My ideal picnic date would include a wedge of cheese, a bottle of wine, and a plate of these velvety, bright Lemon Cheesecake Bars.
With a buttery shortbread crust and luscious lemon cream cheese filling, these lemon cheesecake bars are the perfect summer recipe that tastes like sunny afternoons spent lounging on a blanket in the grass.
I baked these Lemon Cheesecake Bar safter a long weekend spent working on house projects at our new home with Ben.
After a long winter and procrastinating most of the spring, we’re finally purging the basement of clutter, washing windows, and handling pesky tasks like mowing and weeding.
Well, Ben mows. I bake lemon cheesecake bars to enjoy afterward. (Just like in the fall, when Ben rakes and I bake Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes.)
They’re the perfect lemony treat (these Classic Lemon Bars are not a bad choice either) after a long day of yard work because:
- They’re simple to make.
- Easily transportable to your outdoor table or lawn chair.
- Can be picked up and polished off with nothing more than your fingers.
5 Star Review
“I made these last weekend to test them out for a neighborhood party this weekend. They are fantastic!”— Beth —
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 (if you’re looking for a lemony summer birthday dessert, try my Lemon Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting).
- 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.
- Lemon Zest. My secret to giving the crust a little brightness and extra lemony oomph.
- Lemon Juice. Go with freshly squeezed lemon juice if you can, It makes a difference, I promise!
- Cream Cheese. Light cream cheese (not fat-free) keeps these bars rich, creamy, and indulgent without feeling heavy.
- Non-fat Greek Yogurt. Adds moisture and helps make the cheesecake light and fluffy.
- Egg Yolk. Contributes richness and natural yellow color to the lemon cheesecake.
Strawberry Preserves are a lovely addition to these bars that provides a surprise burst of summer berry flavor underneath the creamy lemon cheesecake. Try this recipe with a different fruit preserve of your choice. Raspberry, blueberry, or even cherry would all be delicious options.
- Combine and pulse the crust ingredients together in a food processor.
- Press the mixture into a greased baking dish and bake until lightly browned. Remove and let cool.
- Beat together the filling ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
- Over the cooled crust, pour the cream cheese mixture. Bake until the cheesecake appears set.
- Remove, let cool, and then cover and chill.
- To serve, cut into bars and garnish as desired. ENJOY!
- To Store. Keep leftover lemon cream cheese bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days.
- To Freeze. Leave bars ungarnished, wrap tightly in a double layer of plastic, and freeze for up to 1 month. Let thaw in the refrigerator, then top with fruit just before serving.
More Delicious Lemon Desserts
- 8×8-Inch Baking Pan. This is 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!
Whether you bring them to a weekend potluck or devour them in a quiet moment alone in front of your refrigerator, their luscious texture and bright, summery flavor will be a sweet addition to any day.
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
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees 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, ¼ 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 ¼ 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 two 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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