130 Calorie Greek Yogurt Lemon Bars

Lightened-up creamy lemon goodness!

Creamy and tangy lemon bars made with Greek yogurt-- only 130 calories per lemon square! Easy recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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?

Creamy and tangy lemon bars made with Greek yogurt-- only 130 calories per lemon square! Easy recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Staying true to my healthy January resolution, I decided to take advantage of citrus season and concoct a lightened-up, completely refreshing lemon bar. Today’s recipe is just that, though it’s more cheesecakey (technical terms) than anything else. If you know my tastebuds at all by now, cheesecakey is a very good thing. We had them for dessert* after this creamy garlic chicken. Belly = happy and full.

*And they only lasted 1 more day.

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. Kevin, who usually prefers sweeter desserts, loved ’em. So regardless of the reduced sugar, I think you’ll really like these. That is, of course, if you like Greek yogurt and umm… lemon.

The reduction of sugar in these lightened-up lemon bars really got me thinking that traditional lemon bars or cheesecake do not actually NEED all that sugar. Some is required for the structure and texture of the finished baked good, but if you’re ever curious– you can certainly reduce the amount of sugar in recipes like that.

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.

Creamy and tangy lemon bars made with Greek yogurt-- only 130 calories per lemon square! Easy recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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, aka my double chocolate muffin secret weapon. 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.

Creamy and tangy lemon bars made with Greek yogurt-- only 130 calories per lemon square! Easy recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

The squares in these pictures are a little smaller than what you’ll cut them. I cut mine into 16 squares, which would make these 98 calorie treats! But do yourself a favor and cut larger for only 30 more calories. You’re welcome.

Print

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
  • 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

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, Eggland’s Best large eggs, and Nabisco graham crackers.

Keywords: healthy lemon bars, greek yogurt lemon bars

104 Comments

  1. It’s great that these aren’t overly sweet. I think lemon gets sickening when you try to outdo it with sugar and leaving them tart sounds so much more refreshing, especially since it’s summer where I live. Yum, Girl! You totally did it again!

  2. Oh my gosh, can I skip work and make these right now? They sound amazing, regardless of the calorie count…and they are gorgeous too!

  3. I NEED citrus in the winter, especially lime and lemon. It’s the only way I can trick my tastebuds into thinking that it’s summer! Those flavors are just so bright and cheerful and zingy. 
    These bars are just lovely. Lemon cheesecake-y flair is the best!

  4. Love that you made protien-packed  lemon bars to brighten up the dead cold of winter! Can’t believe they’re only 130 calories for a big, creamy, lemon-y, cheesecake-like bar!! That’s amazing! I think I’ll go by your tip of just walking around the house while the bars are chilling, that’s means I get the whole pan!!! Thanks Sally for all the incredible recipes!

    – Madeline<3

  5. Keeping this healthy streak alive! Tons of citrus fruits right now and this is the perfect idea of how to use them and everyone stays happy and healthy! 🙂 I especially love that these are protein packed. What a perfect treat I think!

  6. Hey Sally! Wow, it’s showing there?! We’re only getting 30-ish to 50 ish temperature right now. I want to build a snowman – a gigantic one too! 

    Yum, so citrus-y! This brings me to the idea of lemon, lime AND orange bars, except my bf wants to do a layer cake version. 

    PS. Your link for skinny chocolate chip cheesecake bars is broken. It’s showing the relative path, but all the other ones appear OK. 

  7. Y-E-S! I am all about this healthy lemon bar. Isn’t greek yogurt the BEST in cheesecakey desserts? It adds so much richness and creaminess, but HEALTHY at the same time. Almost too good to be true. LOVE THESE, Sally! My waistline thanks you 😉

  8. I love lemon desserts. They’re perfect spring recipes and always manage to brighten up a dull day. I’ll give these a shot this spring 🙂 also those heart shaped plates are super cute! You always have some of the prettiest cookware and presentation kitchenware. 

  9. Can I just say…I totally love you! These look awesome …so perfect for all of us trying valiantly to stay the course after our “indulgences” throughout the holidays. THANK YOU!!

  10. Love how bright and sunny these are!  I almost forgot how freezing cold I am at the moment.  Definitely going to have to give these a try, since they’re healthy I can eat the whole pan of them and feel good about myself still 🙂 

  11. I can’t wait to try these!  My daughter and husband are both Type 1 diabetics and trying to find desserts that don’t have a ton of carbs that they will like is so hard.  I think these will be perfect!

  12. I was just running on the treadmill when I read this post. Now I won’t have to pace around the house uselessly to burn calories (though I probably still will) ! 😉 Unfortunately, I only have cream cheese spread right now, so it’s until Friday when I go grocery shopping for these bars. Well, I have something something else of my own to bake. It’s my mom’s birthday today, and I’m on cake!

  13. Hi Sally – these sound amazing! Only issue is here in Australia it’s really hard to get Graham Crackers (I mean like, impossible. I’ve searched online and nobody ships them here!! lucky I’m visiting NYC in March…) Would you have any other recommendations for the base? Thanks so much.

  14. I have been craving something lemony for days and just bought a new container of nonfat Greek Yogurt – you read my mind! 🙂

  15. I love that these are 130 calories for a nice-sized bar! Often lower-calorie dessert recipes calls for 24 squares which can end up being a pretty small square! And I would make these anyway regardless of the calorie count because they just look delicious!

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