A Step-by-Step Guide to Making the Perfect Cheesecake

One creamy confection coming right up

The Spruce / Leah Maroney
  • 01 of 15


    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    Cheesecakes are always a hit, and if you've never made one before, you may wonder how to get started. Grab a cheesecake recipe that looks good to you, so you know the exact amount of ingredients you need, like this no-bake chocolate cheesecake or this no-bake cool whip cheesecake recipe. Then, follow these step-by-step instructions with photos to make it easier for you. 

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  • 02 of 15

    Gather the Crust Ingredients

    graham crackers and butter
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    The first step in making a cheesecake is the crust. Most cheesecake recipes call for a cookie crumb crust. You may either purchase the crumbs, but making your own with a food processor is incredibly easy. Get your cookies or graham crackers and butter ready.

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  • 03 of 15

    Butter the Pan

    butter in springform pan
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

     Completely butter the bottom and sides of a springform pan.

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  • 04 of 15

    Process the Graham Crackers

    Graham crackers crumbs in food processor
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    While the cookies are processing, slowly drizzle melted butter into the bowl. This way, the machine will do the work combining the butter and crumbs.

    You can also put cookies into a resealable plastic bag and push out the air when sealing the bag. Use a rolling pin and roll it over the cookies in the bag to make the crumbs.

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  • 05 of 15

    Press the Crust

    Press down crumbs in pan with drinking glass
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    The cookie crumbs mixture needs to be pressed into the cheesecake pan. Use the bottom of a glass for a nice, uniform crust. 

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  • 06 of 15

    Gather the Cake Ingredients

    Cream cheese, eggs, lemon, sour cream
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

     Gather the filling ingredients.

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  • 07 of 15

    Soften the Cream Cheese

    Beat cream cheese
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    Make sure to soften the cream cheese to room temperature before beginning. Just go ahead and leave it right in the mixing bowl on the counter covered with a towel or a little plastic wrap until it has softened. 

    Don't have the time to wait for your cream cheese to soften? (Check out these tips for softening cream cheese in the microwave.)

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  • 08 of 15

    Mix in the Sugar

    Mixed cream cheese
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    After beating the cream cheese, add in the sugar. Slowly pour it in while the machine is running. If you are using a hand mixer, add a little of the sugar at a time and combine.

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  • 09 of 15

    Add the Remaining Ingredients

    Spatula mixing cream cheese and other ingredients
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    Mix in the sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. 

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  • 10 of 15

    Mix in the Eggs One at a Time

    Egg with cream cheese blend
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    Of course, not all recipes are the same, but most of them will have you add your eggs at this step. Always, add one egg at a time. Mix completely before adding the next egg.

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  • 11 of 15

    Scrape the Bowl

    Spatula mixing cream cheese blend and eggs
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    More than once during the process of making a cheesecake, you'll need to scrape down your bowl. Don't forget to scrape the beaters down as well. This way you won't end up with a lumpy cheesecake.

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  • 12 of 15

    Pour the Batter Into the Pan

    Cheesecake mix in pan
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    Carefully pour or scrape your batter into the cheesecake pan. Once the batter is in the pan, use a rubber spatula to smooth the top.

    Place the pan into a preheated oven. Bake for the amount specified in the recipe.

    Note: Many people will tell you to place your pan in the oven with a pan full of water. Many feel the steam will help lessen the chance of getting cracks in the cheesecake. Often, once the cheesecake has cooled, the cracks have disappeared. If they don't, you can always cover them up with a topping.

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  • 13 of 15

    Loosen the Sides

    Knife separating cheesecake from pan
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    Once the cheesecake is removed from the oven, allow it to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Use a knife to go around the pan to loosen the cake from the pan. Place the completely cooled cheesecake in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Don't remove the sides until the cheesecake is cold.

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  • 14 of 15

    Cool the Cheesecake in the Refrigerator

    Cheesecake on cooling rack
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    Finish cooling the cheesecake in the refrigerator, uncovered for at least 3 hours.

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  • 15 of 15

    Top the Cheesecake

    Cherries on cheesecake
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    If desired, finish your cheesecake with cherry pie filling or other fresh fruit toppings. Enjoy!