How to Make Cheesecake – Everything You Need to Know

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Today I’m sharing my ultimate guide for how to make cheesecake. It includes everything you need to know and a list of the best cheesecake recipes. So whether it’s your first time making cheesecake or want to learn more about cheesecake science – this one’s for you 🙂Slice of lemon cheesecake with blueberry sauce.

I absolutely LOVE cheesecake. Creamy, tangy, perfectly rich & completely decadent. Whether it’s New York , chocolate, or an easy no-bake cheesecake recipe – I’m having a second piece. Because it’s delicious. And I have no shame.

But I also realize that making cheesecake from scratch can be pretty daunting. Especially because the ingredient list is pricey.

So today I’m sharing everything you need to know about cheesecake.  Including tons of tips and tricks. Seriously, it’s way easier than you think. And way more delicious than anything store bought.

Ready to get started?

Ok, first things first – exactly what is cheesecake?

By definition a cheesecake in a dense cake made of cheese (typically cream cheese), eggs, sugar and flavorings that (usually) sits on top of a crust. Cheesecakes can be baked or un-baked, and there’s a variety of different versions from around the world.

For today, we’ll be focused on American style cheesecakes. (This isn’t to say that Japanese or German cheesecakes aren’t delicious – it’s just that there’s only so much time in the day). 😉Smooth, creamy White Chocolate Cheesecake with an Oreo cookie crust and Raspberry Coulis Sauce. With easy step by step instructions - it's the PERFECT cheesecake every time!

History of Cheesecake

According to historians cheesecake was invented in ancient Greece, then brought to Italy and the rest of Europe by Romans. Seriously, who knew? But it wasn’t until 1872 that cream cheese was invented in Chester, NY by William Lawrence. In 1912, James L Kraft invented pasteurized cream cheese that we enjoy today, and the modern day cheesecake was born.

Cheesecake Ingredients

Typically the cheesecake base is made of graham cracker crumbs, a little sugar, and melted butter. Oreo cookie crumbs, crushed sugar cookies or a brownie bottom are other options if you want to go out of the box.

The basic ingredients in the cheesecake layer are cream cheese, sugar, eggs and flavorings.  Sour cream, heavy cream or Greek yogurt are often added to create a smoother, lighter, and less grainy texture. You’ll also sometimes see a little flour or cornstarch added to the cheesecake layer. This helps bind the cheesecake.

How to Bake a Cheesecake

Cheesecakes are usually baked in a spingform pan, unless you’re making cheesecake squares or bars. There’s 2 main baking methods:

  1. The regular, method – where the cheesecake is baked in the oven and the  pan is placed directly on the oven rack. I recommend an oven temperature of 325F degrees for this method so you bake the cheesecake more slowly.
  2. The water bath method.

The regular method has less prep work and leads to a crunchier crust, whereas the water bath method minimizes the chance of your cheesecake cracking and ensures a smoother, silkier texture because it keeps moisture in. With the water bath method, your cheesecake will bake more evenly.No Bake Cherry Cheesecake Bars. These quick and easy cheesecake bars are deliciously creamy with a crunchy graham cracker crust. Only 15 minutes to make!

How to Bake a Cheesecake in a Water Bath

  1. Before making the cheesecake, wrap  the outside of a springform pan in aluminium foil.
  2. Wrap the pan at least 3 times so that all the sides are covered.
  3. When ready to bake, place the springform pan inside a large roasting pan.
  4. Pour 1/2 to 1 inch of boiling water into the roasting pan.
  5. Place the entire water bath in the oven and bake for the required time.
  6. After the cheesecake is done baking, remove the entire water bath from the oven and cool the cheesecake in the roasting pan.
  7. Once the water is room temperature, remove the cheesecake from the water bath and continue cooling.

What Causes a Cheesecake to Crack?

This is probably the most common question when it comes to baking cheesecakes. Air in the batter causes the cheesecake to rise while baking, then as it cools the air is released and cracks are formed. By reducing the amount of air that’s added to the cheesecake and slowing down the cooling process, you can reduce the chance of cracks. There’s multiple ways you can do this and ensure your cheesecake stays silky smooth. I’ve listed my favorite tips below.

Tips for the Perfect Cheesecake

  1. Use room temperature ingredients. This makes it easier to mix everything together and reduces the amount of air that gets into the batter.
  2. Add a little flour or cornstarch. This helps bind your cheesecake and reduces the chance of cracks. Typically 1 tablespoon of cornstarch or flour is good for a 9 inch cheesecake. (This is only needed for baked cheesecakes).
  3. Don’t mix your cheesecake batter too much. After adding the eggs, be careful not to over mix. The more you beat in the eggs, the more air gets in the batter. More air = more likely to crack.
  4. Don’t over bake. When you take your cheesecake out of the oven it should still have a little wobble in the center. It will continue baking in its pan as it cools. If you over bake your cheesecake, it can get dry and lose that perfectly smooth texture.
  5. Bake in a water bath. For the creamiest, smoothest cheesecake – I always recommend a water bath. A water bath reduces drastic changes in temperature, keeps moisture in, and causes cheesecake to bake more evenly.
  6. Cool the cheesecake slowly. Fast changes in temperature cause air to be released from the cheesecake very quickly and can crack your cheesecake and make it sink.
  7. Chill. I recommend chilling your cheesecake in the fridge for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight before serving. The flavor actually improves while the cheesecake chills.
  8. Cut yourself a massive slice. <– This is mandatory.

Best Cheesecake Recipes

Ok, so now that we’ve gone through a ton of tips, tricks & history – here’s a collection of some of my favorite cheesecake recipes.

Plain Cheesecakes

Everyone needs a perfect plain cheesecake recipe. Easily customizable and classic – if you’re not sure what flavor to start with – either of these recipes are the perfect option.

Slice of New York Cheesecake on white plate with blue napkin. Topped with a strawberry.

Chocolate Cheesecakes

In my (humble) opinion – chocolate cheesecakes are the best of both worlds. With chocolate cheesecakes, it can be especially common for the cheesecake layer to dry out – so make sure to use the water bath method for baking.

Slice of chocolate cheesecake on white plate. Drizzled with chocolate sauce and a dollop of whipped cream.

Fruit Cheesecakes

Three Miniature Strawberry Cheesecakes on a white rectangular plate

Other Cheesecake Flavors

Because options are always a good thing.Peanut Butter Cheesecake Squares - creamy peanut butter cheesecake, a crunchy Oreo cookie crust, and a milk chocolate topping with peanut butter cups. www.justsotasty.com

No Bake Cheesecakes

If you’re in a rush – a no bake cheesecake is the perfect option. These recipes are very easy and perfect for warm weather when you don’t feel like turning on the oven.

No Bake Peanut Butter Cheesecake.This no bake peanut butter cheesecake has an Oreo cookie crust, creamy peanut butter flavor, and Reese's peanut butter cups. So easy and only 15 minutes to make! www.justsotasty.com

Cheesecake Inspired Desserts

Or if you love the flavor of cheesecake but are looking for something a little different – check out these cheesecake inspired desserts!

What’re your favorite cheesecake recipes?

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9 Comments

  1. Maravilhosa sua receita, sem falar nas dicas e segredos revelados pra chegar-mos no melhor resultado.
    Muito obrigado por compartilhar conosco, vou tentar fazer pros meus filhos.

  2. I think I read (but I’m not sure) to mix the batter slowly but thoroughly (stir vs. mix or whip with my hand mixer), and then mix the eggs into the batter. I use my Instant Pot for my cheesecakes. My recipe says 37 minutes at high pressure, and then to let it sit for 18 minutes to depressurize naturally, after which to release any remaining pressure. Does this sound right?

    1. Yes, it’s definitely important when making cheesecake to not whip the batter too much – especially after the eggs are added in. This adds air the the batter which can cause it to crack. I’m not sure of the specifics for making cheesecake in an instant pop – so I’d follow the cooking instructions for your recipe. I know the instant pot avoids needing to use a waterbath.

  3. “Cut yourself a massive slice”. 😀 Yep, definitely mandatory. Love homemade cheesecake…so much better than storebought.