Need an easy, gluten-free dessert that you can make ahead of time? Try these decadent Cherry Almond Cheesecake Bars. A great dessert recipe for a crowd!
I’m a huge cherry and almond fan. There is something about that flavor combination that has always appealed to me . So naturally I had to apply it to one of my favorite desserts - cheesecake!
These Gluten-Free Cherry Almond Cheesecake Bars are a tasty, make-ahead dessert recipe that looks super impressive but is actually pretty darn easy to make.
Frozen cherries make a gorgeous, garnet-hued topping to the almond cheesecake and freshly ground almonds infuse the crust with an extra layer of almond flavor.
Cheesecake recipes often include a bit of flour to help them bake up nice and firm. Recipes made without flour - such as our Cherry Almond Cheesecake Bars - result in a creamier, smoother textured cheesecake. Both are tasty; it’s really a matter of preference
Many cheesecake recipes are made with any number of cookie crusts - think Oreos, graham crackers or even vanilla wafers. But this recipe uses a crust made from 3 simple ingredients - almonds, brown sugar and butter.
Freshly ground almonds give this cheesecake crust a gorgeous, hearty texture. Since the only sweetener in the crust is the sugar you add to it, I opt for brown sugar instead of white sugar because it produces a richer, more caramelized flavor as it bakes. (But white sugar will work, too.)
The beauty of cheesecake bars is they can easily be made a few ahead of time, which is perfect for time-strapped hosts. The basic 4-step formula for making these cheesecake bars goes like this:
- Line the pan with parchment paper or nonstick foil. You’ll want overlap on the sides of the pan to use as “handles” to life the cheesecake out of the pan when you are ready to cut and serve the bars.
- Press your crust into the bottom of the pan using the bottom of a drinking glass or other flat-bottomed object to get the crust evenly distributed.
- Prepare and pour your cheesecake batter on top of the prepared crust and bake using a water bath.
- Make the cherry sauce while the cheesecake is baking and refrigerate until ready to use.
How to Use a Water bath
A water bath helps to keep the baking temperature as consistent as possible during the baking process. Even, moist heat ensures the cheesecake is bakes at the same pace (no hard edges and underdone middle pieces).
Using a water bath when baking cheesecake also minimizes the chance that your cheesecake will crack along the top and/or sink in the middle, both common issues with cheesecake recipes.
I like to place my larger pan in the oven first before nestling the baking pan inside it and adding the water. This is MUCH easier than trying to slide a pan nestled in another pan of water into the oven without getting water everywhere (including in your cheesecake batter).
Trust me on this one.
I live in Minnesota. Believe me when I say I know all about short growing seasons and limited availability for produce!
While you can certainly make this recipe using fresh cherries, I almost always use frozen cherries because they are readily available in the freezer section of the grocery store. I suggest doing a combination of sweet and tart cherries for the best flavor.
You can use all dark sweet cherries, too, but if you opt to only use tart cherries, I suggest adding a bit more sugar to your cherry topping. Tart cherries can be just that - tart!
More Cheesecake recipes
- Gluten-Free Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars
- Lemon Cheesecake Bars
- Coconut Cheesecake Bars
- No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake Bars
- Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake Bars
- Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
- Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars with Biscoff Cookie Crust
- No Bake Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Bars
Check out all of our dessert recipes!
Gluten-Free Cherry Almond Cheesecake Bars
- 2 cups sliced almonds
- 4 tablespoons butter melted
- 5 tablespoons brown sugar
- 24 ounces cream cheese room temperature
- ¾ cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar divided
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons almond extract divided
- 1 cup frozen dark sweet cherries
- 1 cup frozen tart cherries pitted
- 2 teaspoons corn starch
- 2 teaspoons water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper or nonstick foil leaving an overhang on all sides. Set aside.
To make the crust:
- Place almonds in bowl of food processor and pulse until they resemble a coarse sand.
- Add butter and brown sugar to food processor and pulse until combined.
- Pour almond mixture into prepared pan and press into an even layer. Refrigerate until ready to bake.
To make the cheesecake:
- Beat together cream cheese and ¾ cup of granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs until incorporated. Mix in sour cream, vanilla extract and 1 ½ teaspoons almond extract. Pour batter over prepared crust and level using .
- Place a larger pan (9 x 13 or larger) in the oven and set cheesecake pan inside it. Fill large pan with enough water so it reaches halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan.
- Bake for 50-55 minutes or until cheesecake is just set. Turn off the oven, prop the oven door open with the handle of a wooden spoon and allow to cool for another hour.
- Remove bars from water bath and refrigerate overnight.
- When ready to serve, lift cheesecake from pan using overlapping paper or foil. Cut cleanly into bars by using a sharp knife run under hot water and dried after each cut. Spoon cherry topping over each bar.
To make the cherry topping:
- Place cherries and remaining 3 tablespoons granulated sugar in a small sauce pan. Cook over medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved.
- Whisk together corn starch and water and pour mixture into saucepan with cherries. Cook over medium heat for 5-10 minutes or to desired consistency. (I don't like my sauce super thick, so I usually opt for the lower cooking time.)
- Remove from heat and stir in remaining ½ teaspoon almond extract. Cool completely and refrigerate until ready to use.
Nutrition info not guaranteed to be accurate.
Need an impressive but easy gluten-free dessert recipe? These Gluten-Free Cherry Almond Cheesecake Bars are rich, decadent and can be made ahead of time - perfect for time-strapped hosts!
Jocelyn (Grandbaby cakes) says
These are fantastic!
nicole @ I am a Honey Bee says
I love how simple this is.
I have most of the ingredients at home already!
Don't you love it when you can skip an extra trip to the store? Enjoy!
What a delicious alternative to all the chocolate Valentine's Day treats. I love each and every fabulous layer!!!
Me, too, Liz! Thankfully I don't have to choose just one!
Amber Harding says
This is what you have to look in a recipe - combine the soury taste of cherries with the creamy cheese one! It's a sure-fire winner.
I think so, too, Amber!