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12 ingredients and less than an hour is all it takes to make the most delicious, simple dessert you'll ever eat! Baking these cheesecake bars in a 9x13 pan is the secret to feeding a crowd without any fancy pans or water baths. Cheesecake doesn't have to be difficult!
I feel like cheesecake has gotten this reputation as being a really difficult dessert. There's the fancy springform pan, the heavily debated use of the tricky water bath, and the low cooking temperature, mixed with the fact that cheesecake is basically cooked through when it's still jiggly (and looks like it's not cooked through). So today, I’m delivering the easiest, most simple, foolproof turtle cheesecake bars. EVER!
You Will Love These
- They're quick and easy! There's no fancy springform pan, no water bath. No muss, no fuss. Just simple, straightforward, delicious cheesecake bars! If you need more simple dessert recipes, be sure to check out my Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls, Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars, or Caramel Apple Tart.
- They're great for a crowd! Cheesecake is always a hit at any family get-together or party. These cheesecake bars bake in a 9x13 pan which means everyone at the party can have a slice!
- The flavors are amazing! There's a time and a place for classic plain cheesecake. But I will ALWAYS choose Oreo crust piled high with creamy cheesecake filling, pecans, caramel, and chocolate chips over a plain Jane cheesecake every single time!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Oreo Cookies — The crust for these easy turtle cheesecake bars are everyone’s favorite chocolate sandwich cookie — Oreos. And leave the cream filling! Alternatively, you could use whichever brand of this style of cookie you like, or change it up with vanilla Oreos or graham crackers (with some sugar added).
- Butter — Melted salted butter helps bind the Oreo crumbs together to make the crust for these turtle cheesecake bars.
- Cheesecake Filling — All you need to make the easiest and best cheesecake filling EVER is cream cheese softened to room temp, sour cream (also at room temp), granulated sugar, pure vanilla extract, a pinch of Kosher salt, and two eggs at room temp. Stick with full-fat cream cheese and sour cream for this dessert so that you end up with a thick, velvety smooth cheesecake batter.
- Toppings — To make this a traditional turtle cheesecake, top the bars with caramel sauce, mini chocolate chips, and chopped pecans. If you’re not a fan of pecans, you could use whichever nut you prefer, like peanuts or cashews.
Add Oreos to a food processor.
Pulse until the Oreos are crushed into a crumb texture.
Press mixture in an even layer across the bottom of a foil lined 9x13 pan.
In a large bowl use a hand held mixer to combine cream cheese and sour cream until mostly smooth.
Add sugar and vanilla and mix until combined.
Then add eggs and salt.
Mix until smooth and creamy.
Pour filling on top of the crust. Spread in an even layer.
Bake for 40-50 minutes then let them cool for 2 hours. Top with caramel, pecans, and mini chocolate chips. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
Slice, serve and enjoy!
- Be sure to line the pan with tin foil. This is a crucial step in ensuring that your cheesecake bars will be super easy to remove from the pan.
- Trust your gut on cook time. The cheesecake will continue to cook in the pan even after you've removed it from the oven. You want to err on the side of underdone rather than overdone.
- Your cheesecake is done when the edges pull away from the sides of the pan and the cheesecake looks set, but the center is still slightly jiggly.
- Leave your room temperature ingredients out overnight. For real, overnight. They will mix best when they are legit at room temp.
Storage and Freezing Instructions
- Store leftover cheesecake bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. (Though I doubt they’ll last that long!)
- These turtle cheesecake bars are freezer-friendly! Allow them to cool completely, then wrap tightly in saran wrap and store in a freezer-safe, airtight container or plastic bars. Slice them prior to freezing and wrap them individually so you can easily grab one when you’re craving something sweet!
Turtles are candy traditionally made with pecans and caramel dipped in chocolate, with a shape resembling that of a turtle. It's called a turtle cheesecake recipe because the toppings consist of chocolate, caramel, and pecans - just like the turtle candy.
The secret to testing a cheesecake (or in this case, cheesecake bars) for doneness is to jiggle it, meaning give it a gentle shake. You're looking for the dessert to be nearly set with only the center jiggling slightly. This means it's done! if the center doesn't jiggle it's likely overcooked. Lots of cheesecakes require a water bath to guarantee even cooking, but one major reason I love these turtle cheesecake bars is that they don't need one!
Similar to cakes, brownies, and pies you should use a large, sharp knife to slice these turtle cheesecake bars and wipe the blade with a paper towel in between cuts to ensure perfectly clean, crisp cuts every single time.
Because room temp ingredients help prevent lumps from forming in the batter. The last thing you want with a cheesecake is a lumpy batter! It takes a little planning ahead but ensuring your cream cheese, eggs, and sour cream are at room temperature will yield the most decadent, velvety smooth batter. Totally worth it!
Quick & Easy Desserts
- Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
- Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls
- Super Easy Apple Tart
- Simple Peppermint Brownies
This post was originally published in August of 2018. It was updated in October of 2019 to include process shots, step-by-step instructions and tips for making the best turtle cheesecake every single time!