Beautifully swirled chocolate chai Greek yogurt cheesecake bars are the ultimate fall dessert. With about 20 minutes of hands-on time, they’re easy to make, too.
With a crunchy chocolate graham cracker crust, smooth cheesecake filling, and deeply spiced chocolate chai swirl, there’s so much to love about these cheesecake bars.
While they may look fancy, this is such a simple dessert recipe. We utilize the food processor for both the crust and the cheesecake filling – we tested this recipe without it, but for the creamiest cheesecake bars, a food processor (or high-speed blender) really is necessary.
While the crust bakes in the oven, whip up the creamy filling, set some aside to turn into a chocolate chai version, swirl the two together, and bake. The flavors mingle while the bars chill, and we love them straight from the fridge! These cheesecake bars are easy to whip up for a mid-week treat yet impressive for any holiday celebration (a fun pie alternative for Thanksgiving!).
What You Need for these Greek Yogurt Cheesecake Bars
There are 3 parts to these creamy cheesecake bars. Here’s what you need for each:
Graham Cracker Crust
The base of these cheesecake bars is a chocolate graham cracker crust made with graham crackers, butter, and cocoa powder. When we tested this recipe, adding a little bit of cocoa powder really brought out the chocolate chai flavor of the cheesecake swirl.
The base of these swirled cheesecake bars comes together with cream cheese (make sure you are using the block-style cream cheese), plain Greek yogurt (instead of sour cream), pure maple syrup for a little sweetness, an egg white to help everything bind together, and a splash of vanilla for flavor.
Chocolate Chai Swirl
We’ll reserve a little bit of the cheesecake base to mix together with melted chocolate chips, coconut oil, and chai spices. This is layered on top of the cheesecake base to create the stunning swirl!
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Substitutions for Cheesecake Bars
There are a few easy ways to customize these Greek yogurt cheesecake bars:
Crust: Instead of a traditional chocolate graham cracker crust, simply omit the cocoa powder or make these cheesecake bars with a gingersnap cookie crust or a shortbread crust. For a gingersnap cookie crust (maximum fall flavor!!), follow the crust instructions in our pumpkin cheesecake bars recipe. For a shortbread crust, follow the crust instructions in our apple pie bars recipe.
Spices: Use any or all of the spices we include in the recipe (or use 1 teaspoon of our chai spice mix instead). Don’t like ginger? Leave it out! Love cinnamon? Add even more! Omit the spices completely for chocolate swirled cheesecake bars.
Pumpkin Spice: Replace all of the spices in this recipe with 1 teaspoon of our homemade pumpkin pie spice for chocolate pumpkin spice Greek yogurt cheesecake bars.
swirling cheesecake bars
Creating a gorgeous swirl on top of cheesecake bars (or any cheesecake!) is easier than you think. Here are a few tips:
- You need two colors of cheesecake mixture for a simple swirl design. Set aside 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the white cheesecake mixture and set it aside. Differentiate this reserved mixture by adding melted chocolate, spices, etc. to it before swirling it into the plain mixture.
- Create a checkerboard with the darker cheesecake mixture and use a toothpick to swirl the colors together.
- Have fun with it! If it’s not perfect, don’t worry – it will still taste great.
Do cheesecake bars need to be refrigerated?
Yes, cheesecake bars need to be refrigerated. This helps them set up so they slice into neat squares and keeps them fresh.
How long should you wait to cut cheesecake bars?
For neat squares, wait until the bars are completely chilled through. This usually takes about an hour of cool time at room temperature and another 2 hours in the refrigerator. If you use a metal pan, you can speed things up by placing the pan of bars in the refrigerator 20 minutes after taking them out of the oven. If you used a glass or ceramic pan, let the bars cool completely at room temperature before refrigerating to avoid the pan breaking from the temperature change.
Cheesecake bars have to chill before serving anyways, so do yourself a favor and make these bars ahead of when you need to serve them. After cooling completely, tightly cover the pan of bars with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days before slicing and serving. If you have any leftover cheesecake bars, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Freezing Cheesecake Bars
These swirled cheesecake bars freeze wonderfully. Once fully cooled, cut the pan of cheesecake bars into squares, place in a single layer on a baking sheet, and freeze until fully frozen. Remove the bars from the freezer, wrap individually in aluminum foil or plastic wrap to prevent freezer burn, and place into freezer-safe container. Freeze for up to 3 months.
Delicious as an afternoon snack or for dessert, serve these chocolate chai Greek yogurt cheesecake bars straight from the fridge as-is, or for a little something extra, top them with a dollop of whipped cream, drizzle of chocolate sauce, sprinkle of sea salt or chai spices, or chocolate shavings.
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Chocolate Chai Greek Yogurt Cheesecake Bars
- 9 graham crackers full sheets
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter* cold
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Chocolate Chai Swirl
- 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon chai spices 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice, 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom, 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
For the Crust
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Spray an 8×8-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray or line it with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Place the graham crackers, butter, and cocoa powder into a food processor. Process everything together until the mixture turns into a crumble, about 3-4 minutes.
- Transfer the graham cracker crumb mixture into the prepared pan. Use your fingers or a spatula to tightly press it into an even layer in the bottom of the pan.
- Bake the crust for 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
For the Cheesecake
- While the crust bakes, wash and dry the food processor. Add the cream cheese, Greek yogurt, and maple syrup to the food processor. Blend until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula and add the egg white and vanilla. Blend until smooth.
- Remove 1/2 cup of the cream cheese mixture from the food processor and set aside.
- Pour the remaining cream cheese mixture (in the food processor) onto the crust. Use a spatula to spread it in an even layer. Set aside.
For the Chocolate Chai Swirl
- Place the chocolate chips and coconut oil into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in intervals of 10 seconds, stirring in between each, until the chocolate chips are melted.
- Add the 1/2 cup of reserved cheesecake batter, melted chocolate chips, and all of the chai spices to the food processor. Blend until smooth.
- On top of the layer of plain cheesecake, create a checkerboard design (horizontal and vertical lines) with the chocolate chai cheesecake mixture. Don't worry if the lines are not perfect!
- Use a toothpick to swirl the chocolate cheesecake mixture and plain cheesecake mixture together to create a marble top.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes.
- Remove bars from the oven and let cool completely at room temperature. Once cool, transfer to the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours before cutting into bars.
Tips & Notes
- Storage: Store any leftover cheesecake bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Freezing Instructions: Once fully cooled, cut the pan of bars into squares, place in a single layer on a baking sheet, and freeze until fully frozen. Remove the bars from the freezer, wrap individually in aluminum foil or plastic wrap, and place into freezer-safe container. Freeze for up to 3 months.
- Butter: For best results, use cold butter in the crust. Hardened coconut oil also works!
Photography: photos taken in this post are by Erin from The Wooden Skillet.