How to Prevent Cracks in Cheesecake

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Here are my tips for baking the perfectly smooth cheesecake. 

Here are my kitchen-tested tips for baking beautiful cheesecakes every time. No cracks or lumps!

{pictured: Blueberry Swirl Cheesecake}

Cheesecake has been one of my favorite desserts ever since I was young. My mom made an amazing amaretto/chocolate chip 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 they are nothing to fear! Take your time with the recipe and make sure you read through all of the instructions before you begin.

Cookies 'n Cream Cheesecake by sallysbakingaddiction.com

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

Preparing

  • 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.
  • Waterbath. This is the best way to avoid cheesecake cracks. Read more details about my easy water bath technique below.

Baking

  • 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

  • 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).

What is a 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 the hot water steam will ensure even baking, thus lessening the likelihood of cracking on top.

Here is how I make a water bath:

Wrap the pan with aluminum foil on the bottom and up the sides (a photo of my typical cheesecake pan is below). I usually do this before pre-baking the crust – if the recipe calls for pre-baking the crust, of course.

Then 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!

9 Comments

All 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!

Reviews

Questions

  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!

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