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This is literally the best cheesecake recipe ever. Seven simple ingredients. No water bath. No cracking ever. It is the only recipe you’ll ever need for classic, jaw-dropping, super creamy cheesecake. Follow my directions and it is simply fail-proof!
Not into the whole baking thing? Check out my No-Bake Cheesecake!
But Seriously, This Is The *BEST* Cheesecake Recipe
Friends, I have tested and re-tested this amazing Cheesecake Recipe to make sure it was the absolute best and we are there! I am thrilled to be sharing this recipe with you today. Not only did I test this recipe a bunch of times, but I also had 5 devoted readers test this recipe to double down my claim that this cheesecake doesn’t crack. Y’all, their cheesecakes looked just as good as mine did with no cracks! Every.single.one looked great. The cheesecake gods are smiling down on this recipe and I hope you love it as much as we all did.
Why Do Cheesecakes Crack?
There are several reasons why cheesecakes can get a grand canyon-sized crack down the center but through my recipe testing and research, I’ve found the main three reasons are: air bubbles, lumps in the batter and baking and cooling. Here’s how I’ve dealt with and adjusted my recipe to ensure these three things don’t cause any issues:
When you are using a hand or stand mixer, it has a tendency to incorporate air into any batter you make, not just cheesecake. Particularly after you add in eggs. When eggs get whipped, they hold that volume. So, we want to reduce the mixing time after we add in the eggs and remove any extra air bubbles. How do we do this? Crack all four eggs into a bowl and whisk with a fork before adding them into the cheesecake batter. Then, stir in the eggs last and mix until they are just incorporated. Then before pouring the batter into the graham cracker crust, tap the bowl on the counter for 30 to 45 seconds to remove as many air bubbles as possible.
Lumps in the Batter
Using room temperature cream cheese, eggs, and sour cream makes everything incorporate easier, thus more of a lump-free batter. Also, be diligent in scraping the sides of the bowl. You want to ensure the cheesecake batter is lump-free before adding in the eggs.
Baking and Cooling
Baking a cheesecake in a water bath helps moderate oven temperatures not only for baking but for cooling too. Since I hate water baths and think they should go die (see next section below), I had to MacGyver this whole cheesecake recipe to ensure it was baking at a lower oven temperature for a longer period and also cooling very slowly. Once baking is finished and the oven gets turned off, you’ll notice the cheesecake still spends over an hour in the hot oven, not only to help finish baking it (called carryover cooking) but also to cool it gently and slowly. This is what gets you that beautiful, crack-free top.
Looking for even more mouth-watering desserts? See here: Actually Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies, The Best Homemade Brownie Recipe, *AMAZING* Peach Cobbler, Easy Cannoli Recipe, The Best Homemade Cinnamon Rolls, and Ultimate Banana Pudding Recipe.
Why Water Baths SUCK
Cheesecake is a time-consuming, somewhat expensive dessert to make. I’d hate for you to wrap your springform pan in foil only to discover you didn’t wrap it well enough and now water is seeping into your cheesecake before it even hits the oven. That has happened to me a handful of times and I MAKE FOOD FOR A LIVING. It totally sucks. It not only wasted your time but it wasted that perfectly good food!
So, don’t give in to those other online recipes that call for water baths. Me and my five recipe-testing readers proved otherwise. You can do better.
Like I mentioned above, you only need SEVEN simple ingredients for this recipe. Only 7! This is a classic cheesecake recipe, so really it’s all about using the best ingredients and enjoying the simplicity of this thick, extra creamy cheesecake.
- Graham Cracker Crumbs: Honeymaid is my favorite, but any brand is fine. You can grind your own or buy them as crumbs.
- Granulated Sugar: to sweeten the crust and the filling.
- Melted Butter: to hold the graham cracker crust together.
- Cream Cheese: I like using the Philadelphia brand; I think it’s slightly tangier than other off-brands out there. Make sure you are using room temperature, soft cream cheese.
- Sour Cream: adds an extra tang. This also needs to be at room temperature.
- Vanilla Extract: for flavor since this is a classic cheesecake.
- Eggs: needed for structure. Absolutely have these at room temperature and beat together before adding in.
How to Make Easy Cheesecake | Directions
If you want to make sure your cheesecake doesn’t crack, please please please follow these directions as carefully as possible. Don’t be all Suzy-Homemaker thinking you can change this recipe however you like and still have it come out perfectly. I mean, maybe it will but I have tested this recipe as written so you can have success with this recipe as written. All the specific directions for this cheesecake recipe are in the recipe card below.
Step 1: Make the Graham Cracker Crust
Stir graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter together and press into a 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 7 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Set aside to cool.
Step 2: Make the Cheesecake Filling
Stir very soft cream cheese together with the granulated sugar. Stir in the vanilla and sour cream. Scrape the sides really really well and stir again to ensure there are no lumps.
Whisk eggs together in a separate bowl and slowly add to the cheesecake filling with the mixer on. Once eggs are incorporated turn mixer off. Scrape the sides really well to ensure a very smooth batter. If there are lumps, stir them in by hand.
