These lemon cheesecake bars bring a bit of sweet sunshine to the summer season, and will make you want to pucker up! Cool and creamy, this lemon cheesecake bars recipe calls for an easy graham cracker crust, a lemon-kissed cheesecake filling, a tangy layer of vanilla sour cream, plus a drizzle of lemon curd for extra tang!
Cheesecake Bars with a Tangy Kiss of Lemon
During the warm, sunny months, little tastes as refreshing as a cool, creamy dessert bar kissed with the bright flavors of tangy lemon.
Cheesecake bars are a favorite way for me to enjoy the flavor and texture of cheesecake, only in a simple bar that's a bit quicker and easier to prepare than a traditional cheesecake, baked up in less time.
What could be better?
These lemon cheesecake bars come complete with the beloved flavor of a graham cracker crust, layered with a creamy cheesecake filling made with cream cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla.
But, of course, I don't' stop there...
There's also a thin, tangy and cool layer of vanilla bean sour cream layered over top of that (which we love on cheesecake!), plus a sweet drizzle of tangy lemon curd.
Now, doesn't that sound like a dessert just made for the summer?
My Recipe For Lemon Cheesecake Bars
When it comes to preparing these cheesecake bars, there's nothing complicated about it...
There's just several simple components to prep, with the lemon curd being one that can easily be store-bought for convenience.
Or, you can make the lemon curd from scratch using my homemade lemon curd recipe!
It all begins with that graham cracker crust, which has just a few ingredients mixed together in a bowl. The crust is then lightly pressed into a baking dish, followed by the cheesecake filling layer spooned in over top of that.
The creamy cheesecake layer is processed in the food processor to create that completely creamy and smooth consistency, then poured over the crust, smoothed out and baked.
While the cheesecake bars bake, I whisk up the vanilla bean sour cream layer to have cold and ready to smooth over top once the bars have cooled. (You can substitute vanilla extract in place of vanilla bean, if you wish.)
Here's a peek at my recipe for lemon cheesecake bars: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get stared, I prepare my graham cracker crust layer, and gently press that into my baking dish.
- Next, I prepare my creamy cheesecake filling layer, and pour that over the graham cracker crust, smoothing out the top.
- I bake the cheesecake for roughly 30 to 35 minutes, until just slightly jiggly in the center.
- After baking, I whisk up my vanilla bean sour cream, and add that as thin layer over top once the cheesecake has completely cooled.
- I then cut into bars, drizzle some of my lemon curd over each bar, and finish with a dusting a of a bit of decorative (though optional) edible “gold dust”.
Lemon Cheesecake Bars
by Ingrid Beer
These lemon cheesecake bars have a cool layer of vanilla bean sour cream plus tangy lemon curd, making for the perfect summer dessert bar!
Yield: 12 cheesecake bars
Nutrition Info: 362 calories per bar
Prep Time: 40 minutes (does not include chill time)
Cook time: 40 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Graham Crust Ingredients:
- 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs (about whole 10 sheets processed in food processor)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Pinch salt
- Pinch cinnamon
- 6 tablespoons melted butter
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Cheesecake Filling Ingredients:
- 2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened at room temp
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup lemon curd, for drizzling on afterwards as decoration
Vanilla Sour Cream Ingredients:
- ¾ cup sour cream
- ½ vanilla bean (alternately, you can substitute about 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract)
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of your graham cracker crust ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- To prepare the crust, add all of the crust ingredients to a bowl, and using your fingers or a fork, combine until all the crumbs are well coated in the melted butter. Pour the crumb mixture into the prepared foil-lined baking dish (I used an 11 x 7 inch glass baking dish, but a 9 x 9 inch should work as well), and press them using the back of a measuring cup to create an even layer of crust.
- Next, preheat your oven to 350°, then gather and prep all of your filling ingredients (except for the lemon curd) according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- To prepare the filling, add the softened cream cheese, along with the lemon zest and juice, into the bowl of a food processor, and process until smooth. Add the sugar, the eggs and the vanilla, and process again until completely blended and smooth. Pour the filling over the prepared crust, and smooth out the top.
- Bake the cheesecake bar mixture for about 30 to 35 minutes, or just until the center of it still slightly jiggles. Remove from oven and allow it to cool for 30 minutes.
- Then, place into the fridge and allow to completely chill for at least 3 hours (or even overnight) to set.
- Next, gather and prep all of your vanilla bean sour cream filling ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- To prepare the vanilla bean sour cream filling, add the sour cream to a bowl. Next, split the vanilla bean pod down the center, and scrape the paste out of it, and add it to the sour cream.
- Add in the powdered sugar, and gently whisk the ingredients together just until blended. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Once the cheesecake is cooled and set, lift it out with the overhanging foil. Spread the vanilla bean sour cream over the top, then cut into 12 equal bars. (You can let the sour cream “set” just a bit in the fridge for 30 minutes before cutting into bars, if desired.)
- To finish, drizzle/pipe some of the lemon curd over the top of the bars decoratively, and sprinkle with a little edible gold “dust”, if desired. Serve bars cold.
Tips & Tidbits for my Lemon Cheesecake Bars recipe:
- Lots of fresh lemon zest, and some juice: Freshly-grated lemon zest and a hint of fresh juice gives these bars that bright, sunny flavor we love in a lemony cheesecake. Using the zest in the filling reinforces that lemon flavor, which compliments the lemon curd.
- A thin, tangy and creamy layer of sour cream: My hubby and I are suckers for cheesecake that has a thin layer of sour cream, so I've incorporated that into this yummy bar recipe. It's very quick and easy to whisk up with just three ingredients, and you can substitute vanilla extract for the vanilla bean instead (though those flecks are so pretty!).
- Homemade lemon curd or store bought: If you have a good quality store bought lemon curd that you like to use, feel free to use that as a short cut. I like to prep my quick homemade lemon curd with lots of lemony flavor, and have some leftovers!
Craving more cool and sweet desserts? Check out these Apricot Sugar Cookie Pies, these Strawberry Lemonade Scones, this Lemon Curd Parfait, this Lemon Bundt Cake, or these Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins with Streusel!
Cook's Note: This recipe was originally published in 2014, and has been updated with even more love!