Best Cheesecake Recipe

November 25, 2019

The BEST Cheesecake recipe! If there’s one thing I know how to make it’s a perfect cheesecake, it’s long been one of my all time favorite foods! This always comes out with an unmatched perfectly rich and creamy flavor and a silky smooth and melt-in-your-mouth luscious texture.

Slice of cheesecake on a white dessert plate sitting over a turquoise cloth. Cheesecake is decorated with whipped cream, raspberries and mint.

Perfect Easy Cheesecake Recipe

One of the first things I learned how to bake was cheesecake. This was 15+ years ago and since then I’ve learned all the tips and tricks to perfecting it. And guess what? It’s actually really easy to make and following a few simple instructions and tips it’s basically foolproof.

So What Makes the Best Cheesecake?

Simple and rich ingredients and a good method make the best classic cheesecake.

That includes using a generous amount of cream cheese, along with sour cream and heavy cream. I’ve tried several different blends but this trio of decadence is the one I always come back to.

And when it comes to cream cheese stick with Philadelphia. Not sponsored I just think it’s the most consistent in flavor and texture.

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Ingredients needed to make the best cheesecake.

Ingredients Needed for Cheesecake:

  • Graham crackers – how many graham crackers make a cup of crumbs? I use 2 sleeves or 8 full sheets (per Honey Maid brand) to make 2 cups crumbs.
  • Granulated sugar – this is used in both the crust and filling. Just stick with standard cane sugar.
  • Butter – I’ve use unsalted or salted here, it just depends on if you like that lightly salty flavor to pair with the sweetness.
  • Cream cheese – you can either soften this in the microwave (turning halfway) or let it rest at room temperature about 2 hours.
  • Eggs – room temperature eggs aren’t entirely crucial but it does make it easier for ingredients to blend. To bring to room temperature they’ll need to rest about 2 hours or you can sit in warm water for about 10 minutes.
  • Sour cream – don’t use light! This is cheesecake, not a diet plan.
  • Heavy cream – no substitutes! Don’t use half and half or milk or filling will be too runny.
  • Vanilla – use real vanilla for best flavor.

showing how to crush graham crackers in a food processor

How to Make Graham Cracker Crumbs:

There are 3 ways to make graham cracker crumbs:

  • Break into pieces to fit in the food processor. Cover and pulse in bursts until you get fine crumbs.
  • Place graham crackers in a gallon size resealable bag. Seal bag and crush with a rolling pin to fine crumbs.
  • Buy pre-crushed graham cracker crumbs. Not really making them but the 3rd option.

Showing steps to making a cheesecake graham cracker crust.

How to Make Cheesecake:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Make the crust mixture: in a medium mixing bowl stir together graham crackers with granulated sugar. Pour in butter and stir until evenly moistened.
  • Press into pan: Press graham crackers into an even layer along the bottom and about halfway up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan (I have this one HERE– affiliate link).
  • Bake to set: Bake in preheated oven 9-minutes, remove and let cool on a wire rack.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.
  • Blend cream cheese and sugar: add cream cheese and sugar to a large mixing bowl. Blend together using an electric hand mixer set on medium speed just until smooth, about 30 – 60 seconds. Scrape down bowl.

Showing steps to making cheesecake filling.

How to Make Cheesecake Continued:

  • Blend in eggs: Mix in eggs 2 at a time, mixing just until combined after additions. Scrape down bowl.
  • Add remaining: Blend in sour cream, heavy cream and vanilla just until combined. Tap bowl against countertop about 20 times to release any large air bubbles.
  • Prepare pan with foil: wrap 2 layers of heavy duty aluminum foil snuggly around outside and up to the top of springform pan (be careful not to tear foil).
  • Pour filling over crust: Pour cheesecake filling over graham cracker crust, wiggle pan to level. Place cheesecake in a roasting pan large enough to fit springform pan with extra space around all sides. Place in oven then carefully pour in enough boiling water around cheesecake to fill halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
  • Bake cheesecake: Bake in preheated 325 degree oven until filling still wiggles slightly (for less browning on top you can move oven rack down one level before baking if desired), about 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 35 minutes. Turn oven off leave cheesecake in warm oven to rest with door propped ajar about 1-inch (I just use an oven mitt between the door and oven), 1 hour.
  • Let cool and chill: Remove from oven let cool at room temperature 1 hour then transfer to refrigerator and chill 8 hours.

