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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. Krystal says

    This is probably a blasphemous question, but I don’t have a spring foam pan and I don’t make cheesecake (or desserts) often enough to buy one, so I if use a store bought pre-made crust, I believe most are 6oz or 9oz, is it possible to adjust the filling to work with those? Thanks in advance, recipe looks amazing!

    • Ashley Fehr says

      Oh, that’s so hard for me to say! The store bough graham cracker crusts are pretty small. You can definitely do it but I have no idea how many you’d need or how long it would bake, definitely less. I’d think you’d need at least 3 crusts.

    • Linda Giberson says

      I’ve often made cheesecake in my 13″X 9″ cake pan. I do have a set of spring foam pans, however, when I am going somewhere and need an easier cut, I use my cake pan.

  2. Shari says

    THIS TRULY IS THE BEST CHEESECAKE EVER!!! I used 3 cups of 5% sour cream like your recipe called for and it turned out so light. I made this for a co-worker’s surprise birthday party this past weekend. He has a severe allergy to peanuts so I immediately turned my thoughts to cheesecake having recently made a gorgeous cheesecake layer cake about 2 months ago. This time, I wanted it to take less time to make. Honestly, the raving compliments about the cheesecake said it all. They all loved it, as did the birthday boy himself! Now, I’ll have to make this one again for my three ever growing boys (14, 12 & 7). Thanks for posting this Ashley!

    Shari xo

  3. Lei Anne Westfall says

    Was wondering 2 things.
    1. Do you think this recipe could be modified for different flavors?
    2. How much baking time/resting time do you think for mini cheesecakes in cupcakes liners?

    • Ashley Fehr says

      Hi Lei! Yes, it can definitely be modified for different flavors — I just posted my chocolate version last week! It does take some testing to get it right. As far as baking time for minis, I’m really not sure. I would just check for signs of doneness the same you would in a full size. I’d have to test it to know for sure, and I haven’t yet.

  4. Kath says

    Can I make half the recipe? I want to make a small 6 inch cheesecake just for 2 people and how long would I bake it and at what temperature?

    What do you use to make the decoration? Is it just piped whipped cream or whipped butter?

    • Ashley Fehr says

      As long as you halve the recipe exactly it should be fine. I would bake it at the same temperature but significantly reduce the baking time — I can’t say exactly how long it would take. I used whipped cream to decorate!

  5. 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.

  6. 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!!!

  7. 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

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

  10. 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!!

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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!

  14. 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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