Classic New York Cheesecake

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Think making cheesecake is a challenge? Think again! This foolproof recipe delivers a cheesecake so dense, rich, and creamy, it rivals those from New York’s most beloved delis—and it’s easy enough for beginners to master.

Slice of cheesecake on a plate.

Cheesecake has always been my husband Michael’s absolute favorite dessert. I remember when I first met my future mother-in-law over 20 years ago, she told me the key to her son’s heart was through his stomach—and he could be persuaded to do just about anything for a slice of NY cheesecake. Luckily, having just graduated from culinary school, I had a little advantage when it came to both winning his heart and perfecting my cheesecake! Now, I know that making cheesecake can seem a little intimidating. It’s a custard dessert that requires careful baking in a water bath to prevent cracking and achieve the perfect consistency. But don’t let that daunt you. With a few pointers and a tried-and-true recipe, which I’m happy to share with you, even beginners can whip up a dense, rich, creamy (and crack-free) cheesecake. This is a tradition-worthy dessert that rivals the best NY delicatessens. Who knows, maybe it will even help you win over someone special!

“I made this for my family at Christmas time and everyone LOVED it! I had never made a cheesecake before. The instructions were simple and easy for beginners. I am now tasked with making this for birthdays and holidays!”

Rebekah

What You’ll Need To Make A Classic New York Cheesecake

Cheesecake ingredients including eggs, sour cream, and lemon.

This recipe makes a classic New York-style cheesecake with a buttery graham cracker crust and rich, dense filling made from cream cheese, eggs, sugar, sour cream, vanilla, a hint of lemon, and a few tablespoons of flour.

Cream cheese is the key ingredient, so I recommend using a good brand, like Philadelphia. Though it is used most often as a spread for bagels (or a schmear), cream cheese is used to make many wonderful desserts, like my no-churn key lime pie ice cream, berry trifle, and cream cheese frosting.

Flour might seem like an unusual addition—not all cheesecake recipes incorporate it—but it’s the secret to success. A little starch helps prevent the cake from cracking and also makes the filling lighter and fluffier.

Key Equipment

Springform pan on a sheet of aluminum foil.

You’ll need a 9 or 10-inch springform pan and 18-inch heavy-duty aluminum foil. The springform pan features sides that can be removed from the base, so you can release the cake easily without having to flip the whole pan over (this would be a disaster with cheesecake). Springform pans, however, are notorious for leaking. Since the cheesecake bakes in a water bath, the foil prevents the water from seeping in during baking. If you’d like to try another technique that doesn’t require wrapping the pan in foil, you can place your springform pan inside a larger cake pan (see how it’s done here) or purchase a silicone wrap for your pan.

You will also need an electric mixer for whipping up the batter and a large roasting pan for the water bath.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Preheat the Oven and Prep the Pan

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Wrap the springform pan with one large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, covering the underside of the pan and extending all the way to the top. Repeat with another sheet of foil for insurance. Spray the inside of the pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Springform pan wrapped in aluminum foil.

Step 2: Make the Graham Cracker Crust

In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar, and salt.

Graham cracker crumbs in a bowl with other ingredients.

Stir until well combined.

Bowl of graham cracker crumb mixture.

Press the crumbs into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, until set. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

Person pressing graham cracker mixture into a pan with a measuring cup.

Step 3: Make the Cheesecake Batter

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or beaters, combine the cream cheese, sugar, and flour.

Cream cheese, sugar, and flour in a stand mixer.

Beat on medium speed until just smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to be sure the mixture is evenly combined.

Cream cheese mixture in a stand mixer.

Add the vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt; beat on low speed until just combined.

Cream cheese mixture and flavorings in a stand mixer.

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed until incorporated, scraping the bowl as necessary.

Egg in a stand mixer with a cream cheese mixture.

Mix in the sour cream.

Sour cream in a stand mixer with a cream cheese mixture.

Make sure the batter is uniform but do not over-mix.

Stand mixer full of cheesecake batter.

Pour the batter on top of the crust.

Batter pouring into a springform pan with a graham cracker crust.

