Original Cheesecake Recipe
The best original cheesecake recipe with a graham cracker crust.
Impress guests every time you make this classic cheesecake recipe with our step by step recipe of how to bake a cheesecake in a water bath.
I like to think that I am making up for lost cheesecake time.
When I was little I didn’t like cheesecake because I thought there was actual cheese inside and I didn’t like cheese, which is a shocker because I thought all kids LOVED cheese.
There are quite a few cheesecake recipes on our blog, but there hasn’t been a classic original cheesecake recipe until now! Granted, I like my cheesecake loaded with extra stuff and flavors, but I am totally okay with plain cheesecake if it’s covered in chocolate.
Here is our classic plain cheesecake recipe. We’re giving you all the tips so it turns out perfectly!
This is the perfect cheesecake recipe. There’s a smooth cheesecake filling, traditional graham cracker crust – it’s everything cheesecake purists love! If you’re a cheesecake fan, you’ll want to save our best cheesecake recipe.
How to Make Graham Cracker Crust for Cheesecake
Everyone loves a buttery graham cracker crust, this is exactly how to make it!
graham cracker crumbs: use store bought or make your own
brown sugar: adds a deep rich flavor to the crust and helps to bind the crumbs and butter together
cinnamon: adds a little warmth and spice without being overwhelming
butter: this most crucial ingredient in binding the crust together
Mix all the crust ingredients together and then firmly press the crust into the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan. Use the bottom of a measuring cup or bottom of a glass cup to help pack the crust.
Did you know you can buy a box of graham cracker crumbs in the baking aisle of your grocery store?
They are usually near the pre-made graham cracker pie crusts. I love using the store bought graham cracker crumbs because it saves time!
However, you can use whole graham crackers and blend them yourself in a blender or food processor until you get fine crumbs.
How to Make Plain Cheesecake
Our original cheesecake recipe only calls for 4 ingredients!
- cream cheese: use three 8 oz packages. Be sure to use full fat, not low fat, cream cheese for best results.
- sugar: helps to balance the tanginess of the cream cheese.
- vanilla extract: just a teaspoon, but it enhances the flavor.
- eggs: use large eggs
Tips about Eggs
Eggs are the last ingredient that get mixed into the cheesecake batter. Be sure to mix them in, one at a time, just until the yolk breaks. Over beating the eggs is the number one cause of air bubbles and large cracks, which means there’s too much air in the cheesecake.
How to Make the Perfect Classic Cheesecake
Every single cheesecake recipe I have on my site, I include two critical tips. Here are the 2 most important details to follow when making cheesecake..
1. Don’t be afraid of the water bath
2. Don’t rush the cooling process
Keep reading below for details on each tip!
How to Make a Cheesecake Water Bath
I know it sounds weird, putting your cheesecake in a water bath, but it’s the secret to creating moist, perfectly baked cheesecake. It’s really not scary.
Water bath basics
Place a springform pan inside a large cake or roasting pan, fill the roasting pan with about 1 inch of water and place in the oven.
How to Prevent your Cheesecake Water Bath from Leaking
This is the best trick ever to prevent your cheesecake water bath from leaking and ruining your cheesecake.
Place the springform pan inside a large oven safe turkey bag or slow cooker liner bag and roll down the top of the bag so it doesn’t cover the cheesecake.
If you have a lot of excess bag space, twist one side tight and knot it so the bag is tight around the pan. Place the springform pan that’s inside the bag in the large roasting pan and fill with water.
The water bath will not leak into your cheesecake!
How to Cool Cheesecake
Remember, don’t rush the cooling process.
Once the plain cheesecake is done baking turn the oven off and gently remove the springform pan from the water bath and oven safe bag. Place the cheesecake on a baking sheet and return to the oven (oven is off) with the oven door cracked.
A slow cooling process will help prevent the cheesecake from cracking. Don’t forget to refrigerate your cheesecake over night before serving.
Tips for Original Cheesecake Recipe
- Allow the cream cheese to come to room temperature before beating it. Room temperature cream cheese is easier to whip.
- The eggs are the last ingredient that get mixed into the cheesecake batter. Be sure to mix them in, one at a time, just until the yolk breaks. Over beating the eggs is the number one cause of air bubbles and cracking.
- Using a different size springform pan will alter the baking time. I used a 8 inch springform pan.
- Allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven (with the door cracked) for 1 hour.
How to Freeze a Whole Cheesecake
- Cool the cheesecake completely before freezing. You can allow it to cool on the counter or you can place it in the fridge over night to chill before freezing.
