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Lightened-up creamy lemon goodness!

Greek yogurt lemon bars on a colorful plate with a fork

A happy sunshine mid-week welcome to you! I type this as a light dusting of snow falls outside my window. And I’m LOVING every second of it.

Today I’m sharing a recipe for tangy Greek yogurt lemon bars. A recipe yielding 12 larger squares, all at only 130 calories a pop. 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.

Is this real life?

overhead image of Greek yogurt lemon bars

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.

Greek yogurt lemon bars on a white plate

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; both disasters in the baking world. I use reduced fat brick-style cream cheese and the 130 calorie count reflects that.

Bake the lemon bars at a low temperature to prevent the top from browning and to really cook that filling on the inside. They will take about 30 minutes in the oven, then you’ll have to impatiently wait for them to cool at room temperature. THEN (ugh!) chill them for at least 3-4 hours. Lemon bars with a side of patience, anyone? Though if you pace around the house waiting for them to finish (me), you’ll burn off enough calories to eat the whole pan. Or something like that.

Greek yogurt lemon bars on a heart shaped white plate

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Greek yogurt lemon bars on a colorful plate with a fork

130 Calorie Greek Yogurt Lemon Bars

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours, 45 minutes
  • Yield: 12 squares 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Lightened-up lemon goodness in this easy recipe for protein-packed 130 calorie greek yogurt lemon bars!


Ingredients

Scale

Crust

  • 3/4 cup (85g) graham cracker crumbs (about 56 full sheet graham crackers)
  • 2 Tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, melted (or melted coconut oil)

Filling

  • 6 ounces (168g) brick-style light cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 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

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F (149°C). Line the bottom and sides of an 8 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 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.
  4. Pour filling onto the crust. Bake for 28-32 minutes or until the center of the bars no longer jiggles (remove from the oven and gently wiggle the pan to check). 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.
  5. 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.

Notes

  1. 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.
  2. Eggs: You will need 2 large eggs plus an additional egg yolk making a total of 3 egg yolks and 2 egg whites.
  3. Lime Bars: Instead of lemon juice and lemon zest, try lime juice and lime zest for a tangy lime bar instead.
  4. 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.
  5. 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

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. I can’t keep these on the tray!!! I’ll set them out, and the room usually gets quiet because everyone immediately shoves these in their faces. Even before I reveal that they’re low fat, low sugar, low calorie, and low carb! And there’s always someone who wants the recipe. Good thing I have it bookmarked!

    I think next time I will double the crust recipe so it can be thick and easier to hold the bars.

    My only issue is I can’t seem to keep the cheesecake part from cracking. Any ideas what I might be doing wrong?

    I have used a glass Pyrex 7×11 and a ceramic 8×8 because that’s all I had on hand. Maybe a mug of water next to it in the oven will keep it moist? Am I baking it too long? I ended up having to do about 10-15 minutes extra before it stopped being jiggly. SOS!

    5 stars tho!!!!

    1. Hi Mary! Thank you so much for your kind review, we’re so glad you love these bars. We usually don’t encounter cracking with these cheesecake bars, is it possible they could be over-baked? Try reducing the time slightly next time – just until the center no longer jiggles.

  2. Instead of 2 whole eggs and 1 egg yolk, can you substitute 1/2 cup of egg beaters for the 2 whole eggs and add 1 egg yolk?

    1. Hi Fran! We suggest sticking with the recipe as written for best results. Egg yolks are important for thickening and setting these bars.

  3. Hey Sally! I’m planning to make these for a bridal shower and was hoping to scale up to a 13×9 pan. Any recommendations for adjusting the ingredients and bake time? Thank you!

    1. Hi Julie, 9×13 is the perfect size for doubling this recipe. We’re unsure of the bake time though. Let us know how it goes!

  4. My bars cracked has they cooled. They still tasted good. But was wondering what caused it. I followed directions to a tee.

    1. Hi Patricia, thank you for giving these bars a try! We usually don’t encounter cracking with these cheesecake bars, is it possible they could be over-baked? Try reducing the time slightly next time – just until the center no longer jiggles.

  5. These are wonderful but I did have to bake them longer. I used a glass pan. If I used the whole bar of cream cheese, how would I adjust the eggs?

    1. Hi Judy, each oven can be different and glass pans tend to take a bit longer to bake through, so no worries that yours took a few minutes longer. For best results, we don’t recommend using the full block of cream cheese — it would take some recipe testing to guarantee results and determine new amounts of the other ingredients. Glad you enjoyed this recipe!

  6. The 130 calorie Greek yogurt bars would tasty, but there were some mistakes in the recipe. The recipe called for a bake at 300°F for 28-32 minutes. This was very incorrect. I baked these for more than fifty minutes. In addition, the Graham crackers did not fill completely in my 8×8 pan.

    All in all, the bars were fun to make and tasted nice. As a new baker, I learned to read the comments for tips and troubles. I’ll probably make them again with a few changes lol 🙂

  7. Such a great recipe. I made both lemon and lime and they’ve been such a hit! Now that it’s fall I’m wondering if I can swap in some pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice instead of the lemon juice and zest to give a low calorie version of a pumpkin cheesecake bar. Any suggestions on quantities or if this would work? Thanks!

  8. I made these yesterday and they are pretty good! It’s basically a super sour lemon cheesecake. The texture is wonderful. I think these would be better with something sweeter on top- maybe whipped cream?

    1. Hi Natalie, We haven’t tested it but you certainly can. An 8 inch round pan would be best or the bars would be very thin.

  9. These were a hit with my family on Easter. The bars are nice and tart, just the way we like our desserts. My only change for future makes would be to increase the crust ingredients by 50%. Just a bit more depth to the bottom layer would be helpful in keeping the bars stable for serving. For those of you who think it needs more baking time, it does not. I guess we all have different views of what “no more jiggle” means but a little wobble is fine. Don’t bake these until the top is solid and unmoving.

  10. I loved this recipe and so did everyone that ate it! I was wondering if anyone has tried making it with oranges or strawberries? Thank you for posting this it’s now included in my favorite recipes!

    1. Hi Marie! Orange should work just fine, swapping for orange juice and zest. A strawberry version would take a bit of recipe testing, as they have so much added liquid and could impact how the bars set. Let us know what you try!

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