Seriously indulgent and creamy, these chocolate peanut butter cheesecake bars are like eating a peanut butter cup in cheesecake form. Quicker to bake and chill than a full cheesecake, these layered bars are the perfect choice when you need a crowd-pleasing dessert that’s also portable, easy to serve, and handheld.
I’m an author, food photographer, baker, and blogger. And as of today, I can add Cheesecake Ambassador to my list of professional titles too. 😉 This chocolate peanut butter cheesecake bars recipe is sponsored by PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, whose products I’ve long admired and trusted in my baking. I’m thrilled to show off their quality cream cheese today and, as always, all opinions are 100% my own. (You know I never steer you wrong!)
Today I’m breaking down the barrier to making real cheesecake, showing you that it’s not only delicious, but approachable for all home bakers. A little more special than a batch of cookies and not nearly as overwhelming as a tall layer cake, cheesecake bars are the perfect solution when you need a crowd-pleasing dessert without complicated ingredients.
After testing the recipe, I made them for girls night the other week. I chose this recipe because they’re really easy to prep ahead of time and are extra convenient for serving. No fork needed! Each person literally said these are the best dessert they’ve ever had.
(And they’ve tasted many of my creations! Total win!)
These Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars Are:
- Indulgently rich and creamy
- Like a peanut butter cup in cheesecake form
- Sitting on a buttery chocolate cookie crust
- Topped with chocolate ganache (that sets!)
- Quicker to bake & chill than a full cheesecake
- Handheld individual servings (but you need that napkin!)
- Devoured whenever I make them, whether that’s for a party, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, baby shower, Halloween (top with crushed Reese’s Pieces!), etc.
Plus, there’s no need for a water bath. Let me show you how to make them.
How to Make Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars:
- Make the crust: You only need 2 ingredients for the crust: Oreo cookies and butter. Grind the cookies into a crumb (the cookie AND the filling), then mix with melted butter. Since this recipe fits a 9×13-inch pan, I slightly scaled up my regular Oreo cookie crust.
- Pre-bake the crust: Press the crust mixture into a lined 9×13-inch baking pan. Simply line with a piece of parchment paper. If you leave enough overhang on the sides, you can lift the chilled cheesecake bars out of the pan as a whole, which makes cutting squares REALLY easy. Pre-bake crust for 10 minutes.
- Make the peanut butter cheesecake filling: You need block-style cream cheese, sugar, sour cream (for a little extra creaminess), peanut butter, vanilla extract, salt, and eggs. Good rule of thumb for any and all cheesecake baking: always add the eggs last. You can mix the other ingredients as much as you want, but as soon as you add the eggs, mix just until they’re combined. Over-mixing eggs results in overly dense cheesecake.
- Bake: Spread the filling over the warm crust. Bake until only slightly jiggly in the center. Each of my test batches took 35–37 minutes.
- Cool bars at room temperature.
- Chill: After cooling at room temperature, place the pan in the refrigerator for at least 3–4 hours until sufficiently chilled. Cold cheesecake bars not only taste better, but they cut much easier too.
- Make the ganache topping: We usually make chocolate ganache with chocolate and cream, right? Well, we want a sturdier ganache that will set, so use a fat that’s solid at room temperature: BUTTER! Melt the butter and chocolate together. You can use baking chocolate or chocolate chips. I usually use chocolate chips. This is exactly how I top my mint chocolate brownies, too!
- Let the topping set: Pour and spread the ganache over the chilled pan of cheesecake bars. Let it set completely in the refrigerator, at least 45–60 minutes.
- Cut into squares: Lift the bars out of the pan using the parchment paper overhang on the sides. For neat slices, wipe your sharp knife clean between each cut.
Different Size Pans
This recipe yields a 9×13-inch pan of cheesecake bars. If this is too big, you can easily halve the recipe for an 8-inch square baking pan. Want to bake a full cheesecake from this recipe? You definitely can. See my recipe notes below. I also give instructions for turning these into individual mini cheesecakes.
I’d obviously never deprive you of chocolate, peanut butter, and cheesecake. The possibilities are endless!!!
3 Success Tips for Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars
- Use Bricks of Cream Cheese: Cheesecake won’t set up properly if you’re not careful about the type of cream cheese you use. Make sure you use 8-ounce bricks of full-fat cream cheese. Do not use low-fat cream cheese or cream cheese spread that’s sold in a tub. (Save that for bagels!)
