Hands down, this is my ultimate favorite cheesecake. It is my go-to choice if I ever make a cheesecake and it is always, always a hit. It is extremely silky and not at all grainy and over-done like so many other recipes I have tried (or tasted in restaurants). This cheesecake is utterly delicious and it has never, ever failed (or cracked).

Classic Cheesecake

Classic Cheesecake


  • 3 cups finely ground graham crackers (about 40 squares)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • Filling:
  • 2 (8-ounce) blocks cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 lemon, zest finely grated
  • 1 pint sour cream


  1. To prepare crumb crust: In a mixing bowl, combine the crust ingredients together with a fork until evenly moistened. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan (I use a 10-inch springform pan b/c it is all I have and it works great) with non-stick cooking spray. Firmly press the mixture over the bottom and 1-inch up the sides on the pan, use your fingers or the smooth bottom of a glass. Refrigerate the crust while preparing the filling.
  2. To prepare filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on low speed for 1 minute just until smooth and free of any lumps. Gradually add the sugar and beat until creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue to slowly beat until combined. Stir in the vanilla and lemon zest. Blend in the sour cream. The batter should be well mixed but not overbeaten. Overbeating incorporates too much air and will cause the cake to puff when baking, then fall and crack when cooling. Pour filling into the crust-lined pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
  3. Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 50-55 minutes. The cheesecake should still jiggle slightly, it will firm up after chilling. Be careful not to overcook! Do not do a toothpick test in the cake's center, this will make a crack. Loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the inside rim. Let cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours to set up. Demold and transfer to a cake plate. Slice the cheesecake with a thin, nonserrated knife that has been dipped in hot water and wiped dry after each cut.
Recipe Source: adapted from Tyler Florence

97 Responses to Classic Cheesecake

  1. Melanie Anne says:

    Wow–that looks amazing! I will have to make this!

  2. PheMom says:

    Oh Mel! It looks amazing. It looks creamy and not to thick and dry. Yum! I am officially deciding we have to have this when we get together!

  3. Katie says:

    I can see WHY it’s your favortie cheesecake! This looks amazingly good!

  4. Sarah says:

    I have seen Tyler make this and it always looks so yummy. Now that I finally own a springform pan, I will have to try this!

  5. Deborah says:

    The last thing I need right now is a delicious cheesecake, but I want to run home and make one now!

  6. Jackie says:


    I was wondering when mixing in all the ingredients, do I keep the speed at low the whole time I’m mixing the batter. Also I grate and freeze lemon zest, approximately how much zest is from one lemon.

  7. Melanie says:

    Hi Jackie – yes, keep the mixer speed at low the whole time (otherwise air bubbles form and can cause cracking) and I would say it is probably about 2 teaspoons lemon zest.

  8. Melanie says:

    Camille – I’m glad this was a hit! Just reading your comment makes me want to make it again. It really is my favorite cheesecake. Thanks for commenting!

  9. Camille says:

    Made this for Father’s Day today. ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!!! And a big THANK YOU from my hubby too!! LOL!!!

  10. CB says:

    oohhhh I LURVE cheesecake! I will have to make this soon. Thanks for sharing! ps. Tyler *IS* the ultimate! ;)

  11. Jelli Bean says:

    I just found your blog and I’m in love! I can’t wait to try this (among your other) cheesecake recipe! It looks delicious, and no Tyler F. recipe has ever failed me. So many cheesecakes require more c.cheese than I can afford, so this one sounds like a winner to me! Thanks so much for sharing.

  12. Melanie says:

    Jelli Bean – thanks for your comment! I just linked over to your blog and almost fainted when I saw your dreamy doughnut pillows. Oh my, they look delicious!

  13. Melanie says:

    Nagore – thank you! I’m so glad that this recipe worked out, especially for your mother’s birthday!

  14. Nagore says:

    I’m just a beginner in baking and i used this recipe to make to my mother this cheesecake for her birthday, everyone loved it! thanks you very much.

  15. Sonya says:

    I made this for Valentines day and it was the first time I have ever made Cheesecake. I made a special trip to target for the pan even. The cheesecake was perfect. I have a 9 inch pan and had to bake it about 12 minutes longer, but no cracks!!! I’m already thinking of ways to add things to it. Thanks AGAIN for all the great recipes.

  16. Melanie says:

    Sonya – I hope you get good use out of your springform pan! I’m glad this recipe turned out AND with no cracks. You are a professional!

