The Best Classic New York Cheesecake – Rich and decadent, creamy, sweet yet tangy, this is the BEST recipe for a classic New York style cheesecake with a buttery graham cracker crust! Impress your friends and family with this homemade cheesecake! Clear and easy directions are provided even if you’ve never made a cheesecake so yours turns out PERFECTLY.
Classic New York Cheesecake Recipe
If you’re a cheesecake fan, look no further this recipe for the best New York cheesecake of your life!
The cheesecake itself is smooth, creamy, rich, sweet yet tangy, and dare I say just the best. This decadent New York cheesecake is set on top of a buttery graham cracker crust.
This classic cheesecake recipe is based on my incredible Samoa Cheesecake recipe I recently published. I realized that I don’t have a recipe for a classic New York style cheesecake so now is the time. And in case you need one, here is the Best No Bake Cheesecake recipe that my readers just adore.
If you’re nervous about making cheesecake from scratch, don’t be! A water bath and some cooling time may seem cumbersome, but I promise that these steps are easy follow.
When you sample your first bite of this incredible classic cheesecake with graham cracker crust, you’ll know that your efforts creating this best New York cheesecake recipe were all worthwhile.
For me homemade cheesecake is a special occasion dessert that’s perfect for the holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s Eve. Or of course Easter, Mother’s Day, or anytime you want to surprise your friends and family with an incredible homemade dessert.
Ingredients in Classic New York Style Cheesecake
To make cheesecake at home, you don’t need fancy ingredients. Just basic fridge and pantry staples including the following:
- Graham cracker crumbs
- Light brown sugar (or granulated sugar)
- Unsalted butter
- Full fat cream cheese
- Granulated sugar
- Sour cream (or plain, full-fat Greek yogurt)
- Heavy whipping cream
- Lemon zest
- Lemon juice
- Vanilla extract
- Large eggs + egg yolks
Note: Scroll down to the recipe card section of the post for the ingredients with amounts included and for more complete directions.
Ingredient Tips for the Best New York Cheesecake
When considering making this homemade New York cheesecake recipe, there is plenty to take into account! Namely, the ingredients themselves.
I want to delve deeper into things and ingredients that can make, or break (no pun intended), your New York style cheesecake!
Graham Cracker Crumbs – The recipe calls for 2 cups graham cracker crumbs. You have two options:
- Buy and use store bought (boxed) graham cracker crumbs. This is what I do for quickness and ease, and one less appliance to clean.
- Blend sheets of graham crackers in a food processor until you have 2 cups of crumbs. If you’re using this method, you’ll probably needs about 12 to 15 full size sheets of graham crackers. While not as easy as cracking open a box of store bought crumbs, it’s fast and takes literally 15 seconds in a food processor.
- Do not use a premade graham cracker cookie crust that they sell in the baking aisle of the grocery store. This ISN’T an option! Too small, and won’t stand up to the ensuing water bath.
Cream Cheese – You’ll need four 8-ounce packages of brick-style cream cheese. I use the Philadelphia brand.
Do not use anything type of “cream cheese” product labeled lite, fat free, spreadable, or whipped. Your cheesecake will not turn out since most are made with lots of water and fillers.
Heavy Cream – Use heavy cream and not half-and-half.
Sour Cream – You need full-fat sour cream.
You may substitute with full-fat Greek yogurt, plain flavor. Do not use regular yogurt (non-Greek yogurt) because it’s too runny and your cheesecake won’t set up.
If you do use Greek yogurt, your cheesecake won’t have quite as much tanginess compared to if you use sour cream.
Eggs – Make sure to use large eggs and not another size.
There are four eggs used, plus 3 with yolks only. Save the whites for another use like this show stopping White Layer Cake. Or just make scrambled eggs with the whites.
Cornstarch – This is what I suggest for the best texture in your homemade cheesecake, although if you don’t have it, use 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour instead.
Lemon Juice vs. Lime Juice – This recipe calls for lemon juice. The resulting finished cheesecake has a good amount of prominent lemon flavor.
- Lemon juice adds to the tartness of the cream cheese, however it is more prominent or detectable in the final overall flavor of the cheesecake than if you were to use lime juice.
- Lime juice enhances the flavor of the cream cheese helping to bring out that classic cheesecake flavor.
Takeaway: Lime juice enhances and lemon juice adds flavor. For this cheesecake, I use lemon juice although you can use lime if you’d like.
Lemon Zest + Lemon Juice Can Be Reduced
This New York cheesecake recipe calls for both lemon zest and lemon juice.
