Classic Cheesecake Recipe

Look no further for a creamy and ultra smooth classic cheesecake recipe! Paired with a buttery graham cracker crust, no one can deny its simple decadence. For the best results, bake in a water bath.

Perfect cheesecake on a pink cake stand

Not Plain Cheesecake

As much as I love cheesecake, I’ve never published a classic cheesecake recipe. There’s always been peanut butter, sprinkles, blueberry swirls, Snickers cheesecake, pumpkin, lemon, red velvet, or Nutella. That’s a lot of cheesecake recipes without a single nod to where it all originates: classic cheesecake.

To me, classic cheesecake is creamy, silky, and smooth. My cheesecake recipe is not quite as dense as New York cheesecake, but boasts equal richness and is just as special. It’s thick, it’s velvety, and there’s no denying its decadence. When I imagine what Chandler and Rachel’s stolen cheesecake tastes like, it’s this!

While there’s a glaring absence of chunks, swirls, and sprinkles in this ivory crowned jewel, there’s nothing plain about her.

slice of cheesecake on a spatula

Preparing my cheesecake recipe is rather simple– it’s baking the cheesecake that could result in a flop. Many factors are at play like the springform pan leaking, the surface of the cheesecake cracking, under-baking, over-baking, etc. I have plenty of tricks that will help guarantee classic cheesecake perfection, including determining when the cheesecake is done and everything you need to know about a cheesecake water bath.

2 images of cream cheese blocks in a glass bowl and cheesecake filling in a glass stand mixer bowl

How to Make Classic Cheesecake

You only need a few basic staple ingredients for this cheesecake recipe.

  1. Block cream cheese: Four 8-ounce blocks of full-fat cream cheese are the base of this cheesecake. That’s 2 pounds. Make sure you’re buying the blocks of cream cheese and not cream cheese spread. There’s no diets allowed in cheesecake, so don’t pick up the reduced fat variety!
  2. Sugar: 1 cup. Not that much considering how many mouths you can feed with this dessert. Over-sweetened cheesecake is hardly cheesecake anymore. Using only 1 cup of sugar gives this cheesecake the opportunity to balance tangy and sweet, just as classic cheesecake should taste.
  3. Sour cream: 1 cup. I recently tested a cheesecake recipe with 1 cup of heavy cream instead, but ended up sticking with my original (which can be found here with blueberry swirls!). I was curious about the heavy cream addition and figured it would yield a softer cheesecake bite. The cheesecake was soft, but lacked the stability and richness I wanted. It was almost too creamy. Sour cream is most definitely the right choice.
  4. A little flavor: 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract and 2 of lemon juice. The lemon juice brightens up the cheesecake’s overall flavor and vanilla is always a good idea.
  5. Eggs: 3 eggs are the final ingredient. You’ll beat the eggs in last, one at a time, until they are *just* incorporated. Do not overmix the batter once the eggs are added. This will whip air into the cheesecake batter, resulting in cheesecake cracking and deflating.

And as always, make sure all of the cheesecake batter ingredients are at room temperature so the batter remains smooth, even, and combines quickly. Beating cold ingredients together will result in a chunky over-beaten cheesecake batter, hardly the way we want to start!

How to Make a Graham Cracker Crust

Since classic is the keyword of the day, we’re sticking with cheesecake’s main squeeze: a graham cracker crust. I reduced the butter and granulated sugar from my original graham cracker crust recipe by 1 Tablespoon each. I find this crust remains a little more crunchy. Make sure you pack the crust in very tight and pre-bake it to help prevent any sogginess.

I like to use the bottom of a small measuring cup to pack the crust tightly into the springform pan. Speaking of, you’ll need a 9 or 10-inch springform pan. A springform pan has removable sides so you can safely release the cheesecake without having to flip the pan over or struggle to cut the cheesecake inside the pan. Springform pans can leak if you’re baking the cheesecake in a water bath (more on that below!), but this particular pan is reliable. I haven’t had any leaking issues.

