The Best Classic Cheesecake – Easy Recipe!

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Wondering how to make cheesecake? This is the best Classic Cheesecake recipe to try! It’s makes a creamy, ultra smooth cheesecake with vanilla wafer crust that’s totally irresistible. Today I’m sharing easy tips that will help you make amazing cheesecake, including a step-by-step video.

Looking for a no-bake cheesecake? If you’re looking for a no-bake option try my Perfect No Bake Cheesecake recipe!

Photo collage showing a slice of homemade cheesecake on a white plate and an uncut cheesecake.

In addition to this simple cheesecake recipe, you might also like this tutorial with 10 Tips and Tricks for Perfect Cheesecake. If this if your first time making homemade cheesecake, this recipe and that tutorial pretty much guarantee success.

THE BEST CHEESECAKE RECIPE FOR BEGINNERS

I am a big fan of cheesecake and it’s no secret around here. I have a plethora of cheesecake recipes, but not a classic, easy one like this. Why? I don’t know, but we are fixing that today!

This easy cheesecake recipe is as straight forward as it gets for a baked cheesecake. The vanilla cheesecake filling sits in a delicious vanilla wafer crust and is the perfect base for any number of toppings. In fact, one of the best things about this cheesecake is that you can make it and serve it with so many different things. Everyone can pick their favorite topping and everybody’s happy!

CHEESECAKE INGREDIENTS

Here’s what you’ll need to make homemade cheesecake from scratch:

FOR THE VANILLA WAFER CRUST

  • vanilla wafer crumbs
  • salted butter
  • sugar

FOR THE CHEESECAKE

  • cream cheese at room temperature
  • sugar
  • all purpose flour
  • sour cream
  • vanilla extract
  • eggs

HOW TO MAKE CHEESECAKE

I’ve broken everything down step-by-step and included tons of detail so that you can make the best cheesecake ever! Here’s how you do it:

Step 1: Assemble Your Tools and Ingredients

So let’s get started and talk about how to make this cheesecake. You’ll want to make sure you have a springform pan handy. The removable sides make it much easier to remove the cheesecake from the pan after it’s done baking and cooling. Unlike a regular cake, you aren’t going to want to flip this baby upside down.

You should also have another pan that’s larger than the springform pan handy. This cheesecake is going to need a water bath (which we’ll talk more about later), so you’ll need a bigger pan to put the water into.

Also, leave yourself plenty of time. While putting everything together is pretty easy and simple, it can take a little time and you do need about five to six hours for the cheesecake to cool and firm up once it’s baked.

Overhead view of a homemade cheesecake on a white place with a slice cut into the cheesecake.

Step 2: Make the Graham Cracker Crust

Every great classic cheesecake recipe starts with a great crust and in this case, we are using a vanilla wafer crust. I personally love the flavor of the vanilla wafer cookies, but if want to use a graham cracker crust, I’ve got you covered there too. This Graham Cracker Crust recipe is easy to swap out.

Regardless of what you use, the process is the same. Grind up those cookies so you have fine crumbs. You don’t want any big chunks or it’ll disturb the ability of your crust to hold together well.

Next, you’ll add a touch of sugar and some melted butter to the crust and stir everything together. Add the crust to your springform pan and press it into the bottom and up the sides. You can make the sides as tall as you like. There’s really no wrong way to do it. There’s plenty of crust here to make a nice bottom and sides. I like to use a cup with straight sides or a measuring cup to press the crust in firmly and get good corners.

Once your crust is in the pan, you’ll want to bake it for about 10 minutes. That will ensure that it stays sturdy when you slice into it later.

Side view of a slice of cheesecake drizzled with chocolate sauce with a strawberry on top

Step 3: Make the Cheesecake Filling

Next up is the filling of the cheesecake. You want to use room temperature cream cheese to prevent a lumpy cheesecake. I also recommend the full fat stuff for the creamiest cheesecake!

