These no-bake strawberry cheesecake bars are tangy, creamy, and fruity with a crunchy and nutty crust! Whip up a batch without turning on the oven and share them with all your vegan, paleo, and gluten-free pals!
What are strawberry cheesecake bars?
Classic (non-paleo) strawberry cheesecake bars are delicious confections that typically feature a simple crust made of crushed graham crackers, sugar and melted butter, topped with a layer of creamy cheesecake filling and strawberry sauce. The result is a sweet, tangy, and creamy treat that combines the flavors of classic cheesecake and fresh strawberries. They’re often cut into squares and served cold, making them a perfect make-ahead dessert for any occasion.
My paleo, vegan, and gluten-free strawberry cheesecake bars recipe!
I love creamy strawberry desserts so I’ve created a healthier spin on this treat by making it gluten-free, grain-free, refined sugar-free, dairy-free, and entirely plant-based. Additionally, you can easily throw ’em together with pantry items and can stockpile them in your freezer! You’ll want plenty of them on hand because these cheesecake bars are impressive enough for a party but simple enough for an after-school treat.
This recipe is inspired by my favorite raw vegan desserts—it’s kind of a mashup between my Coconut Cream Bars and my Matcha Cheesecake—but with a strawberry twist. In place of cream cheese and sour cream, I blend together soaked cashews, coconut milk, refined coconut oil, and lemon juice to create a creamy, dairy-free cheesecake base. Freeze-dried strawberries add a concentrated hit of fruit to the filling without having to scour the market for perfectly ripe berries!
Tips on how to make the best paleo strawberry cheesecake bars
- A powerful blender will ensure a creamy and silky texture. Similar to my other vegan desserts that use soaked cashews, the filling of the recipe should be blended in a high-powered blender like a Vitamix.
- Toast the almond slivers and coconut flakes for the most flavorful crust! If you didn’t buy the slivered almonds and coconut flakes pre-toasted, take the extra time to toast them until golden brown—your tastebuds will thank you!
- Freeze the bars to set them properly. Definitely chill the bars in the freezer so they will be easier to cut into squares when you serve them. In fact, I freeze the bars, cut them into squares, and refreeze them in a sealed container so they’re easy to serve on a moment’s notice!
Faux Graham Cracker Crust
- Toasted almond slivers: I buy the toasted unsalted almond slivers at Trader Joe’s so I can make the crust even faster. If you have raw almond slivers, simply toast them in the oven at 300°F for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.
- Toasted unsweetened coconut flakes: You can toast raw, unsweetened coconut flakes in a 300°F oven for about 3 to 5 minutes or until golden brown. Want a shortcut? Buy a bag of Dang Coconut Flakes.
- Maple syrup
- Refined coconut oil
- Diamond Crystal kosher salt
Strawberry “Cheesecake” Filling
- Freeze dried strawberries: Don’t use fresh or frozen strawberries in this recipe because the filling will be too watery! That said, you can substitute other freeze-dried fruit in place of the strawberries (e.g., raspberries, blueberries, etc.) if desired.
- Soaked raw cashews: For this recipe, you can quickly soak the cashews in boiling water for 15 to 30 minutes or in room temperature water for about 4 hours. Before you ask: yes, the soaked cashews are an essential ingredient for the filling, and no, I haven’t tried using another nut or vegan cream cheese in place of it.
- Full-fat canned coconut milk: I like using full-fat canned coconut milk or cream in this recipe, but cashew milk or almond milk should also work.
- Refined coconut oil: The coconut oil helps solidify the filling when it’s chilled. Use refined coconut oil if you don’t want a strong coconut flavor. Don’t use MCT oil because it won’t harden when chilled.
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice: It adds a nice tang to the cheesecake mixture.
- Maple syrup: This is my sweetener of choice for this recipe. You can also substitute honey or liquid allulose (for keto).
- Vanilla extract
- Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- Whipped coconut cream (optional topping)
How to make Paleo and Vegan Strawberry Cheesecake Bars
Assemble the crust
Place the toasted slivered almonds and coconut flakes in the bowl of a food processor…
… and pulse them together until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal (or crushed graham cracker crumbs).
Next, add 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil, and ¼ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt.
Pulse until combined. The crumbs should stick together when you pinch some together between your fingers.
Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper and transfer the crust ingredients into the pan. (No parchment paper? You can spray the pan with cooking spray before adding the crust ingredients but the bars are much easier to remove if you line the pan with parchment paper.)
