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Rich, creamy, perfectly baked cheesecake couldn’t be easier. This is a foolproof recipe for the most delicious sour cream cheesecake recipe. This cheesecake recipe never cracks and always looks super impressive. This is an easy cheesecake recipe that comes out perfect every time!
If homemade cheesecake sounds intimidating, don’t let that stop you for one more day!
There are just a few tricks to baking a perfect New York cheesecake recipe. I’m going to talk you through all of the steps. Yes, even the water bath. Trust me, it’s easy!
This cheesecake looks impressive – professional, even. It has a thick, crispy, and buttery graham cracker crust, super tall sides, and a rich and creamy sour cream cheesecake filling.
You can add any kind of cheesecake topping that you like. A simple fresh fruit topping is always divine with cheesecake. My husband loves a jammy blueberry topping with his cheesecake. I love fresh fruit with a citrus glaze and a ton of whipped cream!
This is the best cheesecake recipe, and it’s never once cracked on me. Because it has always turned out perfectly, and because it’s beyond delicious, I come back to it over and over again.
A perfect NY cheesecake recipe is a beautiful thing. It’s New York Style because it’s a cheesecake recipe with sour cream. The sour cream adds a rich, tangy flavor to classic cheesecake.
Equipment you’ll need
- 9-inch springform pan (affiliate link)
- A 9×13 pan (affiliate link) OR a large roasting pan
- Heavy-duty aluminum foil
- Stand mixer with a paddle attachment OR a hand mixer
- Food processor with a blade attachment
Having the right tools on hand always makes a project easier. All of these tools are tools that I have in my kitchen and use regularly.
Of course, you can use a hand mixer if you haven’t invested in a Kitchen-Aid yet. And if you don’t have a food processor, a zip-top freezer bag and a rolling pin can make crushing graham crackers like therapy. Whack!
Once you’ve gathered all of the necessary equipment, make sure you have all of the ingredients.
Ingredients you’ll need for a NY Cheesecake
- For The Crust: Graham crackers, walnuts, butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon.
- For The Filling: Cream cheese, sour cream, heavy cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, and a vanilla bean. I use full-fat dairy always. However, you can substitute low-fat or even non-fat dairy. The texture may not be quite as rich and creamy.
- Citrus Zest: Oranges or lemons.
- Fruit For The Topping: I choose seasonal fruit. In the summer I love using fresh berries to top this cheesecake. In the fall and winter, stone fruits are also a great option.
How to make cheesecake
Graham cracker crust
Step 1: Add the crushed graham crackers to the bowl of your food processor. Add the cinnamon, walnuts, and brown sugar. Pulse until you have crumbs.
Step 2: Add the melted butter. Process until the graham cracker crumbs are evenly coated with butter.
Step 3: Line a spring form pan with parchment paper. Dump the graham cracker mixture into the pan and use your fingers to spread the crumbs. Press them up along the sides of the springform pan using a measuring cup.
Step 4: Pre-bake the crust at 350℉ for 15 minutes, or until it is golden brown. Set aside to cool while you make the filling.
Make the cheesecake filling
While the graham cracker crust is cooling, make the cheesecake filling.
PRO TIP: Start with all of your ingredients at room temperature.
Step 1: Add the cream cheese, sugar, and salt to the bowl of your mixer. Use the paddle attachment to mix until everything is smooth and creamy. .
Step 2: Add the sour cream, orange zest, vanilla extract, and the scrapings from the vanilla bean. If you don’t have a vanilla bean, you can use vanilla bean paste or extra vanilla extract. Mix until well combined.
Step 3: Add the eggs one at a time. Beat until each one is incorporated.
Step 4: Mix until the filling is smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides to make sure everything is evenly incorporated.
Bake the Cheesecake
The oven should be preheated already to 350℉. Now it’s time to get the cheesecake in the oven. You will be using a bain-marie (water bath) to bake this cheesecake.
A bain-marie is simply a fancy name for a water bath. The water bath does two things: a) it gives the filling a kick start in the cooking process by using boiling water; and b) the water provides a steamy cooking environment that helps to stabilize the oven temperature. The even temperature helps to prevent cracking during the cooking process.
Step 1: Wrap your springform pan in two layers of aluminum foil.
Step 2: Pour the mixture into your baked graham cracker crust.
Step 3: Set up the bain-marie by bringing 6 to 8 cups of water to a boil. Place the unbaked cheesecake springform cake pan into your roasting pan. Place the roasting pan in the oven on the middle rack. Pull the rack out so that you have room to add the boiling water.
