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The Best Vanilla Cheesecake Recipe

Prep Time 20 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 35 mins
Servings 16

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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.

whole vanilla cheesecake on white cake plate with smooth top

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.

piece of vanilla cheesecake on blue plate with whipped cream swirls and fresh strawberries in the background

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.

close up slice of vanilla baked cheesecake on blue plate with fresh strawberries on the side

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

4.75 from 16 votes
This Vanilla Cheesecake is super creamy and not as heavy as traditional baked cheesecake thanks to a good dose of sour cream — it’s soft and luscious and perfect with fresh berries!
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs 15 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 35 mins
Cuisine American
Course Dessert
Servings 16
Calories 327cal

Ingredients

Crust!

  • 2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup butter melted
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Filling

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 327cal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 89mg | Sodium: 366mg | Potassium: 234mg | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 555IU | Vitamin C: 0.9mg | Calcium: 141mg | Iron: 0.8mg

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Meet Ashley

My name is Ashley Fehr and I love creating easy meals my family loves. I also like to do things my way, which means improvising and breaking the rules when necessary. Here you will find creative twists on old favorites and some of my favorite family recipes, passed down from generations!

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Comments

  1. Kay Smith says

    I’d like to attempt to make this recipe but use a mango purée to create a mango cheesecake. Any suggestions on recipe adaptations?

    • Ashley Fehr says

      You could use the same amount of Oreos (about 400 grams), crushed and stir in melted butter. You may want to use less butter as the frosting will help to hold the crust together.

      • Erin says

        Not bad but way to much yogurt. Came out very very soft almost mushy and you can really taste the tang from the yogurt. Probably won’t make it again. You should probably call this Greek yogurt cheesecake.

        • Ashley Fehr says

          Everyone has different preferences, and there’s definitely not too much yogurt. We prefer our cheesecake rich and creamy over dry and bland 🙂

  2. Gladys Salinas says

    Love this recipe!!! My whole family loves it. I was just wondering how I could make this recipe into an Oreo cheesecake ? Any tips?

    • Ashley says

      Hi. How do you mane the topping cream? Its not whipped cream right? Like one that would stay, even if its in room temperature?

      • Ashley Fehr says

        The topping is just whipped cream. It will last for some time at room temperature, but if you want it to last longer you can always add a bit of unflavored geltain.

  3. Dianna Avena says

    I’ve made this about three times now I looooovveee it my husband that doesn’t like cheesecake ate it and loved it too this is my go to cheesecake forever its so good thank you for the recipe its awesome.

  4. Nannette says

    This recipe is my family’s absolute favorite! I first made this cheesecake for Christmas 2 years ago and drizzled raspberry sauce on top (I use Fran’s Chocolates Raspberry Sauce), just a piece at a time on the serving plate. It is the part of Christmas dinner I can get everyone excited about! I used to also make an apple pie and sweet potato pie, but those are no longer eaten 🙂

    I use light cream cheese and 0%fat Fage Greek yogurt, making sure everything is room temp. I often top it all around the edge with fresh raspberries.

    Super simple and delish!!

  5. ava says

    Is it 3 cups or 4 cups sourcream? Ingredients list/recipe calls for 3 cups, yet your prequel raves of 4 cups – please clarify!

    Thanks so much!

  6. Katrina says

    I’ve made this four times and it’s AMAZING quality and SIMPLE! I use one package of grahams for the crust and 2cups Greek goghurt, 1cup sourcream.

    I get RAVE reviews with it and it’s so simple! I’ll be making two to take to church potluck next weekend and I was asked to make this for a teens birthday cake. Thank you for this recipe!

  7. Diane Vetroczky says

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe. I’ve always been intimidated by cheese cakes for whatever reason. BUT I am so happy I used this recipe as my first go around. It was a HUGE success with the family that I have made it about a dozen times in the last 6 months. I did mix and used 1 1/2 C sour cream and 1 1/2 C of greek yogurt and the family agreed that was the best of both worlds. My question is…I would like to add chopped andes mints to just the top of the cake, I don’t want them to melt but would like them to stick to the cake. When would you suggest adding them? As soon as I pull if from the oven before using the knife or after the hour it sits? I’m a cook rather than a baker and not experienced enough in the baking field.

    • Ashley Fehr says

      I’m so happy you love this recipe Diane! I think you could add the chopped chocolates with some whipped cream on top after it’s cooled — if you add them while it’s hot they may just melt.

  8. Patsy says

    Ashley, could I use plain yogurt instead of Greek yogurt and still get a wonderful cheesecake? Will it make a difference? Thank you!

    • Ashley Fehr says

      I probably wouldn’t use regular yogurt unless it’s a very thick variety because you don’t want the cheesecake too soft. It is already pretty light and not very dense, so substituting the yogurt might not help it hold up well.

