Easy Classic Cheesecake Recipe

This easy 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 my simple tricks for using a water bath to bake your cheesecake.

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

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!

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.

Cheesecake on a white plate next to a bowl of strawberries.

How to Make a Classic Cheesecake

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

Step 1: Assemble Your Tools and Ingredients

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.

Step 2: 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.

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.

Cheesecake on a white place with a slice cut into the cheesecake.

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!

Step 4: Bake Your Cheesecake

I know water bath 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 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).

Homemade cheesecake with graham cracker crust on a white plate

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!

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

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.

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 drizzled with chocolate sauce with a strawberry on top

Topping Ideas

As I mentioned earlier, one of the best things about a classic vanilla cheesecake is how many options you have when it comes to toppings. I love to drizzle chocolate or salted caramel onto my cheesecake, then top it with whichever berries are in season. Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries – you name it. A dollop of whipped cream to top it all off is never a bad idea either.

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

Read transcript

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Overhead image of Classic Cheesecake

Easy Classic 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


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.



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


  • 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


Caramel Sauce
Lemon Curd
Homemade Whipped Cream
Chocolate Sauce
Fresh Fruit



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.


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, classic, how to make cheesecake, cheesecake water bath, homemade cheesecake from scratch, original 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.

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


A slice of homemade cheesecake on a white plate and an uncut cheesecake.

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Recipe rating

    1. Lindsay

      It’s hard to say if you did anything wrong. I would describe this as thick and creamy, so it’s possible that it’s correct.

  1. Melanie

    I have made many cheesecakes over the years, but have never had one turn out as perfect as this one. I followed all the directions and was not disappointed. I served it with a blueberry sauce made with fresh picked wild blueberries. I finally know how to make a cheesecake that doesn’t sink and crack!

  2. Rebecca

    I love your cheesecake recipes, but I am cooking for one most of the time and like to experiment. Do you have any recommendations/rules of thumb for converting your recipes to make 4in mini cheesecakes? Thank you!

  3. KJ

    It was my first time to bake a cheesecake. I followed your recipe and instructions. The finished product was perfect! Thank you for sharing this. 

  4. Yashika

    Hi Lindsay,

    I made the cheesecake and it was delicious. Everyone loved it. I added caramel and toasted pecan nuts as a topping. I need to work on trying to even the sides- the crust was too thick on some parts of the base going up to the sides.
    This is my go to recipe going forward.

  5. Michelle

    Hi! I tried your mini cheesecake recipe and it turns out GREAT. Now I’m going to try out a full cheesecake for the family. I am worried about putting it in a water bath though.. is it possible to do it without one? And how will that effect cooking time? 

    1. Lindsay

      Glad you enjoyed the minis. You can bake this cheesecake without a water bath, but as I mention in the blog post, it will brown around the edges, fall in the center while cooling and likely crack. Not my recommendation. If you try it thought, you’d want to bake it for less time – closer to an hour.

  6. Rhonda

     I followed both filling and crust recipes to the T but when I took my pie out after cooling in the oven, butter was in the bag.  Not sure what happened. Also it’s still a little warm around the sides, was it ok to go ahead and put in the refrigerator?  Overall, great recipe!  

    1. Lindsay

      Yea, that can happen. The amount of butter in the crust shouldn’t leak, but from time to time I get that too. And yes, you can put in the fridge when it’s still warm, that’s fine. Glad you enjoyed it!

      1. Brenda

        Fabulous recipe – delicious! I made it with a Graham wafer crust. For some reason, the butter leaks (10 Tbsp,)but does not affect the taste. I will reduce to 8 Tbsp. next time to determine if that affects the crust. I used your water method but placed the springform pan into a larger pan and then placed into another larger pan filled with warm/hot water. Luckily I wrapped the bottom of the springform pan with foil; the foil caught the leaking butter. 

  7. Naukri

    I am completely new to cooking and i tried this recipe. I was hoping to get something as you have shown as the end result but what i made was nowhere close to this. I think i need to start with some basic recipes haha.

  8. Lindsey

    I made this for a large family get together and it was FANTASTIC!  It looked exactly like the picture and everyone raved about the taste!  A few people even said it was the best cheesecake they’ve ever had.  This will be my go-to recipe for sure! 

