Cheesecake Bars

5 stars based on 25 votes

cheesecake bars

A slice of luxuriously rich NY-style cheesecake is one of my favorite guilty pleasures. If it’s on the menu, you can bet I’ll order it. But I rarely make cheesecake at home because it can be a bit fussy. It needs to bake in a water bath to prevent curdling and cracking, and it’s always hard to tell when it’s done. Cheesecake bars, however, are a different story. Dense and creamy with a hint of lemon and a crisp brown sugar-graham cracker crust, these bars are not only a cinch to make, they rival the very best NY cheesecake out there. They also have a high crust-to-cheesecake ratio so if you’re a crust-lover like me, you’ll 😍 them.

how to make cheesecake bars

Begin by making the graham cracker crust. In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, salt, and melted butter.

how to make cheesecake bars

Stir, using your fingertips if necessary, until well combined with no lumps of brown sugar remaining.

how to make cheesecake bars

Press into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes, until set. Remove the crust from the oven and set aside.

how to make cheesecake bars

Meanwhile, make the batter. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the room temperature cream cheese, granulated sugar, and flour together until just smooth, about 1 minute.

how to make cheesecake bars

Add the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt.

how to make cheesecake bars

Beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as you mix. Do not over-mix.

how to make cheesecake bars

Pour the batter into the warm crust.

how to make cheesecake bars

Bake for about 45 minutes, until the filling is set but still a little jiggly in the center (it will continue to cook as it cools). An instant-read thermometer, inserted into the filling about 1″ in from the edge, should read 180°F-190°F. Remove the bars from the oven, and cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. Refrigerate until cold, at least 6 hours but preferably overnight.

how to make cheesecake bars

Before serving, use the foil overhang to lift the cheesecake out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Cut into squares, wiping the knife clean with a damp cloth between slices.

Serve cold with lots of napkins. Enjoy!

cheesecake bars

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Cheesecake Bars

Servings: 16 squares
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 35 Minutes, plus at least 6 hours to chill in refrigerator

Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 1-1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs, from 10 whole crackers
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

For the Filling

  • 16 ounces (2 packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon packed freshly grated lemon zest, from 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Line an 8-inch baking dish with heavy-duty aluminum foil (so that there is an overhang on at least 2 sides) and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Make the crust: In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, brown sugar, and salt. Stir until well combined, using your fingertips if necessary to be sure no lumps of brown sugar remain. Press into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, until set. Remove the crust from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
  3. Make the batter: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with beaters or the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, granulated sugar, and flour together on medium speed until just smooth, about 1 minute. Add the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt; beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute. Do not over-mix.
  4. Pour the batter into the slightly cooled crust. Check to make sure your oven has cooled to 325°F, then bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the filling is set but still a little jiggly in the center. (An instant-read thermometer, inserted into the filling about 1" in from the edge, should read between 180°-190°F.) The cheesecake will continue to cook as it cools. Remove the bars from the oven, and cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. Refrigerate until cold, at least 6 hours but preferably overnight.
  5. Use the foil overhang to lift the cheesecake out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Cut into squares, wiping the knife clean with a damp cloth between slices. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  6. The cheesecake bars can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To freeze, place the cooled cheesecake (cut or uncut) on a plate and freeze, uncovered, until firm. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer, wrap it in heavy-duty aluminum foil and place in a freezer bag. Seal and return to freezer for up to 3 months. Remove the foil before defrosting.
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Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (16 servings)
  • Serving size: 1 square
  • Calories: 248
  • Fat: 16 g
  • Saturated fat: 9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 24 g
  • Sugar: 20 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Sodium: 166 mg
  • Cholesterol: 77 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Reviews & Comments

  • WOW! Really terrific cheesecake. We made the crust with chocolate cookie crumbs and added mini chips to the batter. So so good! We would like to try adding strawberry purée swirl – do you think that would work, and if so, how do you do it? Maybe purée fresh strawberries and swirl into the batter? Your expertise is always spot on! Thanks again for sharing your wonderful recipe!

    - Kathy Koch on September 12, 2018 Reply
    • Hi Kathy, so glad you enjoyed these! Because cheesecake can be a bit finicky, I’d avoid changing the balance of the recipe by adding pureed strawberries, Instead, I’d suggest spreading it on top of the bars. Hope that helps!

      - Jenn on September 13, 2018 Reply
  • 5 stars

    These are very tasty. More flavor after sitting overnight. Will make again. Thanks for the temp for testing for doneness. Prevents overbaking. Will make again!

    Texas Baker

    - Sharon on September 3, 2018 Reply
  • Could I double this for a 9×13 pan?

