The Best Cheesecake Recipe

This cheesecake recipe makes a creamy, ultra-smooth cheesecake with vanilla wafer crust. It’s seriously the best! Learn how to make a classic cheesecake, plus simple tricks for using a water bath to bake your cheesecake.

A slice of homemade cheese cake with whipped cream and strawberries

An Easy Cheesecake Recipe for Beginners

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

This simple cheesecake recipe is as straightforward as it gets for a baked cheesecake. I daresay it’s the best recipe for beginners! The vanilla cheesecake filling sits in a 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!

Classic cheesecake with a slice taken out

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!

Assemble Your Tools and Ingredients

  • Make sure you have a springform pan. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Make the Vanilla Wafter 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.
  • Add a touch of sugar and some melted butter. Stir everything together.
Graham cracker pie frust in a springform pan ready to bake
  • 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.
  • Bake it for about 10 minutes. That will ensure that it stays sturdy when you slice into it later.

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 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.
  • Now add your sour cream, vanilla, and eggs. The sour cream adds great flavor and creaminess and is a must!

Pro Tip: 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.

Bake Your Cheesecake

I know water baths can seem intimidating 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 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.

A cheesecake with tin foil around it ready to bake
  • Cover the outside of the springform pan that has your baked crust with aluminum foil. This is to prevent water from leaking into your cheesecake while it bakes in a water bath.
  • Add the batter to the crust.
  • 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.
  • Bake! The cheesecake will be done in 1 hour 15 minutes. The center should be set, but still 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).

Let Your Cheesecake Cool

  • 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?!
  • 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!
  • Chill. Finally, pop the cheesecake into the fridge to cool completely and firm up for 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!
A finished cheesecake with 2 slices of strawberries

5 Must-Have Tips for Perfect Cheesecake

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

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.
  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.
A slice of cheesecake with a dollop of whipped cream

Topping Ideas

One of the best things about a classic vanilla cheesecake is how many options you have when it comes to toppings. Here are some of my favorite ideas:

  • Chocolate sauce – This hot fudge sauce is great with cheesecake.
  • Caramel sauce – You can make a simple caramel sauce to serve with cheesecake, or even make an elegant salted caramel sauce.
  • Fruit sauceBlueberry sauce and strawberry sauce are both lovely with cheesecake. I also have a raspberry sauce recipe if that is your preferred flavor.
  • Fresh berries – Use whatever is in season. Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries – you name it.
  • Sauteed apples – During the autumn I love cooking up peeled apples slices with a bit of cinnamon sugar, then spooning them on top of a slice of cheesecake once they have cooled.
  • Whipped cream – A dollop of whipped cream to top it all off is never a bad idea either.
A slice of homemade cheese cake with whipped cream and strawberries, a bite taken out of the cheesecake with a fork next to it

How to Store 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!

Cheesecake will keep in the fridge for 5-6 days.

Can I Freeze It?

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 of 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. If you freeze this cheesecake, it should be fine for at least a month.


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A slice of homemade cheese cake with whipped cream and strawberries
Recipe

The Best Cheesecake Recipe

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

Description

This cheesecake recipe is the best place to start if you’ve never made cheesecake and want to learn how to do it.


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


Instructions

Make the 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.

Assemble and Bake

  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 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.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 357
  • Sugar: 19.2 g
  • Sodium: 239.3 mg
  • Fat: 27.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 22.8 g
  • Protein: 6.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 125.4 mg

Keywords: best cheesecake recipe, how to make cheesecake, cheesecake water bath, homemade cheesecake

Categories

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.

And once you’ve mastered this recipe, you can venture out to other fun versions. Here are a few favorites you could try:

Enjoy!

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Recipe rating

142 Comments
  1. Pam B

    Putting springform pan inside a crockpot liner bag works fantastically . I have had water leak into the pan before. This is the first time I used the liner . It worked like a charm. I added lemon juice to your recipe because I like lemon and my husband doesn’t like any toppings on his cheesecake .

  2. Jamie

    This is the best cheesecake recipe ever. I’ve tried many times to get one just right and this came out perfectly. Brought it to the holiday dinners and there’s not a crumb left.

  3. Josephine Mullane

    I would love to make this cheesecake using some Bailey’s Irish Cream. Can I just add Bailey’s? If so, how much? I have your cookbook and the recipes and photography are fantastic. Thanks.

    1. Judy

      Just took this out if the oven and no cracks. Used a large pan filled with hot water on the bottom rack of the oven. Did not want to take a chance with the water bath. I also substituted 3/4 cup of brown sugar for the white sugar. Thanks for the recipe and tips.

    1. Lindsay

      You could add a strawberry swirl. The baking time they increase a little bit, depending on how much is being added.

  4. Renee F.

    Your recipes NEVER disappoint!! I have never made a cheesecake but knew just where to come to find the perfect recipe. It came out perfect. It looked beautiful (no cracks) and tasted even better. Everyone raved 🙂 I wish there was a way to add pictures to your reviews so others can see that with your detailed instruction, regular people can really recreate your masterpieces. Forever a fan!

  5. Nick Prigmore

    OMG!!!
    Best Cheesecake I’ve ever had!!!
    Your the Queen of cheesecake…
    I’m using your recipe’s only!
    Thank you!
    Nick

  6. Stephanie

    This was easy to follow and turned out more perfect than I could have hoped for, and it didn’t even crack! This was my first ever baked cheesecake and I didn’t need the back-up instant boxed one I bought in case I messed this up. It is thick and creamy and tastes like something I bought rather than something I made. Thank you for the step by step instructions and helping make my roommate’s birthday better.

  7. Karry

    This is one of the best cheesecakes I have ever tasted! I followed right along, first time baking one myself, and it was perfect!!
    I did change the crust. I used a golden Oreo crust. 36 cookies, crushed in food processor, and 1 stick unsalted butter. So good together!!
    I can’t wait to get it again!! Thanks for such a delicious recipe for my arsenal!!

Lindsay
About Lindsay

I'm a wife and a mom to twin boys and a baby girl! And I've got a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the treats!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29