This recipe will walk you through how to make a perfectly smooth, rich and creamy New York-style cheesecake with a graham cracker crust. Cheesecake is one of those ultra decadent desserts that a lot of people are hesitant to try making as it seems too complex to make. However, if you follow our recipe below, which includes a few simple cheesecake making tips, you will have an perfectly baked, and awesomely delicious cheesecake to share with your family and friends.
A of couple tips that I would like to point out right now is that to have the best cheesecake texture, use blocks of cream cheese, not the whipped kind that is sold in tubs. Also, before you start cooking, be sure to leave the cream cheese, eggs, sour cream, and butter out on the counter for an hour or two in order to warm the ingredients up to room temperature. Having the cream cheese at room temperature before you start will prevent a lumpy cheesecake. Once you are ready to make your cheesecake, move your oven rack to its bottom position. If there are any other racks, remove them. Then preheat your oven to 350º Fahreinheit.
If you want to serve large slices of cheesecake like the one shown in the finished recipe photo at the top of this page, then this recipe will serve 8 people. However, being that cheesecake is a pretty heavy dessert you probably would want skinnier slices. You could easily get 16 servings out of this cheesecake.
- 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/3 cup butter - softened
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar - keep the 1/3 cup separate from the 1 cup.
- 3 packages cream cheese - (8 ounces per pack - 24 ounces total)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup sour cream
To make the graham cracker crust for the cheesecake, you can either purchase a box of graham crackers or a box of graham cracker crumbs. I went with the later. However, since most people probably don't want to have a bunch of leftover crumbs in their pantry, it's probably best to just purchase graham crackers. This way you can snack on whatever you didn't crush up.
To make the crumbs (if you bought crackers), just place some of the crackers into a zippered storage bag and break them up into tiny even crumbs.
Once you have measured out 1 and 3/4 cup of crumbs, dump them into a food processor along with the softened butter and 1/3 cup of sugar and blend everything together very well. You may need to open the lid and break up any large chunks with fork.
Here is a photo of the graham cracker crumbs ready to be used.
Pour the crumb mixture into a 9" springform pan. Distribute the crumbs around the bottom of the pan, but place a bit more crumbs along the edges. Using the bottom of a ramekin or cup, push down lightly on the crumbs to pack them down. As you push them down evenly around the pan, you should have enough crumbs to start pressing along the sides of the pan. Keep working at it until the sides have an even thickness with a height of about 2 inches.
Place the blocks of cream cheese (which should now be at room temperature) into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat the cream cheese until it becomes fluffy. Be sure to scrape the bowl as needed throughout this and the following steps!
Gradually beat in 1 cup of sugar.
Once the sugar is thoroughly mixed in, add in the vanilla extract. Mix.
Beat in the eggs, adding one egg at a time before mixing in the next.
Add the sour cream and mix thoroughly.
Here is a photo of the finished cheesecake mixture.
Pour the cheesecake mixture inside of the springform pan. Use a spatula to scrape out any of the mixture that didn't pour out. Use the spatula to evenly distribute the cheesecake mixture inside the pan. Try to make the top as smooth as possible. Gently shake the pan from side to side and then tap the base of the pan on the counter to help release any air bubbles. Smooth out the top of the mixture again if you need to.
In order to prevent the top of cheesecake from cracking, you need to bake it in a water bath using boiling water. To do this just follow the steps described below. Cooking the cheesecake in a water bath will allow the cheesecake to maintain an even baking temperature. The cheesecakes will also crack if the oven temperature is too high. Be sure to verify that your oven temperature is close to 350º Fahreinheit. Over-baking will results in having a cheesecake that is brown on top, dry, and full of cracks.
Wrap the bottom of the springform pan with 2 sheets of aluminum foil. You can purchase aluminum foil that is 18 inches in width. It is sometimes labeled as for grilling. This is the best kind to use. You want the foil to come up higher than the springform pan all around (see the photo). It is extremely important that there are no holes or tears anywhere in the aluminum foil. You don't want water seeping into your cheesecake!
Dampen a kitchen towel and place it in the middle of a deep roasting pan. Place the wrapped springform pan on top of the towel. The towel will prevent the pan from sliding around and also act a buffer from the direct heat of the coils at the bottom of the oven. Using a towel is optional though. We didn't use a towel and the springform pan kind of floated in the water.
Boil a pot of water. The amount of water you will require really depends on the size of your roasting pan. You want enough water so that it comes half way up the side of the springform pan. Once your water has boiled, open the oven door. Using an oven mitt, pull out the bottom rack just a bit. Place the roasting pan on the rack and carefully pour the boiling water into the roasting pan around the aluminum foil. You want enough water so it comes halfway up the side of the aluminum foil / springform pan. Do not got any water inside the aluminum foil!
Push the oven rack back all the way, close the door, and bake the cheesecake for 50 minutes to 1 hour.
After 50 minutes, carefully pull out the roasting pan a bit with an oven mitt and look at the cheesecake. If the cheesecake is firm or has a bit of jiggle left in the center when the pan is moved slightly, go ahead and turn the oven off as the cheesecake is done. It will firm right up once it cools in the refrigerator. If more than just a 2-3 inch area of the center of the cheesecake is still jiggly, go ahead and give it another 10 minutes before checking on it again.
After turning off the oven, prop the door open a couple inches and let the cheesecake sit inside the oven for 1 hour to slowly cool. Doing this will prevent the cheesecake from sinking.
Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and gently place it on a wire rack to cool further for another 2 hours.
After the 2 hours have passed, place the cheesecake in the refrigerator uncovered for at least 8 hours, but preferably overnight. This will give the cheesecake enough time to fully set – especially if it was slightly runny in the center when you shut the oven off.
Once the cheesecake has been in the fridge overnight, carefully unlock and remove the springform pan. If the crust is higher than the cheesecake, you can easily remove it by breaking it off away from the cake.
The easiest way to section of slices of the cheesecake is to use unflavored dental floss. Be sure to press all the way down when making the sections.
Here is the finished cheesecake with the slices sectioned off using the dental floss. Try using a pie scoop to remove a slice by going under bottom crust. If it doesn't want to come out, you will need to use the pie scoop to make cuts over the lines the floss left. Before you make each cut with the pie scoop, clean off any cheesecake that is stuck on it using a paper towel and then run both sides of the scoop under hot water for 20 seconds or so. This will allow you to make clean cuts.
If you desire, top your cheesecake with fruit or a fruit sauce. Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and cherries are popular toppings. We topped our cheesecake with a homemade strawberry sauce and whipped cream. Here is our recipe for how to make the strawberry sauce. This same recipe can be used to make any of the popular fruit sauces.
If you enjoyed this cheesecake recipe or have any questions for us, please leave us a comment using the form down below.
Now that you have learned how to make how to make a cheesecake, please be sure to view these other cheesecake recipes.
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