Homemade cheesecake is smooth, creamy and paired with a homemade graham cracker crust. This creamy, NY style cheesecake is easy to make with cream cheese, sour cream and other simple ingredients.
This cheesecake recipe has been in our family for over 50-years and is one of our favorite desserts for Thanksgiving and the holidays. For best results, this cheesecake is baked in a water bath.
You’ll love the creamy, sweet and tangy flavors of this cheesecake recipe – it’s perfect for any occasion or for a holiday dessert.
If you’ve never made homemade cheesecake, don’t worry! We’ll walk you through each step so you can bake the perfect cheesecake! This recipe makes a classic New York style cheesecake with a buttery, graham cracker crust and creamy rich filling.
Follow the simple tips below to ensure a light and creamy texture, free of cracks every time, no matter your baking level. We’ve given you ingredients for making a cheesecake in a 9-inch or 10-inch springform pan.
The fruit topping for cheesecake is composed of three different types of berries. The cheesecake topping uses fresh or frozen fruit. But you can substitute canned cherry filling if you prefer.
Why this recipe works
- Ease – Simple steps ensure the perfect cheesecake each and every time. Made in one bowl with either an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer.
- Uses simple ingredients –
- Flavor – Full-fat cream cheese and sour cream, along with pure vanilla extract give this cheesecake delicious flavor.
- Texture – Mixing room temperature ingredients only until combined gives this cake a creamy and rich texture.
What you’ll need
- Graham Crackers – Make your own graham cracker crumbs or purchase crumbs in the baking aisle of your favorite grocery store.
- Sugar – Granulated sugar is used in the graham cracker crust and in the cheesecake filling.
- Butter – Butter is what binds the graham cracker crust together.
- Cream cheese – Full-fat 8-ounce blocks of cream cheese is best. A high-quality cream cheese will yield the best texture. Our favorite brand is Philadelphia.
- Sour cream – It’s best to use full-fat sour cream. You can also substitute full-fat Greek yogurt.
- Eggs – Use large eggs and be sure they are at room temperature for best results.
- Heavy cream – Heavy cream gives this cheesecake recipe a rich taste and creamy texture. You can also substitute real full-fat buttermilk if needed.
- Vanilla extract – We always recommend using a high-quality brand of pure vanilla extract.
- Lemon juice – Fresh lemon juice is best.
What is the secret to making a good cheesecake?
- Use quality ingredients.
- Use room temperature ingredients. This is an essential to making good cheesecake! This will help ingredients combine well, prevents lumps and create a creamy texture.
- Mix on low/medium speed and avoid overmixing.
- Use a rubber spatula to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.
- Line your pan with a double or triple layer of aluminum foil (18-inches)
- Use a springform pan.
- Press the crust in firmly into the pan.
- Water bath (either in a half sheet pan or roasting pan)
- Monitor the oven temperature and the baking time.
- Use the wobble test. If the center of the cheesecake jiggles, it’s done. Don’t poke it with a toothpick!
- No opening the oven and peeking! This will let heat out of the oven and prevent the cheesecake from properly baking.
Why cook cheesecake in water bath?
With this recipe, wrap the cheesecake well with heavy-duty aluminum foil and then bake in a water bath. Set the cheesecake in a half sheet pan or roasting pan filled with hot or boiling water.
A water bath helps create humidity in your oven, which helps the cake stay soft, prevents it from drying out and cracking. This also creates a steady, even heat, controlling the rate of cooking preventing it from overcooking and creates a velvety, smooth cheesecake. This baking method also helps prevent the cheesecake from sinking back down as it cools.
How to make cheesecake
- Make graham cracker crust – In a medium size bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Use a spoon to combine the melted butter.
- Press into springform pan – Use your hands or the back of a measuring cup to press crumb mixture into the bottom and sides of pan.
- Line pan with aluminum foil – Wrap two layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil around the bottom and up the sides of the baking pan.
- Beat sugar and cream cheese – Cream together sugar and cream cheese together with an electric hand mixer or in a stand mixer until creamy.
- Add eggs – Add eggs one at a time, be careful not to mix the batter too much.
- Pour into baking pan – Pour the cheesecake filling into the prepared springform pan.
- Place in water bath – Place baking pan on half sheet pan or into a metal roasting pan, pour hot or boiling water around the cake.
- Bake – Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for about 60 minutes (see full baking instructions below!)
- Let cool – Let cool gradually inside the oven. DO NOT open the oven!
- Make berry topping – Cook fresh or frozen berries along with water and lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Push through fine metal sieve to remove seeds and pulp.
We love using Wyman’s triple berry mixture. You can find this at most grocery stores, BJ’s, Sam’s Club and Walmart in the freezer section near the berries and breakfast items.
Tips for making cheesecake
- Eggs are best at room temperature to ensure they incorporate into the batter evenly. Take them out of the fridge an hour or so before you start to prep this cake.
- Mix on low or medium speed to avoid overmixing ingredients.
- Use a rubber spatula to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.
