Are you a lover of cheesecakes and on a quest to learn how to make a perfect cheesecake? Here is a fantastic step-by-step photo tutorial on how to make perfect cheesecake, plus additional troubleshooting tips.
This is just a basic Perfectly Plain Cheesecake recipe, but it can be used as the base for many other varieties. Change the crust, add some chocolate, or just get creative! Have fun developing other ways to make it; once you have made one that comes out like this Perfectly Plain Cheesecake, the possibilities are endless!
Who does not love a good cheesecake? OK – maybe there are some out there that do not, and I have to feel a little sorry for them. I have always loved a good cheesecake, and for many years my cheesecake consisted of the cream cheese and condensed milk refrigerator version, with canned cherries on top. To think I actually thought this was a cheesecake! Admittedly, I do still love this version, and it is great when you are in a rush, but this is nothing in comparison to the “real deal.”
While attending the University of Texas, some friends and I began experimenting with making cheesecakes. They always seemed to come out runny, cracked. or just wrong. It was not until my senior year there that I actually found the secret to a wonderful cheesecake, and realized that maybe all those other attempts were good cheesecakes, but the preparation and cooking methods were all wrong. So here is my recipe, and with a little help from watching shows like Alton Brown’s Good Eats, I found the perfect way to make it and cook it so that it came out wonderful!
This wonderful Perfectly Plain Cheesecake recipe, comments, and photos are courtesy of Cynthia Detterick-Pineda of Andrews, TX. Check out more of Cynthia’s Southwest Recipes.
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted and cooled
- 3 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, fresh-squeezed
- 1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
- NOTE: It is very important that the cream cheese, eggs and cream be at room temperature. You may need to let them sit out for an hour before beginning to make this recipe.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (315 degrees F. for convection oven).
Wrap the bottom of an 8-inch Springform Pan with two layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Set aside another oven-proof pan that this can sit into. You will use these as a water bath when cooking your cheesecake, so make sure the aluminum foil come up high enough to keep water out of your cheesecake. Cut a round piece of parchment to cover the bottom of the springform pan, and set it in.
Mix the graham cracker crumbs, two tablespoons of sugar, and the cooled butter in the bottom of the springform pan.
Once it begins to cling together, use a flat object, such as a cup or glass, to firmly press the cookie crumb mixture onto the bottom of the pan and half way up the sides. Place this pan into the larger ovenproof pan and set aside.
Beat the cream cheese for a minimum of 3 minutes; add the remaining 1 cup sugar and continue beating this mixture until it is light and creamy.
Start the mixer on a medium low speed and work up to medium high as the cream cheese becomes smoother. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides AND the beaters while mixing so that all the cream cheese is well beaten. It can take up to five minutes of beating to get a smooth, fluffy cream cheese mixture.
Add the eggs, one at a time, while continuing beating at medium speed after each egg is added.
Add the heavy cream, beat until incorporated. Remember to scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl, and scrape up any thicker bits of cream cheese that have stuck to the bottom of the mixer
Increase the speed of the mixer to high and let this mix while you add the lemon juice and vanilla extract to thr cream mixture. This will curdle the cream, so do not be surprised to see some lumpiness in the cream. As before, frequently scrape down the sides and the beaters so that the mixture is smooth.
Pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan.
Baking Cheesecakes: Place the two (2) pans into the oven on the middle rack, and fill the larger, outside pan with hot water until it is about half way up the sides of your cheesecake pan.
Bake cheesecake until it is golden brown and the edges are firm to about 1 inch in on the pan, about 40 to 45 minutes. When the cheesecake is done cooking, reaches an internal temperture of 150 degrees F. on your cooking thermometer, turn the oven off. Let cake stand in oven, with door ajar, approximately 30 minutes or until center is completely set. During this time, the remaining part of the cheesecake will firm up so that it does not “jiggle” when the pan is moved.
NOTE: There should be no wet spots or liquid areas in the center of the cheesecake. Remember that a cheesecake continues to cook when it is removed from the oven.
Prevent cracks in your cheesecake: When the internal temperature of a cheesecake rises beyond 160 degrees F. while baking, it will always crack. To prevent this from happening, use an instant-read cooking thermometer to test its doneness. Take it out of the oven when the cheesecake reaches 150 degrees F. at the center to avoid over baking.
Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack. NOTE: Cool the cheesecake completely before attempting to remove from the springform pan. To remove from pan, simply release the sides and slide the cheesecake up and out of the pan. The parchment round on the bottom of the cheesecake will make it easy to slide the cheesecake onto a serving plate.
