Peanut Butter-Swirled Cheesecake Bars with Brown Sugar-Graham Cracker Crust

I haven’t made cheesecake bars in over a year.

I’m so glad I remedied that with these.

Peanut Butter-Swirled Cheesecake Bars with Brown Sugar-Graham Cracker Crust - Easy, One-Bowl, No-Mixer Recipe at averiecooks.com

They combine so many of my favorite dessert elements in one including a buttery, brown sugar and graham cracker crust.

I adore graham cracker crusts, and it truly makes these bars.

Peanut Butter-Swirled Cheesecake Bars with Brown Sugar-Graham Cracker Crust - Easy, One-Bowl, No-Mixer Recipe at averiecooks.com

I used a trick for the crust that I discovered when I made The Best Lemon Bars and also used in the Peanut Butter Caramel Twix Bars, which is adding a tablespoon of cornstarch to the crust.

I think it prevents the crust from getting overly brittle or being prone to cracking or crumbling. I use cornstarch all the time in cookies because I prefer softer to snappy.

This crust is definitely crunchy, but it didn’t crumble or fall apart, which I find is often the case with graham cracker crusts.

Peanut Butter-Swirled Cheesecake Bars with Brown Sugar-Graham Cracker Crust - Easy, One-Bowl, No-Mixer Recipe at averiecooks.com

For the filling I got away with using light cream cheese. It’s a little counterproductive to use light cream cheese right along with a stick of butter and gobs of peanut butter, but hey, at least the recipe has been tested with light cream cheese and it works. Using light cream cheese can be a gamble, but you’re safe here.

Feel free to use full-fat if you prefer extra cardio.

Peanut Butter-Swirled Cheesecake Bars with Brown Sugar-Graham Cracker Crust - Easy, One-Bowl, No-Mixer Recipe at averiecooks.com

Everything is better with peanut butter swirls, from cake to brownies to cheesecake.

If you’re a cheesecake purist, you can omit the swirls, but I like the break up the visual monotony with swirls and of course, they taste so good. Or use your favorite jam or Nutella swirls.

Peanut Butter-Swirled Cheesecake Bars with Brown Sugar-Graham Cracker Crust - Easy, One-Bowl, No-Mixer Recipe at averiecooks.com

The beauty of these bars is that they can be made in one bowl, and there’s no need to wash it between the layers, which isn’t often the case with layered bars and there’s umpteen dirty bowls for one pan of bars.

Nor do you have to drag out a mixer, another time-saver.

Not having to mess around with making a real cheesecake, baking it in a water bath, or dealing with possible cracks, is even better. I just can’t be bothered with all that.

Peanut Butter-Swirled Cheesecake Bars with Brown Sugar-Graham Cracker Crust - Easy, One-Bowl, No-Mixer Recipe at averiecooks.com

The bars are fast and easy, just the way I like my desserts.

They’re also rich, decadent, and comforting. The graham cracker crust adds texture and crunch, a wonderful counterbalance to the smooth, dense, cheesecake layer.

Peanut Butter-Swirled Cheesecake Bars with Brown Sugar-Graham Cracker Crust - Easy, One-Bowl, No-Mixer Recipe at averiecooks.com

The cream cheese is tangy, the peanut butter is a tiny bit salty, and the crust is so buttery, with notes of caramel from the brown sugar that caramelizes while baking.

I won’t wait another year-plus before making more cheesecake bars after indulging in these.

Peanut Butter-Swirled Cheesecake Bars with Brown Sugar-Graham Cracker Crust - Easy, One-Bowl, No-Mixer Recipe at averiecooks.com

Peanut Butter-Swirled Cheesecake Bars with Brown Sugar-Graham Cracker Crust - The crust is the best part of these easy bars. Okay, no, the big peanut butter swirls are!

Print Print Save Save

Peanut Butter-Swirled Cheesecake Bars with Brown Sugar-Graham Cracker Crust

Dense, rich, and indulgent, these fast and easy bars come together in one bowl, without dragging out your mixer. They're rich, satisfying, and full of tangy flavor from the cream cheese. The peanut butter swirls add a touch of saltiness, while the very buttery, brown sugar and graham cracker crumb crust lends texture with notes of caramel flavor. The crust is so packed with flavor and texture, and just makes the bars. All the flavor of cheesecake, with none of the fussiness or work.

