Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

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These Chocolate-Swirled Vegan Cheesecake Bars are such a fun dairy-free dessert! Inspired by my original vegan cheesecake, they are made with just a handful of simple ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry.

vegan chocolate cheesecake bars on white surface

I love how impressive these little cheesecake bars look, but they are surprisingly easy to assemble. Each layer has only a few ingredients! There’s even a sneaky veggie hidden inside, which gives this cheesecake a more authentic texture, and a few extra nutrients in each bite.

If you’d like to get creative with the flavor, be sure to check out my vegan pumpkin cheesecake or strawberry cheesecake bars, for another variation.

Ingredients You’ll Need

vegan cheesecake ingredients labeled in glass bowls on white surface.

What’s in Vegan Cheesecake Bars?

  • Cashews
  • Pecans (for the crust)
  • Maple syrup
  • Zucchini (yes, a veggie!)
  • Lemon juice
  • Coconut oil
  • Vanilla extract
  • Salt
  • Cacao powder (for the chocolate layers)

This recipe will work best if all of your ingredients are at room temperature, since coconut oil will harden when chilled. If you typically store your maple syrup or nuts in the fridge, make sure to measure out what you need and let it come to room temperature before getting started.

chocolate swirled cheesecake bars overhead on cutting board

If you don’t have zucchini on hand, you can use another mild-flavored veggie (like pumpkin puree), or most likely a little extra water will work as a swap, to help it all blend together.

Pro Tip: If you are sensitive to the taste of coconut oil, try using refined, or expeller pressed, coconut oil. It has zero coconut flavor! I use this in Vegan Cream Cheese and my famous Vegan Peanut Butter Pie, for a better flavor.

How to Make Vegan Cheesecake Bars

1. Prepare the crust. In a food processor, pulse the pecans and cacao powder together until they are crumbly. Then add in the melted coconut oil, maple syrup, and salt, and process again until the mixture sticks together.

chocolate crust in food processor.

Lightly spray an 8-inch square pan with oil, then press a piece of parchment paper into the bottom of the pan. The oil will hold the parchment paper in place, so it won’t move around as you add in the crust.

Transfer the crust to the lined pan, and press it firmly and evenly into the bottom. Place the pan in the freezer to firm up as you prepare the next layer.

chocolate crust pressed into square pan.

2. Make the cheesecake. To make the next layer, add the cashews, zucchini, lemon juice, coconut oil, maple syrup, and salt into a blender.

Blend until very smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender, as needed. Use a spatula to transfer the cheesecake layer to the pan with the frozen crust, since it will be relatively thick.

cheesecake filling blended together in blender pitcher.

Smooth the top with a spatula, and leave it to rest on the counter while you prepare the last layer. (Do not put it in the freezer yet!)

Soaking Tip: If you’d like to soak the cashews ahead of time in water, you can do that for potentially easier blending and digestion. Cover the cashews with water, and let them soak for up to 2 hours. Drain off the soaking water, and rinse well, then add them to the blender with the rest of the ingredients. You may not need additional water, in this case, for blending.

cheesecake filling added to chocolate crust.

3. Prepare the chocolate topping. In a small bowl, combine the cacao powder, maple syrup, and coconut oil. Everything should be at room temperature for this to mix well.

Use a whisk to stir everything together quickly, until smooth. (It may thicken up as it sits, especially if your kitchen is cold, so that’s why it’s important to move fast.)

chocolate topping whisked together in glass bowl.

Spoon the chocolate topping into 4 lines over the cheesecake layer, then run a knife back and forth in a perpendicular direction, so that the chocolate will have a swirled look.

Alternatively, you can just use a toothpick to swirl it around as you go.

For the best results, it’s important that the cheesecake layer and chocolate layer don’t get too cold. (I took pictures of this next to a snowy window, and mine started to firm up from the chill.)

knife swirling the chocolate layer.

Place the cheesecake bars in the freezer to set. It typically takes about 4 to 6 hours for the center to firm up.

Then slice into 16 squares and serve chilled. Since these bars are held together by the coconut oil, they will soften if you leave them at room temperature for too long.

You can store these vegan cheesecake bars in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. For a softer texture, you can store them in the fridge for up to 5 days.

cheesecake bar on black plate with forkful removed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make these without the cashews? I haven’t tested this recipe without cashews yet, but if you are willing to experiment and risk a different outcome, I’ve had success using hemp hearts as a swap in other recipes, like Vegan Ranch Dressing. Just keep in mind that hemp hearts will have a slightly different flavor and mouthfeel. (Seeds tend to be more bitter than nuts.)

