Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars are your two favorite desserts in easy, sensationally addicting bar form!

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars.  Welcome to your new addiction.  A buttery graham cracker crust, a creamy cheesecake center and chocolate chip cookie dough top!   Easier than a cheesecake, less time consuming than rolling and batch baking cookies and more delicious than you could ever imagine. These Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars taste even better when made in advance for a stress free make-ahead dessert!

up close stack of Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars with graham cracker crust, cheesecake and cookie dough

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Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars Recipe

These Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars  have been on my “to make” list for years – and they far exceeded my expectations.  I finally made them a couple weeks ago for a girls’ night where we made succulent wreaths, bath bombs, etc.  – and ate and ate and ate.

The Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars were gone minutes after I set the overflowing plate down.  There were eyes rolling back in delight, gaps of “these are incredible” and “who made these?!”  When I grabbed the empty plate at the end of the night, a nearby friend replied, “I have been waiting all night for that plate to be picked so I could see who made those amazing bars – I should have known it was you!”

So, in short, if you need a crowd pleasing dessert this Memorial Day, or any day, I highly recommend these Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars – and your friends and family will think you’re a culinary genius.

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars in a 9x13glass pan waiting to be sliced

Are Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars easy?

YES!  I love dessert bars like my favorite Snickerdoodle Cooke Bars,  Butterscotch Blondies, Peanut  Butter Butterfinger Bars,  Poke Turtle Brownies,  Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars (I’m drooling now) because you don’t have to roll every individual cookie and bake the cookies in batches.  So although this Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars is a multi-step process, they actually take LESS time than cookies!

The recipe also doesn’t require any fancy equipment or techniques like a water bath or spring form pan traditionally required for cheesecake.  You also don’t need to wait in between steps, simply make and bake the crust, prepare the cheesecake filling while it bakes, pour the cheesecake over the crust followed by gobs of cookie dough then bake while magic to happens.

Ingredients for Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars

  • graham crackers:  you will need 16 graham cracker sheets.  I use traditional honey graham crackers. 
  • butter:  use unsalted butter so we can control the salt. 
  • sugar: you will need granulated sugar.
  • cream cheese: I used full fat cream cheese but it will also work with less fat. Please do NOT use nonfat cream cheese.
  • sour cream:  I use full fat sour cream, but reduced or low fat will also work, just with slightly less indulgent results. 
  • egg:  one large egg will do the trick.  It binds the cheesecake together.
  • lemon juice:  bottled or fresh is fine. 
  • vanilla extract:  use quality extract for best results.
  • brown sugar:  use packed light brown sugar.
  • flour:  I use all purpose flour but gluten free baking flour will also work.
  • chocolate chips:  you may also use chopped chocolate.
Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars on a a white pedestal

HOW TO SOFTEN CREAM CHEESE FOR Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars

Cream cheese is a key ingredient in these Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars so it’s important that it is softened correctly in order to produce lump free cheesecake.  To soften cream cheese, you have three options:

  • Water bath:  This is my preferred method to soften cream cheese because it softens it evenly throughout without the risk of “melting” it or scorching it.  To create a water bath, fill a medium bowl with hot water.  Place the sealed, packaged cream cheese in the bowl for 10 minutes to soften.  If it isn’t soft enough after 10 minutes, then dump out the hot water, refill and repeat. 
  • Counter + Microwave:  This is my second preferred method as it is super quick and easy and allows the cream cheese to come to room temperature evenly. Cube cream cheese and transfer to a microwave safe plate.  Microwave for 30 seconds then allow cream cheese to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.  This gives it a head start to soften at room temperature.  I don’t recommend just allowing the cream cheese to sit at room temperature without microwaving or it won’t become soft enough within 60 minutes.  By both microwaving and sitting, we get the best of both worlds. 
  • Microwave:  This method is if you need cream cheese NOW but it is a little more risky because the cream cheese can not only become too soft but can soften unevenly and worst of all, overcook –  so proceed with care and caution.  Cube cream cheese and transfer to a microwave safe plate.  Microwave  for 15-20 seconds, stir and microwave another 10 seconds.  Repeat until cream cheese is softened. 