Step 4: Bake

Set the unbaked cheesecake in a large roasting pan. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until it comes about one inch up the side of the cake pan. The water bath (also called a bain marie) regulates the temperature and keeps the cheesecake baking at an even, low heat. The steam/humidity created by the water bath also protects the cheesecake from drying out and cracking.

Springform pan of cheesecake on a baking sheet.

Bake until the cake is just set, 1 hour and 30 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minutes. The cake should not look liquidy at all but will wobble just a bit when the pan is nudged; it will continue to cook as it cools.

Cooked cheesecake in a springform pan wrapped in aluminum foil.

Step 5: Cool

Carefully remove the roasting pan from the oven and set it on a wire rack. Cool the cheesecake in the water bath until the water is just warm, about 45 minutes. Remove the springform pan from the water bath, discard the foil, and transfer the cheesecake to the refrigerator to cool for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Cooked cheesecake in a springform pan.

Remove the sides of the springform pan. You can serve the cheesecake right from the base of the springform pan. Or, if you’d like to transfer it to a serving platter, run a long, thin spatula between the crust and the pan bottom, and then use two large spatulas to transfer the cheesecake to a serving dish. Slice with a sharp knife, wiping the knife clean between slices. Serve with berry sauce, if you like.

video tutorial

Slice of New York cheesecake on a plate.
Photo by Vladislav Noseek

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Classic New York Cheesecake

Think making cheesecake is a challenge? Think again! This foolproof recipe delivers a cheesecake so dense, rich, and creamy, it rivals those from New York’s most beloved delis—and it’s easy enough for beginners to master.

Servings: 8 to 10
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour 55 Minutes
Total Time: 2 Hours 25 Minutes, plus at least 8 hours to cool

Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs, from 12 whole crackers
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt

For the Filling

  • 32 oz (four 8-oz blocks) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon packed lemon zest, from 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, from 1 lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 6 large eggs
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • Special equipment: 9- or 10-inch springform pan; 18-inch heavy-duty aluminum foil (see Pro Tip)
  • Berry sauce, for serving (optional)

Instructions

For the Crust

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and set an oven rack in the lower middle position. Wrap a 9- or 10-inch springform pan with one large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, covering the underside and extending all the way to the top so there are no seams on the bottom or sides of the pan. Repeat with another sheet of foil for insurance. Spray the inside of the pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Make the crust: In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar, and salt. Stir until well combined. Press the crumbs into an even layer on the the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, until set. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside.
  3. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Set a kettle of water to boil.
  4. Make the batter: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or beaters, beat the cream cheese, sugar, and flour together on medium speed until just smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to be sure the mixture is evenly combined. Add the vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt; beat on low speed until just combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed until incorporated, scraping the bowl as necessary. Mix in the sour cream. Make sure the batter is uniform but do not over-mix.
  5. Check to make sure your oven has cooled to 325°F, then set the cheesecake pan in a large roasting pan. Pour the batter on top of the crust. Pour the boiling water into the large roasting pan to come about 1 inch up the side of the cake pan. Bake until the cake is just set, 1 hour and 30 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minutes. (If the cheesecake starts to look too golden on top towards the end, cover it loosely with foil.) The cake should not look liquidy at all but will wobble just a bit when the pan is nudged; it will continue to cook as it cools. Carefully remove the roasting pan from the oven and set it on a wire rack. Cool the cheesecake in the water bath until the water is just warm, about 45 minutes. Remove the springform pan from the water bath and discard the foil. If necessary, run a thin-bladed knife around the edge of the cake to make sure it's not sticking to the sides (which can cause cracks as it cools), then cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to cool for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  6. For serving: Remove the sides of the springform pan. Serve the cheesecake right from the base of the pan; or, to transfer it to a serving platter, run a long, thin spatula between the crust and the pan bottom, and then use two large spatulas to carefully transfer the cheesecake to a serving dish. Slice with a sharp knife, wiping the knife clean between slices. Serve with berry sauce, if you like.
  7. Make Ahead: The cheesecake can be made and stored in the springform pan in the fridge, tightly covered with plastic wrap, up to two days ahead of time.
  8. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The cheesecake can be frozen for up to 3 months. To freeze, place the cake in the freezer briefly, unwrapped, to firm it up. Then double-wrap it tightly with aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap, or place it in heavy-duty freezer bag. Thaw in the refrigerator the night before you plan to eat it.
  9. Pro Tip: Springform pans are notorious for leaking. Since a cheesecake bakes in a water bath, the foil prevents the water from seeping in during baking. Please do not attempt to use standard 12-inch (30cm) aluminum foil – you can’t have any foil seams on the bottom or sides of the pan. No matter how well (or how many times) you wrap the pan, if there are seams exposed to the water, the water will find a way in. Even when wrapped properly, you can occasionally get some condensation inside the foil. If this happens, don’t worry – the crust is likely just a bit moist around the edges. Simply remove the sides of the springform pan before refrigerating and let it dry out in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (10 servings)
  • Serving size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 659
  • Fat: 43 g
  • Saturated fat: 24 g
  • Carbohydrates: 59 g
  • Sugar: 49 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 11 g
  • Sodium: 464 mg
  • Cholesterol: 233 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • Have you ever made this with mini 4” pans? What cooking time would I adjust it to?