Step 4: Add the boiling water, very carefully, to the roasting pan. Pour the water slowly so that it surrounds the springform cake pan. Fill it as high as possible without risking that you will get water into the cheesecake. Slide the rack back into the oven very slowly, making sure the water doesn’t splash.
Step 5: Bake for about 1 hour and 5 minutes. Keep a close eye on the cooking time at the end of the baking! The middle of the cheesecake should still be jiggly if you shake it.
Step 6: Cool the cheesecake. Turn off the heat and open the oven door a crack. I often use a wooden spoon to keep my oven door propped open. Let the cheesecake cool in the oven for 1 to 3 hours.
This step is really important in making sure that your cheesecake doesn’t crack. You want it to cool slowly.
Remove the cheesecake from the oven, cover it with foil, and then place it directly in the refrigerator to cool. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving.
To remove the cheesecake from the springform pan, loosen the edges by running a knife around the outside of the crust. Release the pan hinges and transfer the cheesecake to a cake plate.
Slice with a wet knife for best results. I wipe the knife off between each slice to keep the slices clean.
Toppings for your cheesecake
Cheesecake can be topped with almost anything that you like. Two classics are cherry pie filling for traditional cherry cheesecake and blueberry sauce topping for a gorgeous blueberry cheesecake. I like to serve mine with fresh seasonal fruit and a fruit preserve glaze.
A few recipe variations
Summer Toppings: Fresh berries are a perfect topping for the summer. You can use and orange or apricot glaze to give the fruit that classic professional pastry chef shine.
Blueberry and strawberry topping are always crowd favorites.
Winter Toppings: Stone fruit like plums and nectarines are great winter options to top this cheesecake.
Fall? Well then obviously you need to try my Pumpkin Cheesecake Bar Recipe!
This recipe calls for graham crackers, but if you’re avoiding gluten, don’t despair! You can find gluten-free graham crackers in almost any grocery store.
Simply substitute the gluten-free version of graham crackers (affiliate link) in the recipe and then follow the recipe directions exactly as written. Another option is using gluten-free graham cracker crumbs (affiliate link).
Other Dessert Recipes To Try
The Best Sour Cream Cheesecake (New York Style)
- 2 cups seasonal fruit
- ½ cup apricot jam
- ¼ cup water
- Preheat the oven to 350℉.
- Line the bottom of the springform pan with parchment paper.
- Set out a roasting pan or a 9×13 baking pan for the bain-marie (water bath).
- Add the graham crackers, walnuts, cinnamon, and sugar to the bowl of your food processor. Process until you have a fine crumb mixture.
- Add the melted butter and process until all crumbs are moist.
- Dump the crust mixture into your parchment-lined springform pan and press into the bottom and sides of the pan.
- Place the foil-wrapped springform pan on to a baking sheet and bake until the crust just begins to brown, about 15 minutes.
- Let the crust cool while you make the filling. Maintain the oven temperature.
- Add the cream cheese, sugar, and the salt in a stand-up mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix until the cream cheese is smooth and creamy.
- Add the sour cream, the orange zest, the vanilla extract, and the scrapings of the vanilla bean. Mix until the ingredients are well incorperated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the eggs one at a time. Beat until each egg is incorporated.
- Wrap the outside of a springform pan in aluminum foil.
- Pour the filling mixture into the cooled crust.
- Bring 6 cups of water to a boil. (You may not need all of it.)
- Set the foil-wrapped sprinform pan inside of a roasting pan or 9×13 cake pan.
- When the water has come to a boil, set the pan on the oven rack. Pull the oven rack out so that you can easily add the boiling water.
- Carefully pour the water into the roasting pan so that it surrounds the cheesecake. Make sure to not get water into the filling. Then gently push the rack back in. Make sure the water doesn't splash.
- Bake the cheesecake until the edges no longer move, about 1 hr and 5 min. The inside still may be slightly jiggly.
- Turn the oven off and crack open the oven door. I usually use a wooden spoon to prop the oven door open. Let the cheesecake sit in the oven undisturbed for 1 to 3 hours. This slow cooling keeps the cheesecake from cracking.
- Remove the cheesecake from the oven. Cover the top with foil and immediately place it into the refrigerator. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.
- To remove the cheesecake from the springform pan, loosen the edges by running a knife around the outside of the crust. Release the pan hinges and transfer the cheesecake to a cake plate.
- Slice with a wet knife for best results. I wipe the knife off between each slice (but I'm picky).
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