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The Best Easy Cheesecake Recipe

This Easy Cheesecake Recipe comes out perfect every time! Make creamy, smooth cheesecake baked in a homemade graham cracker crust.

I’ve included tons of information that will show you how to make cheesecake using a SIMPLE water bath method that’s totally beginner friendly!

Looking for a no-bake cheesecake? You might also like my favorite No-Bake Cheesecake Recipe!

An Easy Cheesecake Recipe Perfect for Beginner Cheesecake Makers!

Cheesecake is one of those recipes that can be intimidating but it doesn’t have to be. Making cheesecake at home can be super simple with the right technique and attention to detail. In this post I’m going to show you how to make the best old-fashioned cheesecake ever with step-by-step instructions.

There is nothing complicated about this recipe, which is just the way I like it. What you will end up with is creamy cheesecake and a buttery, delicious graham cracker crust.

What’s even better about this recipe, is once you’ve tried it, you will see that it’s totally open to be adapted. You can change the crust, or mix in fun things like cookie dough, or swirl it with caramel or fudge. It’s truly the last cheesecake recipe you will need. (Update: I even created a chocolate cheesecake based on this recipe after so many requests, so make sure to check that out, if chocolate is your thing!)

What’s in this Cheesecake?

Let’s start with a quick look at the ingredients for this cheesecake recipe. (See the recipe card at the bottom of this post for amounts.)

There is nothing complicated here! Simple ingredients often make the most amazing desserts. Here’s what you’ll need:

For the graham cracker crust:

  • graham crackers
  • butter
  • sugar
  • salt

For the cheesecake filling:

  • cream cheese
  • sugar
  • sour cream
  • vanilla extract
  • eggs

How to Make a Cheesecake

So are you ready to make cheesecake? I’m breaking down all the easy steps for you…Let’s do this!

A slice of creamy cheesecake being lifted on a spatula.

Step 1: Bring Your Ingredients to Room Temperature

The first thing you will need to do before you make this recipe is take all your ingredients out a few hours before you plan on making your cheesecake. The way to ensure the cheesecake will bake perfectly is for everything to be at room temperature! I know this can be annoying, but trust me…I want you to succeed!

A measuring cup filled with crushed graham crackers

Step 2: Make Your Graham Cracker Crust

For this classic cheesecake recipe, we are sticking with the standard graham cracker crust. Make sure your graham cracker crumbs are finely ground. You can use a food processor or blender to do this.

Then mix your crumbs with melted butter, granulated sugar, and a little kosher salt.

A bowl of graham cracker crumbs mixed with butter and sugar.

Press this into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9- inch springform pan. I use the bottom of a glass to do this step.  A springform pan is a necessity when making cheesecake. The sides are easily removed and your cheesecake will be perfectly intact.

A springform pan with graham cracker crust being shaped with a cup.

I like to pre-bake my crust. I have found that pre-baking lends a crispier, sturdier graham cracker crust. It only bakes for 8-10 minutes, and you can also do this step in advance!

Step 3: Make Your Cheesecake Filling

Like I said, make sure that all of your ingredients are at room temperature. Not only will this ensure it bakes perfectly, it will also prevent your cheesecake batter from being lumpy. If you try and mix the filling up with cream cheese that isn’t quite room temperature, you will get lots of lumps. A few lumps is perfectly fine, too many lumps will change the texture.

Cheesecake filling in a mixing bowl

Another huge tip is to NOT over mix the cheesecake. Over mixing will incorporate too much air into the filling and cause it to crack as it’s baking. Over baking will also cause cracking too, but we will get to that in a minute.

Cheesecake filling poured into a pan filled with graham cracker crust.

You will need 4 packages of cream cheese for this cheesecake recipe.

Just spread the cheesecake filling on top of the crust and smooth it out using a spatula or an offset spatula.

Homemade cheesecake in a springform pan ready to be baked.

Step 4: Bake Your Cheesecake

Baking the cheesecake is where most people start to feel intimidated. There are a lot of stories out there about how hard it is to make a cheesecake, mostly because cheesecake is traditionally baked in a water bath. But I’m here to tell you: baking a cheesecake in a water bath is EASY! You just have to follow my simple technique below.

Why are cheesecakes baked in a water bath? Because with cheesecake the goal is to bake it slowly and evenly without browning or cracking the top. A water bath lets you  insulate your cheesecake so that the outside doesn’t bake too quickly. It also helps keep the oven moist. End result: perfectly baked, moist cheesecake that is all kinds of creamy deliciousness!

How to Bake a Cheesecake in a Water Bath – Easy Method!

