Cheesecake Bars Recipe | Cheesecake Squares - Handle the Heat
Filed Under: Bar Dessert | Cheesecake

Cheesecake Bars

By Tessa Arias
  |  
August 25th, 2021
5 from 13 votes
5 from 13 votes

The absolute best classic Cheesecake Bars you'll ever eat! This recipe features an easy, buttery graham cracker crust with an ultra creamy and slightly tangy cheesecake filling. Top with chocolate ganache or salted caramel to take this dessert to a whole other level!

Yield: 18 bars

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook: 55 minutes

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: Sweet yet tangy and rich! Texture: Each bite has the perfect contrast of the buttery crunchy crust with the luscious creamy filling. Ease: Much easier than a full sized cheesecake! Pros: Quick, easy, and perfect for entertaining. Cons: Absolutely none! Would I make this again? I do all of the time.

Thick and creamy cream cheese filling with the perfect amount of tang. Buttery, crunchy graham cracker crust. Toppings of your choosing. Meet your new favorite cheesecake bars recipe.

Cheesecake Bars Recipe

As much as I love a big, impressive full-sized cheesecake, they are a pain to bake! You’re fighting cracks and sinking if you don’t take the steps to set up a water bath. Plus, it takes some experience to know when a full-size cheesecake is actually done baking.

They take a while to bake and even longer to cool down and chill before you ever get a bite of cheesecake.

Delayed gratification like that is sometimes just too much to bear. This is where cheesecake BARS come onto the scene!

Cheesecake Squares Recipe

They’re faster and easier to prep, bake, and chill. They’re easier to slice and serve so they make the perfect treat for a potluck, party, or event. And because they’re so simple, you can get creative with fun topping ideas!

Baking The Best Cheesecake Bars

How to Make Classic Cheesecake Bars

How do I make a cheesecake crust that won’t crumble?

Use a food processor to finely grind your graham crackers for best results. Once combined, press the crust ingredients into the pan very firmly. I like to use the bottom of a measuring cup or glass for this.

What can I use instead of graham crackers?

You can use the same amount by weight of digestive biscuits, vanilla wafers, Biscoff cookies, or any crunchy cookie you’d like! **Biscoff cookies are a little richer than graham crackers (which are drier), so add just enough butter until it holds together when pressed.

What kind of cream cheese should I use for cheesecake bars?

Be sure to use blocks of full-fat, high-quality cream cheese. Do not use reduced fat or your cheesecake bars may be watery, rubbery, or otherwise lackluster. Definitely don’t use whipped cream cheese or cream cheese for spreading on a bagel. Opt for the best brand you can find as some generic brands have too much water content!

How to get smooth and creamy cheesecake bars?

Be sure your cream cheese is COMPLETELY softened to room temperature. Beat it very well with the sugar. Once you add eggs, only beat until combined to prevent sinking or cracking (though the risk of that happening is far smaller with bars!). Also, be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of your bowl as well as your mixer attachment often to prevent lumps.

How to cut cheesecake bars for clean slices:

Use the parchment overhang to lift the entire tray of cheesecake up and out of the pan and onto a cutting board. A big sharp knife is the best tool, and for ultraclean slices, run the knife under hot water and wipe off between cuts.

Best Cheesecake Squares

Cheesecake bar topping ideas:

Get creative here! You can serve the bars plain, but they’re so much more fun with toppings!

Cheesecake Bars With Chocolate and Raspberries

How to store cheesecake bars:

These cheesecake bars can be made and refrigerated 2 days ahead of time or frozen in an airtight container for up to 2 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge or on the counter for a couple of hours.

Tasty Sweet Cheesecake Bar

More Cheesecake Bar Recipes You’ll Love:

Photos by Ashley McLaughlin.

5 from 13 votes

How to make
Cheesecake Bars

Yield: 18 bars
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Inactive (Chilling) Time 6 hours
Total Time: 7 hours 20 minutes
The absolute best classic Cheesecake Bars you'll ever eat! This recipe features an easy, buttery graham cracker crust with an ultra creamy and slightly tangy cheesecake filling. Top with chocolate ganache or salted caramel to take this dessert to a whole other level!

