This no-bake lemon cheesecake is incredibly creamy with a burst of fresh lemon that tastes like sunshine. It has a thick graham crust for a delicious crunch and the texture is almost like a mousse. It’s lighter than a traditional baked cheesecake and the citrus flavor pairs perfectly with the creaminess of the cheesecake. Made without gelatin and extra creamy!
**This post was updated May 26, 2023 with new photos and an updated recipe so that the cheesecake is even creamier and made without gelatin**
This no-bake lemon cheesecake recipe is the perfect lemon dessert. It’s creamy, it’s dreamy and it has a luxurious texture. It’s not as dense as my favorite baked lemon cheesecake. Instead, the texture is almost like a mousse. The lemon flavor is bright without tasting sour or tart. It really complements the creaminess of the cheesecake without being too strong. And since it’s no bake – there’s really no reason not to make this lemon cheesecake.
This cheesecake is perfect for summer, or whenever you’re craving cheesecake but don’t want to turn on the oven. And as much as I love a traditional baked cheesecake, the light, mousse-like texture of this no-bake cheesecake is perfection.
No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake Recipe
I originally posted this recipe over 5 years ago in the earlier days of my blog. The original recipe used gelatin to set the cheesecake. However, I wanted to see if I could update the recipe so that the cheesecake would set without the use of gelatin since I prefer to avoid it if I can. After testing and retesting, the updated recipe has a bright lemon flavor and firms up perfectly without gelatin and is ridiculously creamy.
I’m including step-by-step photos and recipe tips below to help ensure success. If you want to get straight down to the recipe (without tips and photos) – feel free to scroll down to the recipe card below.
For the Crust:
- Start by mixing together 2 ½ cups graham crumbs with 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and 10 tablespoons of melted butter. The mixture should look like damp sand and hold together if you squish it between your palm.
- Pour the crust mixture into a 9-inch (23-cm) round springform pan. Press it into the bottom and about ⅔ up the sides of the pan. Note that this crust recipe is enough for the bottom and sides of the pan. If you only press it into the bottom of the pan, your crust may be too thick to cut. In the recipe notes below, I’ve included the proportions for the crust if you only want it along the bottom.
- Place in the freezer to harden as you make the filling.
For the No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake Filling:
- Start by beating together 1 ¼ cups whipping cream and 1 tablespoon powdered sugar until stiff peaks form – AKA you have whipped cream now. If you’re using a stand mixer, use the whisk attachment. You will measure the cream as you pour it from the carton, not after its whisked. Set aside.
- Then in a very large bowl beat 24 ounces of full-fat cream cheese until smooth. If using a stand mixer, you’ll want to use the paddle attachment for this. Be sure to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl and your beaters/attachment to ensure that there are no lumps of cream cheese.
- Then mix in the additional 1 ¼ cups powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons lemon zest, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon lemon extract. Do not move onto the next step until you are sure that there are no lumps of cream cheese.
- Using a rubber spatula, very gently fold the whipped cream into the mixture. You want to try and keep the volume of the whipped cream. When you’re finished, you should no longer see streaks of whipped cream in the batter. It should be one smooth and even consistency.
- Spoon the no-bake lemon filling into the crust and carefully smooth the top. If it goes a bit above the crust, that is totally fine.
- Place in the fridge for at least 6 hours to firm up.
Tips, Tricks & Commonly asked Questions
- Be sure to use full-fat, brick-style cream cheese. Low fat, spreadable or anything that comes in a tub is too thin for making a no-bake cheesecake and you desperately run the risk of your cheesecake not setting properly.
- I always get asked about whipping cream. Whipping cream refers to the kind of cream that comes in a carton and is meant to be whipped to make whipped cream. It is very thick and has a fat percentage typically between 33-35%.
- If you really want to use whipped topping instead of whipping cream, skip step 1 of the cheesecake filling. Instead, measure out 2 cups of thawed whipped topping. You’ll gently fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture in step 4. Note that I personally prefer the flavor using whipping cream as opposed to whipped topping.
