Filed Under: Bar Dessert | Cheesecake

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars

Recipe By Tessa Arias
November 27th, 2018
3.5 from 4 votes
3.5 from 4 votes

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars are tangy, sweet, fresh, and rich. They look almost as good as they taste!

Yield: 9 bars

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook: 50 minutes

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: Tangy, sweet, fresh, and rich.
Texture: The crust is firm and crunchy while the filling is incredibly smooth and luscious.
Ease: Much easier than a full sized cheesecake yet just as impressive.
Appearance: These bars look almost as great as they taste!
Pros: Easier, faster, more transportable, and a little lighter than traditional cheesecake. These would make a great festive treat for any holiday party.
Cons: None.
Would I make this again? Yes.

Cranberries have been sentenced a pretty boring job. Most of us only eat with our Thanksgiving meal, or in dried form as an afterthought on a salad.

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars are tangy, sweet, fresh, and rich. They look almost as good as they taste!

Which is such a shame because their sweet yet tart flavor and brilliant gem like color are such fun to bake with!

Take these cranberry swirl cheesecake bars. The tartness of the cranberries enhances the tanginess of the cream cheese. But there’s also a touch of acidity in the cranberries that cuts through the richness of the filling. Add a chocolate cookie crust and you have a burst of flavor and texture in every bite!

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars are tangy, sweet, fresh, and rich. They look almost as good as they taste!

I love baking cheesecake bars. They’re much quicker and easier than a full cheesecake. Plus with cheesecake being so rich, you really don’t need more than a square to satisfy the craving.

Cheesecake bars are also perfect for entertaining. SO much easier to transport and serve! You can cut these into smaller pieces for a party. I hope you’ll make them for your friends, family, or coworkers this holiday season!

Cranberry vanilla cheesecake with a chocolate cookie crust

Can Cheesecake Bars be Frozen?

These Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To freeze, place the chilled cheesecake (cut or uncut) in the freezer until firm and frozen. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer, wrap it well in heavy-duty aluminum foil and place in a resealable container. Store for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before serving.

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars are tangy, sweet, fresh, and rich. They look almost as good as they taste!

More Cheesecake Bars:

This post was originally published in 2012 and recently updated with new photos, recipe improvements, and weight measurements. Photos by Ashley McLaughlin.

3.5 from 4 votes

How to make
Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars

Yield: 9 bars
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Chilling time 5 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 5 minutes
Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars are tangy, sweet, fresh, and rich. They look almost as good as they taste!


For the crust:

  • 10 (150 grams) chocolate graham crackers
  • 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, melted

For the cranberry swirl:

  • 3/4 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons Chambord or Grand Marnier, optional (replace with water if not using)
  • 3 tablespoons water

For the filling:

  • 16 ounces (454 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • Pinch salt


Make the Crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  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. Place on a cooling rack to cool completely. Maintain oven temperature.

Make the cranberry swirl:

  1. Place the cranberries, sugar, zest, liqueur, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the cranberries burst and the mixture is thickened and syrupy. Cool for 20 minutes. Using a mini food processor, blender, or immersion blender, puree mixture until smooth, adding more water to thin out if necessary. You want this mixture to be a similar thickness and consistency to the cheesecake batter.

Make the filling:

  1. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla at medium-high speed until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined. Add the flour and salt and beat until combined. Be careful not to overbeat.
  2. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the cooled crust. Drop teaspoon-sized dollops of the cranberry mixture onto cream cheese mixture and swirl with a butter knife. Bake at 350°F until the edges are slightly golden and the cheesecake is set but still slightly jiggly in the center, about 35 to 40 minutes. Do not overbake.
  3. Place the cheesecake on a cooling rack to cool completely in pan. Cover and chill in the fridge until firm, at least 4 hours and up to 3 days. Using the overhang, transfer cheesecake to a cutting board to cut into squares before serving.

Recipe Notes

Course: Dessert
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!)

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Recipe Rating

  1. #
    Tracey — December 19, 2012 at 4:47 am

    Congratulations Tessa! So exciting! 🙂

    Love these cranberry cheesecake bars – I can’t get enough of cranberries during the holidays.

  2. #
    Ashley — December 19, 2012 at 7:33 am

    Congrats congrats congrats!!! Hope you get some time to relax in the next couple of weeks. Good luck finishing your culinary degree!

  3. #
    Cathy @ Noble Pig — December 19, 2012 at 8:45 am

    It’s the best feeling ever…that last final! Congrats to you!

  4. #
    Natalie — December 19, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    These look delicious!! And congrats on graduating! That’s so exciting!

  5. #
    Denise — December 19, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    congratulations tessa!:) well done! very happy reader right here. haha! all the best. 🙂

  6. #
    Sharon — December 20, 2012 at 7:40 am

    Congrats!! I just recently started following your blog and am looking forward to more in the new year. I just wanted to comment to say I love your rundown at the beginning of each recipe. I think it’s a great idea and I always go there first to read!

  7. #
    Bella — December 21, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    Congratulations on your graduation!!!

    The cheesecake looks delicious, might give it a try for Christmas at my house 🙂

  8. #
    Sarah — December 22, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Congratulations Tessa 🙂
    I started following your blog just a few weeks ago but I seriously love your recipes ^^ Until now I haven’t been able to try your recipes but this’ll be the first one for sure 😀 It looks marvelous!!
    About suggesting some things…how about the spanish dish Paella :3? It’s one of my most favourite meals ever but it’s nothing for fish-haters since there’re lot of sea animals in there 🙂 Or you could try the asian cuisine ;)?

  9. #
    Deb — January 2, 2019 at 5:03 pm

    I liked the old crust w/choc wafer cookies. Thankfully I remembered the recipe and made my 4 cheesecakes w/great success. All my friends love these so I make one for each family. Sure the cookie wafers are expensive, but when you’re baking something as special and delicious as these cheesecake bars for the holidays, money shouldn’t be an issue. They make a far superior crust.

  10. #
    Alex — December 1, 2019 at 9:31 pm

    I made these for a new Thanksgiving dessert. The cranberry sauce was sooo delicious!! Unfortunately, it completely overpowered the cheesecake flavor. Out of my family of cheesecake lovers, only one person enjoyed these. All others said it was too tangy so they couldn’t taste the cheesecake. That said, the cranberry sauce would be great on its own – the addition of grand marnier gives it such a lovely depth of flavor – so I’m saving this recipe just for that!

  11. #
    Kate — December 31, 2019 at 6:46 pm

    Good flavor, this is my second time making it. I feel like there is too much filling to make the beautiful swirl, but maybe that’s just me. Thanks for this recipe!

  12. #
    Munaza — December 28, 2020 at 11:01 pm

    Hello. Very interesting recipes you have. I would like to know if we can use dried cranberries instead of the fresh ones as we don’t get fresh berries here. I have the kirkland dried ones in my freezer. So was thinking of trying out the recipe with them. But no idea how many should I use ,if at all !

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