This really is the Best Vanilla Cheesecake Recipe! It’s light, creamy, luscious, and perfect topped with fresh berries.
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You know, I actually can’t remember the last time I made a baked cheesecake. I make No-Bake Cheesecake, and Mini Baked Cheesecakes, but a whole baked cheesecake?! Seems like a lot of work, right?
But when I saw The Ultimate Cheesecake in the April edition of Canadian Living, I was intrigued. The recipe promised a perfect, crackless baked cheesecake with no water bath.
And so The Best Vanilla Cheesecake was born! It’s light, creamy, perfect…and it doesn’t require a water bath. Win!
The secret is loads of sour cream or yogurt and a low oven temperature. It is seriously luscious and perfect with all kinds of toppings!
- Crust: we’re making a simple homemade crust with graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and sugar.
- Cream Cheese: use full fat blocks of cream cheese for the best texture.
- Granulated Sugar: all cheesecakes need a sweetener.
- Eggs: helps hold the cheesecake together.
- Lemon Juice: no, this is not a lemon cheesecake. You can’t taste it, but the lemon juice is necessary.
- Vanilla Extract: gives the Vanilla Cheesecake its flavor.
- Salt: cuts the sweetness and brings out the flavor.
- Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt: using sour cream will give a little more tang than yogurt will, but I love how it complements a dollop of sweetened whipped cream and some fresh summer berries. Choose whichever you prefer.
How to Make Baked Vanilla Cheesecake
This Vanilla Cheesecake takes a quick 20 minutes to prep! See the detailed recipe down in the recipe card.
- Make the crust: In a bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and sugar. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a greased springform pan, then bake at 325ºF until firm. Remove from the oven, then drop the temperature of the oven to 275ºF.
- Prepare the filling: In a bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth, then add sugar, eggs, lemon juice, vanilla, and salt. Beat on low until smooth, then add the sour cream.
- Assemble and bake: Pour the filling into the crust, smooth the top, then bake until the outer 2 inches are set. It will still be jiggly at this point! Do not worry.
- Cool slowly: Turn the oven off and let the cheesecake sit for 1 hour, then remove from the oven and let it sit for 15 minutes on the counter. Carefully run a knife around the edge to loosen the cheesecake, cool to room temperature, then chill further in the fridge for at least 8 hours.
Baked Vanilla Cheesecake FAQs
Other than the fact that one is baked and the other isn’t, the main difference between the two is that a baked cheesecake contains eggs while a no-bake cheesecake does not. Because of this, a no-bake cheesecake tends to have a softer texture and very little structure. A baked cheesecake is still creamy and moist, but holds up a little better thanks to the eggs.
I bake my Vanilla Cheesecake at 275ºF for roughly 2 hours or until the outer 2 inches are set but the center is still jiggly. Please do not be alarmed — it will only be fully set when it is thoroughly chilled.
The purpose of a water bath is to help regulate the temperature of the cheesecake as it bakes for that perfect smooth and creamy texture. However, since we’re baking this one at a low temperature, there isn’t really a need for the water bath. Fewer steps for the win!
Finished cheesecake will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. It can also be wrapped tightly and stored in the freezer for up to 1 month. When you’re ready to serve, simply thaw it in the fridge and it’s ready to go!
Tips and Notes
- Pre-bake the crust. Pre-baking firms the crust up so it doesn’t get soggy once you add the filling.
- Don’t over-mix the filling. Over-beating the eggs will incorporate too much air and can result in cracks on the top of your cheesecake.
- Use a springform pan. A springform pan is the key to removing the cheesecake without damaging it.
- Make sure your pan is 9″ across. This recipe is designed for a 9″ pan. A different size will alter the baking time.
- If you use a smaller pan, you can adjust the time and bake the leftover crust and filling in muffin cups for about 20 minutes to make mini cheesecakes.
- Cool slowly! You’ll cool the cheesecake for 1 hour in the oven, set it out on the counter until it’s room temperature, then chill it in the fridge for at least 8 hours. Be patient. This time is essential to the perfect texture and no cracks!
- Cheesecake texture. We love a soft, creamy cheesecake, so that’s exactly what this one is. If you prefer a drier, firmer cheesecake, this may not be the one for you!
This Vanilla Cheesecake is absolutely delicious on its own, but you can also decorate it with a number of different toppings!
- Drizzles. Top it off with a drizzle of melted chocolate, fudge sauce, or caramel sauce.
- Fresh fruit. Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, you name it! If your berries aren’t quite sweet enough, slice them and toss them in a bowl with a teaspoon of sugar. Let that marinate for 20 minutes until they start to release some of their juices, then add them on top of the cheesecake.
- Jam. Add a dollop of your favorite raspberry jam, strawberry jam, Strawberry Sauce, or lemon curd.
- Crunchies. Sprinkle on crushed candy bars, chopped nuts, crushed pretzels, or anything your heart desires.
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The Best Vanilla Cheesecake
- 2 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
- ⅓ cup butter melted
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 24 oz full fat cream cheese (3 8 oz or 250 gram packages)
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 4 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- a pinch of salt
- 2 cups sour cream or Greek yogurt
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and lightly grease a 9″ Springform pan.
- In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar. Press into the prepared pan and up the sides about 1 inch up the sides. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until firm no longer moist. When done, reduce the oven heat to 275 degrees F.
- Meanwhile, prepare your filling. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar, eggs, lemon juice, vanilla and salt and beat on low speed until smooth. **DO NOT overmix. Overbeating the eggs will result in too much air which will result in cracks.
- Add sour cream and beat on low until combined.
- Pour into crust and smooth the top. Bake at 275 degrees F for about 2 hours or until the outer 2 inches are set but the center is still jiggly.
- Turn off the oven and let sit in the warm oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes before carefully running a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cheesecake.
- Let cool to room temperature before chilling in the fridge completely (chill at least 8 hours before serving), then remove from the pan and serve.
- Baked cheesecakes store perfectly in the fridge for a few days, and the freeze wonderfully as well!
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Danie McGrane says
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