The Best Cheesecake Recipe

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I have been working on this post for YEARS my friends – that’s right: it’s the BEST CHEESECAKE RECIPE. This is your go-to classic cheesecake; a creamy vanilla version that you’ll be making for years to come.

I’m adding in all the tips, tricks and important information you need to be successful at making homemade cheesecake – you don’t want to miss this!

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Overhead shot of classic cheesecake with one slice missing

I have been attempting the perfect plain cheesecake for years. In the past, all of my baked cheesecakes have some sort of flavor added, so I wanted to do a basic one that is perfect and creamy, like a New York Cheesecake but better.

This is an anything-but-basic recipe that is perfect served so many ways. With a graham cracker crust it’s a classic that never gets old.

The Perfect Cheesecake Recipe

In this post you’re going to learn:

Let’s get started!

A slice of classic cheesecake on a plate with whipped cream and a strawberry on top

Ingredients in Classic Cheesecake

This recipe has just a few ingredients:

  • Cream Cheese (obviously)
  • Sugar
  • Sour Cream
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla
  • Flour
  • Lemon Juice

The sour cream and the lemon juice make this more of a New York Style Cheesecake, with it’s creamy rich texture and the tang from the sour cream.

Room Temperature Ingredients

I cannot stress enough how important it is to use room temperature ingredients when make cheesecake. I might skimp on leaving out butter for cookies but you MUST leave out ALL your cold ingredients for several hours before mixing.

If anything is slightly cold or different temperatures you’ll immediately get lumps in your cheesecake. You can’t undo those lumps – they’re there to stay.

For best results leave your ingredients out for AT LEAST 2 hours or longer before mixing.

Overhead shot of springform cheesecake pan with foil on the outside

Preparing the Pan

We are going to use a water bath to ensure that the cheesecake comes out perfect. In order to do that you must prepare your pan with foil. I like to use 2-3 layers of heavy duty foil. Just make sure your foil comes up the sides far enough that the water won’t get into the foil.

When it comes to pans, you need to use a springform pan to make cheesecake. Otherwise it won’t release. Also, the size of a springform pan is larger than a regular pie plate. This is the springform pan I love.

Making the Crust

I started this with my graham cracker crust and just added a bit more graham cracker crumbs and sugar to the mix. I like a THICK crust on anything and this cheesecake delivers.

Graham cracker crust being pressed into cheesecake springform pan

Press the crust into the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan. Some recipes have you pre-bake the crust but I don’t, so just chill it while you make the filing.

Four photos showing the process of making cheesecake filling

Cheesecake Filling – NO LUMPS

Again – make sure your ingredients are room temperature before starting. No cheating!

Start by mixing the cream cheese and sour cream until smooth. I highly recommend a stand mixer for this, but a hand mixer will do.

Mix in the sugar and then mix in the eggs one at a time. Eggs are essential for cheesecake texture!

Then mix in the rest of the ingredients, being sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl and not overmix.

At this point you’ll know if you cheated: there will be lumps or not.

Classic cheesecake filling being poured onto the graham cracker crust

Add the cheesecake to the pan and spread it out, then get ready for the water bath.

Using a Water Bath

I find that it is very important to use a water bath for making cheesecake. This is for three reasons, one of which is to keep an even, moist temperature in the oven to reduce cracking. I’ve made this several times with NO cracks – so it MUST be done in a water bath.

Read this post for detailed instructions on how to do a water bath.

Basically – boil water while making the cheesecake. Place the wrapped cheesecake pan in a larger pan in the oven, pour in hot water.

Pouring water around cheesecake pan in oven

Bake, NO PEEKING for 50-60 minutes.

How to know when a cheesecake is done

Cheesecakes are done when they pass the wiggle test: they wiggle slightly in the center. They shouldn’t wiggle in the outer 2 inches and the top should look solid, but it WILL wiggle in the center.

Remove the large pan from the oven, remove the cheesecake, then let it cool to room temperature. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight before slicing.

Note: if it’s really cold inside your house I recommend cracking your oven and cooling the cheesecake in the oven so it can cool slowly. After an hour, remove it to the counter to finish cooling.

You can remove the ring after the cheesecake is cool. Use a butter knife to help loosen, if needed. It should pop right off.

