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. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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 🙂

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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!!

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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?

      • Jennifer says

        I am at 250’ above sea level and I had his happen, so it’s not an elevation thing, at least for me.

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