Can I make a different crust? Sure! Try the date-walnut crust in this recipe, or my oat flour pie crust for a nut-free option. I haven’t tried the oat flour pie crust in an 8-inch square pan yet, so that will be a bit of an experiment, if you decide to try that. (You might need to reduce the recipe a bit, quantity-wise.)

Do you have to soak cashews? If you have a high-speed blender, you don’t need to soak the cashews for this recipe to work. You can however, soak them in water for up to 2 hours, if you are hoping for better digestion, or an easier time blending them in a standard blender. (See tips above in the “How to Make” section.)

I hope you’ll enjoy these vegan cheesecake bars soon!

vegan chocolate cheesecake bars on white surface
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5 from 2 votes

Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

These dairy-free cheesecake bars are made with simple ingredients that you probably already have on hand. They look as impressive as they taste, and you'll love that they are naturally sweetened and gluten-free.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword vegan cheesecake bars
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Freeze time: 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 15 minutes
Servings 16
Calories 209kcal

Ingredients

Chocolate Pecan Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves
  • 3 tablespoons cacao powder
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

Vegan Cheesecake Filling

  • 1 1/2 cups whole cashews (not salted or roasted)
  • 1 cup zucchini , peeled and diced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup , at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Chocolate Topping

Instructions

  • To prepare the crust, add the pecans and cacao powder in a large food processor fitted with an "S" blade. Process briefly, until the pecans are crumbly. Add in the maple syrup, coconut oil, and salt, and process again until the mixture sticks together.
  • Lightly grease an 8-inch square pan with oil, then press a piece of parchment paper into the bottom. The oil will hold the parchment paper in place. Transfer the crust into the lined pan, then press it evenly into the bottom. Place the pan in the freezer to set while you make the next layer.
  • To make the cheesecake filling, add the cashews, zucchini, lemon juice, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla and salt to a blender. Blend until very smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender as needed. If you need help blending this smoothly, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water, until it's blending better. (If you soak the cashews first, the extra water may not be needed at all.)
  • Remove the pan from the freezer, and pour the cheesecake filling on top. Smooth with a spatula, and set aside on the counter while you prepare the final topping. (Do not freeze again yet.)
  • To prepare the chocolate topping, combine the cacao powder, maple syrup, and melted coconut oil in a small bowl. Whisk well until it's evenly mixed, then use a spoon to drizzle the chocolate topping over the cheesecake layer in 4 lines. (See photos in this post for reference.) Drag a knife through the lines, back and forth, creating a swirled pattern. Move quickly, as the chocolate will harden if you are working in a cold kitchen, and will be more difficult to swirl.
  • Place the pan in the freezer until the cheesecake is firm to the touch in the center, about 4 to 6 hours. Slice into 16 small bars, then serve chilled. They will melt if you let them stay on the counter too long, so be sure to keep these stored in an airtight container in the freezer for the best texture. They should keep well for up to 3 months.

Notes

Nutrition information is for 1 of 16 bars. This is automatically calculated, and is just an estimate, not a guarantee. For a lower-calorie dessert, you can slice this into smaller pieces, too.

Nutrition

Calories: 209kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Sodium: 58mg | Potassium: 186mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 21IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 1mg

If you try these vegan chocolate cheesecake bars, please leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how you like them!

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Comments

Jennifer

I am absolutely addicted! This was my first experience making a raw dessert and quite frankly they are better then the majority of cheese cakes I have eaten. I acutally doubled the entire recipe to make a thicker bar– it just took a full overnight in the freezer to firm up.

Claudine

I have made and loved a few of your recipes but this one is my absolute favorite! You’re simply the best! They were not as pretty as yours but they taste amazing!!! Now, I have something pretty and tasty to share. This is a blessing! Thanks a lot for sharing your creativity with us (some of us are not as successful at being creative).

Susan

Whoa! I had these with raspberries in the middle. So delicious and I’m craving more!

Lorri

Can I use cashew butter in place of the cashews? Should I reduce liquid? Thanks, these look amazing!

    Megan

    Yes, typically 1 cup cashews = 1/2 cup cashew butter.

Sandra

I just made these to “celebrate” cutting out dairy — I am ecstatic with them! With recipes like this I may never miss dairy. My five year old asked me to give him the recipe when he grows up, haha!
I did find they tasted even better after a night in the freezer. Or maybe it was just like the first bite all over again…And I subbed banana since there was no zucchini in the fridge.

Brenda

These bars are so delicious and super filling. I ate one for a mid-morning snack and I wasn’t hungry again for hours. I was bragging to my twin sister about my healthy cheesecake and she said she knows you from back in day at Milton’s. Apparently you look a bit like her too;)
Thanks for all the great recipes! Everything I’ve made has been fabulous.

