This easy cheesecake pie is perfect for cheesecake lovers who want a quicker, easier alternative to making a classic cheesecake. The smooth and creamy filling is made of just 6 simple ingredients, and there’s no springform pan or water bath step required. It’s delicious on its own, or you can top it with raspberry sauce, whipped cream, lemon curd, fresh berries, or salted caramel.
This pie recipe wasn’t actually in my original plan for posting on the website, but it just kind of… happened. I was working on perfecting the recipe and technique for graham cracker crust, and needed something easy and reliable to use on repeat for a filling… approximately 75 cheesecake pies later, I thought: Well, I should probably share this recipe, too!
Here’s Why You’ll Love This Easy Cheesecake Pie
- It’s cheesecake… without the fuss
- Batter & crust come together quickly
- Same velvety, creamy texture and tangy-sweet taste as my classic cheesecake
- 6 simple ingredients, plus a 3-ingredient graham cracker crust
- Bakes and cools much faster than a regular cheesecake
- It’s very adaptable to taste and season, depending on toppings
What Is the Difference Between Cheesecake and Cheesecake Pie?
Today’s cheesecake pie is like a regular cheesecake, only (1) the filling layer isn’t as thick and tall and (2) you bake it in a pie dish instead of a springform pan. Basically, the taste and texture are the same, but you don’t have as much filling in each bite.
If you’re in the mood for real, classic cheesecake… definitely put in the time and effort to make a real, classic cheesecake. However, if you love cheesecake and don’t have the energy (whether that’s physically or emotionally!) for a water bath, accidentally over-baking or under-baking it, exceptionally long cooling and chilling times, plus the possibility of large cracks on the surface, just make a cheesecake pie!
(Because regular cheesecake can be finicky, right?!)
I have made at least 12 of these in the past few weeks and every single taste tester, neighbor, family member, and friend has said it tastes exactly like regular cheesecake. (And that’s because it is! Only thinner!) You’re going to love this dessert.
Can I Skip the Water Bath?
Yes! As if there wasn’t enough to persuade you to make this cheesecake pie! You see, water baths are used to help an egg-heavy dessert like traditional cheesecake bake in a humid environment. The humidity evenly bakes the rich and creamy filling so it doesn’t burn, sink, and/or crack. Since today’s filling isn’t as tall, we don’t have those problems. So, skip the water bath today!
Success Tips for a Perfect Graham Cracker Crust
We’re using my perfected graham cracker crust recipe. You need 3 ingredients including graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. The ratio of ingredients is imperative and what you’ll find below (and also on the graham cracker crust page) yields a crisp, crumbly crust that holds shape beautifully. But what’s more important than the ingredients is the technique you use to press the crust into the pan.
Over the years, I’ve learned exactly what makes and (literally) breaks a great graham cracker crust:
- Use your hands first: Press the bottom and around the sides with medium-firm pressure until the crumbs aren’t moving around anymore—you don’t want any loose crumbs. You can even use a small flat-bottomed measuring cup to help smooth out the surface.
- Don’t pack too tightly: The crust needs to be compact, so it doesn’t crumble apart, but not so tight that it bakes into a hard, dense crust. You really just want to pack it until the shape has set and it’s no longer crumbly.
- Keep it rounded: This sounds a bit odd, but you don’t want a right angle at the bottom edges where the sides and the bottom meet. Instead, you want it a little bit rounded so it stays connected when you slice into it—so the side crust doesn’t immediately separate from the bottom crust. Slide a spoon around the inside of the crust where the sides and bottom meet, to get that rounded shape.
Here is a photo of the rounded crust. Be sure to pre-bake this for 10 minutes before adding the filling.
Grab These 6 Ingredients for the Filling:
- Blocks of Cream Cheese: Philadelphia cream cheese isn’t affiliated with this post, but it IS my favorite cream cheese brand. Whichever brand you use, make sure you’re using blocks of full-fat cream cheese and not the cream cheese in a tub you would use for spreading on bagels. Same rule applies when making cream cheese frosting and strawberry cream cheese pie.
- Granulated Sugar: You’ll love that this cheesecake isn’t overly sweet. Vanilla sugar would be great here.
- Sour Cream: My team and I tested this cheesecake pie several (several!!!!) times and there was a major difference between the pies with sour cream and the pies without sour cream. You need 1/4 cup of sour cream to help bind the ingredients together and smooth out the filling so it tastes creamy. Without it, the filling tasted like cream cheese, not cheesecake.
- Vanilla Extract: Feel free to use homemade vanilla extract in this pie!
- Lemon Juice: A splash of lemon juice adds freshness and depth of flavor—I recommend you don’t leave it out. This cheesecake pie does not taste like lemon.
- Eggs: A main ingredient in any baked cheesecake! Careful not to over-mix these, and be sure to add them right at the end.
Pour the filling into the warm pre-baked crust, and then bake:
Can I Add Chocolate Chips to the Filling?