- Use Creamy Peanut Butter: Unless otherwise noted, it’s best to use thick and creamy peanut butter in baking recipes, including cheesecake. Avoid natural style or oily peanut butters, which will change the texture of the baked cheesecake. Chunky peanut butter is usually a little drier and thicker, so I recommend avoiding that too.
- Chill the Cheesecake Bars: Like a full cheesecake, these bars must cool down and chill in the refrigerator before slicing. Unlike regular cheesecake, though, you don’t need to cool them in the cooling oven. And since they’re thinner, they take about half the time to cool down as a full cheesecake. That’s always a nice bonus, especially if you’re serving these as dessert when you’re entertaining!
More Cheesecake Recipes
If you need more recipe inspiration, here are plenty of cheesecake recipes to try next:
- White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bars
- No Bake Cheesecake
- Blueberry Swirl Cheesecake
- Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cheesecakes
- Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars or Lemon Cheesecake
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 36 minutes
- Total Time: 6 hours, 5 minutes (includes chilling)
- Yield: 24 squares
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
Quicker to bake and chill than a full cheesecake, these chocolate peanut butter cheesecake bars are the perfect choice when you need a crowd-pleasing dessert that’s also portable, easy to serve, and handheld. For best results, follow the recipe as written including sufficiently cooling and chilling the bars.
- 30 regular Oreos
- 1/2 cup (1 stick; 115g) unsalted butter, melted
Peanut Butter Filling
- 3 8-ounce bricks (24 oz. or 750g) full-fat block-style PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (60g) sour cream or plain yogurt, at room temperature
- 1 cup (250g) creamy peanut butter (not natural style)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (1 stick; 115g) unsalted butter
- 1 heaping cup (around 200g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the sides to lift the finished bars out (makes cutting easier!). Set aside.
- Make the crust: In a food processor or blender, pulse 30 Oreos (including the cream filling) into a fine crumb. You should have about 3 cups crumbs, or 330g. Pour crumbs into a large bowl. Add the melted butter and stir to combine. The mixture will be thick and quite wet. Try to smash/break up any large chunks. Pour the mixture into prepared pan. With medium pressure using your hand, pat the crumbs down into the bottom to make a compact, thick crust. Pre-bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Leave oven on.
- For the peanut butter cheesecake filling: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed in a large bowl until the mixture is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sour cream and beat until fully combined. Then add the peanut butter, vanilla extract, and salt and beat until fully combined. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until just blended. After the 3rd egg is incorporated into the batter, stop mixing. A few small lumps can remain. Whisk the filling a few times by hand to rid any large lumps at the bottom of the bowl.
- Pour the cheesecake filling onto the crust. It’s ok if the crust is still warm. Spread evenly on top with a rubber spatula or back of a spoon. (It will seem like a thick layer of cheesecake filling; that’s ok.)
- Bake for 35–38 minutes or until the cheesecake appears set on top and the edges are browned. The edges may slightly crack. (Mine do!) The bars will be puffy, but will sink slightly down as they cool. Place pan on a wire rack. Cool for 1 hour at room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 3–4 hours (and up to 1 day) before topping with chocolate. If you’re in a rush, place in the freezer for 2 hours (or until chilled throughout.) If you plan to chill the bars for longer than a few hours, loosely cover with aluminum foil after 3–4 hours of chilling.
- For the chocolate topping: Cut the butter into Tablespoon-size pieces. Place into a heat-proof bowl. Pour chocolate chips on top. Place in the microwave and melt in 30-second increments until smooth, stopping and stirring after each. You can also melt together on the stove, stirring constantly until smooth. Let the mixture cool for 2–3 minutes, then pour and spread evenly over chilled cheesecake bars. The cheesecake bars usually have a lip around the border since the center slightly sinks down, so it’s easy to spread the chocolate topping, stopping around the border/lip. If yours don’t have a raised lip around the edges, don’t worry and just spread the filling evenly all over the top.
- Chill in the refrigerator for 45–60 minutes or in the freezer for 30 minutes until the chocolate topping has set. If chilling for longer than 1 hour, loosely cover with aluminum foil after 1 hour of chilling. Chocolate topping must be completely set and solid on top of the cheesecake bars before slicing.
