Cheesecake Bars

I have a most favorite recipe for the real-deal cheesecake. And it is beyond words delicious. I also have a recipe for an over-the-top no-bake cheesecake that graces our house on Halloween. Fantastic. Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake? Check. Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake? Got it.

But until now, I’ve never had a recipe for a no-fail Cheesecake Bar recipe. While authentic cheesecakes have their place, sometimes I don’t want to mess with a water bath, risk of cracked cheesecake tops, extra-long baking times, meticulous instructions. Fussy, fussy, fussy.

If you are looking for great cheesecake taste without most of the fuss, this recipe fits the bill. Thick graham cracker crust topped with rich, creamy cheesecake – it fulfills the cheesecake craving in a splendid way.

I upped the amount of crust to filling ratio but if you like a thinner crust, feel free to scale down the crust measurements.

Cheesecake Bars

Yield: Makes an 8-inch Square Dish of Bars

Cheesecake Bars

Plan Ahead: The bars need to cool completely (about 2 hours) and chill in the fridge (about 3 hours) before serving.


  • 2 cups crushed graham crackers
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Filling:
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup (4 2/3 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with foil, letting edges hang over the side, and grease foil.
  2. Combine the graham cracker crumbs with the butter, brown sugar, flour and salt and mix well. Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared pan and press into an even layer. Bake the crust until beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes.
  3. Beat the cream cheese until smooth in a large bowl, scraping down bowl and beaters as needed. Gradually beat the sugar until incorporated, about 1 minute. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until completely combined. Beat in the sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla until combined.
  4. Pour the filling over the crust. Bake the bars until the edges are set but the center still jiggles slightly, 35 to 40 minutes.
  5. Let the bars cool completely in the pan, set on a wire rack, about 2 hours, then cover with foil and refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours. Remove bars from pan using foil and cut into squares and serve.

Recipe Source: adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

42 Responses to Cheesecake Bars

  1. Casey says:

    Mel, have you ever tried to do these in a cookie sheet? I need to make a ton of bars for a wedding and I’m wondering if I could put them in cookie sheets to save me some time. Thoughts?

  2. Barbara says:

    These are THE BEST! I am not a baker and I look like a rock star every time these hit the table. I like them with a little puréed fruit drizzled over the top of them also.

    Thanks, Barb

  3. Victoria says:

    I was wondering if i could omit the lemon juice. I’m thinking of making turtle cheesecake bars for my mother’s birthday and this is the best ‘plain’ cheesecake bar recipe that I’ve come across. Would I have to change anything else or can I just not add the lemon?
    Ps. I am doubling and cooking in a 9×13 pan.


    • Mel says:

      Hi Victoria, yes, I think you could leave out the lemon…but I don’t think it would hurt to leave it for the turtle variation either.

  4. Julianne Ingram says:

    Should the crust cool before putting the filling on top?

  5. Randi says:

    Do you think that once the cheesecake sets I can freeze it? It would be a lot easier to cut it into small pieces if it were frozen or partially frozen.

    • Mel says:

      Randi – I haven’t frozen these cheesecake bars but most cheesecake recipes freeze fabulously so yes, I think you could freeze these bars.

  6. Mel says:

    Boe – I’m sure that would work fine!

  7. Boe says:

    I am in love with all your recipes! Made the Caramel Apple Cheesecake bars a couple weeks ago and they were super successful! Was just wondering, do you think I could use this cheesecake recipe with the crust of those bars instead? I was so so in love with it, haha!

  8. Mel says:

    Pau – you’ll have to experiment a bit with cooking time. I don’t know how long exactly since I’ve never made these adjustments but I would suggest baking at 325 degrees for 45 minutes and checking often after that. Bake until the edges are set but the very center is just slightly jiggly.

  9. Pau says:

    Okay thanks, but last question, how long would I need to bake it? And at what temperature? Thanks!

  10. Mel says:

    Hi Pau – I’m not sure the best way to transition this recipe to a classic cheesecake. I’d suggest making the recipe as is and putting it in a springform pan to bake like a cheesecake. The cheesecake will be less thick by nature of the fact that this recipe calls for 1/4 cup sour cream whereas the Favorite Cheesecake recipe calls for 1 pint of sour cream and an additional egg. You could try halving the recipe again to make 1 1/2 batches of this cheesecake to make the cheesecake layer more thick. So the increments would be:
    3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
    1 cup granulated sugar
    3 large eggs
    ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sour cream
    3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

    Good luck!

  11. Pau says:

    Hi Mel, this is my favorite recipe of yours. I tried your best cheesecake recipe, but for me this is better, because I think the lemon zest is overpowering. I realized that the only difference between the filling of this and your best cheesecake is that this makes use of lemon juice, while the latter makes use of lemon zest. Can you help me? I want to make cheesecake using this recipe but I want the filling to be as thick as in your best cheesecake recipe. What do I do? I don’t want to double the whole thing, meaning, I’d have to use 4 packages of cream cheese. I tried to use your best cheesecake recipe but substituted 3 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice for the lemon zest, and it was a disaster! The taste of the sour cream was very evident! I guess I did not use enough lemon juice? How much should I substitute? Please help me. Thank you so much!

  12. Mara says:

    Made this last night in little pie tins instead of bars. It was amazing.

  13. Mel says:

    Nicole – I’ve never made a chocolate version of this so I can’t give a tried-and-true guarantee of how it would work out. If you wanted to try the swirling technique, I would mix melted chocolate with 1/2 to 1 cup of the batter and then swirl that chocolate batter into the regular batter already in the pan. Good luck!

