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
For the cheesecake filling:
- cream cheese
- sour cream
- vanilla extract
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
More Cheesecake Recipes to Try:
- Sugar Cookie Cheesecake
- Lemon Meringue Cheesecake
- Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Cheesecake
- Boston Cream Pie Cheesecake
- Smores Cheesecake
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.
- 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
- 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
Make the Crust
- Double wrap the bottom of the springform pan with foil, sealing it tightly to prevent water from getting into the pan.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a large bowl mix the graham cracker crumbs, butter, granulated sugar, and salt together evenly.
- Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of 9-inch springform pan.
- Bake the crust for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly golden. Set aside while you make the cheesecake filling.
Make the Cheesecake
- 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.
- Turn the mixer to low and add the sour cream and vanilla; mix well, scraping sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until mixed. Don’t over mix.
- Pour the filling over crust and spread evenly.
- 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.
- Bake for 60-70 minutes or until the center is almost set. The center will still jiggle while the edges will be set.
- Carefully run a knife around the rim of pan to loosen cake.
- 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.
- Release the sides of the springform pan before slicing.
Store airtight, refrigerated for up to 5 days.
- 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
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