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Easy Cheesecake Recipe

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This is the best cheesecake recipe. Smooth, rich, and creamy filling is topped on a buttery graham cracker crust. Amazing with or without a fruit topping! 

Looking for a different option? Try making Cheesecake Bars! One of the most popular and no-fail recipes on my site that you can add almost any topping to.

This post was originally published on Mar 24, 2014. It has since been updated to include helpful tips and information.

Cheesecake on cake stand with cherry topping

RECIPE FEATURES

  • Classic Dessert: Cheesecake is a staple in American desserts. So delicious and the perfect way to celebrate any occasion.
  • Family Favorite Recipe: This recipe is the NUMBER ONE most requested for family functions.

This recipe is my brother’s favorite. I made it once, and since then it has been requested over and over. It is rich, creamy, and so hard to resist. Classic cheesecake is something I feel that every baker should try to make at least once in their lifetime.

Making this recipe can be simple. Just take your time, follow the basic tips and tricks in this post, and enjoy a beautiful cake every single time. And remember, if you find that your cake comes out with a cracked top… It just has character and still tastes delicious! 

close up of the top of a cheesecake topped with cherries

CHEESECAKE RECIPE INGREDIENTS

Now that I have you talked into giving this incredibly delicious dessert a try, what exactly do you need to get started? Turns out not much! Most of the items are everyday staples and things you probably already have on hand.

  • Graham crackers– Classic grahams are best for this crust. Try not to use the ones with cinnamon and sugar as they will not hold up as well when slicing.
  • Cinnamon– Cinnamon adds a slight boost in flavor, but is optional. You can always skip this for a more traditional buttery graham cracker crust.
  • Butter– Butter is the binding agent or glue to your crust. I love to use salted butter, as it gives just a touch more flavor.  
  • Cream cheese– Here’s the deal, we have tried so many different brands of cream cheese. This recipe works best with the original Philadelphia. Skip the low fat or off brand versions for the best flavor.
  • Sugar– Granulated sugar, or white sugar, is best for this dish. 
  • Milk– Try not to use anything under 2%. Whole milk is ideal, but I can understand not wanting to buy a gallon just for this recipe. We have tested all, and while the lower fat versions give just a slightly less creaminess, it is not something anyone will notice.
  • Eggs– Large eggs at room temperature. This helps to ensure that everything mixes together evenly without over mixing the batter, which can cause cracking.
  • Sour cream– My secret ingredient. Sour cream folded into the batter adds just a touch of tang that really sends your taste buds into a frenzy.
  • Vanilla– Avoid imitation vanilla if you can. Pure vanilla will give you great flavor without the addition of a chemical after taste, which tends to happen with imitation.
  • All-purpose Flour: Regular white flour added to the batter works as a thickening agent. You get a beautifully fluffy and dense finish thanks to the gluten.

Note: I used my classic graham cracker crust with just a few tweaks for the base.

Cherry filling being lifted out of a bowl with a silver spoon.

SIMPLE CHEESECAKE RECIPE

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Line or grease a 9 inch springform pan with parchment or baking spray. Set aside.
  3. Combine the graham crackers, cinnamon, and butter in a small bowl. Mix until you get a wet sand like mixture.
  4. Press firmly, using the bottom of a measuring cup or bowl, into the bottom of your pan until evenly distributed. Set aside.
  5. Combine the cream cheese, sugar and milk in a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of an electric mixer.
  6. Beat with a hand mixer, or paddle attachment, on medium speed until fully incorporated and slightly fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  7. Stir in the eggs, one at a time, switching to a whisk to mix by hand.
  8. Scrape the sides of the bowl and gently mix to incorporate any items that stuck to the side.
  9. Fold in the sour cream, vanilla, and flour, using the whisk or a silicone spatula. Try not to over mix and only gently stir until combined.
  10. Pour into the prepared baking dish.
  11. Bake for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and let the cake rest inside until cooled to room temperature.
  12. Transfer the cake to the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours, or up to overnight, before removing from the pan.
  13. Gently run a knife around the outside of the pan. Release the sides and remove the cheesecake from the dish.
  14. Slice and serve.

CHEESECAKE TOPPINGS

This cheesecake tastes incredible all on its own, but sometimes you want to jazz things up, am I right? Try some of these great topping ideas to give your cake a beautiful finish!

  • Fruit Pie Filling: Cherry, blueberry, or strawberry are the fan favorites in our home. You can find quality fillings at most grocery stores or you can make your own.
  • Caramel Sauce: My salted caramel sauce is a dreamy finish to this cake.
  • Crushed Cookies: Crush up Oreo cookies or Chips Ahoy and sprinkle over the top. You’ll be surprised how much everyone falls in love with this addition.
  • Chocolate Sauce: When all else fails, top with chocolate! A simple chocolate syrup or chocolate ganache is an elegant way to finish your dessert.
close up of a cake topped with cherry pie filling

BAKED CHEESECAKE RECIPE TIPS AND FAQS

  • A water bath can help reduce cracks in your cake.
  • Use room temperature ingredients. Over mixing is one of the main in creating cracked tops. By using room temperature ingredients you are reducing the time needed to fully incorporate the ingredients. 
  • Do not over mix the batter. Like stated above, over mixing will cause big ol’ cracks in your baked cheesecakes. Be sure to mix carefully just until the ingredients are combined. 
  • As tempting as it might be, avoid opening the oven door. Opening and closing the door releases heat causing the oven temperature to fluctuate. This can cause uneven baking and… you guessed it… cause cracking. 
  • If all else fails, and you find yourself faced with a cracked top, top with fruit! 

