Lemon Cherry Pie Bars
These lemon cherry pie bars are a nice dessert for when you want something a little different. They're kid-friendly, gluten-free, and totally delicious.
Lemon Cherry Pie BarsJump to Recipe
There’s a certain person in my life who I love dearly (okay, it’s my Mom) who has what I like to think of as a part-time gluten intolerance. Will she eat a really delicious homemade pasta dish I make? Yes. But, in general, she feels better if she sticks with mostly gluten-free foods. For her, and many others, are these Lemon Cherry Pie Bars.
It took me a few attempts to figure out these lemon cherry pie bars. I used almond flour for the crust (I prefer the Bob’s Red Mill brand) which worked so well. Plus, I used real lemons and cherries. No artificial business in these guys.
I honestly think they are better than a gluten-filled variation of the same recipe. The crust is perfectly tender, but holds up surprisingly well to the filling.
They are a little work, sure. But definitely worth it!
Table of contents
Making the Almond Crust
This is similar to a graham cracker crust, but is actually easier to make. No cracker crunching necessary!
I really recommend Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour if you want to try this. It’s very high-quality ground almonds.
Mix in the sugar and salt and then pour in the melted butter. You can mix this all together in a small bowl and it’ll almost have the consistency of cookie dough when it’s done.
To finish the crust, you need to bake it before you add the filling or it will be too mushy. Line an 8×8 baking dish with foil for easier removal later and then press in the crust. I just used my fingers to work it into the edges and up the sides a bit. Try to make it as even as possible, but it doesn’t have to be perfect.
Bake the crust at 350 degrees F. for 20 minutes until it’s golden brown and set in place.
The Custard Pie Filling
There are many cherry pie bars on the Internet that use just cherries, but I like to add this custard layer to these bars, which helps it hold up, but doesn’t detract from the cherry flavor.
Please. Please! Use fresh lemons for this. Don’t use the jarred lemon juice. It’s too acidic. Take the time to zest and juice a few lemons and your efforts will be well-rewarded.
Mix together the filling ingredients in a bowl. Whisk it really well to make sure the cornstarch doesn’t clump up.
Then pour the custard pie filling into the baked crust. I just love the color here.
This will need to bake a second time for about 15 minutes until it’s just starting to set.
The Cherry Swirl
Again, I went with real cherries here. In a pinch, you could use cherry preserves, but since you have to wait for the crust and pie filling to bake anyway, might as well go the extra distance!
Finely chop some thawed dark cherries and add them to a small pot with sugar. Simmer that for a few minutes and continue to mash the cherries as they simmer. Then stir in the cornstarch and water mixture. Anytime you are adding cornstarch to a hot liquid like this, it’s always good to dissolve the cornstarch in water or it will just clump up.
Cook this for another minute or two over low heat and then remove it from the heat. It will thicken nicely as it cools.
Finishing the Pie Bars
When the lemon bars come out of the oven, the filling will still be jiggly and not completely set. Don’t worry about it. It will set up as the bars cool. While the custard is still loose though, add the cherry swirl filling to it so you can swirl it into the filling.
Use a knife to swirl it around and then let the bars cool to room temperature.
Then chill them in a fridge for at least a few hours (or overnight).
Then you can carefully lift them out of the pan and peel back the foil. Perfect!
Chop up the bars into 12 even pieces and dust them with powdered sugar and a little extra lemon zest if you want.
Even if you’re a gluten lover (I am), these are some of the best lemon bars you’ll find. Guaranteed to make friends, especially gluten-free friends!
Substitutions and Ideas
These are actually a pretty flexible bar. You could easily change up the recipe by using different fruits like blueberries or peaches.
You could also add some extracts to the pie layer to boost the flavors. A teaspoon of almond extract would bring out more of those flavors or you could add vanilla extract.
In a pinch, you could just use canned cherry pie filling or apple filling for the swirl in the bars, but I do prefer the swirl with fresh cooked fruit.
- Need a different after-school snack? Try these S’More Energy Balls!
My Lemon Cherry Pie Bar Recipe
Lemon Cherry Pie Bars
- 2 cups almond flour
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice about 3
- 2 tablespoons almond meal
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ cups dark cherries thawed
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch + 1 tablespoon water
- Powdered sugar garnish
- Lemon zest garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 °F. In a medium bowl, combine almond meal, brown sugar, and salt. Whisk together and then stir in melted butter. Stir until combined.
- Line an 8×8 baking dish with foil for easy removal and press the almond meal crust into the foiled pan, working it up the edges a bit. Bake the crust at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
- For the lemon filling, zest and juice 2-3 lemons and whisk together all ingredients until well combined. Make sure the cornstarch isn’t clumped together.
- When crust is done baking, pour in lemon filling and return to the oven. Bake for 15 minutes.
- While lemon bars are baking, chop thawed cherries finely. Add to a small pot with juice from cherries and sugar. Bring to a simmer, turn heat down to low, and simmer for 5 minutes to thicken. Mash cherry mixture as it simmers with a fork. Then add cornstarch + water mixture and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
- When lemon bars come out of the oven, scoop over cherry swirl topping and use a knife to gently swirl it into the bars.
- Let lemon bars cool to room temperature. Then cover them with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least a few hours (or overnight).
- When ready to serve, remove bars from the pan by lifting out the foil. Peel foil down from the sides of the bars and chop them into 12 even pieces. Dust bars with powdered sugar and extra lemon zest.
- Store extra bars in the fridge in an airtight container for 4-5 days.
Did you make this?
Snap a photo and tag @macheesmo so I can see your work.
10 Responses to “Lemon Cherry Pie Bars” Leave a comment
I like this Lemon Cherry swirl bars so much! The little sour flavor is my favorite. I like your blue color bowl so much! I cant wait to try your recipe on this coming weekend. Thanks
So glad you liked them Tina! They were definitely a hit at our house. :)
That’s a great recipe for a super delicious gluten-free dessert! I bake quite often with almond meal and I find it sooo good. Love the lemon and cherry flavor together in these bars, plus it looks so pretty! You know, I’ve never thought of specifying in my recipes to use actual lemon juice instead of the store bought one? I guess it is better to be specific: the difference in taste is astronomical!
Definitely. Ususally I won’t specify if it’s a small amount, but in a recipe like this with a lot of juice, it’s super important to use fresh squeezed!
I love tart lemon and cherries – especially when combined together. These bars look so delicious!
Thanks Thalia!! :)
Can I use fresh cherries for this recipe?
We used fresh cherries and this turned out amazing.
These are in the oven right now, the lemon juice and baking soda did not react well to being combined, it got very foamy and when I poured it over the crust it filled the dish up over halfway. Do you think it will still turn out ok? And advice on where I might of gone wrong?
Hey Amanda! Hope these turned out okay for you!