lemon cheesecake bars on plate

If you grew up enjoying classic, plain cheesecake, then you may not realize just how versatile the dessert can be. According to Greatist, there are quite a few types of cheesecake, and all of them are pretty delicious. From a classic New York cheesecake to a light and fluffy Japanese cheesecake, there are lots of ways to get creative in the kitchen. Also, if you love a classic cheesecake, you can still have some fun by adding flavors!

Recipe developer and wellness coach Miriam Hahn offers up an easy, fruity twist on cheesecake with this lemon cheesecake bars recipe. "I like these cheesecake bars so much more than a full cheesecake," Hahn says of this recipe. "Much more versatile." She also adds that "these are great for a brunch, wedding or baby shower, holidays, or dinner party!" Because the dish requires an eight hour or overnight wait in the refrigerator, remember to give yourself a day to make this if you’re preparing this as a dessert or for a teatime treat.

Gather the ingredients to make lemon cheesecake bars

ingredients for lemon cheesecake bars

Before you can get started on making these lemon cheesecake bars, you’ll want to make sure that you have the right ingredients. Fortunately, if you bake often, many of these ingredients are likely already sitting in your pantry. For starters, you’ll need graham crackers for the crust. You’ll also need some butter, sugar, cream cheese, lemon juice, lemon zest, an egg, and some vanilla. As for toppings and garnish, you’ll want some powdered sugar and a few slices of fresh lemon.

Make the graham cracker crust

crushed graham crackers in bowl

Once you’ve sorted your ingredients, you’ll want to begin by making the graham cracker crust. First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, then put the graham crackers in a food processor and break these up until they become fine crumbs. From there, you’ll want to mix the graham cracker crumbs with melted butter and ¾ cup of the sugar, taking care to ensure all the ingredients are properly mixed together. Line a 9×9-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving enough overhang so you can use the paper as handles later. Spread the graham cracker mixture into the bottom of the pan, making sure you pack the crumbs firmly, then bake for five minutes.

Prepare the lemon cream cheese filling

eggs pouring into white filling

To make the filling for the cheesecake bars, put the cream cheese into a large bowl and beat the blocks with a hand mixer until smooth. Then, add the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla. Beat all of the ingredients until everything is well mixed, then fold in the beaten egg. If lemon is not your thing or if you don’t have them handy, Hahn says using limes can do the trick too. "I think lime bars would be delicious," Hahn notes. "And they would be pretty too."

Bake your cheesecake bars

lemon cheesecake bars on platter

Now that both the filling and crust are ready to go, you can construct and bake the bars. Lower the oven’s heat to 300 F. Now, you’ll want to pour the filling mixture over the crust and bake the entire pastry for 35 minutes. When it is ready, the top will look lightly browned, but the center will remain jiggly. Cool the dessert in the pan for an hour, then refrigerate for eight hours, giving the cheesecake time to set. Just before serving, use the parchment paper overhang to lift the lemon cheesecake out of the pan and cut the pastry into 16 squares. Top with fresh lemon zest, powdered sugar, and lemon slices — and then enjoy this elegant and flavorful dessert!

  • 12 graham cracker sleeves
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ¾ cup + ⅓ cup sugar, divided
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • ⅓ cup lemon juice
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • powdered sugar for topping
  • lemon zest and slices for topping
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Put the graham crackers in a food processor and blend until they are fine crumbs.
  3. Mix the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and ¾ cup sugar in a medium bowl.
  4. Line a 9×9-inch baking pan with parchment paper and spread the graham cracker mixture into the bottom of the pan, pressing firmly. Bake this for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the cream cheese to a large bowl and mix with a hand mixer until smooth. Add the rest of the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla. Beat until well mixed. Then fold in the beaten egg.
  6. Reduce the oven’s heat to 300 F.
  7. Pour the filling mixture over the crust, then bake for 35 minutes. The top will look lightly browned, but the center will remain jiggly. Cool in the pan for 1 hour, then refrigerate for 8 hours.
  8. Lift the parchment out of the pan and cut into 9 large squares or 16 mini squares. Top with fresh lemon zest, powdered sugar, and lemon slices.