Steps to preparing cheesecake for baking and shown after baking.

How to Avoid Cracks?

If you’ve baked for very long, chances are you’ve had a cheesecake or two crack over the years. There are several things that can cause this including airy batter and big air bubbles, uneven baking, over-baking and un-greased pan. So the solutions:

  • Don’t over aerate the batter New York style cheesecake is meant to be dense so don’t over-whip it. This is one reason why it’s very important to start out with well softened cream cheese so it’s not lumpy and blends well.
  • Adding too much air to the batter also can cause the cheesecake to rise and after baking, it falls, which equals cracks.
  • Using a bain-marie (water bath) helps the cheesecake cook more evenly and reduces risk of cracking. The steam it creates also creates a moist environment which is great for cheesecakes and custards.
  • Over-baking is one of the number one reasons cheesecakes crack. It will seem under-cooked by the time it’s done, so often we think it needs to cook longer. Keep in mind that it will still be quite jiggly once done, the edges should just be starting to set up a little.
  • Grease pan. I wait to do this until after I’ve baked the crust, so crust doesn’t slip down the sides. I just spray the exposed area with non-stick cooking spray (and rub around the edges) before I pour in the filling. This way when the filling wants to fall a little as it cools it doesn’t stick to the sides and crack in the center.
  • Let it cool in the oven so it doesn’t deflate quickly and crack.

What is a Bain-Marie (Water Bath)?

In terms of baking, a bain-marie (or water bath), is simply a pan filled with hot or boiling water in which a pan is placed within. It’s purpose is to create gentle heat and more uniform cooking around the food. It works well for cooking custards and other delicate foods like cheesecake.

Slice of cheesecake topped with raspberry sauce, fresh raspberries, whipped cream and mint.

How to Store Cheesecake:

Store cheesecake in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Enjoy well chilled or for an even softer texture you can let it rest at room temperature for up to 1 hour.

Can I Freeze Cheesecake?

Yes! Cheesecake freezes really well. Let cool completely in the fridge first, then wrap in plastic wrap and foil and store in airtight container up to 2 months in freezer. Thaw in refrigerator overnight.

Overhead image of sliced cheesecake.

Possible Variations:

Of course this cheesecake is perfect as is, but after you’ve tried it plain once you can mix things up add try it with fun mix-ins like these:

  • Lemon zest or orange zest
  • Cinnamon
  • Vanilla bean or vanilla bean paste
  • Almond extract and rainbow jimmies (birthday cake flavor)
  • Crushed Oreos
  • Mini chocolate chips

One slice of cheesecake with whole cheesecake in background.

What to Serve on Cheesecake?

Three slices of cheesecake on dessert plates.

More Delicious Cheesecake Recipes You’ll Love:

I kind of have a thing for cheesecake. If you loved this cheesecake recipe be sure to try some of the other favorites:

Cheesecake Recipe

5 from 1 vote
Servings: 12
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Resting Time 9 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 11 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients

For the Crust:

  • 2 cups (240g) graham cracker crumbs* (from about 16 sheets)
  • 3 Tbsp (40g) granulated sugar
  • 6 Tbsp (85g) unsalted butter, melted

For the Cheesecake Filling:

  • 4 (8 oz) pkgs. cream cheese, softened through or at room temperature (preferably Philadelphia)
  • 1 1/4 cups (250g) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature**
  • 3/4 cup (176g) sour cream
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Make the crust: in a medium mixing bowl stir together graham crackers with granulated sugar. Pour in butter and stir until evenly moistened.

  3. Press graham cracker mixture into an even layer along the bottom and about halfway up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan (I have this one HERE - affiliate link).

  4. Bake in preheated oven 9 minutes, remove and let cool on a wire rack. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees***.

  5. Bring about 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot, this will be used later for the water bath to bake the cheesecake.

  6. Make the cheesecake filling: add cream cheese and sugar to a large mixing bowl. Blend together using an electric hand mixer set on medium speed just until smooth, about 30 - 60 seconds. Scrape down bowl with a rubber spatula.

  7. Mix in eggs 2 at a time, mixing just until combined after additions. Scrape down bowl.

  8. Blend in sour cream, heavy cream and vanilla mixing just until combined. Tap bowl against countertop about 20 times to release any large air bubbles.