  9. Angela

    Awesome recipe! I made this with a graham cracker pecan crust with a touch of cinnamon in the crust! Heaven on a plate! No cracks and the texture was perfect. I will be making a wedding cheesecake in a few months and just found the perfect recipe. Thanks for sharing

  10. Lynn Morey

    I made this cheesecake for a family dinner right after Christmas and it was a total hit! I offered chocolate and raspberry drizzle. It was rated by family as “the best cheesecake they’ve ever had”. Many requests for birthday cheesecakes for this coming year! I’m going to try the white chocolate raspberry flavor this weekend for my husband’s birthday. I found the crockpot liner method and found it to be flawless. Thanks for a great recipe for an exceptional cake!

  11. Julie G

    I’ve been making cheesecake for 35 years. It’s my absolute favorite cake. I wanted something with a greater crust to filling ratio so I tried this one. Oh My Gosh….I’m blown away!  Used brown sugar in the crust which gave it a great flavor. It baked beautifully, not a single crack. I’m with you on using a water bath and slow cooling method. It’s what works best.
    The filling was creamy and delicious. So easy to make. 
    I’ve never used parchment or nonstick spray but it’s the best way to go. It cut so perfectly!!
    There’s no turning back now. This is the perfect cheesecake recipe. The variations are endless. Next time I’ll add just a bit of lemon juice since I love that flavor in it too. 
    You are a wonderful baker. I’ve used many of your recipes. Keep up the great work!! XO

  12. Jenny

    I just love your cheesecake recipes!  I have made 5 of your recipe’s and just made this one tonight and it turned out beautiful.  I decorated the top with your whip cream recipe, cookie crumbs and white pearls, like you have done with other recipes.  Thank you so much for sharing your recipes and tips.  I am going to try the Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake next!!!

  13. Ashley.

    Is the cake supposed to be loose after the full hour of cooking? It’s still not as solid as other cheesecakes I’ve made at higher temperatures so I’m nervous. I’m assuming the 6 hours of cooking should fix the consistency. 

  14. Cheyenne Reser

    This was my best cheesecake yet! I used some dry monster cookies that weren’t getting eaten as the crust and it worked amazingly!!! Thank you! I did not use a water bath I just used my oven roaster and it came out visibly perfect! Cuts perfectly too!

  15. Cindy

    This looks so good! Could I put the cheesecake filling in a pre-made pie crust? I have one on hand, but I’m assuming this would overflow. Maybe make two pies or cut the ingredients by 2/3? I don’t have a springform pan and am trying to save some time by not making the crust. Thanks!

    1. Lindsay

      You can, I just haven’t done it before so I’m not exactly sure what adjustments to make. I’m guessing you could fill 2 to 3 of the pans. I’m not really sure about baking time. I hope you enjoy them!

  16. Varun Sharma

    I made it yesterday and it was so delicious. My sister loves this recipe. Thanks for sharing with us.

    1. Lindsay

      I don’t. I actually haven’t made a 6 inch cheesecake before, so I’m not sure what the exact adjustments should be.

    1. Jats

      And another worries that i have is that, is it okay for me to leave the leftover cheesecake fillings on the counter at room temperature while waiting for the first batch cheesecake to cook? Fyi i will be doing 2 batch of this cheesecake

      1. Lindsay

        It takes quite a while to bake. I’d personally suggest making the two fillings separately, but if you want to make them at the same time, I imagine it would be ok on the counter for that amount of time. I haven’t done it though and it’d be sitting out a while. Use your best judgement.

    2. Lindsay

      The flour prevents the egg proteins from over-coagulating, giving you a creamier texture and helping you prevent any cracks. You don’t have to use it, but I like the texture. It’s not cakey, at least not in my opinion.

  17. Athena

    I have never made a cheesecake before this one…successfully!!! This is the BEST recipe. I made two perfect cheesecakes and they are phenomenal. Creamy, sweet and no cracks! I followed the recipe to the letter and they turned out marvelous!

  18. Cathy Jardine

    I live in Canada and so far have not found the crock pot liner bags here, however I was able to buy some when in Hawaii in Feb. I bought 2 packages of the small size, perfect for my springform pan. What a fabulous tip, made it so easy to do a water bath for my sons peanut butter chocolate birthday cheesecake. I double bagged it, just in case but no leaks so will reuse the outer one. Thank you for sharing this tip. Had no idea crock pot liner bags even existed.

    1. Zee

      I have a dumb question. For the vanilla wafers, do we measure the 2 1/4 as whole cookies or after they’ve been pulsed into crumbs. Thank you. 

