How to Prevent Cracks in Cheesecake

Jump to Recipe

Here are my tips for baking the perfectly smooth cheesecake. 

Look no further for a creamy and smooth classic cheesecake recipe! Paired with a buttery graham cracker crust, no one can deny its simple decadence! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

{pictured: Classic Cheesecake}

Cheesecake has always been one of my favorite desserts. My mom made the most incredible amaretto cheesecake every Christmas. Rather than counting down the days until Santa, I would count down the days for that cheesecake!

Cheesecake is always an elegant, indulgent dessert to serve. It sounds and looks overwhelming and complicated, but cheesecake is nothing to fear! Take your time with the recipe and make sure you read through all of the instructions before you begin.

Here are a few simple tips and techniques you can use to avoid lumps and cracks in your next cheesecake.

Preparing Cheesecake

  • Use room temperature cream cheese. Cold cream cheese is more difficult to mix and will typically leave lumps.
  • Be sure to mix the cheesecake ingredients (minus the eggs) very well, eliminating any possible lumps in the cream cheese.
  • Eggs hold air inside the batter, which could rise up and cause cracks. So mix the eggs as little as possible once they’re added.
  • Always use a springform pan.
  • Water bath. This is the best way to avoid cheesecake cracks. Read more details about my easy water bath technique below.

Baking Cheesecake

  • Avoid opening the oven door while the cheesecake is baking inside. Big cracks are often caused by drafts and temperature changes.
  • Avoid overbaking! This is the most common culprit of cracking. When the cheesecake is done, there will still be a 2-inch to 3-inch wobbly spot in the center of the cheesecake. Also, the edges will be slightly puffed.

Cooling Cheesecake

  • Once the cheesecake is done in the oven, simply turn the oven off and crack open the door. Leave the cheesecake inside for about 1 hour. Again, sudden changes in temperature often cause cracking.
  • Once the cheesecake is at room temperature, cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill 4-8 hours or overnight (my preferred length of time).

No-Bake Cheesecake

Slice of no bake cheesecake with a strawberry on top

What is a Cheesecake Water Bath?

Cheesecakes are often baked in water baths. This simply means that the cheesecake is baked in its round springform pan, then the pan is placed into a larger pan with hot water inside. This method is used because cheesecake loves a humid environment!

  • Cheesecakes are egg-heavy. Eggs need a moist and humid environment to properly rise and avoid drying out or burning.
  • The steam from the hot water will lift the cheesecake up slowly and evenly, reducing the risk of cracks on the surface.
  • The slow and even steam baking method helps prevent the cheesecake from sinking back down as it cools.

As you can read, taking a few extra minutes to prepare a water bath for your cheesecake is well worth it. I can’t say enough how valuable it is!

How to Make a Water Bath:

  1. Wrap the springform pan with aluminum foil on the bottom and up the sides.
  2. Place the cheesecake pan in a large roasting pan. Fill the cheesecake pan with filling. Then fill the roasting pan with about 1/2 inch – 1 inch of hot water. I usually fill with water once placed in the oven to bake because it is hard to transfer a water-filled roasting pan with a cheesecake inside of it into the oven and not spill.

Cheesecake Water Bath

If your cheesecake is still showing a few cracks, no worries there. Covering with fruity sauce or whipped cream hides everything. 😉 Now go bake some cheesecake!

36 Comments

  1. Does Dark brown spots mean that the cheese cake is over baked? I have a conventional oven that should the temp and timing be?

  2. Hi Sally! In stead of using a water bath would cooking with steam do the same job (my gas oven has a steam funtion)? Or could I put the pan of water in the oven on the bottom rack instead of placing the cheesecake in the water bath? I use cake rings instead of pans. Thanks for your help!!

    1. Hi Angela! This is a great question. I haven’t personally tried the steam option, but a few readers have with their cheesecakes with great success so that’s definitely an option. Other readers have reported back to me on a couple of my cheesecake recipes saying they put a roasting pan in the bottom of the oven, like you’re describing, and it’s worked for them too. So you definitely have these two options!

  3. I think you missed some important points about wrapping the springform pan in aliminum foil.

    1. Use heavy duty foil to lession the risk of tearing.

    2. Use a very generous amout so that there are NO overlaps where water can get into the pan (because it will)

    3. Wrap it again in a second very generous sheet of heavy duty foil; alternating the corners opposite from the first sheet (again, do not ‘clise up open spaces by squeezing sone foil over -water WILL get in).

    4. Cut off excess foil 1.5-2” above the top of the pan and then gently roil the foil down to the top of the pan.

    If you think you might have any breach where water could get in, START over. A perfect (not bottom wet/soggy cheesecake) is well worth the extra time & foil!

  4. I’ve recently been making a lot of cheesecakes to practice (hopefully bringing one to Thanksgiving this year for my family!) and I have had a hard time getting the cheesecake to come out of the springform pan nicely. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Becca! You can try lining the springform pan with parchment paper. Some readers find that successful, though I have never tried it.