  14. Nicole says:

    I love this recipe and since i am terrified of making a original cheesecake ( water baths and spring form pans ugghh) i think this would be a great way for me to start!!! I am however a CHOCOHOLIC, and was wondering could I add chocolate to 1/2 the cream cheese to make a marble cheesecake bar ? or is there a way to convert your sinfully Delicious “Decadent chocolate cheesecake” recipe into a easy bar for those of us in fear of making a cheesecake ??

  15. Brittany says:

    Hey, just wanted to let you know that I just started my own cooking blog and I just featured this recipe! I have a few of your recipes that I’ve already tried out and will also share later on. I love your recipes, I haven’t made one I haven’t liked yet!

  16. Anonymous says:

    Wow. Original. Not.

  17. PheMom says:

    Oh Mel! I’ve missed stopping by here. These cheesecake bars are calling my name! I hope you are doing well and that your family is all settled in.

  18. Melanie says:

    Hi Jennie – these are definitely not difficult bars to make. The hardest part is just planning for the cooling and chilling periods so that they are ready when you want to serve them. I think they would be a great treat to serve others – to make them especially nice, be sure to wipe your knife each time you make a cut while slicing the bars so that they cut cleanly. I’ve never doubled the recipe, but I think it would probably work just fine to double and put in a 9X13 – although I would only 1 1/2 the crust since it is already thicker than normal. Generic cream cheese (at least in my opinion) works just as good in a recipe like this, but I haven’t tried these with lowfat cream cheese, so I don’t know how the lowfat cream cheese “bakes up” compared to the full fat. Good luck!

  19. Jennie says:

    I’ve recently discovered your blog and I love it!! Thanks for all the delicious recipes! I have never made a cheesecake before…do you think these bars are easy to make? Easy enough that I could have them taste and look nice to serve to others? Also, have you ever doubled the recipe and used a 9×13 pan? One last question, does generic and low fat cream cheese still work as well?? Thanks!

  20. bchmomx3 says:

    My mouth is watering. I am trying figure out if I have everything here or not. I might have to run to the store.

  21. Melanie says:

    Leisel – I don’t know if you’ve made a decision already but if you haven’t, I’d go for the spiderweb no-bake cheesecake. It is one of my favorite cheesecake recipes ever! But either one is delicious.

  22. Leisel says:

    This is crazy! I just bought cream cheese and a graham cracker crust yesterday thinking I wanted to make a cheesecake. How did you know??? My mom would always make a no bake cheesecake and then top it with a cherry pie filling, so this is like major comfort food for me! Atleast this time when I try one of your recipes I won’t run out of the listed ingreds. But now I’m faced with the delima as to which recipe to try. That spider web is way to tempting, plus you already know I love a good no bake!! Hmmnn. Decisions, decisions!!!

  23. Marisa says:

    I agree–the thicker the crust the better! These do sound like the perfect kind of cheesecake for me. I’ve yet to venture out and make a real homemade cheesecake (blasphemous, I know). I for sure will be trying these!!!

  24. Patsyk says:

    I love that you made the crust a bit thicker! Cheesecake bars are such a nice alternative to the more time consuming full-on cheesecakes.

  25. Megan says:

    All your cheesecakes sound yummy but these bars are a work of art! Love cheesecake! 🙂

  26. Melanie says:

    Anonymous – I changed the recipe to be a bit more clear, but yes, it is 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese.

  27. Melanie says:

    Cammee – just to make you feel a bit better, I also have some 9-month-old baby weight that needs to be lost but as you can probably gather, it isn’t really happening. I console myself by repeating “Life is too short” and convincing my husband he wants a chubby wife. Good luck to you!

  28. Melanie says:

    Jessie – glad you liked the taco meat!

  29. grace says:

    given my sloth-itude, i’d much rather make cheesecake bars than the whole springform pan deal. the texture of your creation looks perfectly dense and fluffy–gorgeous!

  30. ARLENE says:

    These are sure to inspire my dreams tonight. I know I can lighten them up a bit with Neufchatel. They look so delicious I may have to give it a go.

  31. Anonymous says:

    This looks AWSOME!! I can’t wait to make it. One quick question. On the cream cheese…8 oz total? or 8 oz each package for a total of 16oz? Probably a stupid question but I thought I should be sure!! Thank you SOOO much for your blog. I am planning much of what we eat from you blog!!!

  32. Cammee says:

    Ok, I thought we were friends?! I decide that today is the day I am once and for all going to start to get this baby weight off (he’s almost 9 months, after all!) and you show up with CHEESECAKE!! No-fuss cheesecake, no less. I’m weak, Melanie. I have no willpower over yummy food! I would seriously print out that picture and eat it!

  33. Justin says:

    yum, i didn’t know there was any such thing as a no-fuss cheesecake. i’ve learned to live with cracks in my cake tops, because i’m just not that much of a perfectionist

  34. Katie says:

    My eyes lit up when I saw this post’s picture. These look like PERFECTION! Yum!!

  35. Libby says:

    Yummm!! This looks really good 🙂 A true indulgence for the season 🙂

  36. Kitty says:

    Off to the grocery store I go!

  37. Mireya says:

    One word – YUM! Thanks for sharing this easy recipe!

  38. Romney Family says:

    That looks so good. My favorite dessert is cheesecake. I am definitely going to have to try this one and I tried your taco meat recipe last night and it was so great!! you are right it is way better than any taco seasoning mix and my family loved it!! Thanks again for another winner!! Jessie

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