Easy Lemon Swirl Cheesecake Bars

published Apr 1, 2023
 Lemon Swirl Cheesecake Bars Recipe

A buttery graham cracker crust joins forces with a lemon curd-swirled cheesecake layer in this sweet and tangy spring treat.

Serves16

Prep20 minutes

Cook40 minutes to 50 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Lemon swirl cheesecake bars cut on wax paper.
Credit: Kelli Foster

Lemon swirl cheesecake bars are the ultimate easy and impressive spring dessert for every occasion. With these cheesecake bars, you get the sweet satisfaction of cheesecake, along with eye-catching swoops of lemon curd, for a fraction of the work. It comes together in the food processor with just a handful of ingredients and about 20 minutes of hands-on time. Best of all, you’ll have an absolutely gorgeous dessert that’s guaranteed to disappear in no time. 

Credit: Kelli Foster

Tips for Making the Perfect Lemon Swirl

The base of these bars is a buttery graham cracker crust, topped with a sweet, slightly tangy cheesecake swirled with lemon curd.

  • Use store-bought or homemade lemon curd. If you want to keep things super simple, grab a jar of lemon curd from the grocery store. Otherwise, if you’re game for it, make your own lemon curd; you won’t use the whole batch, but when you store lemon curd properly it can last for up to a year.
  • Add small dollops. It’s helpful to add the lemon curd in small teaspoon-size portions, spaced evenly over the top of the cheesecake. Doing this will make it easier to swirl.
  • Use a skewer to swirl. Because lemon curd is thick, use a skewer rather than a thin toothpick to make the swirls.
  • Don’t overwork the curd. Overworking the curd when swirling can result in it sinking into the cheesecake. While this doesn’t affect the taste or texture of the bars, it means you won’t get as much of that pretty swirl on top. Plus, adding the curd in small dollops and using a skewer to swirl it will also prevent overworking it.

Lemon Swirl Cheesecake Bars Recipe

A buttery graham cracker crust joins forces with a lemon curd-swirled cheesecake layer in this sweet and tangy spring treat.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 40 minutes to 50 minutes

Serves 16

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2

    (8-ounce) packages full-fat cream cheese

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 6 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 12

    graham cracker sheets (about 6 1/2 ounces), or 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

  • 1/2 cup

    plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup

    lemon curd (homemade or store-bought)

Instructions

  1. Place 2 (8-ounce) packages full-fat cream cheese and 2 large eggs on the counter. Let everything sit at room temperature until the cream cheese is softened, about 1 hour.

  2. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8x8-inch metal baking pan with parchment paper so that it hangs off two sides to form a sling.

  3. Place 6 tablespoons unsalted butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 20-second bursts until mostly melted, 30 to 40 seconds total (it will melt completely as it sits). (Alternatively, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.) Set aside to cool slightly.

  4. Break 12 full-size graham crackers into rough pieces and place in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Add 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Process until the crackers are the texture of sand, about 15 seconds. Add the melted butter and pulse to combine, 6 to 8 (1-second) pulses. (If using graham cracker crumbs, just stir the crumbs and butter together in a medium bowl.)

  5. Transfer the mixture to the pan. Using your hands or the bottom of a measuring cup, press into the bottom of the baking pan in an even layer.

  6. Bake until fragrant and starting to darken around the edges, 12 to 15 to minutes. Set aside to cool slightly while you prepare the filling.

  7. Place the cream cheese in the food processor. Process until very smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar and remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and process until incorporated, about 1 minute more. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the motor running, add the eggs one at a time until just incorporated. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and process until just combined.

  8. Pour the filling over the warm crust and spread into an even layer with a flexible spatula. Using a teaspoon, dollop 1/2 cup lemon curd on top, leaving space between each dollop. Run a skewer through the dollops to create a marbled effect. Do not overwork, as the curd will sink into the bars.

  9. Bake until the edges are set and puffed and the center is still slightly jiggly, 30 to 35 minutes. Place the baking dish on a wire rack and let cool completely, about 2 hours. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

  10. Run a knife around the edges of the slab. Grasping the parchment sling, lift the cheesecake slab out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Cut into 16 bars.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.