Lightened-up creamy lemon goodness!
Today I’m sharing a recipe for tangy Greek yogurt lemon bars. A recipe yielding 12 larger squares, all at only 130 calories each. With enough flavor, buttery graham cracker crust action, and healthy protein to keep you satisfied, which– let’s face it– is not typical for light desserts.
First thing to know is that these Greek yogurt lemon bars are not super sweet. I reduced the sugar from traditional lemon bar/cheesecake bar recipes to a scant 1/3 cup for the entire pan of bars. What you’ll really taste is that tart lemon flavor and tangy Greek yogurt.
The crust for today’s lemon bars is the same I use for my skinny chocolate chip cheesecake bars: 6 full sheet graham crackers and 2 Tablespoons of melted butter. I’ve made this crust with melted coconut oil and it’s still perfection. You want to use a fat that is solid at room temperature because it helps keep the crust intact. So butter or coconut oil, your choice.
Let’s talk about that lusciously creamy lemon filling. It’s a total breeze, made from only 6 simple ingredients: plain Greek yogurt, cream cheese, eggs, lemons, sugar, and vanilla extract. Make sure you are using Greek yogurt. You need very thick and rich yogurt for today’s lemon bars. My preferred brand is FAGE, but I’ve also had success with Chobani. The filling will not set without a thick-style yogurt. I always use nonfat.
Likewise, the filling won’t appropriately set without the eggs or brick-style cream cheese– the kind that is sold in a block. Do not use cream cheese spread or whipped cream cheese. I use reduced fat brick-style cream cheese.
Bake the lemon bars at a low temperature to prevent the top from browning and to really cook that filling on the inside.
Bake until the middle is no longer super wobbly. A little jiggle is ok—the bars will continue to set up as they chill in the refrigerator, so you don’t need to bake them until the center is rock solid! Don’t overbake these bars, or the surface may crack.
Other Healthier Baking Recipes
- Morning Glory Muffins or Healthy Apple Muffins
- Baked Oatmeal
- Bran Muffins
- Maple Almond Granola Clusters
- Banana Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies
Lightened-up lemon goodness in this easy recipe for protein-packed 130 calorie greek yogurt lemon bars!
- 3/4 cup (85g) graham cracker crumbs (about 5–6 full sheet graham crackers)
- 2 Tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, melted (or melted coconut oil)
- 6 ounces (168g) block cream cheese, softened to room temperature (I use reduced fat)
- 3/4 cup (181g) plain nonfat or low fat Greek yogurt, at room temperature
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature*
- 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature*
- 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup (80ml) fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)*
- 1 Tablespoon lemon zest*
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- optional: top with fresh fruit when serving
- Preheat oven to 300°F (149°C). Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment, leaving an overhang on all sides to easily lift the bars out of the pan before cutting. Set aside.
- Make the crust: Mix the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter together in a medium bowl until combined. Evenly press crust into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Make the filling: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese on high speed until completely smooth, about 1 minute. On medium-high speed, beat in yogurt until completely combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula and beat again as needed to combine and no lumps remain. Then beat in the eggs and egg yolk until combined. Finally, beat in the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract until everything is combined and no lumps remain.
- Pour filling onto the crust. Bake for 34–38 minutes or until the middle is no longer super wobbly. A little jiggle is ok—the bars will continue to set up as they chill in the refrigerator, so you don’t need to bake them until the center is rock solid! Don’t overbake these bars, or the surface may crack. Allow the bars to cool at room temperature set on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill for 3-4 hours or even overnight.
- Once chilled, lift the foil out of the pan using the overhang on the sides and cut into squares. For neat squares, I use a very sharp knife and wipe it clean with a paper towel after each cut. Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Prepare the bars 1-3 days in advance and store covered tightly in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Bars can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Stand Mixer or Handheld Mixer | 8-Inch or 9-Inch Square Pan | Parchment Paper | Glass Mixing Bowls
- Eggs: You will need 2 large eggs plus an additional egg yolk making a total of 3 egg yolks and 2 egg whites.
- Lime Bars: Instead of lemon juice and lemon zest, try lime juice and lime zest for a tangy lime bar instead.
- Room Temperature Ingredients: Room temperature dairy and eggs mix easily and more evenly into one another. I always recommend room temperature, especially cream cheese, when making these types of bars.
- Nutrition Information: Using SparkRecipes calculator, these bars come out to 130 calories, 6g fat, 13g carbs, 4g protein each. This is using Philadelphia light cream cheese, FAGE nonfat plain Greek yogurt, and Nabisco graham crackers.
Keywords: greek yogurt lemon bars