A creamy New York-style cheesecake infused with salted caramel sauce and topped with even more caramel. This caramel cheesecake has a luxuriously creamy texture and a delicious caramel flavor that’s surprisingly not too sweet.
Tangy cheesecake and sweet, buttery caramel – what’s not to love? This caramel cheesecake has a thick graham cracker crust and a cheesecake filling that’s creamy, tangy and velvety smooth. Salted caramel sauce is added into the filling, but it’s surprisingly not too sweet. There’s an extra layer of caramel sauce on top, and I like to add a sprinkle of sea salt.
Making the Cheesecake
For the Caramel Sauce
This recipe starts off by making caramel sauce. You’ll use ¾ cup of the sauce in the cheesecake batter, and the rest is reserved for on top of the cheesecake (you’ll likely have a little leftover). If you don’t feel like making your own caramel, you can use a high quality, store-bought version. You want something that’s thick and flavorful (ideally with a hint of salt), instead of something that comes in a squeeze tube.
When making your own caramel sauce, here are my main tips:
- Use a large, heavy bottom saucepan. The caramel will boil up as it cooks, so choose a pot that’s much larger than you think you’ll need.
- Make sure you’re using real butter and heavy cream (or whipping cream). It should be 33-35% MF.
- When you’re cooking the sugar, it will first form lumps and then turn into a smooth, amber-colored liquid. Make sure it’s completely smooth before adding in the butter and cream.
- Whisking is important in this recipe!
For the Caramel Cheesecake
The caramel cheesecake is very similar to making a New York Cheesecake. You start with the graham cracker crust. For this recipe, there’s enough crust to go along the bottom and about ½ to ⅔ up the sides of the pan. The crust will bake on its own for 10 minutes so that it stays crispy.
Then the cheesecake filling is creamy, delicious and very similar to any baked cheesecake that you’ve likely made before – plus the addition of the cooled salted caramel sauce. A few important notes on making the filling:
- Make sure you’re using full-fat, brick-style cream cheese. Do not use anything that comes in a tub or is labelled lite, whipped or spreadable.
- The cream cheese, sour cream and eggs should all be room temperature before getting started. Take them out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before getting started.
- The eggs are added in last. Only mix in the eggs until combined. Over mixing the batter once the eggs have been added can lead to cheesecake cracks.
Baking & Chilling the Cheesecake
This cheesecake is baked in a water bath which keeps moisture in and minimizes changes in temperature. Keeping moisture in ensures that the cheesecake is super smooth, and changes in temperature can cause cheesecake cracks. To make the water bath:
- Wrap the outside of the springform pan in aluminum foil at least 4 times. You want the bottom and sides to be covered, and all the seems to be covered too.
- The pan is placed in a large roasting pan before its baked.
- Pour about ½ – 1 inch (about 2 cm) of hot water into the roasting pan, so that the cheesecake is surrounded by water.
- Then the whole things goes into the oven to bake.
The cheesecake will need to cool slowly and then chill in the fridge overnight before adding additional caramel on top and serving. Therefore, I always make the cheesecake the day before I plan to serve it so that it has enough time to chill in the fridge.
Then when you’re ready to serve – even more caramel sauce goes on top. You can either top the entire cheesecake, or let your guests drizzle their own slice with additional caramel.
Creamy, tangy, caramel goodness. This caramel cheesecake is surprisingly not too sweet, but has the most delicious caramel flavor and the perfect texture.
PS: If you’re dreaming of a no-bake caramel cheesecake – then I’d try this caramel cream pie instead.
Or for more delicious cheesecake recipes, be sure to try:
- 9-inch springform pan
- large roasting pan (big enough for the springform pan to fit inside)
Salted Caramel Sauce (or use your own recipe or storebought version)*
- 1 ½ cups white sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter cut into cubes
- ¾ cup heavy cream or whipping cream 33-35% MF
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt
Graham Cracker Crust
- 2 ½ cups graham crumbs*
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 24 ounces full-fat brick-style cream cheese* room temperature
- ¾ cup white sugar
- 1 tablespoon corn starch* AKA cornflour
- ¾ cup salted caramel sauce
- ¾ cup sour cream* room temperature
- 3 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk discard the yolk, in addition to the other eggs
- ¼ cup salted caramel sauce
- coarse salt or salt flakes
Salted Caramel Sauce
- Add the sugar to a large, heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Choose a pan with high sides, that's larger than you think you'll need.
