If you’re a fan of fresh cherries then these simple cherry cheesecake bars are a must this summer. Creamy cheesecake, sweet cherries, and a buttery graham cracker crust make them the ultimate summer treat!
This post is sponsored by Sprouts. As always, opinions are 100% my own—thank you for supporting the brands that make IBK possible!
What’s better than regular cheesecake? Cherry cheesecake bars! Juicy, sweet cherries from Sprouts turn plain old cheesecake into a dessert worthy of a celebration.
Sprouts is my favorite place to buy produce (in summer or any time of year!) because I always know my fruits and veggies will be the best quality I can find—and I’m incredibly picky when it comes to produce! I want my cherries to taste like cherries and my berries to taste like berries.
And that’s so important in this recipe! If your cherries are lacking, your cheesecake bars won’t be as delicious as they can be. So pop on into Sprouts and pick up a pound (or five) of the best cherries you’ll eat all year!
Why you’ll love these cheesecake bars:
- The addition of a little almond extract and lemon zest complements the cherries beautifully
- Putting sour cream in the filling ensures a super creamy cheesecake layer—and isn’t the creaminess why we love cheesecake so much?
- Unlike many cheesecake recipes, this recipe doesn’t require a fussy water bath
How to make your cheesecake bars
Start with the cherry swirl
- Combine cherries, cornstarch, water, and sugar in a small saucepan
- Cook, stirring, until the cherries soften and the mixture thickens
- Puree the cherry mixture, then transfer to a bowl to cool while you proceed
Then move on to the crust
- Combine melted butter, sugar, graham cracker crumbs and a little salt in a bowl
- Stir until the crumbs are evenly saturated with butter
- Press firmly into the bottom of a 9-inch baking dish
You’ll bake the crust for 5 minutes, then move on to the filling
- Beat cream cheese and granulated sugar until very smooth
- Beat in the rest of the filling ingredients
- Pour the filling into the crust
- Dollop the cherry puree over the filling and swirl a little with a butter knife (avoiding the crust!)
- Bake for about 30 minutes, until the filling is almost set. It should look like photo 11 above (the filling will pull away from the sides a little and start to turn golden)
Then cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate overnight. When you’re ready to serve, slice and enjoy!
Recipe notes and tips
• You’ll need about 6 to 7 ounces of cherries. Remove the stems, then pit and slice your cherries in half, then measure out 1 cup.
• I recommend using a cherry pitter to remove your cherry pits. To me, it’s the easiest way. I pit the cherries in a large mixing bowl to avoid splattering juice on my counters.
• When you puree your cherries you can use either a blender or a food processor. You’ll probably need to stop it a few times to scrape down the bowl.
• Be sure your cream cheese is fully at room temperature or you could end up with lumps in your filling.
• Don’t use nonfat or low-fat cream cheese—the cream cheese needs to be full fat for the filling to set properly and have the best flavor.
• The lemon zest in the filling is optional but I recommend using it. The bright lemon flavor is really nice to cut through the sweetness from the cherries and the almond extract.
How to store
Uneaten cheesecake bars can be stored in the fridge, covered, for 3 or 4 days.
They can also be frozen, tightly wrapped, for up to 1 month. Either thaw your bars in the fridge overnight or let them sit on the counter for 20 to 30 minutes (more or less depending on the temperature of your kitchen).
What kind of cherries are best to use?
For this recipe, sweet cherries are best. Use fresh ones, not frozen and definitely not canned pie filling.
Did you make these cheesecake bars? Hooray! Leave me a comment and rating below! And post a pic on Instagram. Tag @theitsybitsykitchen so I can see!
Cherry cheesecake bars feature rich, creamy filling and a swirl of fresh cherry puree. This dessert is a must for summer!
- 1 cup fresh sliced and pitted sweet cherries*
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs from about 8 graham cracker sheets
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 16 ounces full fat cream cheese at room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs
- 1/4 cup full fat sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- Finely grated zest of 1/2 a lemon optional
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Combine the cherries, water, sugar, and cornstarch in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until the cherries have broken down and the mixture is thick and jam-like; it will take about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Stir in the lemon juice.
- Transfer to a blender or food processor and process until pureed; it won’t get completely smooth, which is fine. Scrape into a small bowl and allow to cool while you proceed with the recipe.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Line the pan with foil, allowing several inches to hang over the edges. Spray the foil lightly with cooking spray and set pan aside.
- Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, butter, and salt in a mixing bowl and stir until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 5 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack while you make the filling.
- Combine the cream cheese and sugar in a medium mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium until very smooth.
- Add the flour and beat on low to combine; scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time, then beat in the sour cream, vanilla, almond extract, lemon zest (if using), and salt. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then beat on low for a few more seconds.
- Spread the filling over the crust. Dollop the cherry puree over and swirl a bit with a butter knife, taking care not to disturb the crust.
- Return the pan to the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the edges of the cheesecake are set but the center still jiggles.
- Remove from the oven and run a knife around the edge of the pan. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool completely, then chill for at least 4 hours (or overnight). Use the foil to remove the bars from then pan, then slice and serve.
- *You’ll need about 6 to 7 ounces of cherries. Pit and slice your cherries in half, then measure out 1 cup.
- Uneaten cheesecake bars can be stored in the fridge, covered, for 3 or 4 days. They can also be frozen, tightly wrapped, for up to 1 month.
- Be sure your cream cheese is fully at room temperature or you could end up with lumps in your filling.