How to Make Cheesecake
If you're looking to indulge after dinner, cheesecake is definitely the answer. Whether you're a beginner or a cheesecake connoisseur, we'll teach you how to make homemade cheesecake step-by-step. We even have recipes for no-bake cheesecake so you can enjoy this decadent treat without waiting for your oven to preheat. Grab your favorite cheesecake recipe (or choose one of ours!) and let's get started!
Step 1: Choose a Cheesecake Recipe
Cheesecakes are a classic crowd-pleaser, and they're so simple to make. Start with a great recipe and follow our tips for a rich filling that's free of cracks. If you want to start with the basics, choose an easy cheesecake recipe like New York cheesecake.
Step 2: Use the Right Pan
Use a springform pan to make cheesecake. Removing the cheesecake from any other type of pan is nearly impossible because the crumb crust falls apart. (Some cheesecakelike desserts can be baked in other types of pans, but only when the recipe specifies this.)
Step 3: Let Ingredients Stand
Let your chilled ingredients stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking. At this temperature, you'll get more volume from the eggs, and the cream cheese will be softened enough to blend well with the other ingredients. (For food safety reasons, eggs should not be left out at room temperature for more than 30 minutes.) Next, it's time to learn how to make cheesecake crust. When adding the melted butter to the crust ingredients, stir until all the ingredients are moist. This will help them stick together when you press the crust into the pan.
Step 4: Press Crust Mixture into Pan
Press the crust mixture firmly onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Be sure the crust is distributed so it's least 2 inches up the sides of the pan. The crust needs to be taller than the level of the filling so the finished cheesecake doesn't spill over the edges. There are two ways to do this: with your fingers or with a measuring cup.
Step 5: Prepare the Filling
Use an electric mixer to beat the softened cream cheese, flour, and sugar (and any flavorings, if the recipe calls for them) on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy. Thorough blending is especially important at this stage so the mixture is smooth before liquids such as eggs and milk are added. Once the batter thins, it's difficult to smooth out any lumps.
Step 6: Slowly Add Milk
Slowly beat the milk into the cream cheese mixture using the low setting on your electric mixer.
Step 7: Beat Filling
Use a higher speed to beat the filling just until it's creamy and smooth.
Step 8: Gently Stir in Eggs
Use a spatula to gently stir the eggs into the filling. While you want some volume from the eggs, you don't want to overbeat the batter after adding them. Overbeating incorporates too much air into the mixture, which can cause the cheesecake to puff too much while baking, then fall and crack.
Step 9: Pour Filling into Pan
Slowly pour the filling into the crust-lined pan. Spread the filling evenly with a rubber spatula.
Step 10: Set Inside a Larger Pan and Bake
Place the filled springform pan on a shallow baking pan just in case some of the butter leaks out of the crust while baking. Bake the cheesecake in a preheated oven according to recipe directions.
Step 11: Check Cheesecake for Doneness
At the minimum baking time, check cheesecake for doneness by gently shaking the pan. If the filling appears nearly set (the center will jiggle slightly), it's done. A 2-inch area around the outside edge should appear set. (The center will firm up as it cools.) Avoid overbaking—it can cause the cheesecake to crack. Don't check for doneness by poking it with a knife or toothpick—you want a smooth surface.
Step 12: Cool Cheesecake
- Cool cheesecake in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes.
- Loosen the crust from the side of the pan with an offset spatula or a small sharp knife (but do not remove the sides yet).
- Cool on the wire rack for another 30 minutes.
- Unlock the clasp on the sides of the springform pan.
- Open the pan as wide as possible and carefully lift the sides off the cheesecake.
- Cool the cheesecake completely on the rack.
- Cover and chill at least 4 hours before serving.
Tip: Be sure to set timers for these stages; if you wait too long to loosen the crust from the sides of the pan, the cheesecake can pull away from the sides of the pan and crack.
Step 13: Cut and Serve Cheesecake
To cut a cheesecake into clean slices, use a nonserrated knife with a thin blade. Before cutting each slice, dip the knife in hot water and wipe it dry with a towel.
Tip: If the top of your cheesecake has cracked, you can always cover it up by spreading a thin layer of sweetened whipped cream over the entire chilled cake before you present it to your guests. Embellish with berries or chocolate curls, if you like.
Tip: Cheesecake needs to be refrigerated for storage. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days. To freeze cheesecake, wrap (without garnishes) in plastic wrap and seal in a freezer bag, an airtight container, or overwrapped in heavy foil. Freeze a whole cheesecake for up to 1 month; freeze pieces for up to 2 weeks. To thaw frozen cheesecake, loosen the covering slightly. Thaw in the refrigerator (a whole cheesecake should thaw within 24 hours).
An Alternative Way to Bake Cheesecake: In A Water Bath
Bake cheesecake in a water bath for extra-creamy results. Because the water in the pan does not ever exceed 212 degrees F, the water bath insulates the cheesecake so it bakes evenly. The outside does not cook more quickly than the inside, so the egg protein doesn't overcoagulate, which can cause the cheesecake to crack.
To bake a cheesecake in a water bath, prepare the crust as directed. Place the crust-lined springform pan on a double layer of 18x12-inch heavy-duty foil. Bring edges of foil up and mold around the sides of the pan to form a watertight seal.
Prepare filling. Pour into prepared pan. Place the pan in a roasting pan. Pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to reach halfway up sides of the springform pan.
Bake for 60 minutes. When done, cake edges will jiggle slightly when the pan is gently shaken. Turn oven off; allow cheesecake to sit in the oven for 60 minutes (cheesecake will continue to set up during standing in oven). Carefully remove springform pan from water bath. Remove foil from pan. Cool and chill as directed.
Our Favorite Cheesecake Recipes
Chocolate cheesecake, anyone? No matter what flavor combination you're craving, we have a cheesecake recipe that will make your sweet tooth happy. Since you're a cheesecake pro now, no one will ever guess that your homemade cheesecake didn't come straight from the bakery.
Easy No-Bake Cheesecake Recipes
Yes, you can learn how to make cheesecake without baking! These recipes will all teach you how to make no-bake cheesecake, so you can enjoy this luscious, decadent dessert without ever turning on your oven.