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Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars

These Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars prove that vanilla is anything but boring! A fragrant, rich cheesecake is layered over buttery shortbread for a swoon-worthy treat.

overhead view of Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars served with fresh strawberries

Easy Homemade Cheesecake Bars

While the word “vanilla” has become associated with plain and boring, good vanilla is an experience. Just think about the smell of a vanilla bean simmering on the stovetop with milk to make a custard, or the scent that wafts out of a bottle of real vanilla extract when you unscrew the cap. Plain? Boring? Hardly

So for my fellow vanilla lovers out there, this recipe for Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars is for you. Needless to say, the vanilla flavor really shines in this recipe; you can use a high-quality vanilla extract, paste, or vanilla beans to make it. If you’d like, you can serve your bars with macerated berries or a drizzle of chocolate sauce, but personally, I don’t want anything competing with the vanilla.

(Want something a little more formal than bars? I also have a recipe for traditional Vanilla Bean Cheesecake.)

I should also mention that this recipe is easy to make for a cheesecake. You’ll whip up a simple shortbread crust, press that into the bottom of your pan and bake it, then top that with a layer of cheesecake. You can make it in the afternoon and it will be chilled and ready to serve by the time you’re finishing up with dinner!

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bar ingredients

What You’ll Need

While the ingredients here are simple, there are a few things you’ll want to take note of!

For the crust:

  • Unsalted butter – The butter should be left on the countertop to soften.
  • Vanilla sugar or granulated sugar – See below for instructions on making vanilla sugar.
  • All-purpose flour – Measure by weight for best results.
  • Salt

For the filling:

  • Cream cheese – Your cream cheese needs to be room temperature, otherwise it will be difficult to mix the filling.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Half-and-half – Or try one of these half-and-half substitutes.
  • Eggs – Your eggs will also need to be room temperature.
  • Vanilla – This could be the seeds of a vanilla bean, vanilla extract, or vanilla bean paste. Whichever you choose, make sure it’s a high-quality brand. Vanilla is the star here, so you want it to shine its brightest!
  • All-purpose flour
  • Optional toppingsSweetened whipped cream with fresh berries, chocolate shavings, nuts, or anything else you like. Pretty much everything goes with vanilla!

Instructions for Vanilla Sugar

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, the flavor of the vanilla bean will infuse into the sugar and you’ll have vanilla sugar! You can also buy vanilla sugar from many stores.

How to Make Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars

There are two parts to this recipe: the crust and the filling. Both are easy enough to make in one go, although you can make the crust up to a day ahead if you like.

To make the crust:

Prepare. Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease a 9x13x2-inch baking pan.

Make the shortbread dough. Use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until it’s smooth and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to low, then slowly add the flour and salt until the mixture is crumbly.

overhead view of shortbread crust dough in a metal baking pan

Bake. Transfer the dough to the pan and press it into the bottom, making sure it’s evenly distributed. Bake for 15 minutes.

To make the filling:

overhead view of cheesecake batter in a mixing bowl

Combine filling ingredients. Place the cream cheese, sugar, and half-and-half in the bowl of a stand mixer or a food processor. Mix until smooth, then add the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla and flour, and mix until smooth.

overhead view of vanilla cheesecake bars ready for the oven

Assemble and bake. Pour the filling over the shortbread crust, then place the pan in the oven and bake for 22 to 24 minutes, or until the filling is set.

Overhead view of cheesecake bars on parchment-lined wire rack

Cool and chill. Cool to room temperature before refrigerating the bars; once they’re chilled, you can cut them and serve.

Tips for Success

Here are some tips for perfect cheesecake bars:

  • Measure accurately. Use a scale to measure by weight, if possible.
  • Use a light-colored metal pan. Dark pans tend to bake the outside edges and bottom too quickly, leaving the inside under-baked.
  • Chill the bars before slicing and serving. Plan for at least a couple of hours of chilling for best results. (Warm cheesecake is not very appetizing!) Keep any leftovers tightly covered and refrigerated.
overhead view of Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars on a wire rack

How to Store

Cheesecake bars will last about a week in the refrigerator. Wrap the bars tightly with plastic wrap or place them in an airtight storage container. 

Can This Recipe Be Frozen?

Yes, you can freeze these cheesecake bars. Wrap them individually and place them in a freezer bag or airtight storage container. They’ll keep for about 3 months; let them thaw in the refrigerator before serving.

Vanilla cheesecake bars stacked on wire rack

More Cheesecake Bar Recipes

Overhead view of cheesecake bars on wire rack and stacked on a plate with strawberries

Video Tutorial: Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars

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

These easy cheesecake bars prove that vanilla is anything but boring!

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. 
Cool the bars and then refrigerate until ready to cut into bars and serve.

Notes

*Vanilla sugar is available in many stores. Alternately, see the note in the "What You'll Need" section 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 🙂 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 🙂

  4. I want to have a piece of this, now! 🙂 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 😉 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. 😉

  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 🙂

    They look amazing.

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

    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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