    Megan

    I’m so glad you enjoyed them! Tell your sister “hi” for me! 🙂

Peter

My sister made these using cacoa instead of cocoa. To adjust for any additional bitterness from the raw cacoa, she just added an extra 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of maple syrup.

Cheers for this excellent recipe Megan!

Kacie

Instead of using cashews can cream cheese be substituted?

    Megan

    I have no idea! You might be better off starting with a recipe that calls for cream cheese to begin with, but please let us know if you have any success.

Sonia

You know…they actually DO taste like cheese cake. They are delish! Thanks again for all these wonderful recipes…i’m slowly making my way through them and enjoying every bite 🙂

Anna

I have been eyeing this recipe up for months now and just got a vitamix a few weeks ago so finally able to give a lot of your amazing recipes a try! I tripled this and made it in a 9×13 for a crowd! Huge hit, even with my father who gives me a really hard time for my “horse feed healthy” eating habits! Thank you!

Tara

One of if not the best dessert I have ever had! Thank you so much! Love your site!

Diane

recipe card?

Sarah

These were incredible! Yay for never feeling deprived eating raw. : )

Teresa

Wow, wow, wow!!! I found your website as I was looking for some recipes involving raw zucchini. This is one of the most exciting things I’ve done with zucchini. I’m going to try your classic raw cheesecake next. Thanks so much for sharing your cooking talents!

Cynthia

What is the purpose of the lemon juice? I am allergic to citrus, can I leave it out or do I need to substitute something, maybe vinegar? Thanks for the great recipes!

Linda

This recipe is so delicious!!! My husband and I loved it. Thank you for sharing.

Catherine

Do you have a printable version for your Raw Chocolate-Swirl Cheesecake Bars? Thank oyu!

Gretchen

I’d love to make these but the only nuts I can eat are walnuts. if you have a suggestion for making them without the pecans and cashews, I’d love to try them. Thank you.

Amber

Hi! These look delicious!! I was wondering if a Ninja blender is considered “high powered” enough to not have to soak the cashews. Thanks so much!

Amber

My hubby and I don’t like Pecans, can we use almonds instead???

    Megan

    Definitely!

arcadia

These look divine! Can I ask what purpose the zucchini serves? Is there anything I could use as a substitute please? It’s hard to get zucchini here 🙁 thankyou

Judith

Megan, how come your recipes call for sweeteners ? everything I’ve read about food combining says ditch all sweeteners except pure stevia.

    Megan

    I prefer not to be militant with food combining principles, as I think it can quickly turn into an obsession. I personally can’t imagine not enjoying something sweet every now and then, so I choose to enjoy naturally sweetened treats made with high-quality ingredients when my sweet tooth strikes. This approach works well for me and my clients, while still seeing fantastic results, without any feelings of restriction or deprivation. I did try using stevia exclusively for a while, but over time I didn’t feel that it was a good fit for me.

Leon

Tried this recipe and it is indeed delicious and rich. Thank you Megan for yet another amazing recipe. Also, it’s very easy to make, plus plus plus on this one.

Vaneta

Dumbfounded! How can anything this simple to make taste so fabulous yet alone like cheese cake! Thank you for sharing this amazing cheese cake recipe! Ours never really firmed up as hard as we expected it too, still on the soft side, not as a frozen dessert usually is however we are all enjoying it! Again, our many thanks!

Nasha

OMG! These are delish. This is my first recipe from your site and my friends and family love it. Thank you so much for sharing your gift and I look forward to trying more.

Leah

I have recently become obsessed with your website. Thank you so much for all the incredible recipes and articles! I tried these cheesecake bars yesterday. I used a muffin tin, because I didn’t have a Tupperware container the size you recommended. Mini cheesecakes! They are to die for. I haven’t had cheesecake in YEARS because I am violently lactose intolerant…this recipe seriously made my day…my week! Maybe my month! My dairy-loving, cheesecake loving husband was crazy about these delicious morsels as well.

Thank you!! I cant wait to try more of your recipes.

natalie

these are so great! i substituted the chocolate topping for a raspberry swirl (3 oz fresh raspberries and just a touch of agave processed in my vitamix). i forgot to peel the zucchini, but that just made for a fun color combo! thanks – your recipes are amazing!!

Melody

Hi, can you recommend another nut substitute for cashews? :/ I’m allergic to peanuts and cashews 🙁

    Megan

    The flavor won’t be the same, but I’ve made it with macadamia nuts, too!

