Classic Cheesecake Recipe

How to make a classic cheesecake with a perfectly creamy center, zero cracks, and the perfect crunchy graham cracker crust! Don't be intimidated by cheesecake! The hardest part is waiting for it to bake and cool before you devour it!
↓ Recipe ↓ Video Print Recipe
Serves: 12 servings
slice of cheesecake on a white plate with whole cheesecake in the background

Smooth and creamy classic cheesecake recipe with a buttery graham cracker crust

How to make a classic cheesecake recipe with a perfectly creamy center, zero cracks, and the perfect crunchy graham cracker crust! Don’t be intimidated by cheesecake! The hardest part is waiting for it to bake and cool before you devour it!

slice of cheesecake on a white plate with whole cheesecake in the background

Top this classic cheesecake recipe with chocolate ganache drip, caramel sauce or even raspberry filling! I love a classic cherry filling or strawberry filling with my cheesecake. But I’m more of a fruit lover. You can also top cheesecake with lemon curd, apple filling or berry filling! The flavor possibilities are endless! 

How do you make a cheesecake?

Here are the main steps to making a cheesecake. We will go into more detail about these steps later but here’s an overview. You will need one 9″ springform cheesecake pan for this recipe.

  1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF. 
  2. Take your cream cheese out of the fridge and unwrap it so it can come to room temperature. Place eggs in a bowl of warm water to warm them up. Pour cream and sour cream into a measuring cup and let come to room temperature.
  3. Prepare your graham cracker crust, bake for 5 minutes and then let it cool.
  4. Decrease the oven temperature to 335º
  5. Wrap your cheesecake pan in two layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Fold-down the edges so they are out of the way. 
  6. Place a large cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan on the bottom rack of the oven. 
  7. Place the wrapped cheesecake into the pan and then fill the pan 3/4 full of hot water. 
  8. Bake for 60 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 150F (don’t open the door at all) then after 60 minutes turn off the oven and crack the door open. Let the cheesecake cool down slowly in the oven for another 60 minutes to prevent cracking. 

Do you have to do a water bath?

The reason for a water bath is to stop the sides of the cheesecake from cooking faster than the center. The water also keeps the oven nice and moist so that the top of the cheesecake doesn’t dry out and crack. 

comparing cheesecake baked in a waterbath and no waterbath. one has a browned surface and one does not

 

Let’s say you’re totally freaked out about doing the water bath thing. Totally understandable. The good news is you don’t have to do a water bath. Just be aware that your cheesecake will end up with a little brown on the top. The brown will not affect the taste at all. 

  1. Move the oven rack to the bottom of the oven and place a sheet pan on top. Fill 3/4 of the way full with hot water. Move the other oven rack to just above the sheet pan. 
  2. Prepare your cheesecake batter according to the recipe and pour it into your cooled crust. 
  3. Place your cheesecake onto the oven rack above the water and set your timer for 60 minutes. Do not open the oven at all during this time. 
  4. After 60 minutes, check the internal temperature to make sure it’s reached 150ºF. Increase the baking time if needed. Then, turn off the oven and crack the door. Let your cheesecake cool for another 60 minutes in the oven. Letting the cheesecake cool this way prevents cracking.

cheesecake without a waterbath

Why did my cheesecake crack?

There are a few reasons a classic cheesecake recipe might crack. 

  1. Too much air was incorporated into the batter – Make sure you mix your ingredients on low. The idea is to incorporate as little air as possible so that your cheesecake is creamy and doesn’t puff up while baking. 
  2. Drastic temperature change – Taking a cheesecake from a hot oven to a cold kitchen can cause it to deflate too quickly, causing cracks. Letting your cheesecake cool in the oven after you turn it off prevents cracking. Don’t worry, even if you get cracks, the cheesecake will still taste delicious!
  3. The oven was too hot – If your oven is too hot, it can cause your cheesecake to rise too much and then deflate. Hot ovens can also cause your cheesecake to brown too much on top. 
  4. Over-baking – You might be tempted to just bake your cheesecake for extra time to make sure it’s really done in the center but over-baking your cheesecake can cause the eggs in the batter to shrivel up and cause major cracking. The texture will also be really rubbery instead of creamy. 

cracked cheesecake

How do you know when your cheesecake is done?

Most people say that your cheesecake is done when the edges are set and the center has a slight wobble. Unless you know what you’re looking for, this can be confusing. 