- Use a knife to remove the outer springform ring. Use the knife to gently remove the cheesecake from the bottom of the pan. Place the cheesecake on a round cardboard circle that’s been covered in aluminum foil. Make sure the cardboard circle is the same size as the cheesecake.
- Wrap the entire cheesecake (without any toppings) well in plastic wrap. Then wrap the cheesecake in aluminum foil for extra protection. Place in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- To thaw, place the cheesecake in the fridge overnight. Add toppings before serving.
What to put on Original Cheesecake
- fresh fruit (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, mango, pineapple, etc.)
- chocolate ganache (follow the ganache recipe from our espresso cheesecake)
- caramel sauce
- strawberry sauce
- chocolate whipped cream
- crushed candy pieces (like peanut butter cups, M&Ms, snickers, etc)
This is the absolute best recipe I’ve ever made! Most recipes leave my cheesecake with brown tops! Not this one! We use this in our cheesecake business. It also freezes really well!-Stephanie
More Cheesecake Recipes
Original Cheesecake Recipe
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 3 packages cream cheese at room temperature, 8 oz each, I like to use full fat
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- One oven safe turkey bag, see instruction #2 under cheesecake
- Preheat the oven to 350º F.
- If using whole graham crackers, pulse them in a blender or food processor until they are very fine. You can also find graham cracker crumbs in the baking aisle. Measure out 2 cups of crumbs. In a small bowl, combine the crumbs with the brown sugar, cinnamon and melted butter, mix well until incorporated.
- Add the crumbs to a 8 or 9 inch springform pan, distribute them evenly, using a cup or the bottom of something flat to press the crumbs into the pan. If desired, you can have the crumbs go up the sides of the pan a bit.
- Place the pan in the oven, pre-bake the crust for 8-10 minutes or until golden.
- Remove the pan from the oven, and allow it to cool to room temperature before adding the cheesecake mixture.
- Turn the oven down to 325º F.
- Place the round springform pan inside an oven safe bag ( like one that you’d cook a turkey in for thanksgiving) and roll the top of the bag down so it doesn’t cover the cheesecake. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the 3 packages of cream cheese until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the sugar, and vanilla extract, beat again. Add in the eggs, ONE at a time, beating just until the egg yolk breaks, then add in the next, etc. Beat the mixture for 1 additional minute. Do not over beat, this is why I recommend only 1 minute. Pour the cheesecake mixture on top of the cooled crust.
- Place the springform pan in a 9×13 inch pan or larger roasting pan. Carefully fill the roasting pan with about 1 inch of water.
- Place the water bath with the cheesecake inside in the oven and bake at 325º F for 60-70 minutes *see note. The cheesecake is done when the center wobbles a little when you jiggle the pan. The edges of the cheesecake should look firmer than the center.
- Once the cheesecake is done baking, turn the oven off and gently remove the springform pan from the water bath and oven safe bag. Place the cheesecake on a baking sheet and return to the oven (oven is off) with the oven door cracked. Allow the cheesecake to cool to room temperature inside the oven before removing – this could be 60-90 minutes.
- Once cooled to room temperature, remove the cheesecake from the oven. Loosely cover the cheesecake with foil and place in the fridge overnight.
- Before serving, carefully unmold the cheesecake from the pan. Use a small spatula to assist any parts that are sticking to the pan. Allow the pan to do most of the work, some of the cheesecake may stick to the pan, but the cheesecake should naturally separate from the pan.
- Add your desired toppings, cut and serve. Store leftovers in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Hi Beth! I baked this cheesecake recipe as our New Year’s Eve dessert. All my husband kept saying is: “This is SO GOOD!” Thank you for the recipe. It was delicious!
You’re so welcome!!!
Can this recipe be doubled?
How are you wanting to bake the recipe if you doubled it? Like in a 9×13 inch pan?
I made mine In a 9” springform pan , was thinking of doing it in a 10” this time wanting to get more thickness to it, make it a little taller ?
I’m currently somewhere in Southeast Asia where nobody serves cheesecake! I think i may just have to make one myself – will try your recipe! Thank you!!!!
I also made this for new years for my in-laws and it was a hit :) thanks for the recipe!
This is the absolute best recipe I’ve ever made! Most recipes leave my cheesecake with brown tops! Not this one! We use this in our cheesecake business. It also freezes really good!!!!
FYI, cream cheese is a cheese. Gruyere, Cheddar, Colby among others are cousins.
