★★★★★

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Lemon bars meet cheesecake in this heavenly dessert. Lemon Cheesecake Bars have a vanilla wafer crust layered with lemon cookie dough and cheesecake filling. You won’t be able to eat just one!

If you like lemon desserts as much as I do, make sure to try my classic Lemon Cheesecake Recipe. These Lemon Crunch Cookies are always delicious too!

Two lemon cheesecake cookie bars stacked on top of eachother.

Why this Recipe Works

Can’t decide between Lemon Cheesecake and Lemon Bars? Lemon Cheesecake Cookie Bars combine the best of all worlds!

  • This recipe starts with a simple crust made from Nilla wafers.
  • The cheesecake filling is creamy, sweet and easy to make.
  • The lemon cookie layer is full of white chocolate chips to add even more sweetness and texture.

Everyone is impressed by these lemon cheesecake bars!

If you love layered cheesecake bars I’ve got some other fun flavors too, like these Snickerdoodle Cheesecake Bars and of course traditional Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars! Our peanut butter cheesecake bars are perfect for the peanut butter lover!

Ingredient Notes

Ingredients needed for lemon cheesecake cookie bars.

Lemon extract. This is the secret to amazing, bright lemon flavor without having to squeeze a ton of lemons. Use pure lemon extract (not artificial flavoring) for best results.

Lemon zest. The zest is the yellow part of a lemon’s rind. Remove it from the lemon with a zesting tool or microplane grater. Use our guide on how to zest a lemon for best tips and tricks.

Cream Cheese. Use full fat and make sure it’s softened before blending into cheesecake filling.

Nilla wafers. If you can’t get these where you live, you can use any vanilla wafer style cookie to make the crust instead, or use our graham cracker crust recipe.

Easy Instructions

Step by step photos showing how to make lemon cheesecake bars.

For the crust:

Pulverize the wafer cookies in your food processor with sugar. When the cookies have become fine crumbs, add melted butter and combine.

Press the cookie crust into the bottom of a baking dish.

For the cheesecake filling:

Use the whisk attachment to beat all filling ingredients together in a stand mixer. Pour it over the cookie crust.

For the lemon cookie dough:

Beat butter and sugar together until well combined. Add in eggs, lemon zest and vanilla extract. Then add the dry ingredients and beat until blended.

Scoop the dough on top of the cheesecake layer. Use your hands to spread the dough out so it’s fully covering the cheesecake.

Bake the bars until the tops are lightly browned. Refrigerate for at least four hours and serve cold!

Tips and Tricks

  • Do not overbake. The center of the Lemon Cheesecake Bars will be a little jiggly when you take them out of the oven. It’ll continue firming up as it cools.
  • Store in the refrigerator. These taste best when they’ve had several hours to get nice and cold. I like to make them the day before and let them chill overnight.
  • Line your pan. Place a sheet of parchment paper in the bottom of your baking dish. It prevents the bars from getting stuck and makes clean up easier!
  • Cutting bars. Use a clean sharp knife to cut these. Between cuts, wipe the knife with a paper towel.
  • Freezing. For perfect edges, you can even freeze the bars and cut them while they’re still frozen. Let them thaw in the fridge before serving.
Squares of lemon cheesecake cookie bars on a teal cake platter.

Recipe FAQs

Can I use lemon juice instead of lemon extract?

No, lemon juice won’t work the same way here. You would have to add a lot of juice to get the same lemon flavor as a tiny bit of extract, which would add too much liquid to the recipe.

The cheesecake filling is too soft to slice. What should I do?

If your filling is still to soft to cut, the bars likely need a bit more time to chill. Try leaving them in the refrigerator longer or placing them in the freezer.

Can I make this with a graham cracker crust instead?

You sure can! I have made it with a graham cracker crust in the past and it was delicious. Lemon Oreo Cookies would be another great choice.

More Lemon Desserts

Yield: 24 large bars

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Chill Time 4 hours
Total Time 5 hours

Sweet Lemon Cheesecake Bars have a cookie crust, lemon cheesecake filling, and white chocolate chip cookie topping!

