Cream Cheese Lemon Bars are the dessert you never knew you needed, but bake them once, and you’ll never go without them again. Sweet, cream cheesy, lemony, buttery, and so easy!
For more quick desserts, try my recipes for Apple Slab Pie, Salted Caramel Pecan Pie Bars, and Cream Cheese Lemon Crumb Cake.
Confession: I’m a lemon dessert lover, Snow-Capped Lemon Cookies, Lemon Bundt Cake, you name it. And a cheesecake lover. (If you’re a cheesecake lover like me, try my Perfect No Bake Cheesecake.) So it only makes sense that I put these two flavors together into one easy dessert, right?
Spring has sprung and with it my mindset has changed somewhat in terms of what flavors and foods I’m in the mood for. Even if the days are somewhat chilly and it’s not quite yet time to start the garden, I’m still thinking about cookouts, picnics, potlucks, and those days when friends stop over for a bit and end up staying through dinner. Those are the best days right?
These classic lemon bars are perfect for those days…well, for any day really! But, if you’re looking for a delicious dessert that isn’t too heavy and uses a lot of pantry and fridge staples, then this is it my friends!
- Granulated sugar
- Cream cheese
- Fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- Powdered sugar
Here’s How You Make It
Did I mention these lemon bars are so easy to make?
- First thing you need to do is preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 9 x13-inch pan with foil or parchment paper. Leave plenty of overhang around the edges so that you can lift the bars out of the pan before cutting.
- In a blender or a food processor combine the flour, sugar salt, and butter cubes to make the crust. Cover and pulse to combine the dough into fine crumbs. You can do this with a pastry cutter, fork, or fingers in a large bowl if you prefer.
- Press the crust into your prepared pan and put it in the oven for 10 minutes. While it cooks, turn your attention to the filling.
- To make the filling, combine the cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl. Cream together until it’s smooth. Then, mix in the flour, powdered sugar, lemon juice, eggs, and vanilla until they are all incorporated into the cream cheese and sugar mixture.
- When the crust is done, spread the cream cheese filling over the crust and put it back into the oven for 30 minutes.
- Let the lemon cheesecake bars cool for about 20 minutes, then cover them and put them in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight to chill. When you’re ready to dive in, lift the foil edges up out of the pan to remove the dessert. Slice into squares, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and serve.
Do I Need to Refrigerate Lemon Bars?
If you aren’t going to eat all these cream cheese lemon bars right away and you have some leftover (which would be shocking to me that anyone would have leftovers), then you should store them in the fridge. Just put them in a covered container if you’ve already sliced them into squares.
Or, if you know you’ll only be eating a few, you could put the rest back into the pan you cooked them in and cover it with foil and put in the fridge for later.
Does Cheesecake Freeze Well?
You can easily freeze cheesecake so long as it’s made with full-fat cream cheese. What I like to do is either freeze the whole thing by wrapping the cream cheese lemon bars — pan and all — in plastic wrap then add foil to the top of that to make sure the bars don’t get freezer burn. You can keep them in the freezer for about a month.
Or, you can freeze individual slices of the lemon bars with a shortbread crust. Cut them as instructed, then put the slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Put the tray into the freezer to freeze the lemon bars individually. This will take about 6 hours or overnight. When they are frozen, you can take them off the tray and wrap them individually in plastic wrap then put them all in an airtight, freezer-safe container. This way, you can take one out at a time and not eat them all at once.
To thaw, put the pan in the fridge overnight and then cut them as directed. Eat within two days (keeping them in the fridge in between). Once they’re thawed, do not refreeze them.
More Easy Dessert Recipes
- Strawberry Cobbler (the easiest and BEST you’ll ever make – THAT CRUST)
- Easy Apple Crisp
- Cream Cheese Lemon Crumb Cake (that filling. that CRUMB topping. that glaze.)
- Banana Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting (crowd pleaser!)
- Super Soft Peanut Butter Cookies (reader favorite!)
Did you make these cream cheese lemon bars? I’d be thrilled if you would give it a rating below!
Cream Cheese Lemon Bars
for the crust
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter - chilled and cut into small cubes
for the filling
- 8 ounces cream cheese - softened
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- ¼ cup flour
- ¾ cups fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- ⅓ cup powdered sugar - plus more for topping
- 6 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9×13 inch pan with foil or parchment with plenty of overhang around the edges to lift the bars out of the pan before cutting.
- Prepare the crust by combining flour, sugar, salt, and butter cubes in a food processor or blender. Cover and pulse until fine crumbs form. (You can also do this with a pastry cutter, fork, or with your fingers in a large bowl.)
- Press crust into prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes while you prepare the filling.
- Prepare the filling by combining cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl. Cream together until smooth. Mix in flour, powdered sugar, lemon juice, eggs, and vanilla until completely incorporated.
- Pour filling over crust and return to oven for 30 minutes.
- Allow to cool for about 20 minutes, then cover and transfer chill in the fridge 4 hours or overnight. Lift the foil edges to remove the bars from the pan, slice into squares, sprinkle with additional powdered sugar, and serve.
I was wondering if I could use maple syrup instead of vanilla / vanilla extract.
Thank you. 🙏🏽
Hi Mina, I wouldn’t recommend maple syrup in this recipe as it has such a strong flavor and will really skew away from the lemon. I would say if you are out of vanilla extract, maybe just leave it out. I think that is your best bet!
Would using lemon extract instead of vanilla enhance the fillings flavor?
Yes! Although I’d recommend still using the vanilla and simply adding a bit of lemon extract. 🙂
After cooking for 30 minutes and cooling for 20 and having my bars in the fridge overnight they are still runny when serving. Has this happened to anyone else?
Hi Jenna, are you serving these bars straight from the fridge? Or did you let them come to room temperature/sit out for a while before serving?
Lemon layer was great. I used 1.5 cups of sugar because I don’t like my dessert too sweet. Added the zest too. Was a tad disappointed in the shortcrust base. Too crunchy and flavorless. May try with graham base next time
I wanted to try a cream cheese based lemon bar and found this recipe. The ratings and comments wouldn’t load on my first visit so I was making these without any input but printed and followed the recipe exactly. When the crust was so blonde after ten minutes, I worried. When the filling was still super liquidy after 15 minutes, I panicked. I looked the recipe up online again and this time the comments loaded and I saw others writing about runny bars and longer bake times – it was a very worrisome second half of the bake time. When the full 30 minutes was up, I returned to my oven and could not believe how perfectly these were baked. How did that much liquid firm up in those last 15 minutes?? The bars were delicious. The family said they wouldn’t change anything about them – I might still consider a little longer bake on the crust before filling. The recipe is good but it felt like it had some holes in how it was written. I’m an experienced baker so could fill in those gaps for myself or make educated guesses but I would encourage the author to have a novice baker review/test bake to help her understand how to write for an audience who is new to the recipe. Also, the final product photos are lovely but some photos of the stages as you go would be helpful.