Use an offset spatula to press the crust in an even layer on the bottom of the pan. When you’re finished, place the crust in the freezer while you make the dairy-free cheesecake filling.
Make the “cheesecake”filling
Use a powerful blender to make the filling. Place the freeze dried strawberries in the blender and blend until a fine powder is formed.
Remove 1 tablespoon of strawberry powder and set it aside. (Later, you’ll use it to dust on top of the finished bars, if desired.)
Add the drained cashews, coconut milk, liquified coconut oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt to the blender.
Blitz until this “cream cheese” mixture is very smooth and uniformly pink. Taste for sweetness and tanginess and adjust with additional maple syrup and/or lemon juice if needed.
Assemble the cheesecake bars
Pour the filling onto the crust in the parchment-lined pan…
…and smooth the top of the cheesecake with an offset or rubber spatula.
Pop the pan, uncovered, in the freezer.
Once the pan has cooled for an hour, cover the pan tightly with foil and freeze for at least 4 hours or until set. (I don’t cover these bars right away because there can be condensation that forms on the inside of the foil if covered immediately.)
Slice and serve
Ready to eat? You can thaw the cheesecake in the fridge for about 2 hours before serving, or you can leave it out at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before dessert time. Remove the bars from the pan by pulling up on the overhanging parchment paper flaps.
Using a sharp knife, cut the bars into 16 squares.
If desired, top the bars with whipped coconut cream and a dusting of the reserved freeze-dried strawberry powder. Serve immediately!
How to store the bars
Store the leftover cut-up strawberry cheesecake bars in the freezer in an airtight container for up to 3 months. You can also store the bars in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 4 days. The bars taste great straight from the freezer, but if you prefer a softer and creamier texture, thaw them in the fridge before serving.
More paleo strawberry dessert recipes
Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPhone and iPad app, and in my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2013), Ready or Not! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2017), and Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2022).
PRINTER-FRIENDLY RECIPE CARD
No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake Bars (Vegan, Paleo, Gluten Free)
- 1½ cups toasted almond slivers
- 1 cup toasted unsweetened coconut flakes
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon refined coconut oil melted
- ¼ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
Strawberry Cheesecake Filling
- 2 cups freeze dried strawberries
- 2 cups raw cashews soaked (See note below on how to soak cashews.)
- ⅔ cup full-fat coconut milk
- ½ cup refined coconut oil melted
- ⅓ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- Whipped coconut cream optional topping
Make the crust
- Place the toasted slivered almonds and coconut flakes in the bowl of a food processor and pulse them together until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal.
- Add 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and ¼ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt. Pulse until combined. The crumbs should stick together when you pinch some together between your fingers.
- Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper and transfer the crust ingredients into the pan. Use an offset spatula to make sure the crust is evenly distributed on the bottom.
- Place the crust in the freezer while you make the filling.
Make the filling and assemble the bars
- Toss the freeze dried strawberries into a powerful blender and blend until a fine powder is formed. Remove 1 tablespoon of powder and set aside to dust on top of the bars later, if desired.
- Add the drained cashews, coconut milk, melted coconut oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt to the blender. Blitz until very smooth and uniformly pink. Taste for sweetness and tanginess and adjust with additional maple syrup and/or lemon juice if needed.
- Pour the filling onto the crust in the parchment-lined pan and smooth the top of the cheesecake with an offset spatula.
- Pop the pan, uncovered, in the freezer. When the pan has cooled for an hour, cover the pan tightly with foil and freeze for at least 4 hours or until set. (I don’t cover these bars right away because there can be condensation that forms on the underside of the foil if covered immediately.)
- Ready to eat? You can thaw the cheesecake in the fridge for about 2 hours before serving or you can leave it out at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before dessert time.
- Remove the bars from the pan, by pulling up on the parchment paper. Using a sharp knife, cut the bars into 16 squares. If desired, top the bars with whipped coconut cream and a dusting of the reserved freeze-dried strawberry powder!
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
I can’t get freeze-dried strawberries. Can I use frozen or fresh and reduce the coconut milk?
I haven’t tried it with fresh or frozen strawberries so I’m not sure how to adjust the recipe.
darn! that’s my question too. well, I’m going to have to wing it!
Great job, Michelle! Love your creativity. Taste delicious. Thank you
I love how these are made with freeze dried strawberries since they are out of season and I haven’t been able to find fresh strawberries lately. Very tasty and kid approved!
Could you recommend an alternative to the maple syrup in this recipe? Thanks!
You can use honey or liquid allulose if you like.