Recipes/ Sweets

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

These classic lemon cheesecake bars are super creamy with just the right amount of lemony tang and a classic graham cracker crust. I like to garnish them with berries, lemon slices or whipped cream to make them party pretty. AND they’re really simple to make!

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Lemon might technically be a winter fruit, but it just seems to scream Spring! Sunny-colored, bright and tart, lemon desserts are perfect for Easter, picnics, and any spring celebration.

If you’ve ever made a full cheesecake, you know it can kind of a project, and that it’s far from foolproof. Not so with cheesecake bars! There’s nothing difficult about making these, but here are a few things to keep in mind for the best texture and flavor.

Tips for Making the Best Lemon Cheesecake Bars:

  • Use softened cream cheese and beat it on it’s own until it’s creamy and smooth before adding the other ingredients. Cream cheese can be stubbornly lumpy when it’s cold and not beaten for long enough, and we’re going for a perfectly smooth filling.
  • Don’t skimp on the cooling and chilling time. The flavor and texture of cheesecake is best when it’s been allowed to cool completely and has been thoroughly chilled.
  • Don’t overbake. The sides should be set, but the center should still be slightly jiggly when you take the pan out of the oven. Over-baked cheesecake is dry and gritty instead of smooth and creamy.

How to Make Lemon Cheesecake Bars:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Prepare an 8 x 8 inch pan by lining with foil, leaving an overhang so you can easily left the bars out once baked.
  2. Make a basic graham cracker crust: process graham crackers in a food processor until you have fine crumbs. Add melted butter and pulse until combined.
  3. Transfer the mixture to the pan, using the bottom of a glass to press it evenly on the bottom.
  4. Bake the crust for about 12 minutes.

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5. Make the filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the softened cream cheese for a couple of minutes, until completely smooth.

6. Add the sugar and beat for 1 minute. Add the eggs, sour cream, lemon juice, zest, and vanilla and beat on medium speed until incorporated, 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

7. Pour the filling into the pan. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, until the sides are set but the center still jiggles slightly.

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8. Let the cheesecake bars cool completely – about 2 hours. Then cover the pan with plastic wrap and transfer to the fridge to chill for at least 3-4 more hours.

9. Using the foil overhang, lift the bars out of the pan. For perfectly cut bars, use a long, sharp knife and wipe it off between each slice.

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10. Garnish with fruit, whipped cream, or whatever you like!

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Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Cooling and Chilling5 hrs
Total Time1 hr 10 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 9 servings
Author: Ann Otis

Ingredients

Graham Cracker Crust

  • 5 oz graham crackers (9 crackers)
  • 4 tablespoons butter melted

Filling

  • 1 lb cream cheese softened (2 8-oz packages)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Graham Cracker Crust

  • Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line an 8 x 8 inch square pan with aluminum foil, leaving a 1-inch overhang.
  • In a food processor, process the graham crackers until you have fine crumbs, about 20-30 seconds. Add the melted butter and pulse until well combined.
  • Press the crust into the bottom of the prepared pan, firmly and evenly. Using the bottom of a glass helps.
  • Bake the crust in the preheated oven for 12 minutes.

Filling

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the softened cream cheese on medium speed until completely smooth.
  • Add the sugar and beat on medium speed until incorporated, about 2 minutes.  
  • Add the eggs, sour cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla extract, and beat until perfectly smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, about 2 minutes more.
  • Pour the filling into the pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, until the sides are set but the center is still slightly jiggly.
  • Cool the bars completely, about 2 hours, and transfer to the fridge to chill, another 3-4 hours.
  • Lift the bars out of the pan using the foil overhang. Slice the bars into 9 or more squares with a long, sharp knife, wiping the blade between each cut. 
  • Garnish the bars with fruit, whipped cream, or lemon slices, if desired.

Notes

Bars can be frozen, cut or not, for 2-3 months. Thaw completely at room temperature, 3-4 hours, before serving.

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