Photos showing inside texture of the cheesecake.
Makes 12 servings.
Check out the following tips and hints on baking cheesecakes:
Baking A Perfect Cheesecake
Baking Cheesecakes Ahead Of Time
Cracks in Cheesecake
How To Freeze Cheesecakes
Traveling with Cheesecakes
Find more of our Best Cheesecake Recipes!
Categories:Baking Cheesecake Cream Cheese- Mascarpone Cheese Dessert Recipes Easter Mother's Day Thanksgiving
58 Responses to “Perfectly Plain Cheesecake Recipe”
Been baking over an hour and still jiggly on top and not browning at all. Is the temperature correct? Also, what size pans did you use the reason I’m asking is because my spring form pan is too big to fit into any of my large baking pans.
Please read our article on Baking Perfect Cheesecakes. Hopefully some of the tips will help answer your question.
Here is our article on Springform Pans.
Same here. It’s been in for over an hour and it’s barely turning a bit brown. I hope it turns out ok.
Please let me know how your cheesecake turns out. This is not my recipe, but a woman that used to write for our web site. – Linda Stradley
I made this last night and it turned out great. I substituted 1/2 cup sour cream for half the heavy cream. I put a pan of water on rack under my 10″ springform pan. Baked for 1 hr and 10 min, turned off stove, let sit for 20 min with door closed then 40 min with spoon proping door open.
Depending on your oven and your altitude could make a difference.
I added the Internal Temperature needed before removing from the oven to the recipe. I use an instant-read cooking thermometer to test its doneness. Take the cheesecake out of the oven when the cheesecake reaches and internal temperature of 150 degrees F. at the center to avoid over baking. When the cheesecake is done cooking, reaches 150 degrees F., turn the oven off. Let cake stand in oven, with door ajar, approximately 30 minutes or until center is completely set. Remove from oven and let cool cheesecake completely on a wire rack before refrigerating.
Also check out: How To Make a Perfect Cheesecake
Cheesecake will only brown as pictured if you put it under a broiler near the end of cooking.
I cooked as directed, but I used a roasting pan vs. a baking pan because my springform was too large to fit into a regular baking pan. I cooked it on the middle rack at 350°F for 55 minutes. It browned just as shown in the pictures, without turning on the broiler at the end as someone else commented.
I have a cheesecake recipe that uses cottage cheese, 2 pkgs. cream cheese and sour cream. My recipe wants the cake left in the unopened oven with temperature off for 3-4 hrs. after the 1 hr. 10 min. baking time. I have made this recipe twice in the past month and when I take it out a sticky substance has dripped into the oven. Why is this happening?
In the oven right now. first time to make a cheesecake so hoping it is as good as described! Can’t wait
Great recipe and such awesome detail. My mother always told told me cheesecake isn’t cheesecake without a dash of lemon. It balances the whole dessert no matter the flavors you choose to embellish with. This was my first baked cheesecake (have done no bake to death) and I was scared that I would mess up and have cracks and burns or soggy bottoms. No one likes a soggy bottom. My baking dish was too small but replaced with a jelly roll pan and crossed my fingers. The baking time for me was 1 hr 30 mins but as stated the recipe said that would vary. The key is waiting for that 150 temp reading. The top had just begun to tan but I wanted that crusty bubbly brown so turned on the broiler on low for 2 mins. Left sit and added caramel nuts and chopped snickers to compliment my oreo crust. I haven’t made something that beautiful. Cheesecake factory style. Now my go to cheesecake recipe.
It seems as though the recipe is missing the actual temperature in which to cook the cheesecake. Should it be cook at 350 until the cake reaches 150?
Oven temperature is 350 degrees F. Take it out of the oven when using your cooking thermometer, the cheesecake reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees F. at the center to avoid over baking.
Never used internal thermometer so do I stick it directly into cheesecake? You sure it will not cause cc to split?
Whats Cooking America
Stick the thermomenter in the very center where the cheese cake batter is supposed to still be slighly jiggly. The cheesecake will come together as it finishes setting.
My family adores this recipe for cheesecake and it pains me to not be able to take credit for it, but alas, I am not a genius when it comes to baking. Anyway, onto my question, how could I break this recipe up into mini, individual sized cheesecakes? I want to take some into work after oh so humbly bragging about my baking abilities, but I don’t want to take in a whole cheesecake. I know for regular cake that cupcake sizes cook differently, so I was wondering if cheesecake did the same. And thank you for the wonderful recipe!