  19. Lisa Darling

    I love your recipes, but something has changed on your website. I always was able to copy the pictures so I could print the recipe, but now the website will not let you copy the pictures. Can you fix that? Just made your no-bake lemon cheesecake – wonderful!

  20. maria

    Hi, I would really like to know what knife you use for the clean cuts?
    Love how all yours have such a nice clean look.
    Also is there a secret to getting the crust up as high as yours, I have difficulty getting it to
    stay that high..?
    Thanks so much for your reply..

  21. Vivian Dsouza

    This looks great, I’ve been trying to work out what to feed everyone at a summer picnic and this looks perfect! Thanks for the recipe

    1. Lindsay

      My cheesecake is always sturdy enough once cooled that I can balance it in my hand while I slide the paper off.

      1. Irina

        Hi Lindsay! I tried the recipe and everything turned out great, except that I thought I packed it well before putting it in the oven, but the water got into the springpan. What can I do ? The crust is soaked, but the cheesecake seems alright.

      2. Lindsay

        It should still be fine. I’ve had water get into my crust before and it may lose a little bit if it’s crispiness, but it’s usually fine. If you aren’t serving it right away, you could take it out of the springform pan after it’s cooled and the crust will dry out a little bit.

  22. Mama reya

    Hello lindsay how are you
    Yesterday I made the cheesecake but when i off the one instead of leaving it 1 hour it stay in the water bath in the oven 2hours and hapf coz i forget it i was so tired so i slept on the sofa
    Just need to know if rhis will affect the taste coz am taking it today to mom’s gathering

    1. Lindsay

      Did it cook for an extra hour, or was the oven off and cooling for an extra hour? If it was cooling, it’s probably ok. Unless something looks horribly wrong, I’m going to guess it’s fine.

    1. Lindsay

      I’m so sorry for the trouble! There was an issue today that affected thousands of sites – mine included. It looks like it’s been resolved, so you should be able to access it here now. Sorry about that!

  23. Rebecca

    HI Lindsey! I love your recipes and your index is my go to, but for some reason I am unable to see any recipes on your blog! Help!

    1. Lindsay

      I’m so sorry for the trouble! There was an issue today that affected thousands of sites – mine included. It looks like it’s been resolved, so you should be able to access it here now. Sorry about that!

    1. Lindsay

      I’m so sorry for the trouble! There was an issue today that affected thousands of sites – mine included. It looks like it’s been resolved, so you should be able to access it here now. Sorry about that!

      1. Suri

        Can I make this recipe with 4 inch springform pans? And if so, how long should I bake for? Thanks!

      2. Lindsay

        I’m sure you could. I’ve just never made a cheesecake that size so I’m not sure how to advise.

      1. Lindsay

        I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. I haven’t tried it, but it would take longer for both to bake with two in the oven.

  24. Mike Zuna

    Please somebody help me,how to get the recipe
    Been tried many times,scroll down a thousand times and nothing work.

    1. Lindsay

      I’m so sorry for the trouble! There was an issue today that affected thousands of sites – mine included. It looks like it’s been resolved, so you should be able to access it here now. Sorry about that!

  25. Mike Zuna

    Hi Lindsay,
    Hoe can I get the recipe?
    Scroll down many times but still not see the recipe.
    Please help.
    Thank you

    1. Lindsay

      I’m so sorry for the trouble! There was an issue today that affected thousands of sites – mine included. It looks like it’s been resolved, so you should be able to access it here now. Sorry about that!

  26. Andrew Jones

    We have a large family that gets together pretty often. Any tips for increasing cheesecake recipes without messing everything up? For instance, same thickness but 10 inch pan: does that increase cook time? 

    1. Lindsay

      Changing pan sizes is a little tricker, largely because I haven’t worked with other sizes much so I’m not really sure about ingredient adjustments. You would need to increase the baking time though though. I’d try another 15 minutes and then check it and go from there (assuming you had the same thickness of cheesecake). If you don’t adjust the ingredients, you’d probably reduce the baking time a bit.

  27. Linda Legg

    Since using your tips * the crockpot liner and 30 minutes with the oven closed then 30 minutes with the door cracked, I have made so many perfect cheesecakes. My husband thanks you so much! Blessings 

      1. Lindzee Meltzer

        Hi there!!

        The timing on these 9” cheesecakes are perfect and I feel so confident making them!!

        How long should a 6” bake for?

About Lindsay

I'm a wife and mom to twin boys, a baby girl and a sweet black lab with a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the sugar!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12