How to make Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars

These Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars have a few steps but each step is very simple.  Here’s a quick breakdown:  

  • Make crust layer.  Mix the Crust ingredients together until moistened then firmly press into the bottom of a 9×13 pan into an even layer.  Bake for 8 minutes or until lightly golden.
  • Make cheesecake layer.  Beat cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy, followed by egg and sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla. Pour over crust and spread evenly.
  • Make cookie dough layer.  Beat butter, sugars and vanilla in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add egg and beat until combined. Whisk together flour and salt in separate bowl and gradually beat into flour mixture. Mix in chocolate chips.
  • Spread cookie dough.  Take cookie dough by the handful, flatten slightly and place on top of cheesecake. Repeat until cheesecake layer is mostly covered with cookie dough (there will be a few gaps that will spread as the Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars bake).
  • Bake Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars.  Bake at 325 degrees F for 50-60 minutes or until the cookie dough is set and golden on top.
top view of Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars  in a glass 9x13 pan

Tips and Tricks for Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars

  • Leave overhanging handle. When you line your pan with foil, make sure to leave some overhanging the edges so you can easily lift the bars out of the pan. You can also use parchment paper, but I find it is more difficult to mold to the shape of the pan.
  • Use food processor.  The easiest way to make graham cracker crumbs is in your food processor – it literally take seconds!  If you don’t have a food processor, you can crush the crackers in a plastic bag with a rolling pin or side of a can.
  • Swap out the graham crackers. You can use traditional graham crackers or the chocolate graham crackers would also be delicious. You could even use vanilla wafers or another favorite cracker/cookie.
  • Less butter for Oreo crust. If you decide to use Oreos instead of graham crackers for the crust, be aware that you will probably need less butter because the Oreo filling will provide some moisture. Add enough butter and stir until crumbs are moistened.
  • Don’t skip the lemon or sour cream! The both add just the right tanginess to offset the sweetness.  
  • Perfect ratio. The cream cheese layer might seem thinner than what you would like, but reserve judgment until sinking your teeth into the creamy cheesecake – I think it’s the perfect ratio.
  • Don’t overbake your bars! Bake until the cookie dough is set and golden on top but no more because it will continue to bake in the pan while it cools.  If you overbake you’ll get crumbly cookie dough.  Because the cookie dough  gets baked on top of the cheesecake, the part closes to the cheesecake will bake but still retain a cookie dough texture.
  • Cool completely. Let your Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars cool completely in the pan before removing and cutting or they will not transfer or cut cleanly – and they won’t taste as good.
  • Chill bars. I think the bars taste best after being refrigerated for a few hours. When I made the bars for the girl’s night, I actually made them the night before (thus no process shots), covered and refrigerated them and they were sensational the next day.

cheesecake bars variations

  • Use favorite cookie dough recipe. I LOVE these Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars with this chocolate chip cookie dough recipe but you are welcome to use your favorite cookie dough recipe.  You will want to make sure you scale your ingredients so the ratio of flour is about the same.
  • Use store bought cookie dough.  You can certainly use your favorite store bought cookie dough instead of homemade.  You will need 2 (18 ounce) packages chocolate chip cookie dough.
  • Customize cookie dough.  You can also use this same cookie dough recipe and customize it by adding crushed/chopped candy, nuts, etc. or by swapping out the chocolate chips for butterscotch chips, etc.
stack of Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars with homemade cookie dough

How to Store Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars 

These Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars should be tightly covered and stored in the refrigerator.  Let them sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving.

CAN I FREEZE Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars?

Yes!  To freeze Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars:

  • Let bars cool completely before slicing.
  • Line bars on a parchment/nonstick mat lined baking sheet without touching.
  • Place the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze until solid (about 1 hour), this prevents the bars from freezing together later when stored.  Alternatively, you can skip this step and freeze bars individually in their own plastic bag.
  • Transfer bars to a freezer size plastic bag, and place parchment paper in between each row.
  • Freeze for up to 3 months.
  • When ready to eat, defrost individual Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars in the microwave at 20 second intervals or place in the refrigerator to defrost overnight.

Looking for more Cheesecake Recipes?

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars  on a white pedestal

Want to try this Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars Recipe?

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

stack of cookie dough cheesecake bars with graham cracker crust, cheesecake and cookie dough

Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars

Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars are your two favorite desserts in easy, sensationally addicting bar form! A buttery graham cracker crust, a creamy cheesecake center and chocolate chip cookie dough top. Easier than a cheesecake, less time consuming than rolling and batch baking cookies and more delicious than you could ever imagine. These Chocolate Chip  Cooke Dough Cheesecake Bars taste even better when made in advance for a stress free make-ahead dessert!
Servings: 48 bars
Total Time: 1 hr 20 mins
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 50 mins

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Ingredients

Graham Cracker Crust

  • 2 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (16 graham cracker sheets)
  • 9 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

Cheesecake

  • 2 8 oz. pgks Cream Cheese softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Cookie Dough Topping

  • 11 tablespoons butter softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups chocolate chips

Instructions

Graham Cracker Crust

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Line a 9x13 with foil overhanging the sides so you can easily remove it later. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Mix the Crust ingredients together until moistened then firmly press into the bottom of your 9x13 pan in an even layer (I use the back of a measuring cup). Bake for 8 minutes or until lightly golden.