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 18 (270 grams) graham crackers
  • 12 tablespoons (170 grams) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

For the filling:

  • 32 ounces cream cheese, completely softened to room temperature
  • 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (114 grams) sour cream, at room temperature
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Topping options:

Directions

Make the crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with parchment, leaving an overhang.

  2. In a food processor, pulse the crackers until finely ground. Add the butter and pulse until moistened. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan using the bottom of a measuring cup or glass. Bake until fragrant, about 10 minutes (longer if using a glass dish). Place on a cooling rack to cool completely. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.

Make the filling:

  1. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl often, for at least 1 minute. Add the sour cream then the eggs one at a time, blending after each addition until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in vanilla, lemon juice, and salt, and blend until just combined. Don’t over mix.

  2. Spread batter evenly over cooled crust. Tap against the counter a few times to release air bubbles. Bake at 325°F until just set in center and edges are puffed and slightly cracked, about 40 to 45 minutes (longer if using a glass dish). Transfer to rack to let cool completely.
  3. Cover with foil and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight before slicing into squares.
  4. The cheesecake can be made and refrigerated 2 days ahead of time or frozen in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

Recipe Video

Course : Dessert
Cuisine : American
Keyword : cheesecake bars
Perfect Cheesecake Guide
Tessa Arias
Author: Tessa Arias

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Find Tessa on  

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Recipe Rating




  1. #
    Hannah — November 26, 2022 at 1:54 pm

    There are literally no words for this recipe. Could not be more perfect.

  2. #
    Jeneen — November 24, 2022 at 7:20 pm

    absolutely delicious! Chopped up snickers bar to put on top, rave reviews from the company.

  3. #
    Beverley — July 17, 2022 at 7:31 pm

    If I want to use boxed, pre-crushed graham crackers how many cups and grams should I use?

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — July 19, 2022 at 9:44 am

      Hi Beverley! You can use the same grams measurement listed in the recipe – 270 grams of graham crackers or the same of graham cracker crumbs 🙂 Happy baking!

  4. #
    Ellen — July 5, 2022 at 7:55 am

    This cheesecake is amazing! Delicious. Easy to make. I brought it to a party and everyone loved it. I was careful to follow directions. Room temperature ingredients. Didn’t over mix. Pressed graham cracker mixture onto parchment paper in dish. The instructions say to bake crust until it’s fragrant- which was a great instruction. At 10 minutes it had no fragrance, but at 12 minutes it smelled wonderful! I was careful to press the graham cracker mixture firmly and evenly and it came out perfect. I used a glass dish and cooked the cheesecake for an extra 10 minutes. I made it about a week before I needed it, so I refrigerated it over night, then I froze it. I took it out the morning I was going to serve it and I cut it while frozen, which made perfect squares. Everyone asked for the recipe!

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — July 11, 2022 at 9:20 am

      Hi Ellen! Such great feedback! I’m so excited you and your friends enjoyed these bars so much, and I’m glad Tessa’s instructions were so helpful! Thanks for the comment 🙂

  5. #
    Jen — April 15, 2022 at 5:04 pm

    I have made this recipe several times and it always turns out great! It’s a new family favorite.

    • #
      Emily — April 18, 2022 at 10:44 am

      So happy to hear that! Thanks for letting us know! 🙂

  6. #
    Lynn Brant — April 12, 2022 at 4:17 pm

    I haven’t cut into this baby yet but I needed maybe 8 additional minutes past the 45. So much goodness! But I went by your instructions for slightly cracked outside and slightly loose inside so I think we’ve got a winner! I have a few bubbles. Maybe over mixing. Nothing a few cherries can’t take care of. No sinking or surface cracks!

    • #
      Emily — April 13, 2022 at 7:51 am

      Yay! So happy to hear that 🙂 Can’t wait for you to enjoy, they’re a favorite of mine for sure!

