This fresh strawberry cream cheese pie combines a crumbly, buttery graham cracker crust, mousse-like whipped cheesecake filling, and a jammy strawberry topping made without artificial flavor. This is a great make-ahead recipe because it takes a while to set up, so it’s actually best made a day ahead.
No lie, when I first tasted this summery strawberry cream cheese pie, I said out loud to an empty kitchen: “Well this is the best pie I’ve ever had.” And, well, I’ve made many pies before.
I also make a strawberry cheesecake pie, but today’s pie more closely resembles this blueberry cream pie; the filling is a light cheesecake/whipped cream hybrid, and we’re cooking the strawberry topping into a preserves-like consistency, before folding in more fresh strawberries.
Tell Me About This Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie
- Texture: Oh, this pie sure delivers on texture! Enjoy 3 layers of very different textures in every magnificent bite. It has a crunchy, crumbly graham cracker crust, a creamy-yet-light whipped cheesecake filling, and a jammy topping made with plenty of fresh strawberries.
- Flavor: Do you like strawberries? Do you like graham cracker-crusted cheesecake, and cream pies? You’re in the right place. The filling is similar to no-bake cheesecake and has a delightful tang from the cream cheese and lemon juice. Lemon zest in the sweet topping keeps the natural strawberry flavor bright and fresh.
- Ease: You’ll bake the graham cracker crust and cook the strawberry topping on the stove, but the cheesecake filling doesn’t need to bake—just set up in the refrigerator. Since there’s a few different layers, read through the recipe before starting so you don’t get stuck in the process. A homemade whipped cream garnish is optional, if you want to dress it up a bit before serving.
Success Tip: Temperature is Everything
You have 3 layers in this recipe and you need 10 ingredients total. Here are the layers:
- Fully Baked Homemade Graham Cracker Crust
- Mousse-Like Cream Cheese Filling
- Fresh Strawberry Topping
Even though it’s the topping on the pie, your first step is to make the strawberry mixture. The topping must completely cool before layering on top of the cream cheese mixture otherwise your pie will be runny and fall apart. Also, it’s ideal that the baked crust is still slightly warm when you spread in the filling so the filling can adhere. Follow the recipe below and you’ll be all set.
The great news is that many of the ingredients are repeated in each layer. Not pictured are 2 of the 3 graham cracker crust ingredients (the graham cracker crumbs and the butter).
Recipe Testing: Strawberry Topping
When I tested this recipe, my first attempt at the strawberry topping was too runny. I found what works best is using a mix of mashed, cooked strawberries (we’re basically making a simple homemade jam, or strawberry sauce), and fresh sliced strawberries. Let me break it down for you.
- Start with 1.5 lbs (24 ounces or about 680 grams) of fresh strawberries.
- Rinse and hull all the berries.
- Chop some of the strawberries until you have 1 cup, or 150–160 grams/5.5 ounces. We’re going to mash these (use a pastry cutter, potato masher, or a fork) and cook them with sugar, water, and cornstarch. Mix in the lemon zest and then cool completely. This will act as a binding to hold the rest of the berries together.
- Quarter the remaining strawberries. Strawberry size varies greatly, so if your strawberries are massive, you might need to slice the quarters again. You should end up with about 3.5 cups, or about 500 grams/18 ounces, of quartered strawberries.
- Once the cooked topping has cooled, fold in the quartered strawberries. Now we have a strawberry pie topping that will set up nicely in the refrigerator.
Roughly mash your chopped strawberries (below left) and then cook down on the stove according to the instructions (below right). Cool the mixture completely.
Here are the quartered strawberries. Mix them with the cooked & cooled strawberry mixture:
Let Me Show You How to Assemble the Pie:
Crust: Mix your graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter together. Press into your pie dish and bake for 15–16 minutes. This is the only baking the strawberry pie requires.
Filling: Have you ever made cookies & cream pie or no bake cheesecake jars? Today’s filling is similar. Whip heavy cream into peaks and then set aside. This unsweetened whipped cream adds a stable, yet creamy foundation without the need for gelatin or other thickening ingredients. Then mix cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice together (below left). Fold in the whipped cream (below right).
Spread filling into your slightly warm graham cracker crust. I like using a large or small offset spatula to make this step easier. Finally, pile on the strawberry topping. The topping would be excellent on regular cheesecake too!
Chilling & Serving Your Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie
This pie takes at least 8 hours to set up in the refrigerator, so plan ahead. Between cutting up the strawberries, making and baking the crust, cooking and chilling the topping, and whipping up the cheesecake filling, prep time is about 50–60 minutes. This pie is a great choice if you don’t have time to make dessert the day you plan to eat it, because it’s best made a day ahead.
Be warned: slicing into this pie can be messy. The first slice is never the prettiest!
- Pastry cutter, potato masher, or a fork
- Electric mixer (handheld or stand)
- Food processor for graham crackers
- 9-inch pie dish (this is my favorite pie dish)
- Offset spatula
This is fresh strawberry cream cheese pie made without artificial strawberry flavor. To ensure your pie not only looks nice, but stays intact, it’s important to follow the instructions closely. Read through the recipe and review the step-by-step photos before starting.
