Cheesecake Bars

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Cheesecake Bars

Dense and creamy with a hint of lemon and a crisp graham cracker crust, these cheesecake bars are an easy alternative to NY cheesecake.

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 graham cracker crust, these 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
how to make cheesecake bars

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

Dense and creamy with a hint of lemon and a crisp graham cracker crust, these cheesecake bars are an easy alternative to NY cheesecake.

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
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

For the Filling

  • 16 ounces (2 8-oz. 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. Note: The cheesecake bars can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  7. 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.

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.

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Reviews & Comments

  • Love your recipes! If I wanted to do a graham cracker and hazelnut crust would I just substitute ground hazelnut for half the graham cracker quantity required in the recipe?

    • — Tamara on October 15, 2021
    • Reply
    • So glad you like the recipes! Yes, what you’ve suggested should work nicely. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on October 15, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi! I’d love to make this but I don’t own a springform pan.
    How would I convert it to a 9×13 rectangular Pyrex baking dish?
    OR should I just make your cheesecake bars instead??!
    Thank you!!!

    • — Al on October 1, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi, the cheesecake bars (the recipe that you left this comment on) are the perfect alternative. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 4, 2021
      • Reply
  • I was having out of town company and was going to make my go to chocolate cake. However, I was missing some ingredients. I had printed this recipe earlier in the week and thought I’d give this one a go. Am I glad I did. It was easy to make AND was a big hit. My friends husband asked if he could take a small piece upstairs with him because he didn’t want to have to come downstairs in the middle of the night to get another piece if he woke up. I think that is high praise! Make sure you freeze what you don’t t think you will eat in two days as Jennifer suggests.

    • — Krisi Mertz on September 19, 2021
    • Reply
  • Has anyone made this with lime instead of lemon? I’ve got a lot of fresh squeezed lime juice in the freezer. Also thinking of making Jenn’s Key Lime Pie. Haven’t made either yet.

    • — marsha on September 2, 2021
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  • I have made this cheesecake 3 times. It is perfection. No need to tweak this recipe. Is just so delicious, not too sweet, and very easy. Stick with this recipe as written, and you will not be disappointed! Thank you Jen, your recipes are always my first go to. Thanks so much for making me a much better cook and baker.

    • — Laura on August 6, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made these yesterday and we could hardly wait to try them. We were not disappointed…the texture and flavour is incredible! My husband declared them dangerous and I agree😊. A keeper for sure!

    • — Mona on July 27, 2021
    • Reply
  • Great recipe! Made these and topped them with strawberries and blueberries for the 4th of July and they were a hit! Thank you 🙂

    • — Kayla on July 6, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn – love your recipes! Do you think this would work baked in a square metal pan? I know it might cook faster but am wondering if you foresee any other issues? Thanks!

    • — Erin on June 17, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Erin, It’s perfectly fine to use a metal pan. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on June 17, 2021
      • Reply
    • What a great cheesecake. turns out every time perfectly when you make it. Everyone loves this cheesecake. Thanks

      • — Teresa Vallelonga on June 18, 2021
      • Reply
  • This was a great recipe and easy to follow. I’ve done the traditional method (springform pan, water bath, etc) but after this recipe I don’t think the extra effort is necessary. This recipe will produce a creamy, traditional tasting cheesecake, but with half the cream cheese and so much less work. I changed a few things but only to suit my taste, the recipe is still good if followed as written. But I doubled the crust so as to get a thick crust that wouldn’t get soggy, plus I just like a thicker crust. Also, I added the zest of one orange and two teaspoons of its juice in addition to the lemon zest/juice. So a 2:1 ratio of orange to lemon. This resulted in what looked and tasted like an orange-creamsicle. Trust me, try it, you will not be disappointed! It’s a great template for cheesecake bars and you can get pretty creative with it. Thanks for the recipe!

    • — Doug on June 16, 2021
    • Reply
  • Has an eggy taste.
    Made this recipe and it turned out beautifully however, it has quite an eggy taste.I mixed sour cream with sugar and a few drops of lemon juice, covered it with this. I refrigerated it for a few hours and I think by using the topping it has a much better flavor.