- To slice, lift the bars out of the pan as a whole using the parchment overhang on the sides. Cut into squares with a sharp knife. For extra neat squares, wipe the knife clean between each cut.
- Cover and store leftover cheesecake bars in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Make-Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Prepare recipe through step 4 up to 2 days in advance. Cover unbaked cheesecake bars and store in the refrigerator until ready to bake. Continue with step 5. Since they’re cold, bars will take a few extra minutes to bake. To freeze: cool, chill, and slice bars as instructed. Freeze bars between layers of parchment paper for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand) | Food Processor or Blender | Glass Mixing Bowls | Spatula | 9×13-Inch Baking Pan
- Chocolate Cookie Crust: You need about 30 whole regular Oreos, which pulse down into about 3 cups, or 330g, of crumbs. If desired, you can substitute 3 cups of graham cracker crumbs, which is about 22–24 full-sheet graham crackers.
- Peanut Butter: Natural-style peanut butter isn’t ideal for peanut butter cheesecake. The filling will be too dry, crumbly, and/or won’t set up properly. I do not recommend crunchy style peanut butter for that same reason. It’s too thick.
- Smaller Pan or Full Cheesecake: For an 8-inch square pan (9-inch is too big), follow the recipe as instructed, but halve the crust, filling, and topping. For the filling, use 1 egg + 1 egg yolk. Bake time is closer to 30 minutes. For a full cheesecake in a 9-inch springform pan, use the filling recipe as written. Halve the crust recipe (use 15 cookies and 1/4 cup (57g) butter) and chocolate topping recipe (1/4 cup (57g) butter and 1/2 cup (90g) chocolate chips). I recommend following the baking and cooling instructions, including using a water bath, as found in my regular cheesecake recipe. After the cheesecake has chilled completely, top with chocolate topping then chill for at least 45–60 minutes as instructed in this recipe (step 7) before slicing and serving.
- Mini Individual Cheesecakes: Use the baking and cooling instructions found in my mini cheesecakes and use this recipe as written. Recipe makes about 4 dozen cheesecakes in a muffin pan. Line 12-count muffin pans with liners. Firmly press 1.5 Tablespoons of crust mixture into each. Pre-bake for 5 minutes. Pour filling on top, about 1 Tbsp filling for each. Again, use the baking and cooling instructions found in my mini cheesecakes. Once chilled, top each with chocolate topping then chill in the refrigerator to set it before serving.
Keywords: peanut butter cheesecake bars
Reader Comments & Reviews
First time making cheesecake and loved the simplicity of this recipe! Turned out amazing.
Do you think I could substitute pumpkin puree instead of PB? Then a graham crust & top it with whipped cream? I looked up the other pumpkin cheesecake recipes and they are a little complicated for me. Thanks!
Hi Megan! So glad you enjoyed these cheesecake bars. I think pumpkin would be absolutely delicious. (Love pumpkin and cheesecake together.) However, it wouldn’t be a 1:1 substitution for the peanut butter. Though I haven’t tested this, I would take out the peanut butter and sour cream, and add 3/4 cup of canned pumpkin puree. Add pumpkin pie spice too. Let me know how it turns out!
I forgot to reply on this a long time ago. I made all of the modifications you suggested and they turned out perfect! Highly recommend.
I have Cheesecake Bars on my mind for the holiday season. I’m not sure what which ones to do. Do you have any pecan pie-ish pumpkin-ish cheesecake bar recipes by chance?
Hi Janel, We have this Pecan Praline Pumpkin Pie which is a mix of pumpkin pie and pecan pie, a pumpkin swirl cheesecake which you could add a pecan topping to, or Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecakes if you wish to make individual servings. Let us know what you try!
Hey there sally ! I’m a huge fan of your baking blog. You’ve made me into an actually good baker. I learn so much and it’s always delicious. I have some difficulties though because I live in Switzerland so I don’t always have access to the same things, and I can’t find a block of cream cheese anywhere. I bought the Philadelphia tubs even though you said a million times not to what can I expect ? Can it work at all ?
Hi Kaila, From what I understand, spreadable cream cheese sold in a tub in countries outside of the US is a little different from the spreadable cream cheese in the US. It’s thicker, sturdier, and more solid and should be OK to make cheesecake.
During this quarantine I have been doing a lot of baking but since it is just 2 of us I worry these cheesecake bars will not last until we eat them. They are so rich we only eat a very small piece. Can they be frozen?
