This Classic Cheesecake features a simple graham cracker crust, and it’s good enough to serve by itself. (Or you can top it with fresh fruit to make it an extra-special dessert!)
Why is cheesecake so darned good? Cheesecake seriously might be my favorite dessert…and that says a lot because I’ve got more than one sweet tooth. I know there are tons of cheesecake variations out there, but I almost always go back to this classic version whenever I have a cheesecake craving. It’s plain and simple and makes a great dessert all by itself. Or you can make it extra-special by adding some fresh sliced fruit or chocolate curls. Or just throw caution to the wind and go all out with both fruit and chocolate. (I’m thinking white chocolate curls with sliced strawberries would be pretty amazing!) Either way, this is my go-to cheesecake recipe, and it makes regular appearances in my house!
While this recipe does call for sour cream, this cheesecake isn’t considered New York style because it bakes at a consistent, low temperature. (New York style cheesecakes are baked in a very hot oven for about 10 minutes and then at a much lower temperature for another hour or so.) I find that the method used in this recipe produces a reliable cheesecake, and I don’t have to worry about it cracking in the oven. Yes, it does use a water bath…but that’s not nearly as hard as it might sound!
Does the thought of baking an entire cheesecake scare you? Ok, maybe not the actual baking of said cheesecake…but rather the fact that you’ll now have an entire cheesecake hanging out in your kitchen tempting you at every meal. (Yes, I’ve seen folks eat this cheesecake for breakfast…it’s that good!) Well, I’ve found that this cheesecake actually freezes quite well. After baking the cheesecake, I’ll actually cut it into reasonable-sized slices and wrap two slices together in plastic wrap. Then these wrapped pieces all go in a gallon-sized bag in the freezer. Now my wife and I can have cheesecake for a special dessert whenever we want…without having to have an entire cheesecake in the kitchen! (Not that having an entire cheesecake is a problem or anything…) In fact, this cheesecake here is now chillin’ in my freezer…minus one slice.
There are a couple of recipe notes that I wanted to include here. I don’t actually like lemon in my cheesecake, so I leave it out. (I personally find that lemon in cheesecake makes it taste too much like danish filling.) If you like lemon in your cheesecake, then feel free to add a tsp or two of lemon juice or lemon zest. I opted to go with the classic graham cracker crust this time, but I also frequently make this cheesecake with an Oreo crust. (That post also shows how I used a teapot to make an easy water bath.) And finally, the secret to baking a cheesecake that doesn’t crack is….underbake it slightly. Yup, pull that bad boy out of the oven when there’s still about a 1″ ring of “looser” filling left in the center of the cake. The cheesecake will continue to cook for a bit after you pull it out of the oven. I also wrap the entire cheesecake (pan and all) with plastic wrap while it’s still slightly warm. Then I freeze it overnight. I’ve found that this makes it very easy to get a perfect-looking cheesecake out of the pan.
Classic Cheesecake with Graham Cracker Crust
For the Graham Cracker Crust
- 7 full-sized graham crackers
- 3 Tbsp light brown sugar
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter melted
For the Cheesecake
- 32 oz cream cheese room temperature
- 1¼ cups granulated sugar
- 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 4 whole eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- ¼ cup sour cream
- ½ Tbsp vanilla extract
- fresh fruit or chocolate curls optional topping
For the Graham Cracker Crust
- In a food processor or mini-chopper, pulse the graham crackers until finely ground. In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and melted butter. Stir until fully combined.
- Lightly butter or grease a 9” springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment paper. Press the crust mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan. (Tip: A flat-bottomed glass helps pack the crust mixture down evenly.)
- Bake crust at 350°F for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
For the Cheesecake
- Using a countertop mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until completely smooth (about 3 minutes).
- Add the sugar and mix well. (Tip: Don’t forget to scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl to fully incorporate the sugar.)
- Add flour and mix well.
- Whisk the eggs and egg yolks together and add to the bowl in 3 additions, mixing fully after each addition.
- Add the sour cream and vanilla. Mix until fully combined. (Tip: Use a spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure the filling is fully mixed.)
- Pour the Cheesecake on top of the cooled crust.
- Wrap the bottom of the pan with a piece of aluminum foil and place in a large baking pan. Fill pan with about 1/2”-3/4” of water. Bake at 325° until center of cake is just barely set (about 80-90 minutes). (Tip: Pull the cheesecake out of the oven when there is about 1" ring of "looser" filling left in the center of the cake.)
- Remove cake from oven and cool for 10 min. Wrap entire pan in plastic wrap and freeze overnight.
- The next day, remove the cake from the freezer and release the springform pan. Transfer the cake to a serving platter and defrost in a refrigerator for 4-5 hours.
- Serve with fresh fruit or chocolate curls (optional).