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Classic New York Cheesecake

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With this recipe, a creamy, gorgeous, crack-free New York-style cheesecake is totally doable, even for beginners!

Photo by Vladislav Noseek

Cheesecake is my husband, Michael’s, favorite dessert. In fact, the first time I met my future mother-in-law over 20 years ago, she told me the way to her son’s heart was through his stomach – and whenever she wanted him to do anything as a child, she bribed him with a slice of NY cheesecake. A traditional lady she may be, but I got the message loud and clear: learn to make a good cheesecake!

Though the ingredients are simple, cheesecake can be a little intimidating to make. Because cheesecake is a custard, it needs to be baked gently in a water bath, and you have to worry about the surface of the cake cracking, as well as over or undercooking. However, with the right recipe and a few pointers, a creamy, crack-free NY-style cheesecake is totally doable, even for beginners.

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

how to make new york style cheesecakeThis 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, cream cheese is used to make many wonderful desserts, like pumpkin cheesecake, no-churn ice cream, trifles, and 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

how to make new york-style cheesecake

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 a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer for mixing 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.
how to make new york-style cheesecake

Step 2: Make the Graham Cracker Crust

In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar, and salt.
how to make new york style cheesecake

Stir until well combined.

how to make new york style cheesecake

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.

how to make new york-style cheesecake

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.

how to make new york-style cheesecake

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.

how to make new york-style cheesecake

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

how to make new york-style cheesecake

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

how to make new york-style cheesecake

Mix in the sour cream.

how to make new york-style cheesecake

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

how to make new york-style cheesecake

Pour the batter on top of the crust.

how to make new york-style cheesecake

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.

how to make new york-style cheesecake

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.

how to make new york-style cheesecake

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.

how to make new york style cheesecake

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

Photo by Vladislav Noseek

More Cheesecake Recipes

Classic New York Cheesecake

With this recipe, a creamy, gorgeous, crack-free New York-style cheesecake is totally doable, even for beginners!

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

  • Hi, I’ve made this twice in 2 weeks. Both times I had people say it was the best cheesecake they had ever eaten. I had to print multiple copies of the recipe. Thank you.

    • — Lisa on December 7, 2022
    • Reply
  • I’ve made this recipe twice and it turned out perfect both times. It’s the first cheesecake I’ve ever made, and my family thought it was store bought! I don’t even like cheesecake but this recipe was so delicious. Thank you so muchh!

    • — Leena on December 7, 2022
    • Reply
  • Love your thorough recipes! My husband and I both use your cookbook! I want to make this cheesecake. Would this recipe work if I had meyer lemon juice and zest?

    • — Terry Moore on December 6, 2022
    • Reply
    • Yep! And thanks for your kind words about the recipes — so glad you like them! 💗

      • — Jenn on December 7, 2022
      • Reply
  • I made this for my granddaughter’s birthday. Everyone said it was the best cheesecake they’ve ever had. It’s the only one I’ve ever made that didn’t crack. Thank you for the clear instructions on how to do the water bath! Now, I just need a good chocolate cheesecake recipe!

    • — Annie on December 6, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Annie, So glad this was a hit! I have a chocolate cheesecake recipe on page 271 of my second cookbook. If you don’t own the cookbook and would like the recipe, email me at jennifer@onceuponachef.com and I’ll send you the recipe.

      • — Jenn on December 6, 2022
      • Reply
  • Made this for a friend’s going away party, and it is a keeper!!!

    Everyone loved it!!! So much so, that all I got was a lick off the spatula ♡♡♡

    I’ll be using it for my upcoming Christmas 🎄

    • — Miriam N. on December 5, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, this looks delicious. I would like to try this with an orange glaze or candied oranges on top. Do you think that would work, and do you have any recipe suggestions?

    • — Isabella St Andrews on December 5, 2022
    • Reply
    • I think this would be nice with either an orange glaze or candied oranges on top. You may also want to change out the lemon zest and juice in the batter to orange if you’d like a stronger orange flavor. I’d love to hear how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on December 6, 2022
      • Reply
  • OMG it’s AMAZING!!
    Followed all steps, every single part of all and it turned out to be absolutely fantastic!!
    Here in Brazil we do not have Graham Crackers so I used “bolacha maria” or “maizena” to make the crust.. it’s also very difficult to find ready sour cream so whenever I need it for a recipe I make my own by mixing heavy cream (nata ou creme de leite fresco) with natural yogurt and lemon juice and it gets great – so I used this one here.
    Thanks for the best cheesecake I have ever eaten in my whole life (my family members agree)!!! Oh, and thanks for the berry sauce recipe too: that is a perfect topping for this already wonderful dessert!! God bless you!