  17. idahomichele says:

    I love this cheesecake– I have made it twice and I learned that over beating can happen watch the speed– trust me I had a bit of a leadfoot on the mixer the second time and I can tell. I am sure it will be just as yummy if not as pretty. Mel, I was wondering how to adapt this to make a chocolate cheesecake. . . what do you think?

  18. Mel says:

    idahomichele – thanks for weighing in on the overbeating issue, I’ve seen the same issue. In theory, you should be able to add about 7-8 ounces of melted chocolate to the batter but to be safe, I’d probably search foodblogsearch.com for a chocolate cheesecake recipe. Let me know if you find a good one!

  19. Veronica M. says:

    I haven’t made a cheesecake in over 5 years b/c I love them so much I know I’ll eat the whole thing! But I have a friend that LOVES cheesecake and I made this one for her as a thank-you gift for keeping our dog while we’re on vacation (leaving tomorrow but gave it to her in advance). She loved it so much, raved about it, and when she found out I’d never made the recipe before, she had me come over to taste it for myself. Yup, it’s a keeper! This will be my go-to cheesecake recipe from now on. Thanks for sharing it–I doubt I would have found the recipe if it wasn’t on your blog.

    • Mel says:

      Veronica – I’m thrilled on the outcome of this cheesecake. But first of all, let me say that you are one nice friend to make this as a thank you. I’m glad it went over so well and that your friend let you have a little taste!

  20. Veronica M. says:

    Thank you, BTW, for the tip on not overbeating the mixture. I did get a crack b/c a big air bubble rose up during baking and made a crack after I removed the cake from the oven. But it was a lot prettier on the surface than others I’ve made b/c I always overbeat them. Now I know the secret! Thanks.

  21. Veronica M. says:

    Guess what? I’m making this again for the same friend! Every time she does us a favor and I ask her what she wants, I know it’s gonna be this cheesecake every time–LOL! I’m going to have to make one just for us soon, because it’s so good I want to repost it (if that’s OK) and I haven’t been able to take pics of a slice since it’s for someone else.

  22. Veronica M. says:

    Thanks, Mel! It’s baking right now. I was nice and after taking a few swipes of filling leftover in the bowl, I let my dog lick up the rest. She’s a happy camper now. :)

  23. Erica Williams says:

    Utterly delicious is right! I’m addicted to your site Mel. I have tried about 10 of your recipes in the past couple of weeks and all of them have been spectacular. Thank you for sharing them with us! We had company over for dinner last night and served this cheesecake for dessert. It looked so professional and tasted perfect. In fact, don’t tell on me, but I am going to have a piece right now for breakfast. If I top it with fruit, it should count as healthy, right? Thanks again!

  24. Ram says:

    I’m glad I don’t need a water bath for this recipe. I’d like to try it soon. You make it sound so easy. The photo above is so tempting. Thanks for the recipe.

  25. Nicole says:

    Made this last night for our anniversary dinner and it was delish! I had 2 giant pieces and that was after I was stuffed from dinner. I’m currently on a weight loss challenge with my sister and it ends on Saturday. I can’t wait to eat the rest of this cheesecake saturday and trust me, I will eat it all! :)

  26. Heidi says:

    My husband has requested cheesecake for his birthday and so I am going to make this one. He also requested a raspberry sauce to go on top of it. Do you also have a good raspberry sauce recipe that would be lovely on this? Or the sauce pictured looks terrific, is it strawberry? Anyways, I was just wondering, thanks.

  27. Melissa a.k.a. Mel says:

    Hi Mel,
    I too look for “the best” recipe sometimes for hours until I think I’ve come up with the best one. I made Tyler’s cheesecake before because I’ve seen him make it, it looked great and I like his style of cooking, but I must say this wasn’t my favorite cheesecake. I like a creamier cheesecake but this recipe was a bit too creamy for me. I’ve seen him make a cheesecake with a thin layer of sour cream that I think I’m going to try. By the way, your husband sounds a lot like mine when it comes to his eloquence when he tells me what he thinks about a recipe I make.

  28. Hi! I’m still trying to figure out what you mean when you say “40 squares” of graham crackers. Is a square half of the rectangular graham (which has four smaller rectangles)? Does it refer to the entire graham itself?

    • Mel says:

      Pretty, Polished, Perfect – when I split a rectangular graham cracker in half, it results in two squares (at least with the Honey Maid variety). So this recipe calls for 40 of those squares, or better yet, about 20 whole graham crackers.

  29. [...] is the link to the cheesecake recipe I use. The only thing I changed was to add double to amount of lemon zest. After my cheesecake is [...]

