The Ultimate Guide to Making the Perfect Cheesecake Without Sour Cream

Classic cheesecake with fresh strawberries on beige napkin

A Cheesecake Recipe That Never Disappoints

If you’re a dessert lover like me, it can be challenging to pick a favorite. But when it comes to cheesecake, it’s a tough competition between a decadent slice of creamy cheesecake and a gooey chocolate chip cookie. There’s just something about a classic dessert that hits the spot every single time.

My mother’s cheesecake recipe is one that I will always swear by. It has never let me down, and it yields a flawless cheesecake every time. Creamy, flavorful, and without any cracks, this recipe truly deserves the title of “Best Cheesecake Ever.”

What Sets This Recipe Apart

  • Simple Ingredients: You probably have everything you need in your pantry.
  • No Sour Cream: While sour cream cheesecakes are delicious, this recipe proves that it’s not always necessary. It allows the cream cheese flavor to shine.
  • No Water Bath: No need to fuss with a water bath—this cheesecake bakes perfectly without it.
  • Quality Matters: Don’t skimp on ingredients. Using Philadelphia cream cheese and top-notch graham crackers takes this easy cheesecake recipe to a whole new level.

The Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Graham crackers
  • Unsalted butter
  • Granulated sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Cream cheese
  • Eggs

With just these six simple ingredients, you can achieve the best cheesecake without any cracks, a water bath, or unnecessary hassle.

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Homemade plain cheesecake with a graham cracker crust on a white board

Why Do Cheesecakes Develop Cracks?

There are several reasons why cheesecakes can develop cracks, but it often boils down to temperature fluctuations. When you remove a cheesecake from a hot oven and place it on a countertop, the sudden change in temperature can cause it to crack.

Overbaking or using cold ingredients can also lead to cracks. Additionally, overmixing the batter can introduce excess air, creating air bubbles that result in cracks.

However, fear not! This easy cheesecake recipe comes with a secret: it has never cracked on me. Never.

Cheesecake slice on a pie server

No Water Bath Required

One of the best things about this recipe is that it doesn’t require a water bath. Unlike many other cheesecakes, this one is baked at a higher temperature for a shorter time, and the perfect balance of ingredients ensures a stable cheesecake. With proper cooling and avoiding overbaking, you can enjoy a crack-free cheesecake without the hassle of a water bath.

And let me tell you, the flavor of this cheesecake is simply divine. It’s sweet yet tangy and pairs perfectly with a buttery graham cracker crust. It’s easy, uses simple ingredients, and, most importantly, it’s absolutely delicious.

Determining When Your Cheesecake is Done

As my mom taught me, when your cheesecake is done, gently move the pan and observe a slight jiggle in the center. It shouldn’t be sloshy or runny—just a gentle jiggle is enough.

If both the center and the outside of the cheesecake jiggle, it’s not quite ready. Conversely, if the center doesn’t jiggle at all, it may be overbaked. Finding that perfect jiggle is the key to a flawless cheesecake.

To prevent cracking, it’s important to cool the cheesecake properly.

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The Cooling Process to Prevent Cracks

Once your cheesecake is done baking, turn off the oven and crack open the door. Allow the cheesecake to cool in the cracked oven for 45-60 minutes. This slow cooling process is crucial for preventing cracks. Afterward, continue cooling the cheesecake on the counter until it reaches room temperature. Finally, chill it in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or even better, overnight.

Plain cheesecake with graham cracker crumbs on a wooden cake plate

No Need for a Springform Pan

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to use a springform pan to make this cheesecake. A pie plate, a baking pan, or even a springform pan will do the trick. Use whatever you have on hand—you’ll still achieve an amazing cheesecake.

Baked Cheesecake vs. No-Bake Cheesecake

A no-bake cheesecake sets in the fridge, usually with the help of gelatin or other thickeners. On the other hand, a baked cheesecake doesn’t require any thickeners because it bakes in the oven.

Personally, I prefer a baked cheesecake for its superior flavor. The oven-baked method gives the cheesecake a richer taste that I find more enjoyable.

Delicious Cheesecake Toppings

When it comes to toppings, the sky is the limit. Here are a few classic options to consider:

  • Fresh strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries
  • Canned cherries (a nostalgic touch)
  • Lemon curd
  • Caramel sauce
  • Chocolate chips
  • Ganache or chocolate sauce
  • Whipped cream

Feel free to get creative and experiment with different combinations. The beauty of cheesecake is that it pairs well with nearly anything!

Slice of cheesecake with strawberries

How to Make Cheesecake From Scratch

Here’s a step-by-step guide to making this amazing cheesecake:

  1. Ensure your cream cheese and eggs are at room temperature for a smooth and silky filling.
  2. Prepare the graham cracker crust by pulsing graham crackers in a food processor until crumbled. Mix the crumbs with melted butter, sugar, and vanilla extract, then press the mixture into your chosen pan.
  3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  4. With a hand mixer or standing mixer, beat the cream cheese for 5-10 seconds. Add the granulated sugar and mix until combined. Incorporate the vanilla extract.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue mixing until the filling is smooth. If you notice any lumps, gently smooth them out with a rubber spatula.
  6. Pour the filling into the graham cracker crust and spread it evenly.
  7. Bake for 22-25 minutes until the center gently jiggles. Remember, a slight jiggle means it’s perfectly baked.
  8. Turn off the oven, crack open the door, and let the cheesecake cool inside for 45-60 minutes. Then, allow it to cool on the counter until it reaches room temperature.
  9. Finally, chill the cheesecake in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or ideally overnight.
  10. Slice and serve with your favorite toppings.
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Slice of cheesecake on a pie server with strawberries

Final Tips & Tricks for Baking Cheesecake

  • Use high-quality ingredients. Store brands may not provide the best flavor and texture, especially in cheesecake.
  • Ensure your eggs and cream cheese are at room temperature to avoid lumps.
  • The perfect cheesecake is achieved when the center gently jiggles.
  • Slowly cool the cheesecake in the cracked oven, then let it reach room temperature on the counter.
  • Optimal flavor and texture are achieved by chilling the cheesecake in the fridge overnight.

Cheesecake collage with fresh strawberries

More Cheesecake Favorites

If you’re eager to explore more cheesecake options, here are some of my personal favorites:

  • Pecan Caramel Cheesecake
  • Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries
  • Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream
  • Chocolate Cheesecake Trifle

Homemade caramel cheesecake with a pecan graham cracker crust and caramel whipped cream

No-bake chocolate cheesecake stuffed strawberries

Blueberry cheesecake ice cream

So there you have it—a foolproof cheesecake recipe that will impress your friends and family. With its creamy texture and irresistible flavor, this cheesecake is sure to become your new favorite dessert. Just remember to use quality ingredients, cool it properly, and enjoy every delicious bite!

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