2 images of pressing graham cracker crust into springform pan and spreading cheesecake filling on top of crust with a spatula
cheesecake pan wrapped in foil and placed in large pan with water

How to Make a Cheesecake Water Bath

I promise a water bath is nothing complicated. All you’re doing is placing the springform pan in a roasting pan, filling it with hot water, and baking. What’s the point, you ask? I actually wrote an entire post about a cheesecake water bath years ago. I figured it’s time for an update and a video tutorial, so here goes nothing!

Cheesecake loves a humid environment. The steam from the hot water will lift the cheesecake up slowly and evenly, reducing the risk of cracks on the surface. Additionally, this slow and even baking method helps prevent the cheesecake from sinking back down as it cools. Taking a few extra minutes to prepare a water bath for this cheesecake recipe is well worth it. I can’t say enough how valuable it is!

slice of cheesecake on a white plate with lemon curd topping

Cooling & Chilling Cheesecake

Another way to help prevent cheesecake cracks is to initially cool it inside the oven. You can see me do this in the video above. When the cheesecake is done, turn the oven off, crack open the oven door, and leave the cheesecake inside for 1 hour. A drastic and sudden change of temperature isn’t ideal for cheesecake– from hot oven to cool counter– so do your best to control the environment by leaving the cheesecake inside. Does this make sense?

After the cheesecake cools in the oven for 1 hour, place it on the counter to cool. After it’s cool, chill it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or even overnight. There’s no greater test to your willpower than those several hours you’re forced to wait as the cheesecake cools down and then chills in the refrigerator. But every minute is completely worth it when you take that first luscious bite.

Want to skip the baking and cooling process? Try my no-bake cheesecake instead.

overhead image of slices of cheesecake with various toppings

slice of cheesecake on a white plate with raspberry topping

4 Tips for Perfect Cheesecake

To summarize, here are some tricks I discussed:

  1. Do not over-mix the cheesecake batter
  2. Bake in a water bath
  3. Leave cheesecake in the cooling oven for 1 hour
  4. Cool completely at room temperature

Cheesecake Toppings

Enjoy your velvet-rich cheesecake as is or get a little fancy with a selection of toppings. I love cheesecake best with fruit, so I made a simple raspberry sauce. You can also top with homemade lemon curd, chocolate ganache, salted caramel, strawberry topping, or homemade whipped cream. Get creative or keep it simple. Either way, it’s going to impress. (And you’d totally eat it off the floor… Chandler and Rachel style.)

raspberry dessert sauce in a glass jar with a spoon

overhead image of slices of cheesecake on white plates with various toppings

How to Freeze Cheesecake

  1. Cool the cheesecake on the counter before freezing. No need to chill it in the refrigerator
  2. Freeze on springform pan: Remove the outer rim from the springform pan. Wrap the cheesecake with the bottom of the pan with a few layers of plastic wrap, then a final layer of aluminum foil.
  3. Freeze without springform pan: After the cheesecake has completely cooled, run a sharp knife underneath the crust to release it from the bottom of the pan. Carefully slide it onto a parchment paper lined piece of cardboard or use a plate. Wrap it all in a few layers of plastic wrap, then a final layer of aluminum foil.
  4. Freeze for up to 3 months, then thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
  5. Do not freeze cheesecake with any toppings. Add toppings when serving cheesecake.
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whole cheesecake on a pink cake stand

Classic Cheesecake Recipe

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 7 hours, 45 minutes
  • Yield: serves at least 12
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


Look no further for a creamy and ultra smooth classic cheesecake recipe! Paired with a buttery graham cracker crust, no one can deny its simple decadence. For the best results, bake in a water bath.