Add some sugar and a little bit of flour to the cream cheese and combine it all together. The flour is a nice little touch to give you a creamier textured cheesecake that isn’t quite so dense. Then you’ve got your sour cream, vanilla and eggs. The sour cream adds great flavor and creaminess and is a must!

When mixing all the ingredients together, you want to be sure to use a lower speed setting and not over mix. It can add more air to the batter, which can lead to cracks. One of cheesecake’s biggest enemies is cracks, so let’s avoid them and steer clear of excess air bubbles.

Add the batter to the crust and it’s time to bake it!

Overhead shot of a cheesecake on a white plate next to a bowl of strawberries.

Step 4: Bake Your Cheesecake

I know water bath can seem like a dirty word with cheesecakes, but it really is the best way to go. You’re going to get a more creamy cheesecake that doesn’t crack, brown around the edges or fall in the center while it cools. When you put so much time into a dessert, you don’t want any of those things to happen.

One of the biggest problems people encounter with water baths is leaking. Springform pans are unreliable and aluminum foil easily gets tiny little tears it in when you’re wrapping it around your pan. I have a fantastic little trick I use to keep water out of my cheesecake and it works every time. I use a crock pot liner bag! The best! See exactly how I set it up in my tutorial for a leak-proof cheesecake water bath.

Once you have your water bath set up, pop the cheesecake in the oven. It should bake for a little over an hour. You can tell when it’s done because the edges will be set, but the center few inches will still be jiggly. It might not seem like it’s fully baked, but that’s ok! One of the other important parts of a perfect cheesecake is to let it cool gradually (and finish baking).

A slice of creamy cheesecake on a white plate with a fork.

Step 5: Let Your Cheesecake Cool

After that hour plus of baking, you’ll leave the cheesecake in the oven with the door closed for another 30 minutes. During that time, the cheesecake will continue to bake, but also begin to gradually cool. At the end of that time, it’ll be perfectly baked! Cool, right?!

You’ll continue to cool the cheesecake in the oven for another 30 minutes, but this time the door is cracked to let it cool even more. This slow cooling process helps to prevent cracks, so be sure not to skip it!

Finally, you’ll pop the cheesecake into the fridge to cool completely and firm up, about 5 to 6 hours. When it’s ready, take it out of the springform pan and serve it with your favorite toppings! I’ve got several listed in the recipe, but the options are endless!

Homemade cheesecake with graham cracker crust on a white plate

5 TIPS FOR THE BEST CHEESECAKE

Ok, so what do we need to keep in mind for our cheesecake?

1. Use a springform pan

This is not 100% necessary. However, using a springform pan makes it so much easier to remove your cheesecake and achieve a perfect crust.

2. Use room temperature ingredients

Making sure your cream cheese is at room temperature is probably the most important step. Room temp cream cheese blends easier and ensures that your cheesecake filling is smooth with no lumps. However, if you want cheesecake perfection, then all of your ingredients should really be at room temperature.

3. Mix the filling on low speed and don’t over mix it

Over mixing your filling (including over-beating your eggs) will ruin the cheesecake and cause cracks. Make sure to keep your mixer set to low speed, and to only mix your ingredients until they are just combined. Pause between adding ingredients to scrape down the bowl and make sure everything gets incorporated.

4. Use a water bath and use my secret trick for no leaks!

I get it, water baths can seem intimidating! But if you follow a few simple steps, using a water bath to make the best cheesecake of your life is actually very doable. Here is a tutorial on how to use a water bath and avoid any leaks!

5. Cool the cheesecake slowly

You can’t rush cheesecake and your patience will be rewarded, I promise! Letting your cheesecake cool properly allows the filling to firm up and will give you that creamy cheesecake texture you’re craving.

For more help making the best cheesecake, check out my post on How to Make a Perfect Cheesecake.

A slice of creamy cheesecake on a white plate next to a sliced strawberry

CHEESECAKE FAQS

Here are some of the questions I get most often about making cheesecake. Have a question that’s not on this list? Let me know in the comments!