    • — Lynn on June 9, 2021
    • Reply
  • After baking and cooling for 30 minutes should the cheesecake be covered or left uncovered when refrigerated when it is still a little warm?

    • — DeLynn Arndt on May 30, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi DeLynn, Yes, I’d cover them with plastic wrap. Feel free to let them sit out a little longer before refrigerating if they still feel pretty warm.

      • — Jenn on June 1, 2021
      • Reply
  • This cheesecake was so incredible! I shared it with my husband and my friend who both had wonderful things to say!

    • — Shelley on May 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Jen – Would this work with a nut crust instead of a graham cracker one so I can accommodate my Keto-diet husband?

    • — Eve on May 27, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Eve, I do think it would work. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on May 27, 2021
      • Reply
  • These are excellent. I used a chocolate cookie pie shell for one batch rather than traditional graham cracker crust and it was a hit!

    • — Susan O on May 26, 2021
    • Reply
  • Can this recipe be doubled successfully to bake in a 9 x 13 pan? I’d like to make a couple (or three!!??) different fruit toppings to add so making one larger tray will be easier and less time consuming.

    Thanks in advance!

    • — Donna on May 22, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Donna, that will work. The bake time may be slightly different so just keep a close eye on them. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on May 24, 2021
      • Reply
      • Thanks, Jenn! Will do!

        • — Donna on May 27, 2021
        • Reply
  • Wowza. I should never make these again because I’m in danger of eating the whole pan in two days! They are crazy good even though I overbaked just a tad. Thanks for another great recipe, Jen! I cook from a lot of food blogs but Once Upon a Chef is by far the most reliable. Delicious recipes every time!

    • — Kathleen on April 13, 2021
    • Reply
  • I’d like to make these but there are only two of us to eat the cheesecake bars! Could I freeze some of this? And thanks.

    • — katherine triest on March 26, 2021
    • Reply
    • Yes, you can definitely freeze them. See the bottom of the recipe for freezer-friendly instructions. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 26, 2021
      • Reply
  • THE BEST CHEESECAKE RECIPE OUT THERE!!! I believe this is a half-batch version of your famous NY style cheesecake which is my favorite! I use this recipe to make 12 cheesecake cupcakes. They are a big hit at the office! Thank you!!!

    • — Alexis on March 21, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hello!!
      I also love this recipe but want to try your cupcake version. Any idea the size of the cupcakes in your pan? I have two pans – one that makes smaller muffins (1/4 cup volume) and another that makes larger ones (1/3 cup volume). Second – did you use foil liners? Or, straight into the pan with the crumbs and filling?
      THANKS SO MUCH!

      • — Ahlam on May 2, 2021
      • Reply
  • Have made this several times , awesome recipe !

    • — Heidi on March 6, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn
    Made these and they are delicious! I did have a pretty big crack in the middle though, used a thermometer to check for doneness and the temp was 185. We had to go out so they were out of the oven longer than 30 minutes and cooled completely before I put them in the fridge . Could this be the reason for the crack?
    Thanks!! I love your recipes.

    • — Cindy Bryson on February 27, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Cindy, I don’t think cooling at room temp would cause cracking. Is it possible your oven runs a bit hot? I would try reducing the oven temperature just a bit next time.

      • — Jenn on March 1, 2021
      • Reply
  • We haven’t found a recipe on this website that we haven’t loved, but this one is the golden ticket. It is always requested for a special occasion.

    • — Jodi on February 20, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made these a few days ago for a friend and they were delicious! Recipe was straight forward and simple to make. Will definitely be making again and freezing to pull a few out as needed. I might cut them into smaller squares to since they’re rich, as cheesecake should be. Love the lemon flavor, too! Thanks for all of your great recipes, Jen!

    • — Danette Harlow on February 20, 2021
    • Reply
  • Delicious!

