The Best Vanilla Cheesecake Recipe

Prep Time 20 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 35 mins
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.
Table of Contents
  1. Ingredients Needed:
  2. How to Make Baked Vanilla Cheesecake
  3. Baked Vanilla Cheesecake FAQs
  4. Tips and Notes
  5. Serving Suggestions
  6. More Cheesecake Recipes You’ll Love
  7. The Best Vanilla Cheesecake Recipe

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.

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.

More Cheesecake Recipes You’ll Love

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The Best Vanilla Cheesecake

4.52 from 70 votes
This really is the Best Vanilla Cheesecake Recipe! It's light, creamy, luscious, and perfect topped 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 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. Katrina says

    I’ve made this four times and it’s AMAZING quality and SIMPLE! I use one package of grahams for the crust and 2cups Greek goghurt, 1cup sourcream.

    I get RAVE reviews with it and it’s so simple! I’ll be making two to take to church potluck next weekend and I was asked to make this for a teens birthday cake. Thank you for this recipe!

  2. Diane Vetroczky says

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe. I’ve always been intimidated by cheese cakes for whatever reason. BUT I am so happy I used this recipe as my first go around. It was a HUGE success with the family that I have made it about a dozen times in the last 6 months. I did mix and used 1 1/2 C sour cream and 1 1/2 C of greek yogurt and the family agreed that was the best of both worlds. My question is…I would like to add chopped andes mints to just the top of the cake, I don’t want them to melt but would like them to stick to the cake. When would you suggest adding them? As soon as I pull if from the oven before using the knife or after the hour it sits? I’m a cook rather than a baker and not experienced enough in the baking field.

    • Ashley Fehr says

      I’m so happy you love this recipe Diane! I think you could add the chopped chocolates with some whipped cream on top after it’s cooled — if you add them while it’s hot they may just melt.

  3. Patsy says

    Ashley, could I use plain yogurt instead of Greek yogurt and still get a wonderful cheesecake? Will it make a difference? Thank you!

    • Ashley Fehr says

      I probably wouldn’t use regular yogurt unless it’s a very thick variety because you don’t want the cheesecake too soft. It is already pretty light and not very dense, so substituting the yogurt might not help it hold up well.

  4. amanda says

    hello there, i was wondering if i couldmake this in 6 inch pans and if i could , what would ypu, recomend for the baking time.

    • Ashley Fehr says

      I think that would likely work just fine but I haven’t tried it, so I can’t say how long you would bake them. It’s probably best just to watch for doneness.

  5. Fiano says

    My family didn’t like this chesscake…they said it was like they are having yogurt in baked version. Their is nothing wrong with this recipe, it just our taste.

  6. squatchy says

    Lovely recipe! I’ve made it twice in a 10″ springform pan. The first time, I wisely left about 1/4-1/3 of the filling in the bowl as I thought the cake may rise. It was a good decision. I’m not sure whether the sour cream vs. yoghurt makes a difference, but with sour cream, the cake rises a good 1-1.5″ when baking. After it’s cooked, it will set down to the original height. The end result was a beautiful, albeit it was a little shorter than the video (naturally, as I used less filling).

    I learned this the hard way on my second attempt. I poured all of the filling into the pan (10″ diameter, 3″ height) and this only left about 0.5″ from the top. The cake rose well above the top of the pan and cracked around the edges, and then settled back into the pan after cooling. Still very tasty, but nowhere near as good looking as the first attempt.

    I’d recommend using a deeper pan, if available. At least 5″ deep, if you want to use the full filling given in the recipe. If you are using a 9″ pan, strongly consider using a deeper version (at least 6-7″), or cut down on the filling so that there is room for the cake to rise.

    • Ashley Fehr says

      Thank you! And thanks for those tips! There are a lot of factors that could cause the cake to rise more or less, for sure. I haven’t had any issues but it’s always good to be safe!

      • Jennifer Urizar says

        Good evening,

        So I just tried making this recipe. I would like to start off by saying the flavor is BOMBBBB!!!!! ( I did have to add a couple things in just to give it my own twist, but the ingredients called for will do just perfect.

        I did want to point out that after carefully measuring everything, i did end up with WAYYY to much mix. I had to divide it up a couple times.

        Next time I will be more careful with that.

        Thanks for posting this 🙂

      • Ashley Fehr says

        Hi Jennifer! I’m so happy to hear you liked it! I have heard a couple others who have had too much batter so I’ll have to give it another try this week and see what happens. Do you think your pan might have been 8 inches instead of 9?

      • Krista says

        Love this cheesecake. 2nd time I’ve made this but i always have so much leftover batter!! That’s with using the correct pan, etc. Delicious though!!