Yes, you can make this cheesecake in individual cheesecakes. For perfect cheesecakes, use a cooking thermometer and take it out of the oven when the cheesecake reaches 150 degrees F. at the center to avoid over baking.
Quick question on the Instant Read Thermometer. Won’t that leave a poked hole in the cheesecake? If it’s NOT 150 the first time you check it, then couldn’t it leave more? Or is this a thermometer I leave in the cake? My children love cooking and baking and they all love cheesecake. They’re not going to care if the top has holes in it, not at this point. I’m just curious in general.
Be sure and purchases a thermometer with a small poker. That’s why What’s Cooking America promotes the Thermapen Thermometer to use when cooking. You do not leave the thermometer in the cheesecake while cooking.
Wondering how this recipe will work in a 10 or 12″ springform pan? Should I add another half recipe to it?
Check out this article: Adjusting Cheesecake Recipes for Different Pan Sizes.
Also remember to increase your baking time. Use a cooking thermometer to check for internal temperature. Cheesecake internal temperature needs to be 150 degrees F. when done. Also please read: How To Bake Perfect Cheesecake.
Hi – I have made this recipe many time. I have added less sugar and sweetened condensed milk and whole milk. It make a heavenly difference – this is the best receipt ever. Thank you!
I was wondering if I could use Condensed Milk in the recipe, you have answered my question. Do you remember how much of the SCM/Whole milk you used? I could figure it out but would love your input.
What is an estimate for the baking time on this cheesecake? I will still check with a thermometer, but not having an approximate baking time makes me nervous.
Whats Cooking America
Thanks for the catch, we had some information that didn’t transfer over from our old platform. This has been fixed now. You will want to bake the cheesecake for 40-45 minutes. The cheesecake should appear golden brown on top with about 1 inch of the edges of the pan firm. This is where you check to make sure the internal temperature is 150 degrees to determine if you need to bake longer. You don’t want the cheesecake to end up higher than 150 degrees before cooling because that is when cracks can form.
This turned out perfect! I baked a little longer about 1 hr 20 min. It was my first attempt at one and i think it was absolutely beautiful!
I’ve been making cheesecakes for awhile and have always used a water bath. I’ve been wondering if you would get the same effect if you put a roasting pan of hot water on the rack under the cheesecake? It would still provide moisture, but you wouldn’t have to wrap in foil. Thoughts? Just a general wondering! 😊
Shanna, putting the water in a roasting pan on the rack below is exactly how I make my cheesecake.
Water in a roasting pan under the cheesecake will help, but the purpose of the whole water bath approach is to allow the cheesecake to cook evenly – because the pan is surround by water. Water in the oven but not around the cheesecake will produce steam but you won’t get the full benefit of a water bath.
SKIP THE FOIL FOLKS! 🙂 Nestle your springform pan down into either a turkey oven bag or a slow cooker liner – just roll down the sides until they are at a point where they won’t fall over on top of your cheesecake batter while cooking. This little gem means NO SOGGY BOTTOMS! You can reuse the bags a few times or toss and use new if desired.
I also HIGHLY recommend lining not only the bottom but the sides of your pans with parchment paper.
Finally, I do have to comment that the recipe above calls for a lot of fast beating of the cream cheese – too much air beaten into your batter can also cause cracking. If your ingredients are at room temp, you shouldn’t have to beat them so hard to get them mixed with no lumps. I go slow on setting 1 or 2 on my Kitchen Aide, stop, clean off my paddle attachment, scrape down side of bowl, scoop up from the bottom to catch unmixed bits – mix again – repeat – until everything is incorporated.
I’ve made dozens of cheesecakes since I’ve been doing all of the above and not one has cracked. I’ve never bothered with the internal temp – just go by the jiggle – but I can see how that would be less nerve wracking! Will try that next time!
Just FYI. A cheesecake that has no flour in it is a cheese pie.
I made this, it was so easy to make, and delicious! Very creamy, not too rich, but decadent. I will definitely be making this my go to recipe!
Love this cheesecake. I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on how to make this a chocolate cheesecake?
Should my cheesecake top be completely or just slightly brown? If I don’t want a completely brown top can I place foil on top? Thank you for your time.
Whats Cooking America
It can be lightly browned, the main thing to know it’s done is the center should have a slight jiggle with firm outside edges.
OMG! Thank you for the excellent advice! I whipped the egg whites separately and the whipping cream separately, then folded them in the whipped cream cheese, sugar, egg yolks with lemon rind, and fresh vanilla bean. I wish I could share a photo. My cake looks fantastic! Best ever.