  30. n82 says:

    Hi Mel,

    I am planning on making this recipe soon…could you recommend a sauce that could go with this cheesecake? What do you normally serve it with, if anything?

    • Mel says:

      n82 – I usually serve this with a simple raspberry sauce. I puree a couple of cups of raspberries, fresh or frozen (thawed and drained if frozen) with the juice of a lemon and a couple tablespoons of sugar to taste (enough to sweeten it up a bit).

  31. Shauna says:

    Just made this a couple of days ago and it was incredible. My first cheese cake and it was a total sucsess!! Thanks for the recipe and easy instructions.

  32. paula says:

    This is my exact favorite cheesecake also!
    Bon Appetit published it in June 1992 under the name Uncle Anthony´s Cheesecake (without the lemon juice) and it´s foolproof.
    In that recipe (for 9 inch springform pan) the baking method was different and you might want to try it: put a pan of hot water in the bottom of a 350º oven and bake for only 30 minutes. Then, without opening the door, turn the oven off and let the cheesecake for another hour. It works everytime and never cracks.
    Sometimes I program the oven and go to sleep and have a perfectly baked cheesecake that only needs a couple of hours in the fridge.
    Regards (from Buenos Aires, Argentina)

  33. Jo says:

    Hi Melanie,
    I’m going to try this right away, but I have 2 questions before I proceed:
    Is there any substitute for sour cream in this recipe?
    How high was your cheesecake ( I am planning to halve the recipe to bake in a smaller pan, so I was wondering if it would be very thin)
    thank you so much for the recipe..

    • Mel says:

      Jo – I’ve never substituted anything for the sour cream so I can’t give my two cents about that one. The cheesecake is fairly thick – at least two inches in the center and slightly higher on the edges. If you halve the recipe, I’d definitely try to bake it in a smaller pan. Good luck!

  34. Jahna says:

    This is now my go-to cheesecake recipe. I did add an extra 1/2 t of vanilla and 1/8 lemon juice… the zest, I didnt have and honestly scares me because I have never done it, but THIS WAS GREAT! Next time I will probably double it to make ginormous slices.
    Question: I feel like it was really jiggly at 55 min and left about 10-15 min longer. Has this ever been a problem for you? or have you used a water bath with this?

    • Mel says:

      Jahna – I’m glad you liked this cheesecake! I’ve never used a water bath with this particular cheesecake. Oven temperatures can vary so you probably did the right thing by baking a few minutes longer if it seemed too jiggly.

  35. Jahna says:

    IS this recipe good for mix in’s like oreos?

  36. Mel says:

    Jahna – I’ve always made it plain and simple but I imagine it would work fine with mix-ins.

  37. Ashlee says:

    I loved this Mel! I got a springform pan finally, and had to make this right away! My MIL wanted a huckleberry sauce on top so I found a recipe for that, but this was most excellent. Thanks! I wrote about it here: http://kickingmyash.blogspot.com/2011/10/top-5-for-last-week.html

  38. Elizabeth says:

    SOO Good.

    Didn’t have enough gluten free graham crumbs, so I added in about a cup of crushed pecans, which made the crust really really delicious. This was the PERFECT recipe for hubbys birthday cake :) Thanks!

  39. Stephanie says:

    Okay, my two cents. There was a lot of crumb and I mean a lot. Could get away with probably 25 graham squares. Also, for the 40 I probably doubled the butter and it still wasn’t enough. The center of the cheese filling was runny. Hoping it firms up some more, but I doubt it. It chilled for 6 hours after I cooked it. Not sure why this wasn’t that great, but there you have it.

  40. Kristen says:

    I had the same problem as Stephanie. (I only wish I would have known before making it) I made this for Thanksgiving and the crust was way too crumbly as well. I read through the comments before making it and am surprised that nobody else has commented on this. Besides this, the cheesecake is incredible. Next time I think I’ll try half has many.
    Thanks Mel!

  41. Malinda says:

    This was my first cheesecake and it was delicious. I served the pomegranate sauce on the side and all of my guests raved about it! Thanks.

  42. Elizabeth says:

    what kind of material is your springform pan? I was wondering whether I should get a non-stick kind or aluminum…my sister wants a cheesecake for her birthday on the 6th of February and I always come to your site when I need a recipe. All the one’s I’ve tried have been delicious!

  43. Mel says:

    Hi Elizabeth – both of my springform pans are the dark, nonstick kind but I’ve heard the aluminum work great also!

