The Best Easy Cheesecake is made with a graham cracker crust, plenty of rich cream cheese, and a few other simple ingredients. This homemade cheesecake is perfect every single time—no cracks (and no water bath!), creamy texture, and the best flavor.
Classic cheesecake doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming to make! This is the recipe my mom made when we were growing up and to this day, it’s still my favorite cheesecake recipe of all time!
Cheesecake is probably my favorite dessert of all time. Obviously, I’m no stranger to the dessert front so picking my absolute favorite dessert feels like picking a favorite child.
However, if push came to shove, it would be a very close race between a rich cheesecake slice or a gooey chocolate chip cookie. You can never go wrong with a classic, you know what I mean??
(Note to self—look into a chocolate chip cookie cheesecake pie. I think we can all agree that might sound like the best thing ever.)
My mom’s cheesecake is one of those recipes where I will 100% proclaim, “Mom knows best,” because this recipe never ever fails. It’s the perfect cheesecake every single time, and it absolutely never disappoints.
I know it can be presumptuous and slightly obnoxious to proclaim this as the “Best Cheesecake Recipe Ever,” but I’m going to say it: It is the best and I have the evidence to back that up.
Why This Is The Best Cheesecake (and easiest):
- It’s made with easy ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.
- This is a cheesecake without sour cream. I don’t mind sour cream cheesecakes, however, it’s not always necessary and I feel it can detract from the cream cheese flavor.
- You don’t have to do a water bath to bake this perfectly. I repeat, this is a cheesecake without a water bath.
- Don’t skimp on quality ingredients. It can be tempting to grab the store brand stuff (graham crackers and cream cheese), but trust me on this, buying Philadelphia cream cheese and quality graham crackers make this easy cheesecake recipe a 10 out of 10.
Simple Cheesecake Ingredients:
- graham crackers
- butter, unsalted
- granulated sugar
- vanilla extract
- cream cheese
Six ingredients is all you need to make the best cheesecake without cracks, without a water bath and without any hassle on your part.
As mentioned above, when it comes to cheesecake, I highly recommend you get name brand ingredients (namely graham crackers and cream cheese).
- My favorite cream cheese for cheesecake: Philadelphia. There’s a reason they’re kind of the only name brand cream cheese around. The flavor and texture is outstanding.
- My favorite graham crackers for a homemade graham cracker crust: Honey Maid. Again, the flavor is just unbeatable in comparison to store brand. If you can’t find Honey Maid for some reason, my next favorite brand would be Trader Joe’s.
- Definitely use pure vanilla extract rather than imitation vanilla. While imitation vanilla is signifcantly cheaper, it does not taste the same as pure vanilla extract. It’s worth the extra expense to get the good stuff.
Why Do Cheesecakes Crack?
- Temperature: Okay so there are many reasons why a cheesecake cracks, but it often has to do with a dramatic change in temperature. Most often they crack when they’re removed from the hot oven and placed to cool on the counter. The change in temperature makes the cheesecake break. I’ll discuss further how I cool cheesecake to keep it from cracking.
- Baking: Over baking your cheesecake can also make it crack and pull away from the sides of the crust, but I talk more about how you know your cheesecake is done a little further down in the post to help you avoid over baking your classic cheesecake recipe.
- Cold Ingredients: It’s important to use room temperature ingredients in baking, and it’s especially pertinent here for cheesecake. Cream cheese gets lumpy when it’s not softened to room temperature and those lumps not only make for a lumpy cheesecake, but it also can affect the the overall baking.
- Over mixing: If you over mix cheesecake batter, it incorporates too much air into the batter. That air can make air bubbles in your cheesecake. Those air bubbles can cause your cheesecake to crack later. The key is really to be gentle with cheesecake batter. Don’t leave your mixer running while you go do something, and don’t mix on a high speed. Scrape down the sides of your bowl often and mix on a low speed just until combined.
Of course, if it cracks, you can cover it with any topping you like and those toppings hide a multitude of sins.
However, I have been making this easy cheesecake recipe for years and it’s never cracked on me. Never.
Do I have to make a water bath for this cheesecake?
- No! That’s *almost* my favorite part about this recipe. It’s one of the reasons why I call this the best easy cheesecake.
- If you’re not familiar with a water bath, it’s used somewhat often in baking cheesecakes, custards and puddings because it adds moisture to the oven, which prevents cracks and a rubbery texture.
- However, this is baked at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time, and the ratio of ingredients keep the cheesecake stable so if it’s cooled properly and not over baked, it should be a crack-free cheesecake.
- Also, I loathe water baths. While they are necessary in some cases, for this recipe, you do not need it and it makes the process so much simpler.
- Lastly, the flavor of this cheesecake is sweet yet tangy, and it’s paired perfectly with a buttery graham cracker crust. I love this recipe not just because it’s easy and uses simple ingredients, or because it’s a cheesecake without a water bath, it’s because this cheesecake is just plain good.
How Do I Know When My Cheesecake Is Done?
- As mentioned earlier, over baking your cheesecake can make it crack and pull away from the crust. Over baking your cheesecake can also make it taste rubbery.
- As my mom taught me when I was younger, you know a cheesecake is done when you gently move the pan, the center jiggles slightly. Similarly to pumpkin pie, the center shouldn’t slosh or be liquidy; it should just jiggle.
- If the center and the outside part of the cheesecake jiggle, it’s not ready yet.