- All ovens are different! I highly recommend using an oven thermometer to properly check the temperature of your oven.
Cheesecake is best when served chilled or at room temperature, because it’s only after chilling and that it fully set and gains its velvety, silky texture. We suggest making homemade cheesecake a day or two in advance, so it has plenty of time to chill.
Serve it right out of the fridge or at room temperature for the best flavor.
Homemade cheesecake is the perfect holiday dessert. This NY style cheesecake has a delicious triple berry topping and can be prepped a few days in advance.
Cheesecake is not the time to cut calories or use low-fat ingredients. Full-fat cream cheese and sour cream are essential for a creamy and delicious texture.
No, you do NOT need to bake the crust of the cheesecake prior to filling it with cheesecake filling. Be sure and bake cheesecake on a sheet pan or in a metal roasting pan. The metal pan will help distribute heat better and ensure your graham cracker crust is crispy.
More popular dessert recipes
- Apple Hand Pies
- Apple Fritters
- Blackberry Cobbler
- Blueberry Cobbler
- Cream Puffs
- Cherry Cobbler
- Cherry Crumb Pie
- Peach Cobbler
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Graham Cracker Crust
- 2 sleeves graham crackers
- 20 vanilla wafer cookies
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) salted butter, melted
Cheesecake (9-inch springform pan)
- 12 ounces cream cheese softened
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 1 cup full-fat sour cream
- ½ cup heavy cream or buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Cheesecake (10-inch springform pan)
- 20 ounces cream cheese softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 5 large eggs room temperature
- 1 ½ cups full-fat sour cream
- 1 cup heavy cream or buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 cups mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or blackberries) fresh or frozen
- 1-2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup water
- 3-ounce package raspberry Jell-O gelatin (or strawberry Jell-O)
- fresh strawberries, blackberries and blueberries for garnish
Graham Cracker Crust
- In a food processor, pulse graham crackers and vanilla wafers until they are fine crumbs. (You could also put them into a large zip-style freezer bag and use a rolling pin to make fine crumbs.)
- Pour the crumbs into a medium bowl. Mix in sugar and combine with melted butter. Use a spoon to stir and combine well.
- Add a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil under and around the sides of a 9 or 10-inch springform baking pan. Be sure and wrap the springform pan very well.
- Use your hands or the bottom of a measuring cup to press the mixture into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 9 or 10-inch springform pan.
- In a large bowl using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer, cream together cream cheese and sugar until fluffy and creamy.
- With the mixer on low speed add the eggs one at a time and combine just until incorporated. Add vanilla extract, lemon juice, sour cream and heavy cream.
- Use a rubber spatula to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure all the ingredients are combined thoroughly.
- Pour the cheesecake batter evenly into a prepared springform pan. Use a rubber spatula to scrape all of the batter into the baking pan.
- Place the pan on a half sheet pan or into a roasting pan. Pour about 4 cups of hot or boiling water around the cheesecake. (Be very careful not to get any water into the cheesecake!)
- Bake in a preheated 350-degree F oven for 60-65 minutes. Turn the oven off but DO NOT open the oven! Set your timer for another 75 minutes. (This will help the cheesecake cook further and cool down gradually to prevent cracks.)NOTE: If making a 10-inch cheesecake bake at 350-degrees F for 70-75 minutes. Turn the oven off and DO NOT open the oven for 2 hours!**
- Carefully remove the cheesecake from the oven and move to a cooling rack. Discard the water into the sink.
- Let cheesecake cool at room temperature for 10-20 minutes before adding the berry topping.
- While the cheesecake is cooling, prepare your berry topping.
- Add the berries to a medium/large saucepan. Add the water and lemon juice. Cook over medium low heat covered to steam and pop the berries. (about 5-8 minutes) Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
- Remove from the heat and use a potato masher to press the berries. Pour the berries through a fine mesh strainer set over top of a glass measuring cup to catch the berry juices. Use the back of a tablespoon to press the berries. Discard the pulp and seeds.
- Rinse the saucepan if needed to remove any leftover seeds. Add the berry juice back into the saucepan and cook over low to medium heat. Bring the mixture to a simmering boil. Add the packet of Jell-O and whisk to incorporate. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour into a glass measuring cup.
- Place the measuring cup into a bowl of ice cubes to cool for about 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally. (You’ll end up with about 1 ⅓ fruit juices.)
- You want the berry mixture to start to thicken and set up, but not be solid. It’s best if it’s thickened, but still liquid enough so it’s able to pour over the top of the cheesecake.
- Pour the berry mixture evenly over the slightly cooled cheesecake. It will fully set when chilled in the refrigerator.
- Refrigerate the cheesecake for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight.
- Put toothpicks into the cheesecake top and wrap with a layer of plastic wrap. The toothpicks will help prevent the plastic wrap from sticking to the berry topping. Remove from the springform pan prior to slicing.
- Use a butter knife to gently loosen the crust from the inside of the springform pan.
- Top the cheesecake with fresh slices of strawberries, blackberries and blueberries before serving.