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!
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.
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.
This Vanilla Cheesecake recipe is made with cream cheese, sugar, eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, sour cream, and a touch of cornstarch, to thicken it. You can even elevate this vanilla cheesecake by adding vanilla beans or vanilla bean paste.
The sweet and tangy sour cream topping puts it over the top. It is made with two simple ingredients -- full-fat sour cream and sugar. It just adds a creaminess to the cheesecake.
The graham cracker crust is made with butter, graham cracker crumbs, and a touch of sugar. It just needs to be baked for about 8 minutes before adding the filling. It helps the crust to set-up and solidify.
How to avoid the 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.
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.
How to avoid bubbles in your 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.
Why is it important to let the cheesecake chill?
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 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.
- 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 sides of the springform pan (this is safer than pouring it in and then transferring it to the oven).
- 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.
Here are some of my baking essentials for the best cheesecake recipe: