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Vanilla Orange Cheesecake Bars: A Fun And Unique Dessert

These vanilla orange cheesecake bars are like a cheesecake bar but better. I love the cereal crust, and wow do they disappear fast.

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Three quarter angle of a full pan of vanilla orange cheesecake bars.

My kids always beg me to buy cereal, but they never eat the entire box before they’ve over it. I hate to waste them and just throw them away, so I always get creative.

That’s why you see s’mores cereal bars and double chocolate cherry bars and peppermint chocolate cereal bars and more on this site. It feels like I always have uneaten cereal in my pantry.

Can I use regular cream cheese to make vanilla orange squares?

Yes, you absolutely can. I usually write recipes that call for neufchatel because it acts and tastes like cream cheese but has less fat and fewer calories naturally.

Neufchatel doesn’t have fat removed where it becomes plastic-y and hard to work with. Nor does it taste like anything but your standard cream cheese.

I’m all in favor of making smart substitutes where I can, but this works equally well with neufchatel or regular cream cheese. Just make sure you bring it to room temperature before you start baking.

How do I store cheesecake bars?

If you have leftovers, store them in your fridge in an airtight container. You need to chill them (uncovered) before you serve them, and they stay in your fridge after that.

Enjoy them within the first two to three days, as the cereal topping will get soft no matter what you do. They still taste good a few days after that, but the texture isn’t the same.

You cannot freeze these orange cheesecake bars, however, as cream cheese and your freezer are not friends. It ruins the texture, so don’t try.

How do I quickly soften cream cheese?

If you forgot to take your neufchatel or cream cheese out of the fridge, don’t panic. You NEED to have it at room temperature for this or any other cheesecake recipe, but it’s possible to do it quickly.

First, do NOT microwave it. Not only does it have metal in the package that doesn’t react well with a microwave, but you don’t want to melt or cook it accidentally.

Instead, cut your cream cheese into small squares so it has more surface area to warm up faster. This also helps it mix in later, so I cut my cream cheese (and butter) into small squares every time I bake.

If you need it faster, place the unopened package of cheese into a bowl of warm water. This will soften it in about 10 or so minutes, but make sure you dry off the outside before you open it.

What can I use instead of Honey Bunches of Oats?

If you don’t have Honey Bunches of Oats, you can use Wheaties or Corn Flakes instead. If you use Wheaties, make sure to add a teaspoon of sugar to the melted butter.

If you don’t have cereal at all, you can make a graham cracker crust instead. Use 8 long rectangles of graham crackers for the crust.

If you use graham crackers, you do not need to press the additional quarter cup (one full rectangle crumbled into pieces but not crushed) if you do no wish to. These vanilla orange cheesecake bars look and taste good even without the topping.

And the extra cereal? Use it to make classic holly wreaths around the holidays or s’mores cereal bars or double chocolate peppermint cereal bars the rest of the year.

How to Make Vanilla Orange Cheesecake Bars

Be sure your neufchatel or cream cheese is at room temperature. You will have lumps otherwise.

Ideally all your ingredients are at room temperature, as that ensures they combine more smoothly.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8×8 glass baking dish.

In your food processor, grind 2 cups of the cereal until it is just crumbs, along with the nutmeg. If you don’t have a food processor, put it in a bag and whack on it until it’s just crumbs – great for getting our your frustrations!

Crushed cereal in a baggie with a rolling pin on the bag.

Note: You want to measure the cereal before you crush it. This isn’t 2 cups of cereal crumbs.

Melt the butter, and mix the two together until the cereal is completely coated with the melted butter. It will get there, although at first it looks as though there isn’t enough butter.

Mixing cereal crumbs with butter in a clear bowl.

Pour the cereal mixture into the 8×8 pan and press it firmly together to make an even layer. This will be your crust, so you want it packed in pretty well.

Pat cereal crumb crust into an 8x8 glass dish.

In a medium bowl, mix together the sugar and the soft neufchatel until creamy. If you don’t have the cream cheese at least a little soft and do this step, you’ll end up with lumps later.

Cream cheese blended well with sugar in a silver bowl.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly between the additions. Ideally, you want your eggs at room temperature, as well.

Add the orange juice and mix until blended. Pour in the salt and baking powder and mix thoroughly before adding the flour.

Once it’s all incorporated, pour the mixture atop the crust you made. Note that you still have 1/4 cup of the cereal in reserve – we didn’t forget about it.

Pouring orange cheesecake batter over cereal crust.

Bake the “cheesecake” for 30-35 minutes, until the center is set – basically until it doesn’t jiggle like liquid anymore. The edges of the dessert may be turning golden by this time, but that’s ok.

Overhead of just baked vanilla orange cheesecake bars.

As soon as you take the bars from the oven, gently press the reserved 1/4 cup cereal into the top of the bars.

Pressing cereal into the top of vanilla orange cheesecake bars.

Let it come to room temperature, then refrigerate for 2-3 hours before cutting and serving. Another reason this is a great party dessert? It’s a must make ahead item!

Cut into small squares, as these are fairly rich, and serve. Keep this in an airtight container in the fridge.

They are best in the first 1-2 days, as the cereal topping will get soft, but that’s only if you’re able to have them stick around that long!

Save this vanilla orange cheesecake bars recipe so you can make them again!

Three quarter angle of a full pan of vanilla orange cheesecake bars.

Vanilla Orange Cheesecake Bars

These cheesecake bars have a ton of flavor and are so easy to make. This is a fun and unique recipe with a delicious cereal crust you'll love!
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Diet: Vegetarian
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 16
Calories: 145kcal
Author: Michelle

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 2 cups Honey Bunches of Oats divided
  • 1/4 cup butter unsalted
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

For the filling:

  • 8 ounces neufchatel at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup Honey Bunches of Oats

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 8x8 glass baking dish.
  • Crush 2 cups of the cereal until just crumbs remain.
    2 cups Honey Bunches of Oats
  • Melt butter, and add butter and nutmeg to cereal crumbs. Mix until thoroughly coated with butter.
    1/4 cup butter, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Pour cereal mixture into prepared 8x8 pan, and press firmly to make an even layer.
  • In a separate bowl, mix sugar and neufchatel until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly between additions. Add orange juice and vanilla, and mix until blended. Pour in salt and baking powder and mix thoroughly before adding flour.
    8 ounces neufchatel, 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 1/4 cup orange juice, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons flour, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Once incorporated, pour mixture atop crust.
  • Bake 30-35 minutes, until center is set. Immediately upon removing bars from the oven, gently press reserved 1/4 cup cereal into the top of bars.
    1/4 cup Honey Bunches of Oats
  • Let come to room temperature, then refrigerate 2-3 hours before cutting and serving.
  • Cut into small squares and serve. Store in fridge up to three days in an airtight container.

Notes

  • While this recipe calls for Neufchatel, you can use regular cream cheese - it will just have more fat and calories.
  • For more tips and tricks, be sure to read the full article above.

Nutrition

Serving: 1square | Calories: 145kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 176mg | Sugar: 14g

This site uses an online source to provide nutrition estimates as a courtesy. If you need exact values, please calculate yourself.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

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  1. Pat says:

    This looks and sounds so yummy. I see it coming up for the next Elders' meeting at our house.

  2. Michelle says:

    Tara – At least it's only an 8×8 pan? 🙂

    Laural – It's so unexpected but it's so so yummy. Thanks for the feedback on the recipes. Sometimes I wonder if anyone else likes them, but they're great resources for me to remember what I've made 😉

  3. Laural Out Loud says:

    This is the PERFECT dish/desert to bring somewhere, because it'd be unexpected. I'm definitely going to have to try this one. LOVE your recipe posts!

  4. Tara R. says:

    Why, oh why do you taunt me so. You know I will bake this and eat the whole pan myself.

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