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.
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!
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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
- 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.