Step 3: Remove Air Bubbles
Tap bowl on the counter for 30-45 seconds to remove air bubbles. Air bubbles can contribute to why cheesecakes crack and we definitely want to prevent that. This is a small step, but makes a big difference.
Step 4: Bake the Cheesecake (without a water bath!)
Pour batter into graham cracker crust, smooth the top and bake. Bake at 325 degrees, reduce heat to 250 to finish cooking. Keep the oven door closed this entire time!
Let cheesecake sit in the hot oven with the oven closed for 30 minutes before cracking the door and letting it continue cooling for another hour. Remove from oven and bring cheesecake to room temperature.
Do I Have To Use a Springform Pan?
The best baking pan for this cheesecake recipe is a 9-inch springform pan and don’t have a suggestion for an optional pan to use instead. You can definitely put this into a 10-incher, but definitely won’t fit into an 8.
Also, I know you can buy larger 9″x 3″ cake pans without the springform option, but just don’t see any good way to remove the whole cheesecake without ruining it. Moral of the story? Splurge and get the springform pan. Or find a friend and borrow one.
I’ve had readers bake this recipe in a 9×13 pan and it has absolutely worked! So keep that in mind as well. If you’re ok with cheesecake bars, then this is a great option for you.
Step 5: Refrigerate & Serve
Once the cheesecake is at room temperature, you can cover and refrigerate until completely chilled. The beautiful thing about cheesecake is it’s a great dessert to make in advance because it stores so well in the fridge.
When you’re ready to serve, cut into slices, top with any desired toppings (see notes below) and enjoy!
Storing Your Cheesecake
Like I mentioned above, cheesecake is a fabulous make ahead dessert because it stores so so well in the fridge and freezer! Here’s how to do it.
In the Fridge
After your fully baked cheesecake has come to room temperature, refrigerate covered for up to one week.
In the Freezer
If you are a kitchen expert, you’ll know cream cheese by itself doesn’t freeze well but baked it does! Cheesecake is a perfect candidate for freezing! First, un-mold cheesecake from the springform pan. Place into the freezer uncovered for about 4 hours or until its mostly solid. Remove springform bottom and wrap the cheesecake well in two layers of plastic wrap or aluminum foil. It will stay good for up to 3 months in the freezer.
To defrost, simply unwrap and transfer to a plate. Cover gently with plastic wrap and transfer to the fridge to defrost. Once defrosted, cut into slices and serve.
Tasty Cheesecake Toppings
Since this is a very basic, beautiful, and delicious cheesecake recipe, try to find delicious toppings that will help enhance the flavor. Here are a few classic ideas:
- cherry pie filling
- fresh strawberries or raspberries
- strawberry or raspberry sauce
- chocolate shavings
- chocolate sauce
- whipped cream
- lemon curd
- chocolate ganache
- salted caramel sauce
For more ideas be sure to check out all of my other cheesecake recipes here!
Love Cheesecake? Try These Sweet Treats:
- Amazing Vanilla Cake Recipe
- The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe
- Homemade Ice Cream Cake Recipe
- Strawberry Cake
- Black Forest Cake Recipe
- Amazing Italian Cream Cake
- Molten Chocolate Lava Cake Recipe
*THE BEST* Cheesecake Recipe
For the Graham Cracker Crust:
- 9" Springform Pan
- Place oven racks in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a medium sized bowl, stir graham cracker crumbs together with sugar and melted butter until well incorporated and mixture looks like damp sand. Using the bottom of a measuring cup, press crust into the bottom and half way up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake 7 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
- Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.
- In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, mix cream cheese 30 seconds 'til smooth. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and add in granulated sugar, sour cream and vanilla. Mix again until incorporated. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again briefly.
- Crack eggs into a liquid measuring cup and using a fork, beat until well scrambled. With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the eggs into the cream cheese mixture and stop stirring once egg has been incorporated. Remove bowl from mixer and scrape the sides and bottom again, ensuring the entire mixture is smooth. If there are a few small lumps, try to fold in using the rubber scraper.
- Once the batter is completely smooth and ready, tap the bowl on the counter for 30-45 seconds to remove as many air bubbles as possible. You should see them popping on the surface as you tap the bowl. Pour filling into the center of the graham cracker crust and gently smooth the top. Will be very full!
- Bake for 30 minutes at 325 degrees. Reduce temperature to 250 degrees and continue cooking for 45 minutes more. Once this time has elapsed, turn oven off and keep cheesecake inside for another 30 minutes for some carryover cooking without opening the oven door. Crack oven door to let cheesecake cool slowly for one hour before removing. At this point, cheesecake should be slightly warm. Bring cheesecake to room temperature on the counter (3-4 hours) before covering with plastic wrap and transferring to the fridge.
- Refrigerate until chilled completely (6 hours to overnight). To serve, open springform pan and remove collar. Decorate as desired. Dip a sharp knife into hot water, wipe off any excess water and slice. I like to dip my knife in water between each slice to get really clean-looking pieces.