This is the first cheesecake I ever made when I started baking, and it's simply perfect! Why? It's smooth, creamy, uses few ingredients and, if you follow the instructions exactly, it's fool-proof. That's how good this recipe is. It was my go-to recipe for years, and I can't believe I'm posting it almost a decade after starting this blog! It was worth the wait.
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You might or might not have realized that I'm a cheesecake fanatic. A complete groupie and a purist.
That is, I like my cheesecakes to taste like sweet cheese, and if I'm making a flavored version, the ingredients I add are the necessary ones.
So you will hardly see things like flour, cornstarch, or gelatin in my recipes.
This sour cream cheesecake embodies all of my strong beliefs about cheesecake: few ingredients, a smooth and creamy filling, and a no-fuss cookie crust.
Tanginess: it gives the cheesecake a tang that balances the sweetness well and is so characteristic of cheesecakes.
Lighter filling: it softens the cream cheese a bit, so the result is not as dense as an all-cream cheese recipe.
For best results, use the best quality you can afford.
- Crumb crust: use a homemade graham cracker crust, or buy it from a good source.
- Cream cheese: the regular type, full-fat cream cheese is needed for consistency and creaminess. I always use Philadelphia original cream cheese, but other premium brands work fine.
- Sour cream: the regular type, full-fat sour cream cheese is used for richness and creaminess.
- White, granulated sugar.
- Vanilla: I use pure vanilla extract or pure vanilla paste when available, but a good vanilla essence (artificially flavored) also works and is infinitely cheaper.
- Organization: read the recipe first and ensure you have ingredients at the correct temperature, equipment, and enough workspace. This will make the process so much easier.
- Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. You can use a thermometer(like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature.
- Flavorings: vanilla extract or paste are always my first option for a classic cheesecake. But the sky's the limit if you want to add citrus zest, other extracts, spices, or a tablespoon of liqueur.
- Freezing: sometimes I feel that this cheesecake is creamier after it has been frozen for a week or two. Just to say that it's a great dessert to have frozen. Thaw in the refrigerator and then bring to almost room temperature to eat.
Preparing the pan
I line the bottom of my cake pan with aluminum paper. This makes it super easy to remove.
- Take a large piece of foil, a few inches bigger than your pan, press it lightly so that it takes the form of the removable bottom part, and then close the side part over it. You will have the overhanging foil outside the pan.
- Take the foil and wrap it upwards so that it will adhere to the sides of the pan.
- When you're ready to remove the cheesecake, straight from the refrigerator, turn the foil down, remove the pan side, and then lift the cheesecake placing your whole hand between the foil and the bottom of the pan. Since the cake is cold, it will lift easily.
- Peel the foil carefully while holding the cake in your palm, and place it on the serving plate.
We all know by now that this type of crust is the best for cheesecake and ourselves because it's so darn easy! Mix two ingredients and pat them onto the cheesecake pan. That's it.
The easiest answer is graham crackers. It's traditional for cheesecake bases since forever.
Vanilla wafers are an alternative, especially if you live outside the US. And they let the filling shine.
But really, any plain cookie you like can be used. As long as you like how it goes with a cream cheese filling.
The most important part of any cheesecake is that the filling is creamy and smooth, right?
So use good ingredients, follow instructions closely and, very importantly, pay attention to the cooling process.
Cheesecakes need to cool down gradually and spend hours in the refrigerator; that's how we achieve a creamy consistency.
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This is a simple baked cheesecake recipe you can serve with whatever topping you like. Or eat it plain.
Or top it with decadent things like dulce de leche (sweet milk jam) or your favorite caramel sauce.
- Refrigerator: besides the mandatory 8 hours in the fridge, you can keep it there for several days, always well wrapped or covered to avoid drying.
- Freezer: this cheesecake was made to be frozen! A friend of mine says it's even better after it. I tend to agree. But keep in mind that you need to first refrigerate it for at least 4 hours before freezing. Well wrapped, it can last up to 2 months.
Frequently asked questions
It makes it lighter in texture, less dense, and it also balances the sweetness. Sour cream adds a tanginess that cuts through the sugar and fat.
You can use mascarpone which is also tangy (though richer), or use 1 ½ cups more cream cheese together with ⅓ cup of heavy or whipping cream.
This might be the most asked question when it comes to cheesecake recipes. There are several possible answers: too much beating, overbaking it, and/or temperature too high, drastic change in temperature (from the oven to the refrigerator), it stuck to the sides of the pan and cracked when it started to cool down as the sides couldn't shrink. One or several might be the cause.
Absolutely! Omit the crust and butter the pan. I have an Orange Ricotta Cheesecake with no-crust in this blog.
I never use a water bath since my experiences never turned out well; some water inevitably seeped into the crust or filling. What you can do is put a pan with hot water on the floor of the oven, and the steam will make the environment more humid. Also, I bake the cheesecakes at a lower temperature, and they come out wonderfully smooth and creamy.
Related recipes you might like:
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For the base:
- 1 ½ cups (200g) ground graham crackers or plain vanilla cookies
- 6 tablespoons (85g) butter, melted
For the filling:
- 16 ounces (2 cups or 450g) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 cups (480g) sour cream, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Turn the oven to 350°F/180°C.
- If you want, line the bottom of a 9-inch (24cm) cake pan with removable bottom. with aluminum foil for easier removal.
For the base:
- Mix the ground cookies with the butter until it looks like wet sand.
- Pat onto the bottom of the prepared pan, pressing with your hand until it is compact.
- Bake for 10 minutes, until it dries a bit and begins to lightly color. Reserve.
For the filling:
- Mix the cream cheese with the sour cream in a large bowl until smooth and no lumps remain.
- Add the sugar and mix until well integrated.
- Add the eggs and continue mixing until everything is well combined and it is creamy. You don’t need to beat because we don’t want to incorporate air to the mixture, but make sure no egg parts remain, especially egg whites which tend to take longer to disintegrate.
- Add vanilla and mix well.
- Pour the batter onto the prepared pan.
- Bake for 30 minutes, turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake inside, without opening the door, for 1 hour.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely to room t° on a wire rack.
- Without removing it from the pan, wrap with plastic and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. I recommend a minimum of 1 day. (At this point it can also be frozen, always well wrapped).
- Carefully remove the side ring from the pan. If you used aluminum paper, lift the sides and place your open palm beneath the paper and the pan. Lift the whole cheesecake (it’s cold so it’s easy to do) and carefully unwrap the paper all around and carefully place the cheesecake on the serving plate.
- Serve with berry jam or sauce or however you like it. I love our basic blueberry sauce.
Storing - Refrigerator: besides the mandatory 8 hours in the fridge, you can keep it there for several days, always well wrapped or covered to avoid drying. Freezer: this cheesecake was made to be frozen! A friend of mine says it's even better after it. I tend to agree. But keep in mind that you need to first refrigerate it for at least 4 hours before freezing. Well wrapped it can last up to 2 months.
Flavorings - vanilla extract or paste are always my first option because they are natural (as opposed to artificial essences). But the sky's the limit if you want to add citrus zest, other extracts, spices.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cooling + refrigeration time: 8 hours
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Cakes & Cheesecakes
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: ⅛
- Calories: 532
- Sugar: 29 g
- Sodium: 287.8 mg
- Fat: 38.4 g
- Carbohydrates: 37.6 g
- Fiber: 0.4 g
- Protein: 10.3 g
- Cholesterol: 170 mg
Keywords: sour cream cheesecake