4.78 from 9 reviews

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

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In my opinion, lemon and cheesecake go together like peanut butter and jelly and I can’t get over the lemony goodness in these lemon cheesecake bars!

They have a buttery graham cracker crust and a creamy, ultra-smooth lemon cheesecake filling. And quite possibly the best part is my homemade lemon curd gets swirled into the cheesecake prior to baking. I l also love topping each slice with a little more curd when serving to take them to the next level!

Cheesecake is one of those desserts that gets a bad rap for being super challenging to make. But these cheesecake bars are really simple, no water bath required, and is a low-fuss recipe.

With my streamlined directions and tips and tricks, you’ll be a cheesecake making professional in no time. ? I mean, don’t you want a bite of this goodness like now?!

a lemon cheesecake bar on a white plate topped with lemon curd.

Why this recipe works

  • No water bath necessary
  • The sour cream helps give the cheesecake an airy, soft, simply decadent texture
  • The homemade lemon curd adds a buttery, silky smooth citrusy layer
  • It’s a crowd-pleasing dessert
  • Easy to make in advance for parties or get togethers!

What is lemon curd?

  • Lemon curd is a creamy mixture made from lemon juice, sugar, eggs and butter. The ingredients are cooked together until the mixture thickens. When cooled, the lemon curd becomes thick enough to spread and is used as a topping for a variety of desserts, like these lemon cookies, and breads. You can make curd from plenty of juices and fruits like oranges, limes, raspberries, strawberries, mangoes, cranberries, etc.
a glass jar filled with homemade lemon curd.

Ingredient Notes

For the ingredient measurements and entire recipe, be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the blog post where the recipe card is located.

ingredients needed to make lemon cheesecake in small glass bowls and plates.
  • Graham crackers: I used the classic honey graham crackers. You’ll love the thick , buttery graham cracker base layer!
  • Cream cheese: I recommend using a good quality, full-fat cream cheese for best results. You’ll need 3 blocks at room temperature.
  • Eggs: room temperature. You’ll need 3 eggs for this recipe. The eggs help give cheesecake its rich texture.
  • Sour cream: You guessed it – room temperature! Full fat recommended. I love adding in a bit of sour cream to help with the airy, soft texture.
  • Lemons: To make the lemon curd, you’ll need about 5-6 lemons to get 1 cup of freshly-squeezed lemon juice, plus 1 Tbsp. of lemon zest. Then an additional lemon for the cheesecake itself.
  • Sugar: superfine granulated sugar or regular granulated sugar works well.
  • Vanilla: Use a high quality vanilla extract for best results.

Step by Step Directions

For the full recipe instructions, scroll down to the bottom of the blog post to the recipe card.

step by step photos making the crust for the cheesecake.
step by step photos making the cheesecake filling.
  1. Make the lemon curd if you haven’t already. I typically make this a day in advance so it’s ready to go when I want to make the cheesecake.
  2. Prepare the graham cracker crust using a food processor. Press into a 9×9 inch pan. Bake 8-9 minutes, then allow to cool.
  3. Make the cheesecake filling using a stand mixer.
  4. Pour the filling onto the cooled crust layer.
  5. Swirl ~ 1/4 cup of lemon curd into the cheesecake.
  6. Bake 65-70 minutes or until cheesecake is set.
  7. Let the cheesecake cool in the oven for an hour with oven door slightly ajar.
  8. Refrigerate overnight, top with more lemon curd, and enjoy!
an up close image of lemon curd swirled into the cheesecake filling.
cheesecake cut into bars on parchment paper.

Expert Tips and Variations

  • Use room temperature (same temperature) ingredients. When I know I am going to make a cheesecake, I usually take the cream cheese, sour cream and eggs all out of the fridge in the morning. Then a few hours later when I’m ready to bake, all ingredients are room temperature. This is important for creating a smooth, creamy cheesecake filling.
  • Add the eggs in one at a time. You don’t want to over beat the filling and adding in eggs one at a time, just until combined helps. Over beating will lead to cracks. We want to mix the filling enough, but not too much.
  • Don’t skip pre baking the crust. I always like to pre bake the graham cracker crust for 8-9 minutes before adding the filling. This helps to ensure it stays a crispy, heavenly crust.
  • Strain the cheesecake batter. An optional step to ensure super smooth, silky non-clumpy cheesecake is to run the batter through a fine mesh strainer before pouring on to the crust. Usually, a few tiny clumps of cheesecake are OK and will melt as the cheesecake bakes. It’s the large, huge clumps you want to look out for!
  • Slice with a sharp, warmed knife. Dip a knife in hot water, or run it under hot water. Wipe water off with a towel, slice and then repeat for perfectly clean cut slices. Cleaning the knife in between cuts and using warm water is key.
  • Don’t want to use graham crackers? Use Biscoff cookies instead! They have notes of caramel and are totally delicious paired with the lemon cheesecake filling.
lemon cheesecake bars stacked on top of each other with lemon curd on top.


How can I tell when my cheesecake bars are done?

The edges should be firm and the center look set. If the center or middle entirely watery, it needs to bake longer. You can also check the internal temperature with a thermometer. When the thermometer reads 145°F-150°F, turn off the oven, slightly crack open the oven door and leave the cheesecake in the oven for another hour.

