These from-scratch Cherry Cheesecake Bars feature a swirl of fresh cherries in a sweet, simple cheesecake bar.
My first cheesecake experiences happened in my childhood and were all thanks to that no-bake mix topped off with a can of cherry pie filling. And I have to tell you that I felt quite strongly that it couldn’t get any better than those cheesecakes. Now, of course, I’ve seen the cheesecake light with the sheer joy (and surprising low effort!) of homemade versions.
Recently, I got my first bunch of cherries of the summer. My usual fresh fruit habit is to grab up whatever is in season without really knowing what I’ll do with it. But as soon as I saw those cherries, I knew I wanted to try a bit of a twist on a cherry-topped cheesecake.
I opted for bars instead of a traditional round cheesecake. Baking cheesecake in bar form allows you to cut way back on oven time. That’s a plus on a hot day or even when you just want to speed up the baking process.
I also decided to skip the traditional cherry topping that’s usually spread on top of cheesecake in favor of a swirl of cherry flavor. Instead of having a clear division of cheesecake and topping, that beautiful swirl gives you little bites of cherry all throughout the cheesecake.
I did stay true to tradition by starting with a graham cracker crust. If you prefer, another type of cookie crust would work as well. Try lemon, almond, or vanilla cookies for a little variety.
I really like the subtle bite of lemon in these bars, but cherries and vanilla are great friends, too. If you like, substitute 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract in the filling, and 1/2 teaspoon in the cherry swirl.
Now that I’ve made this homemade version of a childhood favorite, I can tell you without reservation that these Cherry Cheesecake Bars are far better than those cheesecakes I used to adore. Sure, there’s a bit more effort than you’d need with a mix and a can, but you’ll know that it was absolutely worth it when you take that first bite!
Rich cheesecake gets swirled with sweet cherries in these delightful Cherry Cheesecake Bars!!
For the cherry swirl:
2 cups cherries, pitted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
juice of 1/2 medium lemon
For the crust:
10.5 ounces (298g) graham cracker crumbs
10 tablespoons (141g) unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
For the filling:
16 ounces (454g) cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
3 large eggs
juice of 1/2 medium lemon
To make the cherry swirl:
Combine the cherries and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Then decrease heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch and lemon juice. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes, or until thickened.
Set aside to cool.
To make the crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9"x 13"x 2" baking pan.
Combine the cookie crumbs, butter, and brown sugar until thoroughly combined. Press the mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.
Bake 10 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
To make the filling:
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and lemon juice until thoroughly combined and smooth. Pour onto the partially baked crust, and spread evenly.
Transfer the cooled cherry mixture to a blender or food processor. Process until there are no large pieces of cherries remaining. The mixture should be pourable.
Spoon the cherry mixture over the top of the filling. You'll want to cover it well with small spoonfuls of the mixture.
Use a thin knife to swirl the cherry mixture into the filling.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until the bars are set and a pick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool to room temperature. Then cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours before serving.
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13 Comments on “Cherry Cheesecake Bars”
Just baked these using sour cherries(or Morello cherries) which we have in abundance and they came out fruity and delicious. Thank you for another easy, great recipe!
Those sound awesome! Perfect use for fresh cherries 🙂
Wow – these look so delicious! And scatter some blueberries over top and on the platter and you’ve got your red, white and blue 😉
Congratulations on your book! It looks wonderful – can’t wait!
Thank you, Marla! 🙂
Yes! These are the perfect size for summer. Light and easy!
That looks great! Thanks for sharing!
I made these yesterday, very good.😙
Do you think frozen cherries would work in this recipe. I love all your recipes! Not 1 has failed me and believe me I have tried quite a few of yours.
Keep ‘me coming!
Hi, Paula. I don’t often use frozen fruits, but I think that could work. I would rinse and dry them before using.
I’m confused. The directions say: “Combine the cherries and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Then decrease heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.” There is no liquid to boil — did you leave out a step or ingredient?
The sugar will melt as it heats, creating some liquid.
I made these, and my filling turned out more like a custard instead of a thicker cheesecake. I also had to bake 20 minutes longer than the recipe called for because it was so jiggly. I double checked measurements and my egg size and made sure my cream cheese was room temperature also. I think the cream cheese and the sugar should have been creamed first instead of mixing everything at once. Is this what I did wrong or can someone suggest anything? I really wanted these to turn out because I like the cherry swirl instead of the topping. Help!!
I’m sorry you had troubles, Wendy! I’ve not had that issue when I’ve made these, so I don’t know what’s different. That much of a difference in texture is concerning. If you didn’t change anything at all about the recipe, then it has to be ingredients, temperature, or mixing. Full-fat brick (not whipped) cream cheese works best. Eggs shouldn’t be straight from the refrigerator, especially if your cream cheese is at room temperature. Also, your oven temperature could be off because you mentioned it taking longer to bake. You can check that with an oven thermometer. Too much mixing can change the texture, too, although I wouldn’t expect the extreme you described. I hope that helps!