    • — Donna on February 15, 2021
    • Reply
  • So creamy!! And bars are so much lighter than having a full slice of cheesecake. I didnt have sour cream, so I subbed whole milk greek yogurt and it worked fine! Also tapped the dish lightly on the counter a few times before baking to get the air out, which I think helped make it creamier.

    • — Melissa on February 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made these for Christmas dessert, my mother-in-law requested cheesecake, but with only four of us, I wanted to keep it small. They were amazing, we all really enjoyed them. Great ratio of Graham crust to filling, and a nice hint of lemon. Will definitely be making them again.

    • — Sheryl on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • These are wonderful!!! Easy to make and just the right size to make you love desert but not hate yourself after eating a huge slice of cheesecake 🙂

    • — Linda Saether on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I get nervous about making cheesecake…that is why I love these bars! It takes all that fear away…I didn’t use a water bath and still no cracks!

    These are the perfect texture, not to dense but also not to lite.

    Give them a try, you won’t be disappointed!

    • — Coco on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Easy to follow instructions and a bug hit with everyone. This will be my go to for a quick dessert

    • — Tina Barrows on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • We made these luscious squares last weekend and they were a huge hit. My mixer needs replacing, so I recruited my 23 son to handle the hands-on work. “I don’t like lemon, so I probably won’t eat any” he said. You’ll never guess who ate almost the entire tray!

    • — Liz on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Simply one of the easy and best cheesecakes I have made. I love the slight tang of the lemon and the caramelized taste of the graham cracker crust. Will definitely made this many times over.

    • — Greg on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • These bars a delicious and easy to make and freeze to enjoy even longer. I topped mine with a caramel sauce (store bought).

    • — Mary Cass on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • My family is ObSESSED with these! They will not stop asking me to make them! Thank you so much for sharing!

    • — Chelsea Barnett on January 15, 2021
    • Reply
  • These turned out great! I’m glad I used a thermometer because I would have over baked them going by the looks. Thanks for the recipe, I’ll use it again.

    • — Tammy on January 10, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jen,
    I was just debating between the cheesecake bars recipe and the NY style cheesecake recipe. They seem to be very similar just that this recipe is halved. What makes this one not need a water bath to keep it from cracking? I don’t have a pan big enough to hold my springform pan and you say in that recipe you do need the water bath.

    Thanks!

    • — Bry on December 15, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Bry, You’re right — they are essentially the same recipe. And I haven’t found a water bath necessary for the bars. While you still need to be careful with them, they’re not as fragile as traditional cheesecake. (And you’re slicing them so if they crack a little, it’s less noticeable.) Hope that clarifies and that you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 16, 2020
      • Reply
    • I’ve made NY cheesecakes (not Jen’s recipe)and never used a water bath and never had a problem w cracking. Not saying you shouldn’t do it but that it’s not absolutely necessary.

      • — Danette Harlow on February 20, 2021
      • Reply
  • This is on my list to try next! Thanks for the recipe Jenn. I have a rather silly question…do you think this would taste good with a cherry sauce topping? Don’t want to mess with the deliciousness. I’m not sure I have time to make your berry sauce this time around and wondering if cherries would be a good alternative?

    • — Elisha on December 9, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure! Hope you enjoy. 🙂

      • — Jenn on December 10, 2020
      • Reply
  • Everyone said this tasted like authentic cheese cake to them and that the lemon flavoring was a very pleasant surprise. On my permanent special occasion surprise list NOW. No complaints only WOWS. Thank you for this very simple easy to follow recipe.

    • — roy okimoto jr on November 28, 2020
    • Reply
  • I made these following the exact recipe, and they were delicious. I really like Jenn Segal’s recipes, she gives great detail and the results are always excellent.

    • — Shelagh on November 6, 2020
    • Reply
  • These we’re amazing, thank you for the recipe! Everyone loved them. I made them lactose free and gluten free and no one seemed to notice a difference. I had some cracks (I think from over mixing). I added a thin layer of sour cream topping and your berry sauce (the berry sauce was also a hit all on its own). I’m looking forward to making these again!

    • — Mona on October 18, 2020
    • Reply
  • Love this recipe and love this blog! I prefer a fluffier consistency. What changes need to be made to make the bars less dense?

