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How to make the creamiest, dreamiest, richest vanilla cheesecake with a buttery graham cracker crust. All of the tips and tricks for making the perfect cheesecake!

The Best Cheesecake Recipe How to make the creamiest, dreamiest, richest vanilla cheesecake with a buttery graham cracker crust. All of the tips and tricks for making the perfect cheesecake! www.modernhoney.com #cheesecake #vanillacheesecake #cheesecakerecipe #dessert

This is a recipe that has been long in the making. Very long. I have tested more cheesecakes than I would like to count but they just weren’t perfect. 

The Best Cheesecake Recipe How to make the creamiest, dreamiest, richest vanilla cheesecake with a buttery graham cracker crust. All of the tips and tricks for making the perfect cheesecake! www.modernhoney.com #cheesecake #vanillacheesecake #cheesecakerecipe #dessert

I wanted to experiment with all types of techniques — more cream cheese, less cream cheese, sweeter, not as sweet, baked in a water bath, no water bath, sour cream topping, no sour cream topping, etc. You get the point. I wanted to create the creamiest cheesecake ever!

After much experimenting, I am sharing the best cheesecake recipe ever. It isn’t as hard as you would think but it is all about the techniques. 

The Best Cheesecake Recipe How to make the creamiest, dreamiest, richest vanilla cheesecake with a buttery graham cracker crust. All of the tips and tricks for making the perfect cheesecake! www.modernhoney.com #cheesecake #vanillacheesecake #cheesecakerecipe #dessert

CHEESECAKE INGREDIENTS:

  • Cream cheese: Cream cheese is so important in getting the perfect cheesecake. This soft cheese is rich and tangy, giving cheesecake both its flavor and its texture.
  • Sugar: I usually use regular white granulated sugar. It adds the perfect sweetness to balance out the tangy tartness of the cream cheese and sour cream. If you want silky smooth sugar, you can use superfine sugar. It’s easy to buy it online or make your own by pulsing regular granulated sugar in the food processor for about 10 seconds.
  • Eggs/ egg yolks: Eggs are what give cheesecake its rich and fluffy texture. Too many eggs, however, can lead to the cheesecake sinking and cracking in the middle. You’ll want to use large eggs (not jumbo) for this recipe and follow it exactly, and you’ll be perfectly fine!
  • Vanilla: I suggest using pure vanilla extract and not imitation vanilla flavoring. A good, high-quality vanilla can make a difference in the flavor of baked goods. My go-to vanilla is Nielsen-Massey pure vanilla extract, Mexican Vanilla, or Vanilla Bean Paste.
  • Sour cream: Some people may be confused by the addition of sour cream in cheesecake. Not only does it add another layer of tang to the sweet cheesecake, but it also lightens up the heaviness of the cream cheese. This creates a smooth and milky texture, giving you a perfectly soft cheesecake.
  • Cornstarch: Just a touch of cornstarch can help to thicken the cheesecake.

SOUR CREAM TOPPING:

  • Full-fat sour cream: Sour cream is light enough to help add an extra layer of creaminess to the cheesecake without being heavy.
  • Sugar: The sugar keeps the sour cream topping from being too sour or tart.

GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST:

  • Butter: This is the connector of the crust. It holds the graham cracker crumbs together and makes it so that the crust isn’t too dry.
  • Graham cracker crumbs: The sweet combination of honey, cinnamon, and vanilla are the perfect balance to the tart cheesecake.
  • Sugar: Helps to sweeten the crust.
The Best Cheesecake Recipe How to make the creamiest, dreamiest, richest vanilla cheesecake with a buttery graham cracker crust. All of the tips and tricks for making the perfect cheesecake! www.modernhoney.com #cheesecake #vanillacheesecake #cheesecakerecipe #dessert

How to make the Best Cheesecake:

  • Make the graham cracker crust and bake for about 8 minutes. I suggest using a 9-inch springform pan.
  • Start by bringing the cream cheese to room temperature. This allows it to mix well. Beat the cream cheese and sugar until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl often.
  • Add vanilla, cornstarch, and lemon zest and beat just until combined. We don’t want to overmix this cheesecake batter and allow air bubbles to form.
  • Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Fold in full-fat sour cream. 
  • Bake and then reduce heat and let cook low and slow. Turn off oven and allow the cheesecake to gently still bake.
  • Let come to room temperature for about 1 hour and then place in the refrigerator for about 6-8 hours or overnight to allow it time to setup and solidify.
  • Serve with fresh whipped cream and berries
The Best Cheesecake Recipe How to make the creamiest, dreamiest, richest vanilla cheesecake with a buttery graham cracker crust. All of the tips and tricks for making the perfect cheesecake! www.modernhoney.com #cheesecake #vanillacheesecake #cheesecakerecipe #dessert

Why is a water bath important?

