Today I’m so excited to show you how to make the best Cheesecake Recipe of your life. Simple, classic, and no water bath required!! The texture is smooth, rich, and creamy, served over a crisp homemade graham cracker crust.
I’ve included tons of detailed tips and important info in today’s post so you can make the perfect creamy cheesecake every time. For a visual how-to, be sure to check out my step-by-step video beneath the recipe!
The Perfect Cheesecake Recipe
This cheesecake recipe has been a long time coming.
For a recipe with so few ingredients (cream cheese, eggs, sugar, sour cream, vanilla & salt), it took a lot longer than you might think to develop the perfect version. I’ve shared a few cheesecake variations in the past, including my No-Bake Cheesecake, but getting a perfected classic version took lots of testing. Finally, here we are.
Oh, and we are skipping the water bath! I’ve always found them to be largely unnecessary with cheesecakes. Cook yours on a low temperature and follow my tips below and you’ll have a perfectly creamy and crack-less cheesecake without all the hassle of a water bath.
Other tested/perfected classics to try: my Pound Cake, Chocolate Cake, and Carrot Cake, (to name just a handful).
Must-Know Tips for Baking the Perfect Cheesecake (Without a Water Bath!)
Use room temperature ingredients
It’s important that your cream cheese comes to room temperature before you begin making your cheesecake. This will prevent any lumps and ensure a cheesecake with a smooth, creamy texture. However, to ensure that all of your ingredients blend together nicely and give you the desired result, they should all be at room temperature before you begin.
Take it easy on the eggs
Over-beating your eggs is one of the quickest ways to ruin a cheesecake. Over-beating can ruin the texture and can cause cracks. To prevent this, lightly scramble each egg before adding it into your batter. Keep your mixer on low speed and stir until just combined. Be sure to pause after each addition and scrape down the sides and bottom of your mixing bowl.
Don’t open the oven!
I know how tempting it can be to want to check on your perfect, beautiful cheesecake, but wait until it’s finished baking (or close to it) before opening the oven door! Yes, you will have to test for doneness at some point and there’s a real possibility it will need more time in the oven, but minimize opening the oven as much as possible.
Opening the oven door can drastically reduce the temperature of your oven, which will slow the baking process and might cause your cheesecake to sink or crack.
Free your crust!
Once your cheesecake is done baking, allow it to cool for 10 minutes on top of the stove. Then, run a knife around the inside of the springform pan to loosen the crust from the sides.
As your cheesecake cools, it may to shrink a bit. If the crust is stuck to the pan, your crust won’t give but your cheesecake will (leaving you with cracks). Free the crust from the sides so it can contract with your filling as needed.
Cool at room temperature before moving to the fridge
I always let my cheesecake come to room temperature before chilling. For bests results, let it cool as gradually as possible. I put mine on top of my oven (the warmest spot in my house) so it can gradually cool off as the oven does.
This pre-chilling cooling period can take an hour or two, but it’s worth it. An abrupt temperature change (moving the cheesecake directly from oven to fridge) is likely to make it crack.
How to Store Cheesecake
Cheesecake should always be stored chilled in the refrigerator. When I’m ready to store mine, I’ll usually replace the springform ring and then cover the top with foil.
Cheesecake shouldn’t be left out at room temperature for more than 4 hours (or less if it’s particularly hot/humid!).
Can I Freeze Cheesecake?
Yes, you can freeze your cheesecake! Fortunately, this cheesecake recipe actually freezes very well. To freeze, first allow your cheesecake to cool on the stovetop and in the fridge as instructed. Once it’s chilled, you can freeze by wrapping thoroughly in plastic wrap and then wrapping in foil. Cheesecake will keep in the freezer for several months.
To thaw, transfer to the fridge and let it thaw there overnight.
Here’s a great source for more information on freezing cheesecake, including suggestions if you’d like to freeze by the slice.
Other Cheesecake Variations You Might Like:
- Oreo Cheesecake
- Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Chocolate Cheesecake
- Or try something different and serve this cheesecake on an Oreo Crust!
The BEST Cheesecake Recipe
Graham Cracker Crust¹
- 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs (170g)
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar (can substitute white)
- 7 Tablespoons butter melted
- 32 oz cream cheese² softened to room temperature (910g)
- 1 cup sugar (200g)
- ⅔ cups sour cream (160g)
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs room temperature, lightly beaten
- Preheat oven to 325F (160C).
- Prepare Graham Cracker crust first by combining graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and brown sugar, and stirring well. Add melted butter and use a fork to combine ingredients well.
- Pour crumbs into a 9” Springform pan and press firmly into the bottom and up the sides of your pan. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl (using a hand mixer) add cream cheese and stir until smooth and creamy (don’t over-beat or you’ll incorporate too much air).
- Add sugar and stir again until creamy.
- Add sour cream, vanilla extract, and salt, and stir until well-combined. If using a stand mixer, make sure you pause periodically to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula so that all ingredients are evenly incorporated.
- With mixer on low speed, gradually add lightly beaten eggs, one at a time, stirring just until each egg is just incorporated. Once all eggs have been added, use a spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl again and make sure all ingredients are well combined.
- Pour cheesecake batter into prepared springform pan. To insure against leaks, place pan on a cookie sheet that’s been lined with foil.
- Transfer to the center rack of your oven and bake on 325F (160C) for about 75 minutes. Edges will likely have slightly puffed and may have just begun to turn a light golden brown and the center should spring back to the touch but will still be Jello-jiggly. Don't over-bake or the texture will suffer, which means we all suffer.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool on top of the oven³ for 10 minutes. Once 10 minutes has passed, use a knife to gently loosen the crust from the inside of the springform pan (this will help prevent cracks as your cheesecake cools and shrinks). Do not remove the ring of the springform pan.
