These mini no-bake cheesecakes are formed in a muffin pan. Using only a few basic and delicious ingredients, these tiny cheesecakes set up in the refrigerator instead of the oven. They’re extra creamy and lightly sweetened just like my regular no-bake cheesecake!
This recipe is sponsored by PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, whose products I’ve always trusted in my baking.
So, What Are Mini No-Bake Cheesecakes?
No-bake cheesecake and even my no-bake cheesecake jars are exactly that– cheesecake without the oven. I like to compare the filling to cheesecake mousse. It has a light and airy texture because it’s made with homemade whipped cream. When spooned over a graham cracker crust and refrigerated, the eggless cheesecake filling sets up beautifully.
It’s pure magic.
What it lacks in oven time, it makes up for in taste and texture:
- Thick, buttery, and crunchy graham cracker crust
- Light, creamy, and velvet-rich cheesecake filling
Though I already have a full no-bake cheesecake recipe on my website, sometimes I enjoy making it in individual muffin cups instead of a springform pan. And I figured you’d want to see how it’s done! These mini no-bake cheesecakes are simple, straightforward, and at only a few bites each, perfect for portion control.
Overview: How to Make Mini No-Bake Cheesecakes
- Make room in your refrigerator. Two muffin pans need to squeeze in there!
- Line two standard 12-count muffin pans with liners. Cupcake liners are key– you won’t be able to remove the cheesecakes without them.
- Combine the crust ingredients. You need graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and brown sugar. Butter and moist brown sugar (as opposed to regular granulated sugar) help this crust set up properly. Spoon 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons of the crust mixture into each and use the back of the spoon to pack it down into the liner.
- The next step is optional. To really ensure that these tiny crusts set up properly, I recommend a quick 5 minutes in the oven. Now I know these are NO-BAKE– and the filling still is– I simply found that the crust is sturdier after 5 minutes of baking. But if you can’t use an oven, you can definitely skip it. The crust will just be a bit crumblier.
- Make the cheesecake filling. These no-bake cheesecakes set up because we add homemade whipped cream. First, whip heavy cream into stiff peaks and set it aside. Next, combine the rest of the filling ingredients including cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Gently fold in the whipped cream.
- Add filling over crusts. I’ve made these countless times and prefer piping the cheesecake filling on top of the mini crusts. You can certainly spoon the filling onto the crusts instead, but piping isn’t quite as messy. Feel free to use a piping bag with a large tip (star or round) or you can snip the corner off of a zipped-top bag.
- Refrigerate until set. The mini no-bake cheesecakes set up in about 3 hours. I don’t recommend using the freezer to speed this up because the graham cracker crust will quickly freeze before the filling does. A frozen buttery crust is difficult to bite.
Below Left: Heavy cream whipped into stiff peaks. Below Right: Smooth cheesecake filling before adding the whipped cream.
After you fold in the whipped cream, the no-bake cheesecake filling will be fluffy and airy– just like mousse. Here is a photo for a visual:
Won’t The Filling Stick to the Wrappers?
I was skeptical at first, but they don’t! As long as you follow the recipe exactly and chill the mini no-bake cheesecakes for long enough, the wrappers will neatly pull away from the filling. The cheesecakes do begin to soften up when at room temperature, so as long as you unwrap them shortly after taking them out of the refrigerator, you’re fine.
Toppings for Mini No-Bake Cheesecakes
Though plain mini no-bake cheesecakes are flavorful on their own, they welcome all sorts of fun toppings. I love serving these with strawberry topping sauce and fresh berries. Don’t have fresh berries? Top with a spoonful of lemon curd, apple butter, or your favorite fruit preserves. You can also top with chocolate ganache. If using ganache, I recommend spooning a little over each mini cheesecake before refrigerating so the ganache can set up too.
3 Final Success Tips
- Whip the Heavy Cream: The most important step in this recipe is to beat cold heavy cream into peaks before folding it into the cheesecake filling. The whipped cream helps solidify the filling and its airiness creates an irresistible mousse-like consistency. (You’re basically making unsweetened, unflavored whipped cream!)
- Use Bricks of Cream Cheese: To guarantee the cheesecakes set up properly, use 8 ounce bricks of full fat PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese. Do not use low fat cream cheese or cream cheese spread that’s sold in a tub.
- Refrigerate, Don’t Freeze: You might be tempted to speed up the chilling process in the freezer, but the colder air won’t chill the cheesecakes evenly. The crust will firm up before the filling does. And trust me, you don’t want to bite into frozen crust underneath partially frozen cheesecake!