First, DOUBLE wrap the bottom of your pan in foil. You bake a cheesecake in a water bath, and the foil is just a preventative measure so water doesn’t leak in and cause your crust to get soggy!

Cheesecake in a springform pan wrapped with tin foil.

Then find a baking pan that is bigger than your cheesecake pan and fill it about 3/4- inch deep with very hot water. I use my half sheet pan, but you can use any shape pan, as long as your spring form pan fits inside!

A tin foil wrapped springform pan in a baking sheet with hot water.

Now, carefully place your cheesecake into the oven and allow it to bake for 60 -70 minutes. Don’t open your oven constantly. I know it’s tempting to see how the cheesecake is baking, but opening the oven can reduce the oven temperature and interfere with the baking process. Wait until the 60 minute mark before you check your cheesecake.

Here’s how to tell if your cheesecake is done baking once you check it: The outside should be set, while the inside should jiggle ever so slightly. This means it’s done. If you bake the cheesecake long enough that the center is set, it is over baked. Over baking ALSO causes cracking, which is what you’re trying to avoid.

But please, if you do get a little cracking, all is not lost! This is when you break open a can of cherry pie filling and turn that cheesecake into a cherry cheesecake!

Step 5: Chill Your Cheesecake

How long does it need to chill?

Allow the cheesecake to cool at room temperature for about an hour. THEN cover the pan with foil and it will need to chill in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, but preferably overnight.

Finished homemade cheesecake ready to be served.

When you’re ready to enjoy your hard work, remove the cheesecake from the refrigerator. If any condensation has built up on top of your cheesecake, just take a paper towel and dab the moisture off. Then slice it and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

A close up of a slice of cheesecake being taken out of the whole cheesecake.

Tips for the Best Homemade Cheesecake

So what have we learned today? Here is a quick rundown of my tips for the best homemade cheesecake:

  • Pre-bake your crust!
  • Make sure all your ingredients are room temperature.
  • Don’t over beat your eggs.
  • Don’t over mix your cheesecake!
  • Line your pan with foil!
  • WATER BATH!
  • Don’t open the oven.
  • Don’t over bake!
  • Don’t skimp on chill time!

Cheesecake FAQs

How Do I Know When My Cheesecake is Done Baking?

When your cheesecake is done baking the outside will be set while the inside will jiggle ever so slightly. This means it’s done. If you bake your cheesecake too long it will look puffy or cracked.

What Do I Do if My Cheesecake Cracks?

All is not lost if you see a crack in your cheesecake! Usually this is just a cosmetic thing. To fix it you can top your cheesecake with whipped cream, or with cherry pie filling. The crack will be hidden and your cheesecake will still taste amazing!

How Do I Store a Cheesecake?

Cheesecake can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. Keep it in the springform mold to hold its shape and cover it with saran wrap until you plan to serve it. Wait to add your toppings, if any, until you serve it.

Can I Freeze Cheesecake?

Yes! To freeze your cheesecake allow it to cool completely on the stovetop and set in the fridge. Then you can freeze it by wrapping it in a couple layers of plastic wrap, plus a couple layers of tin foil. Cheesecake will keep in the freezer for a few months. When you are ready to eat your cheesecake, transfer it to the fridge to thaw overnight.

Have Fun Making Homemade Cheesecake!

I hope this tutorial has helped you feel extra confident in your next cheesecake adventure! This easy cheesecake recipe will be one you make for years to come. Once you’re comfortable making this homemade cheesecake recipe you can get fancy and add your own flavors and add-ins!

Close up of a fork cutting into a slice of cheesecake.

More Cheesecake Recipes to Try:

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Picture of a slice of homemade cheesecake

Easy Cheesecake Recipe

  • Author: Shelly
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 70 minutes
  • Total Time: 90 minutes + chill time
  • Yield: 12 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This easy cheesecake recipe makes perfect cheesecake every time! It doesn’t get much better than creamy, smooth cheesecake baked in a homemade graham cracker crust.


Ingredients

Scale

Crust

  • 1 3/4 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs (about 15 full crackers)
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Cheesecake

  • 4 (8 ounce) packages Cream Cheese, room temperature (32- ounces in total)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 eggs, room temperature

Instructions

Make the Crust

  1. Double wrap the bottom of the springform pan with foil, sealing it tightly to prevent water from getting into the pan.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. In a large bowl mix the graham cracker crumbs, butter, granulated sugar, and salt together evenly.
  4. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of 9-inch springform pan.
  5. Bake the crust for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly golden. Set aside while you make the cheesecake filling.