Why did my cheesecake crack?

You possibly over baked the cheesecake. Cracks form when the cheesecake is too dry. To prevent the cheesecake from cracking, don’t over bake the cheese and dont over beat the eggs. Don’t stress if you get a few cracks on top since you can top it with lemon curd and no one will ever notice!

How do you cool cheesecake bars?

For this recipe, you will cool the cheesecake in the oven with the oven door slightly ajar for 1 hour. This can help prevent the top from cracking and sinking as it cools. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Then, loosely cover and place in the fridge ideally overnight or minimum 4-6 hours. Then you can slice and serve with lemon curd.

Can I freeze these cheesecake bars?

Yes, but I would not freeze them with the additional lemon curd on top. Once you are ready to serve them, thaw the cheesecake bars in the refrigerator overnight, then once thawed,  complete them with the lemon curd topping.

Can I bake these in an 8×8 inch pan?

I haven’t tested this recipe out in a smaller pan. The filling *might* not fit. If you try it out, please do leave a comment below and let us know how it goes!

What other toppings can I put on my cheesecake?

If you want to skip out on the lemon curd, you can make a chocolate ganache, use your favorite jam, fresh berries, caramel, etc.

cheesecake on a white plate with a bite taken out of it with lemon curd on top.

Would you rather have cheesecake or ice cream?

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4.78 from 9 reviews

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Prep: 20 minutes
Cooling time: 8 hours
Cook: 1 hour 5 minutes
Total: 9 hours 25 minutes
Servings: 16 bars
These lemon cheesecake bars are rich, ultra creamy, and packed with plenty of fresh and tangy lemon flavor. Made with a buttery graham cracker crust, lemon cheesecake filling and topped with homemade lemon curd. They are an easy alternative to making an entire cheesecake!



  • 15 sheets graham crackers
  • 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. melted butter, unsalted


  • 24 oz. (3, 8 oz. packages) full-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, fresh
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • lemon curd

Last step! If you make this, please leave a review and rating letting us know how you liked this recipe! This helps our business thrive & continue providing free recipes.


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9×9 pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Pulse the graham crackers in a food processor until crumbly. Then add in the sugar and stream in the melted butter.
    15 sheets graham crackers, 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar, 6 Tbsp. melted butter, unsalted
  • Press the graham cracker crumbs into the prepared pan and bake for ~8-9 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
  • Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed for 4-5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Then add the sugar and beat again for another 3 minutes.
    24 oz. (3, 8 oz. packages) full-fat cream cheese, softened, 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Add in the sour cream, lemon juice, zest, and vanilla. On low speed, add the eggs one at a time just until the yolk disappears, do not over beat.
    1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature, 1/4 cup lemon juice, fresh, 1 Tbsp. lemon zest, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • Pour the cheesecake filling on top of the cooled crust.
  • Add a few dollops of lemon curd on top and swirl into the cheesecake with a butter knife. (About 1/4 cup curd should be plenty, or add more as desired)
    lemon curd
  • Bake for 65-70 minutes or until the cheesecake is set. Cover the cheesecake with foil in the last 10 minutes of baking or once the tops begin to turn golden. Once it’s done, turn the oven off, open the oven door just a little and let the cheesecake cool in the oven for 1 hour.
  • Remove from the oven, let cool completely at room temperature and then cover and refrigerate overnight. When serving, add additional lemon curd on top. Enjoy!



  • Storage: store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 
  • To freeze: I recommend freezing without the lemon curd on top. Place the cooled cheesecake bars on a plate and freeze, uncovered, until firm. Them remove the cheesecake from the freezer, wrap it in heavy-duty aluminum foil and place in a freezer safe bag. Seal and return to freezer for up to 3 months. Remove the foil before defrosting.
  • If you have leftover lemon curd, you can freeze the curd for up to 1 year in sealed, freezer safe containers. Thaw in the fridge the night before before using the next day. 
  • Room temperature ingredients are important for a creamy, silky cheesecake filling. Don’t forget to take them out and set on the counter before you’re ready to begin baking ?
  • Slice with a sharp, warmed knife. Dip a knife in hot water, or run it under hot water. Wipe water off with a towel, slice and then repeat for perfectly clean cut slices. Cleaning the knife in between cuts and using warm water is key.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1bar, Calories: 329kcal (16%), Carbohydrates: 27g (9%), Protein: 5g (10%), Fat: 23g (35%), Saturated Fat: 13g (81%), Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 94mg (31%), Sodium: 271mg (12%), Potassium: 109mg (3%), Fiber: 1g (4%), Sugar: 19g (21%), Vitamin A: 806IU (16%), Vitamin C: 3mg (4%), Calcium: 67mg (7%), Iron: 1mg (6%)

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is automatically calculated. It should only be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Kroll’s Korner can’t make any guarantees to the accuracy of this information.

Krolls Korner

Krolls Korner

Welcome to my tiny “korner” on the Internet! I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who loves cookies as much as kale. (OK, maybe I like cookies a little bit more but shh, don’t tell anyone). I am so glad you’re here! Follow along for hassle free, realistic and approachable recipes.

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4.78 from 9 votes (9 ratings without comment)
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