The final cheesecake is notably quite lemony. Although no one would actually say it’s “lemon cheesecake”.
If you want more of a neutral and less lemon-flavored cheesecake, I suggest you reduce or omit the lemon zest to make the cheesecake less overtly lemon flavored.
You can also halve the amount of lemon juice.
Although I find that to quickly scale back the lemon flavor, reducing or omitting the ZEST is more effective than playing with the juice.
For all you lemon lovers, make it exactly as written and the undertones of lemon will be a delight for you!
What About Ingredient Substitutions?
Although this New York style cheesecake with it’s fabulous graham cracker crust is just perfection as written, if you’re wondering about substitutions, here are the most common:
- Sugars – I use half white and half brown sugar in my cheesecake batter. After lots of trial and error, I find this to be just perfect, but can use all granulated sugar. For the crust, I use light brown sugar, but you can use white sugar instead.
- Sour Cream – Plain Greek yogurt can be used in place of the sour cream. Just note that there will simply be less acidity to enhance the cheesecake flavor. And again, don’t use low-fat or fat free Greek yogurt and definitely do not use regular yogurt because it’s too runny.
- Cornstarch – All-purpose flour can be used instead. Simply increase the amount used to 3 tablespoons rather than the 2 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch that I call for.
How to Make New York Style Cheesecake Recipe
Every step of this process is straightforward and my goal is to keep the directions easy to follow despite it looking like a lot of words. Cheesecakes just are.
Remember to scroll all the way down to the actual recipe card for full details!
You’re going to appreciate how simple this impressive recipe really is so let’s get started!
Crust and Batter
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare a 9-inch springform pan by lining the base with parchment paper and spray well with cooking spray.
Step 2: Blend whole sheets of graham crackers in your food processor until you have 2 cups of crumbs. OR simply use store bought graham cracker crumbs.
Step 3: Mix the crumbs together with the brown sugar in a medium bowl, add the melted butter, and mix until you have a wet sand consistency.
Step 4: Press the crust into the prepared pan and form an even layer. Bake for 10 minutes in a 350F oven. Let cool and preheat the oven to 400°F.
Step 5: In a stand mixer (or handheld electric mixer) beat together the cream cheese and white sugar using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
Cheesecake Batter Tips
Scrape the sides of the bowl down while beating the cream cheese with the sugar. The smoother it is at the beginning of the process, the better the final result will be.
If cream cheese lumps do remain at the end of making the batter, simply press them against the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula to disperse them as best as possible.
Step 6: Once smooth and creamy, add in the sour cream, heavy cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla extract, salt, vanilla, and beat until combined.
Step 7: Add the eggs, egg yolks and beat for 15 seconds to incorporate before lastly adding the cornstarch and beating.
Egg Beating Tip
Only mix the eggs into the batter per the amount of time indicated. Overmixing will create air bubbles which will cause the cheesecake to crack while baking. Not good!
Step 8: Pour the mixture on top of the crust.
Step 9: Wrap the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan very well with heavy duty foil to prevent water from seeping in.
Step 10: Place the springform pan wrapped in aluminum foil into a larger baking pan and fill the larger pan with 1-inch of warm water.
Step 11: Bake at 400°F for 10 minutes. Reduce to 250°F and bake for another 1 hour.
Water Bath Tips
Using the water bath is extremely important! The water bath helps to prevent the cheesecake from cracking. Do NOT skip or omit this.
I like to use a deep 9-13-inch roasting pan which is just big enough to encase the cheesecake. I also prop it up on the wire rack that comes with the pan but this is optional if you don’t have a wire rack – because remember – you wrapped your springform pan very well already with foil so water doesn’t leak in.
Another option is a 9×13-inch baking pan depending on the exact measurements of both the baking pan and the springform pan.
If you do not have a deep enough pan to fill with 1-inch of water, simply use a pan with enough depth or lip to hold a little bit of water.
Partway through baking, add more water to the pan so that there is always water to steam.
Step 12: Once the hour is up, turn off the heat, and let the cheesecake sit in the oven with the door closed for 30 minutes.
Step 13: Then, open the door and let the dessert rest for 30 minutes with the oven door open.
Step 14: Place the cheesecake on a cooling rack to cool completely at room temperature before covering it transferring to the fridge and chill it for at least 8 hours before serving
Be sure to let the cheesecake cool down in your powered off oven with a closed door for 30 minutes. And then with an open oven door for another 30 minutes. So that’s 60 minutes total time still hanging out in the oven even after the actual “baking” is over.
