Strawberry cheesecake bars are made with a graham cracker base, a subtly sweet, creamy cheesecake with a swirl of delicious strawberry jam!
This easy recipe is a dessert bar version of everyone’s favorite classic cheesecake. It can be with any of your favorite jam flavors, but since the warmer weather is here, I can’t think of a better way to enjoy the juicy flavors of sweet strawberries! Strawberry Poke Cake and Strawberry Crumble are a couple of other family favorites you’ve got to check out.
Table of contents
An Easy Dessert Bar Recipe
These easy cheesecake bars take everything we love about the irresistible flavors of a classic baked cheesecake and turn it into a hand held version perfect for nibbling on the go! They are a fresh and light, yet decadent summertime dessert with a delicious balance of buttery crust and creamy cheesecake filling. Besides, who doesn’t love a portable dessert?! They are great for weekend barbecues or special occasions
These bars are made with a delicious, buttery graham cracker crust, much like you’d find in a regular cheesecake, and on top of that sits a thick, sweet and creamy cream cheese mixture with swirls of strawberry jam. They’re bursting with sweet strawberry flavor!
I love making these any time there’s a gathering of any kind, especially when there is a dessert table with more than one mini dessert. It gives people a chance to sample a bit of everything, plus they are always a crowd favorite and usually the first things to go. Mostly because people can’t stop at just one!
Why we love this recipe
- Quick and easy and comes together in under 1 hour. It’s the chill time that requires a bit of patience!
- Always a hit at parties, especially because you can just grab one and mingle.
- Can use store-bought or homemade strawberry jam.
- Great for BBQs, potlucks, and picnics because they don’t need warming up.
- A great year-round dessert especially when using storebought jam and can pick and choose different flavors depending on the season.
- Freezer friendly so keep leftovers for later on! Better yet, make two batches.
- Similar to Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars, another recipe we love
- Graham cracker crumbs – A common ingredient in any cheesecake base. It’s sweet but not overly sweet, holds together well, and has a crispy crunchy texture.
- Brown sugar – Gives the crumb base a deeper color, added sweetness, and a depth of flavor.
- Butter – When melted, it helps to bind and form the crust. It also gives it a buttery note which takes it over the top.
- Cream cheese – Used as the foundation for the cheesecake layer.
- Granulated sugar – Needed for sweetness to counterbalance the tart cream cheese and sour cream.
- Sour cream – When combined with the cream cheese, it adds a bit of lightness to the creamy texture. Cream cheese on its own is heavy, adding sour cream lightens it up.
- Vanilla extract – A lovely flavor added to bring out the taste of the cheesecake.
- Eggs – We use eggs in a baked cheesecake to help bind the layer and keep it from falling apart.
- Strawberry jam – Swirls of strawberry jam are what give this dessert its scrumptious strawberry flavor. Biting into a piece with jam in it is everything!
How to Make Strawberry Cheesecake Bars
This recipe will come together quickly and effortlessly but will require a few hours to set. Sit tight, it’s definitely worth the wait!
Step 1: Combine graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and melted butter until crumbs are moist. Press the crust mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan lined with parchment paper and bake in a preheated oven for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Step 2: In a large bowl, blend cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer or stand mixer on medium speed until light and creamy.
Step 3: Add the sour cream and vanilla extract and combine well before adding the eggs one at a time. Mix in each egg until corporated before adding another one. Scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure everything is mixed in.
Step 4: Pour the cheesecake mixture onto the baked crust and add spoonfuls of strawberry jam on top. Gently swirl them in using a knife or toothpick.
Step 5: Bake until completely set and then allow it to cool at room temperature for an hour before chilling in the fridge for another 2 hours.
1: Substitute fresh strawberries for the strawberry jam if desired.
2: Make a buttery shortbread crust instead of graham cracker crust by using one cup of all-purpose flour, ¼ cup white sugar, and a stick of butter with the same mixing and pre-baking directions for the graham cracker crust.
3. Use a different flavor of jam, for example, blueberry, raspberry, cherry, or apricot, for a completely different option.
4. Add in a little lemon juice or lemon zest to your cheesecake filling for a bright lemony flavor. Lemon and strawberries are always a good idea.
- Pulse graham crackers in a food processor to get fine crumbs.
- Sprinkle with powdered sugar after cutting if desired.
- Serve topped with whipped cream if desired.
- Don’t skimp on chill or set time. It makes for clean lines when slicing to serve a crowd, and it won’t fall apart in your hands.
- Overmixing your ingredients could lead to cracks in your cheesecake. This happens when there is too much air, to begin with, and then it collapses later on.
- Overbaking could also cause cracks in your cheesecake topping, so keep an eye out.
- Bring the cream cheese to room temperature about 30 minutes before you begin.
- Use the back of a spoon or your fingertips to press the crust down into the pan before baking. That helps keep it together.
Usually, around the 30-35 minute mark, you’ll be able to check. That should be enough time, but a way to make sure is to give it a gentle jiggle. If it is still moving a bit, give it a little longer. It shouldn’t move at all, however also be careful not to overbake!
Keep any leftovers (if you’re lucky enough to have any) in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Oh yes, you can, and you should! It will definitely come in handy later on when unexpected guests arrive! If you have made an entire batch you want to keep frozen you can freeze it whole, once it has completely cooled, or in individual portions. Wrap it in plastic wrap and keep it in an airtight container or freezer-friendly bag for up to 1 month.
Strawberry Cheesecake Bars
For the Crust
- 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons butter melted
For the Cheesecake
- 16 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 4 tablespoons strawberry jam
For the Crust
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Spray an 8×8 baking dish nonstick baking spray and also line with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, add graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and melted butter and stir for about 30 seconds to combine well and all of the cracker crumbs are moistened with the butter.
- Pour the crust mixture into the prepared dish and press it into the bottom of the pan with the back of a spoon or your fingertips.
- Bake the crust for 5 minutes and set aside to cool slightly while make the filling.
For the Cheesecake Filling
- In another bowl, add cream cheese and sugar and blend with a mixer on medium speed until it is light and creamy.
- Then add the sour cream and vanilla extract and mix to combine well.
- Next, add the eggs one at a time and mix each in until incorporated.
- Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure everything full mixed in.
- Pour the cheesecake mixture onto the baked crust.
- Add spoonfuls of the strawberry jam on top of the cheesecake layer and gently swirl the jam around the top.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the center is set completely (the center will not jiggle if you gently shake the dish)
- Allow the cheesecake to cool to room temperature for an hour and then place it to the refrigerator for approx. 2 hours to cool completely