Graham Cracker Crust

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (150g) graham cracker crumbs (about 10 full sheet graham crackers)
  • 5 Tablespoons (70g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar



  1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
  2. Make the crust: Using a food processor, pulse the graham crackers into crumbs. Pour into a medium bowl and stir in sugar and melted butter until combined. (You can also pulse it all together in the food processor.) Mixture will be sandy. Press firmly into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 9-inch or 10-inch springform pan. No need to grease the pan first. I use the bottom of a measuring cup to pack the crust down tightly. Pre-bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the hot pan on a large piece of aluminum foil. The foil will wrap around the pan for the water bath in step 4. Allow crust to slightly cool as you prepare the filling.
  3. 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 2 minutes. Add the sour cream, vanilla extract, and lemon juice then beat until fully combined. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until just blended. After the final egg is incorporated into the batter, stop mixing. To help prevent the cheesecake from deflating and cracking as it cools, avoid over-mixing the batter as best you can.
  4. Prepare the simple water bath (see note): Watch my video tutorial above; the visual guide will assist you in this step! Boil a pot of water. You need 1 inch of water in your roasting pan for the water bath, so make sure you boil enough. I use an entire kettle of hot water. As the water is heating up, wrap the aluminum foil around the springform pan. Pour the cheesecake batter on top of the crust. Use a rubber spatula or spoon to smooth it into an even layer. Place the pan inside of a large roasting pan. Carefully pour the hot water inside of the pan and place in the oven. (Or you can place the roasting pan in the oven first, then pour the hot water in. Whichever is easier for you.)
  5. (Note: if you notice the cheesecake browning too quickly on top, tent it with aluminum foil halfway through baking.) Bake cheesecake for 55-70 minutes or until the center is almost set. When it’s done, the center of the cheesecake will slightly wobble if you gently shake the pan. Turn the oven off and open the oven door slightly. Let the cheesecake sit in the oven in the water bath as it cools down for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and water bath, then cool cheesecake completely at room temperature. Then refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  6. Use a knife to loosen the chilled cheesecake from the rim of the springform pan, then remove the rim. Using a clean sharp knife, cut into slices for serving. For neat slices, wipe the knife clean and dip into warm water between each slice.
  7. Serve cheesecake with desired toppings. Cover and store leftover cheesecake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


  1. Make Ahead Instructions: This cheesecake can be made the day before. It has to chill for quite some time before serving. See step 5. Another way to make this cheesecake ahead of time is to freeze it. Cheesecake can be frozen up to 3 months. See instructions in blog post above.
  2. Fresh Raspberry Sauce: Combine 2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries (do not thaw if using frozen), 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar, and 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir the mixture as it begins to cook, breaking up some of the raspberries as you stir. Once simmering, continue to stir and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and press through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds. Allow the thin raspberry sauce to cool completely before using. Store for 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator.
  3. Water Bath: Some readers have baked cheesecakes with a large pan of hot water on the rack beneath the baking cheesecake. In this manner, the cheesecake does not bake directly in a roasting pan of water. This is a wonderful alternative if you do not own a large roasting pan or are nervous about your springform pan leaking. Simply place a large baking pan filled with 1 inch of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven.
  4. 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 batter, hardly the way you want to begin!
  5. Non-US Readers: With the help of other non-US readers who do not have access to graham crackers, here is a basic crust recipe you can follow for a 9-inch springform pan. 250g digestive biscuits + 100g butter + no sugar. Grind the digestive biscuits into crumbs, melt the butter, and mix with the crumbs. Press into pan and pre-bake as directed in step 2. 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 cheesecake. I have no experience with it, but this is what I’ve heard from other non-US readers.


  1. Hi Sally! Your recipe is spot on. Baked it the first time and everyone loved it. This time I am planning to try to bake it in a 6-inch cake pan, is the oven temperature still the same at 350F, and how many minutes baking time? Thank you.

    1. Hi Angela! I’m so glad that you enjoy this cheesecake recipe. I’m unsure of the exact bake time for a 6 inch cheesecake. Same oven temperature.

