Best Classic Cheesecake Recipe

Classic, Easy, and Crack-Free

Best Cheesecake

The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Chill: 8 hrs
Total: 9 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 12 slices
Yield: 1 cheesecake
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
499 Calories
37g Fat
36g Carbs
8g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
×
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 499
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 37g 48%
Saturated Fat 21g 105%
Cholesterol 147mg 49%
Sodium 362mg 16%
Total Carbohydrate 36g 13%
Dietary Fiber 0g 2%
Total Sugars 27g
Protein 8g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 111mg 9%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 165mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

If you have always wondered how to make the best, easiest cheesecake from scratch, this is your recipe. The result is rich, creamy and you can customize it with all your favorite toppings. This recipe is great because the cheesecake is the perfect texture and the top is crack-free. The recipe is easy enough for beginners to tackle and the ingredient list is short and manageable.

When preparing this original cheesecake recipe start with a simple graham cracker crust and press it into a springform pan that has been wrapped in aluminum foil. The filling ingredients are blended together but not over-mixed.

To help prevent the cheesecake from deflating and cracking as it cools, the filling should be combined until just smooth. The cheesecake is the cooked in a water bath. A water bath helps cook the filling in a more gentle way than simply placing the cheesecake in the oven. This step is necessary to achieve that perfectly smooth and creamy texture of a classic cheesecake filling.

Overall, it is easy to master the art of cheesecake making by following these basic tips. It is a great dessert if you like to plan menus in advance and have a make ahead dessert ready to serve, and impress, your guests.

Once you have baked the perfect cheesecake, it can be topped with your favorite toppings. Cherry pie filling, fresh strawberries, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, salted caramel sauce, and lemon curd are all excellent options.

Ingredients

Graham Cracker Crust:

  • 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 15 full sheet graham crackers)

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cheesecake:

  • 32 ounces cream cheese

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 8 ounces sour cream

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

  • 3 large large eggs

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350 F.

    Best Cheesecake

    Kristina Vanni

  2. In a medium bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar, and salt.

    Best Cheesecake

    Kristina Vanni

  3. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan wrapped in aluminum foil. Pre-bake the crust for 8 minutes.

    Best Cheesecake

    Kristina Vanni

  4. Cool on a wire rack while you prepare the filling.

    Best Cheesecake

    Kristina Vanni

  5. In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar until smooth, about 2 minutes.

    Best Cheesecake

    Kristina Vanni

  6. Add the sour cream, vanilla extract, and lemon juice until combined.

    Best Cheesecake

    Kristina Vanni

  7. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until just blended. To help prevent the cheesecake from deflating and cracking as it cools, avoid over-mixing the batter.

    Best Cheesecake

    Kristina Vanni

  8. Pour the filling over the slightly cooled crust and smooth the top.

    Best Cheesecake

    Kristina Vanni

  9. Boil enough water to fill your roasting pan with 1 inch of water.

    Best Cheesecake

    Kristina Vanni

  10. Place the cheesecake pan inside a large roasting pan with high sides. Carefully pour the hot water into the roasting pan, being careful not to splash any water into the cheesecake. Bake for 55-70 minutes or until the center is almost set. When it’s done, the center of the cheesecake will slightly wobble if you gently shake the pan. Turn the oven off and open the oven door slightly. Let the cheesecake sit in the oven in the water bath as it cools down for 1 hour.

    Best Cheesecake

    Kristina Vanni

  11. Remove from the oven and water bath, then cool cheesecake completely uncovered at room temperature. Then cover and refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours or overnight.

    Best Cheesecake

    Kristina Vanni

  12. Use a knife to loosen the chilled cheesecake from the rim of the springform pan, then remove the rim. Using a clean sharp knife, cut into slices for serving.

    Best Cheesecake

    Kristina Vanni

  13. Slice into wedges and enjoy!

    Best Cheesecake

    Kristina Vanni

Tips

  • Always use room temperature ingredients so the filling mixes easily without over-beating.
  • Don’t over-mix cheesecake filling, beat just until completely combined.
  • Help prevent cracks by not opening the oven while baking. It is also important to cool completely at room temperature and chilling completely in the fridge before removing the springform pan ring and serving.

Springform Pan Alternative

Traditional cheesecakes should be made in a springform plan for the classic cheesecake look. If you don't have a springform pan, cheesecakes can also be made in 9x13 pans and cut into squares to serve.


Storage

  • Cheesecake can be prepared in advance, wrapped in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and frozen up to 3 months. Thaw completely before serving.
  • Store leftover cheesecake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

What’s the difference between classic cheesecake and New York style cheesecake?

Classic cheesecake adds sour cream to thin the batter and create a silkier, creamier texture while New York cheesecake is richer and denser because only cream cheese is used in the batter.

Is sour cream necessary for cheesecake?

Sour cream is only necessary if you prefer the classic smooth cheesecake texture.