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Lemon Cheesecake Squares

by on June 22, 2010 · 12 comments

If your heart feels like baking, but your brain is reminding you it’s 95 degrees out and to consider an ice cream pie, here’s an alternative. These cheesecake bars will satisfy the urge to bake, but the end result is a cool and creamy bar cookie you can top with fresh fruit of the season. I used a few berries for this piece, but I’m about to go out and buy more just so I can serve tiny squares of this with big helpings of berries.

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

The original recipe makes a full 13×9 inch pan, but if you have a small family you might want to halve it like I did. Along with using an 8 inch pan, I made a few other changes such as increasing the lemon juice, using unsalted butter and topping the bars with sweetened whipped cream instead of straight sour cream. Another step I recommend is to line the pan with some foil. I lined the pan with non-stick foil and was able to lift the cheesecake right out and cut it into neat bars. If you’re less worried about cutting into neat bars, you can skip the pan-lining step.


Lemon Cheesecake Squares
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Dessert bars made with a lemon flavored cheesecake
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12
Shortbread Crust:
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 scant teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 packed teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • few drops of yellow food coloring (optional)
  • 1/2 tablespoon flour
Topping: 1/2 cup sour cream or 3/4 cup freshly whipped cream sweetened with 1 1/2 T. powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Have ready an 8 inch metal pan. For convenience, I lined mine with non-stick foil.
  2. Combine flour, powdered sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl or bowl of food processor. Cut in butter with pastry blender or use the food processor and pulse until crumbly. Press into prepared pan and bake for 18-20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.
  3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Beat in the evaporated milk, then stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice. Beat until smooth. Add the egg and beat just until smooth (do not overbeat after adding the egg). Stir in the flour. Alternately, you can do this in the food processor or in a blender.
  4. Pour mixture over crust and bake for an additional 15 minute or until set. Cool in pan set on a wire rack. Chill until very cold. Spread with sour cream or sweetened whipped cream. If you’ve lined the pan with foil, you can now lift the bars from the pan, set on a cutting board and cut into bars or squares. Makes 12-16
Cook time also includes the chill time. It's just an estimate.

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Published on June 22, 2010

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Sue June 22, 2010 at 2:52 pm

The flavors here sound really nice together, and the cool creaminess would make them a real summer treat.

Lisa Ernst June 22, 2010 at 3:08 pm

The minute I saw this I thought, “oh, yummm!” Love the combo of lemon cheesecake blueberries. Yes, a perfect foil for the heat.

Sherry June 22, 2010 at 3:49 pm

That looks like a great refreshing treat! I might be interested in trying the sour cream topping even!

vanillasugar June 22, 2010 at 4:18 pm

love that topping!!!!

Zoë June 22, 2010 at 6:23 pm

Really appreciate your tips for small quantities and help lifting the bars out with foil – these look as if they would disappear very fast in my house!

Cakelaw June 23, 2010 at 12:16 am

These bars look great, and I adore cheesecake!

clumbsycookie June 23, 2010 at 3:36 am

They look so fresh Anna! Is it too bad that I want to have one for breakfast ;)?

cheesecake recipes June 23, 2010 at 6:37 am

That cheesecake looks heavenly to me! I will definitely try this one. I’d probably do mine a little thicker though, lol! I think the lemon flavor will break the heaviness of the cheesecake. I can’t wait already. I’m sure my kids will love this, too. :)

mags June 23, 2010 at 11:39 am

These look great- creamy and citrusy and cool, perfect for summer. I’d like to try a graham cracker crust instead of the shortbread. Any suggestions? I love the graham cracker-cheesecake combination, but I’ve never made one before. All my shortbread attempts are big flops, however :)

Anna June 23, 2010 at 11:56 am

Mags, this particular shortbread is actually very firm. We liked the bars, but if you’re eating them with a fork the shortbread is kind of tough to stick the fork in. That being said, I like the idea of using a simple graham cracker crust too. Here are a couple of other crusts I might try.


1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons melted butter

Mix crumbs and sugar. Add butter. Press into square pan (double if you are making the full recipe) and bake 10 minutes. Pour on the filling and continue following recipe as written.

Greg Patent uses a crust similar to his in his lemon bar recipe. It’s a little softer and very tasty.

Shortbread with Brown Sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

Mix butter, brown sugar and salt together in a bowl. Add 1 cup flour to butter mixture, and beat at low speed until well-blended. Press crust into an 8-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes.

mags June 23, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Anna, thanks so much. That couldn’t be any easier, huh? I might just try your suggestion of the shortbread with the brown sugar, too. Love your wesbite btw! I’ve been reading for a long time. Keep up the good work!

Jennifer June 23, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Wow, those look good! If you like to make icecream, there’s a cheesecake icecream recipe in “The Perfect Scoop” by David Lebovitz, that is my favorite icecream recipe, ever. It’s easy (I mix it in the blender) and has lemon zest. So good with blueberries or strawberry topping.

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