Clear today’s plans because these sunshine-bright Lemon Cheesecake Bars just took urgent priority status. Rich, creamy, and bursting with lemon flavor, they’re the easy version of cheesecake you can pick up with your fingers!
With a buttery shortbread crust and luscious lemon cream cheese filling, these easy lemon cheesecake bars are the perfect dessert recipe that tastes like sunny afternoons spent lounging on a blanket on the grass.
They are ideal for any time you are craving lemon but want something more decadent than Lemon Bars (that’s less work than a Lemon Layer Cake).
5 Star Review
“I made these last weekend to test them out for a neighborhood party this weekend. They are fantastic!”— Beth —
About Lemon Cheesecake Bars
Perfectly transportable and always a crowd-pleaser, I love these lemon cheesecake bars for many reasons and know you and anyone you serve them to will too.
- They’re easy-breezy and light but still have a touch of specialness and decadence.
- The buttery crust complements the lemony brightness, just like in this Lemon Tart.
- They’re easy to pick up and polish off with nothing more than your fingers (like my top-rated Strawberry Oatmeal Bars).
- They are so much easier than cheesecake! No need to worry about cracks or water baths when baking cheesecake bars.
More Seasonal Cheesecake
Summer coming to a close? Pivot to this other scrumptiously seasonal treat that’s equally delicious: Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes.
How to Make Lemon Cheesecake Bars
These lemon cream cheese bars are a perfect dessert to enjoy at a backyard picnic of your own or to bring to a party or potluck.
(Or if you’re looking for a lemony brunch recipe, try my Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake.)
- Whole Wheat Pastry Flour and All-Purpose Flour. I love to use a blend of whole wheat pastry flour and all-purpose to sneak a little wholesome nutrition into these bars.
- Powdered Sugar. Sweetens the crust and makes it melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
- Butter. Essential to make the shortbread crust perfectly tender and ultra-buttery (like in this Strawberry Cream Pie).
- Lemon Zest. My secret to giving the crust and filling a little brightness and extra lemony oomph (also key for Lemon Cream Pie).
- Lemon Juice. Go with freshly squeezed lemon juice if you can; it makes a difference, I promise!
- Cream Cheese. It’s not cheesecake without it! Pick up an extra brick to make Red White and Blueberry Cheesecake Bars too.
- Greek Yogurt. A swap to give the same tang and creaminess as sour cream cheesecake. Yogurt adds moisture and helps make the cheesecake light and fluffy. (Try this Greek Yogurt Cheesecake next.)
- Egg Yolk. Contributes richness and natural yellow color to the lemon cheesecake.
Add Strawberry Preserves. For a lovely optional addition that provides a surprise burst of summer berry flavor underneath the creamy lemon cheesecake, spread a thin layer of your favorite jam over the baked crust before pouring in the filling. You could also use a different fruit preserve of your choice.
- Pulse the crust ingredients together in a food processor.
- Press the mixture into a greased baking dish.
- Bake until lightly browned. Remove, and let cool.
- Beat together the cream cheese, Greek yogurt, and sugar.
- Add the eggs.
- Stir in the remaining filling ingredients until smooth and creamy.
- Over the cooled crust, pour the cream cheese mixture. Bake lemon cheesecake bars at 350 degrees F for 28 to 32 minutes. Chill, then cut into bars and ENJOY!
- To Store. Keep leftover lemon cream cheese bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 days.
- To Freeze. Wrap cheesecake bars tightly in a double layer of plastic, and freeze for up to 1 month. Let thaw in the refrigerator.
What to Serve with Lemon Cheesecake Bars
Round out your summer dessert spread with more easy, fruity summertime treats.
- Bountiful Berries. Don’t miss these Blueberry Oatmeal Bars or this Strawberry Crisp.
- Cherries Desserts. Sneak seconds of these seasonal Cherry Bars or easy Cherry Crisp recipe.
- Peach Treats. This Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler and Peach Upside Down Cake scream summer.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- 8×8-Inch Baking Pan. This one is my favorite for bars, brownies, and more.
- Parchment Paper. The secret to easy clean-up and cutting for bars.
- Beater Blade Batter Attachment. I use this with my KitchenAid stand mixer—it scrapes down the bowl for you!