  9. Prepare pan: wrap 2 layers of heavy duty aluminum foil snuggly around outside and up to the top of springform pan (be careful not to tear foil). Spray inside exposed area of pan with non-stick cooking spray and rub around with finger to coat.

  10. Pour cheesecake filling over graham cracker crust, wiggle pan to level. Place cheesecake in a roasting pan large enough to fit springform pan with extra space around all sides.

  11. Place roasting pan in oven then carefully pour in enough boiling water around cheesecake to fill halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

  12. Bake in preheated 325 degree oven until cheesecake still wiggles slightly (it should not appear raw and liquid-like and edges should be starting to set), about 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 40 minutes. Turn oven off leave cheesecake in warm oven to rest with door propped ajar about 1-inch (I just use an oven mitt between the door and oven), 1 hour.

  13. Remove from oven (pull cheesecake from water bath) let cool at room temperature 1 hour then transfer to refrigerator and chill 8 hours.

  14. Cut into slices, serve with a fresh fruit sauce and whipped cream or other desired topping.

Recipe Notes

  • *To crush graham crackers place in a food processor and pulse to very fine crumbs. If you don't have food processor place in a gallon size resealable bag, seal bag and crush with a rolling pin to a fine texture. You can also buy pre-crushed graham cracker crumbs.
  • **To bring eggs to room temperature quickly you can place in a bowl, cover with warm water and rest 10 minutes.
  • **If you'd prefer top to not brown so much on cheesecake reduce oven rack one level below center (which is what I do).
  • Cheesecake should keep will in the refrigerator for about 4 days or can be frozen for up to 2 months.
Nutrition Facts
Cheesecake Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 579 Calories from Fat 378
% Daily Value*
Fat 42g65%
Saturated Fat 23g144%
Cholesterol 190mg63%
Sodium 418mg18%
Potassium 194mg6%
Carbohydrates 43g14%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 32g36%
Protein 9g18%
Vitamin A 1531IU31%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 125mg13%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cheesecake
Author: Jaclyn

 

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8 Comments

  • Chanda

    I want to start by saying I have made dozens of your recipes and every last one has come out perfect. Last night I made this cheesecake to have today. It looked perfect (exactly like yours) when it finished baking after an hour and 30 minutes. Today after chilling overnight it was perfectly firm to the touch, released beautifully and cut clean. Sadly the center was way undercooked!! I have never had a cheesecake fail and as I said, I have made dozens of your recipes. This one just didn’t work :(

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Sorry to hear it was raw in the middle, but it sounds like it just needed more time to bake. If could be that if the oven was left open for fairly long when adding the pan and water the oven temp dropped significantly and it could take longer to bake. Plus every oven varies a little, I recommend an oven thermometer to test oven for accuracy. I don’t recommend judging doneness by color because again every oven is different and some brown more or less, the wiggle test to see if the edges have started to set always seems to be the most accurate for me. I mean there’s the thermometer test (to 150 degrees) but I never want to poke into my cheesecake. Next time I’d just suggest adding an extra 15 – 20 minutes to the time used with this one and it should come out thoroughly cooked through.

      • Chanda

        That’s what was so strange… the jiggle test was perfect. Before going into the fridge it was firm to the touch in the middle and it cut beautifully. It was just the very center bottom inch or so.

        • Jaclyn

          Jaclyn Bell

          Hmmm do you happen to have any cool spots in your oven, or is there no heating element on bottom by chance? Either way I’d still recommend adding more time if you give it another go and it should finish through. Again, sorry that happened!

  • Brian

    This is very helpful, particularly the part about why cheesecakes can crack. I think I’ve tended to over-beat mine, but now I’ll do it your way. Thanks for sharing this. And your no-bake cheesecake with blueberry sauce looks delicious, too.

  • Chandra Persaud

    Can a cheesecake be baked in a pan other that a springform one and if so, HOW?? Thank you!

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      I’ve heard a cake pan does work – you’d want to use a 9-inch one that’s at least 2 3/4-inch or taller and line the bottom with parchment. The first slice will just be harder to get out. You may find this thread helpful. If you don’t have a taller cake pan you could try my mini cheesecakes that are made in a muffin pan.