Lemon Cheesecake Bars

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These creamy lemon cheesecake bars are made with fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, and a graham cracker crust. These bars are topped with a lemon curd for even more bright lemon flavor!

lemon cheesecake bars topped with fresh lemon slices


 

I think you may know by now that I love lemon desserts! I can’t say that was always the case growing up but then something changed. And now I can’t get enough. Like my easy lemon bars recipe, or super popular lemon cookies, or my buttery lemon pound cake. Give me them all.

And as much as I love a slice of my lemon cheesecake, I don’t always want to go to the hassle of making a whole cheesecake and setting up a water bath. Enter these lemon cheesecake bars for an easy delicious treat. Lemon cheesecake in bar form? Yes please! Sign me up.

Lemon creamy cheesecake filling made with heavy cream for ultimate richness. The filling sits atop of a crunchy graham cracker crust. Then I didn’t stop there, I decided to go ahead and top with an easy stovetop lemon curd, although you could totally get away with using store bought.

I had a hard time saying no to these bars. Let’s just say they were absolutely delicious and so much so I brought them to some coworkers so I didn’t risk eating them all myself. You can eat these lemon cheesecake squares as is, or add a dollop of whipped cream on top for a decadent dessert to serve guests!

See Also:

lemon cheesecake bar topped with lemon slice sitting on two small white plates

Why You Will Love These Bars

  • No water bath needed – Since these are lemon cheesecake bars, and not a full cheesecake, you don’t need to go to the hassle of making a water bath.
  • Great dessert any time of year! – These lemon cheesecake bar are a refreshing summertime treat. But I love making them in wintertime too when citrus is in season!
  • Can be frozen and enjoyed later – If you can’t enjoy all these cheesecake bars at once, you can freeze them for up to 3 months.
lemon cheesecake bars cut into squares placed onto wire rack

Lemon Cheesecake Bars Ingredients

  • Graham cracker crumbs – Crush the graham crackers into crumbs using a food processor or place crackers into a plastic bag and crush them up using a rolling pin. You could also use Nilla vanilla wafers or digestive biscuits if you can’t find graham crackers.
  • Butter – I like to use unsalted butter vs salted butter in my baking, but you can use either. You will combine melted butter in the cheesecake filling and butter in the lemon curd.
  • Cream cheese – Use room temperature cream cheese so it makes for a smooth filling. I recommend using full fat cream cheese for best texture. Use brick cream cheese and not the cream cheese in a tub for best texture.
  • Flour – To help set up the cheesecake filling. I found without the all purpose flour the cheesecake filling was little too soft.
  • Granulated sugar – You want to use granulated sugar and not brown sugar to sweeten the cheesecake bars.
  • Salt – I add a pinch of salt to the lemon curd and lemon cheesecake filling to help balance the sweetness.
  • Sour Cream – You want to use full fat sour cream for best texture. Make sure the sour cream is at room temperature.
  • Eggs – Use room temperature eggs so they blend easily into the cheesecake filling. You will need to use eggs in the lemon curd as well.
  • Vanilla extract – I use pure vanilla extract, but imitation extract will also work.
  • Fresh Lemon Juice and Lemon Zest- You will use both lemon juice and lemon zest for the lemon curd, and cheesecake filling. You can use bottled lemon juice if need to but for best flavor use fresh.

How To Make Lemon Cheesecake Bars Recipe

Make the lemon curd: 

In a heatproof bowl set over a medium saucepan with a few inches of simmering water in the bottom , whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, egg, egg yolk, sugar, and salt and heat over medium-low heat.

Whisk continuously for 10 minutes, until the lemon curd begins to thicken and coats the back of a wooden spoon. 

lemon curd ingredients in double boiler

Remove the saucepan from the heat, and stir in the butter until melted and combined.  pour into a heatproof bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cool, about 2 hours. 

lemon curd in bowl with a whisk

Make the graham cracker crust: 

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190oC). Line a 8×8-inch square baking pan with tinfoil or parchment paper. Spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a food processor pulse the graham crackers into crumbs. You can also place them into a blender or food processor, or place into a plastic bag and use a rolling pin to smash them into pieces.

whole graham crackers pulsed into fine crumbs in a food processor

In a small mixing bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter until a crumbly mixture forms. 

graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter mixed together into a crumbly mixture in medium bowl

Press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom and slightly up the sides of the prepared pan. 

baked crust in bottom of prepared baking dish

Bake the crust for 8 to 10 minutes, until set. Remove from the oven cool while you prepare the lemon cheesecake filling. Lower the oven temperature to 325°F (163oC).

Make the lemon cheesecake filling: 

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or you can do this in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer) beat the cream cheese and sugar together one medium speed until smooth. 

cream cheese and granulated sugar beaten together in stand mixer bowl

Using the electric mixer, beat in the sour cream, flour, vanilla extract, eggs and pinch of salt; and beat on low speed until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. 

eggs and sour cream in bowl with lemon cheesecake batter

Stir in lemon zest and fresh lemon juice until combined.

lemon zest and fresh lemon juice mixed into cheesecake bater

Pour filling on top of the graham cracker crust. Bake in the 325F preheated oven, for about 40 minutes, until the edges are set but the middle of the bars are still soft in the center. The bars will continue to firm up as they cool. 

lemon cheesecake bars in baking dish

Remove the bars from the oven, and cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. Refrigerate for 4 hours or in the fridge overnight until firm.

baked lemon cheesecake bars in baking dish

Lift the parchment paper from the pan. Spread lemon curd on top of the bars before serving. Cut into bars and serve.

lemon cheesecake bars topped with curd cut into squares

Recipe Tips

  • You want to make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature. Cold or frozen ingredients are harder to mix and can lead to overmixing and lumps in the lemon cheesecake bars.
  • For clean and easy cutting, dip a sharp knife into hot water, wipe, and slice.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with whipped cream – Cut into bars and serve with a dollop of whipped cream on top!
  • Top with fresh berries – Top each lemon cheesecake bars with fresh berries, like raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, or strawberries.
lemon cheesecake bar topped with curd and lemon slices

Recipe FAQs

How do I store these lemon cheesecake bars?

