lemon cream cheese bars


I’m not known for my self-control around desserts (or any food, for that matter) in general, but there are a few extreme cases. One is lemon. I almost never make lemon desserts, because I will eat them, all, until they’re gone, within a very short period of time. The other, which I only realized recently, is cheesecake. When I made cheesecake in a mini muffin pan, I had no resistance to grabbing just one more tiny cheesecake.


And then I saw this recipe, which is a combination of those two things. I was in trouble. I made them for the SuperBowl, thinking that was as good an excuse as any to overeat.

Except I didn’t overeat them. Because surprisingly, these did not knock my socks off.


The base is a standard shortbread lemon bar base. The filling is similar to a regular lemon bar, including lemon juice, zest, eggs, and sugar, but includes cream cheese and sour cream, and leaves out the baking powder included in most lemon bar recipes.


Of course they were good – there’s no way to go wrong with this combination of ingredients. But other than a texture that was a little creamier, I didn’t notice a significant difference between this and a regular lemon bar. The difference in fat content, however, is significant. It looks like I’ll be keeping my lemon bars and my cheesecake separate.


One year ago: Julia Child’s French Bread

Lemon Cream Cheese Bars (adapted from recipezaar)

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
pinch salt
¼ cup powdered sugar
¾ cup (3.6 ounces) unbleached flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch

10 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup (3.5 ounces) sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
5 tablespoons sour cream, room temperature
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
powdered sugar for dusting

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until creamy. Add sugar and salt and mix until it’s thoroughly combined. Add the flour and cornstarch and mix on low until the mixture forms large curds. Press the dough evenly over the bottom of an ungreased 8 by 8-inch baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and set it on a cooling rack while you finish the filling.

2. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the cream cheese for 2 minutes, until it’s completely smooth and creamy. Add the sugar, and lemon zest and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Stop the mixer once or twice to scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the sour cream and lemon juice and beat the mixture on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl. Add the eggs and vanilla and continue mixing until the filling is smooth and creamy, about 30 seconds. Spread the topping evenly over the cooked crust. It’s okay if the crust is still hot.

3. Bake the bars until the top is slightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry, about 1 hour. If the topping bubbles up during baking, prick the bubbles with a toothpick or a thin knife.

4. Allow the bars to cool completely on a rack. Dust them with powdered sugar. Cut them with the point of a thin sharp knife that is dipped in hot water and wiped dry before each cut.


  1. Looks good!! I rarely make lemon or cheesecake desserts either, haha 😀

  2. The bars look good even though you didn’t like them. Have you tried CI’s lemon bars? I have so many lemons I don’t know what to do with them!

  3. Steph – Cooks Illustrated seems to have two very different lemon bar recipes. I’ve made the one in The New Best Recipe, which calls for a lemon curd filling. It was good, but not very similar to a traditional lemon bar. I know they have a recipe for regular lemon bars too, but I haven’t tried it. I’d like to.

    I also should clarify that I didn’t dislike these lemon cream cheese bars by any means.

  4. brannyboilsover says:

    My husband loves lemon bars. I’d like to try out a recipe for them sometime.

  5. Jillian says:

    I made a similar recipe years ago. My hubby is a chocolate lover and I wound up eating almost the whole pan! They are wonderful. 🙂

  6. Really? They didn’t knock your socks off? The certainly sounded like they would and they sure looked good.

  7. I’m with you there on the lemon desserts. Do not let me near a pan of lemon bars at any buffet luncheon because I will be stealing those for later! Thanks for the recipe. The addition of cream cheese seems like a great way to round out the tartness of the lemon.

  8. Nice article and I felt it it to be a step up from prior entries on your blog.

  9. lynn caza says:

    My husband LOVES lemon squares of any type except he has developed an extreme allergy to eggs – Does anyone have a recipe for lemony type desserts that are eggless… Please!!


  1. […] if you want the original, no tinkering recipe, go here. This entry was posted in General and tagged Cooper, food, recipes. Bookmark the permalink. […]

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