Cheesecake

  • Beat cream cheese and ½ cup sugar on medium speed for 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Beat in egg until incorporated, then add sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla and mix until well incorporated. Pour over crust and spread evenly.

Cookie Dough

  • Beat butter, sugars and vanilla in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add egg and beat until combined. Whisk together flour and salt in separate bowl and gradually beat into flour mixture. Mix in chocolate chips.
  • Take cookie dough by the handful, flatten slightly and place on top of cheesecake. Repeat until cheesecake layer is mostly covered with cookie dough (there will be a few gaps).

Bake

  • Bake at 325 degrees F for 50-60 minutes or until the cookie dough is set and golden on top.
  • Cool completely in the pan before removing the foil insert and cutting into squares.

Storage

  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes or so before serving for the cookie to soften.

Notes

Cookie Dough Variations

  • Use favorite cookie dough recipe. I LOVE these Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars with this chocolate chip cookie dough recipe but you are welcome to use your favorite cookie dough recipe.  You will want to make sure you scale your ingredients so the ratio of flour is about the same.
  • Use store bought cookie dough.  You can certainly use your favorite store bought cookie dough instead of homemade.  You will need 2 (18 ounce) packages chocolate chip cookie dough.
  • Customize cookie dough.  You can also use this same cookie dough recipe and customize it by adding crushed/chopped candy, nuts, etc. or by swapping out the chocolate chips for butterscotch chips, etc.

HOW to FREEZE Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars

  • Let bars cool completely before slicing.
  • Line bars on a parchment/nonstick mat lined baking sheet without touching.
  • Place the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze until solid (about 1 hour), this prevents the bars from freezing together later when stored.  Alternatively, you can skip this step and freeze bars individually in their own plastic bag.
  • Transfer bars to a freezer size plastic bag, and place parchment paper in between each row.
  • Freeze for up to 3 months.
  • When ready to eat, defrost individual Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars in the microwave at 20 second intervals or place in the refrigerator to defrost overnight.

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16 Comments

  1. Melissa Howell says

    Oh my gosh, Jen, you’ve done it again! I wish I were at that girls night! I’ll have to have one of my own and make these! They are like all the perfect desserts in one! (Graham cracker crust is my favorite and makes your kitchen smell HEAVENLY!) Totally adding this to my list of things to make ASAP!

    • Jen says

      I wish you were there too, that would be amazing to meet you face to face!xo I am so excited for you to make these, you will LOVE them!

  2. Karen says

    How come no baking soda?

    • Jen says

      Because we don’t need to leaven the cookie dough 🙂

  3. Tara says

    Made these for days church potluck last weekend and it was loved. My biggest regret was that there weren’t leftovers! Making them again today for a big BBQ we’re having tomorrow. My kids are thrilled. Maybe I should double it!

    • Jen says

      I loved opening my computer up to your comment, thanks Tara! I’m thrilled these are a new favorite!

  4. Kim says

    If you were to use Oreos instead of the graham crackers, would you omit the sugar?

    • Jen says

      Great question! Yes, I would omit the sugar. Enjoy!

  5. Nancy Hatcher says

    My husband LOVES cookie dough, cheesecake and graham crackers! I’m going to make this for his surprise 70th birthday along with rice crispie bars – his other sweet love. I’ll serve it with cookie dough ice cream. He’ll be in sugar heaven! Thank you so much for this recipe….I can quit looking now.

    • Jen says

      Awesome Nancy, I’m so happy you found a dessert your husband will love! I hope you have a fabulous celebration and Happy 70th birthday to him!

  6. Sara Rougeux says

    I was wondering if I could half this recipe and make it in a 8×8 pan?
    Btw, you are my new favorite chef. I have made several of your recipes and have loved every one. I also love that you are a passionate Christian. Thank you for being an inspiration to us all!

    • Jen says

      Hi Sara, sorry for my late response as I’m catching up on old comments but thank you so much for your comment! I’m so happy you are loving my recipes and being inspired by my faith! xo As far as the cheesecake bars, yes yoyu can half the recipe in a 8×8 pan buut just be aware they will probably need less baking time so check them sooner rather than later.

  7. Courtney says

    Hello,

    I was wondering if I want to make this dessert in a 11×15 pan would I double this recipe?

    • Jen says

      Hi Courtney, I would 1.5X the recipe. Enjoy!

  8. Bill Lewis says

    Hi Jen –

    Great recipe! I noticed your comment about parchment paper and wanted to share a tip with you. I take a butter wrapper and wipe it on the bottom and around the sides of the baking dish. The parchment paper adheres nicely and is easy to form to the pan. Thanks again for sharing this wonderful treat.

    • Jen says

      That is a fantastic tip, thank you so much Bill!

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