Let it cool completely at room temp. Then cover it and chill it for at least 8 hours in the fridge.
Don’t shortcut the chilling time. This aids in completely setting the cheesecake which enhances the creaminess of it.
Topping and Assembly
Step 15: You can top your homemade cheesecake with anything you’d like – chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, fruit sauces like cherry, or any type of fresh fruit or fresh berries.
Serving Suggestions for Classic New York Cheesecake
Based on how rich and decadent this cheesecake is, I like to keep the toppings less over-the-top rich and decadent.
For me, fresh fruit including strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries, or some fruit sauce like a cherry pie filling type of sauce or some jam is all I need. However it’s up to you!
Meaning, you really don’t need to serve it “with” anything. Maybe a cup of coffee or espresso. Homemade Baileys Irish Cream would also be a nice treat to add to your coffee.
Storage Instructions for Cheesecake with Graham Cracker Crust
This is a large cheesecake and makes a large quantity. As long as you’re going through the work of making a cheesecake, leftovers aren’t a bad idea!
The cheesecake will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Freezing Tips for Cheesecake
Believe it or not, this cheesecake freezes very well!
For quick serving and thawing purposes, I like to slice the cheesecake, wrap each slice very well in plastic wrap, then freeze the slices. It’s less bulky to store slices wrapped in saran wrap in my freezer than in containers, but you can use containers instead if you can make that work for your space.
When I’m ready for a slice, I take one out of the freezer, let it set on the counter for 15 to 20 minutes to thaw, and enjoy.
The Best New York Cheesecake FAQs
Yes you can. Follow the Oreo crust instructions that I use in my Samoa Cheesecake recipe.
Yes, you can use a hand mixer. It’ll just take a bit longer. If you have a stand mixer, this is the time to break it out!
No, you cannot because a normal cake pan isn’t deep enough. That’s one reason why you need a 9-inch springform pan.
The other reason is for easy releasing of your Samoa cheesecake when you’re ready to slice and serve it.
I bought this springform pan in 2015 and it’s been going strong ever since. Many leak (sometimes a ton) but I have had very good luck with this one over the years.
I use Reynold’s Nonstick Heavy Duty Foil. Make sure it’s a quality foil that doesn’t rip and isn’t flimsy because it’s instrumental acting as a barrier to keep water out of your springform pan.
In theory, you certainly can.
In reality, I would not want the meticulous work of assembly and trying to figure out a water bath situation for mini pans, and experiment with baking times until you get it just right. But it is theoretically possibly for the right person!
By all means yes! If you’re making this for a big event like Valentine’s Day, an anniversary or birthday, Mother’s Day, or a Christmas or New Year’s Eve holiday party, feel free to make the cheesecake in advance, keep it in your fridge very well covered and chilling for 2 to 3 days in advance of your event.
Read The Cheesecake Recipe In Entirety
This seems so basic but you’d be surprised how many readers do not do this which can lead to preventable errors. Please read over the recipe at least once in entirety before beginning so you know what the overall roadmap is!
Pay special attention to the baking and cooling process, with various times and varying temps, including:
– Baking the crust at 350F for 10 minutes
– Then increasing the temp to 400F and baking the cheesecake for 10 minutes
– Lowering the oven temperature to 250F and baking for 1 hour
– Then allowing the cheesecake to stay in the water bath in a powered-off oven with the door shut for 30 minutes
– And then allow it to remain in the oven but crack the oven door open for 30 more minutes
– Then room temp to cool fully
– Then the fridge for at least 8 hours to chill
1 hour 10 minutes
11 hours 10 minutes
Graham Cracker Crust
- 2 c crushed graham crackers
- 2 1⁄2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed (granulated sugar may be substituted)
- 1⁄2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 32 ounces cream cheese (use original, brick-style cream cheese; do NOT use lite or fat free products or anything labeled as whipped or spreadable)
- 2⁄3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup full-fat sour cream (plain full-fat Greek yogurt may be substituted; do NOT use lite or fat free Greek yogurt or sour cream)
- 1⁄4 cup heavy cream (not half-and-half)
- 2 1⁄2 teaspoon lemon zest (reduce to 1 to 1 1⁄2 teaspoons if you don’t want the lemon flavor as prominent)
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs + 3 yolks from large eggs (discard whites or save for another use)
- 2 1⁄2 tablespoons cornstarch (3 tablespoons all-purpose flour may be substituted but cornstarch is preferred)
- Please read over the recipe at least once in entirety before beginning so you know what the overall roadmap is. Pay special attention to the baking process, including lowering the oven temp from 400F to 250F after 10 minutes, and then allowing the cheesecake to stay in the water bath in a powered-off oven with the door shut for 30 minutes, and then out of the water bath but in the oven with the door open for 30 more minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350F and line the base of a 9-inch springform pan (do not use a regular 9-inch round cake pan, it’s not deep enough) with a circle of parchment paper cut to fit it, and spray very well with cooking spray; set aside.
