Cheesecake Lemon Bars

April 11, 2017

This is one of the all-time best spring desserts! I don’t know if dessert can get much better than these over-the-top Lemon Cheesecake Bars! With these you don’t just get one or two layers of utter decadence but FOUR layers of heavenly, sublimely lemony, utterly creamy, melt-in your-mouth bliss!

Lemon Cheesecake Bar on plate with fork

Easy Lemon Cheesecake Bars

You will most definitely wow your family or guests with these delicious lemon bars. How could you go wrong with buttery shortbread, a perfectly fresh and tart lemon bar filling, a rich and creamy cheesecake, and lusciously smooth sweetened sour cream all together in one bar? You just can’t!

Yes, it may seem these have an overdose of sugar, but it’s not much more than that cake I just baked. Also keep this in mind it will be split between about 20 servings.

But who am I kidding, with these lemon cheesecake bars I’m not counting anything — I’m indulging in all of their goodness because they are worth every calorie!

Self-control, gone. Good bye. Hello, lemon cheesecake bars!

I actually originally shared these bars a few years ago, but I never did like the pictures. Since Easter is just around the corner, it’s given me the perfect excuse to remake them — so that I can remind you this is the dessert you should be making this Easter Sunday!

Seriously, do it. You won’t regret it! I can’t get over how good these are every time I make them!

pan of Lemon Cheesecake Bars, sliced and garnished with berries and lemon wedges

Lemon Cheesecake Bars Ingredients

For these easy lemon cream cheese bars, you’ll need:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar
  • Powdered sugar
  • Salt
  • Unsalted butter
  • Lemon zest and juice
  • Eggs
  • Cream cheese
  • Vanilla extract
  • Sour cream

two slices of Lemon Cheesecake Bars on plates

How to Make Lemon Cheesecake Bars

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 13×9-inch baking dish.
  • Make the shortbread layer and press into the bottom of the baking dish. Bake in preheated oven until set.
  • Prep lemon layer and set aside, then make cheesecake layer.
  • Spread lemon filling over cooled crust, followed by the cheesecake layer.
  • Bake until filling only jiggles slightly.
  • Allow lemon bars to cool completely to room temperature, then chill in fridge for at least 2 hours.
  • Spread sour cream layer over the chilled lemon cheesecake bars, then slice and serve.

close up of Lemon Cheesecake Bar garnished with berries, lemon, and fresh mint

Can I Make These Bars in Advance?

Yes, these bars keep well in the fridge up to two days before serving. Note that the crust won’t be super crisp, but it shouldn’t become soggy since the crust and filling are both baked.

How Should I Garnish These Bars?

I topped my lemon cheesecake bars with small lemon wedges and fresh berries. You can also add fresh mint leaves for an extra pop of color!

lemon cream cheese bar on plate with a fork

Tips for the Best Lemon Cheesecake Bars

  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice is a must for this recipe. It’s much stronger and brighter than the bottled stuff.
  • The cream cheese should be so soft it’s almost melted. If the cream cheese isn’t soft enough, the cheesecake layer will be tough to spread over the lemon filling.
  • These bars must be completely chilled before you add the sour cream layer on top!

pan of lemon bars garnished simply with lemon wedges and fresh mint

More Lemon Dessert Recipes You’ll Love:

Cheesecake Lemon Bars

4 from 2 votes

Such a rich and decadent brightly lemony treat! You get a layer of crust, a tangy lemon bar, a sweet cheesecake filling and a rich sour cream topping. Such a refreshing dessert!

Servings: 20
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Cool Time 3 hours
Total Time 4 hours 15 minutes

Ingredients

Shortbread layer

  • 1 1/2 cups (213g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (68g) powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz) unsalted butter, cold and diced into small cubes

Lemon Layer

  • 1 1/2 cups (33g) granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup (4.6 oz) lemon juice
  • 4 large eggs

Cheesecake Layer

  • 2 (8 oz) pkgs. cream cheese, softened well*
  • 3/4 cup (165g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz) sour cream

Sour Cream Layer

  • 1 cup (8 oz) sour cream
  • 4 Tbsp (34g) powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13 by 9-inch baking dish, set aside.
  2. For the shortbread layer: In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, powdered sugar and salt. Using a pastry cutter or fork, cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. 
  3. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and spread and pat into an even layer. Bake in preheated oven until set, about 15 - 18 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly while preparing fillings.
  4. For the lemon layer: In a mixing bowl whisk sugar and flour, then add in lemon zest, lemon juice and eggs whisk until well blended. Set aside.
  5. For the cheesecake layer: In a mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer set on low speed, cream together cream cheese and granulated sugar until smooth, about 30 seconds.
  6.  Mix in eggs one at at time adding in vanilla with second egg. Mix in 1/4 cup sour cream. Tap bowl against countertop about 10 times to release any large air bubbles.
  7. Pour lemon filling over crust, then evenly drizzle cheesecake filling by the spoonful over lemon layer (work to evenly distribute, layers will separate once baked). Skim off any air bubbles. 
  8. Gently spread cheesecake filling into an even layer. Bake in preheated oven until filling only jiggles slightly, about 29 - 33 minutes. 
  9. Remove from oven and allow to cool at room temperature 45 minutes then transfer to refrigerator and chill at least 2 hours.
  10. For the sour cream layer: In a small mixing bowl whisk together sour cream and powdered sugar. Spread into an even layer over chilled bars. 
  11. Cut into squares. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator.

