The night before heading home last week, I carefully carried a paper plate brimming with brownies over to my friendly next-door neighbors. After quietly knocking, I heard Little C’s voice call out: “Is it Amy?” When his mom opened the door to greet me, he and Miss M, his older sister, rushed out in their PJs to say hi.
The four of us chatted on their front porch for a few minutes, occasionally interrupted by the 4- and 7-yeard old kids each running to their rooms to bring out a toy to show me. Little C demonstrated how his stuffed puppy actually barked and ran, while Miss M pointed out the big black wings on her Barbie-like Frankenstein’s daughter doll.
Eventually, Little C turned to his mom and revealed, “Amy let us go into her house last time! Can she come inside ours?”
The poor mother… She was just trying to read her children a few books before bed, but they decided that they’d rather spend that time talking to me!
She immediately invited me in, where her adorable kids continued to show me more pink-haired dolls, a Disney mash-up short story book (which I nearly borrowed for myself!), and a homemade pipe-cleaner tarantula. After admiring each one and discussing our fall moving plans with their mom, I finally politely excused myself so she could usher her children into bed.
Despite my stressed mood before stopping by—desserts to bake, dinner to make, dishes to wash, and a dog to walk—that tension immediately melted away with the kids’ parting hugs. They always brighten my day!
Just like these Skinny Lemon Gingersnap Cheesecake Bars will brighten yours! Each creamy square is packed with sunshiny citrus flavor, and the subtly spicy crust pairs with it perfectly. Even with their luscious texture and taste, these sweet treats are still low-calorie and packed with protein. In my world, they’re practically health food!
Although my guy rarely eats desserts, he can never resist lemon treats and spicy gingersnaps—that’s how this beautiful combination came to be! We both adore Trader Joe’s Ginger Cat Cookies, so I crushed those up for the base. I used 80 cookies, which produced about 1¼ cups of crumbs. To hold the crumbs together, I mixed in part melted butter and part applesauce, which helped lower the fat and calories. But with the strong ginger flavor, you can’t taste the applesauce at all!
Most of the flavor in the filling stems from lemon zest. Do NOT skip it! You’ll need a medium-sized lemon to obtain the 1 tablespoon of zest, but if you accidently grate a little more, add that in too. There’s never such a thing as too much of that bright sunshiny flavor!
I prefer my cheesecake on the sweeter side and with more vanilla flavor than cheese. I don’t want to feel as if I’m eating a bagel with schmear for dessert! I always add in more vanilla extract than many other recipes call for, and in these healthy bars, it perfectly complements the lemon and helps its summery flavor shine.
Just like with regular round cheesecakes, bake these bars just until the center barely jiggles when gently shaken. It’ll continue to cook through and set as it cools on your countertop. Please oh please, do not overbake them! They’ll turn out tough and rubbery instead of smooth and creamy the way we want our bars to be.
I haven’t tried it myself, but you could probably make these in individual muffin cups instead. Bake them at the same temperature, and start checking around 15-18 minutes. Either way—bars or cups—they’ll still need to chill for a few hours before serving. The waiting is painful, but the sweet reward is totally worth it!
These Skinny Lemon Gingersnap Cheesecake Bars taste just like summer: light, sunshiny and fun! As I bit into one, I immediately pictured myself sitting poolside under a palm tree with little kids splashing and giggling in the background. With their irresistible refreshing flavor and subtle ginger zing, that mental image just might become reality…
All of the men in my family request lemon desserts for their birthdays, and they have quite a few coming up during the summer season!
These low-fat cheesecake bars taste like summer: bright, sunshiny & full of flavor! The subtly spiced gingersnap crust perfectly complements the light citrus filling, making for one irresistible treat. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator covered in plastic wrap for up to 6 days.
- Preheat the oven to 300°F, and lightly coat an 8”-square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- To prepare the crust, stir together the gingersnap crumbs, butter, and applesauce. Press evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan, and bake at 300°F for 6 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
- While the crust bakes, prepared the filling. Add the cream cheese, sugar, and lemon zest to a medium bowl, and beat until smooth. Add the egg white, flour, vanilla, and lemon juice, and beat until thoroughly incorporated. Spread on top of the cooled crust.
