My strawberry cheesecake recipe makes a smooth, creamy vanilla cheesecake crowned with a brightly flavored, fresh strawberry topping. It’s made completely from scratch and made WITHOUT a water bath! Recipe includes a how-to video!
Sweet Strawberry Cheesecake
Hellooooo sweet summertime dessert. It’s downright shocking how long it’s taken me to get this strawberry cheesecake up on the blog to share.
Perhaps my most requested cheesecake twist (and one of the most classic flavors), this site has been sorely missing this sweet-tart-tangy-creamy-out-of-this-world treat. Today I add it to the ranks of my other decadently jazzed-up cheesecakes like my key lime cheesecake and peppermint bark cheesecake, and let me say it’s a welcome addition.
My recipe uses my crisp graham cracker crust, creamy, classic cheesecake filling, and a vibrant, sweet strawberry topping. Like my other cheesecake recipes, this strawberry cheesecake is made without a water bath and is 100% from scratch. The topping comes together quickly and can be made with fresh OR frozen berries. So easy!
Cracks aren’t much of a concern here since we will be covering the top of our cheesecake, but I’m personally a stickler about making sure my cheesecake never ends up with them. If you are a beginner or also are a perfectionist, definitely read through this post in its entirety for lots of tips for smooth, crack-free results.
What You Need
Surprisingly, this strawberry cheesecake requires just 11 ingredients, and that’s accounting for the crust, filling, and the strawberry topping. As a bonus, I’d be willing to bet most of them are already in your kitchen. Here are a few key notes before we begin:
- Cream cheese. If you’ve made any of my other cheesecakes, you know just how important it is to use full-fat, brick-style cream cheese. Low-fat cream cheese or the type sold in tubs just won’t give you the proper texture, unfortunately. Let the bricks come completely to room temperature before beginning so you have smooth, lump-free results.
- Eggs. It’s very important that your eggs are at room temperature; eggs that are too cold won’t incorporate easily, which can cause you to over-beat your batter. Not only can this cause cracks, but it can also cause your strawberry cheesecake to puff up, then sink.
- Sour cream. I love the depth of flavor from sour cream; to me, you simply can’t make cheesecake without it! Plain, full fat Greek yogurt will also work here. And yes, this ingredient should ideally be at room temperature too, though it’s not as critical as the cream cheese or eggs.
- Strawberries. The flavor of your strawberry topping is highly dependent on the flavor of your berries, so make sure yours are juicy, ripe, and flavorful. This recipe is perfect for fresh-picked summer strawberries, but it also works well with frozen berries.
- Cornstarch. This creates a stable strawberry topping, but it will slightly cloud the vibrant red color. I include notes in the recipe card if you prefer to not use the cornstarch (just save the sauce separately and top individual slices after cutting).
SAM’S TIP: In case you can’t tell, it’s important to make sure ALL of your cheesecake ingredients are at room temperature before starting! This is critical for ensuring a smooth, beautifully-textured cheesecake.
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 Strawberry Cheesecake
Graham Cracker Crust
- Combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugars, then stir in the melted butter.
- Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a springform pan. Try to get the crust as high up the sides as possible–this will help prevent cracks. Set this aside while you prepare your filling.
- Beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth, creamy, and well combined. Use a spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is incorporated, then stir in the sour cream and vanilla.
- Add the eggs one at a time, mixing only until just combined after each.
- Pour the mixture into your prepared springform pan and bake at 325F for 45-50 minutes or until the cheesecake is mostly done, but the center is still jiggly.
- Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let it sit at room temperature until it no longer warm to the touch. Transfer the cheesecake to the fridge to chill for at least 6 hours, or if possible, overnight.
- Whisk together the sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan, then add the water, lemon juice, and half of the strawberries. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring constantly.
- Remove the sauce from the heat once the berries have broken down and the sauce begins to thicken.
- Stir in the butter and remaining berries until combined, then pour into a heatproof bowl to cool. You can place this in the fridge to speed up the cooling process.
- Spoon the cooled topping over the chilled cheesecake, slice, and serve.
SAM’S TIP: As tempting at it may be, do not open the oven to check on your strawberry cheesecake unless you are very close to the end of the bake time. Opening the oven frequently or too soon can cause a drastic change in temperature which causes…you guessed it: cracks!