Recipe Notes

  • *Cream cheese should be softened until it's nearly be melted. This way it's runnier and it will make the cheesecake filling easier to drizzle over the top of the lemon layer.
  • Recipe source: adapted with some changes from allrecipes
Nutrition Facts
Cheesecake Lemon Bars
Amount Per Serving
Calories 285 Calories from Fat 162
% Daily Value*
Fat 18g28%
Saturated Fat 10g63%
Cholesterol 99mg33%
Sodium 133mg6%
Potassium 89mg3%
Carbohydrates 25g8%
Sugar 16g18%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 675IU14%
Vitamin C 3.2mg4%
Calcium 49mg5%
Iron 0.8mg4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cheesecake, Lemon Bars
Author: Jaclyn

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74 Comments

  • Dana Hodge

    Did anyone else have trouble getting these out of the pan? I buttered the pan and ended up freezing for awhile but it was still a struggle and messy looking. Do you think it is because I used a glass dish? I love these and want to make them for company so any advice to remendy my problem would be much appreciated.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Sorry it wasn’t easy to remove them. Next time I recommend buttering the pan then line with two sheets of parchment paper (one going each direction) and then butter parchment. That always helps if I have issues with sticking. Or you could try buttering and lightly flouring the pan (tilt and move flour around, shake out excess). Hope that helps!

      • Dana Hodge

        Thank you so much. i love your site – I use your Taco Salad, Peanut Butter Bars and Greek Salad recipes often just to name a few. You’re the best!

        • Jaclyn

          Jaclyn Bell

          I’m so glad to hear you like my recipes, thanks for letting me know :)!

  • Ali

    This is one of my all-time favorite bar recipes!! I’ve made it several times (usually for baby showers and Easter dessert), and it is always an incredible HIT. A bit more laborious than a typical bar, but so worth the labor of love. :)

    Each time I make it, I try and figure out a better way to get nice, clean squares. Today’s batch though put up the biggest fight yet. :/ I used a really sharp knife, and halfway through each cut, the cheesecake would start dragging through. I also tried a plastic knife (sounds weird, but my grandma swears by it!), and it wasn’t any better. Do you have any tips/tricks/recommendations?? Do you think cooking longer or chilling colder (freezer?) would help? Or what about an initial slicing *before* adding the final sour cream layer? That way the sour cream could cover up a poor cutting job… ;)

    Anyway, I still LOVE this recipe, but I’d love to try any tips you recommend!
    Thanks!!

    • Staceydj

      I just saw this comment and know it was a year ago, but thought I would still jump in. I use a stainless steel metal ruler that I got at staples to cut across bars in one step and without having to slice with a knife. I rinse with hot water and dry with a paper towel between cuts. Works great!

  • Nanci

    Por favor são lindas as receitas. Mas deveriam ter a opção da tradução para o Português.Obgada.

  • Pat Karan

    I made these yesterday for a family gathering. Love the idea of lemon cheesecake. For some reason my lemon layer soaked through to the bottom under the shortbread crust. I used parchment paper in the pan, cooled the crust completely before adding the lemon and cream cheese layer and refrigerated it before cutting. What did I do wrong? Wound up scooping the lemon off the parchment paper & eating it. Delicious but not what I expected to do!

  • Radka

    Amazing!!!! Made these yesterday and they were fantastic! Thank you! I made the crust in my food processor and I lined my pan with parchment paper which really helped. Thank you for including the measurements in grams! I love weighing my ingredients as I’ve found it is SO much more accurate and I get the same great results every time:):)

  • Veronica

    I made these last night and they taste fantastic however I did have some issues with them. I followed the recipe to a T and for some reason the shortbread layer is a bit crumbly and was sticking to the pan even though it was buttered generously. Also, the lemon layer and the cheesecake layer are still much softer than they appear in your photos. Your photos look like they are bars you can pick up and they will not fall apart, but mine are very soft and falling apart. I’m not sure if the photos are a bit deceiving or if i did something wrong. The only thing I can think is that maybe they didn’t bake long enough even though I followed the instructions. They cooled on the counter about 30 min and then in the freezer for an hour and we ate a few. Then they were chilled in the fridge overnight which I thought would stiffen them up a bit but did not. They’re more the texture of cream pie rather than bars.
    Also, I was wondering what is the purpose for putting sour cream in the cheesecake layer? I did it per the recipe, but thought that was a bit weird. I’ve never put sour cream in cheesecake before and it seems you could do without just fine and maybe get a firmer cheesecake without it.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Hi Veronica, it sounds like it maybe needed to bake a little longer after you added the cheesecake and lemon layers, they will remain soft like a lemon bar or cheesecake is traditionally though. Then as far as the sticking goes – my edges did stick a little in places but you most definitely can butter the pan and line with two sheets of parchment next time. And I really like the addition of sour cream in cheesecake, you could try replacing it with heavy cream or even omitting it but I like the consistency of the cheesecake as is :). Hope that answers your questions!