  9. amanda says

    hello there, i was wondering if i couldmake this in 6 inch pans and if i could , what would ypu, recomend for the baking time.

    • Ashley Fehr says

      I think that would likely work just fine but I haven’t tried it, so I can’t say how long you would bake them. It’s probably best just to watch for doneness.

  10. Fiano says

    My family didn’t like this chesscake…they said it was like they are having yogurt in baked version. Their is nothing wrong with this recipe, it just our taste.

  11. squatchy says

    Lovely recipe! I’ve made it twice in a 10″ springform pan. The first time, I wisely left about 1/4-1/3 of the filling in the bowl as I thought the cake may rise. It was a good decision. I’m not sure whether the sour cream vs. yoghurt makes a difference, but with sour cream, the cake rises a good 1-1.5″ when baking. After it’s cooked, it will set down to the original height. The end result was a beautiful, albeit it was a little shorter than the video (naturally, as I used less filling).

    I learned this the hard way on my second attempt. I poured all of the filling into the pan (10″ diameter, 3″ height) and this only left about 0.5″ from the top. The cake rose well above the top of the pan and cracked around the edges, and then settled back into the pan after cooling. Still very tasty, but nowhere near as good looking as the first attempt.

    I’d recommend using a deeper pan, if available. At least 5″ deep, if you want to use the full filling given in the recipe. If you are using a 9″ pan, strongly consider using a deeper version (at least 6-7″), or cut down on the filling so that there is room for the cake to rise.

    • Ashley Fehr says

      Thank you! And thanks for those tips! There are a lot of factors that could cause the cake to rise more or less, for sure. I haven’t had any issues but it’s always good to be safe!

      • Jennifer Urizar says

        Good evening,

        So I just tried making this recipe. I would like to start off by saying the flavor is BOMBBBB!!!!! ( I did have to add a couple things in just to give it my own twist, but the ingredients called for will do just perfect.

        I did want to point out that after carefully measuring everything, i did end up with WAYYY to much mix. I had to divide it up a couple times.

        Next time I will be more careful with that.

        Thanks for posting this 🙂

        • Ashley Fehr says

          Hi Jennifer! I’m so happy to hear you liked it! I have heard a couple others who have had too much batter so I’ll have to give it another try this week and see what happens. Do you think your pan might have been 8 inches instead of 9?

      • Krista says

        Love this cheesecake. 2nd time I’ve made this but i always have so much leftover batter!! That’s with using the correct pan, etc. Delicious though!!

  12. Rose says

    I just made this cheesecake and it is soooo delicious!!! I mixed the cream cheese and sour cream together first, then added the other ingredients. It’s so creamy and amazingly good. Thank you for posting it!

  13. Debbie says

    Your cheesecake looks devine, but i am not eating sugar these days, do you think i could substitute a nut/almond flour crust (gluten free) and use a 1:1 sugar substitute? My fav yogurt is 10% mediterean style, its so creamy and thick, do you think that would be ok to use?? thank you

    • Ashley Fehr says

      I think the yogurt will be totally fine. I don’t have a lot of experience with gluten free crusts and sugar substitutes, so I can’t say what the result will be but if you do try it I’d love to hear how it turns out!

  14. Janet says

    This is the best cheesecake that I have made. I brought it to work and it was gone in two hours. The cake did not crack and no water bath needed. Thank-you so much for the recipe. This will be my “go-to” recipe in the future.

      • Sue Thomas says

        We love this cheesecake!
        I would love to know if you have any thoughts or ideas on adding flavors, such as pumpkin or egg nog?

        • Ashley Fehr says

          I’m so happy to hear that! I haven’t experimented much with that, but if you are going to I would recommend replacing some of the sour cream with eggnog (keep in mind that it’s thinner than sour cream, so you won’t want to add too much) or pumpkin. I hope that helps!

  15. CathyReeves says

    My cheesecakes historically crack. Could it be because I use a dark springform pan? Want to make this but hate to waste all those ingredients!

    • Ashley Fehr says

      My Springform pan is dark non stick so I don’t think that’s it. Elevation maybe? Just be sure to run a knife gently around the edge to loosen after a period of time so it doesn’t pull, and allow to cool gradually.

  16. Fraña says

    I have made this recipe 2 times. I forgot to grease my pan the 1st time so when cheesecake started to rise, it stuck. Needless to say it cracked but not too bad. Everyone loved it.
    The 2nd time, I made sure I greased my pan… AND I used parchment paper (greased as well) to help keep the rising filling from cracking all bad or over flowing. Totally worked! The cheesecake is gorgeous and didn’t crack at all. Yay!

    I used Greek yogurt vs sour cream as well.