I have no idea if anyone would even ask this question, but I love chocolate chips in cheesecakes and the answer is YES! Feel free to add 3/4 cups mini or regular semi-sweet chocolate chips to the batter. (What we do when making amaretto cheesecake.) This version would be tasty served with salted caramel on top.
Cooling & Chilling Is a Breeze
You know how you have to wait a few hours for a regular cheesecake to cool and then you have to wait some more for it to chill in the refrigerator? You’re doing the same thing here, only in a fraction of the time. The cheesecake cools for about 1 hour at room temperature (no need to let it cool in the oven like some cheesecake recipes!) and then you chill it for about 2–3 hours before serving.
What to Serve With Cheesecake Pie
This is regular cheesecake… made easier! Enjoy a creamy, velvety smooth filling with a crispy, crunchy graham cracker crust. Skip the water bath and use a pie dish instead of a springform pan. Feel free to serve with optional toppings listed in recipe Note.
Graham Cracker Crust
- 1 and 1/2 cups (180g) graham cracker crumbs (about 12 full sheet graham crackers)
- 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 6 Tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, melted
- two 8-ounce blocks (452g) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (60g) full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- optional for topping: raspberry dessert sauce, fresh raspberries, & whipped cream
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
- Make the crust: If you’re starting out with full graham crackers, use a food processor or blender to grind them into fine crumbs. Stir the graham cracker crumbs and granulated sugar together in a medium bowl, and then stir in the melted butter. The mixture will be thick, coarse, and sandy. Try to smash/break up any large chunks. Pour the mixture into an ungreased 9-inch pie dish. With medium pressure using your hand, pat the crumbs down into the bottom and up the sides to make a compact crust. Do not pack down with heavy force because that makes the crust too hard. Simply pat down until the mixture is no longer crumby/crumbly. Tips: You can use a small flat-bottomed measuring cup to help press down the bottom crust and smooth out the surface, but do not pack down too hard. And run a spoon around the bottom “corner” where the edge and bottom meet to help make a rounded crust—this helps prevent the crust from falling apart. For more shaping technique tips, see the graham cracker crust recipe page.
- Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Make the filling in the next step as the crust bakes.
- Make the filling: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed in a large bowl until the mixture is smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the sour cream, vanilla extract, and lemon juice, and then beat until fully combined and very smooth. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed to combine—you don’t want any lumps. Then on medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until just blended. After the second egg is incorporated into the batter, stop mixing. If you still see some lumps at this point, switch to a whisk and whisk by hand just until you break up the large lumps. Some small lumps are OK.
- Lower the oven temperature to 325°F (163°C) and spread the cheesecake filling into the warm crust.
- Bake the pie for 35 minutes or until the center is almost set. Check it at the 25-minute mark, and if it’s browning too quickly on top and around the edges, tent it with aluminum foil for the last 10 minutes of baking.
- Set the pie on a wire rack and cool for 1 hour at room temperature. Then place it in the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days before serving. (Cover if chilling it for longer than a few hours.)
- Feel free to garnish the pie with any of the optional toppings listed in the notes right before or a couple hours before serving. (Keep pie refrigerated if you decorate it and plan to serve later.) I use a squeeze bottle to drizzle raspberry sauce on top and a piping bag fitted with Wilton 1M piping tip to zigzag whipped cream on top. For neat slices, use a clean sharp knife, and wipe the knife clean between each slice. Tip: The first slice is never pretty! Much easier to slice after that first piece is out.
- Cover and store leftover pie in the refrigerator or freezer for up to 5 days.
- Make Ahead Instructions: This cheesecake pie can be made up to 2 days in advance. See step 7. It’s best if the crust is still a bit warm when you pour in the filling, so I don’t recommend pre-baking the crust in advance.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Food Processor for graham crackers, Pie Dish, Electric Mixer (Stand Mixer or Handheld)
- Toppings: My favorite toppings for this pie are raspberry sauce, fresh raspberries, and whipped cream, which are pictured in the post. You can also top the baked and cooled cheesecake with salted caramel, lemon curd, strawberry topping, chocolate ganache, or red wine chocolate ganache.
- Room Temperature Ingredients: Bring all cold ingredients to room temperature before beginning. Room temperature ingredients combine quickly and evenly, so you won’t risk over-mixing. Also, beating cold ingredients together will result in a chunky cheesecake filling, hardly the way you want to begin!
- Non-US Readers: If graham crackers are not available where you live, we have also tested this pie with a crust made from digestive biscuits, and it turned out great. Use 200g ground digestive biscuit crumbs (about 2 cups; 13–14 biscuits), 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar, and 6 Tablespoons (85g) melted butter. Pre-bake the crust for a bit longer, about 12–14 minutes. And from what I understand, spreadable cream cheese sold in a tub in countries outside of the US is a little different from the spreadable cream cheese in the US. It’s thicker, sturdier, and more solid and should be OK to make this pie. I have no experience with it, but this is what I’ve heard from other non-US readers. If you try it, let us know how it turns out!
Keywords: cheesecake pie