Cheesecake bars are one of my absolute favourite desserts to make because they are simple, quick and easy, plus they are hand-held which makes them great for serving at parties! There are plenty of cheesecake bar recipes here on this site, and these Swirled Lemon Cheesecake Bars might be my favourite because that tangy floral lemon pairs so well with sweet creamy cheese - this recipe is an absolute delight! There's a homemade crust that comes together so fast in one bowl and homemade lemon curd swirled through the filling. It's divine!
WHY YOU WILL LOVE THIS RECIPE
- Homemade cheesecake crust - the base is so quick and easy to make with basic ingredients! You don't need to run out and buy graham cracker crumbs.
- Creamy smooth cheesecake - the filling is so silky smooth and extra creamy with yogurt.
- Bold lemon flavour - there's lemon zest in the cheesecake batter and then a tangy lemon curd swirl for mega lemon flavour!
- Homemade lemon curd swirl - I use my Small Batch Lemon Curd to swirl through the cheesecake.
- Cream cheese - you will need brick cream cheese for this recipe. Do not use the whipped or spreadable kind as it can have a higher water content and thus a lower fat content.
- Yogurt - full fat plain yogurt adds creamy, tangy dairy notes and also lightens it up for an extra silky texture.
- Pure vanilla extract - vanilla boosts the creamy flavour and carries the lemon flavour really nicely. I prefer this Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla extract.
- Granulated sugar - simple fine white granulated sugar keeps the flavour clean so the lemon shines.
- Egg - one whole egg will set the filling into a silky smooth custard. After all, cheesecake is essentially a baked cheese custard!
- Lemon juice and lemon zest - lemon juice is used to make the curd and lemon zest goes into the cheesecake batter. You will need about 1 large lemon to make this recipe.
STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS
This recipe is super simple. I recommend using an electric hand mixer for best results.
- STEP 1). Make the crust. Combine flour, brown sugar and salt in a medium bowl and mix well to break up any lumps of brown sugar. Add melted butter and mix until evenly combined. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom and about ¼-inch up the sides of the pan, then prick several times with a fork. Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden and feels dry.
- STEP 2). Lower the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
- STEP 3). Make the filling. Beat cream cheese in a large bowl on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add sugar and beat for about 30 seconds until smooth and creamy. Mix in lemon zest.
- STEP 4). Mix in egg. Add egg and beat on medium speed until well blended. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then mix in the yogurt and vanilla extract just until blended.
- STEP 5). Swirl. Pour the batter onto the pre-baked crust and spread it out evenly. Pop any air bubbles that you see rising to the surface. Dollop teaspoons of the chilled lemon curd randomly over the batter and swirl it through with a skewer.
- STEP 6). Bake. Bake for 20-25 minutes. It is ready when the filling is set but the center is slightly wobbly or jiggles when the pan is shaken.
- STEP 7). Cool. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
EXPERT TIPS FOR LEMON CHEESECAKE BARS:
- Start with room temperature ingredients. This is so important! Take the cream cheese out of the fridge for 2 hours prior to baking so it is soft.
- Blend the cream cheese with sugar FIRST. You need to beat the cream cheese so it is smooth, then add the sugar. The sugar crystals will tear through the cheese and break it down so it is creamy. You’ll notice that once it is well combined, it will turn glossy. This is a sign that the sugar has bound the moisture in the cream cheese.
- Add the egg only AFTER the sugar is blended. If you add the egg before the sugar, it will most likely leave you with a lumpy batter. That’s because eggs have a very high moisture content and it will be difficult to blend smoothly unless there is sugar present to bind the water.
- Use a room temperature egg. A cold egg will not incorporate as smoothly
- Do not over-beat. Over-mixing or mixing at a very high speed will incorporate too much air into the mixture which will create air pockets that can lead to cracking.
- Gentle baking. To ensure the filling is extra silky smooth, it is important bake these gently at a slightly lower than moderate temperature.
How do I know when my cheesecake bars are baked correctly?
The key to making any great cheesecake is to be careful not to over bake it. Once the edges are slightly golden and the middle is JUST set with a slight wobble, then it is ready. The residual heat will continue to gently set the filling as it cools.
How to get clean slices on these cheesecake bars?
Let the bars cool completely and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before slicing for the best texture and cleanest slices.
What is a substitute for yogurt in lemon cheesecake bars?
You can also make this recipe using an equal amount of full fat or light sour cream. Another suitable substitution is crème fraîche - a type of fermented dairy product somewhere between yogurt and sour cream.
Do I need to chill cheesecake after it bakes?
Yes it is important to let the cheesecake chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. This cooling time will allow the custard to set completely for the silkiest texture.
How do I store lemon cheesecake bars?
These cheesecake bars should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
How do I serve lemon cheesecake bars?
These cheesecake bars are lovely served just as it is, but if you want to jazz it up even more, you can add some whipped cream and maybe a spoonful more of my Small Batch Creamy Lemon Curd.
If you love cheesecake, check out these recipes!Peanut Butter Fudge Swirl Brownie Bottom CheesecakeCreamy Burnt Basque CheesecakePerfect Vanilla CheesecakeBakery Style Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter CookiesHealthy Homemade Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter CupsBuckeye Peanut Butter Fudge BrowniesWhite Chocolate Blueberry Cheesecake BarsCreamy Black Cherry Cheesecake BarsCookies & Cream Oreo Cheesecake Bars
Swirled Lemon Cheesecake Bars
For the crust:
- ¾ cup 105g all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup 55g packed light brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup 56g unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
- 1 block 250g cream cheese, softened
- ⅓ cup 65g granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup 60ml plain full fat yogurt
- 1 teaspoon 5ml pure vanilla extract
For the lemon curd swirl:
1 batch of Small Batch Lemon Curd
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8x8 pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang along the sides.
- First prepare the recipe for Small Batch Lemon Curd and let it cool and set in the fridge until thoroughly chilled.
- For the crust, combine flour, brown sugar and salt in a medium bowl so there are no lumps of sugar left. Add melted butter and mix until evenly combined and it looks like damp sand. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan and bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden. Set aside to cool slightly while you prepare the filling.
- Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
- For the filling, beat cream cheese in a medium bowl until smooth. Add the sugar and lemon zest and beat until smooth using an electric hand mixer. Beat in egg until well incorporated and then mix in yogurt and vanilla. Pour the mixture over the crust and spread it out evenly.
- Dollop teaspoons of lemon curd over the surface and swirl it through with a butter knife. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the edges are set and the middle has a slight wobble. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before slicing. Enjoy!