  7. #
    Max — April 7, 2022 at 8:52 am

    These look lovely! What can be substituted for eggs to make an eggless version?

    • #
      Emily — April 7, 2022 at 4:19 pm

      Hi Max! We don’t bake egg-free recipes, so I can’t say for sure!

    • #
      Auntie — September 23, 2022 at 9:00 pm

      Rather than trying to substitute for the eggs, look for an egg-less recipe; there are plenty online, and I’m sure you can find one that you like. Typically, cornstarch and/sweetened condensed milk is used to help the cheesecake set. Eggs do a lot of different things in different recipes, so finding an appropriate substitute is often a lot harder than finding a recipe that’s already been formulated and tested without using eggs.

  8. #
    Anastasia — April 4, 2022 at 5:43 pm

    So simple, yet absolutely delicous! The cheesecake is pure perfection. I will not be using any other recipe if I want to make cheesecake again because this is just bomb!

    • #
      Emily — April 6, 2022 at 2:07 pm

      So happy you enjoyed them!

  9. #
    Jenn — March 20, 2022 at 12:01 pm

    I’ve been trying out different cheesecake bar recipes lately & this one was so far above the rest. Seriously so delicious. It was a complete hit with the family.

    • #
      Emily — March 21, 2022 at 2:52 pm

      So happy everyone enjoyed them! Thanks for the comment!

  10. #
    Hafsah — January 13, 2022 at 7:19 pm

    I’ve made these three times so far, so it’s safe to say this is now my go-to recipe for cheesecake bars! Really easy to make and they turn out delicious every time. I prefer these to regular cheesecake, as they’re easier to store and look super cute!

    Some alterations I’ve tried:
    Yogurt instead of sour cream, which still turned out perfect.
    Half this recipe in an 8×8 pan, which is great for smaller parties.
    Mixing everything by hand instead of using a mixer (just make sure to let everything come to room temperature so it comes together smoothly, and also mix the cream cheese well with the sugar so it’s completely smooth before adding the other ingredients)

    • #
      Emily — January 14, 2022 at 10:08 am

      Wow, thanks for all your feedback! I know your response will help many other readers who ask those questions, so we appreciate it! So happy to hear how much you love this recipe, thanks so much for taking the time to comment 🙂

  11. #
    sara — November 7, 2021 at 1:06 pm

    when should i add the ganache topping ? do i have to wait the 6 hours or just until it’s cold ?!

    • #
      Emily — November 9, 2021 at 1:07 pm

      Hi Sara! We recommend waiting at least 6 hours before topping so the cheesecake has time to cool and set. Enjoy your bars!

  12. #
    JC — October 26, 2021 at 6:30 am

    Has anyone made this recipe using less sugar?

  13. #
    Neveen — October 25, 2021 at 2:49 pm

    My 16-yo son made these as his first “solo bake” after baking with me for mos. It was for his dads bday, who is a HUGE cheesecake fan, He deemed it, not only GREAT, but the best cheesecake he’s had, “better than Cheesecake Factory!”

    Clearly, it was a huge hit!!

    • #
      Haley Wehner — October 26, 2021 at 12:11 pm

      Wow! This is a huge compliment! Thanks so much for the kind words – so glad these cheesecake bars were a hit.

  14. #
    Leslie — October 22, 2021 at 2:02 pm

    If I were to top this with apple crisp or streusel, would you recommend it bake it with the cheesecake?

    • #
      Haley Wehner — October 25, 2021 at 10:00 am

      Yes, I’d recommend baking with the cheesecake bars! Let us know how that turns out – that sounds delicious!

  15. #
    Kathy P — September 27, 2021 at 3:13 pm

    These were a HIT at my BFF’s birthday party last weekend! Absolutely delicious!!!

    • #
      Emily — September 28, 2021 at 10:45 am

      So happy to hear that!

  16. #
    Christine — September 19, 2021 at 9:41 am

    Hi! The recipe says to use a 9×13 baking pan, is that a metal baking pan or does glass work as well?