Thanks for including pictures!!!!!!
THIS IS THE VERY BEST CHEESECAKE EVER, it’s the one and only I make for years and it’s always a hit, the cooking instructions are perfect, I haven’t had not even a single time troubles with the cooking process, as the instructions are very clear! It’s just way too good, and gotta say hands down because EVERYBODY LOVES IT, not only in my family, my friends and every time we have people over this is part of the dessert menu and it’s beyond a success! Thanks for sharing THE BEAT CHEESECAKE RECIPE!
First time ever to make a cheesecake. But this recipe and step-by-step instructions resulted in the best cheesecake ever! Over the Christmas season I made 9 cheesecakes following this recipe. All turned out perfect. Thanks for sharing your recipe and all the pointers!
What do I do if water got inside the foil? Now it’s wet 😩
What do I do if I don’t want the top of the cheesecake brown
Can this be made the night before and then frozen for the next night? If so, how should I cover it and how long do you think it would take to thaw out?
I wouldn’t freeze it if you are going to use it the next day. Instead, cover and refrigerate.
This is my go to cheesecake recipe! Comes out perfect every time!!!
Well the water bath didn’t go as planned, even though I wrapped the pan in foil twice and made sure it went up the sides of the pan. Somehow it seeped in and now I have a soggy crust. :(. Wish I had read the comments first and used a turkey or crock pot bag instead of the foil.
Mine took an extra 20 minutes to cook, but what I ended up with was the most perfect cheesecake I’ve ever made!
Should I be concerned that it only took 35 minutes to reach 150 degrees center temp?
Whats Cooking America
You may want to test your internal oven temperature to make sure it’s not running hotting than your cooking settings.
my cake turned out perfect.. i ometer was a most wonderful device. Your instruction worked just as it was supposed to work. We have not cut it yet, that is for later today. Happy Independence Day everyone
Congrats on a perfect cheesecake!
Thank you for this recipe. The tutorial was very helpful. My cake came out beautiful and so silky smooth. I used this as the bottom layer for a pineapple upside down cake, perfect combo!
Thank you!!! Thank you!! Thank you! For giving me the most perfect, best tasting, simplest cheesecake I have ever made or tasted! The thermometer used to check the temperature of the cake is pure GENUIS!!! No guess work..no worry if it is jiggling too little or too much!!!I did misread the baking temp and had my one on 325!…but I just let it bake until the temp was over 150, the cake was perfect! Just not as brown and it took and hour and 6 mins to bake! I vented my oven and left it alone for approximately 1 hour! It was perfection! Your step by step instructions were SPOT ON!!!
Do you have a chocolate cheesecake recipe??
So glad that you were happy with the recipe and tips on baking a perfect cheesecake.Here’s a list of all our cheesecakes, my personal favorite is the Pumpkin Swirl Gingersnap Cheesecake! https://whatscookingamerica.net/CheesecakeRecipes.htm
Your recipe is terrific! I think your method works well. To those of you who made remarks about this recipe and if you didn’t do this..or that or if it doesn’t have flour…its not….post your own recipe to share with others and don’t tear down or apart someone else who is willing to post and share what works for them. If your way is so grand…then post the recipe…maybe you will get lucky and someone will make unsolicited comments about your works! Great recipe
I find using the thermometer is the only way I find comfort in knowing my cake is done baking. This method has yet to fail for me… thank you!!
Hi! Made the cake tonight, and it collapsed! The crust didn’t firm up, and the filling actually squished. Any suggestions? I used a crock pot liner instead of foil….
Here is our page on how to make a perfect cheesecake.https://whatscookingamerica.net/Cake/cheesecaketip.htm
From this page there is a note that says:
Do NOT open the oven door during the first 30 minutes of baking.Drafts can cause a cheesecake to fall or crack. Do not jar the cheesecake while it is baking or cooling. If that wasn’t the issue, take a look at the Cheesecake tips.
This is the best cheesecake recipe ever. My family loves it! It comes out perfectly every time. It takes about an hour and 5 minutes in my oven to reach 150 degrees. I also skip wrapping the springform pan in aluminum foil. Instead of foil, I place my springform pan in a little larger silicon cake pan. It’s so much easier and keeps the water out of my springform pan.
Mind came out perfect, love the step by step directions. Using a temperature rod really took out the guess work.
Excellent cheesecake!! I have to bake about 15 min longer, but turns out delicious. I then add toppings.