Take a classic cake and turn it into perfectly proportioned cheesecake bars! A sweet creamy filling on top of a 3-ingredient graham cracker crust is prepped and baked in under 1 hour. Top with traditional toppings or fun variations for a dessert to remember!
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An Easy Dessert Recipe
Cheesecake bars are a way of serving my traditional cheesecake recipe in little handheld portions! You can cut them into as little or as big of pieces as you’d like, which makes them perfectly adaptable to any dessert tray just like my favorite mini cheesecakes!
I love classic cheesecake. In fact, I love ALL the cheesecakes! Mini cheesecakes with a graham cracker crust, a no-bake cheesecake, and these heavenly cheesecake brownies. I even make this cheesecake dip recipe when I need something quick!
However, there is something great about a simple classic creamy cheesecake topped with your favorite topping that never gets old.
The thing about cheesecake bars is that they’re just as creamy and decadent as a traditional baked cheesecake, but they’re a bit denser which means we don’t have to worry about baking them in a water bath or worry about putting in any extra effort that comes with making a whole cake.
Plus we can skip the forks!
Why This Recipe Works
- So easy. These easy cheesecake bars are made with a simple homemade graham cracker crust, and a luscious filling and then baked for 45 minutes. That’s it! Once they’ve chilled and set, it’s all about deciding what yummy toppings to serve them with!
- A great alternative to a whole cake. I used an 8×8 tray which makes about 9 bars. This is the perfect size for just me and my family, or for a small gathering. It’s also the perfect amount to be a part of a larger dessert table.
- You can double the batch. Cheesecake freezes very well, so you can easily double the batch and make two. One for now and the other can be frozen for later on.
- It’s customizable! Swap the graham cracker crust for an Oreo crust as a twist and because it’s a plain cheesecake the topping options are endless! Use anything from a cherry pie filling to a chocolate ganache!
Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.
- Graham cracker crumbs: You can buy crumbs in a package or crush your own fine crumbs from graham crackers in a food processor or blender.
- Granulated sugar: Adds sweetness to the crust and also the cream cheese filling.
- Salted butter, melted: Using melted butter helps to keep the crust moist and compact so that it sets properly.
- Cream cheese, at room temperature: Bring it out at least 30 minutes ahead of time. It’s much easier to cream when it’s soft.
- Large eggs: Starting with everything at room temperature is key to even baking. So take these out ahead of time too.
- Sour cream: Adds a rich, creamy, tangy element to the heavy cream cheese which whips up and creams up nicely. This is also something that needs to be taken out of the fridge and brought to room temperature.
- Vanilla extract: A delicious flavor enhancer that gives the cheesecake bars a subtle vanilla flavor.
How to Make Cheesecake Bars
- Make a quick crust. In a medium bowl, combine the graham crackers, sugar, and melted butter and mix well.
- Add the crust layer. Pour the crumb mixture into a lightly greased 8×8 baking dish. Pack it down firmly into the bottom using the bottom of a 1/4 measuring cup. Transfer it to a preheated 375°F oven and bake for 6-8 minutes. Meanwhile, make the filling and then reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
- Beat cream cheese and sugar. In the bowl of a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment to beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.
- Complete the filling. To the cream cheese and sugar mixture, add 1 egg at a time mixing thoroughly in between each egg. Scrap the sides of the bowl as you go. Mix in the sour cream and vanilla and mix until smooth without any lumps.
- Add cheesecake layer. Pour the mixture over the baked crust and place the baking dish in the oven for 45 minutes or until the center appears set. It will continue to bake as it cools, so a slight jiggle is ok.
- Cool, chill, and set. Once it’s out of the oven, allow it to cool completely on a wire rack. Then chill it in the fridge for at least 8 hours before serving. Slice into squares and enjoy a cheesecake bar with your favorite toppings.
- Add a bit of citrus. Sometimes I like to add a splash of fresh lemon juice to the filling to brighten it up with a bit of tart citrus. Not much, just a subtle hint.
- Use a block of cream cheese. Avoid using a spreadable container of cream cheese because it has a higher water content than the block does. This can affect the consistency of the creamy filling.
- Easy removal. Line the pan with parchment paper or foil with overhanging sides. That way you can use them to lift the entire batch of cheesecake bars out of the pan before slicing.
- Cheesecake bars for a crowd: Cheesecake bars are perfect for serving a large group! Just double the recipe and make the bars in a 13×9 inch pan. You can easily cut them into as many pieces large or small as you need!
For neat edges and clean sides, it’s important to use a clean knife and hot water. Dip a cutting knife into a bowl of hot water for a few minutes, wipe it with a kitchen towel and cut into the cheesecake. Wipe it off then repeat between each slice. Sometimes a plastic knife works great too.
You can tell by giving the tray a gentle shake. It’s ok if the middle jiggles slightly, but it should be pretty much set. It will continue to set as it cools. However, the more accurate way to tell if your cheesecake is done baking is by using a digital thermometer. It should have an internal temperature of 180°F – 190°F.
Absolutely! One of the key features of this easy cheesecake bars recipe is that it’s a great make-ahead dessert. Bake and cool completely. You can either leave it whole, cover the pan in plastic wrap and refrigerate it or slice them first and keep them in an airtight container a couple of days before serving.
You can also bake it the night before and chill it overnight.
In the fridge: Keep them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
In the freezer: Cover each bar tightly with plastic wrap, then foil to avoid freezer burn. Keep them all in a freezer bag or container for up to 1 month. Thaw in the fridge overnight or at room temperature for a couple of hours.
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- 1 ½ cups finely crushed graham crackers (10-12 graham crackers)
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 6 Tablespoons salted butter , melted
- 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese , at room temperature
- ¾ cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs , at room temperature
- ⅓ cup sour cream , at room temperature
- ½ Tablespoon vanilla extract
Optional toppings: Caramel sauce, Cherry pie filling, Fudge sauce, Whipped cream and berries
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the graham crackers, sugar, and butter until well combined.
- In an 8×8-inch baking dish, pour the crumb mixture and firmly press into the bottom using a 1/4 measuring cup. Use your fingers to press the crumb mixture firmly onto the sides.
- Bake 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce oven to 325°F.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.
- Add 1 egg at a time, thoroughly mixing before adding the next. Scrape the sides of the bowl after each addition. Mix in the sour cream and vanilla until smooth and free of any lumps.
- Pour over the crust. Bake 45 minutes, or until the center appears to be set. There may be some minor cracking around the edges of the bars, don't worry.
- Let cool completely on a wire rack before chilling in the fridge at least 8 hours before serving.
- Cut into squares and top with desired toppings.
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
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