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Dense and creamy with a hint of lemon and a crisp graham cracker crust, these cheesecake bars are an easy alternative to NY cheesecake.
New York-style cheesecake is one of the most crowd-pleasing desserts you can make, but baking a whole cheesecake at home can be a project. Cheesecakes need to be baked in a water bath to prevent curdling and cracking, and it can be tricky to tell when they’re done. Cheesecake bars, however, are a different story. Dense and creamy with a hint of lemon and a crisp graham cracker crust, these cheesecake bars are not only a cinch to make, but they also 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.
What You’ll need To Make Cheesecake Bars
This recipe is based on the classic New York-style cheesecake with a graham cracker crust and filling made from eggs, cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, vanilla, lemon, and a touch of flour.
Cream cheese is the main ingredient, so be sure to use a good brand, like Philadelphia. (Though it is used most often as breakfast spread, cream cheese is a key ingredient in many desserts, such as pumpkin cheesecake, trifles, and cream cheese frosting.)
Flour might seem like an unlikely addition to cheesecake, but prevents the cake from cracking and also makes the filling a bit lighter and fluffier.
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.
Stir, using your fingertips if necessary, until well combined with no lumps of brown sugar remaining.
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.
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.
Add the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt.
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.
Pour the batter into the warm crust.
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.
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!
You may also like
- New York-Style Cheesecake
- Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust and Caramel Sauce
- Ricotta Cheesecake with Fresh Raspberries
- Baileys Cheesecake-Marbled Brownies
Dense and creamy with a hint of lemon and a crisp graham cracker crust, these cheesecake bars are an easy alternative to NY cheesecake.
For the Crust
- 1¼ cups graham cracker crumbs, from 10 whole crackers
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
For the Filling
- 16 ounces (2 8-oz. packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1½ tablespoons all purpose flour
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 3 large eggs
- 2½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon packed freshly grated lemon zest, from 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Note: The cheesecake bars can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The cheesecake bars can be frozen for up to 3 months. 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.
- 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.
Hi Jen, I LOVE all your recipes. I’m planning on making this recipe for my family this weekend and was wondering if I could add about 1 cup of frozen blueberries to make Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake bars?
Thank you for all your great recipes!
Hi Anja, so glad you like the recipes! Cheesecake is pretty finicky, so I wouldn’t add blueberries to the batter. You could serve the cheesecake bars with this berry sauce. It’s delicious.
I absolutely love all your recipes. If I wanted to make this in a 12”x18” pan, would I triple the recipe? And should I reduce the temp to 300 degrees? Thank you!
So glad you like the recipes! Yes, you’d need to triple the recipe for that size pan (please keep in mind that I’ve never tripled this, so I think you’ll get a good result, but I’m not 100 percent sure). I’d keep the oven temp the same, but the bake time will be a little shorter so keep a close eye on them. 🙂
Made these once and they were a big hit. Any way to make them gluten free? Thanks!
Sure – I’d use gluten-free graham cracker crumbs for the crust and gluten-free flour for the flour in the filling. 🙂
I am planning to make these bars but wanted to see if you could add lemon curd to the top or swirled in before baking.
Hi Catriona, If you want to use lemon curd, I’d add it to the top. Hope you enjoy!
If replacing vanilla and lemon juice with 2T of Baileys is the lemon zest omitted also?
These cheesecake bars were delicious! I made them for my family and everyone enjoyed them! Great recipe!
Does the sugar for the crust matter much? Can I sub golden yellow or white?
Sure, Terri, that’s fine. Enjoy!
These were delicious! I made them exactly as written the first time (my husband and I decided it was the best cheesecake we’d ever had). This time I doubled the recipe to make a 9×13 pan for a group of people. I cooked it for one hour and it turned out perfectly. Thank you so much for a wonderful recipe!!
I’m wondering if this recipe could be cup into bite size squares and dipped in chocolate fondue?
I think they’d be a little too delicate — sorry!
This was a very sweet cheesecake…I normally make a 13×9 recipe that calls for 1 cup of sugar and it always turns out perfect. I wanted to make a smaller portion and decided to try this recipe. I wish I would have only used 1/2 cup of sugar in the batter, 1 cup was just too much!
Where are the ingredient measures?
Hi Claudia, It sounds like you are just looking at the portion of the page that has the pictures with some instructions underneath. If you scroll down a bit to under the pictures, you’ll find the full recipe. Alternatively, at the very top of the page, to the right of the recipe name, you’ll see an orange/red button that says Jump to Recipe – if you click on that, it will take you directly to the recipe. Hope that clarifies!
This sounds amazing! I need to make 60 servings ?; so wondering about how to gross up for a 9×13. Any advice?
Hi Linda, I’d double the recipe for a 9 x 13-inch pan. The bake time may be slightly different so keep a close eye on it. 🙂
Happy New Year! I just served these delicious bars to great friends for a special occasion. They were a huge hit. I hope it tastes as good out of the freezer! Thanks for sharing the tips in all of your recipes. I am a huge fan 😊
Wow! Hands down this is the easiest and by far the best cheesecake I’ve ever made. Absolutely delicious.
