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!
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, I had 5 devoted readers test this recipe to double down my claim that this cheesecake doesn’t crack. Ya’ll, 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 and adjusted my recipe to ensure these three things don’t cause any issues:
- Air bubbles: 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.
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 into 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 are my favorite, but any are 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 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 cheesecake
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.
- Start by making 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.
- Make the cheesecake filling by stirring the 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.
- Tap bowl on the counter for 30-45 seconds to remove air bubbles.
- Pour batter into graham cracker crust, smooth the top and bake.
- Bake at 325 degrees, reduce heat to 250 to finish cooking.
- 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.
- Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled. Serve.
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 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.
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
Can you freeze cheesecake?
Yes, you absolutely can! 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 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. 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.
Love Cheesecake? Try these other recipes:
- Amazing No-Bake Cheesecake
- New York-Style Nutella Cheesecake
- Mini Vanilla Bean Cheesecakes
- Lemon Meringue Pie Cheesecake
- Perfect Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Oreo Turtle Cheesecakes
*THE BEST* Cheesecake Recipe
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!
For the Graham Cracker Crust:
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.
If you would like a thicker graham cracker crust, use 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs, 5 tablespoons granulated sugar and 6 tablespoons melted butter. Press into the pan and bake for 8 minutes.