A water bath is a pan of hot water that surrounds the springform pan with your cheesecake. It acts as a buffer for heat so your cheesecake filling bakes slowly, gently, and evenly. The steam from the water bath helps to keep the cheesecake from drying out. 

If you choose not to cook with a water bath, your cheesecake may have a rubbery or cracked top due to the oven drying it out.

The Best Cheesecake Recipe How to make the creamiest, dreamiest, richest vanilla cheesecake with a buttery graham cracker crust. All of the tips and tricks for making the perfect cheesecake! www.modernhoney.com #cheesecake #vanillacheesecake #cheesecakerecipe #dessert

Why is it important to let the cheesecake chill?

  • Pour into cooled graham cracker crust and lightly bang the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles.
  • IMPORTANT! When using a water bath, you want to line the outside of the springform pan with foil. I use heavy-duty foil and wrap it twice to secure the pan and ensure no water sneaks through. Place the pan in the center of a double layer of foil. Lift the edges of the foil up, wrapping tightly around the sides of the pan and folding the foil under itself as needed.
  • Place the filled springform pan inside a roasting pan and transfer it to the center rack of the oven. Carefully pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan (this is safer than pouring it in and then transferring it to the oven).
The Best Cheesecake Recipe How to make the creamiest, dreamiest, richest vanilla cheesecake with a buttery graham cracker crust. All of the tips and tricks for making the perfect cheesecake! www.modernhoney.com #cheesecake #vanillacheesecake #cheesecakerecipe #dessert

FAQ

How do I avoid my cheesecake cracking in the center?

The best way to avoid the cheesecake cracking in the center is to cook it low and slow in a water bath. A crack can happen when the cheesecake is baking faster towards the edges, while the center is still liquidy. Also, make sure to keep the oven closed! No peeking! If you need to check on the cheesecake, use the oven light.

How do I avoid bubbles in my cheesecake?

Make sure to not overwhip the cheesecake batter and develop air bubbles. I suggest pounding the springform pan on the counter once the batter has been added to release any air bubbles.
After removing from the oven, you want to let the cheesecake come to room temperature before placing in the refrigerator, about 1 hour. Then place in the refrigerator for at least 6-8 hours, preferably overnight. This allows the cheesecake time to solidify and setup. 

How do I know that my cheesecake is done?

First off, don’t open and close the oven when you check on the cheesecake! It disrupts the baking and introduces new dry air to the humid oven.
That being said, you can start checking the cheesecake at the end of its bake time. You want to pull it out when the edges are firm and the center still has a slight jiggle to it. It’s hard to see if the cheesecake is done because it doesn’t brown, but you can check the center with a toothpick to help you know for sure.

The Best Cheesecake Recipe How to make the creamiest, dreamiest, richest vanilla cheesecake with a buttery graham cracker crust. All of the tips and tricks for making the perfect cheesecake! www.modernhoney.com #cheesecake #vanillacheesecake #cheesecakerecipe #dessert

Here are some of my baking essentials for the best cheesecake recipe:

Related Recipes:

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The Best Cheesecake Recipe How to make the creamiest, dreamiest, richest vanilla cheesecake with a buttery graham cracker crust. All of the tips and tricks for making the perfect cheesecake! www.modernhoney.com #cheesecake #vanillacheesecake #cheesecakerecipe #dessert

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4.92 from 12 votes

Vanilla Cheesecake

By: Modern Honey – www.modernhoney.com
The Best Cheesecake Recipe. How to make the creamiest, dreamiest, richest vanilla cheesecake with a buttery graham cracker crust. All of the tips and tricks for making the perfect cheesecake!
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
6 hours
Servings: 12

Ingredients  

Graham Cracker Crust:

  • 14 full Graham Cracker Sheets
  • 8 Tablespoons Butter (melted)
  • 3 Tablespoons Sugar

Cheesecake Filling:

  • (4) 8-ounce pkgs. Cream Cheese (softened to room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 cups Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Bean Paste or Extract
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons Lemon Zest (optional)
  • 3 large Eggs
  • 2 large Egg Yolks
  • 3/4 cup Full-Fat Sour Cream

Sweet Sour Cream Topping:

  • 1 cup Full-Fat Sour Cream
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste (optional)

Garnish:

  • Fresh Whipped Cream
  • Berries

Instructions 

Graham Cracker Crust:

  • Preheat the oven to 350º. For the crust, I prefer to use a food processor. If not, place graham crackers in a large bag and beat with a rolling pin until fine crumbs appear. Then, stir the graham crumbs, sugar, and melted butter until evenly combined and press this into the bottom of an ungreased 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 8 minutes, then let cool to room temperature.

