This easy no-bake cheesecake is smooth and creamy with a graham cracker crust. It has all the flavor of a traditional cheesecake but with way less effort.
**This post was updated July 4, 2020 to include new recipe tips, new photos and a slightly updated recipe to give a creamier texture and a thicker graham crumb crust**
Today I’m sharing the perfect recipe for no-bake cheesecake. It has the tangy, creamy flavor and graham crumb crust of a traditional New York cheesecake but it’s way easier to make because you don’t need to worry about your cheesecake cracking. The texture is smooth and luxurious, but it’s actually a lot lighter than a baked cheesecake and has an almost mousse-like consistency. Better yet – it sets beautifully every time and is made without gelatin.
If truth be told – I was pretty dubious of no-bake cheesecakes for a very long time. I didn’t think it was possible to get that quintessential cheesecake flavor without the traditional method, water bath and all. But sometimes, taking a shortcut leads to a very delicious ending. And that’s exactly what this easy no-bake cheesecake recipe gives you.
How to Make the Perfect No-Bake Cheesecake
For the Crust
To get started, first we make the graham crust. You’ll mix together graham crumbs, a little sugar and melted butter – then press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a springform pan. You can either buy graham crackers and pulse them in a food processor, or just buy the crumbs from the baking aisle. Then you’ll pop the crust in the freezer as you make the filling.
Note: If you need to substitute the graham crumbs (such as if you live in the UK or Australia), you can use 2 ½ cups of Digestive biscuit crumbs instead. If using digestive biscuits, you do not need any sugar in the crust.
For the No-Bake Filling
Then for the filling. We only need a few simple ingredients, and it comes together in no time. It has a creamy, delicious, slightly tangy, cheesecake flavor. But the texture is a little different than traditional cheesecake since it’s a no-bake and we (obviously) aren’t using any eggs.
- In a very large bowl, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth.
- Mix in the lemon juice, vanilla extract and sour cream.
- In a separate bowl, beat the whipping cream along with a little powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. You’ll want cream that’s at least 33% MF, but ideally higher if you can find it.
- Then gently fold in the whipped cream that you beat earlier into the cream cheese mixture until it’s smooth and even. It’s important to do this very gently to keep the air and volume in the whipped cream.
- Spread the mixture over the crust, and pop the cheesecake in the fridge to set for at least 6 hours before serving.
Then when you’re ready to serve, trace around the crust using a sharp, thin knife. Then unclamp the springform and remove the outer ring. I like to top it with whipped cream and fresh berries. You could also use caramel sauce, blueberry sauce, strawberry sauce or really whatever your heart desires.
Tips & Common Pitfalls
- Make sure to use full-fat, brick-style cream cheese for the most flavor, and to ensure your cheesecake is firm. Make sure it’s at room temperature before making the recipe so that there are no lumps. Take it out of the fridge about 30 minutes before making the cheesecake, then remove the packaging, cut it into pieces and place on a plate so that it can come to room temperature.
- For your cheesecake to set properly, it’s important that you whip the cream until stiff peaks form. (This means that the cream holds its shape). Use cold cream (at least 33% MF) and place the bowl and beaters in the freezer for 10 minutes or so before beating the cream.
- Why is there lemon juice in the cheesecake? Adding just a tiny bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice helps to give the cheesecake that delicious tanginess that’s quintessential of cheesecake. Because we’re just adding a very little bit, it doesn’t make the cheesecake taste like lemon.
- The sour cream should be full fat. It also adds just a little tanginess that you need in cheesecake and creates a smooth consistency.
- My cheesecake didn’t set – what went wrong? This could be a few things.
- Not using full-fat, brick-style cream cheese.
- Not using whipping cream with a high enough fat content.
- Either whipping the cream for not long enough or for too long (after stiff peaks form, it can start to deflate if you continue beating).
- Being too rough when you fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Make sure to use a rubber spatula and gently fold it in without mixing aggressively.
- Not letting the cheesecake set for a full 6 hours before slicing and serving.
More No-Bake Cheesecake Recipes to Love
- No-Bake Cherry Cheesecake Squares
- No-Bake Peanut Butter Cheesecake
- No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake
- No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake
No Bake Cheesecake
- 2 ½ cups graham crumbs
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- 24 oz cream cheese* full-fat, brick-style
- 1 ¼ cups powdered sugar
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 ¼ cups whipping cream* cold
- whipped cream
- Lightly grease the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.
- In a medium bowl stir together the graham crumbs, sugar, and melted butter.
- Press into the bottom and up the sides (about ½ - ¾) of the springform pan.
- Place in the freezer as you make the filling.
- In a very large bowl, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth.
- Beat in the sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla extract.
- In a separate large bowl, beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form.
- Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture using a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth with no streaks. Go gently.
- Spoon over top of the crust, and smooth the top. Place in the fridge to set for at least 6 hours.
- When ready to serve trace around the outside of the cheesecake using a sharp, think knife. Then unclamp the springform.
- Optionally, top with whipped cream and berries - or your favorite topping.
- Cut into slices and serve with fresh berries or your favorite topping. Store leftovers in the fridge.
- Graham crumbs can be substituted with Digestive biscuit crumbs. Leave out the sugar in the crust if using Digestive biscuits.
- Cream cheese should be softened to room temperature before getting started. Take it out of the fridge, slice it into pieces and leave on the counter at room temperature for 30-60 minutes before getting started.
- The whipping cream should be at least 35% MF. It should be cold, along with the beaters and bowl to help it whip into stiff peaks.
- Cheesecake can be made the day before you plan to serve and stored covered in the fridge overnight. Store leftovers in the fridge, covered or in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Cheesecake can be wrapped tightly and frozen, then thaw in the fridge. However, the texture definitely deteriorates if it is frozen.
- Nutrition information is based on 1 slice without any toppings, assuming the cheesecake is sliced into 12 even pieces.
- I have slightly updated the recipe for this cheesecake since the video was made. The process is the same - however I've now made the crust thicker to go up the sides of the pan and included sour cream in the recipe.
You give an alternative to the Graham crackers which are not sold here but don’t give an alternative to the brick cream cheese which is also not sold in this country. Cream cheese here is radically different to American cream cheese being half the fat twice the salt and mixed full of softeners to make it easily spreadable. Any recipe for American cream cheese becomes an inedible disaster if you use the only cream cheese available here. It’s also illegal to make or sell bleached flour in the whole of Europe. Do you have an alternative for brick cream cheese that you can suggest.
I’m really sorry – but unfortunately, I don’t have a substitution for brick-style cream cheese. Without being able to test the recipe using the alternatives available in other countries, it’s really hard to say what will work. I wouldn’t want to suggest something without testing myself, and have it end up with poor results 🙁
Hi fiona can I substitute cool whip for heavy cream
Yes, that would be fine. You’ll want to measure out about 2 cups of Cool Whip to substitute for the whipping cream