One slice of classic cheesecake on a scalloped plate with a chocolate sauce drizzle

Serving & Storing Suggestions

I love eating cheesecake plain from the pan with a fork (ala Friends) but it’s also great plain on a plate. Other serving ideas:

Store the cheesecake covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Or, freeze it for up to a month!

Slice of classic cheesecake with whipped cream and strawberry on top with one bite missing

FAQ

Can I make cheesecake without a springform pan?

Yes, but if you’re making THIS recipe I recommend the correct pan for best results. Otherwise you can make cheesecake bars or mini cheesecakes.

How can I tell the cheesecake is done?

Cheesecakes are done when they pass the wiggle test: they wiggle slightly in the center. They shouldn’t wiggle in the outer 2 inches and the top should look solid, but it WILL wiggle in the center.

Why did my cheesecake crack?

It can crack for a number of reasons, one being that it cooled too fast or two being that you over baked it. Make sure to take it out right when it’s done and to cool it properly (see recipe notes).

What do I do if my cheesecake cracks?

There’s nothing you can do to fix the crack, but it doesn’t mean your cheesecake won’t taste good. It still tastes fine, so you just need to cover it with whipped cream, ganache, lemon curd or something to cover the crack.

Have you made this recipe?

Tag @crazyforcrust on Instagram or hashtag it #crazyforcrust

Classic Cheesecake Recipe

This Classic Cheesecake Recipe has a graham cracker crust and a smooth and creamy filling. You'll love how easy it really is to make – and how amazing it is. Top it with whipped cream or chocolate sauce, caramel or fruit – this is the best versatile cheesecake recipe!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Yield 12 servings
Serving Size 1 serving

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • cup granulated sugar
  • 7 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

Filling:

  • 3 8 ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature*
  • 1 cup sour cream room temperature*
  • 1 ⅓ cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs room temperature*
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 325°F.
  • Prepare the pan: lay out two or three long stips of foil. Wrap the bottom and up the sides of a 9 or 10-inch springform pan with the foil making sure that the foil comes up at least halfway all the way around.
  • Make the crust: stir together the graham cracker crumbs and sugar, then stir in the melted butter. I like stirring this with a fork so it doesn’t get clumpy. Press into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan. Chill while you make the filling.
  • While you’re making the filling, set a kettle of water on the stove to boil.
  • Beat cream cheese and sour cream with a stand or hand mixer until smooth. Add sugar and mix until smooth. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the flour, lemon juice, and vanilla.
  • Pour the filling into the prepared crust and smooth the top.
  • Create a water bath: Place the cheesecake in the bottom of a roasting pan or large oven-safe skillet (mine pictured is a 12-inch cast iron pan). Place the pan in the middle of the oven. Pour the boiling water into the pan until the water goes about 1-inch up the sides of the pan – do not go farther than the edges of the foil.
  • Close the oven and bake the cheesecake for 50-60 minutes or until it looks set and passes the “wiggle” test: it should wiggle slightly when you tap the edge of the pan but not move in a rolling or jiggly motion.
  • Gently remove the pan from the oven and remove the springform pan from the water bath. Place the cheesecake on a rack to cool to room temperature, then cover and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • For serving: use a butter knife to loosen the edges as needed, then remove the outer ring. Serve with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, caramel, fruit, or plain. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Recipe Notes

  • Make sure ALL your ingredients are ROOM TEMPERATURE. Leave them out at LEAST 2 hours before making the cheesecake. I recommend longer if your house is cold or if it’s winter. It is SUPER important that your ingredients are room temperature to avoid lumps in your cheesecake.
  • Note: if it’s really cold inside your house I recommend cracking your oven and cooling the cheesecake in the oven so it can cool slowly. After an hour, remove it to the counter to finish cooling.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 295kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 130mg | Potassium: 72mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 32g | Vitamin A: 403IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword cheesecake
Photo collage of classic cheesecake photos with recipe title in middle of two photos

This Classic Cheesecake Recipe has a graham cracker crust and a smooth and creamy filling. You’ll love how easy it really is to make – and how amazing it is. Top it with whipped cream or chocolate sauce, caramel or fruit – this is the best versatile cheesecake recipe!

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