, you may find it there, as well.
You won’t taste the tofu at all, but it gives these dessert bars that creamy pudding-like consistency.
Avocado ~ This is where the green color comes from. No food coloring needed! It also lends a wonderfully creamy texture to the filling.
Arrowroot powder ~ Sometimes called arrowroot flour or arrowroot starch, it’s going to help thicken the lime filling.
It is similar to cornstarch, but cornstarch has a tendency to break down if used with acidic ingredients. For this reason, I do not suggest replacing the arrowroot with cornstarch.
Lime juice ~ You can’t have vegan lime bars without lime juice! I suggest using fresh squeezed lime juice for the best flavor. You’ll need about 4 -5 average size limes to get ½ cup juice. I suggest buying 1 or 2 more than you think you’ll need just in case they’re not as juicy. You can use key limes if you prefer, but they are much smaller and you’ll need upwards of 20 to get the same amount of juice.
You’ll also need the zest of the limes. Pro tip: zest the limes before you juice them!
In a pinch, 100% bottled lime juice may be used, but you’ll miss out on the lime zest which does bring a lot of flavor.
Spinach ~ Spinach is optional. It doesn’t really lend any more color to the final product, but I never pass up an opportunity to sneak in more leafy greens! I promise you won’t taste it!
These vegan lime bars are sweet, tart and creamy, with a soft flaky crust. There is plenty of sweetness in here, so you won’t taste the avocado or spinach or tofu.
Seriously, don’t even tell your kids (or your spouse!) those things are in there.
My kids loved them – big surprise – they love all things sweet!
How to make the recipe
For the crust:
Place the pistachios into a food processor (1) and pulse until they resemble a flour-like consistency (2).
Add the flour, sugar and coconut oil (3). Pulse until it comes together and starts to form a dough (4).
Do not over process! If you process for too long, the coconut oil will heat up and melt causing the dough to become too soft and liquidy.
Press the dough into an 8×8 baking pan (5) and bake for 20 minutes until slightly brown and starting to firm up (see photo step 8 below).
For the filling:
Place all of the filling ingredients into a food processor (6) or blender and purée until silky smooth (7).
When the crust is done pre-baking (8) pour the lime filling over the top (9). Gently spread out the filling evenly using a spatula (10). Bake for 20 minutes until set (11). The filling will still be soft, but will continue to firm up as it cools.
Let cool for about an hour before cutting into slices.
Storage and freezing
Fridge: Store them in an air-tight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
Freezer: They can also be frozen! Place the bars in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in the freezer for about 1 hour until frozen. Wrap each slice in parchment paper and then place in a freezer safe plastic bag. They should keep well in the freezer for 3 to 4 months.
To thaw, transfer the bars to the fridge for several hours or overnight.
Pro tips and tricks
~ Use room temperature coconut oil, not melted!
~ Process the crust just until it comes together like a thick dough. If you over process, the coconut oil will warm up and melt and the crust will become too soft.
~ Use fresh squeezed lime juice for best flavor!
~ Do not replace the arrowroot powder with cornstarch. Cornstarch tends to break down when used with acidic ingredients like lime juice.
~ Blend the filling into completely smooth and no lumps remain. I prefer a blender for this, although a food processor can be used if necessary.
~ Taste the filling and adjust for sweetness levels and lime flavor. If you prefer a sweeter dessert, add another tablespoon or two of powdered sugar. If you like a more tart dessert, add another squeeze of lime.
~ Cook until the filling is just starting to firm up. It will still be soft, but shouldn’t be liquidy or wobbly.
~ Let the bars cool before cutting them as they will continue to firm up as they cool.
~ This recipe will work with any citrus. Try key limes, lemons, oranges or grapefruit!
~ Store any leftovers in the fridge. They are great straight from the fridge, but you can let them come to room temperature before serving if you prefer.
Lime bars are just like lemon bars, but made with lime juice! They typically have a soft shortbread-like crust with a sweet and tangy custard-like lime filling.
Traditional lime dessert bars are made with lots of eggs and green food coloring. We aren’t using either here! Tofu, arrowroot powder, and avocado are the secret ingredients to these vegan lime bars!
Yes! You can easily turn these into lemon bars. Or try orange or grapefruit!
The edges and top should be firm. If you gently touch the top with your finger, it shouldn’t break through the surface. The bars will continue to firm up as they cool.
It’s important to let the vegan lime bars cool before cutting into them so they don’t fall apart. They can be eaten room temperature, cold from the fridge, or even frozen!
I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! If you tried it, please use the rating system in the recipe card and leave a comment below with your feedback.
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Vegan Lime Squares
For the Crust
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray an 8×8 baking pan with oil (or line with parchment paper) and set aside.
- In a food processor fitted with the S blade, pulse the pistachios until a flour like consistency.
- Add flour, sugar and coconut oil, and pulse until combined and starting to form a dough. Do NOT over process!
- Press dough into the bottom of your prepared 8×8 pan.
- Bake crust for 20 minutes or until starting to brown and firm up. Set aside.
- While your crust is baking, prepare the filling. Add tofu, avocado, powdered sugar, arrowroot powder, lime zest, lime juice and spinach (if using) in the food processor or blender. Process until completely pureed and smooth.
- Pour the filling over the pre-baked crust and bake 20 minutes or until filing is set.
- Transfer the baking dish to a wire rack to cool completely, about one hour. The filling will firm up as it cools.
- Cut into squares and enjoy!
Nutrition values are calculated using online calculators and are estimates only. Please verify using your own data.