Lemon lovers this way! Sweet, tangy, creamy lemon cheesecake filling swirled with dollops of bright, flavorful lemon curd sits on top of a classic Graham Cracker crust in these glorious lemon cheesecake bars.
I love making cheesecake bars. They require very little active time, are super popular at parties, and are packed with sweet, creamy goodness. These lemon cheesecake bars in particular are something special.
Sweet and tangy balance each other beautifully in the creamy lemon cheesecake filling while the slight crunch of a buttery Graham Cracker crust adds a layer of texture that pulls the whole thing together. Last but not least, swirls of lemon curd throughout the whole kit-and-kaboodle provide a beautifully flavorful addition that really takes this bright, refreshing dessert to the next level.
Why You'll Love These Lemon Cheesecake Bars
Easy, smooth, full of flavor, and great to make in advance? Sign me up! Let me break down some of my favorite things about these lemon cheesecake bars.
- Simple to make. Both the crust and the cheesecake component of this refreshing dessert are quite straightforward and easy to make. This is a perfect recipe for any level of confectionary mastery.
- Multiple textures and flavors. The tartness of the lemon met with the mild, sweetness of Graham Crackers and the creaminess of the cheesecake met with the slight crunch of crust really give a perfectly balanced bite.
- Perfect for preparing ahead of time. These bars hold up beautifully when stored correctly in the refrigerator (see my notes below on proper storage). So go ahead and make them 2-3 days in advance without worrying about the taste or texture waning.
Here is a list of ingredients you will need to make these dreamy lemon cheesecake bars. Scroll to the recipe below for details on measurements, etc.
For the crust
- Graham Crackers. If you would like, you can use nilla cookies or vanilla Oreos instead. Just follow the same instructions but with different cookies.
- Granulated sugar
- Unsalted butter
For the cheesecake
- Cream cheese - The cream cheese should be at room temperature. It will mix in with the other ingredients better, preventing a clumpy filling.
- Granulated sugar
- Heavy cream - Make sure this is at room temperature.
- Sour cream - The sour cream should also be at room temperature.
- Lemon zest
- Fresh lemon juice
- Eggs - Let them come to room temperature before using.
- Lemon curd - Feel free to use homemade or store-bought. If you decide to make your own, try my Simple Lemon Curd Recipe.
How to Make Lemon Cheesecake Bars
One great thing about these lemon cheesecake bars is that they are so easy to put together. All you need is a simple crust, a creamy cheesecake filling, some baking, and a little chill time and you're off to the races. Here's a basic overview of how to make them. Scroll to the recipe below for more details.
For the crust
- Crush the Graham crackers to fine crumbs in a food processor
- Combine the crushed graham crackers and sugar and mix before mixing in the melted butter.
- Press the Graham Cracker mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch square pan lined with parchment paper and greased with non-stick cooking spray
- Bake the crust for 5-10 minutes at 325 degrees F.
For the cheesecake
- Beat the cream cheese, sugar, and lemon zest
- Mix in the heavy cream, lemon juice, and sour cream until smooth followed by the eggs.
- Assemble. Pour the cheesecake batter on top of the prepared crust. Add dollops of Lemon Curd on top of cheesecake batter and then swirl the curd into bars.
- Bake. Place the pan in another, larger pan and fill that pan partway with water to create a water bath. Bake for 30-35. Turn off the heat, open the door, and allow the dessert to sit in the oven for an additional 30 minutes.
- Chill. Place the pan on a wire rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes before transferring. to the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours.
Tips for Success
These creamy lemon cheesecake bars are a piece of cake (metaphorically and literally) to make. That being said. I do have a couple of tips and tricks for you that will help you reach the best possible results.
- Make your own lemon curd. You can 100% use a store-bought version but if you have the time, I highly recommend making your own. My Simple Lemon Curd is zingy, creamy, and quick to whip up. It's the perfect addition to these cheesecake bars.
