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This easy, no-bake gluten free lemon slice is any lemon lover’s dream (say that five times fast!). With a lovely thick layer of smooth cream cheese icing swirled with lemon curd, it’s hard to say no to a second (or third) piece!
When it comes to easy recipes, you really can’t go wrong with a no-bake slice. Whether it’s summer and you don’t want to put the oven on, or it’s winter and you’re just feeling a bit lazy, throwing a no-bake slice into the fridge is the answer to your problems.
I think no-bake slices are more of a “thing” in New Zealand and Australia, but I absolutely think they should be a thing worldwide, because they’re so easy to make, and they’re great kid-friendly recipes for getting little ones into the kitchen.
This gluten free lemon slice recipe is based on a citrus slice that I used to make, then lost the recipe, then reinvented the recipe, and then decided to make a lemon-only version of, because why not?
(You’ll find the citrus version over on my other website Gluten Free Kiwi Favourites, if you’d like to try that one too).
The base is basically the same, made with crushed biscuits (cookies), desiccated coconut, condensed milk and butter + lemon zest and juice, and then I swirled some thick homemade microwave lemon curd into the cream cheese icing on the top.
Don’t worry, if you don’t have the time or inclination to make homemade lemon curd, in the words of the culinary queen, Ina Garten – “store-bought is fine.”
Gluten Free Lemon Slice Ingredients:
You’ll need these ingredients to make the slice:
- Sweetened Condensed Milk – This recipe uses a little less than a whole can of sweetened condensed milk, which means you’ll have a bit left over to eat with a spoon if you’re that way inclined (no? Just me?)
- Unsalted Butter – I like to use unsalted butter in the cream cheese icing, so to make things easier that’s what I’ve called for in the recipe for both the base and icing. But if salted butter is all you have then by all means just use that.
- Gluten Free Biscuits – I used some plain gluten free arrowroot biscuits from our local supermarket, but any kind of plain or complimentary flavoured gluten free biscuits will work in this.
- Desiccated Coconut – The combination of lemon and coconut is a favourite in our house, so there’s plenty of coconut in this recipe. If you’re not a fan, you can try replacing it with ground almonds, or just more crushed biscuits. I haven’t tested these substitutions though, so you may have to adjust the amounts slightly to get the right consistency.
- Lemon – The star of the show. You’ll need two medium-sized lemons for this recipe. If you can only get small lemons, use three. The lemons on our two trees are crazy huge, so sometimes I only need to use one 😂
- Cream Cheese – Cream cheese makes for a super creamy icing on the slice, and adds extra tang. If you don’t have any cream cheese on hand, then a simple icing sugar + butter + citrus zest & juice icing would do the trick, too.
- Icing Sugar – Um yeah it’s just icing sugar, also known as confectioner’s sugar or powdered sugar. Not much else to say about that.
- Lemon Curd – As I mentioned above, I use my homemade lemon curd for this, but any good quality store bought lemon curd will also do the trick.
To make a dairy free lemon slice, you’ll need to use a dairy-free/vegan butter alternative in the base and the lemon curd. For the icing, I think some countries have dairy-free “cream cheese” products but we don’t here in NZ, so you’d need to do an icing sugar glaze instead. To do that, mix 250-300g of sifted icing sugar with 50g of softened butter, and enough lemon juice to make a thick icing.
To make this egg free, make sure you use egg-free biscuits. A lot of gluten free biscuits are also egg free and dairy free. You’ll also need to skip the lemon curd topping, or use an egg free/vegan lemon curd. If you just skip the curd, you can add some extra lemon zest to the icing for that extra bit of flavour.
Making the Slice
You’ll need to start by lining an 8″/20cm square cake pan (or roughly equivalent sized slice pan) with baking paper. I like to spray the pan with cooking spray and then use two long strips crisscrossed along the bottom of the pan, leaving some hanging over the edges so we can use them to lift the slice out later. Clip the edges down with binder clips if you have some, this stops them from flapping around and getting in the way.
Then you’ll need to zest the lemons and juice one of them.
Next, the condensed milk, butter, lemon zest and a couple of teaspoons of the lemon juice get microwaved until the butter is mostly melted. You could also do this on the stove if you prefer.
While the wet mixture cools, you can crush the biscuits. I used our little food processor, but you can check out the recipe card below for how to do this if you don’t have one.
Stir in the coconut, then the wet ingredients, and press it all into the prepared pan. Then it can hang out in the fridge while you make the icing.
The icing is pretty straightforward to make – the butter gets beaten with a little lemon juice until it’s fluffy, then the cream cheese gets briefly beaten in. Then you can gradually add in the icing sugar.
Once it’s all mixed in, you can spread the icing over the base.
Time for the fun bit – swirling in the lemon curd. Start by putting dollops of the lemon curd over the icing, then use the handle of a spoon (or a knife, or a skewer, whatever tickles your fancy) to swirl it in.
Then it gets popped back into the fridge until it all firms up, and you can slice it into squares or bars of whatever size you like. And then, you know, eat it.
For the Base
- 2 medium lemons
- 250g sweetened condensed milk
- 200g unsalted butter
- 400g gluten free biscuits* (approx. 2 packets)
- 125g desiccated coconut
For the Icing
- 100g unsalted butter, softened
- 125g full fat cream cheese
- 250g icing sugar, sifted
- 1/4 cup lemon curd
Make the Base:
Line an 8" (20cm) square cake tin with two long strips of baking paper. Make sure the paper overhangs the sides so you can use it to lift out the slice once it's set.
Zest the lemons onto a plate and set it aside. Juice one of the lemons (you can use the juice of the second lemon for something else), strain the juice and set that aside too.
Place the condensed milk, butter, lemon zest and 2 teaspoons of the lemon juice into a microwave-safe jug or bowl, and microwave in short bursts until the butter is mostly melted. (You could also do this step in a small pot on the stove if you prefer). Mix until fully melted and well combined.
Crush the biscuits. You can do this in a food processor or put the biscuits in a large resealable plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin. It's fine to have some larger pieces of biscuit, they'll add crunch to the slice.
Place the crushed biscuits and desiccated coconut in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add in the wet ingredients and mix.
Press the base mixture into the cake tin, and spread it out to make an even layer. Pop it into the fridge while you make the icing.
Make the Icing:
Put the softened butter into a medium-sized bowl with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and beat with a handheld electric mixer until smooth. Add the cream cheese and beat on medium speed until combined.
Add in the icing sugar a few spoonfuls at a time, beating just until combined after each addition. Once you've added the last of the icing sugar, scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix briefly again. If the icing is too thick to spread nicely, you can add a little of the remaining lemon juice to thin it down.
Spread the icing over the base, then put dollops of the lemon curd on top, and swirl them into the icing with a skewer or the handle of a spoon.
Refrigerate the slice for 2-3 hours or until firm. You can speed it up by popping it into the freezer, just don't let it actually freeze!
Use the edges of the baking paper to lift the slice out of the tin. Cut into pieces using a large sharp knife.
*You can use any complementary flavour of gluten-free biscuit/cookie that you like. I used gluten free arrowroot biscuits from our local supermarket, but vanilla or lemon flavour biscuits would work, shortbread biscuits would be a great option, too.
If you like it extra lemon-y, you can add more zest to the base and the icing.
If you don't have the time or inclination to make homemade lemon curd, then you can use a store-bought lemon curd instead.