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BEST CHEESECAKE RECIPE: This is your go-to classic cheesecake; a creamy vanilla version that you’ll be making for years to come. With my tips and tricks you can make this cheesecake successfully – you’re going to love it!

Overhead shot of classic cheesecake with one slice missing


The Perfect Cheesecake Recipe

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 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. While cheesecakes seem hard, this is an easy cheesecake recipe that works.

Why you’ll love this recipe

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

Ingredients Needed

  • Crust – I love a basic graham cracker crust but you could also use a chocolate cookie crust (oreo crust) instead.
  • Cream Cheese – Be sure it’s room temperature and full-fat.
  • Sour Cream – Make sure it’s also room temperature!
  • Eggs – Always buy large eggs and let them also come to room temperature.
  • Flour – Just a bit of all-purpose flour helps the cheesecake set.
  • Lemon Juice – Just to brighten the flavor, be sure to use fresh lemon juice!

Be sure to see the recipe card below for full ingredients & instructions!

How to avoid lumps in cheesecake

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.

How to make the Best Cheesecake Recipe

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

Tip From Dorothy

Expert Tips

  • I cannot stress enough how important it is to use room temperature ingredients when make cheesecake. You MUST leave out ALL your cold ingredients for several hours before mixing.
  • 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.
  • Don’t skip the 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.
One slice of classic cheesecake on a scalloped plate with a chocolate sauce drizzle

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.

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.

Do you need to refrigerate cheesecake?

Refrigerate cheesecake overnight to set (before serving) then refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days, tightly covered.

Can you freeze cheesecake?

Freeze the entire cheesecake for up to 3 months – make sure it’s wrapped well with plastic wrap or stored in an airtight container. Or freeze individual slices!

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

Best Classic Cheesecake Recipe

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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 (67g) granulated sugar
  • 7 tablespoons (99g) melted unsalted butter

Filling:

  • 3 8 ounce packages (678g) cream cheese, room temperature*
  • 1 cup (245g) sour cream room temperature*
  • 1 ⅓ cups (267g) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs room temperature*
  • ¼ cup (31g) 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.

Recipe Nutrition

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

Favorite Cheesecake Recipes

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 cheesecake in the world!

Last Updated on November 17, 2023



Dorothy Kern

Welcome to Crazy for Crust, where I share recipes that are sometimes crazy, often with a crust, and always served with a slice of life.

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2 Comments

  1. I’ve been making cheesecakes for years and even won the SC State Fair Cheesecake competition…however, I wanted to ask you a question…my recipe is similar to yours and I’ve always used an electric oven…but I baked my cheesecake at 300 for an hour and a half and then left it in the oven for another hour with oven turned off and cracked…it was BEAUTIFUL and PERFECT…
    Unfortunately my electric oven died and my husband got me a gas oven…NOTHING like an electric oven and I’m wondering how to adapt my time for the cheesecake…any thoughts?

  2. I made this for my son’s 25th birthday. I was beautiful. I followed everything. It did take longer to bake. Otherwise it tasted so much better than the recipe I had used in the past, Philadelphia Cream Cheese recipe. I have to make another because it was eaten up and everyone wants more!!! Thank you 😊 for helping me make a great day even better.