Junior's Original New York Cheesecake Recipe

Junior's original New York cheesecake recipe

The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 2 hrs
Cool and Chill Time: 8 hrs
Total: 10 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 20 to 24 servings
Yield: 1 9-inch cake
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
181 Calories
10g Fat
21g Carbs
3g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
×
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 20 to 24
Amount per serving
Calories 181
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 10g 13%
Saturated Fat 6g 29%
Cholesterol 66mg 22%
Sodium 89mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 21g 7%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 18g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 34mg 3%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 49mg 1%
*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.)

Junior's in Brooklyn, N.Y., is one of the world's iconic restaurants that is famous for its cheesecakes. No matter what flavor, the restaurant has been making the cheesecakes in exactly the same way since 1950, using only fresh ingredients and small batches. Many cheesecake fans believe this is the best cheesecake you can find, especially because of its sponge cake crust.

Luckily, this cheesecake is easy to make, especially with this recipe that has been adapted for the home kitchen.

Ingredients

For the Sponge Cake Crust:

  • 1 tablespoon softened unsalted butter, for the pan

  • 1/3 cup sifted cake flour

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 pinch table salt

  • 2 extra-large eggs, separated

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1/4 teaspoon pure lemon extract

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

For the Cheesecake Batter:

  • 4 (8-ounce) packages full-fat Philadelphia cream cheese, room temperature, divided

  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar, divided

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch

  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

  • 2 extra-large eggs

  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Steps to Make It

Note: While there are multiple steps to this recipe, this cheesecake is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and baking.

Make the Sponge Cake Crust

  1. Gather the ingredients. Heat the oven to 350 F.

    Ingredients for sponge cake

    The Spruce / Teena Agnel

  2. Generously butter the bottom and side of a 9-inch springform pan, preferably nonstick. Wrap the outside with aluminum foil, covering the bottom and extending it all the way up the side.

    Butter bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan

    The Spruce / Teena Agnel

  3. In a small bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. 

    Sifted flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl

    The Spruce / Teena Agnel

  4. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks on high for 3 minutes.

    Beaten egg yolks in a bowl

    The Spruce / Teena Agnel

  5. With the mixer running, slowly add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and continue beating until thick, light-yellow ribbons form in the bowl, about 5 minutes more.

    Mixed sugar and egg in a bowl

    The Spruce / Teena Agnel

  6. Beat in the vanilla and lemon extracts.

    Vanilla and lemon extracts added to batter

    The Spruce / Teena Agnel

  7. Sift the flour mixture over the batter and stir it in by hand, just until there are no remaining white flecks.

    Flour added to batter

    The Spruce / Teena Agnel

  8. Blend in the melted butter.

    Melted butter blended in batter

    The Spruce / Teena Agnel

  9. In another clean bowl, using clean, dry beaters, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar together on high until frothy.

    Beaten egg whites and cream of tartar

    The Spruce / Teena Agnel

  10. Gradually add the remaining sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form (the whites will stand up and look glossy, not dry).

    Add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form

    The Spruce / Teena Agnel

  11. Fold about 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter and then fold in the remaining egg whites. Don’t worry if you still see a few white specks, as they’ll disappear during baking.

    Fold the egg whites into batter

    The Spruce / Teena Agnel

  12. Gently spread the batter over the bottom of the prepared pan and bake just until set and golden (not wet or sticky), about 10 minutes. Watch carefully and don’t let the top brown. To test the cake for doneness, touch the cake gently in the center; if it springs back, it’s done.

    Spread batter over bottom of pan

    The Spruce / Teena Agnel

  13. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool. Leave the oven on while you prepare the batter for the cheesecake.

    Cooked crust in the pan, cooling on a wire rack

    The Spruce / Teena Agnel

Make the Cheesecake Batter

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for cheesecake batter

    The Spruce / Teena Agnel

  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (if your mixer has one), beat 1 package of the softened cream cheese, 1/3 cup of the sugar, and the cornstarch together on low speed until creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl several times.

    Softened cream cheese, sugar, and cornstarch

    The Spruce / Teena Agnel

  3. Blend in the remaining cream cheese, 1 package at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each block.

    Blend in cream cheese

    The Spruce / Teena Agnel

  4. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat in the remaining sugar, then add the vanilla and mix again.

    Increase mixer speed and blend batter

    The Spruce / Teena Agnel

  5. Blend in the eggs, 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition.

    Blend in eggs, one at a time

    The Spruce / Teena Agnel

  6. Beat in the heavy whipping cream just until completely blended. The filling will look light, creamy, airy, and almost like billowy clouds. Be careful not to overmix.

    Beat in heavy whipping cream

    The Spruce / Teena Agnel 

  7. Gently spoon the batter over the crust.

    Spoon batter over sponge cake crust

    The Spruce / Teena Agnel

Bake the Cheesecake

  1. Place the cake pan in a large shallow pan or baking dish. Make a water bath by adding enough hot water so it comes halfway up the side of the springform (about 1 inch).

    Place cake pan in pan
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  2. Return to the oven and bake until the edge is light golden brown, the top is light gold, and the center barely jiggles, about 75 minutes. If the cake still feels soft around the edge, let it bake for 10 minutes more.

    Bake until golden brown
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  3. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath, transfer to a wire rack, and let cool for 2 hours (don’t move it).

    Remove
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  4. Leave the cake in the pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until completely cold, preferably overnight or for at least 6 hours.

    Leave cake in pan
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel

Serve the Cheesecake

  1. Release and remove the side of the springform, leaving the cake on the bottom of the pan.

    Release cheesecake
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  2. Place on a cake plate. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

    Place on cake stand
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  3. To get the cleanest cuts, carefully slice the cake with a sharp straight-edge knife, not a serrated one, rinsing the knife with warm water between pieces.

    Serve
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  4. Enjoy.

    serve slice
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel

Tips

  • The cake is best when refrigerated overnight, so plan accordingly.
  • Always bake the cheesecake in a water bath as they do at Junior’s. It keeps the heat in the oven moist and helps the cake bake slowly, gently, and evenly. It also helps to ensure that your cake will have a smooth top with no large cracks.
  • Refrigerate any leftover cake, tightly covered, and enjoy within two days, or wrap and freeze for up to one month.

Why Add Cornstarch to the Batter?

Not every cheesecake recipe calls for it, but a little cornstarch in the batter will reduce the chance for cracks on the top and will make for cleaner slices. It will change the texture of the cheesecake slightly.

Praise for Junior's Cheesecake

In the Village Voice on July 26, 1973, Ron Rosenblum wrote, “There will never be a better cheesecake than the cheesecake they serve at Junior’s on Flatbush Avenue...it’s the best cheesecake in New York.” The next year, a jury of six cheesecake lovers for New York magazine named Junior’s the Champion Cheesecake. When Alan Rosen was asked what makes his cheesecake so special, he said, "It’s light but not crumbly, oh-so-creamy but not dense, and with that heavenly cream cheese flavor that makes Junior’s New York cheesecake famous the world over.”

This recipe for Original New York Cheesecake is from "Junior's Home Cooking" (Taunton Press, 2013) by Alan Rosen and Beth Allen.