★★★★★

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!

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.

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.

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 (8oz 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
  • 11oz 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.

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!

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. Very sweet and a bit too complex with competing flavors and consistency. Would love just the lemon cheesecake or the cookie topping separately. My first thought was there is a lot going on here. Give it an A for creativity but not something I would make again.

    1. Our family loves the cookie and cheesecake combo. I do have a lemon cookie recipe as well as a lemon cheesecake recipe on the site you can search if you prefer.

  2. I have made these several times and I always have a hard time cutting them because the cheesecake layer is so soft. How do you cut them so that they maintain their structure?
    PS, everyone loves these lemon cheesecake bars!

    1. After refrigerating, they should be nice and set up firmly enough to cut into bars. Use a sharp knife and wipe it with a paper towel between cuts. You can also freeze these bars, cut while frozen for clean edges, then let thaw in refrigerator after cut.

  3. This was delicious! I reduced the sugar in the cookie topping and used scant measurements elsewhere and it was perfect – even when served to various, older Asian family friends. I also used 2 TBSP instead of lemon juice instead of lemon extract and the flavors came out well. Thank you for the recipe!

  4. These are AMAZING! And let me tell you, I make a lot of treats, and Shugary Sweets has become my go-to for new ideas! Amy, I almost always use your recipes with no changes needed. Yum! I read a lot of comments before making these, however, because I was leery of using lemon extract. Many asked if fresh lemon juice can be used. I used about 2 tablespoons of lemon juice in place of the extract and I also reduced the sugar to 1 cup in the cookie topping. (That was plenty sweet enough for me (and I am a sweet tooth for sure.) I’ve been making treats to share with friends and family during this COVID time and these will be delivered this weekend. 😊 Thank you for yet another FABULOUS recipe!!!

  5. Can you substitute lemon juice in place of the extract? If so, how much lemon juice should I use?

      1. I made this a few times and came out great, it was a hit for the holidays. However, I made it again last night and this time the “cheese” part came out very different, the texture is as if it’s curdled and almost seemed like the cheesecake part evaporated(didn’t have that thick cheesecakey layer). Not sure what went wrong and was wondering if you had any ideas what would make the texture that way?

        1. I’ve made it numerous times with no issues (as did you). It sounds like maybe one of your measurements was off this time.

  6. I haven’t ever had good luck using lemon extract, it always seems to taste artificial to me. Could real lemon juice be used as a substitute?

  7. Hi, My party is in 2 weeks can I make these now and reserve in the Ridge. Lemon Cheesecake Bars.

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