A decadent and rich dessert, this turtle cheesecake is topped with a thick layer of caramel, chocolate ganache and pecans. Impress guests every time you make this turtle cheesecake with our step by step recipe of how to bake a cheesecake in a water bath.

whole turtle cheesecake on white background

Turtle desserts are one of my favorites. The combination of chocolate, caramel and nuts is spot on. We have a no bake turtle pie you will love and these turtle cookies are amazing! 

I feel like I have perfected the art of making cheesecake, and once you know the important steps to follow, you’ll be able to make flawless cheesecake every time!  

There’s no need to be intimated about making cheesecake factory style cheesecake at home! 

turtle cheesecake on white cake stand with slice removed

Graham cracker crust for cheesecake

5 INGREDIENT 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 time!
  • chopped pecans: I love to add chopped pecans in the crust when making our turtle cheesecake recipe. It adds extra nutty flavor! 
  • 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 is the 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.

aerial shot of turtle cheesecake with slice removed

How to make cheesecake

Our turtle 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 just until the yolk breaks. Over beating the eggs is the number one cause of air bubbles and cracking.

How to make a perfect 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!

slice of turtle cheesecake on white plate with fork

Water bath for cheesecake

I know it sounds weird, putting your turtle 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.

cheesecake in water bath in metal pan

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!

slice of turtle cheesecake being removed from pan

How to cool cheesecake

Remember, don’t rush the cooling process.

Once the turtle 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.

Cheesecake pro tips

  • 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, 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 9 inch springform pan.
  • Allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven (with the door cracked) for 1 hour.
slice of turtle cheesecake being removed from pan

How to freeze a whole cheesecake

  1. Cool the turtle 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. Add the caramel sauce, chocolate ganache and pecans.
  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 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.

More cheesecakes

Turtle Cheesecake

A decadent and rich dessert, this turtle cheesecake is topped with a thick layer of caramel, chocolate ganache and pecans. Impress guests every time you make this turtle cheesecake with our step by step recipe of how to bake a cheesecake in a water bath.
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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Cooling: 1 hour
Servings: 12 slices
Author: Beth

Ingredients

Crust

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup pecans finely chopped
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter melted

Cheesecake

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

Toppings

  • ½ cup jarred caramel sauce
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans
  • cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 ½ tbsp heavy whipping cream

Instructions

Crust

  • 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 finely chopped pecans, 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.

Cheesecake

  • 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, beating just until the egg yolks break. 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 inside a 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 crack the oven door. 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 or store in a large airtight container 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.
  • Meanwhile, make the chocolate ganache. Place the chocolate chips and heavy cream in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 20-30 seconds, or until the heavy cream begins to bubble. Allow the mixture to stand for 1 minute. Use a spatula to stir the mixture until smooth. Allow the ganache to come to room temperature before adding it to the cheesecake.
  • Add caramel sauce and spread into an even layer on top of the cheesecake. Drizzle chocolate ganache over the caramel. Sprinkle chopped pecans over the caramel. Return the cheesecake to the fridge until serving.
    Store leftovers in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Pro tip: for clean cheesecake slices, wipe the knife completely clean between each slice.

Notes

  • 8 inch cheesecake baking time: 70-85 minutes
  • 9 inch cheesecake baking time: 60-75 minutes

Nutrition

Calories: 334kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 145mg | Potassium: 124mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 27g | Vitamin A: 300IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 1mg
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