Ingredients

For the Crust:

  • 2 cups Nilla Wafers, crumbs (about 60 cookies)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted

For the Cheesecake Filling:

  • 2 packages (8 ounce each) cream cheese, softened
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 lemon, zested

For the Cookie layer:

  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 11 ounce white chocolate morsels (I use Ghirardelli)

Instructions

  1. Line a 13x9 baking dish with parchment paper. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a food processor, pulse Nilla Wafer cookies with sugar until fine crumbs. Add in melted butter and pulse until combined.
  3. Press crumbs into the bottom of prepared baking dish. Using the palm of your hand, press crumbs firmly until they are pressed into the bottom of the dish.
  4. For the filling, beat cream cheese with sugar, eggs, lemon extract and lemon zest using the whisk attachment of your electric mixer. Beat until fluffy and smooth (about 3-4 minutes). Pour over cookie crust.
  5. For the cookie dough, beat butter and sugar for 2 minutes. Add egg, vanilla and lemon zest and beat until combined. Add in baking powder, salt and flour, beating until fully blended. Fold in white chocolate morsels. Scoop dough by large spoonfuls onto the top of the cheesecake layer. Use your fingertips to spread gently until covered.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes until lightly browned. The center will still be jiggly, that's okay. Allow to cool completely. Refrigerate for 4 hours (or overnight). Slice and serve COLD. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Do not overbake. The center of the Lemon Cheesecake Bars will be a little jiggly when you take them out of the oven. It'll continue firming up as it cools.
  • Store in the refrigerator. These taste best when they've had several hours to get nice and cold. I like to make them the day before and let them chill overnight.
  • Line your pan. Place a sheet of parchment paper in the bottom of your baking dish. It prevents the bars from getting stuck and makes clean up easier!
  • Cutting bars. Use a clean sharp knife to cut these. Between cuts, wipe the knife with a paper towel.
  • Freezing. For perfect edges, you can even freeze the bars and cut them while they're still frozen. Let them thaw in the fridge before serving.
  • See blog post for more recipe tips and tricks.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

24

Serving Size:

1 cookie bar

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 339Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 59mgSodium: 126mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 0gSugar: 31gProtein: 3g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

Cold, creamy and sweet Lemon Cheesecake Bars make everyone happy!

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About Aimee

Aimee is a dessert lover (specifically rice krispie treats), workout enthusiast, self-taught foodie, and recipe creator.

Learn more about Aimee.

Affiliate Disclosure:**There may be affiliate links in this post! By clicking on them, or purchasing recommended items I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love! Thank you for supporting Shugary Sweets! See my disclosure policy for more info**

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Posted on August 9, 2021

Comments & Reviews

  1. Eating your emotions is only fair in this circumstance, Aimee. I mean, you raised this amazing person, and now he’s headed off to do such noble, selfless work. I’m sure you’re gonna cry buckets over the next 3 weeks, but remember, you did good. I’m a high school teacher and I see a lot of good kids, but I also see a lot of kids graduate from high school feeling totally lost. You are the kind of parent who doesn’t let that happen!
    And these bars are amazing. I can’t think of a better way to bake your feelings.

    1. Thank you Mir! He’s definitely following his dreams. It’s our job as parents to encourage and support (even if we want to just wrap them in our arms and never let go)!

  2. Oh, Aimee! I can’t imagine the emotions running through your head right now, but I know there is a big sense of pride there too. I’m so happy that you had all of that family time in Hawaii. Eating your emotions is totally legit, especially when it involves these Lemon Cheesecake bars! xoxo

    1. Hawaii was such a blast. And it was a great way to connect and build memories before he leaves 🙂 Thanks for the sweet comment!

  3. Thinking of you and your son as he moves on to the newest chapter in his life. So proud of him for protecting our country!

  4. You must be so proud!! But I can’t even imagine how you feel. I do not blame you at all for eating your feelings! Plus, you need to bake as many treats as possible for your son before he heads off!

  5. These bars look absolutely amazing!! Be sure to fill your son up with those yummy treats before he heads to bootcamp. He won’t be eating anything like it for 12 weeks and he will definitely be thinner when you see him on family day. Make sure you bring lots of tissues on graduation day. My husband is a Drill Instructor in San Diego so I’ve been to many graduations and I tear up with pride every single time. Best of luck to you and your son!!!

    1. Tell your husband to be kind to my son and I’ll send him a batch of these bars 😉 Thanks for the sweet comment!!

  6. Wow! What a mix of emotions for you.  And what a brave young man you’ve raised.  🙂
    And these bars look delicious! I’m a sucker for lemon!

  7. Aww big hug for you. I’d definitely be eating my emotions and It’d most likely include a whole pan of these bars. They look amazing!

  8. Wow! Amazing! I brought a few boxes of Nila Wafers home with me from the USA, so I think I need to make these stat! 🙂

  9. I can’t imagine the emotions you’re going through. Hugs for you. But I have to say — I love the combination of flavors here! 

  10. I can’t imagine how difficult it is for you right now to think of what’s ahead! I would definitely be downing the desserts! Thanks in advance to your son for his service!

  11. Hi Aimee, I just wanted to reach out to you because I know a little bit of how you’re feeling. My younger brother just finished Marine boot camp two weeks ago and the past few months have been a whirlwind of emotion. His date was actually moved up a few weeks early as well (and at the very last minute), so I understand how unnerving that must be for you. I’m sure your son will excel and rise to the challenge. It’ll all be okay. Just hang in there! I’ll be keeping you and your son in my thoughts.

    1. It is definitely unnerving to have the date changed…even though we knew (and in a small way wanted) it to happen for him. THanks so much for the sweet comment. Good luck to your brother too!!

  12. Oh my word – talk about insanity! I love these cheesecake bars so much. And omg, I’m totally here for you if you need a shoulder to cry on… or someone to binge eat with! 

  13. Um, I have to admit this post made me tear up a bit. I can’t imagine sending my girls on their way once they’re old enough to go to college (or boot camp)… I still have some time since they’re 1 and 3 but still.
    You must be so proud of your son for choosing a path where he will be putting others first. Great job! And many hugs and lemon bars to you in three weeks.

    1. I am so proud of him you have no idea 🙂 But I’m still sad. Sad that me, being selfish, can’t just call him whenever I want or have him come home every weekend. But, I’m so incredibly happy that he is following his dreams. That’s ultimately what we want for our children 🙂 Thank you for the sweet comment!!

  14. I have been looking forward to this recipe since I saw it on Instagram! My oldest (son) tried college, decided it was boring and began exploring his options. He looked into the Coast Guard and then the Marines. He decided to join the Navy and give their special forces training a shot. He made it through; has told us many amusing and terrifying stories. He just got back from his first deployment and is already beginning training for his next one. It certainly was not my first choice for him but we are so proud of him and he is loving it. Hang in there. It is tough to let them go but they mature so much and so fast. He is an amazing young man. Please thank your son in advance for his service.

    1. Thank you Annette. I know (of course!) I’m not alone, it’s so sweet to read all your comments. Along with my fears is a huge surge of pride 🙂

  15. Girl, I can’t even imagine the emotions you must be going through right now.  What an honor though to know that you have raised such an awesome young man who wants to serve and protect his country.  It’s making me tear up and I don’t even know him.  I’m thinking we definitely need to plan a meet up after he leaves.  You are going to need some coffee and chit chat and lots of sweets!  And I need these lemon bars…hint, hint!  Love that we both had lemon on the brain today!

    1. YES!! I’ll be going to BlogHer Food now, since he is leaving early his graduation is in October, not November! You better be there 🙂

  16. Lemon is a perfect summer flavor.  Add in Cheesecake and you have my heart! This looks sooo yummy!

  17. It takes bravery for you and your son to do what you’re about to do!  So yea, eat those feelings!  If I had a pan of these bars in front of me, I would too! 🙂

  18. First of all – you are an awesome mom to raise a child with the heart to serve. I have 3 sons and a daughter-in-law in the military, and a daughter who is planning on going in when she finishes nursing school. It  never gets easier but it does get bearable. Darn these kids for growing up and being responsible members of society! Second of all… YUM! These bars look like just the thing to take out some of the sting… 

    1. Aww, YOU are awesome Marye 🙂 Wish I could share a plate of these with you and talk about our grown up kids!

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