These pretty cranberry cheesecake bars are perfect for your next celebration, and their rich texture and cranberry flavor will have you sneaking bites of the leftovers straight from the fridge! Fresh cranberries and orange zest are a classic combination for this special treat.
This recipe is a natural fit for holiday entertaining. You can prep these cranberry cheesecake bars ahead of time and their gorgeous swirls of sweet-tart cranberry jam are sure to impress.
There are three components for these cranberry cheesecake bars: a graham cracker crust, orange cranberry jam, and the creamy cheesecake filling. This is an egg-free recipe, so if you normally can't enjoy cheesecake due to an egg allergy these are for you!
- Graham Crackers: Choose your favorite brand here, and shake things up with cinnamon grahams, gingerbread cookies, or vanilla wafers if plain graham crackers aren't your favorite.
- Granulated Sugar: Plain white sugar is used to sweeten the crust as well as make the orange cranberry jam.
- Salted Butter: Butter makes the crust bake up into a sturdy layer and, when chilled, helps the bars slice beautifully.
- Fresh or Frozen Cranberries: Either will work well to make the orange cranberry jam, you'll need about 6 ounces or 1 ½ cups.
- Orange Zest and Juice: Zest two oranges (wash them first!) and use half the zest for the orange cranberry jam and the remainder for the cheesecake filling. Then juice the oranges for your jam.
- Cream Cheese: Use full-fat cream cheese here! The rich and creamy texture depends on it. Soften it on your countertop for a bit for easier mixing, especially if you'll be using a hand mixer instead of a food processor.
- Greek Yogurt: Yogurt gives the cheesecake filling a subtle tang and keeps it from being too heavy.
- Vanilla Extract: A light vanilla flavor is always welcome and rounds out the cheesecake filling well.
- Sweetened Condensed Milk: This sweetens the cheesecake filling and also allows it to bake up with no eggs to a soft and sliceable texture with zero graininess from granulated sugar.
I include ingredient notes here when I think they’ll be helpful, including ways to source, any preparation tips, or why I've chosen a particular ingredient. Be sure to check out the recipe card below for the full list of ingredients and their quantities!
Prepare the Graham Cracker Crust
Preheat the oven to 350°F and place a rack in the center position of the oven.
Prepare your 9" x 13" baking pan by first lining it with a long sheet of parchment paper. Leave enough excess so that you have "handles" at both long edges of your pan as I show in the photo above. This will help in removal of the bars before slicing later. Spray the parchment and the pan with a light layer of cooking spray
Combine the graham crackers, melted butter, and six tablespoons of sugar in a food processor and process until the crumbs are fine. Scrape down the sides and pulse a few more times to make sure everything is well-combined.
Pour the graham cracker mixture into your prepared pan and press the crumbs into a flat, compacted, even layer. I like to use the bottom of a measuring cup or glass to help make a smooth layer. Bake the crust for 10 minutes and then remove from the oven and set aside.
Prepare the Orange Cranberry Jam
While the crust is baking, start the orange cranberry jam. Add the cranberries, sugar, orange juice, and zest to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-high and boil for five minutes. Watch that the mixture doesn't boil over and stir occasionally.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and either mash the cranberries with a potato masher or use an immersion blender to puree them. Do be careful, the jam is magma hot and you don't want any landing on your skin. Set the jam aside while you prepare the filling.
Make the Cheesecake Filling
Brush out any excess of the graham cracker mixture from the bowl of your food processor and make the filling in there, too. A few crumbs here and there won't harm anything.
Add the cream cheese, yogurt, orange zest, vanilla, and sweetened condensed milk to the bowl and process until smooth. Scrape down the sides once and pulse a few more times to get everything well mixed.
Prepare the Bars and Bake
Pour the cheesecake mixture over the crust and tilt the pan so that the mixture evenly coats the crust. To marble the jam into the cheesecake, start with lines of jam along the short end of the pan. Warm jam will easily spoon over the filling.
Drag a clean knife vertically, through the lines of jam, to start the marbling. Then drag the knife horizontally to get the pretty swirls. Stop before you do too much marbling or you won't have the distinct swirls. Will it still be delicious either way? Yes.
Bake the bars at 350°F for 22-25 minutes. The center of the pan shouldn't be jiggly any more and the edges will just be starting to brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the countertop for about 30 minutes.
Chill, Slice, and Serve
Place the whole pan in the refrigerator and chill for at least 3 ½ hours. Overnight is best if you want to get really clean cuts for serving. I avoid covering the bars with plastic wrap as condensation will form on the plastic. Then it will drip onto the bars and make things soggy. Cover your bars with a towel instead.
To remove the bars from the pan, run a knife around the edges first. Grab the "handles" of parchment to transfer the bars to a cutting board. With a sharp knife, slice the cheesecake into 24 bars.
A straight-sided 9” x 13” pan will help you get the cleanest squares when slicing up the cheesecake. A food processor makes quick work of both the filling and the crust.
No food processor at your house? Place your graham crackers into a zip bag and crush them with a rolling pin, the flat part of a meat mallet, or roll a wine bottle over them (no kidding). Pour them into a bowl with the melted butter and sugar and mix well before pressing into your prepared pan.
