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.
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.
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”.
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.
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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The Best Cheesecake EVER
For the Crust
- 2 cups (198 grams) graham cracker crumbs
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the Cheesecake
- 32 ounces (908 grams) cream cheese, softened
- 1 and 1/3 cups (267 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (227 grams) sour cream, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
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.