Classic Cheesecake

The best classic plain cheesecake recipe with a graham cracker crust. Impress guests every time you make this Philadelphia style cheesecake with our step by step recipe of how to bake a cheesecake in a water bath.
slice of classic plain cheesecake with fruit on top on white plate
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.

whole classic plain cheesecake with no toppings
 


There are quite a few cheesecake recipes on our blog, but there hasn’t been a classic 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!

How to Make Graham Cracker Crust for Cheesecake

4 ingredients graham cracker crust

  • graham cracker crumbs: 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 times!
  • 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 a springform pan. Use the bottom of a measuring cup or bottom of a glass cup to help pack the crust.

How to Make Plain Cheesecake

Our classic 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: 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.
slice of classic plain cheesecake with fruit on top on white plate

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.

The basics of a water bath: 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 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.

slice of classic plain cheesecake being removed from whole cheesecake

Tips for Plain Cheesecake without Sour Cream

  • 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
slice of classic plain cheesecake with fruit on top on white plate

What to put on Plain Cheesecake

  • fruit
  • 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)

Get our classic chocolate cheesecake recipe!

For a step-by-step of how to make this classic plain cheesecake recipe, watch this short video:

A perfect classic cheesecake recipe with a graham cracker crust! If you like cheesecake, this is the best homemade classic cheesecake!

Classic Cheesecake

Yield: 8 inch cheesecake
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Additional Time: 12 hours
Total Time: 13 hours 45 minutes

The best classic plain cheesecake recipe with a graham cracker crust. Impress guests every time you make this Philadelphia style cheesecake with our step by step recipe of how to bake a cheesecake in a water bath.

Ingredients

Crust

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake

  • 3 packages cream cheese at room temperature, 8 oz each, I like to use full fat
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • One oven safe turkey bag (see instruction #2 under cheesecake)

Instructions

Crust

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º F.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Place the pan in the oven, pre-bake the crust for 8-10 minutes or until golden.
  5. Remove the pan from the oven, and allow it to cool to room temperature before adding the cheesecake mixture.
  6. Turn the oven down to 325º F.

Cheesecake

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Place the springform pan in a 9x13 inch pan or larger roasting pan. Carefully fill the roasting pan with about 1 inch of water.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Once cooled to room temperature, remove the cheesecake from the oven. Loosely cover the cheesecake with foil and place in the fridge overnight.
  7. 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.
  8. Add your desired toppings, cut and serve. Store leftovers in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Notes

8 inch cheesecake baking time: 65-75 minutes

9 inch cheesecake baking time: 60-70 minutes

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49 comments

  1. 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!

  2. 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!!!!

    Mick

  3. I also made this for new years for my in-laws and it was a hit :) thanks for the recipe!

  4. 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!!!!

  5. FYI, cream cheese is a cheese. Gruyere, Cheddar, Colby among others are cousins.

  6. 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?

  7. What is this “leftovers” concept you speak of? This is cheesecake we’re talking about here!

    I mean, thank you for the recipe!

    • Hahahaha!!

    • 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

      Very different.

  10. When you add the water,do you add hot water or cold?

  11. This cheesecake recipe looks very delicious. I love it.

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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!

  15. 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… 

  16. Can I put a sour cream topping? If so when would I do it?

  17. 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!

  18. Making this today.

    PS: Cream cheese is REAL cheese…LOL! But I know what you mean.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. What do I put over the cheesecake while it is in the fridge overnight? 

  22. Love this recipe! Easy to make, the hardest part is to wait =)

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