    • — Amber on June 19, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Amber, I don’t recommend using this recipe with a 4-inch pans. I think you’d have to adjust it too much. Sorry!

      • — Jenn on June 20, 2024
      • Reply
  • I’ve made several cheesecakes over the years, and this one is by far the best. The texture and flavor was outstanding. The directions were perfectly written and easy to follow. No other directions called for taking the cheesecake, when done, out of the oven and leaving it in the pan with the water until the water was cooled. It worked like a charm, and there were no cracks. I did make one tweak. Since I have never liked graham cracker crusts I thought I would substitute shortbread cookies; however, my husband suggested chocolate. So I made an Oreo cookie crust (found on another site). It worked out well. Wish I knew what took me so long to find your recipe. If I could give it 10 stars or more I would.

    • — Pam Shimberg on June 16, 2024
    • Reply
  • Do you think this could be made without a water bath? I don’t have the right foil. I have made other cheesecakes and your delicious cheesecake bars without water baths and they turned out great – what do you think?
    Love your site and wonderful recipes!
    Dale

    • — D.T.D. on June 16, 2024
    • Reply
    • I really recommend a water bath here, but you can use a different method — to use a water bath without foil, place the springform pan inside a slightly larger metal pan, like a 10×3-inch cake pan or deep-dish pizza pan, before lowering it into the water bath. This method ensures proper insulation without any risk of water leaking into the cheesecake. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on June 17, 2024
      • Reply
  • I’d like to make this for Father’s Day but my husband has celiac. Can I substitute corn starch for the flour in order to make this gluten free? (I use gf graham crackers for crust.)

    • — Cathy on June 12, 2024
    • Reply
    • Yep!

      • — Jenn on June 13, 2024
      • Reply
  • Really good recipe to follow, even for someone like me who rarely bakes. I do have to mention though, when I made my first attempt at it and cooked according to directions, the top ended up a bit brown. In order to have a closer to white look and not brown, I did the original baking for about 25mn less, let it sit in the oven ‘cooling’ with the door open for about 20 minutes longer than the recipe calls for, and chilled an extra hour just to be on the safe side.

    • — Erin on June 12, 2024
    • Reply
  • One of the greatest cakes that I have ever made.

    • — Itay on June 10, 2024
    • Reply
  • Amazing! My new go-to recipe! Thank you, Jen!

    • — Maíra on June 6, 2024
    • Reply
  • I made this cheesecake for my son’s birthday. It was very much like the New York style. I also made a strawberry glaze and it was perfect. He loved it! Definately will make it again. Thanks for the great recipe.

    • — Debbie on June 2, 2024
    • Reply
  • Amazing! Made this for my son’s birthday and everyone who ate it absolutely loved it. No need to make any other cheesecake recipe ever again.

    • — Cheryl on May 31, 2024
    • Reply
  • Best cheesecake recipe ever! I’ve come to trust all your recipes and this one too did not disappoint! Great work!

