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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. Cathy says

    I was wondering about using vanilla paste thinking the little flecks of vanilla would look really nice. Any suggestions on how much as a substitute for the liquid vanilla. Thanks

  2. Tianna says

    Hi Ashley,
    I want to make your cheesecake for my Mom’s birthday this weekend and was wondering if I could leave out the crust? If so do you think I need to pre heat the oven to 325, then turn it down to 275 to insert the cake, or just pre heat at 275? I’ve never made a crustless cheesecake and really have no clue!! But I would love to try this recipe! Thanks!!

  3. Bonnie says

    Hi, I’ve made this twice now, I looovvveee the taste and texture, but I keep on getting tons of cracks! I do live in the mountains though so maybe thats it? I follow the directions to a T but lots of cracks form in the hour when its in the oven with the heat off. When it’s baking, there was only one big crack on the edge.

  4. Joni says

    Hi Ashley! I’m planning to make this for my brother-in-law for his birthday. It’s so beautiful, I was wondering what you used to pipe around the edges? I’m really into piping is this! Thank you!

  5. Carol McPherson says

    I made this tonight and my cheesecake grew a good 1/2-3/4″ over my pan! I was sad however as a big chunk fell off on to the oven floor. I wasn’t expecting it to rise like it did! I did use the correct size spring pan as well. Any ideas on how to prevent this from happening in the future?

    • Ashley Fehr says

      Wow! Honestly Carol I don’t really have any idea what happened. Was it a Springform pan and not just a round pan? A round pan will not have the same height. I’ve never had mine go over!

      • Jennifer says

        Well, I just baked this in a springform and mine rose above the pan as well. It was pretty grainy and a bit of a bummer.

    • Isabel Nielsen says

      yes! after you have baked your crust and let it cool before adding your filling line the inside of your spring pan with Aluminum foil all around the inner sides of the spring Pan after that pour in your filling then bake the Aluminum give you that extra height so that when your cheese cake rises it wont bake over it . then just let it sit in the oven for the hour and then after remove it from the oven & let it cool down before going around the edges with the knife .

    • Traci says

      I just made this recipe tonight and the SAME exact thing happened to mine!! It was at least an inch above the rim of the 9″ springform pan. I just kept watching it and checking it because I was afraid it was going to overflow, but it rose straight up. Then all of a sudden I heard a pop and looked through the glass to see that the back right edge had kind of exploded and fell off onto the oven floor. I still didn’t open the door, just kept watching. Left in oven for sn hour. Cooled on counter for 45 min or so. Went to put in fridge and it is really heavy… I was hoping for it to be a bit lighter and fluffier. So what are some things that may have caused that?

      • Ashley Fehr says

        Well it’s a large cheesecake so it will feel heavy in the pan, but the texture is very light inside. I’m not sure what might have happened to make it rise so much — are you baking at a higher elevation?

  6. 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?

  7. 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 ?

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. 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

  15. Jo says

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

  16. Neha says

    Hi ashely!

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

  17. 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.

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