The perfect combination of sweet and tart, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t munch on these all day. I snuck into the pan, cut off just one tiny bit and walk away, come back and an hour later… take another one-biter… and so on.
I’m guessing you are getting the gist of this story, I ate nearly all of the cheesecake bars. And I’d go out of a limb to say that you’ll be in my shoes soon.
Lemon Cheesecake Bar Recipe
Crescent dough is such a magical ingredient. It can be a crust, top or bottom, making sweet and savory dishes buttery and rich without all of the work of homemade croissant dough. Slightly different, yes I know, but close.
Our bars have a layer of creamy citrus spiked cheesecake mixture sandwiches between layers of crescent dough. The sugary topping adds a glistening layer of crunchy pure lemon flavor.
- Cream Cheese- You can certainly use a reduced fat cream cheese, but this recipe isn’t the place to cut corners, so just go with the extreme thick and rich flavors of full fat.
- Sugar- To balance out the tart, you’ll need a little sugar! It also helps make the cheesecake filling nice and shiny.
- Coarse Kosher Salt- The most forward of salts without any odd aftertastes, we prefer a coarse grain. If using fine salt, reduce by at least half in volume.
- Vanilla Extract- Almond is another good idea. If you are really wanting to be FULL lemon flavor, omit the extract and add another teaspoon of fresh lemon juice. I personally like the sophistication it adds to have several flavor profiles.
- Egg– gives structure to the filling mixture.
- Fresh lemon juice & Zest– Fresh citrus is always the way go, juice starts to lose potency the moment it is juiced so the bottled stuff doesn’t compare. And there is no substitute for lemon zest, which provides the most pure of lemon flavors without being tart. Just don’t get the pith (white stuff), it is bitter.
- Crescent Dough- The top and bottom that will harness in all of the filling.
- Topping– The topping is made of sugar, lemon zest and butter, which will melt together to make a sparkly crust.
How to Make Cheesecake Bars
Get ready for this super easy recipe!
- Preheat the oven and line a 9×13 baking dish with aluminum foil. Coat with cooking spray. The aluminum foil will act like a sling, so it will be super easy to lift your bars out of the baking dish and slice them. They do get a bit sticky and the filling won’t 100% set so this keeps it contained.
- Beat cream cheese until smooth and then add the sugar and salt until is seamlessly blends in, then add egg and vanilla. It will slop around a bit, but ultimately incorporate. If there are little flecks of cream cheese, that is fine- it will all bake together.
- Press 1 can of crescent dough into the bottom of the dish, no one will see it, so it doesn’t need to be super pretty, but I do try to pinch together the seams. Top with cheesecake filling and then top with the other can of crescent dough. Do your best to pinch or smooth out the seams.
- Mix together the sugar and lemon zest. Brush the melted butter over the top and sprinkle with sugar mixture so it sticks.
- Bake until the sugar has created a crust and the top is lightly browned. Depending on the oven, you might want to consider rotating the baking dish for even browning.
- Cool at room temperature for a while and when cool enough, cover and place into the refrigerator for 2 hours or until fully chilled.
- Remove the whole tray using the aluminum foil as a sling. Place on to a cutting board and cut into squares.
This recipe doesn’t have a ton of variant, but it does have a few!
- Churro or Sopapilla Cheesecake Bars– People call them different things, but basically omit the lemon and add cinnamon and nutmeg to both the cheesecake filling and the sugar topping.
- Citrus– Swap lemon for lime or orange juice and zest.
- Warm Spices– Leave out the lemon and add pumpkin pie or apple pie spice to both the filling and the topping.
Storage & Freezing
Keep bars covered and refrigerated. They will stay good for to 5 days, but best enjoyed within 24 hours.
Unfortunately, they do not freeze well.
More cheesecake recipes:
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Lemon Cheesecake Bars
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a 9×13 baking sheet with aluminum foil. Coat with cooking spray.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or using an electric hand mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar and salt, continuing to beat. Add vanilla and 1 egg, mix again.Add the fresh lemon juice and fresh lemon zest, blending again. Mixture will be mostly smooth but might have a few little bits of cream cheese.
- Evenly press 1 can of crescent dough into the bottom of the dish. Spread the cheesecake filling over the crescent dough, smoothing out evenly. Top with second can of crescent dough. (Try to pinch together the perorated pieces or cover them with sugar topping to disguise.)
- In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and lemon zest. Brush the melted butter over the top and sprinkle with sugar mixture.
- Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Remove and allow to cool. When cool enough, cover and place into the refrigerator for 2 hours or until fully chilled.
- Remove the whole tray using the aluminum foil. Place on to a cutting board and cut into squares.
- Store chilled until ready to serve.
- If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was the comments or ratings!