These creamy cheesecake bars are easier to make than a classic cheesecake—and they’re just as delicious!
For the crust: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Make aluminum foil sling for 8-inch square metal baking pan (click here to learn how to make a foil sling). Spray foil with vegetable oil spray.
Add cracker pieces, flour, salt, and ¼ cup sugar to food processor and lock lid into place. Hold down pulse button for 1 second, then release. Repeat until crackers are broken into small pieces, about five 1-second pulses.
Turn on processor and process until crackers are finely ground, about 30 seconds. Stop processor. Remove lid, add melted butter to processor, and lock lid back into place. Pulse until butter is combined with crumbs, about ten 1-second pulses.
Remove lid and carefully remove processor blade (ask an adult for help). Use rubber spatula to scrape mixture into foil-lined baking pan.
Use your hands to press crumbs into even layer covering bottom of baking pan, then use bottom of dry measuring cup to press crumbs firmly into pan until very flat.
Use oven mitts to remove baking pan from oven (ask an adult for help). Place baking pan on cooling rack and let crust cool for at least 15 minutes. (Do not turn off oven.)
For the cheesecake filling: Add cream cheese and ¾ cup sugar to clean, dry food processor and lock lid back into place. Turn on processor and process until smooth, about 3 minutes.
With processor running, add eggs and vanilla through feed tube and process until just combined, about 30 seconds. Stop processor. Remove lid and carefully remove processor blade (ask an adult for help).
Pour filling evenly over cooled crust, using rubber spatula to scrape out all filling from food processor bowl.
Place baking pan in oven and bake until edges are set and puffed slightly but center still jiggles slightly when baking pan is shaken (ask an adult for help), 30 to 35 minutes.
Use oven mitts to remove baking pan from oven (ask an adult for help). Place baking pan on cooling rack and let bars cool in pan for 2 hours. Cover baking pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate until bars are chilled and firm, at least 4 hours or up to 2 days.
Fresh berries are a great topping for baked goods such as Cheesecake Bars, Olive Oil Cake, or Individual Flourless Chocolate Cakes, but tossing strawberries with sugar (called macerating) takes it to the next level. The sugar draws out juice from the berries and turns them a bright ruby red.
To make strawberry topping: Use paring knife to hull 2 cups (10 ounces) strawberries (see photo, next slide). Slice strawberries and place in medium bowl. Add 1 tablespoon sugar and use spoon to stir until combined. Let sit until sugar has dissolved and strawberries are juicy, at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Spoon over your favorite baked good or ice cream!
Cheesecake is delicious, but baking a big traditional one can be tricky. You have to bake a large cheesecake inside another pan filled with water to make sure it bakes evenly—a fussy and delicate maneuver in the oven. Smaller cheesecake bars are just as delicious, with a crisp graham cracker crust and a tangy, custardy filling, and are much easier to make (no water bath required). Plus, they are portable and easy to share—perfect for bake sales, parties, or any occasion!