  17. Karen P says

    It’s been years since I’ve had cheesecake and even longer since I’ve made one, but I wanted to make something different for my granddaughter’s third birthday since she likes to only eat the frosting and leave the cake. I only had 16oz of sour cream but I think it came out just fine. I still had some batter left over because I didn’t want it to rise above the top of the pan (I probably could have used it all). When I make it again, I will reduce the Graham crackers crumbs to 1 cup – there was way too much crust using 2 1/2 cups. My granddaughter did eat a few bites but she was more interested in the whipped cream I topped it with. :/

  18. Alison says

    I made this recipe for my husband’s birthday, and it turned out amazing! I’ve never made a cheesecake before, and my husband said it was just about perfect…HUGE compliment, because he’s as much of a cheesecake snob as he is a brownie snob. LOL! I need to work on the graham cracker crust. It felt like it didn’t quite have enough fat to hold its shape as I pressed it into the pan, but I could have used the bottom of a glass or flat bowl to help with that. My corners were too full of crust, so I need to better shape it. Other than my personal shortcomings, this recipe was so easy to follow. Yes, it took a lot of time for the whole process and cooling, etc., but we ended up having birthday cheesecake for breakfast, and it was so worth it! I look forward to my next opportunity to make a cheesecake!!! Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

  19. Cassi says

    After turning the oven off (after it cooked for 2 hours) when checking to see if the edges were done… I was really sad.
    I used all the batter, a 9 inch pan, did everything exactly as the recipe asked. My cheesecake is about an inch taller than the top of the Springfield pan and it’s got large deep cracks in it.
    I’m really hoping they settle and it goes back to normal soon…
    Do we know why it might have done this?

  20. Lisa S says

    Not sure where I went wrong but I had left over batter. I used a 9” deep dish springform. It also seemed like there was too much graham cracker crumbs. It’s in the oven now.

  21. Heather & Nolan says

    OMG!! My 4-year-old & I wanted cheesecake & this was the recipe we chose! This was the best cheesecake I’ve EVER had!!!

  22. SHari says

    HEllo I would like s to try this rev perfect recipe, however, i only have a 7” pan. How would a convert the recipe?

  23. Steph says

    Hi! This looks fabulous. I am going to make this for my boyfriend’s birthday – just wanna check. Is the oven temperature for fan forced or conventional?

    Thanks!

  24. kmp says

    Decided days ago to make this for New Years Day dessert, so I’m making it today, Sunday. I used an 8 inch Springform pan and had ALOT of batter left, so I made up 2 mini cupcake pans and 1 regular size cupcake pan, all are baking on 275 degrees for 2 hours but I’m wondering if the cupcake pans need less time? Batter was scrumptious!

  25. Charlotte says

    I’m making this cheesecake now and I have lumps in the filling. Is that normal or ok? I haven’t poured it into the crust yet.

    • Ashley Fehr says

      The lumps may be because the cream cheese was a little cool before beating — room temperature ingredients usually beat more smoothly. It shouldn’t make any difference though if they are small, insignificant lumps.

  26. Jesi says

    I made this yesterday with 1 part sour cream and 2 parts Greek yogurt. Although I wish I’d started quite a bit earlier, as this take a looooong time to be ready to go in the fridge, the cheesecake turned out absolutely perfect. No cracks, smooth, creamy filling…It was divine. I say “was” because there is none left. I’ve never made cheesecake before, but this is now my go to recipe.

    • Ashley Fehr says

      Do you leave it in the oven turned off to set? Do you run a knife around the edge while it’s still warm? It could be a difference in oven temperature (they’re all a little different!) or humidity in the house or elevation. I’m sorry that happened!

      • Anne says

        I have a similar recipe, but with sour cream and ricotta. My recipe calls for 400 degrees for 15-20min, turn down to 225 for 45+ min ( middle may still giggle) but top just starting to light brown. Turn off oven, set til cooled down. Cover with saran and foil….fridge over night……it’s about a 6 hr process total! No cracks ever!

  27. Joe says

    Made the cheesecake for the Thanksgiving holiday. It turned out perfect and was a big hit. The flavor is wonderful. I did use a 9 inch pan and while cooking, it did exceed the top of the pan, however, once it came out of the oven and cooled, it settled down nicely, and no cracks.

  28. Rosemary says

    Any suggestions as how I could make it dairy free please? I can manage the yogurt but it’s the cream cheese that I’d have trouble with. Thanks

  29. Maja says

    I live in Europa and we don’t use “cups”, so have many grams does the “cups” in the recipe correspond to? 🙂 It sounds so delicouse that I NEED TO TRY IT 🙂

  30. Fran says

    I made this cheesecake yesterday and we had a piece of it today ,we are in heaven. I am a German and this cheesecake taste so much like a German one ,nice and heavy .Now mine does not look like yours mine is higher and not so pretty ,but still delicious .I have to freeze some because that is a lot of cheesecake! Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  31. Kathie Marion says

    In the paragraph above the recipe, it stated in capitals 4 cups sour cream but the recipe listed 3 cups. Which is correct? Thanks.

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