This Classic Cheesecake Recipe is super smooth, creamy, and topped on a homemade graham cracker crust. This post also includes a lot of helpful tips to get the perfect cheesecake every single time, plus different topping options to really make this recipe your own!
Do you love cheesecake? I’ve always been a huge fan of cheesecake, so much so that I always opt for it over a traditional birthday cake each year for my birthday.
So today, I wanted to share my favorite cheesecake recipe with you! This is by far the best cheesecake recipe I’ve ever made and it is incredibly smooth, creamy, and delicious.
And if you’ve ever felt intimidated when it comes to making cheesecake, I promise it’s not too difficult. I’m sharing everything you need to know like how to make the graham cracker crust, how to prevent cracks, and tons of tips that I’ve learned over the years. I’ve also included several different topping options for this cheesecake so you can really make it your own!
How To Make The Graham Cracker Crust
To make this easy cheesecake recipe, you’ll start with a homemade graham cracker crust. If you’ve never made one before I have a simple tutorial for how to make a graham cracker crust here. Here’s how I make my graham cracker crusts:
- Combine crushed graham cracker crumbs and sugar: If you want to make this recipe a little easier you can use store-bought graham cracker crumbs and skip crushing them yourself!
- Stir in melted butter: Use your hands if you need to for this step, all of the graham cracker crumbs should be moistened.
- Press it into a springform pan: I like to use the bottom of a measuring cup to firmly press it down into the pan.
- Bake the crust for 10 minutes then set it aside to cool slightly
Ingredients For The Filling
Once you’ve baked the graham cracker crust, you’ll gather your ingredients for the filling.
- Cream Cheese: The most important component to a good cheesecake recipe is the cream cheese! You will need 32 ounces of full-fat cream cheese for this recipe, which is equal to four 8-ounce blocks. Just be sure to use the blocks of cream cheese and not cream cheese spread in a tub.
- Sour Cream: The sour cream helps break up the heaviness of the cream cheese and creates a creamier filling. When it comes to the sour cream, I suggest sticking with the full-fat version too.
- Granulated Sugar: There’s one cup of granulated sugar in this cheesecake, it’s the perfect amount to sweeten it but still maintain the tanginess!
- Pure Vanilla Extract: There’s also a couple of teaspoons of pure vanilla extract in this recipe which adds a beautiful vanilla flavor.
- Eggs: You’ll also be using four large eggs in this recipe. I suggest lightly beating all of the eggs in a small bowl, then mixing them in on low speed at the end until just combined.
How To Make The Filling
To make the cheesecake filling, you’ll start by beating your cream cheese until it’s nice and smooth. Then, mix in the sour cream until well combined, stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl too. Next, mix in the sugar and pure vanilla extract until fully combined.
Once the first four ingredients are mixed together, set them aside and lightly beat your eggs. I’ve found that mixing the eggs in one at a time incorporates a little too much air into the cheesecake filling. Too much air = cracks in your cheesecake. To avoid this problem, lightly beat them and then mix in the beaten eggs on low speed until just combined.
After you’ve mixed in the eggs, I suggest using a rubber spatula to turn the filling a few times and make sure everything is well combined.
How To Prepare The Water Bath
After you’ve mixed up the cheesecake filling, you’ll set it aside and prepare your water bath. Why use a water bath? It adds moisture to the oven and allows the cheesecake to bake evenly, reducing the chances of it cracking. Here’s exactly how I prep my pan for a water bath. I have a visual of what it will look like in my pumpkin cheesecake post too.
- Wrap the springform pan in foil
- Place the pan wrapped with foil into an oven bag (this acts as extra reassurance to prevent water from leaking into the pan)
- Fold the oven bag down the sides of the pan (like the picture above!)
- Pour the cheesecake filling into the springform pan and smooth it out
- Tap the pan on the counter a couple of times and use a toothpick to remove any air bubbles in the filling
- Pour 1 inch of boiling water into a large roasting pan
- Carefully place the wrapped springform pan into the roasting pan
Bake The Cheesecake And Let It Cool In The Oven
The final step is to place the roasting pan with the cheesecake in the oven to bake for 60-65 minutes. You’ll know the cheesecake is done when the edges are set and the center is still slightly jiggly. Then, turn the oven off, crack the door, and let it sit inside for another hour to finish baking and gradually cool down.