Yield: one 8x8 pan, 9 to 12 generous squares

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: about 35 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

Crust
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon cornstarch
pinch salt, optional and to taste

Filling
1 large egg
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature and very soft (light is okay)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
heaping 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter, melted for swirling

Directions:

  1. Preheat over to 350F. Line an 8x8-inch pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power.
  3. Add all remaining crust ingredients and mix with a fork to combine.
  4. Turn loose crumbs out into prepared pan and using a spatula, pack mixture firmly into pan in an even, smooth, flat layer; set pan aside.
  5. In the same mixing bowl (no need to wash it), combine all filling ingredients except peanut butter, and whisk until smooth and combined, or beat with an electric mixer if preferred. The softer the cream cheese is, the easier the filling comes together.
  6. Pour filling over crust; set pan aside.
  7. In the same mixing bowl (no need to wash it), melt the peanut butter, about 1 minute on high power.
  8. Drizzle peanut butter over batter to create swirls. To create the marbled pattern shown, drizzle peanut butter over batter in 5 wide, evenly spaced, parallel lines, each spanning the length of the pan. Like 5 rows of long train tracks. Rotate pan 90-degrees. With a toothpick, starting at the top of the pan, "draw" 5 evenly spaced lines through the peanut butter. You're dragging the toothpick perpendicularly through the first set of lines to create the marbling.
  9. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until center is set with very little jiggle; some looseness and a very slight jiggle is okay, but there should be not sloshing in the center. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out mostly clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter. Allow bars to cool in pan for about 1 hour before lifting out with foil overhang and slicing; however, I prefer to serve these bars chilled. Cover the pan with foil to prevent fridge smells, and refrigerate mostly cooled bars for at least 2 hours, or overnight or until bars have chilled completely, before slicing and serving.
  10. Bars will keep airtight in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. I prefer to store them in the fridge and serve them slightly chilled.

Recipe from Averie Cooks. All images and content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or simply link back to this post for the recipe. Thank you.

Related Recipes

White and Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Cake Bars

White and Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Cake Bars

 Coconut Spice Cheesecake Bars

Coconut Spice Cheesecake Bars

No-Bake Rolo and Caramel Cheesecake Parfaits

No-Bake Rolo and Caramel Cheesecake Parfaits

Magic Eight Bars – Like 7 Layer Bars, except with 8

Magic Eight Bars

Mini Cream Cheese Pound Cakes – Fast, easy, soft, moist and the recipe makes just two little cakes

Mini Cream Cheese Pound Cakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Glaze - Recipe at averiecooks.com

Homemade Cinnamon Sugar Graham Crackers Smores – I love graham crackers so much, I made my own

Homemade Cinnamon Sugar Graham Crackers Smores averiecooks.com

Softbatch Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies – Pinned over 75,000 times in just a couple months

Softbatch Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies - Recipe at averiecooks.com

Cream Cheese-Swirled Cherry and Mixed Berries Cake – Easy, homemade version of an Entenmann’s cream cheese danish or coffee cake

Cream Cheese-Swirled Cherry and Mixed Berries Cake - Easy Recipe at averiecooks.com

Carrot Cake Loaf with Cream Cheese Frosting – One of my favorite recipes of all time for carrot cake

Carrot Cake Loaf with Cream Cheese Frosting averiecooks.com

Blueberry and Cream Cheese Muffin Top Bread – A whole loaf that tastes like muffin tops

Blueberry and Cream Cheese Muffin Top Bread averiecooks.com

Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze – All the taste of cinnamon rolls, minus the time and effort

Thanks for the entries in the: Chinet Bakeware Giveaway, $250 Philips Airfryer Giveaway, 3-Piece Baking Set, and Gluten-Free Dough Giveaway

What’s your favorite cream cheese or cheesecake recipe?

   

109 Responses to “Peanut Butter-Swirled Cheesecake Bars with Brown Sugar-Graham Cracker Crust”

  1. #
    51
    Valerie — August 21, 2013 at 6:49 am

    Sweet, salty, buttery…yes, yes, yes!! I think it’s cute that you used low fat cream cheese. :D

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — August 21st, 2013 at 1:04 pm

      You would loooooooove this crust. Knowing you, I bet you’d love it! I know I did :)

      Reply

  2. #
    52
    sara — August 21, 2013 at 7:00 am

    Made these last night, and they were AMAZING! Husband and I ate them straight outta the pan when they came out of the oven, so our burnt mouths thank you :) I think I might double the cheesecake next time, to cut the sweetness of that crust. But we’re definitely making this again!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — August 21st, 2013 at 12:43 pm

      Thanks for trying them! So glad you liked them so much! You could probably reduce the brown sugar amount in the crust down to about 2/3 cup and also if you wanted to omit some of the sugar in the cheesecake portion, maybe use 1/4 to 1/3 cup, you could. I didn’t find them overly sweet but if you like your cheesecake even less sweet, then those little tweaks would likely work. But sounds like they were good enough to be devoured straight out of the pan! :)

      Reply

  3. #
    53
    Melanie @ Just Some Salt and Pepper — August 21, 2013 at 7:51 am

    These look incredibly tasty. I also need to check out those coconut spice bars!

