My easy, No-Bake Cheesecake is made no gelatin or condensed milk and tastes JUST like the classic version you’re used to! This recipe needs only a few hours to chill before slicing and serving. Includes a how-to video!
No-Bake Cheesecake (Without Gelatin)
As a self-proclaimed cheesecake snob, I know how disappointing it can be to make a no-bake cheesecake recipe and have it not even closely resemble real-deal, classic cheesecake. With most recipes, you encounter one of two problems: either the texture is lacking (soft, pudding-like) or the flavor is just completely off. So, when I set out to make my no-bake cheesecake, I knew exactly what I needed to avoid just as much as I knew what I was looking for!
My no-bake cheesecake recipe creates a classic, fresh-tasting, firm cheesecake without ever turning on the oven. While many no-bake cheesecakes use gelatin or condensed milk for stabilization, I use homemade whipped cream for the best flavor and texture (and don’t even think about substituting Cool Whip!).
This cheesecake sets up very nicely in the fridge after a few hours (preferably overnight) and has that same, firm cheesecake texture and taste that you’re familiar with–NO oven needed! You’re going to love it!
Why my recipe works:
- Whipped cream creates a sturdy base without the need for gelatin.
- Uses the same ingredients as classic cheesecake (minus the eggs) for that classic flavor.
- Much easier and less fussy than a baked cheesecake–great for beginners!
- Can handle toppings like fresh fruit, pie filling, or a drizzle of chocolate sauce.
What You Need
For an authentic-tasting cheesecake, we want to stay as true as possible to classic ingredients. That means using:
- Cream cheese. Make sure you use brick-style, full-fat cream cheese. This should be softened to room temperature.
- Sour cream. Sour cream is CRITICAL for a rich, classic, real cheesecake flavor. Maybe this is just my cheesecake snobbery showing here, but a cheesecake made without sour cream is not a cheesecake! Sour cream packs a ton of flavor and adds depth and authenticity to this no-bake cheesecake recipe. If you don’t have or can’t find sour cream, full-fat, plain greek yogurt will also work in a pinch.
- Lemon juice. Just a splash enhances the cheesecake flavor and adds a slight tang. Bottled or fresh lemon juice will work here. This can be left out if needed.
- Sugar. I love using brown sugar in my graham cracker crust for an extra note of flavor. Powdered sugar in the filling blends beautifully while also encouraging a firm, fully-set texture.
- Heavy cream. While not typical for traditional cheesecake (though critical for my basque cheesecake), heavy cream is essential for this no-bake cheesecake. We’ll be whipping this to stiff peaks and folding it into our cheesecake mixture. This creates stability without the need for gelatin or condensed milk!
SAM’S TIP: This recipe will make too much filling for a store-bought graham cracker crust. If you want to use one, you can just pour the extra filling that doesn’t fit in a bowl, chill, and enjoy crustless!
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make No-Bake Cheesecake
For the Crust
- Start with your homemade graham cracker crust: Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter until well-combined and mixture resembles damp sand.
- Press the mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom and up the sides of a springform pan, then place in the refrigerator to chill (no baking needed for the crust, either!).
For the Filling
- Whip the heavy cream to stiff peaks (thickened, fluffy, voluminous, resembling Cool Whip only tastier).
- In a separate bowl, beat together cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and sour cream until smooth.
- Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until completely combined and batter is smooth.
- Evenly spread the cheesecake filling into your prepared graham cracker crust and chill for several hours before slicing and serving.
SAM’S TIP: Since we’re not baking this cheesecake, it won’t be smoothing itself out in the oven. You can smooth the top of your cheesecake with an offset spatula before chilling for a pretty appearance if you’d like!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can absolutely freeze no-bake cheesecake! I recommend chilling as instructed (in the recipe below) first and then covering the cheesecake well with plastic wrap before freezing. I don’t recommend adding any decorative whipped cream topping (or any topping) until you are ready to serve, as it will make storing more difficult (and messier!).
You can eat the frozen cheesecake straight from frozen or return it to the refrigerator to allow it to thaw before enjoying.
Personally, we can never get this cheesecake to last longer than 48 hours in our house! If you have more self-control, your cheesecake will keep up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Be sure to either store it in an airtight container or tightly wrap the springform pan in plastic wrap when storing.
If you used the wrong kind of cream cheese or didn’t whip your cream long enough, your cheesecake may not set. Make sure to use full-fat brick-style cream cheese and not the spreadable kind that comes in a tub. If you need a visual of what cream whipped to stiff peaks looks like, check out the video below.
No-bake cheesecake would also be delicious on my Oreo crust!
Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook
The Best No-Bake Cheesecake Recipe
- 1 9″ or 10″ graham cracker crust prepared in springform pan (please click link for graham cracker crust recipe)
- 16 oz cream cheese softened to room temperature (450g) (use brick-style cream cheese, not the spreadable kind sold in tubs)
- 1 cup powdered sugar (150g)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- ⅓ cup sour cream (75g)
- 1 ½ cup heavy cream (355ml)
- Additional whipped cream for topping, optional
- Place cream cheese in a large bowl and, using an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy.
- Add powdered sugar and stir until combined.
- Stir in vanilla extract and lemon juice, pausing to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Add sour cream and stir well.
- Pour heavy cream into a separate, medium-sized bowl (preferably a chilled metal bowl). Whisk on high speed (preferably using an electric mixer) until stiff peaks are achieved.
- Fold your whipped cream into cream cheese mixture until smooth and well-combined.
- Spread cheesecake mixture evenly over prepared graham cracker crust.
- Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Top with additional whipped cream before cutting and serving, if desired.
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.
This recipe was originally posted 06/05/2017, recipe remains the same but post has been updated to be more helpful September 2022