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 (240g) graham cracker crumbs (about 16 full sheet graham crackers)
- 1/3 cup (67g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (8 Tablespoons; 113g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup (240ml) cold heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
- two 8-ounce bricks (16 oz; 452g) full-fat 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 required, 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 at least 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 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.)
- Non-US Readers: Don’t have graham crackers where you live? Use 2 cups (240g) ground digestive biscuits instead (about 16 biscuits), the same amount of butter, and add a bit more sugar (about 1/2 cup, or 100g). You may need to add a few extra minutes to the pre-baking time, as digestive biscuits are not quite as crispy-crunchy as graham crackers. 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.
Keywords: cheesecake, mini cheesecake, no-bake dessert