Fresh lemons may not be high on anyone’s list of fruits to snack on (thanks, no thanks). But that signature acidity, which makes lemons too intense to eat on their own, can be the star in an ensemble of ingredients, taking the final result from bland to next-level flavorful. And while that applies to savory dishes too, there’s something about the sweet and tart combination of lemony desserts that deserves a roundup all its own.
So forget the lemonade for now: When life gives you lemons, make these 19 citrusy recipes instead.
With a healthy date and nut base and a cashew-based filling, this no-cook vegan cheesecake will rival any dairy-packed version. The pinch of turmeric gives it a pastel yellow color that serves as a visual hint to the lemony goodness inside.
An almond flour crust and the option of swapping out butter for coconut oil make these perfectly portioned tarts suitable for Paleo diets. The custard-like lemon curd does take a bit of stirring finesse, but it’s totally worth the extra elbow grease.
From the blackberries studded throughout the filling to the gluten-free crust, these aren’t your regular lemon bars, but that’s all the more reason to try them out. The added fruit makes for the perfect sweet and sour pairing, and even though there’s no dairy in this dessert, its rich texture could almost pass for cheesecake.
Including the zest, juice, and extract, these cupcakes use all forms of the fruit to taste as lip-smackingly lemony as possible. What’s more, the recipe is super flexible, from alternative sweeteners to the type of flour and milk you can use; it provides instructions to be adapted to just about anyone’s preferences.
Using both lavender and lemon may make you feel like you’re making candles, not cookies, but the combo is both fragrant and flavorful. With no eggs, grains, or refined sugar, these little beauties are also suitable for several diets, from Paleo to gluten-free.
Don’t underestimate lemon zest—it can be the most flavorful part of the fruit, and there’s an entire lemon’s worth of it in this bread pudding to make it extra… well, zesty. Plus, there’s whole-wheat bread and just two tablespoons of added sugar in the entire recipe, so nobody’s judging if you choose to have it for breakfast instead of dessert.
If oatmeal raisin isn’t quite your thing, ditch the dried fruit for some fresh lemon juice. It brightens up the otherwise simple cookie, while the honey—standing in for white sugar—adds another dimension of wholesome flavor.
Lemon lovers will go crazy for this healthier take on the classic dessert bars. Coconut oil makes the base as buttery as ever without a drop of dairy, while honey replaces regular white sugar in the top layer for some extra nutrients as well as sweetness.
Always thought sorbet was ice cream’s boring cousin? Not with this recipe you won’t. Crisp and tart from all the fresh lemon juice and almost floral from the honey, this vegan iced dessert is the perfect refresher on warm days. No ice cream maker required to make it, either!
This may be the quintessential lemon dessert, but whipping egg whites into stiff peaks and keeping the custard filling from curdling can be tricky business. Still, if you’re feeling particularly confident, this pie so worth a try—not only is it healthier, but with the golden-brown peaks of the meringue, it’s a real showstopper.
One taste of the homemade lemon curd filling, and you may never go back to the traditional jam center again. What’s more, with an almond flour batter and ghee instead of butter, these cookies are also gluten-free and Paleo-friendly.
They resemble snowballs, but there’s a decidedly tropical taste to these lemony, coconut-coated cheesecake truffles. Whip ’em up in just 10 minutes for an easy sweet fix—without the sugar.
You’ll find lemony goodness both in the batter and in the glaze in these grain-free, un-fried treats. No donut pan? No problem—these bake up perfectly in a muffin tin too.
If you’ve got a craving for cake but want something more portion-controlled, opt for these soft, cakey cookies instead. Packed with chia seeds, yogurt, and mashed banana, it’s much better for you than your average lemon cookie. Even the glaze, based in cashews rather than powdered sugar, is healthier.
Made with coconut oil, maple syrup, and both lemon juice and zest, these melt-in-your-mouth bites totally live up to their name. All you need is a food processor to make them—no baking necessary!
With a good glug of olive oil instead of butter, plus lots of fresh lemon zest, this dessert has a rustic quality that makes it pair perfectly with a cup of tea. Plus, with oat flour and coconut sugar, it’s surprisingly wholesome as far as cakes go.
Don’t be fooled by its pale appearance—with half a cup of lemon juice, this mousse is full of fresh, bright flavor. Plus, with Greek yogurt instead of heavy cream and xylitol as its sweetener, it’s higher in protein and lower in sugar than your average whipped dessert.
Ever ordered the lemon cake at Starbucks, thinking it’s healthier for having a fruit in its name? Turns out a single slice has more sugar in it than a chocolate chunk muffin. Yikes! Pair your coffee with this homemade version instead; it has ingredients you can actually pronounce, and there’s a lower-sugar option too.
Like its name suggests, this tastes just like the rich lemony preserves but without any of the dairy or nearly as much sugar. Instead, chia seeds and coconut milk come together to create the custard-like pudding, giving the dessert satisfying texture and healthy fats.