    • — Helena on October 12, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Helena, If you’d like a lighter texture, I’d probably look for a different recipe as I’m not sure what tweaks you’d need to make to achieve that with this one. Sorry!

      • — Jenn on October 14, 2020
      • Reply
  • great recipe! after looking around , this one seemed the best in directions and ingredient quantity plus explanation!

    • — Ami on October 1, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn! I have a 9×9 pan – will that work for this recipe? So looking forward to trying it!

    • — Sam on September 12, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Sam, that should work, but they will be a little thinner. Bake time may also be a touch shorter so keep a close eye on them. Please LMK how they turn out!

      • — Jenn on September 13, 2020
      • Reply
  • bars are excellent and actually better the next day. definitely important to let them get cold. i added a quick fresh strawberry topping cooked with peach jam, vanilla and a pinch of sugar. also used ginger snaps instead of graham crackers which was a yummy modification.

    • — charrington on August 30, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn!

    My family loves lemon and I’d like to incorporate more of a lemon flavor in these bars when I make them this weekend. What do you recommend? More lemon in the bars or a lemon topping?

    Thanks for your help!
    Rebekah

    • — Rebekah on August 29, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Rebekah, I’d add more lemon zest to the bars. 🙂

      • — Jenn on August 30, 2020
      • Reply
      • The bars were a huge hit! Thanks for your fantastic recipes Jenn!

        • — Rebekah Hartkopf on August 31, 2020
        • Reply
      • Any substitute for sour cream?
        Thanks

        • — Veena on September 5, 2020
        • Reply
        • Hi Veena, you could substitute plain Greek yogurt for the sour cream. Hope you enjoy!

          • — Jenn on September 7, 2020
          • Reply
  • This is absolutely the best cheesecake recipe I’ve ever made! Everyone who has tasted it has gone crazy. Thank you @intothekitchenwithsteff for sharing!

    • — Jodi Wolf on August 11, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi Jen,

    I have made this scrumptious recipe several times; first time plain, the second time with mini chocolate chips, and the third time with fresh strawberry swirls. Thanks to your guidance, ALL came out SUPER DELICIOUS! I am hoping to get some help regarding the filling. I know there is only a very little flour, but i need to make it gluten free. I have gluten free flour. Do you have any experience using GF flour in this recipe? Thank you!!!

    • — kathleen on July 31, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Kathleen, I haven’t tried gluten-free flour here but I think it will be fine. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it.

      • — Jenn on July 31, 2020
      • Reply
      • Well, for the filling I used Bob’s red Mill 1 to 1 gluten free flour. Then for the crust I used gluten-free graham crackers. Both components came out perfectly. I made no other adjustments. I can’t wait to try different fruit flavors since the strawberry purée was absolutely yummy! Thank you again for all you do!

        • — kathleen on August 2, 2020
        • Reply
  • Can I add melted chocolate to this recipe to make it chocolate cheesecake and will it affect the cooking process?

    • — Mandie on July 12, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Mandie, I wouldn’t recommend it (cheesecake is pretty finicky) so I wouldn’t fiddle with the recipe. If you want to incorporate some chocolate, you could use chocolate graham cracker crumbs to make a chocolate crust and could add mini chocolate chips to the filling.

      • — Jenn on July 12, 2020
      • Reply
  • hi i was thinking of adding baileys to these cheesecake bars.how much baileys can i add without ruining the texture of the cheesecake? thank you!

    • — gail on June 30, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Gail, I’d omit the lemon juice and vanilla and add 2 tablespoons of Bailey’s. I’d love to hear how they turn out! 🙂

      • — Jenn on July 1, 2020
      • Reply
  • I read both of your recipes (one for the cake and one for the bars). I wasn’t sure if my pan would leak (and I didn’t have the extra large foil) so I made your bars in my springform pan. It turned out perfectly and I served it in cake slices! It was quicker than the other recipe and it delivered on the cheesecake taste my family was craving!

    • — Jessica Moran on June 26, 2020
    • Reply

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