The Best Cheesecake Recipe

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Learn how to make the best cheesecake with this melt in your mouth recipe! Follow these simple tips to ensure your cheesecake turns out light, creamy, and free of cracks every single time.

A slice of cheesecake topped with fresh berries and a fork taking out a bite.

The Best Cheesecake Recipe

It’s no secret, I love cheesecake. Who doesn’t? I love the process of making it.

But, even more than that, I love eating it. I can’t resist a thick, creamy cheesecake full tangy vanilla flavor on a buttery graham cracker crust.

Nutella cheesecake is by far my most favorite cheesecake. It’s wildly popular! If you end up making it then, I suggest also giving this cappuccino cheesecake and butterfinger cheesecake a try!

I often get asked what my secret is when it comes to making cheesecake. So today I’m sharing my favorite tips and tricks for cheesecake perfection.

I’ll discuss each little step, every ingredient, and how to avoid those pesky cracks.

Choosing a cream cheese

When it comes to cheesecake the most important ingredient is, of course, cream cheese. I have found that a high-quality cream cheese yields the best texture.

Personally, I like to use Philadelphia, but any good quality cream cheese will do. And make sure it’s full-fat. Cheesecakes are not meant to be “light”.

The best cheesecake topped with fresh berries on a white plate.

Building the cheesecake filling

This cheesecake recipe contains 4 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, but that’s not the only thing a cheesecake needs.

Most of my cheesecake recipes call for heavy cream, but today I’m using sour cream. Sour cream offers a tang that cuts through the richness of the filling and makes one velvety cheesecake.

I also add 4 eggs to hold everything together. It’s important not to whip too much air into the batter once the eggs are added.

Excess air in the eggs will cause the filling to rise during baking. As the cheesecake cools, it will deflate. This is what causes those ugly cracks in the top.

I like to mix all the ingredients, minus the eggs, with a mixer. Then, lightly beat the eggs with a fork and gently fold them into the batter using a silicone spatula.

It works like a charm every time.

Always use a water bath

A water bath creates steam inside the oven which helps cook the cheesecake without drying it out. It’s a method I swear by but it can be tricky.

I get so many emails from people who ruined their cheesecake because water seeped into the pan.

The trick to keeping the water out is to wrap the pan in aluminum foil that is extra wide. Look for 18-inch wide heavy duty foil. For an extra layer of protection, you can also set the pan inside an oven bag.

Fill a roasting pan with a few inches of boiling water, set the cheesecake in the center, and put the whole thing in the oven.

Use this free download to get a printout of how to properly use a water bath and prevent leaks.

Cooking and cooling the cheesecake

Always cook cheesecake on the lower third rack of the oven. This helps keep the top from getting too brown before the cheesecake has cooked through.

And cook the cheesecake just until the outer edge has set, but the center is still jiggly and looks wet.

Another way to ensure your cheesecake remains free of cracks is to allow it to cool gradually. Turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake in the oven with the door closed for 1 hour.

Remove it from the water bath, run a knife around the outside edge to loosen it from the pan, and let the cheesecake cool to room temperature.

The best cheesecake slice on a plate with a fork taking out a bite.

Always plan ahead

Cheesecake needs to be refrigerated for at least 4 hours for it to finish setting up. I prefer to let my cheesecake chill overnight. The texture seems to turn out best this way.

So be sure to allow ample time to make and chill your cheesecake before serving it. You will be disappointed if you cut into the cheesecake too soon.

If you take these steps into consideration, I promise you will have the best cheesecake you’ve ever had!

Tips for making the best cheesecake recipe

  • Begin with room temperature ingredients. Set the cream cheese, sour cream, and eggs out on the counter 30 minutes prior to making the recipe.
  • Don’t incorporate air into the eggs by beating them in with a mixer. Instead, gently fold the eggs in at the very end by using a silicone spatula.
  • For the creamiest cheesecake texture, be sure to use a water bath.
  • After the cheesecake bakes for an hour, turn off the oven and let the cheesecake sit inside for another hour.

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Learn how to make the best cheesecake with this melt in your mouth recipe! 
4.77 from 21 votes
Print Save Recipe Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 17 minutes
Chill Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 42 minutes
Yields: 20 servings
Calories: 353
Author: Jen Sobjack

Ingredients

For the Crust

For the Cheesecake

  • 32 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 and 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten

Instructions

Make the Crust

  • Move the oven rack to the lower third position and heat the oven to 350°F. Wrap the outer bottom of a 9-inch springform pan tightly with aluminum foil. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and about 2-inches up the sides of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool while you make the filling.