Follow this recipe for perfect mini no-bake cheesecakes that set in lined muffin pans. Before beginning, read through the recipe and recipe notes below and review the success tips in the blog post above. Step 3 is optional.
Graham Cracker Crust
- 2 cups (200g) graham cracker crumbs (about 12-14 full sheet graham crackers)
- 1/3 cup (67g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (8 Tablespoons; 115g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup (240ml) cold heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
- two 8-ounce bricks (16 oz) full-fat PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoons (30g) sour cream or plain yogurt, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- optional: your desired toppings (see recipe note)
- Line two standard 12-count muffin pans with cupcake liners. Make sure you have room in your refrigerator for both pans. (You refrigerate them in step 6.)
- Prepare the crust: If your graham crackers aren’t crumbs yet, use a food processor to pulse them into fine crumbs. Pour crumbs into a medium bowl and stir in the brown sugar and melted butter until combined. Mixture will have the consistency of wet sand. Spoon 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons of the crust mixture into each muffin liner and use the back of the spoon to pack it down tightly.
- The next step is optional. Though it’s not necessary, I recommend baking the crusts for a quick 5 minutes in a 350°F (177°C) oven. The crusts are a little sturdier this way. However, if you can’t use an oven or simply don’t want to, you can skip this step. The crust will just be a bit crumblier. If baking, let the warm crusts cool for 10 minutes before adding the filling on top.
- Make the filling: Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the cold heavy cream into stiff peaks on medium-high speed, about 3 minutes. Set aside. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar together on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth and combined, about 1 minute. Make sure there are no large lumps of cream cheese. If there are lumps, keep beating until smooth. Using your mixer on low speed or a rubber spatula, fold the whipped cream into the cheesecake filling until combined. This takes several turns of your rubber spatula. Combine slowly as you don’t want to deflate all the air in the whipped cream.
- You can use a spoon or piping bag to transfer the filling on top of the crusts. Spoon or pipe about 2 Tablespoons of filling over each crust. I prefer piping the filling because it’s a little easier and neater. Fit your piping bag with a large star or round piping tip, then transfer the filling to the bag and pipe. (You could also use a plastic zipped-top bag. Spoon the filling inside, snip an end off a corner, and pipe.) Use the back of a spoon to smooth the tops so they are flat.
- Refrigerate the mini cheesecakes in the pans for 3 hours and up to 2 days. If refrigerating for longer than 3 hours, I recommend covering with aluminum foil or plastic wrap.
- Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Serve with optional toppings (see recipe note). The cheesecakes begin to soften and stick to the liners after about 30-60 minutes at room temperature.
- Cover and store leftover mini cheesecakes in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: The mini cheesecakes can be made 1-2 days in advance and refrigerated for up to 2 days before serving, as noted in step 6. Another way to prep these mini no-bake cheesecakes is to freeze them. Refrigerate them as directed in step 6, then remove them from the muffin pan (keep the liners on them) and line in a single layer in a large freezer-friendly container. Cover tightly and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours before serving.
- Optional Toppings: Right before serving, you can add toppings to the mini cheesecakes. You can also add the following toppings after the cheesecakes have chilled in the refrigerator for just 1-2 hours (step 6), then store the topped cheesecakes in the refrigerator for the remaining time. Use 3/4 cup strawberry topping sauce divided over each chilled mini cheesecake. (Spoon about 1/2 Tablespoon over each.) And/or use 1 cup mixed berries, plus a few mint leaves, divided over each for additional garnish. Instead of strawberry sauce, try the same amount of lemon curd, apple butter, or your favorite fruit preserves. You can also top with chocolate ganache. I recommend spooning a little over each mini cheesecake before refrigerating so the ganache can set up too.
- Lemon Juice: Lemon juice brightens up the flavor. This cheesecake does not taste like lemon. For lemon flavored mini no-bake cheesecakes, replace the sour cream with 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (in addition to the 1 teaspoon lemon juice that it already calls for) and add 2 teaspoons lemon zest.
- Room Temperature Ingredients: Bring the cream cheese and sour cream to room temperature before beginning. Room temperature ingredients guarantee a smooth cheesecake filling. Beating cold ingredients together will result in a chunky cheesecake filling. (The heavy cream, however, MUST be cold in order to whip into stiff peaks.)
Keywords: cheesecake, mini cheesecake, no-bake dessert