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Classic Cheesecake

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

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
I am so glad there isn’t real cheese inside cheesecake and I am so glad that I actually like cheesecake now.

I like it so much that when Ryan and I went to a coffee shop after church one morning (service was over at 10am) I saw that they had gluten free cheesecake, and of course I got a piece, and yes I ate it at 10 AM. It’s never too early for cheesecake.

 

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

So I bring you a classic plain cheesecake recipe. And we’re giving you all the tips so it turns out perfectly!

Here are the 2 most important details to follow when making cheesecake.

1. Don’t be afraid of the 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. Be sure to wrap the pan your baking your cheesecake in with 5 layers of tinfoil before you fill it with the cheesecake mixture – I personally take the stance that you can’t use too much tinfoil! The tinfoil will help prevent the water from getting into your cheesecake.

SUPER IMPORTANT TIP

THEN place the tin foil wrapped pan into a turkey oven bag (yes, 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. See a picture of how I did this for my chocolate cheesecake.

Place the cheesecake pan inside a larger pan, like a 9×13 or larger pan, and fill the 9×13 inch pan with water, about 1-2 inches below the top of the cheesecake pan.

slice of classic plain cheesecake being removed from whole cheesecake

2. Don’t rush the cooling process.

Once the cheesecake is done baking, let it sit in the oven for 1 hour or longer 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.

When you’re ready to serve the cheesecake, you could top it with..
-fruit
-chocolate
-caramel
chocolate whipped cream
-crushed candy pieces (like peanut butter cups, M&Ms, snickers, etc)

slice of classic plain cheesecake with fruit on top on white plate
Looking for a classic chocolate cheesecake? We have you covered!

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

Classic Cheesecake

Classic Cheesecake

Yield: 8 inch cheesecake
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours

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

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. Before adding the crumbs to the pan, wrap the bottom and sides of the springform pan in 5 layers of aluminum foil. This will help keep the water out during the water bath.
  4. 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.
  5. Place the pan in the oven, pre-bake the crust for 8-10 minutes or until golden.
  6. Remove the pan from the oven, and allow it to cool to room temperature before adding the cheesecake mixture.
  7. Turn the oven down to 325º F.

Cheesecake

  1. 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 after each one. Beat the mixture for 1 additional minute. Pour the cheesecake mixture on top of the cooled crust. Make sure the crust and pan have cooled before doing so.
  2. Place the round springform pan (that you wrapped in aluminum foil) inside a turkey oven bag (yes, 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. See a picture of how I did this for my chocolate cheesecake.
  3. Then place the springform pan in a 9x13 inch pan or larger. Carefully fill the 9x13 inch pan with water, filling it about 1 inch below the top of the aluminum foil on the springform pan. **Note: You can use a 9 inch springform pan for the cheesecake, but you will need a larger pan for the water bath. Perhaps one of those disposable aluminum foil pans would fit a 9 inch springform pan. I like to place the cake pan on top of a large baking sheet, this makes moving the water bath easier.
  4. Place the water bath with the cheesecake inside in the oven and bake at 325º F for 60 minutes. 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 your cheesecake looks done, turn the oven off and open the oven door a little. Allow the cheesecake to cool to room temperature inside the oven before removing - this could be 60-90 minutes.
  6. Once cooled, remove the cheesecake from the oven. Take the aluminum foil off carefully and place the cheesecake (still in the springform pan) in the fridge for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  7. Before serving, carefully unmold the cheesecake from 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 the fridge.

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classic plain cheesecake collage image with a slice of plain cheesecake being removed from whole cheesecake

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

37 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?

  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?

    • Hi Stephanie! I haven’t tried that myself – maybe google a recipe and see what they suggest!

  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!

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