    - Alexandra Robertson on August 25, 2018 Reply
    • Yes, Alexandra, that will work — the baking time may be a little different so just keep an eye on them. Hope you enjoy!

      - Jenn on August 26, 2018 Reply
  • Hi Jen!
    Would it still turn out without the lemon? I just don’t care for lemon flavor. I made your boy bait and it got good reviews however all I tasted was lemon. It’s just me, I know but wondering if anything will be sacrificed if I leave it out? Thanks

    By the way…loooove your cookbook.

    - Julie on August 19, 2018 Reply
    • Totally fine to leave it out, Julie — and so glad you like the book! 😊

      - Jenn on August 19, 2018 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Wow, these were so good! I made them to take to a friend’s shiva and they were the hit of the four items I baked. Everyone raved about them, saying they were the best cheesecake ever! Even Mr. Fussy, my husband, couldn’t get enough of them. I cut them small and kept half the batch for him. I repinned onto my favorite sweets board, too. (Thanks for giving us the temp to check if they are done. Love that tip!)

    - Marlene on July 20, 2018 Reply
  • 4 stars

    Delicious! I cut the sugar to 2/3 c, subbed Greek yogurt for the sour cream, and beat the egg whites separately from the yolks, then folded them back into the batter at the end to create a lighter treat. The cheesecake ended up cracking a lot (should’ve added a few tb water to the whites while beating), but it tasted great – thanks for the recipe!

    - Lisa on June 28, 2018 Reply
    • Lisa, it seems to me that you did not make Jenn’s recipe. Why then are you rating her recipe at only 4 stars? Please rate *her* recipe, not yours, if you choose to comment in the future. Obviously, we all make subs and changes at times, but if you do that, make your changes, comment on them, but don’t leave a star rating.

      - Sue S on August 30, 2018 Reply
  • Made these the night before a cookout and everyone loved them. I served with fresh strawberries and blueberries. I thought the amount of vanilla used seemed like it would be too much but I added the amount called for and it was perfect. Easy and delicious!

    - Karen Fordyce on June 28, 2018 Reply
  • This recipe sounds delicious and I am making it for Teacher Appreciation Day.
    I would like to double the recipe. Should I double all ingredients? I also read another reviewer’s advice about using a 9×13 pan and baking for 45 minutes. Anything else I should take into consideration when doubling this?

    - Ronna on May 30, 2018 Reply
    • Hi Ronna, Yes, you would double all the ingredients. The only other thing to keep in mind is that baking time may be a little different so just keep an eye on them. Hope the teachers enjoy!

      - Jenn on May 30, 2018 Reply
  • Hi Jennifer, to make this cheesecake bar filling gluten free would it be ok to use gluten free cornflour or flour instead of the regular flour?

    - Karen Firth on May 23, 2018 Reply
    • Sure, Karen, that will work. (Keep in mind though that the graham crackers in the crust have gluten; unless you have a gluten-free version.) Hope you enjoy!

      - Jenn on May 23, 2018 Reply
  • 5 stars

    My oldest daughter has an insatiable sweet tooth, so I surprised her with these bars on her most recent trip home from Manhattan. She adored them and is taking a container back. Hard to compete with NY cheesecake, but this recipe succeeds! Thank you 🙂

    - Corrina on April 15, 2018 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Made three trays of these cheesecake squares in mini-cheesecake form. Used aluminum paper lined cupcake cups and added cherry pie filling to the tops. these were terrific, looked oh so cute, and were devoured. Great recipe for party dessert.

    - l pruden on April 12, 2018 Reply
  • Can I use a lime instead? If so, would I still use vanilla?
    Thanks,

    - Dawn Keefe on March 13, 2018 Reply
    • Sure, Dawn, you can use lime instead (and I’d still include the vanilla). Enjoy!

      - Jenn on March 14, 2018 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Thanks Jennifer!!
    These are so easy and such a great knockoff for traditional NY style cheesecake. We added a bit more lemon zest but that was it. Perfect and stand back there will be a run to the kitchen for this treat!

    - Shari on March 5, 2018 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Good dessert, especially to finish off a casual lunch or dinner. The bars freeze very well so I try to keep a batch in the freezer for unexpected guests/visitors.

    - Ellie on March 1, 2018 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made these for Christmas Eve and they were such a hit I am making them again to bring to the Super Bowl party on Sunday. They are perfection and I like having a small square instead of a big piece of cheesecake.

