Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars
Filed Under: Bar Dessert | Cheesecake

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars

November 17th, 2022
4.25 from 4 votes
4.25 from 4 votes

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars feature a crunchy chocolate cookie base, tangy, rich, creamy cheesecake filling, and a tart but sweet fresh cranberry swirl. These bars are so pretty, so delicious, and perfect for the holidays!

Yield: 9 bars

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook: 50 minutes

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: Tangy, sweet, fresh, and rich.
Texture: The crust is firm and crunchy while the filling is incredibly smooth and luscious.
Ease: Much easier than a full-sized cheesecake yet just as impressive.
Pros: Easier, faster, more easily-transportable, and a little lighter than traditional cheesecake. These would make a great festive treat for any holiday party. Plus, they’re so darn pretty!
Cons: None.
Would I make this again? Yes, definitely.

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These Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars will give you a whole new appreciation for the humble cranberry.

sliced Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars on parchment paper

Cranberries have been sentenced to a pretty boring job. Most of us only eat with our Thanksgiving meal, or in dried form as an afterthought on a salad.

Which is such a shame, because their sweet yet tart flavor and brilliant gem-like color are such fun to bake with!

Take these cranberry swirl cheesecake bars. The tartness of the cranberries enhances the tanginess of the cream cheese. But there’s also a touch of acidity in the cranberries that cuts through the richness of the filling. Add a chocolate cookie crust and you have a burst of flavor and texture in every bite!

close up showing the texture of the Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars

I love baking cheesecake bars. They’re much quicker and easier than a full cheesecake. Plus with cheesecake being so rich, you really don’t need more than a square to satisfy the craving.

Cheesecake bars are also perfect for entertaining. They are so much easier to transport and serve. You can cut these into smaller pieces for a party. I hope you’ll make them for your friends, family, or coworkers this holiday season!

a slice of cheesecake bar on a plate with a fork, ready to enjoy

How to Make Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars

Help! I Can’t Find Chocolate Graham Crackers!

Feel free to use the same amount by weight of chocolate Teddy Grahams or chocolate wafer cookies instead if you’re unable to find chocolate graham crackers. 

What Kind of Cream Cheese Should I Use for Cheesecake Bars?

  • Be sure to use blocks of full-fat, high-quality cream cheese.
  • Do not use reduced fat or your cheesecake bars may be watery, rubbery, or otherwise lackluster.
  • Definitely don’t use whipped cream cheese or cream cheese for spreading on a bagel.
  • Opt for the best brand you can find as some generic brands have too much water content!

How to Make Smooth and Creamy Cheesecake Bars

  • Be sure your cream cheese is COMPLETELY softened to room temperature. Beat it very well with the sugar and vanilla.
  • Once you add eggs, only beat until just combined. Once you add the flour, be super cautious to mix until only just combined, to prevent your cheesecake bars from sinking, cracking, or becoming rubbery. 
  • Also, be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of your bowl as well as your mixer attachment frequently, to prevent lumps.

What is the Best Pan for Cheesecake Bars?

I highly recommend using a light-colored metal 8×8-inch baking pan for this Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars recipe. We have not tested this recipe in a slightly larger or smaller pan. I don’t recommend using glass or ceramic pans, because these pans are poor conductors of heat, and can overcook the outer edges of the cheesecake bars before the middle is done. Learn more about Glass vs. Metal Baking Pans here

Can I Double This Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake Bar recipe? 

Sure! Simply double all ingredients and bake in a 9×13-inch metal baking pan. Add a few minutes to the baking time. 

How to Store Cranberry Cheesecake Bars?

These Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 

Can Cheesecake Bars be Frozen?

To freeze, place the chilled cheesecake (whole or sliced) in the freezer until firm and frozen. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer, wrap it well in heavy-duty aluminum foil or plastic wrap, and place in a resealable container. Store for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before serving.

slices of Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars being served onto plates with forks

More Cheesecake Bar Recipes:

4.25 from 4 votes

How to make
Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars

Yield: 9 bars
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Chilling time 5 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 5 minutes
Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars feature a crunchy chocolate cookie base, tangy, rich, creamy cheesecake filling, and a tart but sweet fresh cranberry swirl. These bars are so pretty, so delicious, and perfect for the holidays!


For the crust:

  • 10 (150 grams) chocolate graham crackers
  • 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, melted

For the cranberry swirl:

  • 3/4 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons Chambord or Grand Marnier, optional (replace with water if not using)
  • 3 tablespoons water

For the filling:

  • 16 ounces (454 grams) cream cheese, fully warmed to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • Pinch salt


Make the Crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.

  2. In a food processor, pulse the chocolate graham crackers until finely ground. Add the butter and pulse until moistened. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan using the bottom of a measuring cup or glass. Bake until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Place on a cooling rack to cool completely. Maintain oven temperature.