Frequently Asked Questions
I tried making this strawberry cheesecake quite a few ways, including adding strawberries into the batter. I didn’t personally like how the berries affected the texture of the cheesecake though; they tended to weep and make things a bit mushy. So I recommend keeping them on top only!
One of the best things you can do to prevent cracks is to make sure your crust is pressed higher up the sides of the springform pan than the batter is. Doing this allows the crust to shrink with the cheesecake as it cools, eliminating the tension that would cause cracks.
Another thing you can do is make sure your strawberry cheesecake cools slowly; don’t take it straight from the oven to the fridge. I let mine cool at room temperature before chilling, but you can turn the oven off and open the door partway to help it cool even more slowly.
I personally think a crisp graham cracker crust works best as it’s subtle, classic, and lets the other flavors of the cheesecake shine through. If you’d like to make an Oreo crust for your strawberry cheesecake, you can combine 35 pulverized Oreo cookies (just the cookies, not the cream filling!) with 5 tablespoons of butter and press it into your pan as directed below. This is the crust I use for my Oreo cheesecake; I don’t recommend using my regular Oreo crust for this cheesecake, as it could leak out the springform pan.
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
For the Crust
- 1 ½ cups (170 g) graham cracker crumbs
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon light brown sugar firmly packed
- 5 Tablespoons (74 g) unsalted butter, melted
For the Cheesecake
- 24 oz (680 g) cream cheese softened (use full-fat)
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs lightly beaten (room temperature preferred)
For the Topping
- 1 ½ lb fresh or frozen strawberries rinsed, hulled, and quartered
- ¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
- 1 ½ Tablespoon cornstarch see note
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoon water
- 1 Tablespoon butter salted or unsalted
- Preheat your oven to 325F (160C).
Graham Cracker Crust
- In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Stir in the melted butter until all of the graham cracker crumbs are moistened.1 ½ cups (170 g) graham cracker crumbs, 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar, 1 Tablespoon light brown sugar, 5 Tablespoons (74 g) unsalted butter, melted
- Press the graham cracker mixture evenly into the bottom and up the sides of a 9” springform pan. Use the bottom and sides of a glass to help do this. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the softened cream cheese and sugar using an electric mixer on medium-low speed until smooth, creamy, and completely combined. Scrape the side and bottom of the bowl with a spatula to ensure the ingredients are thoroughly combined.24 oz (680 g) cream cheese, 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- Stir in the sour cream and vanilla extract until just combined.½ cup sour cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring until just combined after each addition. Do not over-mix or cheesecake will puff in the oven when baking.3 large eggs
- Pour the batter evenly into the prepared springform pan and bake at 325F (160C) for 45-50 minutes. The center will be slightly jiggly but the cheesecake should be mostly set (video offers a visual at 7:50).
- Allow the cheesecake to cool at room temperature until it’s no longer warm then transfer it to the refrigerator to chill for at least 6 hours. Preferably, let it sit overnight. Do not remove the springform collar until you are ready to serve.
- In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch. Add half of the strawberries, the water, and the lemon juice and set the stovetop to medium/low heat. Stir constantly until the strawberries release their juices and begin to fall apart easily when pierced with a fork and the sauce thickens.1 ½ lb fresh or frozen strawberries, ¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar, 1 ½ Tablespoon cornstarch, 2 Tablespoon water, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- Remove the sauce from heat, add the remaining strawberries and butter and stir until combined. Pour the mixture into a heatproof bowl and let it cool until no longer warm to the touch (you can place in the refrigerator to speed up the process) before pouring over set cheesecake.1 Tablespoon butter
- Serve immediately (topping will be loose and messy if served immediately) or let topping set for at least an hour in the fridge for neat slicing.
StrawberriesFresh or frozen will work. If using fresh, I weigh my strawberries before hulling/quartering
CornstarchCornstarch makes for a thicker, more stable topping. Once the topping has cooled completely, it will be easier to cut and won’t spill over the sides of the pan or be messy. If you prefer a looser consistency or intend to simply spoon the topping over individual slices after cutting, you may omit this ingredient.
StoringCover springform pan with foil or plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
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.