    - Trudy Black on February 2, 2018 Reply
    • Trudy,

      I was wondering what to bring tomorrow for Superbowl Sunday, read your post, and the search was over, I’ll let you know how it turned out! Go Eagles!!! I always root for the underdogs, even though Brady and I went to the same high school:)

      - Jessica on February 3, 2018 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I recently made the cheesecake bars they were delicious and very popular at supper after a meeting

    - Patricia Le Plastrier on February 2, 2018 Reply
  • Can coconut sugar be substituted instead of the granulated sugar listed in the recipe?

    - Margaret Brown on January 25, 2018 Reply
    • Hi Margaret, I’ve never used coconut sugar so I can’t say for sure, but I’d be reluctant to make changes to this recipe because cheesecake can be pretty finicky – sorry!

      - Jenn on January 25, 2018 Reply
  • Hello Jenn,
    I enjoy your recipes tremendously. Do you have any suggestions on how to make these bars Chocolat-y?
    Thank you

    - PC on January 20, 2018 Reply
    • Hi PC, you could use chocolate graham cracker crumbs to make a chocolate crust and could add mini chocolate chips to the filling. I wouldn’t fuss with it other than that, as cheesecake is pretty finicky. Hope that helps (and I’d love to hear how it turns out if you make any tweaks)!

      - Jenn on January 23, 2018 Reply
  • 5 stars

    These are some of the best cheescake desserts I have ever made or eaten! They are so satisfying and everyone who tries them loves it. I substituted the lemon juice and zest for lime the last time I made and they were also fantastic. Gives it a nice subtle flavor if you want to mix up the original lemon flavor. Great recipe!

    - Madi on December 6, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made these for Thanksgiving and they were a big hit. I didn’t make any changes and will be making them again soon. Love them.

    - Donna Lambie on December 1, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    A cheesecake lover, I was skeptical about the concept of bars, but these are fantastic (fits right in with the other wonderful recipes on this site). I used Meyer lemons (a more mild lemon-tangerine cross) and used 2t. Managed to spirit a couple to freeze, and worked great nestled in parchment in a plastic container.

    - Lauren Brimmer on November 30, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I loved this great basic recipe for cheesecake bars. For a more holiday treat, I substituted a half cup of ginger snap cookie crumbs for some of the graham cracker crumbs and rather than using lemon zest and juice, merely added a teaspoon of nutmeg to make an egg nog cheesecake bar. Very versatile recipe!

    - Alyse on November 30, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    These are delicious! I made them for a party and they were the hit of the dessert table. Thank you!

    - Donna on November 20, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    These are fantastic. Any suggestions on the best way to double the recipe in terms of pan size and baking time? Also, I’m bringing these to a dinner party, what is the best way to transport these? Would you cut them up just before serving?

    - Adina on November 8, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Adina, glad you like them! I would suggest a 9 x 13-inch baking dish if you want to double these. The baking time may be a little different so just keep an eye on them. In terms of transporting them to a party, you could cut them up either at home or at your destination; whatever is easiest for you. Hope everyone enjoys!

      - Jenn on November 8, 2017 Reply
      • Hi, Jenn. I just made these cheesecake bars, doubling the recipe in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish as you recommended. I baked them for 45 minutes and they came out perfectly. Just wanted to let you (and your fellow bakers) know!

        - Elyse on May 5, 2018 Reply
        • Thanks so much for the follow-up, Elyse — glad they turned out well!

          - Jenn on May 6, 2018 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Another 5 Star dish! I made this last night, chilled it overnight, and brought to my office to share. I also chilled a can of cherry pie filling and before I left the house I piled it on top of the dessert. It was superb!!! Co-workers asked for your website.

    Keep them coming Jen. You are turning me into a cooking super star 🙂

    - Anna B. on November 3, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Hi love the recipe! Question can I freeze these?

    - Jean on October 25, 2017 Reply
    • Glad you like these! Yes, they freeze nicely.

      - Jenn on October 25, 2017 Reply
  • I just made these but used limes instead of lemons. Absolutely delicious.

    - Erny sterling on September 18, 2017 Reply
  • I do not like measuring butter. What is the trick to accurately measuring 5 Tbsps of butter? Can I melt it first? Thanks Jenn!

    - Delada on September 17, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Delada, In the States, the measurements are marked on the butter wrapper. You can melt first if your butter isn’t packaged the same way.

      - Jenn on September 18, 2017 Reply
      • Perfect, thank you Jenn. I find my crusts are generally too hard or too crumbly. Melting first will work.

        - Delada on September 18, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    These turned out beautifully! I used cinnamon graham crackers and subbed Greek yogurt for sour cream since I didn’t have sour cream on hand. The crust was to die for!

    - Jacy on September 14, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made these for a party and everyone loved them. They were gone in minutes. One idea I had for next time was maybe add some cherry pie filling on top after they have cooled down. Definitely 5 stars!