Also I know it is always recommended to use full fat cream cheese for cheesecake recipes but I used 1/3 fat and they are delish!.
Hi Lisa, To freeze these bars– cool, chill, and slice bars as instructed. Freeze bars between layers of parchment paper for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving. So glad you enjoyed them!
What is the best way to cut these without breaking the chocolate? Thanks in advance!
Hi Sandi, To slice, lift the bars out of the pan as a whole using the parchment overhang on the sides. Cut into squares with a very sharp knife. For extra neat squares, wipe the knife clean between each cut. You can even run your knife under hot water (and wipe dry) to warm it up if it needs help slicing through the chocolate.
I I absolutely love this recipe as do the people I have made it for. I have made it twice now within a weeks time. The first one I used ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate for the topping and it turned out so yummy. The second one I used ghirardelli white chocolate. Also as yummy. I do have a question though. When I cut this into squares, why does the topping crack and break? Definitely does not effect the taste, just not very aesthetically pleasing. Thank you for your wonderful recipes!! I enjoy them.
Hi Terri! I’m so glad that you enjoy these cheesecake bars. The chocolate topping can crack and break if it’s a little too hard and cold. Obviously we want it cold since these cheesecake bars are chilled, but what help for next time– to soften it up– is to add 2 Tbsp of creamy peanut butter to the butter/chocolate topping. Simply add it, then melt everything together. The topping will be softer and shouldn’t really crack.
Thanks – they are not my normal peanut butter so I am glad I asked. (we are Trader Joe’s natural peanut butter lovers) My son wants a chocolate peanut butter cheesecake for his 20th birthday and your recipe looks perfect! I will let you know what he says.
What kind / brandof peanut butter do you prefer?
Hi Suzanne, For baking I usually prefer brands such as Jif or Skippy.
This was absolutely amazing! I made it for the first time last week and it was gone in a day. Everyone that tried it loved it and it was pretty easy to make. This was my first time baking and it was still easy enough for me to make! Thank you for sharing this with us!
My 26 year old son made these for Mother’s Day. They were fabulous!! The texture was perfect. The flavors were all complimentary. Wow!
Hey Sally!! Major fan of yours. Trying to save a trip to the grocery store. I have EVERYTHING in stock with the exception of the cookies for the crust. Was debating using the crust from your lemon bars, but not sure if that’ll give enough chocolate to this recipe. Any other ideas? I have some cooking chocolate in my cupboard as well as chocolate chips. Really want to make this recipe asap! Major props to you, your recipes are absolutely amazing. <3
I should mention–I also don’t have graham crackers. 🙁 Might be worth a trip to the store soon!
Hi Natalie, any dry type cracker ground up should work. Even pretzels to make a delicious pretzel crust.
These are really good. I used foil instead of parchment paper and an oval pan equivalent to an 8×8. They came out fine. Really easy just need time as they are not ready immediately. Super delicious and great for a party ! Thanks Sally!
Hello! I was going to make this today but am out of white sugar! Trying to avoid the grocery store… any idea if brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup would cut it? If I used a liquid sweetener, should I reduce liquid elsewhere? Thanks for your help!! This looks amazing!!
You can try brown sugar. I would avoid liquid sweeteners.
This looks fabulous, and I want to make it soon. One question: when I blend the Oreos, do I leave in the white filling, or do I scrape it off off the cookies before blending. Thanks so much!
Yes, the whole Oreo (cookie and filling).
Oh my! I made these just as directed in an 11 X 13 pan. I used a pre-cut sheet of parchment paper that was the perfect size. My husband and son both loved these! I don’t usually eat sweets, but had to try one! They were delicious! They disappeared quickly and were voted a keeper! I will definitely make these again and again, and can’t imagine changing a thing! Except I may have to make two recipes if we have company, because my family might not want to share!
Help! crisis. My husband’s bday is Thursday.
Can this be made in a premade graham cracker crust? I don’t have a springform (for your bake recipe), no cookies, no way to the store & no delivery available
What about white chocolate for the topping? I think your 1 of your previous replies mentioned the white chocolate is a different ratio.
Btw, your carrot cake with fresh pineapple is scrumptious
Hi Lynn! You can try this using a pre-made graham cracker crust, though it would need to transfer to a 9×13 inch pan. (And you need enough for that size pan, too!) If using white chocolate chips, I would reduce the amount down but I fear it would simply taste too greasy. Perhaps another brownie/bar recipe is best?
