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Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars are simply delicious! They’re perfect for a simple dessert, or they’ll dress up nicely with your favorite toppings.

overhead view of Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars served with fresh strawberries

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars

While the word “vanilla” has taken on the meaning of plain or boring, it is anything but those things to me. I am the person who can’t bake with vanilla extract without inhaling deeply over the bottle. Anyone else do that?

These Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars are wonderfully quick and easy to put together. They begin with a simple shortbread crust made with just a few ingredients. Next comes a cheesecake filling that’s equally easy to make. Put it all together for a lovely dessert that you can serve as is or with your favorite toppings.

overhead view of Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars on a wire rack

For the vanilla in these cheesecake bars, you have a few options. You can simply go with vanilla extract if you like. Vanilla bean paste is a great option, too. Or if you’ve got some fresh vanilla beans, then that will work, too. I usually make these either with vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste. Either is great and will give you a lovely dose of vanilla.

These cheesecake bars aren’t overly rich like so many others. The vanilla flavor is so perfectly simple. They are perfectly delicious served just as they are, but you can instead opt to dress them up simply with some fresh fruit. Try topping with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream and some chocolate shavings or cookie crumbs. Get creative!

Tips for Success

  • Measure accurately. Use a scale to measure by weight if possible.
  • Use a light-colored pan. Dark pans tend to bake the outside edges and bottom too quickly, leaving the inside under-baked.
  • Want to make vanilla sugar? Simply place discarded vanilla beans or fresh, split vanilla beans in a container with granulated sugar. (Make sure the beans are completely dry.) After a few hours, you’ll have vanilla sugar! Alternately, you can buy vanilla sugar from many stores.
  • Bring the filling ingredients to room temperature. They’ll mix more easily and give you a smoother batter.
  • Out of half and half? Try one of these substitutes.
  • Use good vanilla. Whether you’re using extract, paste, or a vanilla bean, be sure to use good quality. Vanilla is the star here, so you want it to shine its brightest!
  • Have fun with toppings. Keep it simple with some berries. Or add sweetened whipped cream, chocolate, caramel, or any other topping that sounds good.
  • Chill the bars before slicing and serving. Plan for at least a couple of hours of chilling for best results. Keep any leftovers tightly covered and refrigerated.
Vanilla Cheesecake Bars stacked on a wire rack

These Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars are a delicious celebration of wonderful flavor. This is just the kind of recipe to keep in mind for most any occasion when you want a simple yet amazing dessert!

Find more cheesecake recipes in the Recipe Index.

More Cheesecake Bar Recipes

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars

Yield 24 2-inch bars
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 39 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 4 minutes

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars are subtly sweet and full of vanilla flavor.

overhead view of Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars served with fresh strawberries

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup (67g) vanilla sugar* or granulated sugar
  • 1 & 1/2 cups (180g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the filling:

  • 16 ounces (454g) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (118ml) half & half**
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean, or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
 or vanilla bean paste
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • topping ideas: sweetened whipped cream with fresh berries, chocolate shavings, nuts, or any other topping you like

Instructions


To make the crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9"x 13"x 2" baking pan.
  2. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed to low, and gradually add the flour and salt until mixture is crumbly. Press evenly into the prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes.


To make the filling:

  1. Place the cream cheese, sugar, and half & half in the bowl of a stand mixer or a food processor. Mix until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the mixture, or add extract if using. Add the flour. Mix or pulse until smooth.
  2. 
Pour the filling over the partially baked crust. Bake for 22-24 minutes, or until the filling is set. 
Refrigerate until ready to cut into bars and serve.

Notes

*Vanilla sugar is available in many stores. Alternately, see the note in the Tips for Success above for how to make vanilla sugar.

**If you're out of half and half or just not familiar with it, try a half and half substitute.

Recipe slightly adapted from Baking Bites.

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    30 Comments on “Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars”

  1. I have recipes bookmarked from all over the place to try, lots from your blog too, like those last cookies you posted. These bars look great!

  2. I inhale the fumes from the vanilla bottle as well!! I can’t wait to look into getting vanilla bean extract… I never even knew there was such a thing. And you managed to get a delicious picture of an otherwise boring bar ๐Ÿ™‚ Will add these to my “to try” pile! Thanks!!

  3. The best thing about making cheesecake bars is that they are individually portioned so you can have a small piece and savor it ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I want to have a piece of this, now! ๐Ÿ™‚ Love the specks of vanilla beans in the cheesecake bar!

  5. Oh, “not so rich” rings my bell. Most cheesecake is just too much for me. I want to like it, but after two bites I’ve had enough. Definitely will add this to my own obscenely long list of blogged recipes to try.

  6. Wow, now I am dying to make these.

  7. OMG. I’m so humgry right now…

    I’m a fan of “BorB” and I would like to have your permission to translate some of your recipes to spanish (yes, I’m spanish). Can I?

    Thank you in advance and kisses from Spain.

  8. This looks insanely good! Sometime speople disregard vanilla as plain but when I see those little specs of bean… So luxurious and aromatic. I want some!

  9. I didn’t like vanilla much until I realized I hadn’t have proper, good old vanilla – that changed my mind!

    These bars look delicious, Jen!

  10. I think these look great!

  11. Hi, I’m Claude and I’m cheesecake-addicted…Hi Claude ๐Ÿ˜‰ Sounds really good, I have just to test! Cheers

  12. After the lime bars I made last week I have to give this a go. These look decadent!

  13. Thanks, everyone!

    Morgana, I don’t see why you couldn’t translate them. Enjoy!

  14. Yum! These will be bookmarked!

  15. Ooh, I love the vanilla flecks in this. I’m also a huge vanilla fan… and cheesecake fan… alright, these are going on the to-make list ^__^

  16. WOW. That sounds and looks unbelievably delicious!

  17. Cheesecake is my dessert of choice. Bars would tend to direct me toward portion contol–ha! Gorgeous close-up photo!

  18. I love my vanilla bean extract. And these look perfect!

  19. That looks so good!

  20. That looks soo good! I love vanilla….I love cheescake! The little flecks of vanilla look marvelous!

  21. Thanks! I can attest that these keep well, too. Very good straight from the fridge. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  22. I love cheesecakes I love cheesecakes I love cheesecakes .Stop. You know the truth now. I can’t help thinking that I’ll try this recipe… but like you… I see lots of great recipes on blogs which attract me…
    However, cheesecake is Cheesecake ! And I haven’t spoken about vanilla yet…

  23. Oh my good gracious this looks good. :O

  24. Once you put your hands on good quality vanilla,there is no going back. Smelling the pods always makes me happy! The bars sound truly wonderful!

  25. Sha, canarygirl, and Helen – thanks!

  26. Ahh. Yet another thing for me to bake while I am bored here on my vacation from college ๐Ÿ™‚

    They look amazing.

  27. Ahh. Yet another thing for me to make while I am bored here on my vacation from college ๐Ÿ™‚

    They look amazing.

  28. It looks delicious!
    I never eat cheesecakes…

  29. what is vanilla sugar and where do I get it? Thanks

    • Hi, Mary. Vanilla sugar is just what it sounds like – vanilla-flavored sugar. It’s available at specialty kitchen or cooking stores. Or, you can make your own my placing a couple of vanilla beans in a container of sugar, sealing it tight, and letting the beans add flavor to the sugar.

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