Once the hour is up, you can remove the cheesecake and let it cool completely at room temperature before refrigerating it. The cheesecake will need to be refrigerated for 5-6 hours before you can slice into it, so I suggest letting it chill overnight.
How To Prevent Your Cheesecake From Cracking
There’s nothing worse than spending the time making a cheesecake and then ending up with a huge crack down the middle. Here are a few ways to avoid any unnecessary cracks in your cheesecake:
- Don’t overmix the eggs: It’s best to lightly beat the eggs first, then mix them in on low speed until just combined. This will keep you from mixing extra air into the filling and prevent any large bubbles or cracks in the cheesecake.
- Bake the cheesecake in a water bath: You don’t want to skip this step! The water bath adds moisture to the oven and allows the cheesecake to bake evenly.
- Don’t overbake the cheesecake: I find that 60-65 minute at 325°F is the perfect amount of time to bake this. The edges should be set and the center will be slightly jiggly.
- Avoid sudden temperature changes: Another cause of cracks in cheesecakes or sinking is due to sudden temperature changes. To avoid this, you’ll let the cheesecake cool in the oven with the door slightly cracked for one hour after it’s finished baking.
Different Topping Options
You can top this cheesecake with just about anything that you like, but here a few of my favorite options!
- If you want to make this recipe a little easier, you can use store-bought graham cracker crumbs and skip crushing them yourself.
- Before making the filling, place a large pot of water on the stove to boil for the water bath.
- Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature before getting started. This will ensure a much smoother and creamier cheesecake!
- Lightly beat the eggs, then mix them in on low speed until just combined.
- Before baking the cheesecake, tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring any air bubbles to the top. Use a toothpick to remove any large air bubbles and smooth out the top.
- Make sure to let the cheesecake cool in the oven for one hour, then cool completely at room temperature. It will need to chill for several hours, but overnight is even better!
Classic Cheesecake Recipe
For the graham cracker crust:
- 1 and 1/2 cups (180 grams) crushed graham cracker crumbs
- 1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
- 5 tablespoons (70 grams) unsalted butter, melted
For the cheesecake filling:
- 32 ounces brick-style cream cheese softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (230 grams) full-fat sour cream room temperature
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs room temperature
To make the graham cracker crust:
- Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C). Combine the crushed graham cracker crumbs and granulated sugar in a medium-sized mixing bowl and stir until well combined. Add the melted butter and mix until all of the crumbs are moistened.
- Scoop the mixture into a 9-inch springform pan and firmly press it down into one even layer. Bake at 325°F (163°C) for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly while you make the filling.
To make the cheesecake filling:
- Set a large pot of water to boil for the water bath before getting started with the filling.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese on low-medium speed until smooth. Add the sour cream and mix until fully combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Then add the granulated sugar and pure vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
- In a separate small mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the beaten eggs to the mixing bowl with the cheesecake filling and mix on low speed until just combined. Use a rubber spatula to turn the filling a few times to make sure everything is fully mixed together. Set aside.
- Wrap the springform pan with the pre-baked graham cracker crust in aluminum foil, then place into a large oven bag. Fold the oven bag down the sides of the springform pan.
- Pour the cheesecake filling into the springform pan and smooth it out into one even layer. Tap the pan on the counter a couple of times to bring any air bubbles to the top, then use a toothpick or skewer to remove any large air bubbles and smooth them out.
- Add the boiling water you started before the filling to a large roasting pan until it is about 1-inch deep. Carefully place the wrapped springform pan into the roasting pan.
- Transfer the roasting pan with the cheesecake to the oven and bake at 325°F (163°C) for 60-65 minutes or until the edges of the cheesecake are set and the center is still slightly jiggly. Turn the oven off, crack the oven door slightly, and allow the cheesecake to cool in the warm oven for 1 hour.
- After the cheesecake has cooled for 1 hour in the oven, remove it from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, cover tightly and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for 5-6 hours or overnight. Run a thin knife around the outside of the cheesecake to loosen it from the pan, carefully release the springform pan, then slice into pieces, serve, and enjoy!