Make the Cheesecake

  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese and sugar on medium speed, until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  2. Turn the mixer to low and add the sour cream and vanilla; mix well, scraping sides of the bowl as necessary.
  3. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until mixed. Don’t over mix.
  4. Pour the filling over crust and spread evenly.
  5. Place the springform pan into a larger pan and pour very hot water into the pan, until it’s 3/4- inch deep, careful to make sure the water level doesn’t come up higher than the foil.
  6. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until the center is almost set. The center will still jiggle while the edges will be set.
  7. Carefully run a knife around the rim of pan to loosen cake.
  8. Allow the cheesecake to cool at room temperature for at least an hour, then cover and transfer into the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight.
  9. Release the sides of the springform pan before slicing.

Notes

Store airtight, refrigerated for up to 5 days.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 Slice
  • Calories: 372
  • Sugar: 23.2 g
  • Sodium: 244.8 mg
  • Fat: 27.9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 27.2 g
  • Protein: 4.4 g
  • Cholesterol: 119.1 mg

Keywords: best cheesecake recipe, homemade cheesecake, easy cheesecake recipe, how to make cheesecake, classic cheesecake, philadelphia cheesecake,

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438 comments on “The Best Easy Cheesecake Recipe”

  1. Best cheesecake EVER! I am NOT an inexperienced cheesecake baker now, thanks to this recipe. I have made it more than 10 times to rave reviews from my family and others. I need to be gluten free, so I substitute an 8oz box of Kinnikinnick Graham Style Crackers (“S’moreables”) for the crust and it works perfectly, no other modification to the recipe necessary. I won’t need another cheesecake recipe for the rest of my life, because adding a few raspberry swirls and fresh berries on top, or mini chocolate chips with chocolate sauce swirls on top also works great with this basic recipe. Everyone thinks I am a master cheesecake maker, and it’s all because of what I learned here. As a beginner the detailed instructions were easy to understand and an excellent guide, and I highly recommend this for a first-timer. After your guests and family taste this, they will beg for cheesecake for every event, even for birthday cakes, and I will never tell them it was so easy to do! THANK YOU!!!

  2. Literally the best recipe ever! I’ve made it over 20 times. Perfect every time ! Have you ever made mini 4” ones out of this recipe ? And if so, how long did you bake them for ?

  3. Amanda Kahle

    I’ve now made this recipe over 10 times! One gal at church even paid me to make her one! It’s a show stopper for sure! I’ve started using roasting bags on top of tin foil just to be 100% sure no water gets in (after a couple heartbreaking leak incidents!)
    The same gal who paid me to make one asked if I could do a chocolate caramel one…. so here I am asking you, can I? Would I just drizzle those things in with the filing and bake as usual??

    1. What a great tip! I am totally going to try the roasting bag next time! I do have a chocolate cheesecake recipe here on my site that is fantastic. but you can definitely drizzle some caramel into the cheesecake batter before baking and swirl it. You could even use an Oreo crust!

  4. Hi! I just wanted to thank you for sharing this recipe! I have been too intimidated to make a real cheesecake for years, but your recipe, words, and tips gave me the confidence to try! I have made it twice now, second time being yesterday for my Mom’s 69th Birthday today (at her request)!!! So excited!!! Thank you again!!

  5. Hi, Shelly! I made this for family in town. One woman loved it, but my best friend and I thought it was WAY too dense. I could only have a few bites. I’m wondering if you know what mistake I made or how this happens? Or is it just dense? Thank you 🙂

  6. You may have answered this many times, but can you add fresh or frozen fruit to the cheesecake mixture? Can you add chocolate chips to the mixture? Can you add anything else to change it up flavor wise? What can you add to create a “swirl” of flavor in the batter? How would these things affect the baking time? I love the recipe like it is, but am trying to expand things and do something special for our Church’s cake auction.

  7. Oh my gosh, this recipe is truly perfection! I had never made a baked cheesecake before and while searching for a recipe for the “perfect cheesecake” this one popped up. I followed your recipe to a T and it is definitely one of the best, creamiest cheesecakes I’ve ever tasted. My husband told me I should start making them and selling them, lol. Thanks so much for sharing!

      1. Whoops, made it with 1 8-ounce cream cheese and that’s whyyy lol. My nephew loved it though ha. Sorry just a beginner here. Will definitely make another one! Thank you! ❤️

  8. This recipe is fantastic! I can’t believe I hadn’t reviewed it because it’s my go to for cheesecake! I’ve even made it for the crew at work. Got another request for tomorrow, so I’m making it again. SO GOOD!!
    PS. I had my oven on!!

  9. This recipe always comes out perfect. Easy to make, and the most delicious cake I have ever had… that said, I have made Shelly’s chocolate cheesecake and the key lime cheesecake and they are both amazing as well!!

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