- Allow cheesecake to cool another 1-2 hours or until near room temperature before transferring to refrigerator and allowing to cool overnight or at least 6 hours. I remove the ring of the springform pan just before serving then return it to the pan to store. Enjoy!
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.
I do not have a spring form pan. Can I make this in a cake pan? If so, 8×8 or 9×13?
A cake pan could work. It’s going to be a bit tougher to get the cheesecake out. I would try the 9 x 13 but I’m not sure how much the pan would hold so be careful not to overfill the pan. I’m not sure on the bake time. 🙂
I have made this recipe about 50 times for work and friends. It is amazing!! I’ve even had people say it is better than a local restaurant that is known for their great cheesecake, and I agree!
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
We are so glad it’s such a hit, Michael! Thanks for commenting to let us know 😊
I only gave it 3 stars because it’s more of a custard cheesecake than a cheesecake. As a custard style cheesecake it’s the best ever….5 stars! Light, soft, eggy and creamy.
I will make this again, but if you’re wanting a true old school cheesecake this is not it. It came out perfect no cracking and pulled away from sides perfectly. I put a glass Pyrex of water in with it, she was right no water bath needed.
I make this cheesecake all the time. Turns out prefect. But I do a water bath. Next time I’ll just put water in a pan on bottom shelf of oven instead of with cheesecake. See how that works, I think just the moisture keeps it from cracking.
We love this cheesecake recipe! My 12 year old daughter is actually the one who has baked it.(twice) We have had cracks and dark top but it is still delicious. We will pay attention to tips to avoid in the future. Do you think a lower oven temp would make a difference? Also, do you have any tips on making and baking two cheesecakes at once? We want to make it for a friend, but it’s so good I’m afraid it won’t make it out of the house unless we have one to keep for ourselves too lol. Thank you 🙂
Hi Laura! Your oven may be running a bit hot causing the top to brown, or it may need to come out of the oven a minute or two earlier. If you bake two at once, it will likely take a few more minutes to finish. 🙂
I just made it in a convection oven, made it 2 tsp vanilla and browned the butter in the crust. I’ve made about 50 vanilla cheesecakes over my lifetime of baking and this one is dead on. Turned out great. Awesome recipes friend!
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
Sounds delicious, Melissa! Thanks for letting us know how it turned out for you ❤️
Can I use a 7″ Springform pan that came with my Instant Pot?
Hi Alysha! It will hold less batter and will require a different baking time, but it will still work. 🙂
I want to make this cheesecake as a gift so want to remove the cake from the bottom of springform pan. How do I do this?
I think I would try lining the bottom of the pan with parchment paper so you can just slide it out. 🙂
Do you have any tips on incorporating anything into the cheesecake? The first time I tried this recipe it turned out great zero cracks, I did it again did an Oreo crust and put Oreos in my batter and it cracked all the way around.
Hi Courtney! I actually have an oreo cheesecake you can use. 🙂
I made this recipe for the first time for a family gathering & it turned out just like your photo. It didn’t take 75 minutes to bake. I checked before the end baking time, around 60 to 65 minutes & it was fully baked. Thank you for this amazing recipe!! No leftovers!!
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
Hi Kathy! Some ovens run hotter than others, so this is perfectly fine. We’re glad you recognized the signs of it being done and were able to enjoy a perfectly cooked cheesecake! ❤️
I have not yet tasted it, I definitely tasted the batter which was amazing. But the cook time was way too high on this. I put it in at the specified temp, and center rack on a foil lined cookie sheet, but 1hr15min is way too long. The top of my cheesecake is burnt, not blackened but very dark. I’m REALLY hoping I can just remove the top part and it’ll still taste good. I also used biscoff cookies for the crust instead of graham crackers. Fingers crossed the burnt parts come off and it still tastes good.
Just took this cheese cake out of the oven! It cracked all the way around the top. I’m not sure if I incorporated too much air into the cream cheese or what happened. I’m sure it’ll be delicious though.
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
Oh no! 🙁 We’re so sorry your cheesecake cracked, Katie. We have lots of tips for preventing cracks (and covering them up!) in our post, if you’d like to check those out for the future. Hopefully it still tasted great though ❤️
This is quite possibly the best cheesecake I’ve ever had! The note at the end of the recipe are so helpful! My daughter always likes to play Chopped with any meal or dessert we make and this one she said, “Mommy you win Chopped for the best cheesecake ever!” Will definitely make this one again!
I’ve made this recipe at least 10 times and making it again today. IT IS AMAZING AND THE BEST CHEESECAKE RECIPE I’VE FOUND! Thank you!
** following this exact recipe and you can’t go wrong.
I have been making cheesecakes for about twenty years… this is the best recipe I have ever tried. I didn’t need to make any adjustments anywhere! 😍
I’m so thrilled to hear this, Brandie! Thank you for your kind comment! 🙂
Good evening, can I use a pie tin with the Graham cracker crumbs?
It will make too much batter, but as long as you don’t overfill it, it will work fine. Your bake time will also change a bit so keep an eye on it.
Thank you so much, this recipe is amazing!!
Made this for the second time tonight and it will definitely be my “go to” cheesecake recipe. First, I hate water baths. They’re just so messy and aggravating. Secondly, this cheesecake tastes so absolutely delicious. My family always eats this entire cheesecake and the. argue over who gets the last piece! Thank you for this amazing recipe!!
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
Thanks for giving our recipe a try, Amy! Sounds like it was the perfect fit for you 🥰
I made the cheese cake but it cracked can you tell why.
Hi Brenda! I actually have several tips in the post on how to avoid cracks in your cheesecake. 🙂
Mine cracked- I did exactly what Post said to do and not to do.
I do live in high altitude of Rocky Mountains at 5000- that may be the reason..hmm