  2. Is it possible to make this cheesecake into “cupcake” sized cheesecakes?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Shelby, try our mini cheesecakes! They’re baked in a standard muffin/cupcake pan.

  3. Michiko Roberts says:

    I used this recipe. Didn’t have a blender or mixer of any kind and didn’t have a spring foam pan or even a pie pan. So I mixed by hand (not fun) and made a pan out of foil. On top of this I did the water bath. It did great yes the texture was great and lost some of the side perfection but it was so good and lasted maybe 2 days.
    I now have a hand mixer and a spring foam pan and making it again tonight.

  4. Problem I had was the top got really brown, although didn’t split. I had a roasting pan with boiling water on the shelf underneath, although it still tasted yum.

    1. This recipe is perfect! It’s my first time baking cheesecake, I first thought it was hard but just by following your recipe it’s a success. My family loved it and we had fun putting toppings of our choice. Thank you for this!

  5. Hi Sally! I would love to try your recipe and techniques. I would prefer to use an 8″ springform pan. Can you tell me how I would alter the recipe for an 8″ and also any idea for baking time? The 9″ and 10″ are too large for our family of two. 🙂


    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Cinder, There is too much batter for an 8 inch springform pan. You can make the recipe as written and use extra batter for some mini cheesecakes though!

      1. Thanks for the info Stephanie.  At the time I sent that question I was thinking that if a 9″ or 10″ pan was used for 4 packages of 8oz cream cheese, then I would use 3 packages for an 8″. But after giving it some thought, all of the ingredients would need to be altered for the 8″.  I will continue to search for an 8″ recipe and if I cannot find one, I shall just make the 9″ version.
        I’ll try checking with Food Network and Kraft foods and see if they have an 8″ standard recipe.
        Thanks again.

    2. Wow I would love to have this problem. I can not keep any baked goods in my house. I love this recipe and my VERY skinny hubby ate half of this the first night. I finally had to cover and hide my second piece or not get more. I am glad that he likes my baking and I am now using recipes from here as everything I have made we have loved. The only recipes that o use is for my old Scandinavian recipes at Christmas. I bet you might be surprised at how fast this cheesecake recipe disappears! But hood luck at finding a smaller recipe but this is great.

  6. Excellent!!! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe and the detailed instructions. I have been baking and cooking since I was a kid, but I have never made a cheesecake. So I tried your recipe and it came out awesome!!! My husband freaked out and our friends too, they absolutely LOVED it! I will be making this again,and again and again! Thanks for taking the time to post this incredible cheesecake recipe.

  7. This recipe was perfect! My entire family loved it. I added a very very thin layer of pureed fresh figs just because I had them and was in the mood for the taste. But everything about the recipe was perfect. Thank you!

  8. Hi Sally, if I were to turn this into a chocolate cheesecake, what changes should I make to the filling?
    p.s this recipe is SO good, I have to force myself not to make it too often. A lifetime on the hips and all that lollll

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Shanta, We haven’t tested it but you can try to slightly reduce the sour cream and add 3 or 4 ounces of melted (and slightly cooled) unsweetened chocolate. Let us know how it turns out!

  9. Hi Sally! Is there an alternative for the sour cream? As I cannot find any in the stores here in our country. Or can I make it without the sour cream?Please let me know. Thanks

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Adreanna, Try using plain Greek yogurt in place of sour cream. The cheesecake may taste a little heavier, but not much. Same flavor though!

  10. My family loved this! I’m gluten intolerant so I replaced the crust with fruity pebbles and it was amazing! New family favorite!

  11. Stephanie Lam says:

    I have made your simple cheesecake and a few other recipes so far. All of them turned out so well and received many compliments!! I have always had sunken and cracked cheesecakes and your recipe was so simple and clear on how to prevent that. Thank you for taking the time to explain each step and the reasoning behind it. I can’t wait to try the pumpkin cake cheesecake recipe!!

