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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.
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!
Table of Contents
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.
In this post you’re going to learn:
- How to adapt my favorite graham cracker crust for a cheesecake
- Tips and Tricks for getting that silky smooth filling
- How to do a water bath for the perfect texture – no cracks here
- How to serve my favorite cheesecake
Ingredients in Classic Cheesecake
- 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.
- Sugar – Granulated sugar works best for this recipe.
- Sour Cream – Make sure it’s also room temperature!
- Eggs – Always buy large eggs and let them also come to room temperature.
- Vanilla – Pure vanilla extract is the best.
- Flour – Just a bit of all-purpose flour helps the cheesecake texture.
- Lemon Juice – Just to brighten the flavor, don’t worry – this isn’t a lemon cheesecake.
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.
How to prepare 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.
Perfect Graham Cracker Crust (for baked pies or no bake pies)
A graham cracker crust recipe for baked pies and no bake pies! We could also title this post The Anatomy of a Graham Cracker Crust. In other words, we’re making our own graham cracker crust from scratch today and it’ll be the best graham cracker crust you’ve ever had! NEVER buy a store bought crust again…
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.
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.
Creamy Cheesecake Filling
- 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.
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.
Basically – boil water while making the cheesecake. Place the wrapped cheesecake pan in a larger pan in the oven, pour in hot water.
Using a Cheesecake Water Bath (Baking 101)
What’s a Cheesecake water bath? If you’re confused, don’t worry, I’m going to teach you all about making a cheesecake in a water bath: why, when, and how. It’s an extra step, but I find that using this method ensures a crack-free soft and silky cheesecake. Not sure how to do a water bath (or…
What goes good on cheesecake?
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:
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.
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).
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.
Refrigerate cheesecake overnight to set (before serving) then refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days, tightly covered.
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!
Classic Cheesecake Recipe
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- ⅓ cup (67g) granulated sugar
- 7 tablespoons (99g) melted unsalted butter
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
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 versatile cheesecake recipe!
Last Updated on October 20, 2022