  44. Maria says:

    What do you think about putting a chocolate ganache on top of this?

  45. Mel says:

    I think it would be delicious with a chocolate ganache, Maria. As long as the ganache is cooled when you pour it over the cheesecake, it should work (a warm ganache will make the top of the cheesecake melt a bit).

  46. [...] The recipe for the Red Velvet Cake is adapted from here : Mel’s Kitchen Cafe [...]

  47. [...] I made Pesto Stuffed Shells and this cheesecake recipe, and both were wonderful (and made for a very happy Italian foodie)! Thanks ladies for all of the [...]

  48. [...] and recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. And my lame iPhone/instagram picture. Share This With A Friend: Bookmark on Delicious Digg this [...]

  49. Mel says:

    Hi from another Mel…made this cheesecake and it was fantastic. Shared it with some neighbors, who also loved it. My daughter said the cheesecake tasted so good on it’s own, she didn’t want the cherries on top. Thanks for a great recipe.

  50. Wes says:

    hi, Mel, as a cheesecake novice, I need help… do I add the juice of the whole lemon in the filling? does it change the baking time if the lemon juice is from a huge lemon, or should I measure how many tablespoon juice? thank you!

  51. Mel says:

    Wes – actually, don’t add any of the lemon juice to the filling – only the zest of the lemon. Hope that helps!

  52. Kayla says:

    Oh my this looks incredible! I can’t wait to make this over the weekend along with your Southwestern Eggrolls for lunch! I had a question though, how do I avoid overbeating? How long do you suggest I beat it for on low speed after putting in the sour cream?

    Also, should it be on low speed the whole time im mixing, even when im mixing in the eggs and the cream cheese in the beginning?

    Sorry for all the questions, I just want to get it perfect!

  53. Cait says:

    Made this late last night to serve with dinner tonight, and it was delicious! I used whole wheat organic graham crackers, 3 cups ground and it was just right, not too crumbly as others have said. I did press very firmly, I think that helps :) Also I substituted Sucanat for the sugar, and served with a raspberry puree syrup. Thanks for the great recipe!!!

  54. Mel says:

    Kayla – sorry for the delay in responding. I had a baby the day before you posted your comment and am just now checking back into answer a few questions. Did the cheesecake turn out? I avoid overbeating by mixing just until the ingredients are incorporated and not mixing at too high of speed, so yes, you could mix on low speed the entire time and be just fine. I hope you liked it!

  55. Kayla says:

    It turned out AMAZING! I LOVE IT! Everyone also loved it too. Thank you for this amazing recipe! I will definitely be going by your recipes from now on! Im so happy I found your site, your amazing Melanie :)

  56. lea215 says:

    Im a new fan! Just tried this today and its a winner!!!! Sooooo yummy! Thanks so much. Also tried the chicken enchilada pasta and everybody loves it. Even the picky eaters.

  57. Molly says:

    I made this last weekend for DH who proclaimed it the most perfect cheese cake he has ever had. This is quite a high compliment as he really likes cheesecakes! Thanks for another highly successful recipe!

  58. Steph says:

    This cheesecake looks FANTASTIC! I’m thinking about making it for a party.
    How much does one batch make?

  59. Mel says:

    Steph – it makes one 9-inch springform pan. It depends on how big you cut the slices but it could easily serve 8-10.

  60. [...] start with Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, hands down the ultimate [...]

  61. kay says:

    Hi Mel, thanks for the wonderful recipe. My first cheese cake was a success :) Can we use yogurt instead of sour cream because sometimes sour creams are not available in the stores nearby my place.

  62. Mel says:

    kay – I’ve never used anything other than sour cream so I don’t know how a substitution would work. Sorry! Good luck if you try it, though.

  63. Djamila says:

    Hi Mel – Can’t wait to make this for my daughter’s party this weekend!

    I want to make 2 in one cheesecake – Double the ingredients for a bigger cheesecake (bigger crowd) what would the baking time be for that? Thanks and can’t wait to update on the outcome..

  64. Mel says:

    Djamila – I’ve never tried that, so I’m not sure! I’d be careful that you have a baking pan large enough to accommodate double the batter. You might try just baking two separate ones to make enough for the large crowd.

  65. Suzanne says:

    AHHHH! cheesecake disaster. I must have done everything that I could have possibly done wrong… wrong. Sank in the middle, cracked liked a continental plate, and had mountains of crumb crust. The success of the vast majority of these posters, however, probably proves that something in my method has gotta change. Haven’t tasted it yet, but I’m sure it’ll be delish. I’ll hide the cracks with some raspberry glaze and will try this again some other time as every other recipe I’ve tried from you has been outstanding!

