This Vanilla Cheesecake is super creamy and not as heavy as traditional baked cheesecake thanks to a good dose of sour cream or Greek yogurt — it’s soft and luscious and perfect with fresh berries! Includes step by step recipe video.
So I actually can’t remember the last time I made a baked cheesecake.
I make no bake cheesecake all the time, and mini cheesecakes, and cream cheese stuffed coffee cakes… but a baked cheesecake? That’s at least 3-4 blocks of cream cheese (expensive!) and a few hours of baking, prepping, water bathing and coddling before refrigerating until thoroughly chilled. Not usually my idea of a good time.
But I do love a good baked cheesecake, and when I saw The Ultimate Cheesecake in the April edition of Canadian Living, I was intrigued. Could it be?!?! They also promised a perfect, crackless baked cheesecake with no water bath. That definitely spoke to this busy mom’s heart.
But I had to stay true to my rebellious ways and cut a few corners, and so even though my first cheesecake had one crack along the outer edge, my second cheesecake was totally smooth on top! I’m nearly convinced this has something to do with baking the cheesecake at such a low temperature.
I had never made a cheesecake with soooooo much sour cream. FOUR CUPS of sour cream baked in!
The second time I made it, I used 0% plain Greek yogurt for a boost of protein. The sour cream or yogurt gives this cheesecake a more delicate, more luscious texture than any baked cheesecake I’ve ever had. I love that about this cheesecake recipe — some baked cheesecakes can be so thick and heavy.
Using sour cream in the cheesecake will give it a little more tang than using yogurt will, but I love how it complements a dollop of sweetened whipped cream and some fresh summer berries! Choose whichever you prefer — sour cream or Greek yogurt.
And if your berries aren’t quite as sweet as you like, simply slice them and toss them in a bowl with a teaspoon of sugar and let sit for 20 minutes until they start to release some of their juices. They will go beautifully with this cheesecake!
Tips and Tricks for Making the Best Vanilla Cheesecake:
- You will want a nice, deep 9-10″ Springform pan for this recipe. I’ve made it in both, and both work well. A 10″ pan will give a thinner cheesecake than pictured in the video, and will bake more quickly. A 9″ pan will give a nice high cheesecake but may need to bake a little longer. Whatever you do, do not use a 9 or 10″ regular round cake pan.
- This is not a lemon cheesecake, so the lemon juice won’t make it taste like lemon. But it’s still necessary in the cheesecake!
- Feel free to add different toppings to jazz it up: lemon curd, thinned out jam or jelly, fresh fruit, caramel or chocolate sauce, chopped nuts or pretzels — the options are endless!
Watch the recipe video down below and see how easy it is to make!
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The Best Vanilla Cheesecake
- 2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/3 cup butter melted
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 24 oz light (or regular) cream cheese 3 packages
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 4 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- a pinch of salt
- 3 cups light sour cream I used 5% or 0% plain 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.
- 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, 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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