- Lemon extract can be found in the baking aisle of the grocery store near the vanilla. It is very concentrated in flavor, and therefore adds to the lemon flavor without adding too much liquid. Too much liquid (such as too much lemon juice) means that the cheesecake won’t set properly. You can omit the lemon extract if you want and just use the lemon juice and lemon zest. However, the lemon flavor won’t be as pronounced. However, if not using lemon extract I do not recommend adding more than 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to increase the lemon flavor. As you increase the amount of liquid, the cheesecake is less likely to set properly.
- Always zest your lemons first, then juice. This makes the process much easier. You’ll need 1 large lemon or 1-2 smaller lemons for this recipe, plus an extra for decoration if you choose.
Freezing No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake
This no-bake cheesecake freezes well. I recommend freezing without any whipped cream or berries to decorate. You can freeze the entire cheesecake by wrapping the cheesecake in plastic first, then wrapping in foil. Or you can freeze leftover slices by placing them in a freezer container. Always thaw in the fridge overnight.
Easy, creamy, delicious – it’s hard to beat this lemon cheesecake. Top it with more whipped cream and berries, or serve with a dollop of lemon curd, and you’ve got one delicious lemon dessert.
For more no-bake cheesecakes, be sure to try:
No Bake Lemon Cheesecake
- 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan
Graham Cracker Crust
- 2 ½ cups graham crumbs
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (140 grams) melted
- 1 ¼ cup whipping cream (300 ml) 33-35% MF
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- 24 oz cream cheese (680 grams) full-fat, brick style
- 1 ¼ cup powdered sugar (138 grams) sifted
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (30 ml) freshly squeezed
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract to taste
- whipping cream, berries and lemon slices to serve, optional
- Lightly grease a 9-inch (23-cm) round springform pan.
Graham Cracker Crust
- In a medium bowl stir together the graham crumbs, sugar and melted butter.
- Pour/spoon the mixture into the prepared springform pan. Press it into the bottom and up the sides. It should be about ⅔ up the sides of the pan.
- Place in the freezer as you make the filling
No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake Filling
- In a medium bowl, beat together the whipping cream and 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as you go.
- Beat the 1 ¼ cups powdered sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and lemon extract into the cream cheese. I recommend first adding in only ½ teaspoon lemon extract. If the filling doesn't have a strong enough lemon flavor for you, add in an additional ½ teaspoon.
- Turn off the mixer. Very carefully fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Do this gently until you no longer see streaks of whipped cream in the mixture. It should be an even consistency.
- Spoon the cheesecake over the crust and smooth the top.
- Place cheesecake in the fridge to set for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- When ready to serve, remove the cheesecake from the fridge.
- Using a sharp, thin knife, carefully trace around the edge of the springform pan. Then unclamp the pan.
- Optionally, decorate around the edges of the cheesecake with additional whipped cream, lemon slices and berries
- Slice the cheesecake using a thin, sharp knife (not a table knife). Be sure to cut all the way through the crust.
- Crust: If you only want the crust on the bottom of the cheesecake and not up the sides, use 1 ⅓ cup graham crumbs, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and ⅓ cup melted butter.
- Graham Crumbs: If you cannot get graham crumbs (such as readers in Australia and the UK), they can be substituted with crushed digestive biscuits. Omit the sugar from the crust. You will likely only need 9 tablespoons of melted butter (126 grams).
- Lemon Extract: This can be found in the baking aisle of the grocery store. If you want to omit the lemon extract, the flavor will just not be quite as strong.
- Lemons: You will need 1 large lemon or 2 smaller lemons for this recipe, plus an additional lemon if you'd like to decorate the edges with lemon slices.
- Nutrition: Details provided are an estimate only and based on 1 slice of cheesecake, without any additional whipped cream to decorate, assuming the cake is sliced into 12 equal pieces.
- Storage: Store cheesecake covered in the fridge for up to 4 days. Leftovers can be placed in a freezer container and frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge.