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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