Make the Cheesecake

  • Reduce the oven temperature to 300ºF. 
  • In a large mixing bowl beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and sour cream, beat until well combined. Add the vanilla, beat on low speed until smooth. Using a silicone spatula, gently stir in the eggs just until combined. Pour the batter over the prepared crust.
  • Fill a roasting pan with a few inches of boiling water and place the cheesecake in the center. Bake for 1 hour, OR until the edges are set and the center is slightly jiggly. Turn the oven off, leave the cheesecake in the water bath in the oven for another hour. 
  • Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and place it on a wire rack. Run a small knife around the outer edge of the cheesecake to loosen it from the pan and leave it to cool completely. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  • Remove the sides of the pan just before serving. Garnish with berries and/or whipped cream. The cheesecake will keep for up to 4 days covered and stored in the refrigerator.

Notes

Oven temps can vary which means your cheesecake may need more time to bake. You'll know it is done cooking when the outer edges of the cheesecake feel firm to the touch while the center looks wet and jiggles when shaken. If the cheesecake doesn't look this way after an hour of cooking, let it cook until it does. Then you can turn the oven off and let the cheesecake rest for another hour in the oven.

Nutrition

Calories: 353kcal

Nutritional values here on my recipes should be used as a general guide only. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the values shown are just an estimate.

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142 Comments

  • April

    I’ve made this over ten times now and I am convinced this is the BEST cheesecake I’ve ever had! I get requests over and over again for this! Thank you from Alabama!

  • Liz Stewart

    Hi! This is our favourite cheesecake recipe. I often sub the sugar for stevia and it still always turns out amazing! Wondering if you’ve ever added cocoa powder to the recipe to make it a chocolate cheesecake? Would there be anything else I would have to add for it to taste delicious?

  • Samantha

    I love this cheesecake recipe. Every time I make it, it’s gone in less time than normal cake.

    I can’t help but wonder if there’s a chocolate version of this recipe? If so, I’d love to try it. ^^

  • Rob Daubert

    I made this cheesecake a few times. I’ve had times when it came out perfect but also times where the middle was runny. Why did it do that ??

    • Jen Sobjack

      It sounds like your oven temperature may be fluctuating. I suggest getting an oven thermometer to make sure the oven is at the right temperature. Also, don’t turn the oven off until the cheesecake is set around the edges but still jiggly in the middle. After cooling and refrigerating overnight, the cheesecake will finish setting up.

  • Emily Hesketh

    Hello! I really like a tangy cheesecake. Do you think that adding some lemon zest would change the texture of the cheesecake?

  • vanessa

    After reading all of the reviews I decided to go ahead with trying this recipe! I followed all of the instructions down to a tee. I had zero water leaks due to your water bath document which was great; however, after cooking my cheesecake for an hour, letting it sit in the oven for another, and in the fridge overnight, I found my cheesecake to still be extremely raw. It created a puddle on my plate and did not even appear to be cooked on the outer sides of the pan where the crust lies. I don’t know what I did wrong and how my experience could have been so different. I didn’t want to waste the cheesecake, and I don’t know if this allowed, but I stuck it in the oven again for another hour and a bit the next day. The sides taste fine, but the center is still soft. Do you know what could have caused this?

    • Jen Sobjack

      Hi Vanessa! This recipe is designed to yield an extremely creamy cheesecake but it will still hold its shape once it has set. Keep in mind that oven temps can vary as no oven is calibrated exactly the same. You’ll know the cheesecake has finished cooking when the outer edges of the cheesecake feel firm while the very middle looks wet and jiggles when shaken. Check it after an hour of cooking. If it needs more time, let it cook a bit longer before turning off the oven.

  • Nancy Pugh

    Stop it!!! This cheesecake is sinful! I made it according to the instructions. The only thing I did differently was to put it in the freezer to help it set quicker. We topped it with caramel sauce and pecans. One of the best cheesecakes I’ve ever had. Will definitely make again!!

  • Cat

    I have to use cream instead of the sour cream, should it to come to room temperature like I would done for the sour cream??

  • Robert Kapusta

    If I wanted to substitute heavy cream for the sour cream what would me the equivalent measure? Thank you for your response!!

  • Phyl

    the first 5 times I read this recipe, I didnt see the baking instructions for the crust. I was sooo careful tonight, but I couldnt find my springform pan anywhere in this house. researched alternates. finally put it in my best deepest baking dish. placed a glass dish underneath with water.
    now that its been baking 23 minutes, i see where I failed to bake the crust. Darn it 😲
    ho ho ho. Merry Christmas.

  • Jess

    Love love love this recipe! My only thing was I didn’t have a pan big enough for to fit the spring form in so I put a large pan on bottom with the water and turned another smaller pan upside down in that and put the cheesecake on top. It worked perfectly!