With plenty of lemon flavor, these healthier Lemon Cheesecake Bars make a great easy Spring or Summer treat! They’re made with a graham cracker crust bottom and a healthier cheesecake filling, thanks to Greek yogurt. If you’re a lemon and cheesecake lover, then you’ve gotta try these bars!
Spring is in the air! Hallelujah.
Just around the corner is my favorite season: gardening season. You know what I would absolutely love to grow? Lemon and lime trees. But, here you’d have to move them inside in the winter, and I don’t have a good space in my house for them (maybe one day…).
So instead, I’ll be buying bags and bags of lemons (and growing peach trees, for a peach crisp, yum!).
My family loves it when I bake with lemon. Lemon Chia Oat Muffins, Lemon Loaf, Lemon Cookies, Lemon Cupcakes, Lemon Chia Scones, etc. If it’s lemon flavored, it doesn’t really matter! My kids love it, and my husband is all over it.
I figured it was about time to share another lemon recipe, and what better than healthier Lemon Cheesecake Bars?! These are the perfect Spring treat. They start with a buttery graham cracker crust on the bottom, and are a topped with a lightly sweet & healthier lemon cheesecake layer.
If Spring isn’t the perfect time for lemon and cheesecake then I don’t know when else is! 🙂
There’s a few things to know about these cheesecake bars.
First, there’s the graham crackers.
If you don’t need these to be made gluten-free, then go ahead and use your favorite regular graham crackers.
To turn your graham crackers into crumbs (about as fine as sand), I recommend adding them to a food processor or high powered blender. Alternatively, you could put them in a bag (on a cutting board) and literally hammer away at them (a meat mallet works well for this! Weird, but true.).
I recommend adding several sheets of graham crackers to your food processor, blending them up entirely, and then measuring afterwards. If you have any extra leftover graham cracker crumbs, they taste great on top of yogurt! 🙂
Another important ingredient to talk about is the Greek yogurt.
I recommend, and always use, Fage 2% Greek yogurt. It’s very thick and plain, almost like sour cream. I’d recommend something very similar, for the best cheesecake texture. If your yogurt is on the thinner side, your cheesecake layer won’t be quite as thick and creamy.
I also recommend plain Greek yogurt for consistent results. However, you could use vanilla Greek yogurt and either reduce or omit the vanilla extract in the cheesecake filling instead.
Ever had tiny cream cheese lumps while making cheesecake?
Be sure to set your cream cheese blocks out and let them come to room temperature before using them. This is the BEST way to significantly reduce the amount of tiny cream cheese lumps in your cheesecake. The bars will still taste fine if you get lumps, they just don’t look as nice.
If you’d like to use low-fat cream cheese in these blocks, you can do that too. I think the texture is a bit better with regular cream cheese blocks, but if you’re used to low-fat it works just fine too.
Let’s talk about sugar a bit too.
I like to use a blend of maple syrup and white sugar in these bars. I think it gives them the best flavor and texture. I would not recommend using only maple syrup. If you don’t like using white sugar, you can use coconut sugar instead.
However, you could use just white sugar if you’d like. You could use 3/4 cup of white sugar in the cheesecake layer, and 2 tbsp of sugar in the crust, instead.
Those are all my tips! Other than that, these healthier Lemon Cheesecake Bars are pretty simple to make. With that buttery graham cracker crust, and that tart, creamy and sweet lemon cheesecake layer on top… yum!
I hope you try these healthier Lemon Cheesecake Bars and fall in love with them as much as we did! They’re a little lighter, but still plenty sweet, creamy, lemony, with a touch of buttery graham cracker flavor. Yum!
After you make these, let me know what you think! Leave a comment and rating, below, and/or find me on Instagram and tag me in your picture. I love to see what you guys make and hear what you think!
- 1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers (gluten-free, if necessary)
- 4 tbsp butter, melted
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 12 oz cream cheese (1.5 blocks), room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt (I prefer Fage 2%)
- 1/3 cup maple syrup (or honey)
- 1/4 cup white sugar (or coconut sugar)
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- zest of 3 lemons
- 3 tbsp lemon juice (about 1 1/2 lemons)
- 3 eggs
- cool whip (optional), for topping
To begin, preheat your oven to 325 and line a 9×9 pan with parchment paper (with two sides sticking out for easy removal).
To a small mixing bowl, add your butter and maple syrup and whisk them together. Add your graham cracker crumbs and stir till they're covered entirely. Pour all of the ingredients into your pan. Using a spatula, or your hands, gently press the graham cracker mixture around till there is a thin, even layer covering your whole pan.
Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, add your cream cheese and Greek yogurt and beat them together with a hand mixer till creamy and well combined and there are no cream cheese clumps.
To the same bowl, add your maple syrup, white sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice and mix together again till well combined.
Add your eggs and briefly blend them into the mixture. Do not over mix.
Pour the lemon cheesecake batter into your 9×9 pan. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes, or till the edges are set but when you shake the pan gently the center still jiggles a little.
Let cool for 30 minutes, then cover and place in the fridge before slicing. Chill for at least two hours, or until entirely cool.
To remove from pan, use a knife and gently run it along the edges where there is no parchment paper to loosen them from the pan. Lift the bars out with the two edges of parchment paper sticking out. Place onto a cutting board and cut into twelve pieces.
Serve with cool whip on top, and devour!
Stored in an airtight container in the fridge, these bars last about 5 days.