I made these today and they are delicious! I substituted graham crackers for Oreos and halved the recipe using an 8 in pan. They turned out wonderful, thanks Sally!
Can I make these ahead through step 5? Then follow with ganache the next day?
Melt in your mouth piece of heaven! I baked only 20 mins and didn’t have chocolate cookies so used graham cracker crumbs. Made in the convection steam oven with one blast of steam. Yum!! Thx for the recipe – it’s definitely a keeper.
I know you mentioned that yogurt can be subbed in for the sour cream. Is it ok to use non-fat Greek yogurt?
Hi Julie– you can use nonfat Greek yogurt in a pinch, yes.
I made these cheesecake bars but did not follow everything exactly.
I thought I had enough smooth peanut butter but I didn’t so it ended up being half smooth and half crunchy. Yummy.
I knew my husband and I would not eat an entire 9 x 13 pan by ourselves, nor should we so I split the recipe between a square pan and a round one, dividing the crust and cheesecake mixture between the two. The baking time was slightly shorter. I checked at 25 minutes and they were good but everyone’s oven is different. I cooled both as instructed but only added the chocolate to the square bars then cooled in the fridge per instruction.
I wrapped the other bars in plastic wrap then sealed in another container and put in the freezer. I plan to take them to our Easter gathering but I will thaw and then add the chocolate to them before I take them.
These bars are so delicious and not as rich as I feared they would be. Thank you.
I was wondering if you could use a shortbread crust on this recipe? Do you think that would work?
Hi Joy! If you pre-bake the crust, I’m sure it would be fine!
These are so good! I stopped at Kroger and waited behind about a dozen stocker-uppers just to get Oreos to make this. I’ve made so many of your recipes and all have been winners, you are pretty much my go-to source for dessert recipes. Thanks to you my coworkers think I’m the best baker in the world!
I wanted to let you know that I made these and my son took them to his office yesterday. They were gone before lunch. They had 100% rave reviews. Overwhelmingly agreed that it was a perfect ratio of peanut butter to cheese cake to chocolate.
Instead of one 9 x 13 pan I split them between two 8 in.² pans. I did not change anything else in the recipe.
Thank you for your careful recipes and tips, especially appreciate the make ahead tips.
Things I love about this recipe… feeds a crowd! Gotta love big bakes! I split the full recipe between two 8×8 pans. Baking time was about 32 minutes and they turned out perfect! I can’t emphasize how easy they were if you read the recipe closely and follow all chilling instructions.
Made these for my girlfriend who just had a baby. However, with the going around, she decided it was best not to take visitors so now, my neighbors will be eating a lot of cheesecake bars!! And the reviews are 10/10!
These are soooo tasty! Made them today, used the food processor for grinding the Oreos and for mixing the filling. Easy to make.
Thanks for another delicious recipe.
You had me at peanut butter and chocolate lol and cheesecake. This is like the perfect marriage of all three things and I can’t wait to make this soon! Can we substitute the pre-crushed Oreos that are the baking aisle? I’m not sure if they’re just the cookies or the filling too but it might save some time on crushing at home
I hope you get a chance to make these bars and love them! I’ve never bought the pre-crushed Oreos so I’m unsure exactly what they contain. If they are just the cookie then the crust might require a slightly different ratio of ingredients.
My favorite flavor combo (PB and Chocolate) but curious do you have a favorite substitute that you would suggest using to make it dairy free ?
Hi Anna! I’ve never made dairy free cheesecake bars, so I don’t have any solid advice! Let me know if you test anything.
Hi Anna! I made these dairy free using Tofutti cream cheese and sour cream and they turned out perfectly. Make sure you’re using a good quality thick dairy free cream cheese substitute, since if it’s watery or too thin it won’t turn out right.
Could I substitute Nutella for the peanut butter in these? There’s a serious peanut allergy in my family, so peanut butter is avoided at all costs.
Hi Erin! You can definitely substitute chocolate hazelnut spread in this recipe. Let me know how they turn out!
Hi Sally! My husband isn’t a big peanut butter fan but LOVES Biscoff cookie butter. Can I replace the peanut butter with cookie butter for this recipe? Thank you!
I can’t see why not!