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!
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.
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.