★★★★★

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. These lemon cheesecake bars look AMAZING! But then I scrolled down the page and saw your Snickerdoodle cheesecake bars, so I don’t know which one I want more right now. But I’m saving these recipes for sure!

  2. I’m trying to stagger my baking for a graduation party in mid-May and wonder how many days in advance of the party I could make these. Congratulations on your son’s service. My husband is a retired Marine. Thank you so much!

  3. I live in the UK and I’ve never heard of Nilla wafers! Can anyone recommend an alternative? I would love to be able to make these..  

  4. Thank you so much for the recipe!:) We made it with my sister and we are both loving it!:) Only if it weren’t so sweet, because this way it can only be eaten in teeny-tiny bites at a time:( I did consider myself to be sweet-toothed, but this cake is too sweet even for me. So to anyone who is considering making this amazing cheescake bar: pre-taste the cookie dough before you put in all the sugar in the recipe, for me half the amount of sougar would have been plently enough. I will try it again soon, with less sugar, because apart form that it is amazing!!:)

  5. HI,
    Thank you for such an amazing recipe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I made this for church coffee hour. It is fantastic! Like another, I used 2 drops of essential oil too. Wouldn’t change a thing.

      1. My daughter just retired from the US Air Force and I’m so, happy she does not ever have to go back over seas again. My heart is with all of you that have son and daughters and other family members in the Armed Forces. I do want you to know when you send goodie bags send extra. My daughter said that the worst thing about me sending her stuff was seeing the faces of the ones who don’t get things from home. So please always send extra for them to share.

        1. Good to know, and thank you to your daughter for all her years of service 🙂

  6. Aimee, these lemon cheesecake bars look heavenly.  My husband is a retired Marine.  He served for 24 years.  He went to boot camp at San Diego in January 1975.  He,(himself) was a Drill Instructor for 3 years at MCRD Parris Island, S.C.  Your son will soon become One of The Few, The Proud and The Brave.”

  7. These turned out so well. They are delicious! I tweaked the recipe a little and gave you a shout out on my blog. Thanks for the inspiration!  http://beautybwb.blogspot.com/2016/04/luscious-lemon-bars.html

  8. I increased the ingredients by 1 1/2 times as a 9×13 baking dish is very large. I also decreased the sugar in the cookie layer by 1/4 cup and omitted the chocolate pieces as the cake would have been too sweet.
    The bars turned out great.

  9. I made lemon bars for Easter dinner dessert, and they were a hit! Oh my gracious, they were delicious! I used 3 drops of Young Living Lemon essential instead of lemon extract, and the cheesecake was light and refreshing! I would never recommend ingesting any other brand of lemon essential oil,  just because of safety concerns. I’m planning on making this dessert for my son’s graduation party soon! Thanks for the inspiration! 

  10. Be very proud of that young man you have raised. I too had my son join the military out of high school and
    it is difficult to go through, but hang in there. Thank him for serving our country. Your lemon bars look
    wonderful too, I plan to make some soon.

    1. Thank you so much Kathy! I feel so much love and support from this community!! Thank you to YOUR son as well 🙂

  11. I can’t even imagine Aimee!! My heart and emotional eater status goes out to you. <3

    1. I love vanilla, but no. My error!! Clearly my eyes were stinging from tears, haha! It’s 3/4 tsp 🙂

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