You will love this easy (almost) no-bake lemon cheesecake recipe. An easy layered lemon cheesecake bar that is always a crowd favorite. Everyone loves lemon desserts!
My theory is there are two kinds of people in this world. Chocolate dessert people and lemon dessert people. Of course, there are many of us that are indiscriminate and love all desserts. But if all you had to choose from was chocolate or lemon, which would you choose? In my theory, we choose the same every time. I know my son does, he is a lemon dessert person. Every time.
So today I have a lemon cheesecake bar with lots of lemon. Two layers of lemony goodness in a coconut graham cracker crust. Easy to assemble and since the recipe makes a 9x13 inch pan, there will be lots for sharing.
This cheesecake bar recipe makes for a light dessert. Perfect during the warmer months, on a dessert table cut into tiny squares or served right out of the pan for more informal BBQ spreads. But of course, these are good in the middle of winter too, when you want to feel the sunshine 🙂
This recipe needs to be made ahead of time. At a minimum, you need 3 hours to chill this. So plan ahead.
How to make Lemon Cheesecake Bars
You will need 2 pouches of Shirriff lemon pie filling to make this tray of lemon cheesecake bars. You can buy one box with two packages -- get that box 🙂 Its enough for two pies or this full recipe.
The base of these dessert squares is a basic graham cracker crust, but to punch up the summer vibe, I added a heavy dose of flaked coconut. I prefer the unsweetened kind since there is sugar in the crust already.
The crust needs a quick bake to help it set. Baking also gives the crust a toasted coconut flavor - which is so important. Preheat the oven before you throw the crust ingredients together so it will be ready for you. Bake for 7-8 minutes. Then let it cool while you make the next layer.
Tip: I've made these bars with regular graham cracker crumbs. Gluten-free crumbs are readily available in most stores and are an easy substitution in a recipe like this if you need a gluten-free dessert.
The next layer is one pouch of Shirriff lemon pie filling (one pouch in a 2 pack package) made with light cream cheese. To punch up the lemony-ness of this layer, stir in some lemon zest.
While the cheesecake layer cools make the lemon curd layer. Chill at least 15 minutes between layers so the layers are visually separate in the final bars.
How to serve these squares:
In my mind, you have two options with a recipe like this.
Serve as if cheesecake, cut generous slices (12-16 per pan) and serve on individual plates maybe with a dollop of whipped cream.
Or, you can serve it cut into smaller squares (say 16- 24 per tray). This is great for large gatherings when you have a dessert table.
I love these bars because they can be fancy or totally casual. Set them out on fancy plater or just leave them in the tray, already cut into bars and let people help themselves.
You can serve totally as is, or with a dusting of icing sugar once the bars are completely chilled. But the icing sugar will eventually melt, so you can't do this ahead of time.
Tip: To fancy these bars up, toast a half cup of large flake sweetened coconut in a dry skillet for a few minutes, just until fragrant and starting to brown and sprinkle on top of the tray before you cut into squares.
Lemon Cheesecake Bars
for the crust
- 1-½ cups graham cracker crumbs (use gluten free for GF version)
- ⅓ cup white sugar
- ½ cup butter
- ½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes medium cut
for the cream cheese layer
- 1 pkg Shirriff lemon pie filling
- ⅓ cup cold water
- 1-¾ cups boiling water
- 2 eggs
- 1 8oz pkg light cream cheese
for lemon curd layer
- 1 pkg Shirriff lemon pie filling
- ⅓ cup cold water
- 2 cups boiling water
- 2 egg yolks
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Combine crust ingredients in a large bowl, the press into the bottom of a 9x13in baking dish. Bake at 375 for 7-8 mins, until just set and starting to brown around the edges.
- To prepare cream cheese layer, combine eggs, cold water and Shirrif package in a medium sauce pan. Stir to combine. Add boiling water and cook on stove top, over medium high heat until bubbling. Continue to stir over high heat for about 30 secs after bubbling. Remove from heat. Continue to stir to cool slightly.
- In a large bowl beat cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add zest from half a lemon. Add in prepared lemon pie filling and gradually beat into cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Pour over crust, smooth with a spatual. Chill for at least 15 minutes.
- For lemon curd layer. Prepare lemon pie filling according to package directions. Add egg yolks, cold water and contents on one package of Shirriff pie filling to a clean medium sized sauce pan. Stir to combine. Add 2 cups hot water, stir well. Bring mixture to a boil over medium high heat and stir until bubbles break the surface. Continue to boil and stir for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and stir to cool. Pour over cheesecake layer. Smooth with a spatual to be certain to reach all corners. Chill at least 3 hours before serving.
- Cut into squares, about 16 large, or 24 smaller depending on number of guests. Serve with whipped cream if desired.
PIN RECIPE FOR LATER
More gluten-free summer dessert bars:
Gluten-free Copy-Cake Starbucks Oat Fudge Bars
I LOVE lemon desserts and this one looks just delightful!
Love it, I bought a store bought graham craquer pie crust and did half a recipe. Will make it again and again
Thanks so much! Glad you liked it
I choose both! I love lemon and chocolate but that's too tough a choice. These look fantastic and love that they're 'almost no bake ' haha!