This Easy Cheesecake Recipe is a family favorite, and it makes an extremely creamy cheesecake with a smooth sour cream layer over the top and irresistible cinnamon graham cracker crust.
Today is a very exciting day because I’m *finally* sharing one of my family’s favorite desserts, my mom’s famous cheesecake.
This is the first dessert she ever made for my dad when they started dating, and it’s the one she makes on his birthday every year.
It has a very dear place in my heart AND just happens to be the best, easiest cheesecake in existence. (Also full disclosure, my mom’s famous cheesecake first appeared in Joy of Cooking. 😉 )
A Perfect and Easy Cheesecake
This cheesecake is so extremely creamy with a smooth sour cream layer over the top, and to-die-for cinnamon graham cracker crust.
When I say it’s easy, I’m not kidding. While the cheesecake takes a while from start to finish, that’s only because of the chilling and cooling time. The actual hands-on prep time is pretty minimal and very simple.
Oh, and bonus, that sour cream topping, it not only adds a tangy rich layer to your cake but also covers all manner of cheesecake sins. So if you’re a novice baker and worried about your cheesecake cracking, totally not a problem because no one will be able to see it anyways.
Can you make cheesecake without a springform pan?
Yes! You do not need a springform pan to make a cheesecake. Cheesecakes can be baked in a regular pie dish, with a few caveats:
- If you want to use a water bath, you’ll need to use a springform pan for those high sides.
- Similarly, depending on the recipe, you might have to adjust the volume of the filling. A recipe that uses four sticks of cream cheese is probably not going to fit in a standard pie pan.
The recipe I’m sharing with you today can be made in a 9-inch springform pan or regular 9-inch pie dish (this is how my mom has always made it) with zero adjustments. So if a pie pan is what you have, a pie pan is what you can use.
Do you need a water bath for cheesecake?
Not always. Water baths are helpful when cooking larger cheesecakes with long cooking times because they (and the steam they produce) help protect the delicate custard from the direct heat of the oven.
If you’re working with a recipe that calls for a water bath, use it, but you don’t need to use one with every single cheesecake recipe.
For this cheesecake specifically, you don’t need one. Since this is not a particularly tall cheesecake and the cooking time is fairly short, it doesn’t need the extra protection (or hassle) of a water bath.
Wait, how can you tell when a cheesecake is done cooking?
You can tell that the cheesecake is done when it passes “the jiggle test.” The edges of the cheesecake should be set and no longer shiny, but the center should still look slightly undercooked and jiggle when you give the pan a (small) shake.
The center will finish cooking and firm up while the cake cools.
Strawberry Sauce for Cheesecake
We always serve this cheesecake with strawberry sauce in my family, so I’ve included the recipe below.
But if that’s not your thing, you can serve the cheesecake without topping or try something like Dulce de Leche or chocolate sauce.
More Amazing Cheesecake Recipes
- Mini Kahlua Cheesecakes
- No-bake Cheesecake Bites
- No-bake Oreo Cheesecake Bites
- No-bake Mini Unicorn Cheesecakes
- You ABSOLUTELY must start with softened/room temperature cream cheese. Cream cheese that is too cold will not completely meld with the other ingredients, and you’ll end up with lumps in the finished cheesecake.
- This strawberry sauce/glaze involves cooking strawberries with sugar and cornstarch until saucy. You can serve the glaze with the cooked strawberries or strain them out and mix the liquid with fresh, chopped strawberries if you don’t like the texture and/or look of cooked fruit. The strawberries in the photos on this page are fresh.
- If making for an event or special occasion, make sure to give yourself enough time to bake and chill the cheesecake. It requires at least 6 hours to set, so it’s best to make it the night before when possible.
Easy Cheesecake Recipe
- 9-inch springform pan or regular 9-inch pie dish
Graham Cracker Crust
- 1 1/2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs about 10 full cracker sheets
- 1/2 cup (60g) powdered sugar
- 6 tablespoons (84g) salted butter melted
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 12 ounces Philadelphia cream cheese softened
- 2 large eggs well-beaten
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Sour Cream Topping
- 1 1/2 cups (360g) sour cream
- 2 tablespoons (25g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
Homemade Strawberry Sauce
- 4 cups (about 24oz) hulled and chopped fresh strawberries
- 2/3 cup (132g) granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice fresh or bottled is fine
- 2 tablespoons (16g) cornstarch whisked together with 2 tablespoons water
Graham Cracker Crust
- Clear enough space in your freezer for your pie pan to fit while the crust chills.
- In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Stir until well combined.
- Set aside 3 tablespoons of the crumb mixture to use as topping later.
- Pour remaining crumb mixture into your pie pan and press into a firm layer. Chill crust in the freezer while you make the custard layer.
- Preheat your oven to 375°F.
- In a large bowl, combine softened cream cheese, well-beaten eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt, and beat until well-combined.
- Pour into the chilled crust.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, until outer edges of the cheesecake look set, but the center of the cheesecake is still slightly shiny and jiggles when gently shaken. Remove from oven.
- Let cool to mostly room temperature, 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Sour Cream Top
- Preheat your oven to 425°F.
- In a small bowl, mix sour cream, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Pour over the cooled cheesecake and smooth into an even layer
- Bake for 5 minutes, until top looks glazed and shiny. Remove from oven, sprinkle with reserved crust mixture. Let cheesecake cool at room temperature for at least 20 minutes, and then refrigerate for 6 to 12 hours before serving.
- In a medium saucepan, combine chopped strawberries, sugar, water, lemon juice, and cornstarch/water slurry. Stir and bring to a simmer.
- Keep at a simmer (adjusting temperature as necessary), stirring often until thickened and syrupy, about 4 to 6 minutes. Watch very closely to make sure it doesn't bubble over!
- Chill before serving.
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