Transfer these lemon cheesecake bars to an air-tight container and store them in your fridge. They can last for 3 days up to a week.

Why do I need softened cream cheese for cheesecake?

Yes you want your cream cheese to be at room temperature so it’s blended easily otherwise you will end up with a lumpy cheesecake batter. You can soften cream cheese quickly this way.

Can I freeze these lemon cheesecake bars?

Yes, you can freeze these lemon cheesecake bars. Just make sure to let them cool completely before freezing or you will have a soggy and unpleasant dessert on your hands. To freeze, wrap the lemon cheesecake bars in parchment paper or aluminum foil. Then, transfer to a freezer bag or freezer-safe container. Squeeze out excess air then seal. Place in your freezer. It can last up to 3 months.

Can I use store-bought lemon curd?

Yes you can skip making the homemade lemon curd and spread on storebought lemon curd instead. If the storebought lemon curd is too thick, try placing it in the microwave for a few seconds to soften it a little to make it easier to spread on.

easy lemon cheesecake bars on a wire rack

More Cheesecakes To Try!

If you’re craving more cheesecake then be sure to try my homemade lemon cheesecake topped with a fresh lemon curd! Or my Biscoff cheesecake. The cheesecake has a Biscoff cookie crust, and topped with more cookie butter!

Or if you’re looking for another great no bake bar, try my no bake banana pudding cheesecake bar recipe!

And you can’t go wrong with a classic cherry cheesecake with a homemade cherry topping! And if you’re craving more cheesecake bars, be sure to check out my 14 cheesecake bar recipes!

More Lemon Dessert Recipes

If you loved these lemon cheesecake bars, then give these other lemon desserts a try!

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

These creamy lemon cheesecake bars are made with fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, and a graham cracker crust. These bars are topped with a lemon curd for even more bright lemon flavor!
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Chilling time: 4 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 25 minutes
Servings: 12 bars
Calories: 383kcal

Ingredients

For the Lemon curd:

  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) lemon juice
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • cup (67 g) granulated sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 tablespoons (42 g) unsalted butter, softened

For the crust:

  • 1 ¼ cups (128 g) graham cracker crumbss about 12 cracker
  • ¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter melted

For the lemon cheesecake bars:

  • 16 ounces (2 packages, 454g) cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 cup (60 g) sour cream room temperature
  • 3 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Instructions

Make the lemon curd:

  • In a heatproof bowl set over a medium saucepan with a few inches of simmering water in the bottom , whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, egg, egg yolk, sugar, and salt and heat over medium-low heat. Whisk continuously for 8-10 minutes, until the lemon curd begins to thicken and coats the back of a wooden spoon.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat, and stir in the butter until melted and combined. pour into a heatproof bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cool, about 2 hours.

Make the graham cracker crust:

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a 8×8-inch square baking pan with tinfoil or parchment paper. Spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
  • In a small mixing bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter until a crumbly mixture forms.
  • Press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom and slightly up the sides of the prepared pan.
  • Bake the graham cracker crust for 8 to 10 minutes, until set. Remove from the oven cool while you prepare the lemon cheesecake filling. Lower the oven temperature to 325°F (163°C).

Make the lemon cheesecake filling:

  • In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or you can do this in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer) beat the cream cheese and sugar together one medium speed until smooth.
  • Add in the sour cream, flour, vanilla and salt. Beat to combine.
  • Stir in lemon zest, and lemon juice; and beat on low speed until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Pour filling on top of the graham cracker crust. Bake in the preheated 325°F oven, for 38 to 40 minutes, until the edges are set but the middle of the bars are still soft in the center. The bars will continue to firm up as they cool.
  • Remove the bars from the oven, and cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until firm. Lift the parchment paper from the pan. Spread lemon curd on top of the bars before serving. Cut into bars and serve.

Notes

  • Storage: Transfer these lemon cheesecake bars to an air-tight container and store them in your fridge. They can last for 3 days up to a week.
  • Freezing: You can freeze these lemon cheesecake bars. Just make sure to let them cool completely before freezing or you will have a soggy and unpleasant dessert on your hands. To freeze, wrap the lemon cheesecake bars in parchment paper or aluminum foil. Then, transfer to a freezer bag or freezer-safe container. Squeeze out excess air then seal. Place in your freezer. It can last up to 3 months.
  • Lemon Curd: You can also use store bought and skip making the homemade lemon curd.

Nutrition

Calories: 383kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 137mg | Sodium: 207mg | Potassium: 110mg | Fiber: 0.5g | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 881IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 64mg | Iron: 1mg
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8 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Light, refreshing and delicious, count me in for this delicious treat.

  2. 5 stars
    These lemon cheesecake bars were such a hit and such a perfect summer treat. Loved the lemony flavors and the graham cracker crusts. YUM!

    1. Great, thank you, Kathryn!

  3. 5 stars
    The creamy texture of the cheesecake layer combined with the zesty lemon flavor was just perfect. The shortbread crust added a nice crunch. Definitely a must-try recipe!

  4. TAYLER ROSS says:

    5 stars
    I made these cheesecake bars to take into work yesterday and they were a hit! Everyone loved them!

    1. Great, so happy that everyone enjoyed them! Thanks!

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