- Bake at 300°F for 28-33 minutes, or until the center barely jiggles when gently shaken. Cool completely to room temperature before covering the top with plastic wrap, ensuring that the plastic wrap completely touches the entire surface of the cheesecake. Chill for at least 3 hours before slicing into squares.
View Nutrition Information + Weight Watchers Points
wow, so easy! I should try these on the weekend. Love cream cheese and lemon zest combo!
Thank you! I really hope you enjoy the cheesecake bars. These were one of my favorite flavor combinations too!
again it’s me. I recently found out that the american nonfat milk products are similar to the german 0,2% fat products. So I am now into testing your delicious looking cheesecakes. My question is if it is possible to use the “pretzel bottom” from your Skinny Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cheesecake Bars and how does it change the nutrition information?
The pretzel crust would work just fine Jaci! If you’d like to see how it would affect the Nutrition Information, this is the calculator I use. I hope you enjoy the cheesecake bars!
I have just discovered your website and I cannot wait to try your delicious recipes!
My first choice will be these incredible looking Lemon Gingersnap Cheesecake Bars – I live in Australia and we don’t have fat free cream cheese here, so my question is whether it would be possible to substitute a mix of cottage cheese and Greek yoghurt is the same quantities for the nonfat cream cheese?
Or if there is a better substitute you know of, I’d be very happy to hear about that too.
Many thanks 🙂
Thanks for your kind words about my recipes Emily! If you can find Neufchâtel cream cheese or Greek yogurt cream cheese, those would be my top two choices, and I’d recommend using 1 (8 oz) block of either one of those plus 1 cup (240g) of plain nonfat Greek yogurt in place of the 2 blocks of fat-free cream cheese. I would also recommend substituting cornstarch for the flour since it’ll thicken the cheesecake bars better when substituting for the fat-free cream cheese. 🙂 I hope you can find the ingredients for one of those substitutions and you enjoy the recipe!
Thank you for getting back to me so quickly, and with such helpful information.
I found something very similar to the Neufchâtel cream cheese and used that plus the Greek yoghurt you suggested and it worked really well. Your combination of lemon and vanilla is inspired – so delicious, fresh and light 🙂
Am I right in thinking I can use the Neufchâtel + Greek yoghurt combination you suggested for all the recipes using nonfat cream cheese and just adjust the quantities accordingly? e.g. for 3 blocks nonfat cream cheese, use one and a half blocks Neufchâtel and one cup and a half Green yoghurt?
I’m glad that substitution worked for you Emily! I think it should work for most of my other cheesecake recipes, and I’d love to hear what you think of those if you try them, too! 🙂
Hi Amy, I stumbled onto your recipe for Lemon Snickerdoodke cookies and made them. They were so delicious and so easy to make. That was my first time baking. I love baking now. Now I’m trying your other recipes. My kids love helping too. Thanks for your wonderful and healthier but delicious recipes. I’ve tried other healthier recipes and they don’t taste the same.
I’m so honored that you’re enjoying my recipes Stefanie! That means the world to me — thank you so much for taking the time to let me know!! 🙂 I can’t wait to hear what you and your kids decide to try making next!
Why do you put the plastic wrap on the surface of the cheesecake bars? Doesn’t it stick?
No, it doesn’t stick! Just make sure your cheesecake bars have cooled completely to room temperature first. If you don’t let the plastic wrap touch the surface of the cheesecake bars, then lots of condensation develops on the plastic wrap… And all of that water then falls onto the cheesecake bars when you remove the plastic wrap from the pan. 🙂 I can’t wait to hear what you think of these cheesecake bars! (And I love your name! 😉 )
Did anyone else have a heck of a time getting the filling to set? I made this today and I kept adding time, in total it was in the oven for almost an hour, still at 300. It was kind of hot and humid here today, if that matters, I had the A/C on indoors. Anyone have any thoughts?
I really appreciate your interest in my recipe Jesse! That’s so odd that it took that long for the filling to set. It should be done when the center still jiggles slightly but the edges stay firm. How was the texture of the chilled cheesecake bars once you sliced into them and ate one?