Yield: about 12 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook: 1 1/2 hours
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.
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).
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!
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.”
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:
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
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
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:
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:
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Release the cheesecake from the pan onto a cake stand or serving plate and top with the raspberry sauce. Serve.
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