- Start with room-temperature ingredients. Room-temperature ingredients incorporate more easily, leaving you with a smoother filling and less mixing time (see my next point).
- Mix slowly and not too much. When making the cheesecake filling, mix on low speed and only mix until everything is combined and smooth. No more. You want to incorporate as little air into the mixture as possible. Why? Because air bubbles will rise to the surface during the baking process and leave you with cracked bars.
- Do not overbake. When you remove the pan from the oven, the center will still have a bit of a jiggle. That's ok because the cheesecake filling will firm up as everything cools down. So keep an eye out for that jiggle and try not to bake past that point.
How to Store Cheesecake Bars
Anything cheesecake must be stored in the refrigerator for food safety reasons. After chilling, place the bars in an airtight container or cover them with saran wrap and store them in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Can I Freeze Them?
Yes! If you are freezing the whole pan, allow the bars to chill in the refrigerator overnight before removing them from the pan and placing them in the freezer to firm up for about an hour. Wrap the flash-frozen bars in a double layer of saran wrap and freeze for up to 3 months.
You can also freeze sliced bars. Use the same flash freeze method before wrapping the bars individually in saran wrap or placing them in an airtight container with parchment paper dividing each layer. Store them in the freezer for up to 3 months.
In either case, thaw the bars in the refrigerator for several hours before enjoying them.
More Cheesecake Bar Recipes
Lemon not quite your thing? No problem! I've been having a blast making cheesecake bars lately and have a plethora of other options for you. Here are some of my favorites.
- Millionaire's Cheesecake Bars
- Turtle Cheesecake Bars
- Biscoff Apple Cheesecake Bars
- Caramel Cheesecake Bars
Lemon Cheesecake Bars
Pucker up! Sweet, tangy, creamy lemon cheesecake filling swirled with dollops of bright, flavorful lemon curd sits on top of a classic Graham Cracker crust in these glorious lemon cheesecake bars.
- Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
- Yield: 16 bars 1x
- 1 ½ cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 16oz Cream Cheese, softened to room temperature
- 150 grams (¾ Cup) granulated sugar
- 1 oz (2 tablespoons) heavy cream, at room temperature
- 1 oz (2 tablespoons) sour cream, at room temperature
- 1 Tablespoon Lemon Zest
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
- 2 Large Eggs + 1 Large Yolk, at room temp.
- 3-4oz lemon curd, homemade or store-bought
- Preheat oven to 325F/163C and line a 9-inch square pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
- In a food processor crush the Graham Crackers into fine crumbs. In a small bowl combine the crushed graham crackers and sugar, mixing to combine. Add the melted butter. Once combined press into prepared pan, use the bottom of a cup to help tightly pack the crust.
- Bake crust for 5-10 minutes, until lightly golden then let cool while you make the crust.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a handheld mixer beat cream cheese, sugar and lemon zest for 2 minutes on low-medium speed. Add heavy cream, lemon juice, and sour cream mixing until fully combined. Add in eggs and mix until just combined, do not over mix. You should have a creamy batter with no lumps.
- Pour on top of prepared crust. Spoon 16-20 small dollops of lemon curd and use a knife to swirl into bars. Place pan on the middle rack in the oven then place a deep pan underneath, I use a 9”x13” pan and fill that with water to create a very moist, even tempered environment for the cheesecake to bake in. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the center stops jiggling a lot. Open the oven door and let the bars cool inside for 30 minutes. Then set the pan on a wire rack and let cool for 30 minutes, then place in the fridge to chill for 2 hours or overnight.
- Drizzle more lemon curd on top, if desired, or serve with whipped cream. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Crust 5 minutes prep; 10 minutes cook time
Cheesecake 10 minutes prep; 30 minutes cook time; 30 minutes cool time in the oven; 2 hours chill time
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Chill Time: 2 hours
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Category: Desserts
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: cheesecake bars, lemon cheesecake, lemon desserts
WOOOWWWW these are sooo good and so much easier to make than a whole cheesecake!