  5. Hi Sally! I’m making the cookies and cream cheesecake from your first cookbook for Thanksgiving. I’m hosting and need to make several things ahead of time (juggling cooking and 3 small kids!). Do you think i could freeze it? Thanks!

  6. Hi Sally
    The purpose of a water bath for cheesecake
    is to moderate the heat of the oven so that the cake cooks gently. Without a water bath the outside and top cook faster then the middle , causing browned edges and cracked top. I always use a water bath and all my cheesecakes are smooth top with no cracking.

    1. I’ve used a water bath when baking cheesecakes and now they never crack anymore. I use a large roasting aluminum pan (Dollar store kind works just fine), place it on oven rack fill with some water, place the aluminum foil covered springform pan with cheesecake mix in the water, then fill with more water, if needed, so that water level goes halfway up the springform pan. I just make sure to place the aluminum pan directly on oven rack before filling with water because it’s too flimsy to transport from counter to oven full of water. I’m baking one right now for my husband’s office party.

  7. Until today I was a cheesecake baking virgin
    Didn’t come out like I’d want sides browned and top cracked! Fortunately I am an over shopper!
    I usually buy twice what I’ll need just in case. Glad I did! Now having read this I’m confident to try again tomorrow!!
    Thanks!
    Happy Thanksgiving

  8. Any chance of getting the amaretto chocolate chip cheesecake recipe? I used your suggestions and made the most perfect cheesecake of my life (my Grandma’s Polish cheesecake recipe – she would be amazed that it didn’t crack!)

  9. If the cheesecake cracks – despite your best efforts – there is a fairly simple fix. Mix together sour cream and a touch of sweetener. Pour over top of cooled cheesecake like frosting. Refrigerate. The sour cream topping is what is used in New York style cheesecakes. It also brilliantly hides any cracks and tastes fabulous.

  10. Hi Sally,

    what are the best ways to get the cheesecake off the bottom of the springform pan? I had some issues with one I made for a friend. ( I tried to use the largest spatula I had, but still wound up not being able to lift the entire cheesecake onto the serving plate). Should the pan be greased?

    1. Hi Christine! The best way, I’ve found, is to line the inside bottom of the pan with aluminum foil. That way, after the cheesecake has chilled, it can be lifted off of the bottom of the springform pan. This is also extra insurance to prevent water leaking into the pan.

  11. Hi Sally,
    Made a cheescake last night. Cooked it in water bath, as per instructions. It said to cook on 475° for 12 min then lower to 350° for remainder with 1/2″ water. Looked ok except for a few light brown spots. Thoroughly cooked on rack and then overnight in frig before freezing. Very disappointed how much it collapsed in frig/freezer. Wondering what I should’ve done differently?

    1. Hi Suzanne! When cheesecakes collapse when they cool, it typically means they are over-baked OR the eggs where beaten too long in the cheesecake batter. Over-beating the eggs whips more air into the batter and will deflate the baked cheesecake.

  12. I just took my Cheesecake out after cooking down in oven for an hour and it still got cracks! I googled why do cheesecakes get cracks and this site came up. I sure wish I had read this before and used your tip about the water bath and not to over cook. I am signing up for your baking tips!!!

  13. The best way to guarantee that water will not leak into the crust when you use a water bath is to set the springform pan in a baking bag – the kind you use to cook chicken or turkey. Better than foil with seams.

  14. Use a Oven bag and set the Spring form pan inside, then into the water bath…. No leaks. Just be sure it doesn’t end up falling into the top of your Cake.

  15. Thanks for all the tips, my cheesecake always taste great just cracks that I cover with cherries to hide, but I will use these tips. Thanks again. How jiggly should the 2 or 3 inch circle in the middle be to ensure doneness?

  16. How do you avoid overbaking if you can’t open the oven door? How do you know when it’s baked enough to turn the oven off?

  17. I just made my 2nd cheesecake. The top was brown all over. I peeled off this layer. Any ideas why this happened. I probably over mixed the eggs. I used an electric beater. Scratching my head here. Thanks

    1. Hi David! Cheesecakes will brown heavily on top unless they are lightly covered with aluminum foil. The eggs and cream cheese are burning under the direct heat. About halfway through baking, tent the baking cake with foil.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

With kitchen-tested quality recipes and step-by-step tutorials, my goal is to give you the confidence to bake and cook from scratch.

My Latest Videos

Recipes You’ll Love

Archives

Categories

Sally's Baking Challenge

Join the community on the 1st of every month as we tackle a new challenge recipe.

View More

Sally's Cookie Palooza

A tradition since 2013, every December we countdown to Christmas with 10 new cookie recipes in a row!

View More

Sally's Pie Week

The first week of every November is all about Thanksgiving Pies.

View More

My Cookbooks

About Sally

Welcome to my Kitchen!

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

×