Cheesecake Filling:

  • In a large mixing bowl, beat softened cream cheese and sugar until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl often. Add vanilla, cornstarch, and lemon zest and beat just until combined. We don't want to overmix this cheesecake batter and allow air bubbles to form. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Fold in full-fat sour cream. 
  • Pour into cooled graham cracker crust and lightly bang the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles. IMPORTANT! When using a water bath, you want to line the OUTSIDE of the springform pan with foil. I use heavy-duty foil and wrap it twice to secure the pan and ensure no water sneaks through. Place pan in the center of a double layer of foil. Lift edges of foil up, wrapping tightly around sides of the pan and folding foil under itself as needed.
  • Place filled springform pan inside a roasting pan and transfer to the center rack of the oven. Carefully pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan (this is safer than pouring it in and then transferring it to the oven).
  • Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees and then reduce heat to 300 degrees. Bake at 300 degrees for 35 minutes. Turn off the oven but keep the cheesecake in the oven and continue to cook low and slow for 1 hour.
  • Remove from oven. In a small bowl, stir together 1 cup of full-fat sour cream, sugar, and vanilla (if using). Carefully spread on top of cheesecake.
  • Let come to room temperature for about 1 hour and then place in the refrigerator for about 6-8 hours or overnight to allow it time to set up and solidify. Serve with fresh whipped cream and berries. 

Video

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12
Keyword: cheesecake, vanilla cheesecake
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Hi, I'm Melissa Stadler!

I am an Award-Winning Recipe Creator. Cover of Food Network Magazine. Two-Time Pillsbury Bake-Off Finalist. I am passionate about sharing the best recipes so you have success in the kitchen!

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25 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I LOVE cheesecake … and I LOVE this recipe. I like putting the sour cream topping on – it really adds so much. Good, good recipe!

  2. 5 stars
    I wanted to try a cheesecake recipe out for Christmas this year. I was glad to find one on your site because I trust your desserts! Turned out wonderful and was almost all gone after our get together which had several other desserts on the table. I’m sitting here almost midnight having another slice at home 🙂 will definitely make again!

  3. 5 stars
    I always try new cheesecake recipes just to see if it’ll top our family go to, which has got to be us for over 60 years. This one shot right to the top of the list! Have made it several times and everyone loves it. Now I have 2 favorites. All the others can be removed from my files! 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    Absolutely amazing! Always love trying different cheesecake recipes, mostly because I’m positive it won’t come close to the family’s favorite. I do believe this one just may have done it!

  5. 5 stars
    Cheesecake can be tough to make but this recipe and instructions made it so easy! Mine turned out perfectly and I loved it. Thank you so much!

  6. 5 stars
    I have never been a huge Cheesecake fan. It was always too rich. I made this recipe for my husband. He is not one of those guys that will eat anything you put in front of him. He has extremely good taste buds and smell, so he can be very picky. He absolutely loved it the first time I made it. I didn’t quite get it done in the center (bad oven). I made it again the second time for Thanksgiving this year (and for my mother-in-law). Because we moved, I have a new oven and my cheesecake came out fabulous. Everyone loved it…including me! Cheesecake is my mother-in-laws favorite dessert so she has tried it every time she travels, in and out of the U.S. She actually told me it was the best she has had and insisted I make it for Christmas. She tells it like it is, so I know she wasn’t pulling my leg. I was extremely thrilled. My next adventure is going to be the Crème Brulee. CAN’T WAIT!

  7. 5 stars
    Best cheesecake I have ever made, or eaten. Cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts, so I am quite picky. The baking time and temp are spot on, I followed them to a t.
    The only difference I did was, instead of a water bath under the cheesecake I filled a 6 cup cupcake tin with water in each tin and set it on the rack right below the cheesecake and to the side. And baked it according to your exact times and temps. No cracks and no fuss with foil and water maybe getting in the cheesecake. It came out perfect!

    Also instead of the sour cream topping I opted for a white chocolate mousse. It was Heavenly.