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Best Cheesecake Recipe – Oh Sweet Basil

The best cheesecake recipe should be rich and creamy and totally doable, not impossible! THIS is that recipe and we are giving you all the tips for success.

I’ll give you my first tip now! Using foil around the pan as it bakes is key to an even, non-cracked, no water leakage cheesecake. Plus, I swear it’s the reason I’ve not had a cracked cheesecake in years. Kind of like those fabric strips you can throw around a cake, nonstick foil is your secret weapon!

a photo of a large slice of classic cheesecake taken from the side so you can see the cross-section. It has a thick graham cracker crust and golden top with berries

I LOVE Graham Cracker Crust

I always picked the graham cracker crust off of the cheesecake in the fridge when Mom wasn’t looking. 

That would totally bug me if someone did that today. 

Surely she must have known but my goodness, she’s a saint and chose to not nit pick us kids. I’ve really been thinking about that lately, how much she gave us space to grow and mature instead of laying out too high of expectations on too little of brains. 

I hated cheesecake back then. It was the tanginess for sure, but the graham cracker crust called to me from all over the house. Today I am all in for all of it, but I can still easily turn down a poorly made cheesecake. This is not one of those cheesecakes. This is one to print and keep on hand at all times. 

a photo of a whole cheesecake topped with glazed whole and halved strawberries with a couple of slices removed so you can see the perfect bake through the middle of the cheesecake.

Texture – extra creamy, smooth, and rich with an even consistency all the way through the center and that crunchy graham cracker crust that is still my favorite part

Flavor – perfectly tangy with the balance of sweetness you love, and you can add whatever toppings you love most (see section below for ideas)

Difficulty – I’d give this recipe a medium rating for difficulty. I wouldn’t say it’s easy, but it is definitely doable for bakers of any level, especially when you follow our fail-proof tips (more down below).

Time – this going to take some planning ahead with a total time from start to finish of over 12 hours, but don’t be scared, most of that time is resting and chilling time

a photo of a graham cracker crust pressed down into a springform pan wrapped in foil ready to bake.

It always blows my mind that something so delicious, decadent and actually pretty fancy can be made with just a few ingredients. Here is what you will need:

Crust

  • Graham Cracker Crust
    • graham crackers – I’m all about the Honeymaid, but you whatever you love! You can grind the crackers up yourself (use a blender or food processor) or buy the crumbs.
    • sugar – adds a little sweetness to the crust
    • butter – binds the crust all together

a photo of a large slice of classic cheesecake taken from the side so you can see the cross-section. It has a thick graham cracker crust and golden top.

Cheesecake can be so delicate to get just right. We’ve all been there…we spend all the time and money on a cheesecake and it cracks or you cut into it and it oozes out everywhere and hasn’t set up. I’m getting a pit in my stomach just thinking about it! Here are a few tips for success:

Spring Form Pan

It absolutely will be a beast to cut your cheesecake if you try to use a regular cake pan. Take my word for it an just invest in a springform. It makes life so much easier when it comes to slicing and serving the cheesecake.

 

a photo of a slice of classic cheesecake topped with glazed whole strawberries and dollops of whipped cream on a small white dessert plate.

Room Temperature Ingredients

The cream cheese, sour cream and eggs must be at room temperature.

  • Cream cheese that has been brought to room temperature won’t get clumpy and will be smooth and creamy which is exactly what you’re after with cheesecake. Sour cream at room temperature will combine easily with the cream cheese and eggs. Eggs that are at room temperature distribute more evenly through the cheesecake mixture which is crucial to the structure of the cheesecake (i.e. crack free!). The egg’s fat is more easily emulsified at room temperature as well.
  • When it comes to adding the eggs, add them one at a time and make sure they are fully incorporated between each egg.

DO NOT Open the Oven

Drastic changes in temperature will cause a cheesecake to crack every single time.

Use a Water Bath for Baking

  • A water bath adds moisture to the oven and helps the cheesecake bake more evenly and prevents overbaking.
  • Wrapping the springform pan in heavy duty foil ensures no water will leak into the cheesecake and is essential to a perfect bake

a photo of a 9

Time to Rest and Chill

  • Once the cheesecake has baked for 1 hour, turn the oven off, and let the cheesecake sit in the oven without opening the door for another 35 minutes. Then run a knife around the outside and let it sit in the oven for another 2-4 hours.
  • Then remove the cheesecake from the oven and from the water bath and let it cool completely on a cooling rack. This allows air to continue to circulate around the cheesecake.
  • Once it has cooled completely. Wrap it in plastic wrap and chill it in the fridge for at least 8 hours. Then remove the sides of the springform pan and slice and serve with your favorite toppings.

a photo of a slice of classic cheesecake topped with glazed whole strawberries and dollops of whipped cream on a small white dessert plate.