Make the filling without a food processor by adding the cream cheese to a large bowl and use an electric mixer to beat it until smooth. Add in the yogurt, orange zest, vanilla, and the sweetened condensed milk and mix until everything is incorporated. Scrape down the sides and mix once more to make sure the cream cheese isn't sticking to the sides of the bowl.
Serve the cranberry cheesecake bars while still cool for the best texture.
You do not have to remove the cranberry cheesecake bars from the pan for serving. To simplify things, just slice them in the pan and use a narrow spatula to remove them one at a time. Or, do as my daughter did with one of my development batches and attack the whole pan with a fork. Judgement free zone here!
These cranberry cheesecake bars can sit at room temperature for up to an hour, but should be refrigerated beyond that. Store them in an airtight container after slicing to help them stay moist. The bars will keep for up to three days.
I have never had these hang around long enough to test whether they freeze well. If you give that a try, let us all know in the comments!
For the cleanest slices, trim the edges of the bars once you transfer them from the pan to a cutting board. Run your sharp knife under cool water and dry it with a clean kitchen cloth after every slice.
Yes, halve the ingredients and bake the bars in an 8” x 8” pan.
These bars contain no eggs and the sweetened condensed milk helps them set to a rich and dense filling. They also bake up much more easily and quickly, no water bath necessary.
Yes, you can! Use lemon zest and juice in the same quantities as the orange zest and juice. The lemon cranberry cheesecake bars will be tangy and so delicious.
More Cranberry Recipes
Make all of these delicious recipes that feature cranberries next:
These are my favorite dishes to serve with these cranberry cheesecake bars:
Try Them and Share
Give these Ultimate Cranberry Cheesecake Bars with Orange Cranberry Swirl a try and let me know what you think of them in the comments. I want to see your results! Tag your photo with #planeatpostrepeat and mention me @planeatpostrepeat on Instagram or Facebook. I can give you a virtual high five and thank you for cooking one of my recipes! Comment below with any questions and please leave a review so others can find this recipe more easily.
Ultimate Cranberry Cheesecake Bars with Orange Cranberry Swirl
- 1 9x13 baking pan
Graham Cracker Crust
- 2 sleeves graham crackers (10 oz.)
- 6 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ½ cup salted butter (melted)
Orange Cranberry Jam
- 1½ cups fresh or frozen cranberries (6 oz. )
- 2 teaspoon orange zest (from about one orange)
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup orange juice (zest oranges before juicing)
- 12 oz. cream cheese
- ⅔ cup Greek yogurt
- 2 teaspoon orange zest (from about one orange)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
Prepare the graham cracker crust.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9"x13" baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper, leaving extra draped over the long edges for "handles" to remove the bars after baking. Spray the parchment paper and pan with cooking spray.
- In a food processor, add the graham crackers, sugar, and melted butter and process until the crumbs are fine. Scrape the sides of the processor and pulse a few more times to fully incorporate the ingredients.
- Without a food processor, place the graham crackers in a zip bag and crush with a rolling pin or mallet. Combine the crushed graham crackers, butter, and sugar until well mixed.
- Pour out the graham cracker mixture into the prepared pan and pack the crumbs tight into a smooth layer. Use your hands or the bottom of a flat glass or measuring cup.
- Bake for 10 minutes at 350°F and then set aside.
Make the orange cranberry jam.
- Add the cranberries, orange zest, sugar, and orange juice to a medium sauce pan.
- Heat over high heat until the mixture is boiling. Reduce the heat to medium-high and maintain a boil for 5 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and smash the cranberries with a potato masher or blend them with an immersion blender. Be careful, the mixture is very hot!
- Set the jam aside.
Make the cheesecake filling.
- Brush out the crumbs from the food processor after making the crust. Add the cream cheese, Greek yogurt, orange zest, vanilla extract, and sweetened condensed milk to the food processor.
- Process until the mixture is smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and pulse a few more times to make sure everything is fully incorporated.
- Without a food processor, beat the cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the Greek yogurt, orange zest, vanilla extract, and the sweetened condensed milk. Mix until fully incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl once to get all ingredients mixed well.
Bake the Bars
- Pour the cheesecake filling over the baked graham cracker crust and turn the pan to coat the crust evenly.
- Using a spoon, make lines of the jam along the short side of the pan. Use a knife to swirl and marble the jam into the cheesecake filling by dragging the knife through the lines of jam (along the long sides of the pan) and then in the opposite direction (along the short sides of the pan).
- Bake the bars for 22-25 minutes, or until the center of the bars doesn't juggle and the edges are very lightly browned.
- Cool the pan for 30 minutes on the countertop and then transfer to the refrigerator for at least 3½ hours more. Overnight chilling is recommended.
- Remove the bars from the pan using the parchment paper handles and place then on a cutting board. Slice, using a sharp knife, into 24 pieces. For clean edges, rinse the knife off in water after every slice.
Nutrition facts are sometimes provided below and are calculated using an online calculator. With specific brands of ingredients and additions, omissions, or substitutions the nutrition facts may change. We encourage you to use your own nutrition facts caculator to obtain the most accurate nutrition facts for your meal.