- Crust – To a large bowl, add the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and whisk the mixture together until it resembles wet sand. Tip – I use store bought graham cracker crumbs to save time. However you can blend whole sheets of graham crackers in a food processor until you have 2 cups. You’ll likely need about 12 to 15 full-sized sheets of graham crackers to yield 2 cups of crumbs.
- Press the mixture firmly into the base of the springform pan in an even flat layer with your hands and fingertips or a fork.
- Bake crust for 10 minutes and after baking, place the springform pan on a cooling rack to cool while you move onto making the filling.
- Cheesecake Filling – Increase the oven temp to 400F and to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the cream cheese, sugar, and beat on high speed for about 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl down intermittently. Tips – The smoother the batter is at the beginning of the process, the better the final result will be. If cream cheese lumps do remain at the end of making the batter, simply press them against the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula to disperse and flatten them as best as possible.
- Add the sour cream, heavy cream, lemon zest (Tips – remember to zest your lemon before juicing it and only use the outermost yellow layer, no white pith which is bitter; reduce the quantity of zest as indicated above if you want less overall lemon flavor in the finished cheesecake), salt, vanilla, and beat for about 1 minute to combine. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl.Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the eggs, egg yolks, and beat for 30 seconds to incorporate. Tip – Do not mix for extra time because this will add air which will cause the cheesecake to crack while it bakes.
- Add the cornstarch and beat for a few seconds or until just incorporated.
- Pour the batter into the crust.
- Tightly wrap the outside and sides of the springform pan with foil. Tips – It needs to be tightly and very well wrapped so that in the next steps water doesn’t seep in. I suggest heavy duty foil.
- Water Bath – Place the springform pan into a larger pan (such as a larger roasting pan or bigger baking pan) and slowly add warm tap water so that the springform pan is resting in 1-inch of water. My roasting pan has a wire rack so I prop the springform pan on that, but a wire rack isn’t necessary. Tips – Do not skip the water bath. It’s essential to prevent the cheesecake from cracking during baking. While baking, add a bit more water if it starts looking low so there’s a steady supply of steam.
- Baking – Place the pans into the oven and bake for 10 minutes at 400F.
- Reduce the temp to 250F and bake for 1 hour.
- Once baked (after the 70 minutes total for crust + batter) turn the oven off. Let the cheesecake rest with the door closed for 30 minutes inside the water bath, inside the oven with the door closed.
- After 30 minutes, open the oven door, and allow the cheesecake to rest inside the oven (still in the water bath) with the door open cracked open a few inches.
- Cooling – Remove the pans from the oven, take the springform pan out of the water bath, and unwrap the foil from around the springform pan.
- Place cheesecake on a wire rack to cool completely. Tip – Don’t shortcut this step, make sure it’s fully cooled to room temp before moving on.
- After it’s completely cooled, cover the top tightly with foil, and place it into the fridge to chill for at least 8 hours, or overnight. Tip – You can make this ahead of time for an event. Simply let it remain in your fridge for 2-3 days.
- Serving – Serve cheesecake with the toppings of your choice such as fresh fruit or berries including strawberries, blueberries, blackberries. Fruit sauce such as cherry pie filling or blueberry pie filling, or a thick jam or fruit preserves are also great. Or try caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, or your favorite cheesecake topping.
- Storage – Cheesecake will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5-7 days or in the freezer for up to 3-4 months. Freezing Tips – The cheesecake freezes very well! For quicker and easier serving and thawing purposes, I like to slice the cheesecake, wrap each slice very well in saran wrap, then freeze the slices. It’s less bulky to store slices wrapped in plastic wrap in my freezer than in containers. When I’m ready for a slice, I take one out of the freezer, let it set on the counter for 15 to 20 minutes to thaw, and enjoy.
Amount Per Serving:
Calories: 667Total Fat: 53gSaturated Fat: 29gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 285mgSodium: 630mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 1gSugar: 25gProtein: 12g
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