HAHHA I knew it!!! See, I’m still leery about cheeses
Looks yummy! Going to try it, but can you please clarify… the ingredient list calls for 1.5 c. graham cracker crumbs, but the instructions say 2 c. Which is correct?
What is this “leftovers” concept you speak of? This is cheesecake we’re talking about here!
I mean, thank you for the recipe!
Hi! I’ve made this cheesecake May be 5 times now. Unfortunately just the first time it didn’t crack. What I might be doing wrong? In my oven it take around 52 min to bake and on the 40th min I’m opening the oven to turn the cheesecake to bake even from all the sides. Could that be reason? I did that the first time too and it didn’t crack but who knows. I’m mixing the batter just enough for the ingredients to mix, not overmixing it. Please help ;((((
Hi Adelina! Cheesecakes are finicky! I don’t turn mine at all during the baking. Don’t open the oven! Sometimes small cracks happen – which can be covered by chocolate ganache. But are you letting the cheesecake cool for 2 hours in the oven (oven turned off and the door cracked open?)
Hello can this be made with ready pie crust, and do I still water bath it or just place a container with water bc that’s what I normally do w other cheesecake recipes
Hi Janie! Yes you can use a pre-made graham cracker crust – although, you might have extra cheesecake filling because the pre-made crusts are slightly smaller. You could put the cheesecake pan inside an oven safe turkey bag, be sure to roll it down so the bag doesn’t cover the cheesecake.
Made this cheesecake last week. It was the first cheesecake I ever made. I have always been scared to try cheesecake but with your easy instructions, and helpful tips and video It was so easy! It turned out great, everyone loved it! Can’t wait to make the your Chocolate cheesecake next!
Could you not use water and just stick it in the oven or is water a must?
A water bath is a must when making cheesecake at home!
You can simply put a pan of water on the rack under your cheesecake, or on the bottom of the oven. No water bath is needed with cheese cakes. Only custards. There is no reason for it, the graham crackers are coating the pan. The water bath is for custards..where you don’t want the sides to burn. In this case, with cheese cakes, the water in the oven (not bath) is just to allow for a more moist environment so that you avoid cracks.
When you add the water,do you add hot water or cold?
I add room temperature water.
This cheesecake recipe looks very delicious. I love it.
Yay! So glad!
This recipe turned out amazing! My husband was in love with it and with him not being a dessert person, that’s a Huuuge victory! I followed it exactly with just a little extra crust because I like mine to come up the sides higher.
Yay! I am so glad to hear that!
This cheesecake is amazing! I made it for Thanksgiving this year and it was a HUGE hit!! Not a crumb left! Thank you so much for the recipe!
You are SO welcome, Kori!
Since long time I’m looking for the best cheesecake (like I have a picture in my mind how it should tastes)….well I’ve made this recipe yesterday and it was exactly how I wish it to be! Creamy goodiness! Thanks a lot for this recipe!
I am SO happy to hear that! Thank YOU for trying it!
Can I use foil instead of an oven bag?
I’m tried multiple layers of aluminum foil around the pan and it usually still lets water in.
I just used 2 layers of tin foil and it turned out perfect, no water got in
I know this might be obvious to some, but since it was my VERY FIRST TIME making a cheesecake, I was unaware to take the pan out of the water bath when you leave it in the oven to cool down. The cheesecake was super delicious. I am surprised with a very few ingredients it came out delicious. Only thing that was wrong was the crust. It was soggy and lighten in color. So please TAKE OUT PAN FROM WATER BATH once done cooking . I know it probably does not have to be said, But i’m sure there are people like me who has no clue and is following this recipe to the T, just like me.
Hi Meche! You can use a turkey oven bag round the cheesecake pan to help keep water out!
So I let the cheesecake cool in the oven still in the water and when I took the foil off once it cooled there was water. Is that a bad thing? It’s in the fridge right now…
Hi Tim! Yes, sometimes that happens with tin foil and sometimes it doesn’t. How many layers did you use? Also, next time you’re making cheesecake, try using a turkey oven bag around the cheesecake pan like in this photo, works great! https://thefirstyearblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Chocolate-Cheesecake.jpg
Can I put a sour cream topping? If so when would I do it?
Hi Stephanie! I haven’t tried that myself – maybe google a recipe and see what they suggest!
When it’s cooled.
Wondering if I really need the brown sugar with the graham crackers
You don’t have to add it, but we like the taste and the way it helps the crumbs stick together!
Making this today.
PS: Cream cheese is REAL cheese…LOL! But I know what you mean.
Because this is not a custard, you don’t need to put the springform pan in the pan of water. You simply put a pan of water at the bottom of the oven. It just needs to release moisture into the air to avoid cracks.
OMG! This is the best recipe EVER! I have never made one before and was a little scared. My guys just loved it. They won’t eat anything but this now. I have a 40yr old hand mixer and nearly killed it making this. No worries tho, they bought me a KitichenAid for Christmas, just so I can keep making your recipe. it turns out perfect every time.
Thank you so much Wendy! I love to hear that it’s a favorite in your home!
What do I put over the cheesecake while it is in the fridge overnight?
I would suggest covering it in plastic wrap and placing it in a ziplock bag!
Love this recipe! Easy to make, the hardest part is to wait =)
Haha, I understand that for sure! Thank you!
This cheesecake was amazing! We love the crust it tastes like restaurant quality and cinnamony, if thats a word. Very creamy too. We loved it.
Hi Beth, please can you tell me if I wanted to add sour cream to the recipe how i would adapt that to the recipe? Thank you!x
Hi Zai! I don’t have a recipe for a sour cream based cheesecake, my apologies!
I don’t have a springform pan. I hope lining the sides of a Wilton 9″ cake pan with parchment paper will work. I saw it on another recipe. Fingers crossed.
Hi Beth, can a 6 or 7 inch pan be used for this recipe?
I probably wouldn’t suggest a 6 inch, I think the filling would over fill the pan. A 7 inch might be okay – the bake time would be longer.
Awesome recipe! First cheesecake I’ve made that did not crack. And it was the perfect taste & consistency!!
Merry Christmas! I used this recipe on a whim for Christmas dessert and it was awesome. I only had 2 blocks of cream cheese a an 8 oz. container of soft cream cheese (not whipped) so that is what I used. Thank you Beth!!
Hola, do you have a recipe / adjustment for 2 packs of cream cheese?
Baked this today and it was fantastic! I only waited about 4-5 hours for it to cool before serving and it was perfect. Thank you!
This cheesecake is absolutely fabulous! It turned out perfect all 4 times I made it.
I would love to make a chocolate swirl one. Have you a recipe for one of those?
Mary from Georgia
Hi Mary! I’ll add the chocolate swirl cheesecake to my idea list!
Hi! Any suggestions on how to adjust the recipe when using a 10 inch springform pan please?
Hi Martyna! The bake time would be different and the cheesecake will definitely not be as tall as I used a 8 inch pan.
Literally the BEST cheesecake recipe! I didn’t use the turkey bag method. However, I did add a pan of water to the oven to create moisture…..worked like a charm. No cracks! Thank you for a wonderful recipe! I’ll be making it again this weekend….it’s a huge hit every time!
This is the absolute best cheesecake recipe! I’m patiently waiting for it to bake as I type this!. I made this recipe last spring and it was a HUGE HIT! I baked it in a 9 inch spring form pan. I’ve had great success with using a 9×13 (lower rack of my oven) filled with water to stave off any cracking. It worked great! Thank you for this wonderful recipe. ❤️💚
I’m so silly and didn’t read the overnight part!! Ahhh! Is there a way I can put it in the freezer for a certain amount of hours?? If so how many !
Hi Clarissa! I’m so sorry! It’s critical for it to chill in the fridge overnight – do not freeze it!
Hi I am a cheesecake lover!! I make all kinds but I just recently learned about the water bath. I have to say I am not a fan of them, so the trick I used is to put a large roasting pan of water under my cheesecake on the second wrack of my oven!! It works just as well plus let it cool in the oven with the door slightly ajar for an hour. 8 inch bake 65-75 min 9inch 65-70 10 inch 65min. I must say there were no cracks or splits in the cake!
I followed the recipe that is shown in print. After making the cheesecake, and putting it in the oven, I come back to look at the recipe for the final instructions. I decided to look at the video(which I normally do on all recipes). Looking at the video, I see that u added parchment paper and sprayed the sides of the pan. NO WHERE in the printed recipe does it say to do that. That is a VERY IMPORTANT step that u left out. My cheesecake has about 10 more minutes to cook, then cooling. I thought it was odd that the pan was not sprayed or anything, but I followed it anyway. Now, my cheesecake probably won’t come out of the pan! I’ll let u know what happens.
Hi Hazel! The step of adding a piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan when adding the crust is not necessary at all and doesn’t effect the recipe at all! I no longer bake my cheesecakes with one.
Would a crockpot liners work the same as a turkey bag? I love this idea and have liners already on hand.
November challenge accepted! The bath technic was easier than I thought and I followed your instructions step by step. Thank you!!