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. heather says

    hi there, i’ve just made the cheesecake. Here in France they have the cream cheese in the tub not the packaging ones which is kind of annoying which can be really thin so i used half of that and half mascarpone to thicken the creamcheese portion before adding the other ingredients.
    i used the baking temp as stated but mine had slight little cracks and it looks brown on the top. it still jiggles but no where near the one you made with the nice clean white top. can u tell me what could have happened?

  2. Wendy Van den Bergh says

    Thanks so much for this wonderful recipe! I’m definitely going to try it as soon as I can afford all the cream cheese. It’s a relief to know its not just South Africa where it’s so expensive! Haha! Like one of your earlier commenters, I also love a deep cheesecake. Do you think it would work in an 8″ tin and what baking time would you suggest if I did use that size? Thanks in advance ?

  3. Piper Jenkins says

    So I am a little confused. Instructions state to Preheat oven to 325 degrees under #1 but then under #5 states to Bake at 275 degrees. Not sure now what temperature I have to have the oven at.

  4. Susan says

    I made this cheese cake with some of m own twists. Used 8 ounces of ricotta instead of one of the cream cheeses and used one cup of lemon greek yogurt instead of all sour cream. (Another words I cleaned out the frog) It turned out fantastic and no cracks— thank you for sharing this recipe.

  5. Jenny says

    I have a gas oven. If I turn the oven off it cools fast. Do you use an electric oven or gas? I was questioning if the turn the oven off for 1 hour will really make a difference.

    • Cynthia says

      Jenny, I have a gas oven as well. Yes, if you do NOT leave it in the oven for the full hour, it will make a difference in the cheese cake. The texture is effected. The carry over cooking time and cooling in the oven for that hour really does matter. ( IMHO). Good luck!

  6. Jerry Mosgrove says

    I must be missing something. I’d love to make the recipe, but can’t find out how to print it. There doesn’t seem to be an icon for that on this recipe.

  7. mary koziak says

    Is the lemon juice necessary? I do not like lemon. Just making sure it isn’t necessary for setting the cake.

    • Cynthia says

      Mary, the lemon flavor does not come thru in the finished product. Try substitute another citrus, such as; lime or O.J. maybe grapefruit juices. It doesn’t sound like a lot when in comparison to the other ingredients in the cheesecake. But you really should have some sort of citrus product in there so that it sets right

  8. Michelle says

    Hi- I just made this but mine cracked.. any idea what I did wrong? I followed the recipe exactly and used 3 cups of sour cream. It still looks good but it cracked .

    • Ashley Fehr says

      Is your oven temperature accurate? I know often the temperature settings are a little unpredictable and I find that makes the biggest difference in cracks or no cracks — low and slow seems to be the way to go! Other than that, I would just make sure to run a knife around the edge while it’s still warm so that it’s not pulling.

  9. Tammy says

    Hey do I have to leave the pan in the oven for an hour with the oven turned off? Will it really make a big differe

  10. Jo says

    It looks gorgeous but I cannot understand cups. I would love the ingredients by weight. I cannot imagine a cup of butter !

  11. Neha says

    Hi ashely!

    The cake looks gorgeous …. cam we make this without egg?? Any substitute for eggs..pls tell me yes

  12. Kimberly Clendennen says

    The first time I made this, I used a pre-made Keebler crust. Had more cracks then the San Andreas fault line! I went out and bought a 9″ springform pad. Followed the directions to a T. Now I am worried that the cheesecake will overflow if I pour all of the mixture in. Any advice?

      • Banette says

        Mine turned out perfect too but I took some of the filling out of the pan when I noticed it was to the very top of the pan. I just took out enough that it wouldn’t overflow in case it really rises while baking. It rose and I’m glad that I did remove some of the filling before baking. Just my tip.

  13. 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.

      • Zaneen says

        Planning on making this tonight. Can I use the lemon juice in the bottle or do I need fresh lemon juice?

        Thank you

      • vicki says

        I made it with bottled and I didn’t get enough lemon flavor, did you? Next time I think I’ll use fresh lemons and add some lemon zest as well. The cheesecake is a wonderful light texture, so it’s a keeper, but the flavoring I think needs enhancement.

    • 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.

  14. 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

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

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