- If the center doesn’t jiggle at all, it’s probably over baked.
How Do I Cool Cheesecake To Keep It From Cracking?
- When your cheesecake is done baking (i.e., the outside of the cheesecake is firm and the center jiggles slightly), turn off the oven and crack it open.
- Allow the cheesecake to cool in the cracked oven for 45-60 minutes. This is extremely important, because the slow cooling process will help prevent cheesecake from cracking. I usually do 60 minutes, but if you’re pressed for time for any reason, you can pull it out at the 45 or 50 minute mark
- After it cools in the oven, continue cooling it on the counter until it reaches room temperature.
- Then, chill it in the fridge for at least 4 hours. However, cheesecake gets better and better the longer it chills, so I suggest letting it chill overnight, if possible.
Do I Have To Use A Spring Form Pan?
- Nope. Typically I make cheesecake in a pie plate. You can use a springform pan, a pie plate, or even a baking pan to make cheesecake bars—whatever you have on hand.
What’s the difference between a no bake cheesecake and a baked cheesecake?
- A no bake cheesecake is a cheesecake that firms up in the fridge rather than firming up in the oven. Usually no bake cheesecake recipes have gelatin or some sort of thickener in the recipe to keep the cheesecake firm.
- Baked cheesecakes don’t need a thickener like gelatin, because they bake in the oven.
- On a personal level, I much prefer a cheesecake recipe baked in the oven rather than a no bake recipe. I just prefer the flavor of baked cheesecake better.
What Cheesecake Toppings Can I Use?
- The sky is really the limit here, but a few of my favorite classic cheesecake toppings are:
- strawberries, blueberries or raspberries
- canned cherries (totally nostalgic and reminds me of being a kid)
- lemon curd
- caramel sauce
- chocolate chips
- ganache or chocolate sauce
- whipped cream
Here are some other cheesecake favorites:
How Do I Make Cheesecake From Scratch:
- Room Temperature Ingredients: Make sure you bring your cream cheese and eggs to room temperature before making cheesecake. It will keep your cheesecake filling smooth and silky.
- Graham Cracker Crust: I prefer making my own graham cracker crust to buying either a premade crust or graham cracker crumbs. Pulse the graham crackers in your food processor until crumbs form. Gently mix the crumbs with melted butter, sugar and vanilla extract. Press into your pie plate or springform pan. Set aside.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- With a hand held mixer or a standing mixer, beat the cream cheese for a 5-10 seconds. Then, while the mixer is on low, add in granulated sugar and mix until combined. Add in the vanilla extract and mix.
- Next, add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Scrape down the sides of your bowl and mix until the filling is combined and silky smooth. If you see some lumps in the filling, you can try to smooth the lumps with a rubber spatula against the edge of the bowl (but hopefully your ingredients were at room temperature and you won’t have any lumps!).
- Pour the filling into the graham cracker crust and smooth it in an even layer.
- Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until the center jiggles slightly. Mine is usually done at approximately 24 minutes.
- Turn off the oven, crack open the door, and cool the cheesecake for 45-60 minutes in the oven. Then, continue cooling the cheesecake on the counter until it reaches room temperature. Lastly, chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours; overnight if possible.
- Cut and serve with your favorite toppings.
Final Cheesecake Baking Tips & Tricks:
- Use quality ingredients: in cheesecake especially, I don’t think store brand ingredients provide the best flavor and texture.
- Room Temperature Ingredients: Your eggs and cream cheese need to be at room temperature, otherwise you will have a lumpy cheesecake (which could lead to cracks in your cheesecake). I like to pull my cream cheese and eggs out a couple of hours before baking.
- Your cheesecake is done baking when the center jiggles slightly when you gently move the baking dish.
- Let it cool in the cracked oven first, then cool completely on the counter.
- Chill it in the fridge overnight (or 4 hours, at the very least). Cheesecake gets better and better the colder it is.
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 4 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 8 oz cream cheese packages, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- -caramel sauce
- -chocolate chips
- -lemon curd
- -whipped cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Using a food processor, pulse the graham cracker sheets (about 10-12) until they resemble crumbs.
- Next, add in sugar, vanilla extract, and melted butter and pulse the mixture until well combined.
- Pour graham cracker crumbs into your baking dish and press the crumbs into the bottom of the dish and up along the sides. Set aside.
- With a hand mixer or a standing mixer, beat cream cheese on a low speed for about 5-10 seconds.
- While on a low speed, slowly add in the granulated sugar and mix until incorporated, scraping down the sides as needed. Add in vanilla extract and mix until combined.
- Next, add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and mix on low until everything is combined and the filling is silky and smooth.
- Pour cheesecake batter over the graham cracker crust and spread in an even layer.
- Bake for 22-25 minutes (mine is usually done at approximately 24 minutes), or until the center of the cheesecake jiggles slightly when the baking dish is gently moved.
- Turn the oven off, crack the door, and let the cheesecake slowly cool for about 45-60 minutes (I ususally do 60 minutes, but if you’re pressed for time, you can pull it out at 45 minutes).
- Continue to cool the cheesecake on the counter until it reaches room temperature.
- Finally, chill the cheesecake in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight if possible (cheesecake gets better the colder it gets).
- Cut and serve with whatever toppings you like.
- Refrigerate leftover.
Here are some other cheesecake favorites: