Filed Under: Cheesecake | Dessert

Ultimate Cheesecake

Recipe By Tessa Arias
August 22nd, 2016
4.94 from 15 votes
4.94 from 15 votes

Stop right here! This is the ULTIMATE Cheesecake recipe! It took lots of testing to get a perfectly smooth and tangy cheesecake with NO CRACKS. Keep reading to get my best cheesecake tips and the full recipe!

Yield: 12 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook: 2 hours 40 minutes

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: Tangy and sweet, with a burst of freshness from the raspberry topping.
Texture: Ridiculously smooth, creamy, and luscious with a nice contrast from the buttery crunchy crust.
Ease: Definitely doable, and I’ve included a ton of extra tips in that free cheesecake guide above.
Pros: It’s a perfect cheesecake!
Cons: Requires patience between the baking, cooling, and chilling.
Would I make this again? Absolutely!

Some of my all-time most popular blog posts in 7+ years of blogging involve cheesecake.

Stop right here! This is the ULTIMATE Cheesecake recipe! It took lots of testing to get a perfectly smooth and tangy cheesecake with NO CRACKS. This ones a keeper.

I can see why. Cheesecake is that perfect combination of sweet and tangy flavors and smooth yet rich textures. Cheesecakes themselves can come in all shapes and sizes, and can even be incorporated into other favorite desserts (like this Cheesecake-Filled Chocolate Bundt Cake).

Stop right here! This is the ULTIMATE Cheesecake recipe! It took lots of testing to get a perfectly smooth and tangy cheesecake with NO CRACKS. This ones a keeper.

And while it’s fun to get creative with cheesecake recipes, I think the most basic and classic cheesecake is often the most intimidating. It’s that simplicity that leaves little room for error!

Which is why I’ve spent the last weeks meticulously testing this cheesecake recipe, and finding the best tips to make sure you can recreate it in all its perfection right in your own kitchen!

Stop right here! This is the ULTIMATE Cheesecake recipe! It took lots of testing to get a perfectly smooth and tangy cheesecake with NO CRACKS. This ones a keeper.

How do I prevent cheesecake cracks?

Look at that shot below. Not a crack in sight!! That’s no easy feat if you’ve baked your share of cheesecakes.

The trick, of course, is gentle even baking. We accomplish this by baking the cheesecake in a water bath and by allowing it to cool completely in the oven itself.

If you’ve baked a cheesecake in a water bath before then you might have dealt with some frustrating leakage. It’s challenging to keep the cheesecake sealed off from the water, which is why I recommend using a quality springform pan and wrapping it with three sheets of heavy duty tin foil. Sometimes I’ll even use masking tape or scotch tape to really seal the tin foil around the pan if things got a little messy while wrapping.

EDIT: Reader Holly shared a wonderful tip for keeping the water out, “I use a turkey roasting bag, then put a layer of foil around the bottom and sides of the pan to hold it in place. I don’t close the bag over the top. Keeps the water out and the crust dry.”

Ultimate Cheesecake Recipe with NO CRACKS!!

How to tell when cheesecake is done baking?

Let me say this as clearly as possible… don’t overbake your cheesecake!! The residual heat of the oven will continue to cook the cheesecake even after the heat has been turned off. That means that even if your cheesecake looks slightly wobbly or jiggly in the center when the baking time has ended, that’s perfectly okay.

As long as you follow the recipe exactly, you’ll end up with a beautiful and perfect cheesecake. If you want even more kitchen-tested tips and tricks for making perfect cheesecake, be sure to download my free guide:

4.94 from 15 votes

How to make
Ultimate Cheesecake

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Inactive Time 4 hours
Total Time: 30 minutes
Stop right here! This is the ULTIMATE Cheesecake recipe! It took lots of testing to get a perfectly smooth and tangy cheesecake with NO CRACKS. Keep reading to get my best cheesecake tips and the full recipe!


For the crust:

  • 1 3/4 cups (230 grams) graham crackers crumbs (about 15 whole graham crackers)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 2 pounds (907 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (130 grams) sour cream
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • Boiling water, for the water bath

For the topping:

  • 12 ounces (340 grams) fresh raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice


  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Prepare a 9-inch springform pan for a water bath. Place a large square of heavy duty aluminum foil underneath the pan. Gently fold the edges up and around the pan. Repeat twice so there’s three sheets of foil to ensure a waterproof seal. Gently fold the top of the foil around the edge of the pan.

Make the crust:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, cinnamon, and butter until the mixture is moistened. Press into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9-inch nonstick springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool. Maintain oven temperature.

Make the filling:

  1. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese on medium speed until completely smooth and free of lumps. Add the sugar and beat until combined. Add in the sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until just combined. Be careful not to overmix.
  2. Pour the batter into the foiled-wrapped springform pan. Place the pan in a large roasting pan. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until the water is about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan. Bake at 325°F for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until set and the top looks slightly dry. If the middle is slightly wobbly, that’s fine. Err on the side of underbaking rather than overbaking.

  3. Turn off the oven heat and crack the oven door open just by 1-inch. Let the cheesecake cool inside the oven for 1 hour.
  4. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and from the water bath, unwrap the foil, and transfer it to a cooling rack. Run a thin-bladed knife around the edge of the cake to make sure it’s not sticking to the sides (which can cause cracks as it cools). Let the cheesecake cool completely on the rack.
  5. Refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days. Store the cheesecake uncovered to avoid creating condensation, which will create a mushy texture.

Make the topping:

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the filling ingredients. Heat, stirring and breaking up the raspberries often, until the raspberries release their juices and begin to form a sauce, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and press through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl to remove the seeds. Let cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour before using.
  2. Release the cheesecake from the pan onto a cake stand or serving plate and top with the raspberry sauce. Serve.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

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Recipe Rating

  1. #
    Holly — August 22, 2016 at 6:35 am

    I will put my cheesecake pan into a turkey roasting bag, then put a layer of foil around the bottom and sides of the pan to hold it in place. I don’t clods the bag over the top. Keeps the water out and the crust dry.

    • #
      Tessa — August 22, 2016 at 11:38 am

      Hi Holly, that’s a fabulous tip!! Love it! I’ve edited the post to add in your tip 🙂

  2. #
    Rita Zelig — August 22, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    This looks fantastic! I just need to know if this would be Hungarian style or French style. French is lighter and less dense. My family however, are decidedly wanting Hungarian. I just need to know before attempting something they won’t eat. Thank you Tessa!

    • #
      Tessa — August 23, 2016 at 7:59 am

      I’m guessing it would be closer to Hungarian, though I’ve never had a cheesecake that’s been labeled as such before so I can’t be sure.

  3. #
    Alex — August 22, 2016 at 10:09 pm

    I’ve made several of your cheesecakes over the years and every one was perfect and crack-free. Try a Push Pan instead of a springform pan and you will never go back! No leaks and you always get perfectly smooth sides.

  4. #
    Zena — September 28, 2016 at 7:34 am

    This looks perfect!
    Can I make this 3 days ahead of my occasion? Is it possible to freeze it? Any advice about that would be much appreciated!

    • #
      Tessa — September 28, 2016 at 10:35 am

      Hi, Zena! My Perfect Cheesecake Guide linked to on this page has tons of details about storing your cheesecake and making it ahead of time. I think you’ll enjoy it 🙂

  5. #
    Tiana — December 2, 2016 at 7:18 am

    Hiii! I’m DYING to try out this recipe for my friend’s birthday!
    Could you please tell me approximately how long I’d need to bake this for if I’m baking it without a water bath?
    And at what temperature?

    Thank you SO VERY MUCH! 😀 😀

  6. #
    Tiana — December 2, 2016 at 7:38 am

    Also, I’m planning to divide the recipe by 3/4ths, since I’m baking in an 8″ pan.

  7. #
    Deb Plapp — August 2, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    I’m looking at the push pans someone recommended for Cheesecakes, and was wondering what your thoughts are regarding whether to buy an aluminum pan or the non-stick version?The aluminum pan is supposed to heat more evenly, so I was wondering which would be best? I’m not finding a 9″ pan, but reviews I read recommended getting the 10″ pan for a 9″ recipe.

  8. #
    dils — September 24, 2017 at 2:22 am

    hi tessa!
    I really want to try this recipe, but can I skip the sour cream? because it’s super hard to find it here where I live. thank you

  9. #
    Leah Rosenberg — October 22, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    Hi Tessa,

    I made this cheesecake for my boyfriend’s birthday last year and he LOVED it. The texture was absolutely perfect. This year I want to make him an Oreo version. Would it work to combine your Oreo truffle version with this? (Oreo crust with chopped Oreos mixed into the ultimate cheesecake batter, etc etc)

    • #
      Tessa — October 23, 2017 at 11:02 am

      I don’t see why not! 🙂

  10. #
    Sharon — May 15, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    I have been baking cheesecakes from scratch for many years, never have cracks in cakes. I’ll share my secret with you. I have never used a water bath, I put a large pan of warm water on rack beneath cheesecake, bakes perfect cheesecakes, no moisture , no cracks

    Give it a try.m

  11. #
    Lena — June 15, 2018 at 4:53 am

    This is the best cheesecake ever! I use lemon juice instead of the peel, because it’s easier to get the same taste every time, but other than that I didn’t change a thing. I must have made it 20 times so far and it’s always been a hit!

  12. #
    Leslie — August 10, 2018 at 10:31 am

    Great recipe!
    I do not use springform pans when baking cheesecake. Instead, I use a 3-inch wall cake pan with a parchment circle in the bottom. I then place the pan in another 3-inch wall cake pan which I half fill with hot water. After the cheesecake is thoroughly chilled I place the pan in warm water, run a knife around the edge if necessary. Place a small plate or cardboard circle and flip. Flip again onto a serving circle or plate.
    This always works, is not difficult and no leakage problems, ever!

  13. #
    jordan 12 — November 18, 2018 at 4:01 am

    I have to express some thanks to this writer just for rescuing me from this scenario. Right after searching through the the net and coming across things which are not productive, I was thinking my life was done. Living minus the solutions to the difficulties you’ve sorted out by way of the article content is a critical case, as well as those that could have in a wrong way affected my career if I hadn’t come across your web site. Your main competence and kindness in maneuvering all things was valuable. I am not sure what I would’ve done if I hadn’t come upon such a subject like this. I can also now look ahead to my future. Thank you so much for this expert and effective help. I will not think twice to recommend the website to anybody who requires guide on this matter.

  14. #
    Lori Saslow — November 30, 2018 at 9:51 am

    Hi Tessa..just wondering if this recipe would work with add-ins like cookies or candy bar seems like a nice basic flavor that might work with other flavors.

  15. #
    lil — December 4, 2018 at 11:55 am

    I do not like graham crackers so I use different kinds of cookies and crush them the same as you do graham crackers


  16. #
    Amanda — March 3, 2019 at 11:25 pm

    Tessa! Thank you for this recipe, my cheesecake turned out super smooth and creamy (it was my first cheesecake ever so I was nervous!) But some water did enter therefore the crust wasn’t perfect, i’ll be more cautious next time.
    I heard that you can put the springform pan inside a bigger pan and put that inside the roasting pan to prevent leaks, would you recomend that?
    I also read your New York cheesecake recipe and you added extra yolks. Could I do that for this recipe too?
    Thanks! I’ll definitely make this recipe again and again!

  17. #
    duck life 4 — July 9, 2019 at 9:32 pm

    I appreciate this work amazing post for us. I like it.

  18. #
    Nancy Perine — July 28, 2019 at 11:44 pm

    Hi there! I had fun looking all around your website/blog. Your recipe for Ultimate Cheesecake caught my eye. I LOVE cheesecake!! Hadn’t made it for awhile … actually since Thanksgiving when I made my pumpkin cheesecake. I always have cream cheese on hand and actually had all the ingredients. I did use my spring form pan, but wasn’t brave enough to put it in a water bath … besides not having a large roaster pan. I just cooked it normally in the oven and it turned out great. The fresh raspberry topping was yummy! Everyone raved over this. Thanks for sharing!

  19. #
    Floranet — August 28, 2019 at 11:27 pm

    Great info thanks buddy! Will surely utilize your research resources.

  20. #
    Winni — October 10, 2019 at 5:30 am

    Wow, It’s amazing and delicious. I will make this & thank you so much for sharing this recipe.

  21. #
    Kolkata Cake — December 11, 2019 at 9:46 am

    Delicious, I will definitely try this at our Bakery, and will share on instagram, thanks for sharing

  22. #
    Giftalove — December 30, 2019 at 4:02 am

    This is really great information. It’s an ultimate guide for cheese cakes. It helped me a lot to prepare cake by myself.

  23. #
    Vanessa — February 26, 2020 at 12:58 am

    Do you think I can add liquid food colourings to this cake without adjusting anything else?

  24. #
    Mary M. — April 24, 2020 at 1:52 pm

    This is my go-to cheesecake recipe! Perfect texture, taste, and always bakes up so beautifully!

  25. #
    Giftzbag — May 2, 2020 at 8:47 pm

    This looks perfect!
    I really want to try this recipe, but can I skip the sour cream? because it’s super hard to find it here where I live. thank you

  26. #
    Jeanne — May 11, 2020 at 8:33 pm

    Excellent recipe! Just made the cheesecake and raspberry topping and both were delicious. The family loved it! The recipe was very easy to follow. No surprises. I love that. Thanks for all the hard work you put in to creating and testing your recipes. I guess that’s why they’re always five stars!!

  27. #
    Cake2homes — June 2, 2020 at 3:47 pm

    It’s Amazing and delicious recipe of Cheese cake , I made it’s really testy and Delicious

  28. #
    Mitch B — June 22, 2020 at 8:43 pm

    Hi! Is it possible to half the recipe?

  29. #
    Rohtak — August 17, 2020 at 5:48 am

    Very easy to flow and tease great!

  30. #
    Pat — August 26, 2020 at 6:23 am

    I’m looking to make a 6” cheesecake. Any suggestions on adapting this recipe?

  31. #
    Kathy — October 12, 2020 at 10:05 pm

    Hubby and I made this and I wouldn’t change a thing. It was our first cheesecake, so we were a bit unsure about checking doneness, but it worked just fine. No cracks either. Thanks for all your tips.

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