    Reply

  4. #
    54
    Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies — August 21, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    I have such a weakness for cheesecake, but the older I get, the more I can’t handle a whole slice–it’s like, whoa, deliciousness overload. Bars are much more manageable. Especially when peanut butter is involved. :)

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — August 21st, 2013 at 12:47 pm

      I know. And with cheesecake, all you need is usually a piece (or just a few bites). Not a huge cake that serves like 14 people :)

      Reply

  5. #
    55
    Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. — August 21, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    Cheesecake and peanut butter! These look glorious!

    Reply

  6. #
    56
    Renee @ Awesome on $20 — August 24, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    These look lovely. I’m definitely trying my next graham cracker crust with brown sugar. Why haven’t I done this yet? These sound awesome!

    Reply

  7. #
    57
    Avi — August 26, 2013 at 6:06 am

    Made these yesterday morning for my brother’s birthday and they were a hit! Even my husband who’s not much of a sweet tooth said that this was the kind of dessert he really likes :) And they were SO easy!! I will definitely be making these again…soon! Thank you Averie!! :)

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — August 26th, 2013 at 1:46 pm

      Thanks for trying these, Avi! Glad you loved them and they’re easy, yes indeed!

      Reply

  8. #
    58
    Nutmeg Nanny — September 3, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    Oh my! I’m so glad you made these :) they look so incredible and I just adore anything peanut butter!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — September 3rd, 2013 at 9:04 pm

      Me too! And even after writing a cookbook about it, I still adore it. Even more so!

      Reply

  9. #
    59
    David Trout — September 7, 2013 at 11:07 am

    They look good. But is there anything to substitute for the cream cheese? I can’t stand cream cheese!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — September 7th, 2013 at 12:58 pm

      It’s impossible to make cheesecake as most people know it without cream cheese.

      You could substitute a Neufantel type of soft cheese but this would require being a fairly good cook and knowing when and where to alter other ratios, like butter, sugar, flour, and baking time.

      Reply

      • David Trout replied: — September 7th, 2013 at 1:02 pm

        Thanks! They looked so good so I had to ask.
        Still unhappy tho! lol

  10. #
    60
    Karey @ Nutty About Health — October 2, 2013 at 11:37 am

    OMG, these look seriously to die for!!! I LOVE PB & cheesecake, so I really need to make these for my next family get together (because I’ll eat them ALL otherwise!). Oh, & I won your book off of Tara’s site – so excited!! :)

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — October 2nd, 2013 at 11:40 am

      Thanks for LMK you were the winner! I just sent your address to my publisher and had no idea who you ‘were’ – thanks for stopping by and saying hi!

      And this cheesecake is so good – wish I had put it in my cookbook! Totally deserves to have been in the book but I didn’t get the idea til just recently :) Keep in touch and LMK if you make this or what you make from my book!

      Reply

  11. #
    61
    Avra-Sha Faohla — November 19, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    Yum! I made these yesterday and ate them today. So simple, but so full of peanut butter and dairy deliciousness! I also love how you use the same bowl three times and assure us that we don’t need to bother washing it. Seriously. It’s wonderful.

    Also, I used yogurt-with-its-whey-squeezed-out instead of cream cheese (because . . . I don’t usually use cream cheese so I don’t have it in my fridge), and I thought it still tasted great! It must taste even better, then, with real cream cheese. ;)

    Thank you for sharing!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — November 19th, 2013 at 10:44 pm

      Wow how creative that you drained yogurt! And yes, I am sure it’s probably better with c.c. but you get major points for being creative! Glad you like the same bowl without washing trick. A nice time-saver :) Thanks for trying the recipe!

      Reply

      • Avra-Sha Faohla replied: — November 20th, 2013 at 5:32 pm

        Thanks! I live in a dorm and work with what I have. ;)

        You’re welcome!

        And thank you for replying to my comment. I know you get lots of comments, and it’s amazing that you’re willing to take the time to reply to all of them!

  12. #
    62
    Gina Sullivan — November 30, 2013 at 4:26 am

    I made these yesterday, they were sinful. The whole plate is now gone and my belly is super happy :-) Thanks for a great recipe!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — November 30th, 2013 at 4:27 am

      So happy to hear you have a happy belly :) Thanks for trying them & glad you loved them!

      Reply

  13. #
    63
    Terri A — February 7, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    I think I found my new favorite dessert! These were fantastic!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — February 7th, 2014 at 6:44 pm

      Thanks for trying the recipe, Terri, and glad you love it!

      Reply

Leave a Comment





Current ye@r *