These key lime bars are a no-bake, vegan version of one of my favorite summertime desserts – key lime pie! They’re full of healthy fats and pastel green color thanks to avocado (nope, you can’t taste it). Grab a fork and dive into one of these creamy, dreamy treats!
While it might not be the most patriotic, key lime pie reminds me of the 4th of July. My mom, an excellent baker, has made one for the holiday for the past five years or so. When you really think about it, it truly is the perfect summer dessert! It’s served cool, full of fresh, zingy flavor, and feels light enough to eat after an afternoon of barbecued food.
As a Registered Dietitian who loves sweets and baking, I love to experiment with more nutritious versions of my favorite desserts. I view these recipes as additions to my diet, rather than substitutions to the the original. Creating a treat that tastes delicious, and provides me with important nutrients at the same time? Such a win! But, life is all about BALANCE and living in the moment, so I’ll never pass up a slice of my mom’s key lime pie on the 4th of July. (PS – this is the recipe she uses, if you’d like to try that)!
The avocado in these key lime bars may sound strange, but I promise, you can’t taste it! Avocado makes these bars thick, incredibly smooth, and creamy. Plus, it adds that beautiful green hue!
Why These Bars are the Perfect Summer Dessert
No oven required. These key lime bars are no-bake and no-cook, because they are raw and set in the freezer!
Easy to make. All you need to do is throw ingredients into a food processor and pour them into a baking pan.
They’re cool and creamy. These bars are served chilled, so they’re wonderful to serve after an afternoon in the sun. Plus, they’re super creamy – just like ice cream!
How to Make Key Lime Bars
Combine crust ingredients – dates, nuts, coconut, molasses, cinnamon, and salt – in a food processor and blend until crumbly.
Squish down crust ingredients into a pan in an even layer.
Clean out food processor and blend together lime filling layer ingredients – coconut milk, avocado, lime zest + juice, maple syrup, and vanilla.
Freeze, then slice and serve with (optional) coconut whipped cream.
Main Ingredients + Some Nutrition Notes
Avocado: One of my all time favorite healthy fat sources is avocado. It’s high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, and potassium. Replacing saturated fat with mono- and polyunsaturated fats can lower cholesterol and risk of cardiovascular disease.
Walnuts: Almonds get all the glory these days, but walnuts are where it’s at! They’re higher than any other nut in alpha-linolenic-acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid. These anti-inflammatory compounds are mostly found in animal products (primarily fatty fish), and are essential for our diets, because our bodies do not produce them. Include walnuts in your diet for a good plant-based source of omega-3s!
Lime: Just like all citrus fruits, limes are an excellent source of Vitamin C! In fact, British Royal Navy sailors were called “limeys” in the 1800s because they were given lemon and lime juice to prevent scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) on the ships. Limes are also full of other antioxidants – plus they have such a zingy flavor!
1 can coconut cream (or full fat coconut milk, refrigerated for 24 hours)
1 ripe avocado, diced
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 2 limes (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
Coconut Whipped Cream
1 can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated for 24 hours
2 tsp powdered sugar
Combine all crust ingredients in a food processor. Blend until ingredients are crumbly and stick together easily, about 3-4 minutes.
Line a 9″x9″ baking pan with parchment paper, and pour crust “batter” into pan. Use your hands to press crust firmly into the pan, forming an even layer. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Rinse out the food processor (or use a high speed blender), and combine all filling ingredients. Blend until very smooth and creamy, until avocado is fully pureed.
Remove crust from freezer, and pour filling on top. Smooth into an even layer.
Place pan in freezer, and freeze for at least 1 hour, until filling is hardened enough for slicing.
Remove from freezer when ready to serve. You may need to let it sit for 10-15 minutes before slicing to soften a bit, depending on how long it was in the freezer.
If using, make coconut whipped cream right before serving bars.
Place metal mixing bowl in the freezer to chill.
Scoop the thick layer of coconut cream from your refrigerated can of coconut milk into the chilled bowl. Beat on low for 30 seconds, then increase speed and beat for 1-3 minutes, until stiff peaks form. Add powdered sugar in the final 30 seconds or so of beating.
Keeps well covered in the freezer for up to 1 month