    • — Luana Silva on December 3, 2022
    • Reply
  • My cheesecake cracked all around the edge. Not sure what I did wrong! 😩

    • — Charlene Smith on December 2, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Charlene, I’m sorry you had a problem with cracking! Did you cool the cheesecake in the water bath and did you run a knife around the edge of the cake to make sure it wasn’t sticking to the side of the pan (that can cause cracks around the edges). You can always cover them up with whipped cream or this berry sauce.

      • — Jenn on December 3, 2022
      • Reply
  • Rather than mess with the tinfoil I use my 16.5 X 12 roasting pan with rack for my bath. I just keep the water level close to the bottom of the rack.

    • — Rusty on November 30, 2022
    • Reply
  • Is a water bath necessary or can it be baked without?

    • — Theresa Saccente on November 29, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Theresa, I wouldn’t recommend baking this without a water bath.

      • — Jenn on November 30, 2022
      • Reply
  • I made this cheesecake for Thanksgiving and it was delicious, however, it was a little too creamy without the thickness/denseness I think of with NY cheesecake…I was looking for that “creamy/crumbly” texture. Did I not bake it long enough? It was “set” but the middle was softer than the outside and it hadn’t browned at all around the edges. I was afraid to leave it in too long. Any advice? I’m making again this weekend for a “second” Thanksgiving dinner…
    PS I altered the crust a bit by using cinammon grahams and it was great!

    • — Dee Baker on November 26, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Dee, glad you enjoyed this! Based on how you’re describing the texture it does sound like it was a bit underbaked.

      • — Jenn on November 29, 2022
      • Reply
      • 2nd Thanksgiving Dinner— I made this cheesecake again with a few adjustments to my first try…the first time I placed my springform pan in another cake pan because I didn’t have 18 inch foil and didn’t trust seaming two smaller foil pieces. On my second try I wrapped the pan in 18 inch foil and placed it directly in the water. I also baked it a little longer than the outside time of 1hr 45 min and waited till the edge browned a little. It came out perfect!! Thank you again for such a great recipe!! New tradition officially begun!!

        • — Dee on December 6, 2022
        • Reply
  • I am speechless. This was the first recipe out or MANY that I have tried that came out perfect. I have been making cheesecake twice a year for the past 10 years. I had an amazing recipe from a childhood friend and somehow LOST IT! I just made this and it was perfection, no crack, silky smooth PERFECTION. Keeping this recipe forever. Thank you!

    • — Missy on November 25, 2022
    • Reply
  • Seems like a lot of sugar? Can that be reduced?

    • — Anthony on November 23, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Anthony, you can safely cut it back by 1/4 cup. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 23, 2022
      • Reply
  • I have made many cheesecake recipes and this is by FAR the best. I make the crust a little thicker but that is the only change I make! Look no further than this recipe!!

    • — Jacquelyn k on November 18, 2022
    • Reply
  • This turned out wonderful!! I must say, I actually don’t like cheesecake. I know, I know (insert gasp here). This was probably my favorite cheesecake I have made. Most end up tasting really heavy on my tongue, but this was dense without going overboard. I put 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and 2 of vanilla bean paste. I also used biscoff cookies for the crust and incorporated the extra cookie crumbs into some heavy cream to make a cookie flavored whipped cream. I also made a maple caramel ( what can I say? Autumn flows through me). I honestly didn’t mean to wax poetic about a cheesecake, so simply put, everyone loved it and you earned every one of these stars.

    • — Ashley Alexander on November 18, 2022
    • Reply
  • First time making this recipe. Best cheesecake ever. One question. The recipe calls for 12 Graham crackers. That was way too much when crushed. I believe 6 is more accurate.

    • — Relaymike on November 13, 2022
    • Reply
    • There’s no there’s no quantity as to what you’re putting together there I mean how much cheese how much cream cheese how
      much lemon zest how much lemon how much vanilla and how much flour sugar all of it

      • — TeresaPierce on November 17, 2022
      • Reply
      • Hi Teresa, It sounds like you are just looking at the portion of the page that has the pictures with some instructions underneath. If you scroll down a bit to under the pictures, you’ll find the full recipe. Alternatively, at the very top of the page, to the right of the recipe name, you’ll see an orange/red button that says Jump to Recipe – if you click on that, it will take you directly to the recipe. Hope that clarifies!

        • — Jenn on November 18, 2022
        • Reply
  • Such a great recipe. Turned out perfect. About to make my second one. Thanks.

