Sernik Polish Cheesecake

Sernik Polish cheesecake in a plate with a napkin

The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

Prep: 45 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Cooling/Refrigeration Time: : 5 hrs
Total: 6 hrs 45 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
529 Calories
26g Fat
61g Carbs
14g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 529
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 26g 33%
Saturated Fat 15g 73%
Cholesterol 174mg 58%
Sodium 346mg 15%
Total Carbohydrate 61g 22%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 44g
Protein 14g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 108mg 8%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 148mg 3%
*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.)

Sernik (SEHRR-neek) is one of the most common desserts served on Polish tables. Easily found in Polish supermarkets, bakeries, and coffee shops, this sweet treat has hundreds of years of history and is thought to have arrived in Poland in the 17th century. Although many varieties have come with the passing of time, the traditional recipe is still a favorite: a sweet pastry crust filled with a type of farmer cheese called twaróg (TVAH-rroog) and then baked to perfection.

Other modern variations use crumbly cake as the base or add fruits, raisins, or chocolate to the filling. One famous sernik is very similar to a strawberry cheesecake, but the base is sponge cake instead of the famous buttery graham cracker crust. Sernik can be baked in a square or round springform pan—both are traditional.

Although it's possible to buy twaróg in Polish gourmet stores, some cooks use quark instead. The difference lies in the amount of fat, as twaróg can contain a lot of it, while quark can be low in fat. Twaróg is also firmer. Using quark can yield a tasty dessert, but it won't be as luscious and creamy as one made with twaróg. If twaróg is not an option, make the sernik with homemade farmer cheese.

"I’m not a fan of rich, dense cheesecakes, so I really enjoyed this lighter version. I was worried that the crust would not cook through, since it doesn’t get blind-baked, but the crust and filling baked perfectly together in 50 minutes. Make sure to get the lumps out of your cheese in the food processor." —Young Sun Huh

Sernik Polish Cheesecake/Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


For the Crust:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, more as needed

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 5 ounces (10 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cubed, more for the pan

  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature

  • 3 tablespoons sour cream

  • 1 large egg, optional

For the Cheese:

  • 2 pounds dry-curd cheese, such as twaróg

For the Filling:

  • 4 large eggs, room temperature

  • 5 ounces (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Steps to Make It

Make the Crust

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Sernik Polish Cheesecake ingredients

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  2. In a large bowl or food processor, mix together the flour, sugar, and baking powder.

    Flour, sugar, and baking powder mixed together in a food processor

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  3. Add the cold butter and pulse, or cut it in, until you get a sandy texture, similar to a pie crust.

    Cold butter added to the ingredients in the food processor

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  4. In a separate small bowl, mix together the egg yolks and sour cream.

    Mix together the egg yolks and sour cream

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  5. Add the egg-sour cream mixture into the flour-butter mixture, mixing or pulsing until just combined. If the dough is too dry, add the optional whole egg. If the dough is too soft to roll, refrigerate for 1 hour so the ingredients dry up and firm.

    Dough for sernik crust in a food processor

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  6. Lightly grease a 13 x 9-inch pan, preferably springform, with butter.

    A 13 x 9-inch pan greased with butter

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  7. On a floured work surface, roll out the pastry dough large enough to line the pan and come up the sides.

    Dough on a floured work surface

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  8. Fit the rolled dough into the prepared pan, making a crimped or rolled edge.​

    Dough in a greased pan

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

Process the Cheese


  1. Place the cheese in a food processor or potato ricer. Process the cheese a few times until smooth with no large lumps. Do not overmix—you want a creamy texture.

    Cheese in a food processor

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  2. Place the processed cheese in a large bowl. Cover and set aside.

    Place the processed cheese in a bowl

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

Make the Filling

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 F. Separate the yolks from the whites of the eggs.

    Bowl of egg yolks and bowl of egg whites on a wooden background

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks. Set aside.

    Egg whites whipped to stiff peaks in a large bowl

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  3. In a stand mixer or by hand, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

    Butter and sugar creamed together in a standing mixer

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  4. Add the vanilla and egg yolks to the sugar-butter mixture. Mix until well combined.

    Vanilla-yolk mixture added into the sugar and butter mixture

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  5. Stir the processed cheese into the sugar-butter-yolk mixture.

    Processed cheese folded into the sugar-butter-yolk mixture

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  6. Fold the egg whites into the mixture by hand until well combined. Do not overmix (you want to retain as much air as possible).

    Egg whites folded into the main mixture and combine well

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

Assemble the Sernik

  1. Pour the filling into the prepared pastry crust.

    Pour the filling into the prepared pastry crust

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  2. If you have leftover dough, roll it into pencil shapes and lay them diagonally across the top of the cheesecake.

    Pencil shaped dough laid diagonally across the top of the cheesecake

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  3. Bake the sernik until the center is only slightly jiggly, 50 to 60 minutes. The top shouldn't brown.

    Baked sernik Polish cheesecake

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  4. Let cool completely before cutting it into squares and serving.

    Sernik Polish Cheesecake cut into a square in a baking pan

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati


If your cheese is a little dry and does not puree well in the food processor, add a little heavy cream to loosen the mixture a bit. You want the cheese to be smooth and creamy.

Recipe Variations

  • You can leave out the crust and make a crustless sernik.
  • Add dried fruit to the filling.
  • Stir some citrus zest, such as lemon or orange, into the filling.
  • Pipe a decorative chocolate drizzle on top.

How to Store and Freeze Sernik Polish Cheesecake

Like all cheesecakes, sernik should be covered and stored in the refrigerator. It will freeze well, too. Just wrap the slices in plastic and then layer again with aluminum foil. Defrost in the fridge when you're ready to eat them.