    - Rich on September 14, 2017 Reply
  • Made these cheesecake squares and they were delicious. Super easy also.

    - Patti on September 14, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made these for my family and they were devoured! They were easy to make and delicious. My husband loved the lemon flavor. The zest gave it a small burst of lemon flavor but not overpowering. I loved the graham cracker crust.

    - Pat Militello on September 14, 2017 Reply
  • This sounds wonderful & easy. How would I change to make it a pumpkin cheesecake bar? How much plain unsweetened canned pumpkin would I add? Would I decrease any other ingredient? I can figure out the spicing. Thanks!

    - Ruth Friedheim on September 12, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Ruth, I’d use my pumpkin cheesecake recipe as a guide, although you can reduce the amount of filling by about half.

      - Jenn on September 14, 2017 Reply
      • 5 stars

        Thanks. I had not seen your pumpkin cheesecake recipe. It sounds great too.

        - Ruth on September 14, 2017 Reply
  • Aloha Jen
    What size pan do you recommend?
    Mahalo Susan

    - Susan Wakefield-David on September 11, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Susan, I use an 8 x 8-inch pan. Enjoy!

      - Jenn on September 11, 2017 Reply
  • Hi Jenn My 8″ pan is dark metal not glass. What adjustments, if any, do I make to temp and baking time. These look delicious and am anxious to make them. Thanks for all the great recipes.

    - Sharon on September 9, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Sharon, you shouldn’t need to make any adjustments to the temp or baking time; just keep your eye on them. Hope you enjoy!

      - Jenn on September 10, 2017 Reply
  • How can I make this in a 9×13 pan?

    - Eleanor LePage on September 8, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Eleanor, you would need to double the recipe if you plan to use a 9 x 13-inch pan. The baking time may be a little different, so keep an eye on them. Enjoy!

      - Jenn on September 8, 2017 Reply
  • Can these be frozen after baking?

    - Alison Bothwell Brown on September 7, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Alison, Yes they freeze well. Enjoy!

      - Jenn on September 7, 2017 Reply
      • 5 stars

        thanks – I made a gluten free version of this for work and it was devoured by both GF and non GF people. They loved it – all gone within minutes. Excellent recipe. Thank you!

        - Alison on September 14, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    According to my family, these were a 10 out of 10! The brown sugar crust was to die for. Can’t wait for an excuse to make them again!

    - Kathy H. on September 5, 2017 Reply
  • I can’t wait to try these…what other desserts freeze well? Thanks in advance.

    - Wendy Schoenburg on September 4, 2017 Reply
  • What oven temp?? (Cheesecake bars)

    - Ann Cowart on September 3, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Ann, the crust gets baked at 375°F. After you remove the crust from the oven, reduce the oven temp to 325°F to bake once the batter has been added.

      - Jenn on September 4, 2017 Reply
  • I never seem to press the the crust correctly.
    Either too solid or not enough. Question:
    How hard to press to get right results? Mine are like a rock or doesn’t hold together .

    - Terry on September 2, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Terry, For this recipe, you want to press it as firmly as possible. It shouldn’t be like a rock b/c of all the butter and sugar.

      - Jenn on September 3, 2017 Reply
  • Jenn, when turning down the oven temp after baking the crust, can the bars be put in immediately? Or does the oven temp need time to cool some? Looking forward to trying these, they look delish! Jan

    - Jan on September 2, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Jan, I’d let the oven temp come down to 325 before putting the bars in the oven just to be safe. Hope you enjoy them!

      - Jenn on September 2, 2017 Reply
  • When baking, is there much difference between a non-stick cooking spray and a spray specifically made for baking, which I’ve always used. This probably sounds like a stupid question, but they are slightly different and I just want to be sure. Thanks.

    - Joan Barmish on September 1, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Joan, If the spray is specifically for baking it may have some flour added to it (like this one from Baker’s Joy), with makes it similar to greasing and flouring your pan. I do think it’s a great option for baking.

      - Jenn on September 3, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    If I am using a glass baking dish would I reduce temps by 25 degrees? I can’t wait to try this…I love all your recipes.

    - Wendy Schoenburg on August 31, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Wendy, I used a glass dish for these so I’d just follow the instructions as is. Hope you enjoy and please LMK how they turn out!

      - Jenn on August 31, 2017 Reply
      • 5 stars

        After the first time, I started using a 13 x9 rectangle glass dish, they go so fast, but other than that I would not change a thing, and I’m making them for superbowl day.
        Denise, February, 2018

        - Denise Koellisch on February 3, 2018 Reply
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