Aziz

I made these and loved them so much. Before that I was hooked to these nanimo bars http://mylivingnutrition.com/2013/09/21/nanaimo-bars/ But I found your cheesecake to be less rich and I’m guessing lower in calories to. Taste wise, I think your cheesecake wins out. You’re so awesome Megan. Thanks so much for sharing, it’s much appreciated. I am such a sugar addict and am trying to wean myself slowly off sugar by incorporating more sugarfree desserts that are just as tasty and will fool my taste buds into not craving sugar.

Nadia

I was looking for some healthy cheesecake recipe and I absolutely LOVE this! I found this recipe 3 weeks ago and I already made it 3 times! My family cant stop eating those! Fact that there is zucchini in it -blows everybody’s mind away!

Valerie

HELLO! THANK YOU FOR THAT RECIPE!
It was awesome, creamy and delicious! My chocolate swirl went a little bit too solid in the freezer but it still tasted amazing and gave it a little crunch!

I tried your cauliflower pizza crust at the same time, and it was AMAZING! way easier that others that I’ve tried and I feel the goat cheese gives it an awesome taste! 🙂 🙂 !!!!!!!!
Thank you so much. This is how I love eating whole food. Your recipes are always made with ingredients we all have !!!

Pnina

It looks delicious, but want can I change. My daughter allergic to nuts and would like to put cream cheese. If I take the nuts what can i put instead?

Joy

I was wondering if you can substitute lime juice for the lemon juice, and if the measurements would be the same. My dad’s allergic to lemons.

Sandy

I made these the other day exactly as written and they are amazing! I am so impressed with these recipes! I have made a few already. I am trying to eat healthier and your site is the best!

    Missy B

    I was getting ready to post the exact thing you just posted Sandy. I too am new to all this. Eating clean for a month (no sugar)
    and feel wonderful. Made these twice and love love love them! Don’t know what i would do without this site!

John

This cheesecake is heavenly and such a hit. I made some for my sister and she loved it so much, she always begs me to make more for her, LOL. One thing I did that worked better than I thought it would, was using Manuka Honey instead of regular honey to make it even healthier. I thought, this substitution would ruin the flavour. Much to my suprise, it tastes as good if not better. I think the lemon juice helped temper the unique taste of the Manuka Honey, so it wasn’t noticeable. Thanks again Megan for sharing 🙂

Missy

I make these once a month. Not sure where I would be without someone like you coming up with these recipes. I had a lot of health issues that are disappearing since I’ve been eating healthier. Just wanted to make sure you knew how much I love your recipes!!! You’re awesome!

Melissa

These are SO GOOD!!! I made them for a family dinner & they were a hit 🙂 They make a great presentation too because of the yummy chocolate swirl on top!

Alice

Hi, these look amazing, I need substitutes for the pecans and zucchini in your recipe due to allergies. Often the recommendation is to replace pecans with walnuts or almonds. I can’t do walnuts but can do almonds. I’m a bit stumped on zucchini though. Thanks!

Christina

Those look super yummy! We have raw organic chocolates on our site! http://pathrive.com/store 😀 😀 😀

Mairead Glass

Hi!

Your blog is great- I’ve really enjoyed your recipes. I tried this today for the second time and while they came out great, I can’t quite decide what I should change. I don’t feel that the lemon juice flavor mixes well with the chocolate- I think the flavors compete. What else could I use in place of the lemon juice? Does it serve a particular purpose?
Thanks for all of your great recipes!

    Megan Gilmore

    The lemon juice just adds the tart flavor found in real cheesecake– you can omit it if you prefer!

krissy

We just made your chocolate cheesecake and loved it so much….so we are trying these and the strawberry cheesecake squares now. Noticed the all chocolate version uses maple syrup and these honey. Can the two be subbed or is there a difference? Can’t wait to make more versions they are great!

    Charlene

    I used maple syrup instead of the honey…the bars tasted great!

Charlene

I’ve never been a cheesecake person, but this raw vegan recipe is to die for. Seriously good desert and really easy to make. I made them for my husband’s birthday recently (he is definitely NOT vegan!), and he liked them as much as as I did!! They are rich enough and special enough for company as well. Thanks for a superb and delicious dessert that I don’t feel too guilty about eating!!

Kat

I made this for Valentine’s dessert. Subbed squeezed tofu for the zucchini and added a little extra water. Also, I used carob powder instead of chocolate since my husband doesn’t eat chocolate. It was very yummy and will definitely make it again. Next time I plan on doubling the topping to cover the whole cake. Thanks for this great recipe!

Jenny Richer

I made these only problem is they are almost gone. Simple easy directions to follow. Have loved every recipe of yours

Erica

My family loved these! Thank you for the recipe!

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