These Lemon Cheesecake Squares are made with a shortbread base and topped with a creamy Lemony filling. This cheesecake bar is the perfect addition to your Holiday Cookie tray or even as a Summer or anytime dessert! So delicious it will be eaten first.
Lemon Cheesecake Squares were always a Christmas tradition in my home in Canada. Have I ever said I love cheesecake? Well, I do! And these, I must say, are the easiest and tastiest ones out there, from the almond shortbread crust to the creamy lemon filling. They are perfect.
Now I make them with my daughters each holiday season, and I always think I’ll make a batch and freeze them, but it never works. Not because they aren’t freezer-friendly, but we can’t resist eating them first!
What I like so much about these lemon cheesecake squares, besides being so darned delicious, is the light taste of almonds in the shortbread base and that excellent creamy lemon filling, the lemon flavor with the cookie crust is the best match.
If you want a fantastic dessert bar for the holidays, you must give these a try. My Italian friends and family always look forward to a gift box at Christmas filled with all their favourite Cookies and Bars, including these lemon cheesecake bars.
- All purpose flour
- Packed brown sugar
- Finely chopped almonds
- Melted butter
- Softened Cream cheese – I don’t recommend using light or fat-free cream cheese. The full-fat cream cheese makes the best creamy, rich filling.
- Granulated sugar
- Large egg – or two medium-sized eggs
- Fresh lemon juice
- Lemon zest
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly grease and flour (or use non-stick cooking spray) in an 8″ (21 cm) square pan.
Make the crust first by combining the flour, sugar, almonds, and melted butter in a mixing bowl. Mix until it’s crumbly. If it’s too dry and crumbly, add a little more melted butter.
Firmly press the dough into the prepared pan and bake the crust for 15 minutes. Let it cool for five minutes before you add the filling.
While the crust bakes, you can make the filling. With a handheld electric mixer and a large bowl or stand mixer, cream the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, lemon juice, and zest at medium speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
Spread the cheesecake batter over the warm crust and then bake the bars for 20 to 25 minutes.
Take the pan out of the oven and run a knife around the edge of the crust. Cool the bars to room temperature, and then cover the baking pan with plastic wrap. Chill them in the refrigerator for at least two hours before slicing them with a sharp knife.
To make it even easier to slice the bars, line the baking pan with parchment paper so you can lift the cheesecake out in one piece before cutting it into squares.
Be sure to plan because the bars need time to cool and then need to be chilled for at least two hours. This allows the lemon cheesecake filling to set fully.
For extra flavor, add a teaspoon of vanilla extract or almond extract to the cream cheese filling.
You can also use a graham cracker crust for this recipe.
For the holidays, I slice small bars to give away to friends and family. You can also serve large pieces for dessert to finish a meal.
Keep the bars in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve them. Any leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in a single layer. They will keep for several days in the fridge as long as they properly stored.
Freeze them in a freezer safe container, I find it easiest to cut them into squares, place the squares on a cookie sheet and freeze for an hour or 2 until firm, then move to a freezer safe container, be sure to place parchment paper between the layers. They will keep for about 2-3 months in the freezer. Thaw the cookies in the fridge, best to remove the layers before thawing.
Gently shake the cheesecake (be careful it’s very hot). If it looks almost set, with only a small centre circle that jiggles slightly it is done. The cheesecake will firm up while it cools.
I’ve always loved these cheesecake bars, and everyone who tries one loves them, too. They’re cold and creamy with that delicious almond crust. If you love lemon desserts, you need to try them. Enjoy!
More Delicious Lemon Recipes.
- Lemon Tiramisu Cake
- Lemon Thumbprint Cookies
- Italian Lemon Crostata
- Italian Fresh Cream Lemon Cake
- Best Homemade Lemon Bread
- Tablespoon Italian Lemon Cake
Lemon Cheesecake Squares
FOR THE BASE
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (195 grams)
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar (96 grams)
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons almonds (finely chopped) (52 grams)
- 1/4 cup +2 tablespoons butter (melted & cooled)* (79 grams)
*If you find the mixture too crumbly add another 2 tablespoons of melted butter.
CREAM CHEESE FILLING
- 10 ounces Cream Cheese (whole not light) room temperature (300 grams)
- ½ cup + 2-3 tablespoons granulated sugar (158 grams)
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- zest from 1 lemon
- Pre heat oven to 350 degrees (180 degrees celsius). Lightly grease and flour an 8 inch (21 cm) square cake pan.
FOR THE BASE
- In a small bowl with a fork combine flour, sugar and almonds, add butter and combine just until mixture is crumbly. Place mixture in the prepared cake pan and press down firmly. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool approximately 5 minutes before adding the filling.
CREAM CHEESE FILLING
- While the base is baking make the filling, in a medium bowl beat at medium speed the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, lemon juice and zest together until smooth and creamy, approximately 2 minutes.
- Spread the filling evenly on top. Bake again for approximately 20-25 minutes or until set. Remove from the oven and run a knife around the edge of the pan, let cool, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for approximately 2 hours before cutting. Enjoy!
Republished from July 2016.