No-Bake Gluten Free Cheesecake Bars with Apples and Cinnamon
No-Bake Apple Cheesecake Bars have a light and fluffy cheesecake mousse filled with sweet, tender apples and the perfect hint of cinnamon. This creamy deliciousness is all on top of a buttery almond meal crust that tastes like shortbread, making this a super easy gluten-free dessert recipe, with an easy, buttery almond crust. Perfect to add to a party or holiday menu, or just to treat the family any night of the week, these are sure to be one of your favorite gluten-free no bake desserts!
Originally published on Nov 17, 2016. Updated to provide more information and tips to help you make this recipe perfectly!
Whether you have to go gluten free for health reasons or choose to give up gluten simply because it makes you feel better, there are some things you think might be off the table. One of those things is crust. I mean, your basic flaky pie crust can be finicky enough. That is actually why I started just pouring my pumpkin pie filling into ramekins and baking it into a mini crustless pumpkin pie instead of dealing with pastry.
Throw gluten free flour into the mix, and you have a whole new beast to deal with. And your standard graham cracker or cookie crust isn’t really an option. Yes, you can buy gluten free versions to make those crumb crusts, but they are expensive and sometimes hard to find.
That’s why I started looking for easy gluten free crust alternatives. And my favorite swap is almond meal, especially when making a crust for a cheesecake recipe like this one.
These Apple Cheesecake Bars have all of that sweet and tangy flavor that makes cheesecake delicious. But by folding in whipped cream you get an ethereal mousse-like texture that is only interrupted by crisp-tender caramelized bits of apples for the perfect amount of crunch. And let’s not forget the perfect hint of cinnamon.
And did I mention “no-bake”?
Saving valuable oven space if you are preparing a big meal or not even having to turn on the oven is always a good thing. And it is an easy dessert you can quickly whip up for parties or just to treat the family to something special.
How to Make Gluten Free Almond Meal Crust
The crust is firm and holds together while still having that butter, crumbly taste and texture from a traditional graham cracker crust. It’s a simple gluten free alternative that you can use for many recipes in addition to these apple cheesecake bars.
How to make a gluten free almond meal crust:
It really couldn’t be any easier. You simply combine the almond meal or almond flour, melted butter, and sugar in a small bowl and toss it together with a fork until it is fully moistened. Then press it firmly into your pan using a glass or measuring cup to push is down well. A short time in the refrigerator or freezer before adding the filling will ensure that it firms up and holds its shape.
PRO TIP: If making bars, be sure to line the pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper and let it overhang the edges. This will allow you to easily lift the bars out of the pan.
What can you make with an almond meal crust?
- This crust is also the base for these No-Bake Peach Cheesecake Bars.
- By adding cinnamon it tastes like a graham cracker crust, perfect for S’Mores Magic Bars and S’Mores Chocolate Cream Pie.
- Cocoa powder makes a chocolaty crust for Mini Bailey’s Chocolate Cream Pies or Nutella Ice Cream Cake Cheesecake.
- Maple syrup instead of sugar lends a lovely flavor to Maple Blueberry Mini Cheesecake Parfaits.
- And you can simply use the almond meal on its own for the base of mini desserts like Creamsicle Cheesecake Parfaits and Nutella Cheesecake Parfaits. The moisture from the parfait would soak in, turning it into a faux-crust.
Gluten Free Apple Cheesecake Bars
Now that you’ve made your crust, let’s talk about the cheesecake mousse filling. The traditional baked cheesecake is usually dense, and uses flour so it is not gluten free. This no-bake cheesecake is both totally rich and creamy while at the same time being light and fluffy. Plus there is no flour so it is an easy way to make a gluten free cheesecake dessert to enjoy. It’s a tasty indulgence that won’t weigh you down.
What do you need to make cheesecake bars?
