Smooth, creamy Cheesecake Bars are the quicker and more portable version of my well-loved cheesecake. My recipe includes a fudgy chocolate ganache topping to take these to the next level! Recipe includes a how-to video!
Simple & Easy Cheesecake Bars
If you’re a fan of my classic cheesecake, you’re going to love these perfectly portable cheesecake bars! They bake in a fraction of the time a regular cheesecake takes, and they’re much more approachable. I make these so often at home that I felt they deserved their own post.
As with all of my cheesecake recipes, this one is perfectly sweet and requires no water bath (yay!). My crisp graham cracker crust is the perfect buttery and sturdy base for the creamy, smooth cheesecake filling. I like to top my cheesecake bars with fudgy chocolate ganache for a truly heavenly bite, and I highly recommend you do the same.
I love this recipe because it’s:
- Simple to make, but everyone is still impressed because…it’s cheesecake!
- Easily individually portioned
- Less fussy than a traditional cheesecake (and cracks aren’t as big of a concern)
- Easy to dress up with a ganache topping
- Uses my graham cracker crust, but would work with my Oreo crust too!
What You Need
Compared to my traditional cheesecake recipe, today’s ingredients are slightly scaled down so the bars can be handheld and enjoyed without a fork. Here’s what you need:
- Light brown sugar. I love using brown sugar in my graham cracker crust! Even though it’s a small amount, it still imparts a slightly richer depth of flavor than granulated sugar would.
- Softened cream cheese. It is SO important that you use full-fat, brick-style cream cheese. This is the only type of cream cheese I recommend for my cheesecake recipes; if you use any other kind, you risk your cheesecake being runny or never fully setting up.
- Sour cream. This is essential for that classic cheesecake flavor! Full-fat, plain Greek yogurt would also work in a pinch.
- Room temperature eggs. Really, all of your ingredients should be room temperature, but especially your eggs. This will help them incorporate easier without you having to excessively beat them (which can cause cracks!).
- Chocolate. I prefer to use a high quality chocolate for my ganache topping, like callets or couverture chocolate. Chocolate chips can work in a pinch, but they’re my least favorite option.
SAM’S TIP: With cheesecake bars (especially these topped with ganache) cracks aren’t as big of a concern because they’ll be cut into squares and covered with chocolate. However, lining the pan with foil or parchment paper so it goes up the sides of the pan and can constrict with the cheesecake as it cools will work wonders for preventing cracks.
If you’ve been around here a bit you’ll recognize that the base recipe and technique is used in a number of my cheesecake recipes, from my lemon cheesecake to mini cheesecakes, chocolate cheesecake, and beyond! It’s because it works and produces flawless results.
How to Make Cheesecake Bars
- Combine the graham cracker crust ingredients and press the mixture into a lined pan.
- Beat together the sugar and cream cheese until it’s smooth and well combined, then stir in the sour cream and vanilla.
- Add the eggs one at a time, stirring until just combined after each addition.
- Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for 35-45 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, then chill for 5-6 hours.
- Heat the cream until it simmers, then it pour over your chopped chocolate and let this sit for 5 minutes undisturbed.
- Whisk the ganache until it’s smooth, then pour it over your chilled cheesecake. Let the ganache set in the fridge before cutting and serving.
SAM’S TIP: For the best texture, try to avoid overbeating your eggs and definitely do not over-bake the cheesecake. Either of these errors will produce a cheesecake with a mealy, curdled texture instead of a smooth, creamy consistency.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! Like any cheesecake, these bars absolutely need to be refrigerated.
Definitely! Because the bars need to chill for 6+ hours (or more preferably, overnight), they’re perfect for making in advance. After that, they’ll keep in an airtight container in the fridge for about 5 days.
I personally love the chocolate ganache topping, but you could really use any cheesecake topping, like caramel sauce, blueberry sauce, strawberry sauce, lemon curd, or whipped cream. Some of these options will be a little messier than others and could take these from handheld bars to a plate and fork situation–but that doesn’t mean they won’t be delicious!
To get clean slices like I have in my photos, wipe down your knife between each cut. I know it seems tedious, but it makes all the difference!
Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook
- 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs (170g)
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon light brown sugar firmly packed
- 7 Tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 24 oz cream cheese softened (use brick-style full-fat cream cheese) (680g)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (200g)
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs room temperature preferred
- 4 oz semisweet or dark chocolate finely chopped (may substitute chocolate chips, no chopping needed) (113g)
- ½ cup heavy cream (118ml)
- 9” square baking pan
- Preheat oven to 325F (165C) and line a 9×9” baking pan with parchment paper or foil (optional). Set aside.
- Stir together graham cracker crumbs and sugars until combined.
- Add melted butter and stir until all crumbs are moistened.
- Press crumbs evenly into the bottom of prepared baking pan and set aside (no need to pre-bake before adding cheesecake batter).
- Combine cream cheese and sugar in large mixing bowl (or in bowl of stand mixer) and use an electric mixer (or paddle attachment on mixer) to beat on medium-speed until smooth, creamy, and lump-free.
- Add sour cream and vanilla extract and stir on low-speed until combined.
- Lightly scramble one egg with a fork then add it to the cheesecake batter and stir on low-speed until just-combined. Repeat with remaining eggs. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure all ingredients are evenly combined.
- Pour batter evenly over graham cracker crust in prepared baking pan.
- Transfer to the center rack of 325F (165C) preheated oven and bake for 35-45 minutes or until cheesecake is almost set (the center will still have some jiggle but will mostly be set, the edges may have puffed a bit, and if you lightly touch the center with your finger it should spring back to the touch).
- Allow cheesecake to cool to room temperature then transfer to refrigerator to chill completely, at least 5-6 hours, preferably overnight.
- After cheesecake has completely chilled, top with chocolate ganache if desired.
- Place chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Pour cream into small saucepan and heat over medium heat. As soon as you see the cream beginning to simmer, remove from heat and pour evenly over chocolate. Do not stir, just cover the bowl with foil and allow to sit for 5 minutes undisturbed.
- Remove foil and gently whisk ingredients together until chocolate is smooth and completely melted.
- Pour evenly over cheesecake bars, using a spatula to smooth if necessary. Transfer to refrigerator until ganache has set (about 15-20 minutes) then cut into squares and serve.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.