Eating an under-cooked cheesecake can be unsafe (consuming raw eggs) as well as not holding its shape when cut. 

To avoid this, you can use a thermometer to check the center. When it reads 150ºF, the cheesecake is done. Do not test the cheesecake before 60 minutes has passed.

Give the cheesecake a slight tap and note how much it jiggles. Now you will know what to look for the next time you bake a cheesecake and you won’t have to test it.  

perfect cheesecake with no browning or cracks. Whipped cream piped on top

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

This is a classic cheesecake recipe. It’s light, creamy and not too sweet. New York-style cheesecake is denser than classic cheesecake.

slice of New York cheesecake on a white plate with wooden background

If you love New York-style cheesecake, you can easily convert this recipe by adding in 1/4 cup of flour, the zest of one lemon and 2 teaspoons lemon juice to the cheesecake batter. 

Can you make a classic cheesecake recipe without a springform pan?

Yes, you can! When I was in pastry school, we had to make 6 cheesecakes every day to serve in the restaurant. We made our cheesecakes in regular cake pans.

  1. Place a piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan before you bake your graham cracker crust. 
  2. Fill your pan with batter (you may need to cut the recipe in half if using a regular cake pan) and then bake as usual. 
  3. After your cheesecake has cooled, put it into the freezer overnight. 
  4. Take the cheesecake out of the freezer and use a creme brulee torch to lightly warm the outside edges of the pan or dip the pan in some hot water for about 2 minutes to loosen the cheesecake from the pan. Do not get any water on the inside. 
  5. Turn the pan upside down and the cheesecake will slide right out. Because the cheesecake is frozen, it won’t get damaged. 
  6. Place it onto a plate in the fridge to defrost fully and then serve! 

closeup of classic cheesecake with whipped cream piped on top

How long does cheesecake last?

Cheesecake can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days and still be good to eat. Although in my house, it never lasts that long. 

Want more cheesecake recipes? Check these out?
Mini cheesecake hearts
Cherry Cheesecake

Did You Make This Recipe?Leave a rating and tell me how it went!
slice of cheesecake on a white plate with whole cheesecake in the background

Classic Cheesecake Recipe

How to make a classic cheesecake with a perfectly creamy center, zero cracks, and the perfect crunchy graham cracker crust! Don't be intimidated by cheesecake! The hardest part is waiting for it to bake and cool before you devour it!
5 from 4 votes
Print Rate
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr
cooling: 1 d 1 hr
Serves: 12 servings
Calories: 773kcal

Ingredients

For The Cheesecake Crust

  • 8 ounces (227 g) graham crackers crushed
  • 4 ounces (113 g) unsalted butter melted
  • 4 ounces (113 g) granulated sugar

For The Cheesecake Filling

  • 48 ounces (1361 g) cream cheese softened to room temperature
  • 13 ounces (369 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 ounces (85 g) heavy cream room temperature
  • 3 ounces (85 g) sour cream room temperature
  • 6 large eggs room temperature

Equipment

  • Stand mixer with paddle attachment
  • 9" springform pan with removable bottom
  • Large pan for waterbath

Instructions

For the graham cracker crust

  • Preheat your oven to 350ºF
  • Combine your graham crackers, melted butter and sugar together in a bowl and mix by hand until blended
  • Place your parchment paper into the bottom of your springform pan then place your graham cracker filling on top.
  • Press the graham cracker filling flat with a flat measuring cup. Compress it well so that your crust holds together after it's baked. I don't like to bring my crust up the sides but you can if you want. You might want to double the recipe if you're going to do that.
  • Bake your crust for 5 minutes then remove it from the oven and let it cool while you prepare the cheesecake filling