- 1.5 lbs (24 ounces or about 680 grams) fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled
- 2 Tablespoons (30ml) water
- 1.5 Tablespoons (11g) cornstarch
- 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
Graham Cracker Crust
- 1 and 1/2 cups (180g) graham cracker crumbs (about 12 full sheet graham crackers)
- 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 6 Tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup (240ml) cold heavy cream
- 8 ounces (226g) full-fat block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup (60g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- optional for topping: homemade whipped cream
- Make the strawberry topping first so it can cool: Chop some of the strawberries until you have 1 cup, or 150–160 grams/5.5 ounces. Quarter the remaining strawberries (you should end up with about 3.5 cups, or about 500 grams/18 ounces, of quartered strawberries) and set aside until step 5. Lightly mash the chopped strawberries with a pastry cutter, potato masher, or a fork. Using a fork, mix the cornstarch and water together in a small bowl until the cornstarch has dissolved. Warm the mashed strawberries, cornstarch mixture, and sugar together in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until boiling, stirring often. Mixture will be cloudy. Boil 1 minute or until it’s thick like a jam (no longer liquid-y). Remove from heat, stir in the lemon zest, and cool completely. (Must completely cool, so transferring to a bowl out of the saucepan helps speed that up. Feel free to refrigerate it. You can complete a few other steps in the recipe as the mixture cools.)
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
- Make the crust: If you’re starting out with full graham crackers, use a food processor or blender to grind them into fine crumbs. Stir the graham cracker crumbs and granulated sugar together in a medium bowl, and then stir in the melted butter. The mixture will be thick, coarse, and sandy. Try to smash/break up any large chunks. Pour the mixture into an ungreased 9-inch pie dish. With medium pressure using your hand, pat the crumbs down into the bottom and up the sides to make a compact crust. Do not pack down with heavy force because that makes the crust too hard. Simply pat down until the mixture is no longer crumby/crumbly. For more shaping technique tips, see the graham cracker crust recipe page. Bake the crust for 15 minutes, remove from the oven, and cool for just 15 minutes as you prepare the filling in the next step.
- 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 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 confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon juice and beat on medium-high speed until combined. 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 cream cheese mixture 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.
- Assemble layers: Spread cream cheese filling into slightly cooled crust. Use an offset spatula to smooth down the top. Fold quartered strawberries into cooled strawberry mixture from step 1 and then spoon evenly on top of the cream cheese filling.
- Cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. I usually just carefully lay aluminum foil on top so the topping doesn’t get messed up. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 48 hours. The longer refrigerated, the better the pie will set up. Do not exceed 2 days because the topping begins to break down.
- Feel free to garnish the pie with whipped cream right before or a few hours before serving (keep pie refrigerated after adding whipped cream). I used Wilton 1M piping tip for the whipped cream in the pictured pie. Using a clean sharp knife, cut into slices for serving. For neat slices, wipe the knife clean between each slice. Tip: The first slice is never pretty! Much easier to slice after that 1st piece is out.
- Cover and store leftover pie in the refrigerator or freezer for up to 5 days.
- Make Ahead Instructions: You can prepare the cooked strawberry mixture (step 1) 1–2 days in advance. Cover and refrigerate before using. (I recommend folding in the quartered strawberries when you’re assembling the pie and not in advance.) You can prepare the crust (step 3) up to 2 days in advance. Cover and store baked and cooled crust at room temperature. It must be slightly warm when you spread in the filling so the filling can adhere, so warm in a 350°F (177°C) oven for 1–2 minutes before adding the filling. You can prepare the filling (step 4) 1 day in advance before spreading into the crust in step 5. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Can I Use Frozen Strawberries? Frozen strawberries work in a pinch, but the topping holds MUCH better shape using fresh strawberries. I strongly recommend using fresh. If using frozen, thaw and pat dry before starting.
- Cream Cheese: Make sure you are using block cream cheese and not cream cheese spread. Blocks of cream cheese are typically 8 ounces each, so you need 1 block.
- Other Pie Crust: Feel free to swap the graham cracker crust for traditional pie crust. This is my favorite pie crust and I also have this all butter pie crust too. You will need to fully par-bake the pie crust shell.
- Non-US Readers: If graham crackers are not available where you live, we have also tested this pie with a crust made from digestive biscuits, and it turned out great. Use 200g ground digestive biscuit crumbs (about 2 cups; 13–14 biscuits), 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar, and 6 Tablespoons (85g) melted butter. Pre-bake the crust for a bit longer, about 16-17 minutes. 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 this pie. I have no experience with it, but this is what I’ve heard from other non-US readers. If you try it, let us know how it turns out!
- Can I make this with other berries? Yes. I recommend blueberries and you can make this similar blueberry cream cheese pie instead. Strawberries are so heavy, so I had to slightly reduce the filling for today’s strawberry version.
Keywords: strawberry cream cheese pie, whipped cream, strawberry pie