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!

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.

Did you make this recipe?

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 8×8-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.

Only Eats

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?

112 comments on “Peanut Butter-Swirled Cheesecake Bars with Brown Sugar-Graham Cracker Crust”

  1. Cornstarch can do anything, can’t it? I love cheesecake bars. Yum!

  2. I just organised an extra cardio session (or three), so I’m good to go.

  3. Totally loving this crust, Averie. I’m drooling just looking at it and really wish I had some to crumble into my yogurt this morning!

    • I never want to make any other kind of crust! It reminds me a bit of the Tosi crust she used in Crack Pie, but basically ZERO work, as opposed to hours and hours :) I didn’t even plan for that – it was just sort of a happy accident that that’s what it came out tasting like.

  4. Um, yes please! I think I could just eat the cheesecake/PB topping part all day long. What a great combo!

  5. Why would you ever want a plain cheesecake when there is a swirl option? Swirls all the way! You have so many tricks I need to start incorporating into my own baking. Love the recipe!

  6. I made some shortbread bars last week using Ree Drummond’s Shortbread Cookie Recipe and she calls for A TON of cornstarch!!! But they are soft and yummy — I loved them! Cornstarch is like the soft cookie magic trick. Anyway… let’s talk cheesecake and peanut butter. I mean… does it really get any better than that? I don’t think it does. These are GORGEOUS!!!

    • I just went to her site and found the recipe b/c if you made them, I know they’ve gotta be good! I am normally not one for shortbread cookies b/c I find them brittle, boring, dry, etc. But those look super good. And yes, cornstarch is like a big magic trick :)

  7. Cheesecake will always get me. Love it so much! These pb-swirled bars look fabulous, Averie! Pinning!

  8. You know I love a good cheesecake bar! They are just so much less daunting than baking an entire cake. Your PB swirled version looks great, Averie. So many peanut butter recipes on AC lately and I love it. The brown sugar graham cracker crust pairs so wonderfully with the creamy, nutty filling. I would love to sink my teeth into a huge square this instant!

    • I know you’re the cheesecake bar queen. I actually thought of that after I made these. Hopefully they’re different enough than anything you’ve made – I think they are! The crust, Sally, I am not even a crust person and this crust is to die for. I want to use it on every pie forever. lol

      And so many PB recipes. I know. It actually wasn’t planned (that’s sort of the problem) – I didn’t pre-think my content going into my trip as much as I should have, and by default, PB is easy to bake with and forgiving so many Aruba recipes are PB and others I had pre-done, were also PB. So it’s been one big PB fest. Even after writing a book about it, I still do not get sick of it!

  9. You must be the dessert queen my dear, these and all your goodies always look so amazing!

  10. The crust is always my favorite part of cheesecake, and this one sounds especially delicious!

  11. Wow it has been over a year for me too since i cooked up bars like this! The first time I made them were some red velvet swirled cheesecake brownies; this post bring back good memories of that slice.

    I would love to recreate this at home using other nut butters. Lovely pics Averie!

  12. These are fantastic looking – your photography is awesome too!!

  13. Hmm… peanut butter and cheesecake the perfect combination!

  14. OMGosh!! With a drizzle of hot fudge on top……to die for!!!

  15. I can live on these! Cheesecake + Bars = Happy Belly!!!

  16. Oh my gawwwd! These look incredible! And same, lots of my favorite dessert elements in one. May have to make this for the weekend as I’m visiting with my boyfriend’s family for a quick trip. I’m sure these will impress!!

  17. You mentioned using corn starch in cookies to make them softer. How much and do you substitute it for something else in the recipe?

    • When you are reading the post, all the words in that sentence are hyper-linked to various cookie recipes that use cornstarch. Roll your cursor over them to click on the links and open those posts where you will find the appropriate recipes. Enjoy!

  18. Great job Averie, those look delicious!

  19. I’m so glad you made these…a year without some cheesecake bars is a long time! Pinning these for sure! And you know I’ll be having these on my baking list. (=

  20. I love pb-cheesecake combo.
    I also love to go crazy on the crust.
    And I’m with you on not dragging out the mixer.
    Would you believe, I still do not have a kitchen aid mixer?
    Yep, it’s all by hand.
    Not very proud of it, but LOL, I deal.

    • I honestly didnt have a stand mixer til maybe 2 yrs or so ago. I did everything by hand or with a handheld. It IS awesome for bread dough kneading and making cookies. But it’s a bigger production to clean, etc. So if you can resist it and have lived this long without one, keep on, keeping on!

  21. Love using cornstarch in baked goods, the result is amazing every single time! As is this recipe which I am drooling over now.

  22. Hah, “fast and easy” is my middle name! (hmmm…that doesn’t sound too good…). I have full fat cream cheese in my fridge right now and would it be bad of me to use it and NOT do the extra cardio (or any cardio at all?). Since I’m doing a terrible job of promoting myself I’ll just stop right here and say that these cheesecake bars look phenomenal! Yay for one-bowl recipes that don’t use the mixer!

  23. Wow! I love anything with peanut butter and anything with cheesecake! These look amazing…Drooling over here.

  24. You have me totally hooked on the cornstarch in my cookie batter trick, Averie, so I can’t wait to try it this way too! Love the texture of that crust!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.