    • — Antonietta Giovinazzo on May 27, 2024
    • Reply
  • What does the lemon juice and zest do for the recipe?
    Bev

    • — Bev on May 23, 2024
    • Reply
    • It adds a very subtle lemon flavor. Feel free to omit it if you’d like.

      • — Jenn on May 23, 2024
      • Reply
  • It was the best tasting cheese cake I ever had. Wouldn’t ever make a different one.

    • — Toni on May 19, 2024
    • Reply
  • I’ve made this countless times for family, friends and neighbors. I get requests again and again. My family is from Long Island and this beats driving to NY to satisfy the craving. It’s flawless every time. I have only left it in the oven for 1.5hrs. I’m afraid to go any longer.

    • — Gail R Williams on May 11, 2024
    • Reply
  • Came out amazing. There were no cracks in the cheesecake, and even though it seemed like some water seeped through the foil, the crust dried out once I put it in the fridge. It does have a fairly strong lemon-y zing, which I loved, but if that’s not your thing I would cut down on the amount of lemon juice/zest.

    • — BB Judy on May 11, 2024
    • Reply
  • Baked beautifully and tastes just as well as it looks! Tried it twice – both with a crust and crustless. For anyone wanting to try it without a crust, I lined the bottom of the springform with parchment paper and buttered the sides and baked it for about 20 minutes less.

    • — Orsie on May 9, 2024
    • Reply
  • I have used many cheesecake recipes over the years and this is my favourite – turns out perfectly – no cracks- every time! It serves as the perfect base for a variety of fruit toppings and is requested often by family and friends for special occasions.
    Thank you Jenn for all the time you take when developing and perfecting your recipes and thanks for sharing them with us.

    • — Kate on May 2, 2024
    • Reply
  • Hi, Jen. I’ve made your recipe several times and it’s great. Thank you. I’ve always wrapped the springform pan with lots of heavy-duty aluminum foil per your instructions. But I’ve always wondered if you could skip the aluminum foil wrap … and place the springform pan into a larger, circular cake pan … and place THAT into the bain marie.

    • — francis on May 1, 2024
    • Reply
    • Yes, you can definitely do that! And glad you like it. 😊

      • — Jenn on May 1, 2024
      • Reply
    • I used a large oven toasting bag and wrapped the springform, secured the bag with cooking twine, and trimmed off the top of the bag. Simple and no leaks.

      • — Matt on June 17, 2024
      • Reply
  • The only thing I did different is skipped the crust, Added twice the sour cream and I don’t use a water bath. I usually just make a half (it comes out beautifully. I usec a ton of butter flavored spray, bottom and sides. I put my oven racks in the middle but I use the top-middle rack. I bake the full recipe for 70 minutes and the half recipe for 60 minutes. I don’t put any citrus in it but other than what I’ve stated already, the rest of the recipe is by the book. I take mine out and place on a cooling rack until it is only slightly warm. I cover it up and refrigerate it overnight. I’ve yet to get a crack in mine and it’s so simple. Yummy! Thank you so much for this recipe, Jenn. I’m a Jenn with 2 N’s, too!

    • — moshgirl on April 28, 2024
    • Reply
  • I made this as a surprise for my boyfriend during his birthday and he said that it’s the best cheesecake he’s ever had! I made it gluten free so that his mum could also have it and they all said that this is seriously one delicious cheesecake. Even I couldn’t stop eating!! So thank you for sharing this recipe 🩵🫶🏼

    • — Sonu Sunuwar on April 25, 2024
    • Reply
  • So many pointless, confusing, totally archaic meaasurements, holy hell!! Ingredients should be listed by weight only, otherwise it’ll never work for ya no matter what you do

    • — Jim Beluskovi on April 16, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Jim, The great majority of my recipes (including this one) include conversions to metric/weight measurements. To view them, scroll down to the recipe, and immediately under the recipe title on the right side, you’ll see a little toggle. If you move it from “cup measures” to metric, you’ll see measurements that will work for you. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on April 17, 2024
      • Reply

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