    • #
      Emily — September 20, 2021 at 4:26 pm

      Hi Christine! We prefer a metal baking pan, though a glass pan will also work. You’ll just need to bake the crust as well as the filling longer. Let us know how it goes!

    • #
      Jeanny — November 21, 2021 at 8:20 am

      I’m dying to make this in a couple days. However, I live in a country where I can’t find blocks of cream cheese, only the spreadable ones. Do you think it will be okay? Should I modify anything like the liquids, or add anything?

      • #
        Emily — November 22, 2021 at 3:43 pm

        Hi Jeanny! Please make sure to use full-fat, high-quality cream cheese. The spreadable type of cream cheese shouldn’t be used as it’s normally processed differently and is too aerated. I hope you can find something that will work well, I wish I could help more!

      • #
        Liz — December 5, 2021 at 3:26 pm

        I just put these in the oven and realized that I didn’t put parchment down inside. Will I ever be able to get them out?

        • #
          Emily — December 7, 2021 at 10:40 am

          Oh no! How did it go, Liz? We definitely recommend using the parchment overhang to easily lift the entire tray of cheesecake up and out of the pan all at once, though you should have been able to at least slice in the pan and remove individually.

  17. #
    Lis — September 13, 2021 at 2:15 pm

    Can I omit the lemon? I like simple plain cheesecake and worried you’ll be able to taste the lemon..? Thanks!

    • #
      Emily — September 14, 2021 at 10:22 am

      Hi Lis, the lemon’s acidity actually balances out the fatty and “cheesy” taste of the cream cheese, which results in the delicious thick and creamy texture you want in cheesecake. As lemon juice is an acidic ingredient, it helps hold the ingredients together to give you the thickness in a cheesecake that you want. I personally couldn’t taste the lemon juice at all, though I do love lemon! I felt that the lemon juice just enhanced the tanginess of the cheesecake. You are welcome to experiment with another acidic ingredient, but just know we haven’t tested them. I hope that helps!

  18. #
    Brenda — September 1, 2021 at 9:49 pm

    Hi Tessa! I love your recipes and I am very grateful for the baking wisdom that you share with all
    I have made this recipe but I placed it in cupcakes shape. This was my first time ever making homemade cheesecake and I think I might have over mixed it since it began to crack on top. I figured the baking time might have to be reduced but I’m still working on it. I did place them in cupcake wax papers and I’m also worried I made a big mess and mistake!!!
    Do you have any advice for making cheesecake cupcakes in the future?

    • #
      Emily — September 2, 2021 at 8:14 am

      Hi Brenda! We haven’t tried making this recipe in a muffin tin, but you will definitely need to reduce the time. Cracked cheesecake primarily happens due to overmixing, opening the oven door too much, but also overbaking. I would suggest trying one of our mini cheesecake recipes next so you can get a feel for the timing, then experiment with other recipes on your own after 🙂 Search “mini cheesecake” on our site for a few recipes, including our Chocolate Strawberry Mini Cheesecakes and our Mini Turtle Cheesecakes. Included in the tips above each recipe is our favorite mini cheesecake pan, though using paper or foil liners in a standard muffin tin will work just fine 🙂 Hope that helps!

  19. #
    Desiree’ — September 1, 2021 at 7:35 am

    The feedback I got was it’s PERFECT 🙂

    • #
      Emily — September 1, 2021 at 4:16 pm

      Best feedback you can get! So glad to hear that, Desiree!

  20. #
    Marco — August 27, 2021 at 11:00 am

    Fantastiche e dolcissime, anche se ho cambiato qualche ingrediente, per mancanza di reperibilità

    • #
      Emily — August 30, 2021 at 9:15 am

      So happy to hear that, Marco! What ingredients did you have to substitute?

  21. #
    Chandra — August 25, 2021 at 12:05 pm

    Can this recipe be halved and baked in a 8×8 inch pan?

    • #
      Emily — August 26, 2021 at 9:02 am

      Hi Chandra! That should work fine 🙂 Please let us know what you think!

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