- Gently stir the mixture with a rubber spatula as it heats. The sugar will first form lumps and then become a smooth, amber-colored liquid.
- Once liquid is a deep amber color with no lumps, add the chopped butter all at once. It will bubble up. Whisk in the butter until it's entirely melted.
- Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cream. Return the pan to the heat and continue whisking until you have a sauce that looks even (ie - there shouldn't be pools of melted butter or cream).
- Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract and salt.
- You'll use ¾ cup of sauce in the filling. Reserve the rest of the sauce for topping the cheesecake. Place in a glass jar or airtight container, and store in the fridge.
Graham Cracker Crust
- Preheat the oven to 325F (160C) degrees.
- Wrap the outside of a 9-inch springform pan with aluminum foil at least 4 times so that the bottom and sides are covered, and that all the seems of the foil are covered at least once. Lightly grease the pan with non-stick cooking spay.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the graham crumbs and brown sugar. Stir in the melted butter.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread them out so that the bottom of the pan is evenly covered. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan and up the sides about ½ to ⅔ of the way up the sides.
- Bake the crust in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven (keeping the oven turned on and the springform pan wrapped in foil).
- In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until no lumps remain. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary.
- Mix in the corn starch and salted caramel sauce (it should be fully cooled).
- Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the sour cream
- In a small bowl, whisk together the 3 eggs and additional egg yolk.
- With the mixer on low speed, beat in the eggs until just combined. Be very careful to stop mixing as soon as the eggs are combined.
- Place the cheesecake pan (still wrapped in foil) in the middle of a large roasting pan. Pour the cheesecake batter over the crust and smooth the top.
- Pour about ½ - 1 inch (around 2 cm) of water into the roasting pan.
- Place the roasting pan (with the cheesecake inside) in the oven. Bake for around 60 minutes (it could be anywhere from 50 minutes to 75 minutes). When it's done baking the top should look just set (except for perhaps in the very middle), and if you give the pan a gentle nudge, the middle should wobble like jello or pudding, but not look liquidy.
- Turn off the oven and open the oven door. Cool the cheesecake in the oven for 30 minutes, then remove from the oven (with the cheesecake still in the water bath) and continue cooling until it reaches room temperature.
- Remove the springform pan from the water bath and cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Place in the fridge to chill for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- When ready to serve, remove the cheesecake from the fridge. Carefully trace around the edge of the cheesecake (between the crust and the pan) with a thin knife, then unclamp the outer ring of the springform pan.
- If there's any condensation on top of the cheesecake, dab the top of the cheesecake with a paper towel.
- Spoon salted caramel sauce over top of the cheesecake and spread the top smooth. Optionally, sprinkle the top with a little coarse salt.
- Slice the cheesecake with a sharp, thin knife. Be sure to slice all the way through the crust. For clean cuts, whipe off the knife with paper towel in between each slice.
- If using store-bought caramel, be sure to use something that's thick and flavorful. Do not use something that comes in a squeeze tube, as I find these are generally not flavorful enough and too light in color.
- A springform pan is necessary for this recipe. Be sure yours is 9-inches (23 cm). An 8-inch pan is too small.
- Graham crumbs can be substituted with crushed digestive biscuits.
- The cream cheese should be brick-style (AKA block style) and shouldn't be labeled lite, spreadable or whipped. Do not use cream cheese that comes in a tub.
- I use 14% MF sour cream from the tub.
- The cream cheese, sour cream and eggs should all be room temperature before getting started. Take them out of the fridge about 30-minutes prior to making the crust.
- Cornstarch can be substituted with 1 tablespoon of all-purpose (AKA plain) flour.
- Chilling the cheesecake is absolutely necessary for the cheesecake to properly set.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Nutrition information is an estimate only and based on 1 slice with caramel on top, assuming the cheesecake is cut into 14 equal-sized pieces.