For the cheesecake

  • Reduce your oven temperature to 335ºF
  • Place the cream cheese in the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment and cream on LOW until smooth and lump-free, then add in your sugar and continue creaming on low until blended and smooth.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl two or three times to ensure NO lumps are in the mixture, these will not come out once you add in the eggs. .
  • Add sour cream and heavy cream, vanilla and salt and blend on low until smooth.
  • Add eggs one at a time on low, waiting until they are completely blended before adding the next. Scrape the bowl after each addition.
  • Wrap two layers of tin foil around your pan and fold down the top edges. Make sure there are no tears or holes.
  • Move your oven rack to the lowest spot in the oven. Place the cheesecake pan into a large cake pan and into the oven. Fill the pan so that its 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 60 minutes. DO NOT open the oven door for at least 60 minutes or risk cracking your cheesecake.
  • Test your cheesecake. When your cheesecake is done, it will have a slight wiggle in the center when you tap the side and the sides will be set. You can also use a thermometer to take the temperature of the center. When the center reads 150ºF it is done. Add more time as needed to reach the right temperature and then make note of how long it took to reach that temperature so you know how long to bake next time.
  • Turn your oven off, crack the oven door open, and let cheesecake cool in the oven for 1 hour. (This helps prevent cracking.)
  • Remove the cheesecake from the water bath carefully (it should be cool enough to take out with your hands) and refrigerate overnight before serving. (Or at least 6 hours)
  • Run a knife around the outside of the cheesecake to separate it from the pan, or use a kitchen torch to lightly warm the outside. Remove from the springform pan and serve.

Notes

*Note* if you don't have a second oven rack, you can place a cooling rack in the water and place your cheesecake on top so it's not in the water. You can also wrap your cheesecake pan in aluminum foil to prevent water from getting inside.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 773kcal (39%) | Carbohydrates: 60g (20%) | Protein: 12g (24%) | Fat: 55g (85%) | Saturated Fat: 30g (150%) | Cholesterol: 264mg (88%) | Sodium: 587mg (24%) | Potassium: 244mg (7%) | Fiber: 1g (4%) | Sugar: 49g (54%) | Vitamin A: 2061IU (41%) | Calcium: 157mg (16%) | Iron: 2mg (11%)

22 comments on “Classic Cheesecake Recipe

  1. Is there a difference between this recipe and the cherry cheesecake recipe (minus the topping of course)?do you prefer one recipe over the other?

    1. It’s the same recipe, the only difference is that the cherry cheesecake doesn’t have a waterbath and browns on top so it depends more on how you want the cheesecake to look. Waterbath or no waterbath

  2. 5 stars
    So good!! I made this last night so it was ready this morning and I had it for breakfast! Now I need to give it away so I don’t eat it all! So delicious! And I appreciate your telling what temperature the cheesecake needed to be! I think that helped a lot! And now I’ll know for next time how long I need it to be in the oven and it be done! So excited about this recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    Liz Liz Liz, this was the most amazing Cheesecake. This is truly the BEST I’ve ever made, and I what I love most NO FLOUR or Cornstarch. You are a genius when it comes to baking, I love love love your recipes, haven’t had a bad one yet. Thank you for this AMAZING silky smooth Cheesecake, and that crust perfect. Looking forward to more of your recipes.

  4. Wow!! Love this cheesecake recipe! I have made a lot of cheesecakes lately and this recipe is by far the best one so far and will be my go-to from now on. I made two of them, one with Heath bar pieces in it and a chocolate ganache drizzle over the top and more Heath bar pieces. The second one I made was a plain cheesecake with a homemade strawberry sauce over the top and they both came out absolutely perfect

  5. For cupcakes would you reduce heat or same? How long baking?

    1. I would bake them in cupcake liners and it would take much less time for them to bake since they are smaller. Not sure exactly how long 🙂

  6. I just made this! No cracks and perfect top! I’ll add the whipped cream on tome and blueberries sauce once it has cooled off and add some white chocolate shavings on the side. ?

  7. Hi Liz, love your recipes. Can I reduce the amounts in this recipe as I only have 24 ounces of cream cheese on hand and would love to stay out of the grocery store right now? Also, should I still bake it for an hour (since it will be smaller) before checking the temp?

    1. If you reduce the cream cheese you will have to reduce all the ingredients. The cheesecake will be slightly shorter too so it will definitely take less time to bake. Use a thermometer or the jiggle test to see when it’s done.

  8. 5 stars
    Thanks for the recipe. 48ounces of cream cheese seems a lot, so i reduced everything to half. But i was a bit confused with the baking. One picture shows the hot water on the lower rack and the other pic/video shows the pan in the water bath. I used the 1st method, hot water in lower rack and it came out perfect!! I had a small crack but i covered with whipped cream. This recipe is a keeper!!!

    1. Hi Lola, the two photos are two variations that you can use depending on what you prefer. The water bath below or the pan in the water bath. I am so glad it worked for you!

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