HOW TO CREATE A WATER BATH

  1. Start with a large pan, like a roasting pan, that has a bit of a lip or edge. 
  2. Place your spring form pan that is filled with the batter into a larger cake pan. Essentially, you are creating a barrier around you cake to stop water from getting in. So if you have an 8″ spring form pan, place it into an empty 10-12 inch round cake pan.
  3. Place the spring form pan with the extra cake pan into your roasting pan. 
  4. Transfer to the oven. 
  5. Fill the roasting pan with warm water until it reaches halfway up the sides of your cake, but not going over the outer cake pan. 
  6. Bake as normal. 
The best cheesecake recipe

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The Best Cheesecake

The Best Cheesecake

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Rest Time: 3 hours 2 seconds
Total Time: 4 hours 20 minutes 2 seconds

This is the best cheesecake recipe. Smooth, rich, and creamy cheesecake filling is topped on a buttery graham cracker crust. Amazing with or without a fruit topping!

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 4 8oz cream cheese packages, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup flour

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Line or grease a 9 inch springform pan with parchment or baking spray. Set aside.
  3. Combine the graham crackers, cinnamon, and butter in a small bowl. Mix until you get a wet sand like mixture.
  4. Press firmly, using the bottom of a measuring cup or bowl, into the bottom of your pan until evenly distributed. Set aside.
  5. Combine the cream cheese, sugar and milk in a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of an electric mixer.
  6. Beat with a hand mixer, or paddle attachment, on medium speed until fully incorporated and slightly fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  7. Stir in the eggs, one at a time, switching to a whisk to mix by hand.
  8. Scrape the sides of the bowl and gently mix to incorporate any items that stuck to the side.
  9. Fold in the sour cream, vanilla, and flour, using the whisk or a silicone spatula. Try not to over mix and only gently stir until combined.
  10. Pour into the prepared baking dish.
  11. Bake for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and let the cake rest inside until cooled to room temperature.
  12. Transfer the cake to the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours, or up to overnight, before removing from the pan.
  13. Gently run a knife around the outside of the pan. Release the sides and remove the cheesecake from the dish.
  14. Slice and serve.

Notes

  • A water bath can help reduce cracks in your cake.
  • Use room temperature ingredients. Over mixing is one of the main in creating cracked tops. By using room temperature ingredients you are reducing the time needed to fully incorporate the ingredients. 
  • Do not over mix the batter. Like stated above, over mixing will cause big ol’ cracks in your baked cheesecakes. Be sure to mix carefully just until the ingredients are combined. 
  • As tempting as it might be, avoid opening the oven door. Opening and closing the door releases heat causing the oven temperature to fluctuate. This can cause uneven baking and… you guessed it… cause cracking. 
  • If all else fails, and you find yourself faced with a cracked top, top with fruit! The cheesecake will still taste incredible.

HOW TO CREATE A WATER BATH

  1. Start with a large pan, like a roasting pan, that has a bit of a lip or edge. 
  2. Place your spring form pan that is filled with the batter into a larger cake pan. Essentially, you are creating a barrier around you cake to stop water from getting in. So if you have an 8″ spring form pan, place it into an empty 10-12 inch round cake pan.
  3. Place the spring form pan with the extra cake pan into your roasting pan. 
  4. Transfer to the oven. 
  5. Fill the roasting pan with warm water until it reaches halfway up the sides of your cake, but not going over the outer cake pan. 
  6. Bake as normal. 

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 472Total Fat: 37gSaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 161mgSodium: 369mgCarbohydrates: 52gFiber: 1gSugar: 41gProtein: 9g

Jessica

Saturday 18th of October 2014

I honestly don't know how this can be done in an hour. I baked for 80 minutes at least and it was still really jiggly. I just turned my oven off and am letting it cool now. Hoping it's ok after it sets in frig.

Holly C.

Thursday 27th of March 2014

I've been wanting cheesecake for a while now. I've never made it before, but I could probably handle this one. Thanks!

Jonie @ Just Between Friends

Wednesday 26th of March 2014

This looks delicious! I am definitely pinning this recipe for later.

Amy | The Happy Scraps

Wednesday 26th of March 2014

Ummm, I'll be right over! This looks so yummy! Cheesecake is one of my favorites.

Bismah

Tuesday 25th of March 2014

This looks so delicious especially with the cherries on top! Its been so long since I've made cheesecake. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

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