Can I use a 10″ pan and if so would I need to adjust the bake time?
Hi Rhonda, If you want to use a 10-inch pan, I’d make 1.5 times the recipe. The bake time may be a bit different but I’m not certain about that so keep a close eye on them. Enjoy!
I’ve just made your delicious recipe of your cheese cake with cherry sauce on top. It is a delicious recipe. I am a big fan of all of your recipes.
Thank you and all the best in the New Year !
Can I add 1/3 C RumChata or other liqueur to the filling?
Hi Beki, I wouldn’t include additional liquid in the batter as cheesecake can be kind of finicky. If you want to use RumChata, you could replace the vanilla extract and lemon juice with it. I’d love to hear how they turn out if you try it!
I love all of your recipes! If I make these today will they still be good Thursday for thanksgiving?
Thank you so much
Yes, they will still be good. Happy Thanksgiving!
These were wonderful! I hosted a large dinner and made these and brownies for dessert. They were all eaten ! I didn’t have unsalted butter – it was very late when I made them so I just didn’t add salt to the crust. I didn’t use the foil but didn’t have any trouble cutting. I just greased the pan well and used a Chantal ceramic dish to make them… Thank you for sharing this recipe.
This is our favourite cheesecake recipe! I have made it probably a dozen times -the only change I have ever made was adding toasted pecans to the base.
I want to make it now and I don’t have any lemons – do you think I could use lime juice and zest??
Thank you for all your wonderful recipes and your cookbooks are fabulous.
Yep! So glad you enjoy the recipes 🙂
Would love to make these but need to make them Gluten free. I found gf graham crackers and flour. Do you think they will turn out? Thank you
So delicious! Easy to make and the small bar size is a perfect serving of cheesecake!
So good! I’ll definitely be using this recipe again!
Hi! Can i make this in an 8inch round metal pan? Would I have to alter the recipe or baking time for that?
I wouldn’t recommend it. The pan will be too small to hold all the batter (and would be difficult to serve from). Sorry!
Hi, I have to say I made these one numerous times along with your NY cheesecake recipe. Always a big hit!!
Would this bar recipe work for miniature cheesecakes? I would love to use it for my daughter’s bridal shower.
Hi Michele, glad you like these! Mini versions of this will work in a mini tart or muffin pan. (Just keep in mind that they may be a bit challenging to remove from a muffin tin.) You’ll need to reduce the baking time by a lot; I’d start checking around 25 minutes. I’d love to know how they turn out!
Hi Jenn! I love this recipe and have been making it for years- it’s one of my favourite cheesecakes and pairs so well with fresh berries! I was wondering if you have any recommendations for doubling this recipe? Could I use a 9×13 pan? Also, should I adjust the oven temperature/baking time if I use a glass pan instead of metal for this recipe? Thank you 🙂
Hi Kay, So glad you like these! Sure, you can double it and use a 9 x 13-inch pan. The bake time may be slightly different so keep a close eye on it. And glass will work — just keep an eye on it and reduce the heat by 25°F if it looks like it’s starting to brown around the edges. 🙂
Hi made this last night following the recipe to a T. It was delicious, and very easy to make. It looked perfectly fine when it came out of the oven, but after letting it cool completely and then refrigerating it, it cracked (HUGE crack!). It wasn’t a big deal b/c I was putting sauce on it, but the crack was so deep I had to do some creative slicing. I will make this again and maybe add a little water bath to the oven for the baking time.
Hi. I’m planning to make this recipe very soon. I would like to add something on top of this cheesecake (before or after cutting it). What would you
suggest? Strawberry sauce? Melted chocolate?
Thank you for so many great recipes!
Hi Jo, This berry sauce would work nicely. Hope you enjoy!
So easy and SO delicious! There are just two of us oldsters so I freeze at least half of the squares, and they are just as delicious when defrosted at a later date. Have made several times with consistent results. Love the lemon – and love the dependability of OUAC recipes! Thank you.
made this for Easter dinner this year.. It was a HUGE hit!! Question for you – am I able to double the recipe so I don’t run out when I make for Mother’s Day brunch??
So glad these were a hit (and yes, you can definitely double it)!
I’m excited to try this recipe this week! Curious to know what the flour in the recipe does? Especially since it’s not in the crust. Thanks!
Hi Rebecca, Good question — the little starch that the flour provides helps prevent the cheesecake from cracking and also makes the filling just a bit lighter. Hope you enjoy!
Thanks Jenn! Excited to make these this weekend!
This was so easy to make and tasted so delicious. I don’t know why I waited so long to try this recipe but I will be making this again! Even when my lemon didn’t zest, I added a bit more lemon juice and still so good.
I’m not the biggest cheesecake fan, but my wife, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law are so I gave it a whirl. So delicious 😋 and easy to make. I had originally looked at making your NY cheesecake but that looked like such a pain in the (fill in blank) that I opted for the bars. Again, so delicious and easy to make.
Ha! Glad everyone enjoyed!
Have made this many times as a go to mini bar dessert. Everyone loves the hint of lemon zest. I don’t change a thing. TQ OUAC
Made these for superbowl Sunday and they turned out perfectly! So easy to make.