The Best Vanilla Cheesecake Recipe

Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 35 minutes
Servings 16

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This really is the Best Vanilla Cheesecake Recipe! It’s light, creamy, luscious, and perfect topped with fresh berries.

whole baked vanilla cheesecake on cake plate with berries around.

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.

What?!

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!

Ingredients Needed:

ingredients needed for baked cheesecake on white background.
  • 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.
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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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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

What is the difference between a baked and unbaked cheesecake?

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.

What temperature should cheesecake be baked at?

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.

Why are cheesecakes baked in a water bath?

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!

How to store:

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!

slice of baked vanilla cheesecake with whipped cream and berries on white plate.

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!
slice of baked cheesecake on white plate with whipped cream on top.

Serving Suggestions

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

4.61 from 92 votes
This really is the Best Vanilla Cheesecake Recipe! It's light, creamy, luscious, and perfect topped with fresh berries.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 35 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Dessert
Servings 16
Calories 327cal

Ingredients

Crust!

  • 2 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • cup butter melted
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Filling

  • 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

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. **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!

Notes

*This recipe has updated since the original version, reducing the sour cream to 2 cups from 3 cups. It is still rich and creamy, but this should help with any problems readers may have had with it being too soft. We like a soft cream cheesecake. If you like a dry, firm cheesecake, this is not the recipe for you. 
*There should never be a problem with having too much batter. Please measure your Springform pan and ensure it is at least 9″ across. If you are using a smaller pan, you can bake the leftover crust and filling in muffin cups for about 20 minutes.

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. Jane says

    I am a cheesecake freak! This one looks really similar to the basic recipe I use. I’m always looking for ways to make it more moist, but I’ve been afraid to try too much sour cream. I thought it would make it not hold its shape. This one looks soooo good though I’ll definitely try it.

  2. Barb says

    I haven’t made a cheesecake in a very long time (and obviously I didn’t read through this well to begin with because I did bake mine in a water bath). I used vanilla greek yogurt instead of plain and chocolate graham crackers-no cinnamon…it was indeed THE BEST CHEESECAKE EVER!!! thank you so much for sharing. Not a single crack. Creamy, delicious and decadent. My niece loved it!!!

  3. Sonja says

    Hi Ashley
    The cheesecake looks perfect! Is the metric amount 680g cream cheese and 735g yogurt? Sorry, I am completely confused by your cups! 😀

    Thanks for all the lovely recipes!
    Sonja

  4. Rebecca says

    Is it 3 or 4 cups of yogurt/sour cream? Post says you used 4 cups. Recipe says 3 cups.

    Made it with 3 cups of yogurt this weekend and didn’t think it was as smooth and creamy as it could have been. Everyone thought it was wonderful though!

    • Ashley Fehr says

      Hi Rebecca! I tested the recipe a few times. The original recipe used 4 cups of sour cream. I found that it was just a little soft and didn’t hold up when sliced as much as I wanted, so I reduced it to 3 cups and used Greek yogurt. You can definitely experiment with adding the extra cup back in!

      • Sarah P says

        So sorry Ashley, but I’m still a little confused! Are you saying that, where the original recipe used 4 cups of sour cream, you’ve adjusted that and now use 3 cups of sour cream + 1 cup of Greek yoghurt? Or are you saying you skip the sour cream altogether now, and just use 3 cups of Greek yoghurt?

      • Deanna S says

        Sarah P, I believe Ashley means 3 cups of sour cream or 3 cups of Greek yogurt. Whether you use sour cream or Greek yogurt is your preference. Please correct me if I’m wrong!

  5. Dorothy Dunton says

    Hi Ashley! I believe this cheesecake is up next on the dessert rotation! First we have to finish the last dessert – I made your coconut poke cake again! I’ve never baled a cheesecake at such a low temperature, but I can understand why it works so well.

    • Ashley Fehr says

      Thanks Dorothy! You can never go wrong with coconut! I had never tried it before either — but now it totally makes sense to me! SO luscious and no cracks!

  6. Kelly says

    So gorgeous, Ashley! My husband LOVES cheesecake and I just made a strawberry version for our anniversary but nothing beats vanilla! This looks so creamy and perfect!!

  7. Rachel @ Bakerita says

    Mmm this cheesecake looks SO creamy and delicious! I haven’t made many cheesecakes in my day, but this one is calling out to me. Especially with the strawberries! So perfect.

  8. Cheyanne @ No Spoon Necessary says

    It’s been a hot minute since I’ve baked a classic cheesecake too, Ashley, because I can never find the time. Anyways, I am LOVING this one!! This looks perfectly creamy and seriously delicious, girlfriend! And I LOVE that you lightened it up with sour cream (or Greek yogurt)! Genius… like always! Some fresh berries on top and I’m calling this dinner! 😉 Cheers, dear!

  9. Sarah @Whole and Heavenly Oven says

    Oh my GOSH, Ashley! You sure know how to make a drop-dead gorgeous cheesecake! You’re also reminding me that it’s been like forever since I made a classic no-frills cheesecake like this beauty! That is changing ASAP. 😉

    • Ashley Fehr says

      Thanks Sarah! It had been soooo long since I made one too… and then I made A LOT. Lol. Thankfully I had a whole whack of willing taste testers to help out!

  10. Gayle @ Pumpkin 'N Spice says

    I was JUST thinking the other day that I’ve really only baked a cheesecake twice in my life. The other times, it’s been no-bake. I really must go back and make a baked version though, it’s definitely worth the oven time. Especially when it’s a classic like vanilla. Sounds delish!

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