Lemon Bars with Almond Shortbread Crust (Gluten free, low-FODMAP)

Lemon Bars with Almond Shortbread Crust (Gluten free, low-FODMAP)

Lemon Bars with Almond Crust Low-FODMAP, gluten free, dairy free

You know those desserts that are just pure nostalgia? Yours might be Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies, rice krispy treats, pumpkin pie. For me, it's lemon bars. 

When I started getting hired as a recipe developer, one of the first recipes I created for Shape magazine was a twist on lemon bars (Citrus Squares with less fat and sugar--but still super-yummy!).

Eventually, I created an ultra-lemony version for my old food blog that I called, "Lemon Lovers' Lemon Bars." Cute, huh? I try to make them at least once a year. A firm favorite for sure.

Crusty Conundrum

If you've never tried this classic, summery dessert, here's the deal: Lemon bars are the easy, short-cut version of a lemon tart, and that tart crust most definitely isn't low-FODMAP.

So, here's what I did to make the crust for my lemon bars low in FODMAPs, gluten free and possibly even better than the traditional version. I used almond meal to make a base that is crisp-tender and more flavorful than a dough made with white, all-purpose flour. 

Magic (aka sweet rice flour) to the rescue

The almond meal is the main ingredient, but the real magic comes from sweet rice flour. This the stuff that's made from short-grain sticky rice--the kind in your sushi. It is also known as glutinous rice flour (even though it is gluten free!), and sometimes goes by the name "mochiko."

Sweet rice flour keeps baked goods really tender, but it's also a great binder (think sticky rice)! This is amazing because it helps hold gluten free flours together without making the texture too chewy (you know, so chewy that your jaw is tired by the time you're done eating?).

The lemon filling is usually thickened with all-purpose flour, but the sweet rice flour does the job in my recipe.

When I used to make my old recipe, I'd always worry so much about over baking that filling; the edges get tough if you cook it too long. But guess what? That doesn't happen with sweet rice flour. The edges of the bars are just as soft and luscious as the center.

For me, this is huge.

Holler back!

Have you had lemon bars before? How long has it been? And do you do much baking with sweet rice flour? Share your recipes and tips in the comments. I read every one!

Lemon Bars with Almond Crust Low-FODMAP, gluten free, dairy free

Lemon Bars with Almond Shortbread Crust (Low-FODMAP, Gluten-Free)

With a tender almond meal crust and VERY lemony filling, these are bars make for an irresistible casual dessert.
Author: Julie~Calm Belly Kitchen             Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 20 mins        Cook time: 40 mins        Total time: 1 hour (plus cooling)
Serves 12


For crust:
Butter for the pan
105 g almond meal (3/4 cup plus 3 tbsp)
50 g sweet rice flour (1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp)
38 g powdered sugar (1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp)
½ tsp salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted (84 g)

For filling:
150 g granulated sugar (3/4 cup)
28 g sweet rice flour (2 tbsp plus 2 tsp sweet rice flour)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp plus 2 tsp lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
1/2 cup lemon juice (from about 3 to 4 lemons) 


Preheat oven to 325F. Line an 8 x 8-inch (2 quart) metal baking pan with nonstick foil, leaving some hanging over the sides so you can lift the finished bars out of the pan. Lightly butter the foil (you can also use parchment paper, or just butter the pan really well!). 

Make the crust: In a large bowl, whisk together the almond meal, sweet rice flour, powdered sugar and salt. Add melted butter and stir until combined. Transfer to prepared baking pan and press into an even layer. Bake until the edges are just barely golden (center will still be pale), 20 to 24 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling: Wipe out the bowl you used to mix up the crust ingredients. Add the sugar, sweet rice flour and salt and whisk until combined. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, lemon zest and lemon juice. Add to the bowl with the sugar mixture and stir until combined. Pour over the hot crust. Return to oven and bake until the filling is just set in the center, 17 to 19 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into 12 bars. Store at room temperature in an airtight container up to 1 day or in the refrigerator up to 5 days.

NOTE: Baking time is for a light-colored metal pan. Dark-colored pans may require a shorter baking time.

Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/12 of recipe  Calories: 197 Fat: 11g Saturated fat: 4g Carbohydrates: 23g Sugar:  16g Sodium: 202mg Fiber: 1g Protein: 3g