    • — Louisa Sadiq on November 12, 2022
    • Reply
  • Love this recipe and adapted to Keto! Wondering if you have this recipe adapted for a pumpkin version with the holidays coming up? Other versions are so heavy.

    Thanks,

    Theresa

    • — Theresa on November 10, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Theresa, I’m not sure I fully understand your question about it being adapted but I do have a pumpkin cheesecake recipe. You can check it out here. Hope you enjoy if you make it!

      • — Jenn on November 11, 2022
      • Reply
      • Hi. This is my third time making your recipe. I’m doing a half size right now and then I will make a large one for Thanksgiving. Thank you very much. This is a wonderful recipe and your directions are great.

        • — Peter on November 12, 2022
        • Reply
  • Not a fan. Very eggy and overly sweet. I was very disappointed

    • — Diana Murphy on November 9, 2022
    • Reply
    • Omg. Yes! Wayyy too many eggs!! 😔

      • — Shaina on November 23, 2022
      • Reply
  • I do not bake, I baked this, it was amazing! I cut the recipe way down (see below) as I only had a small 4″ spring pan and am the only one who eats cheesecake in my house. I DO NOT BAKE, and regularly screw up cupcakes from a box, so I AM NOT SKILLED IN ANY WAY, it turned out AMAZING. I wasn’t sure my measurements were right, but figured I could always double the batch if there wasn’t enough filling. I crushed a bunch of ginger cookies until fine crumbs, added some melted butter until I got the amount of crust I wanted (no sugar or salt added), baked it for 10 min at the temp in the recipe, then used 4 oz of cream cheese, a half of a beaten egg, a splash of lemon and vanilla, 2 TSP of flour, and a 1/2 TBS or so of sour cream from the squeeze tube. Blended that with a small immersion whisk I had, poured it in the baked crust, and then cooked at the temp above for 30 min, with a new check every 5-10 min until it stopped being wobbly. I am not good at not making a mess, so I did not use the foil and place it in the water, but I did have a large crock of water in the oven, under the rack I was baking on, which I put in at the same time I started the preheat, so it would get hot and steamy by the time I put the cheesecake in. I did get two surface cracks on the top, but they did not affect the cheesecake and I was the only one eating it, so presentation was less important than simplicity of baking. At the same time, I used a similar method and vegan cream cheese and non-dairy creamer. It also came out great (no cracks, but did take longer to cook), it was not as flavorful as the plain. Not sure if it was because of the vegan cream cheese or the use of cream and pumpkin instead of sour cream, or my lack of consistent measuring. The pumpkin called for a larger amount of ingredients that weren’t as easy to try and scale, so I used 4 oz of vegan cream cheese, 3/4 of a beaten egg (you can use egg substitute if it needs to be vegan, I am just lactose intolerant and trying to mitigate my discomfort after eating 2 cheesecakes), 1 oz of non-dairy creamer, 2 -3 TBS of pumpkin, 2-3 TBS sugar, spices to taste, and a splash of vanilla. I cooked the pumpkin and sugar in a fry pan til thick and blended first as suggested. I am the only one eating this, so no peanut gallery comments to encourage my lack of following directions, but I did have a few family members look at it and say they both looked like they came from a bakery…1 hour of counter cooling and 1 hour in the fridge was plenty of time to dig in because they were small, I did save half of each for the next day to see if it got more flavorful, but they taste the same even 48 hours later. I topped with pumpkin whipped cream from a can. I will add the plain one to my resume, I will not make the pumpkin again. Thank you for anytime I want cheesecake!!

    • — ND on November 7, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi! I would like to try this recipe out but I’m not sure if I can get Graham cracker crumbs in Australia. Is there a substitute?

    • — Rhonda Gillard on November 7, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Rhonda, Do you have digestive biscuits? A lot of readers outside the US have used them.

      • — Jenn on November 7, 2022
      • Reply
  • Perfect instructions. I was always intimidated by trying to make a real cheesecake. I will definitely make this again.

    • — Margaret Cameron on November 3, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi 🙂
    I was wondering can I use Caster Sugar instead of White Sugar?

    • — Elizabeth on November 2, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Elizabeth, I’d stick with granulated sugar for this. Caster sugar may work, but cheesecake is pretty finicky and so I think it’s best to stick with the recipe for the most predictable results.

      • — Jenn on November 2, 2022
      • Reply
  • This is how a cheesecake should be all the time. great recipes – well worth the time and love put into it. thanks for the recipe

    • — Jon on October 30, 2022
    • Reply

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