HOW DO I STORE HOMEMADE CHEESECAKE?

Cheesecake should be stored in the refrigerator. I usually leave the springform ring on the cheesecake, then cover it with saran wrap. I also add the ring back to the cheesecake if a few slices have been eaten. The springform pan ring prevents the saran wrap from sticking to the surface of the cheesecake and ensures that everything looks pretty next time you want to grab a slice!

CAN I FREEZE CHEESECAKE?

Generally speaking, cheesecake should be fine when frozen. This is a great cheesecake to freeze since it’s simple and there aren’t any toppings or anything complicated about it. Just make sure you’ve cooled it completely before freezing. Cover it well with a couple layers of clear wrap, then a layer of aluminum foil. When you’re ready to use it, pop it in the fridge to thaw overnight.

HOW LONG DOES CHEESECAKE LAST?

If you freeze this cheesecake, it should be fine for at least a month. If unfrozen, it should be good in the fridge for about 5-6 days. Obviously fresher is better, but one of the things I love about cheesecake is that it makes a great dessert to prep ahead of time. It holds up really well in the fridge and doesn’t dry out or go bad quickly. Sweet!

READY TO MAKE THE BEST CHEESECAKE?

This is a simple, easy cheesecake recipe that you can use over and over. Change up in all kinds of ways and serve with a multitude of toppings. Not only will you be able to make an amazing homemade cheesecake, but you’ll put The Cheesecake Factory to shame!

And once you’ve mastered this homemade cheesecake recipe, you can venture out to other fun versions:

I have many to choose from, but here are a few favorites you could try:


Read transcript

The Best Cheesecake Recipe

This Classic Cheesecake recipe is the best place to start if you’ve never made cheesecake and want to learn how to do it. It’s an easy recipe that makes smooth, creamy and delicious cheesecake.

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 10 minutes
  • Yield: 12 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

VANILLA WAFER CRUST

  • 2 ¼ cups (302g) vanilla wafer crumbs
  • ½ cup (112g) salted butter, melted
  • 3 tbsp (39g) sugar

CHEESECAKE

  • 24 ounces (678g) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup (207g) sugar
  • 3 tbsp (24g) all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (230g) sour cream
  • 1 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature

TOPPING OPTIONS

Caramel Sauce
Lemon Curd
Homemade Whipped Cream
Chocolate Sauce
Fresh Fruit

Instructions

CRUST

1. Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C). Line a 9-inch (23cm) springform pan with parchment paper in the bottom and grease the sides.
2. Combine the crust ingredients in a small bowl. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan.
3. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then set aside to cool.
4. Cover the outsides of the pan with aluminum foil so that water from the water bath cannot get in (see how I prepare my pan for a water bath). Set prepared pan aside.

CHEESECAKE

1. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F (148°C).
2. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and flour on low speed until well completely combined and smooth. Be sure to use low speed to reduce the amount of air added to the batter, which can cause cracks. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. Add the sour cream and vanilla extract and mix on low speed until well combined.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly to combine after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure everything is well combined.
5. Pour the cheesecake batter into the crust.
6. Place the springform pan inside another larger pan. Fill the outside pan with enough warm water to go about halfway up the sides of the springform pan. The water should not go above the top edge of the aluminum foil on the springform pan.
7. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. The center should be set, but still jiggly.
8. Turn off the oven and leave the door closed for 30 minutes. The cheesecake will continue to cook, but slowly begin to cool as well.
9. Crack the door of the oven for 30 minutes to allow the cheesecake to continue to cool slowly. This process helps prevent cracking.
10. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and water bath wrapping and refrigerate until firm, 5-6 hours or overnight.
11. Remove the cheesecake from the springform pan and place on a serving dish. Refrigerate cheesecake until ready to serve.
12. Serve with your favorite toppings. Cheesecake best for about 5 days.

Keywords: best cheesecake, easy cheesecake, classic cheesecake, how to make cheesecake, cheesecake water bath, homemade cheesecake from scratch

Enjoy!

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