  7. Rose says

    I just made this cheesecake and it is soooo delicious!!! I mixed the cream cheese and sour cream together first, then added the other ingredients. It’s so creamy and amazingly good. Thank you for posting it!

  8. Debbie says

    Your cheesecake looks devine, but i am not eating sugar these days, do you think i could substitute a nut/almond flour crust (gluten free) and use a 1:1 sugar substitute? My fav yogurt is 10% mediterean style, its so creamy and thick, do you think that would be ok to use?? thank you

    • Ashley Fehr says

      I think the yogurt will be totally fine. I don’t have a lot of experience with gluten free crusts and sugar substitutes, so I can’t say what the result will be but if you do try it I’d love to hear how it turns out!

  9. Janet says

    This is the best cheesecake that I have made. I brought it to work and it was gone in two hours. The cake did not crack and no water bath needed. Thank-you so much for the recipe. This will be my “go-to” recipe in the future.

      • Sue Thomas says

        We love this cheesecake!
        I would love to know if you have any thoughts or ideas on adding flavors, such as pumpkin or egg nog?

      • Ashley Fehr says

        I’m so happy to hear that! I haven’t experimented much with that, but if you are going to I would recommend replacing some of the sour cream with eggnog (keep in mind that it’s thinner than sour cream, so you won’t want to add too much) or pumpkin. I hope that helps!

  10. CathyReeves says

    My cheesecakes historically crack. Could it be because I use a dark springform pan? Want to make this but hate to waste all those ingredients!

    • Ashley Fehr says

      My Springform pan is dark non stick so I don’t think that’s it. Elevation maybe? Just be sure to run a knife gently around the edge to loosen after a period of time so it doesn’t pull, and allow to cool gradually.

  11. Fraña says

    I have made this recipe 2 times. I forgot to grease my pan the 1st time so when cheesecake started to rise, it stuck. Needless to say it cracked but not too bad. Everyone loved it.
    The 2nd time, I made sure I greased my pan… AND I used parchment paper (greased as well) to help keep the rising filling from cracking all bad or over flowing. Totally worked! The cheesecake is gorgeous and didn’t crack at all. Yay!

    I used Greek yogurt vs sour cream as well.

  12. Karen P says

    It’s been years since I’ve had cheesecake and even longer since I’ve made one, but I wanted to make something different for my granddaughter’s third birthday since she likes to only eat the frosting and leave the cake. I only had 16oz of sour cream but I think it came out just fine. I still had some batter left over because I didn’t want it to rise above the top of the pan (I probably could have used it all). When I make it again, I will reduce the Graham crackers crumbs to 1 cup – there was way too much crust using 2 1/2 cups. My granddaughter did eat a few bites but she was more interested in the whipped cream I topped it with. :/

  13. Alison says

    I made this recipe for my husband’s birthday, and it turned out amazing! I’ve never made a cheesecake before, and my husband said it was just about perfect…HUGE compliment, because he’s as much of a cheesecake snob as he is a brownie snob. LOL! I need to work on the graham cracker crust. It felt like it didn’t quite have enough fat to hold its shape as I pressed it into the pan, but I could have used the bottom of a glass or flat bowl to help with that. My corners were too full of crust, so I need to better shape it. Other than my personal shortcomings, this recipe was so easy to follow. Yes, it took a lot of time for the whole process and cooling, etc., but we ended up having birthday cheesecake for breakfast, and it was so worth it! I look forward to my next opportunity to make a cheesecake!!! Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

  14. Cassi says

    After turning the oven off (after it cooked for 2 hours) when checking to see if the edges were done… I was really sad.
    I used all the batter, a 9 inch pan, did everything exactly as the recipe asked. My cheesecake is about an inch taller than the top of the Springfield pan and it’s got large deep cracks in it.
    I’m really hoping they settle and it goes back to normal soon…
    Do we know why it might have done this?

    • Ashley Fehr says

      I’m so sorry Cassi! I’m not sure what happened, it really shouldn’t be that tall (mine is never over the edge), so I’m wondering if maybe your pan is actually 8″ around?

  15. Lisa S says

    Not sure where I went wrong but I had left over batter. I used a 9” deep dish springform. It also seemed like there was too much graham cracker crumbs. It’s in the oven now.

  16. Heather & Nolan says

    OMG!! My 4-year-old & I wanted cheesecake & this was the recipe we chose! This was the best cheesecake I’ve EVER had!!!

  17. SHari says

    HEllo I would like s to try this rev perfect recipe, however, i only have a 7” pan. How would a convert the recipe?

  18. Steph says

    Hi! This looks fabulous. I am going to make this for my boyfriend’s birthday – just wanna check. Is the oven temperature for fan forced or conventional?

    Thanks!

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