Brighten up someone’s day (including your own!) with this sweet and creamy summer lemon dessert.
Frequently Asked Questions
I have not tried doubling this recipe myself, but I believe you can do so and bake it in a standard 9×13 pan. Note the bake time may need to be extended slightly depending on your oven, so keep an eye on them for best results.
I have only ever made this recipe as it is written, so omitting or swapping the Greek yogurt for an alternative ingredient would be an experiment. If you choose to leave out the Greek yogurt, I would replace it with another yogurt with a similar consistency to ensure the filling has the best chance of turning out with a similar texture and thickness. You could also swap sour cream.
The filling is gluten free, but the crust is not. To make lemon cheesecake bars gluten free, swap the whole wheat and all purpose flours in the crust for your favorite gluten free 1-to-1 all purpose baking flour.
Lemon Cheesecake Bars
For the Shortbread Crust:
- 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour or substitute all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
For the Lemon Cheesecake:
- 16 ounces light cream cheese, (two 8-ounce blocks) softened (do not use fat free)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/4 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt at room temperature
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8 x 8-inch pan with cooking spray.
- In the bowl of a food processor (or in a medium mixing bowl if not using a food processor), lightly pulse the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat pastry flour, powdered sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of lemon zest, and salt. Add butter pieces and pulse just until the mixture is crumbly and resembles coarse cornmeal. (If not using a food processor, cut butter pieces into the dry ingredients with a fork or pastry blender.) The mixture will feel dry to the touch.
- Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.
- Bake 20 to 22 minutes, until lightly browned. Set aside to cool for at least 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large mixing bowl), beat together the cream cheese, Greek yogurt, and granulated sugar until smooth.
- Add the egg and beat just until blended.
- Mix in the fresh lemon juice, cornstarch, vanilla, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of lemon zest. Beat well.
- Pour the cream cheese mixture over the crust, spreading it to the edges. Bake for 28 to 32 minutes, or until the cheesecake appears set on top and only jiggles slightly when you wiggle the pan. Let cool on a wire rack for 1 hour then cover and chill for 4 to 8 hours. Cut into bars and garnish with whipped cream, if desired.
- TO STORE: Keep leftover lemon cream cheese bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- TO FREEZE: Wrap tightly in a double layer of plastic, and freeze for up to 1 month. Let thaw in the refrigerator, then serve.
- RECIPE VARIATION: For a fun fruity twist, spread a thin layer of your favorite fruit preserves over the cooled crust before pouring in the creamy lemon cheesecake filling. Strawberry, raspberry, or blueberry preserves are some of my favorites that pair perfectly with lemon.
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Celebrate the arrival of warmer weather with more of these bright lemon dessert recipes:
Cakes & Cupcakes
Made these over the weekend- delish! I didn’t have whole wheat flour or strawberry preserves so I substituted all purpose flour and raspberry preserves. Definitely a keeper! I ended up freezing the leftovers and am excited to be able to pull out a sweet treat whenever I get a craving.
Your raspberry version sounds amazing, Kristen! Thanks so much for giving the recipe a try and reporting back!
I made these last weekend to test them out for a neighborhood party this weekend. They are fantastic!
I am so excited to hear that Beth! I hope you enjoy them the second time around too :) Thanks for taking time to leave this wonderful review!
hi, have you ever made this in a 9×13 size? would you simply double the recipe? they look tasty, thinking of making them for a party this weekend.
Hi JD, I haven’t done that myself, but it should work! And yes, I would double the recipe. I hope you enjoy the bars!
Making this delicious looking recipe and have a Question on the lemon zest. The ingredient lists call for 1/4tsp and 2tsp. 1/4tsp for the crust and the remaining 1/4tsp in the cheesecake. where did the other 3/4tsp go?
Hi Kathy! Thank you so much for pointing this out. Please refer to the recipe instructions, using 1/4 teaspoon for the crust and 1/4 teaspoon for the filling. I’ll update the recipe accordingly. I hope you enjoy the bars!
These lemon cheesecake bars are out of this world!! You won’t have cheesecake out that taste better than this and I guarantee they aren’t using 1/2 the fat cream cheese and Greek yogurt. Thank you for sharing this recipe!
You’re welcome Maggie! Thank you!