Make the cranberry swirl:

  1. Place the cranberries, sugar, zest, liqueur, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the cranberries burst and the mixture is thickened and syrupy. Cool for 20 minutes. Using a mini food processor, blender, or immersion blender, puree mixture until smooth, adding a little more water to thin out if necessary. You want this mixture to be a similar thickness and consistency to the cheesecake batter.

Make the filling:

  1. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla at medium-high speed until completley smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined. Add the flour and salt and beat until combined. Be careful not to overbeat.

  2. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the cooled crust. Drop teaspoon-sized dollops of the cranberry mixture onto the cream cheese mixture and swirl with a butter knife. Bake at 350°F until the edges are slightly golden and the cheesecake is set but still slightly jiggly in the center, about 35 to 40 minutes. Do not overbake.

  3. Place the cheesecake on a cooling rack to cool completely in the pan. Once cooled, cover and chill in the fridge until firm, at least 4 hours and up to 3 days. Using the overhang, transfer the cheesecake to a cutting board to cut into squares before serving.

Recipe Notes

Course : Dessert
Cuisine : American
Keyword : cheesecake bars, christmas, christmas party, pie alternatives for thanksgiving, thanksgiving dessert

This post was originally published in 2012 and has been updated with new photos, recipe improvements, and weight measurements. Photos by Ashley McLaughlin.

Tessa Arias
Author: Tessa Arias

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Find Tessa on  

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Recipe Rating

  1. #
    ANASTASIA — December 11, 2022 at 9:24 am

    Excellent recipe. I don’t cook with alcohol, so I used Teriaki marinade instead. It adds a savory touch and pairs nicely with cranberry.

  2. #
    Paul Carter — December 1, 2022 at 7:12 pm

    Just the right amount of zing and a beautiful presentation

  3. #
    Munaza — December 28, 2020 at 11:01 pm

    Hello. Very interesting recipes you have. I would like to know if we can use dried cranberries instead of the fresh ones as we don’t get fresh berries here. I have the kirkland dried ones in my freezer. So was thinking of trying out the recipe with them. But no idea how many should I use ,if at all !

  4. #
    Kate — December 31, 2019 at 6:46 pm

    Good flavor, this is my second time making it. I feel like there is too much filling to make the beautiful swirl, but maybe that’s just me. Thanks for this recipe!

  5. #
    Alex — December 1, 2019 at 9:31 pm

    I made these for a new Thanksgiving dessert. The cranberry sauce was sooo delicious!! Unfortunately, it completely overpowered the cheesecake flavor. Out of my family of cheesecake lovers, only one person enjoyed these. All others said it was too tangy so they couldn’t taste the cheesecake. That said, the cranberry sauce would be great on its own – the addition of grand marnier gives it such a lovely depth of flavor – so I’m saving this recipe just for that!

  6. #
    Deb — January 2, 2019 at 5:03 pm

    I liked the old crust w/choc wafer cookies. Thankfully I remembered the recipe and made my 4 cheesecakes w/great success. All my friends love these so I make one for each family. Sure the cookie wafers are expensive, but when you’re baking something as special and delicious as these cheesecake bars for the holidays, money shouldn’t be an issue. They make a far superior crust.

  7. #
    Sarah — December 22, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Congratulations Tessa 🙂
    I started following your blog just a few weeks ago but I seriously love your recipes ^^ Until now I haven’t been able to try your recipes but this’ll be the first one for sure 😀 It looks marvelous!!
    About suggesting some things…how about the spanish dish Paella :3? It’s one of my most favourite meals ever but it’s nothing for fish-haters since there’re lot of sea animals in there 🙂 Or you could try the asian cuisine ;)?

  8. #
    Bella — December 21, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    Congratulations on your graduation!!!

    The cheesecake looks delicious, might give it a try for Christmas at my house 🙂

  9. #
    Sharon — December 20, 2012 at 7:40 am

    Congrats!! I just recently started following your blog and am looking forward to more in the new year. I just wanted to comment to say I love your rundown at the beginning of each recipe. I think it’s a great idea and I always go there first to read!

  10. #
    Denise — December 19, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    congratulations tessa!:) well done! very happy reader right here. haha! all the best. 🙂

  11. #
    Natalie — December 19, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    These look delicious!! And congrats on graduating! That’s so exciting!

  12. #
    Cathy @ Noble Pig — December 19, 2012 at 8:45 am

    It’s the best feeling ever…that last final! Congrats to you!

  13. #
    Ashley — December 19, 2012 at 7:33 am

    Congrats congrats congrats!!! Hope you get some time to relax in the next couple of weeks. Good luck finishing your culinary degree!

  14. #
    Tracey — December 19, 2012 at 4:47 am

    Congratulations Tessa! So exciting! 🙂

    Love these cranberry cheesecake bars – I can’t get enough of cranberries during the holidays.

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