Toppings for Cheesecake

Do you go straight cheesecake or do you like to have a topping on it? I am all about the toppings. Here are a few ideas:

a photo of a large slice of classic cheesecake taken from the side so you can see the cross-section. It has a thick graham cracker crust and golden top.

How Can You Tell When a Cheesecake is Done?

When it comes to cheesecakes (and not my midsection…haha), a little jiggle in the middle is just fine. If the sides are set all the way around, the middle should be a little jiggly. It will setup completely as the cheesecake rests in the oven after baking and chills to room temperature and then in the fridge.

Why Do Cheesecakes Crack?

In all my years of perfecting this cheesecake recipe, I have found there are a few main culprits for ending up with a cracked cheesecake…1) using cold ingredients – when I say room temperature, I mean room temperature!, 2) overmixing – just mix until smooth and incorporated, 3) don’t open the oven door after baking – introducing cool air to the oven is sure to cause a crack every time, 4) bake the cheesecake with a water bath and use heavy duty foil, and 5) the main culprit…OVER-BAKING!

We have a whole post on avoiding a cracked cheesecake, so head there for all the answers.

a photo of a slice of classic cheesecake topped with glazed whole strawberries and dollops of whipped cream on a small white dessert plate.

Does Cheesecake Need To Be Refrigerated?

Cheesecake should be stored in the refrigerator.

It will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge.

Can You Freeze Cheesecake?

Cheesecake freezes very well. I like to cut them into individual pieces and then freeze them. Set the individual pieces on a baking sheet and stick them in the freezer for a couple of hours. Once they are frozen, wrap them in plastic wrap and then put all the wrapped pieces in an airtight container or ziploc bag.

Cheesecake can be stored in the freezer for up to a month.

 

It is time to conquer any fears or hesitation you have with making cheesecake from scratch! We have given you all the tips to ensure that this is the best cheesecake recipe of all time.

More Cheesecake Recipes:

a photo of a whole cheesecake topped with glazed whole and halved strawberries with a couple of slices removed so you can see the perfect bake through the middle of the cheesecake.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Resting and Chilling Time: 10 hours 35 minutes

Total Time: 12 hours 25 minutes

Servings: 8

Cheesecake Filling

  • 5 Blocks Cream Cheese softened, 40oz
  • 1 1/2 Cups Sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoons Lemon Extract
  • 5 Large Eggs plus 3 egg yolks, large, room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons Sour Cream
  • 1/3 Cup Heavy Cream *see note
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

  • Spray a 9” springform pan with nonstick spray all along the inside. 

  • Wrap foil around the outside of the pan all along the bottom and up the sides of the pan with tinfoil a couple of times to protect it from the water bath.

  • Set pan aside.

  • In a large bowl, combine the crust ingredients and press firmly into the bottom and bake for 8 minutes. Cool while you prepare the filling. 

For the Filling

  • In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until completely smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. 

  • Add in the sugar, salt, vanilla and lemon extract and beat again until smooth. 

  • One at a time, add each egg and yolk, beating in between each addition. 

  • Switch to a spoon or rubber spatula and stir in the sour cream and heavy cream. 

  • Pour over the crust and smooth the top out. 

  • Place the cheesecake in a large cake pan or roasting pan. Fill the pan with 2” of hot water to act as a water bath.

  • Gently carry the cheesecake to the oven and bake for 1 hour . 

  • Turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake alone for 35 minutes. Run a hot or greased knife around the edge and shut the door for another 2-4 hours.

  • Remove the cheesecake from the oven.

  • Allow to cool on a cooling rack, thus encouraging air to circulate around the cheesecake until it has cooled completely. 

  • Cover with saran wrap and chill for 8-10 hours before serving. 

*you may use 1/3 cup sour cream instead of the heavy cream for the cheesecake
Cheesecake will keep for 5 days in the refrigerator

Nutrition Facts

Best Cheesecake Recipe

Amount Per Serving (1 slice)

Calories 335
Calories from Fat 108

% Daily Value*

Fat 12g18%

Saturated Fat 5g31%

Trans Fat 1g

Polyunsaturated Fat 1g

Monounsaturated Fat 6g

Cholesterol 116mg39%

Sodium 182mg8%

Potassium 78mg2%

Carbohydrates 52g17%

Fiber 1g4%

Sugar 42g47%

Protein 5g10%

Vitamin A 322IU6%

Vitamin C 1mg1%

Calcium 32mg3%

Iron 1mg6%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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