  66. Keri says:

    Have you ever made this recipe and did mini cheesecakes? As in muffin tins?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Keri – I’ve never made the recipe like that but I imagine it could transfer well (just significantly reduce baking time, of course).

  67. [...] Source Here Recent PostsThe Ultimate CheesecakePomegranate Christmas CakePeppermint Bark CheesecakeCaramel Apple Cupcakes Hawaiian Carrot Cake With Coconut IcingCondensed Milk Pound Cake Mini Red Velvet CheesecakesBanana Mug CakePineapple Sheet CakeChocolate Peanut Butter Pie Categories [...]

  68. Kelley says:

    Made this yesterday, and it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOO good! Thanks for the recipe!

  69. Katie says:

    I know I’m echoing what everyone else has already said, but this cheesecake is awesome!! I had never made a cheesecake from scratch before so I followed your directions exactly with the addition of cooking it in a water bath…..it turned out perfect!

  70. Hilary says:

    Mel, my husband wants a cheesecake for his birthday but isn’t a fan of lemon. Do you think it would taste okay w the lemon omitted?? Thanks!!!

    • Mel says:

      Hilary – yes, you could definitely omit the lemon. It is just a very slight hint and gives it a delicious freshness but if he hates lemon badly, just leave it out.

  71. Kenny says:

    thats 2 times 8oz cream cheese right? so a total of 16oz?

  72. Lindsey says:

    Any thoughts on how far in advance you could make the cheesecake before devouring? A day or maybe even two? Looking forward to trying this for Father’s day!

  73. Lisa says:

    Mel, can this work in a baking pan?
    (hope you can answer) I cook for just myself and don’t & never have made a cheesecake or needed a pan like this. Thanks…

    • Mel says:

      Hi Lisa – the best result is to use a springform pan but you could definitely try it in a baking pan – I just never have so I can’t guarantee results.

  74. Katie says:

    Made this last night for our anniversary and it was amazing! First time making a cheesecake, and no cracks!

  75. Beth Arrieta says:

    I have drooled over this picture for years and think I’m finally am going to cave and make it. Just one question: in the picture it looks like some sort of cherry sauce over the cheesecake, is it cherry pie filling or what?

  76. Nicole says:

    Do you think this cheesecake would work well baked as mini cheesecakes in cupcake liners in a muffin pan?

  77. marie says:

    Thanks you for what you do and for this recipe! When my son requested cheesecake for his birthday I was terrified as I had never attempted it. So I read around the websites and decided on your recipe as I have been loving some of your other recipes. Anyway it came out perfect and amazing! I did take some other tips such as spraying the sides of the springform pan and cooking in a larger pan filled 1 inch with water. Everyone was so impressed – not one crack, smooth and creamy. Thanks so much!!

  78. Amy says:

    I made this cheesecake for the first time last year after my best friend called me raving about it! This was the first time I had ever made a cheesecake and although the first one was amazingly smooth, I thought it had far too much lemon zest. It was basically a lemon cheesecake! The second time I was much more careful and it was perfect. The third time I completely forgot the sour cream like an air head, but it still tasted wonderful. Needless to say, this is my first-ever-tried, go-to cheesecake for all occasions…when I manage to get it right. ;)

  79. Elizabeth says:

    I just took this out of the oven and when I went to loosen the sides the crust is really soft like falling apart. Is that normal? Will it harden while in the fridge?

    • Mel says:

      Lizzie – The crust is soft but shouldn’t be falling apart, not sure what went wrong. Hopefully it turned out well after your refrigerated it!

  80. Jess says:

    I just made this for my mom’s birthday and it was DEVOURED with seconds by everyone – including people who don’t love cheesecake! And I should mention that we’re NYers – so that’s quite an impressive recipe you have here to get that kind of result! I even made it with a gluten free crust and no one noticed. Thanks so much!

  81. wendy says:

    This cheesecake is STILL baking!!!!! It has been way longer than 50-55 minutes. I am wondering if mel’s larger pan makes hers bake more quickly?? Also, my springform pan is very light aluminum. Maybe the darker one cooks more quickly as well? I really hope it is finished in time and cooled long enough to serve for Father’s day!!! Ahhh!

  82. Nadia says:

    Made this over the weekend and it turned out delicious! First cheesecake I have ever made and definitely one of the best I have ever tasted. The whole family devoured it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.