Gluten Free Lemon Bars: Tricks To Converting Your Gluten-Filled Favs into Healthy & Gluten Free

Okay, this may be revealing some of my secrets, but if you've recently been diagnosed with celiac disease, have a gluten intolerance, or just want to change up the grains in your life, then knowledge and know-how are your best friends. When my daughter was first diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder I was so worried about messing up that I just didn't make anything unless I used a gluten free mix. It didn't take me long to realize that more often than not this method was way too expensive, the ingredients were crazy fattening and unhealthy (despite being gluten free), and a lot of the time it just didn't taste all! So I started experimenting and yes, messing up. The result, however, has been that now I can make up my own recipes that are gluten free, healthy, and taste super yummy! 

I know what you're thinking, "well, that's great for you Melissa but..." So that's why I'm going to share some tricks I've learned so that you can take your old gluten-filled favorites and convert them into a yummy and healthier gluten free version. I'm a hands-on, visual kind of person, so I'm going to show you how to take a recipe and make it gluten free by just walking you through it. 

I wanted to make some goodies, but the problem was I was out of the ingredients for something simple like paleo chocolate chip cookies and too strapped for time to make something else up. So I grabbed an old church cookbook and found this lemon bar recipe.

I picked this one because first, I had made the original recipe before and knew what it was supposed to taste like (and I had everything to make it), second because it didn't call for tons of flour, and third, there weren't too many ingredients to mess with. So I started with the crust. I want this not only gluten free, but healthier, so here's some substitutes to replace the unwanted ingredients and still make it taste just as good. 

The Conversion
1 c. margarine ---> 1 c. pureed beans or 1/2 c. or less coconut oil

1/2 c. powdered sugar ---> 1 packet stevia or 1-2 tbsp. honey

2 c. flour ---> 2 cups gluten free flour blend or 1-1/2 c. almond flour + 1/2 cup coconut flour

1/2 tsp. salt ---> 1/2 tsp. sea salt

Because this was a crust I wanted it to be crisp and a little flaky so I went with the almond/coconut flour, stevia, and coconut oil (pour in a little at a time until you get the right consistency. I ended up only using 1/3 cup). Hint: when using almond flour and coconut flour, use 1/4 - 1/3 the amount of coconut flour compared to almond, i.e. 1 cup almond, 1/4 cup coconut. Coconut keeps things moist and flaky, but too much will leave you with a crumbly mess. 
Combine ingredients and mix well. Pat into 9x13 inch pan. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes. While cooking, make the filling.(Watch it as cooking times may vary.) 

The Conversion
1/2 tsp. baking powder ---> gluten free baking powder
2 c. sugar --->  3/4 c. honey + 1/2 c. applesauce + 1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 c. flour ---> 1/4 c. gluten free flour blend or tapioca flour 

Because there is such a small amount of flour and the filling is supposed to have a sticky, somewhat gooey consistency, in this case straight tapioca flour would work. In most cases using an equal amount of a GF flour blend with added xanthan gum will give you the best results. When using honey it's best to reduce the liquid slightly. If you're worried about it not being sweet enough just add 1 tsp. vanilla extract. It will bring out the sweetness without adding any extra sugar. 
Mix all ingredients and pour over hot crust. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Cut when cool. 
Looks pretty dang good, right!? And guess what? They were! As good as the original but with way less calories and no gluten! Bottom line, don't be scared to mess up. Just start with an old fav that you've made a hundred times and try converting it to a gluten free and healthier version. 
I'd love to hear about your success and would love to help answer any questions you may have along the way!



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Friday, 23 April 2021

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Melissa Moore has spent years researching and implementing nutritionally-based approaches to health and wellness. Her lifelong love of food and health evolved from a hobby to a passion when her daughter was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease.

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