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. These lemon bars look so cute.  I’m not sure I’ve ever thought of lemon bars as being cute, but yours really are.  😀  I really like the idea of a graham cracker crust!  YUM!

  2. I’ve been dying to do some baking but I’ve been avoiding it because everyone around is eating healthy (coworkers) – but they will be thrilled by these and the fact that they are only 130 calories. Yay! Now I can get baking over the long weekend 🙂

  3. OMG I’m so excited!! Just made some but in graham cracker mini-pie shells ❤️❤️ Soooo Soooo excited!!! Wish it would let me post a pic 

  4. I made these yesterday and oh my, so yummy! I used gluten-free graham crackers so my daughter didn’t have to miss out and it worked out really well. As my husband was happily trying to say how good they were (had a mouthful, we couldn’t stop ourselves), I said, “Thanks, Sally!” to you! Every recipe I have ever made from you has been a hit, this one was next in line. Thanks for bringing all the yumminess!

  5. Sally!  You have a winner, winner chicken dinner here so to speak.  I made this yesterday for a family gathering and even my picky niece and nephew loved it, and he had TWO pieces.  Thank you for sharing and inspiring me.  The lemon flavor is just perfectly balanced – light, not too tart, basically YUM in every bite.  ~smile~

  6. Are you sure the temperature is 300 degrees.  I had to cook mine for nearly an hour and they turned to tasty but dry

    1. Not sure why my comment got cut off! Any who, what I was about to say next was, yum!! Loved these Sally! Like the previous comment I had to bake mine longer, however mine were not dry. My ingredients were definitely room temp & my kitchen was warm so my filling was quite liquid-y when going in the oven so that may be why. I used an 8 inch pan. Also used coconut oil in the crust & loved that flavor coming through with the lemon filling! Thanks, love your blog!

  7. These are amazing, Sally! My 93 year old Grandma just loved them! I think i’ll have to make a double batch next time! Thank you for keeping up with the healthier recipes, it’s much appreciated this time of year!

  8. Hi Sally!  I made these the other day, and oh my, they are delicious!  I accidentally made them with the full 8 oz of cream cheese instead of 6.  Oops.  No longer 130 calories, but!  The lemon flavor was still there, and I LOVED the tartness of them.  I like what you wrote about freezing them, so I stored about half in the freezer as a nice surprise for me a few weeks from now, and the rest I’ve been devouring as dessert since!

  9. I made these and they are delicious! I usually reduce the amount of sugar in dessert recipes (by a lot), but I didn’t feel the need to do that with these bars. They had a very refreshing sweet and sour thing happening. Thank you for a great lower sugar dessert! 

  10. Thanks for the great recipe! I love lemon bars and have been looking for one that tastes good and is also a little lower on calories. 

  11. I made these for family dinner night this week.  Wow, what a hit and so easy to make.  The perfect level of lemon tanginess.  Being in Australia, I used Arnott’s Granita biscuits, ratio half butter to biscuits.  Baking the base first meant it did not crumble which I sometimes have trouble with in cheesecakes.  I also increased the filling ingredients by half as much again because I was using a 9″ tin, and the filling was lovely and generous!  Just baked it for a little longer, but still kept the jiggle.  Tastes even better the next day!  Thank you for a great recipe.

  12. Hi Sally,  I have a problem when I make your maple almond butter. I have to put a ton of coconut oil in it to get it to look like your recipe. I have a older quisinart but it has a strong motor in it. The first time I made it I put it the refrigerator but I needed a jack hammer to get it out so I put it in the microwave and  then let it sit out. Needless to say it didn’t last very long. The second time I needed a lot of coconut oil also. I’m going to start my third batch but my niece is here with her vita-mix. Wish me luck. 
    Joyce Mangels

  13. I made these yesterday, followed the recipe exactly and they turned out perfectly. I made a tart raspberry puree to go on top – delicious. They are all gone already!
    My husband wants them again for his birthday next month. If I double the recipe can I use a larger pan? Or do you suggest keeping it in the small pan, and doing two so it cooks evenly?
    Thanks again for another keeper, Sally!

  14. Oooh, a lemon bar that won’t send people into sugar shock — thanks! A group of “ladies who lunch” will enjoy these immensely, I know. May have to make a batch beforehand, strictly for quality assurance purposes … implied giggle …

  15. Thank you so much for this recipe and already adding the gram measurements!! I cannot tell you how much time it saves me if I don’t have to convert it all to grams 🙂 

  16. I made these the other night but changed the crust because I didn’t have graham crackers – instead I used your oatmeal cookie crust from another bar recipe. They turned out delicious!!!!!! Everyone loves them! 

  17. Making the crust now with coconut oil instead of butter but the crust is just as crumbly as it is without anything added… what am I doing wrong? Not enough oil?

  18. Hi Sally.  A huge fan of yours and I have made a lot of your recipes with success.  Just one question, we do not have the brick style cream cheese where I am at in Europe.  What would your recommendation be as we have the spreadable one only.  

  19. Wow!!  I was totally hankering for lemony goodness– and in making these bars, it’s exactly what I got!  Yummy, complete success, everyone loved them, I especially loved the natural lemon flavor and lower sugar… Most lemon stuff, to me, is overpoweringly sweet, and this was PETFECTO!!  Thanks!!  It’s a new favorite:)

  20. Hi Sally, this recipe looks awesome and I’d love to make it for a party I’m having. Any idea of what would need to change if I doubled it in a 9×13? Or would a bigger pan be necessary?

  21. These are SO good. I do not miss the extra calories in typical lemon bars at all. Just made these for our 4th of July BBQ and wish I didn’t have to share! They taste especially good topped with blueberries and strawberries. 

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