For the apple mixture:
- Apples – peeled, cut, and chopped
- Lemon – you’ll just need the juice
- Light brown sugar
- Maple syrup
For the cheesecake mousse filling:
- Heavy cream – also called whipping cream
- Powdered sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Cream cheese – softened to room temperature
- Plain Greek yogurt – whole milk or nonfat yogurt is fine
- 8 x 8-inch square pan – I like having a couple of these around. They are great for these bars or Monster Cookie Bars. But having two also makes it easy to use one to firmly press the mixture down into the other pan when I am no-bake energy bars.
- Parchment paper or aluminum foil
- Small paring knife
- Small skillet
- Heat-proof spatula or wooden spoon
- Hand mixer – this simple, inexpensive one from Hamilton Beach is great for recipes like this because I can use the whisk attachment to whip the cream without having to haul out my big stand mixer, then just swap that out for the beaters to blend the cream cheese mixture.
- Small offset spatula – this is useful for spreading and smoothing the cheesecake mixture over the top of the crust
How to make cheesecake bars:
Here is a brief overview to show you just how simple this recipe is. Scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post for all the details and to print the recipe.
- Toss the apple pieces in lemon juice and add to a skillet with the remaining ingredients and simmer until tender and caramelized, but not mushy. Cool completely.
- Prepare the crust as instructed above and press firmly into an 8 x 8-inch square baking pan that has been lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Place in the freezer.
- Whip the cream to soft peaks with the powdered sugar and vanilla, and set aside.
- Blend the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and Greek yogurt together until smooth. Fold in the apple mixture, then gently fold in the whipped cream.
- Spread the filling over the crust and chill in the refrigerator for 5-6 hours or overnight.
- Remove from the pan and cut into squares. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
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Here are some more gluten free no-bake recipes you might enjoy…
- No-Churn Caramel Apple Ice Cream
- Dulce de Leche Banana Cream Pie (with a gluten free Cocoa PEBBLES Crust)
- Creamsicle Jello Mold
- Pumpkin Cheesecake Mousse Parfaits
No-Bake Apple Cinnamon Cheesecake Bars Recipe
You are going to love this dreamy no-bake dessert recipe. It starts with a light and fluffy cheesecake mousse filled with tender bits of apples and cinnamon. This is then spread on top of a simple buttery almond meal crust that tastes like shortbread, but it is naturally gluten free. It’s so easy, the hardest part is going to be waiting for these cheesecake squares to chill so you can cut yourself a perfect slice.
I hope you’ll leave a comment and give it a FIVE STAR rating or share a photo on this pin on Pinterest!
No-Bake Apple Cheesecake Bars
For the apple mixture:
- 3 medium apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into about 1/2 inch pieces (2 cups total)
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1/2 Tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon allspice
- 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
For the crust:
- 1½ cups almond meal
- ¼ cup melted butter
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
For the cheesecake:
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 2 Tablespoons plus 1/4 cup powdered sugar, divided
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
For the apples:
- Place the apples in a medium skillet. Squeeze the juice from a whole lemon over the apples.
- Add the remaining ingredients, and toss to coat.
- Over medium-low heat, bring to a bubble and cook the apples for about 7-10 minutes until they are tender but not mushy, and nicely caramelized.
- Transfer to a bowl and cool completely in the refrigerator, about 15 minutes.
For the crust:
- Line the bottom of an 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place a small metal bowl in the freezer while preparing the crust so it is chilled by the time you start making the cheesecake filling.
- In a small bowl, combine almond meal, melted butter, and granulated sugar, and toss together with a fork. Pour the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan and press down firmly with hands or the bottom of a cup. Place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
For the cheesecake:
- In the bowl that was in the freezer, using a whisk or hand mixer, whip the cream, 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar, and vanilla to form soft peaks. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, using a hand mixer, blend together the cream cheese, 1/4 cup powdered sugar, and Greek yogurt until light and fluffy. Stir in the chilled apple mixture.
- Gently fold in the whipped cream.
- Pour the cheesecake filling on top of the crust. Refrigerate for at least 5-6 hours or overnight.
- Cut into squares and serve. It may help to use the parchment or aluminum foil to life the bars out of the pan for slicing.