  12. Thank you.. turned wel tasty cheesecake…

  13. I made this exactly as the recipe said. It came out perfect. I was so happy with the taste-tangy from the cream cheese, sour cream and lemon juice. Not too sweet and creamy smooth. My family raved about it. I paired it with a strawberry sauce and whipped cream. Yummy

  14. This is amazing! I made it in a 10” round springform pan. Did the water bath. Followed everything and it was delicious! My now go to cheesecake recipe! IF I was to change it, I think next time I will do half the lemon juice because of the tartness and depending on the topping, it might be good. Example I tried lemon curd this time so that’s quite tarte already so I could have reduced the lemon in the cheesecake. With chocolate, I bet it’s perfect! I will try that too! Thank you!

  15. This recipe is the “ONE”
    My wife and made this a week ago. It came out as good or Better than any Cheese Cake I have had at any restaurant.
    P.S. We are still Married too!!

  16. Hi Sally – I LOVE cheesecake. I made this back in May. It came out really tasty and nothing was leftover but I do think I may have overcooked it a little bit (was brown on the outer sides all around) and it cracked slightly. Do you have any tips to avoid the cracking? I did the water bath. Did I over mix? I am not a baker so this was a win for me but just looking to improve for next time. Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jen, Overbaking is definitely the most common culprit of cracks in cheesecakes! If you would like more tips you can check out the post How to Prevent Cracks in Cheesecake.

  17. My son requested cheesecake for his 9th birthday and I knew I had to head straight to your site. I have never made cheesecake before and I knew you would make me look like a cheesecake master. Thanks to you and your step by step instructions it turned out perfect and everyone loved it. Thanks for another great recipe that I will make again and again!

  18. Hi Sally.
    I want to try this recipe but can’t find any sour cream in my area.
    Does greek yogurt works for this recipe ?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Iffah, You can use plain Greek yogurt in place of sour cream. The cheesecake may taste a little heavier, but not much. Same flavor though!

  19. Perfection! It’s really rich and YUMMY! Everybody loves it.

  20. First.. love all your recipes! We have made your cookies, cupcakes and so much more and they never disappoint. I always adjust my oven temp accordingly (for those who have issues.. use the recipes as a guideline and adjust to your tastes along with adjusting to your kitchen and what you have on hand).

    Second..our cheesecake always tastes delicious, but this time I utilized the water bath and BAM… no cracks!!! Topped with fresh cut strawberries and couldn’t be happier. No leftover would be the only complaint:( Hehehe, thank you!

  21. Heyy sally, can I use ur homemade cream cheese recipe to make this cheese cake?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Adora, we haven’t tried this recipe with homemade cream cheese so can’t say for certain.

  22. Ain’t Jem Eye Ma says:

    This is the best recipe. Love the sound of the chunk of cheesecake slices being separated. Quality ingredients tops the rest – better than anything retail I have ever purchased! Best to purchase a bulk tub of cream cheese so you have plenty to share and gift! Best of all, freezing these cakes makes yummy popsicles too.

  23. This was my first cheesecake and it got rave reviews! I learned a few things from my experience: I couldn’t find my springform pan so I used a 9″ Corningware. I made the crust with pre-crumbed crackers and followed the directions on the container. I would have split the recipe and made two because it took forever to bake (after guests arrived) and rose over the top of the pan (didn’t overflow). All in all, it was amazing and so easy to prepare.

  24. Hey Sally!

    Loved the recipe !

    If I wanted to half the recipe, should I use 2 eggs or 1 and would a 45min cook time be okay ?

  25. Cielle Austria says:

    I made this for my daughter’s birthday also the mini cheesecakes. They came out great My daughter’s very happy. I didnt get the chance to taste the mini cheesecakes though
    The moment i placed them on the table is the very same moment I last saw them

  26. Victorious Baker says:

    This was my first time to make a cheesecake. Thank you for your great instructions. Everyone who ate some of the cheesecake loved it.

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally