Ultimate Cheesecake

Yield: about 12 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook: 1 1/2 hours

Stop right here! This is the ULTIMATE Cheesecake recipe! It took lots of testing to get a perfectly smooth and tangy cheesecake with NO CRACKS. Keep reading to get my best cheesecake tips and the full recipe!

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: Tangy and sweet, with a burst of freshness from the raspberry topping.
Texture: Ridiculously smooth, creamy, and luscious with a nice contrast from the buttery crunchy crust.
Ease: Definitely doable, and I’ve included a ton of extra tips in that free cheesecake guide above.
Pros: It’s a perfect cheesecake!
Cons: Requires patience between the baking, cooling, and chilling.
Would I make this again? Absolutely!

Some of my all-time most popular blog posts in 7+ years of blogging involve cheesecake.

Stop right here! This is the ULTIMATE Cheesecake recipe! It took lots of testing to get a perfectly smooth and tangy cheesecake with NO CRACKS. This ones a keeper.

I can see why. Cheesecake is that perfect combination of sweet and tangy flavors and smooth yet rich textures. Cheesecakes themselves can come in all shapes and sizes, and can even be incorporated into other favorite desserts (like this Cheesecake-Filled Chocolate Bundt Cake).

Stop right here! This is the ULTIMATE Cheesecake recipe! It took lots of testing to get a perfectly smooth and tangy cheesecake with NO CRACKS. This ones a keeper.

And while it’s fun to get creative with cheesecake recipes, I think the most basic and classic cheesecake is often the most intimidating. It’s that simplicity that leaves little room for error!

Which is why I’ve spent the last weeks meticulously testing this cheesecake recipe, and finding the best tips to make sure you can recreate it in all its perfection right in your own kitchen!

Stop right here! This is the ULTIMATE Cheesecake recipe! It took lots of testing to get a perfectly smooth and tangy cheesecake with NO CRACKS. This ones a keeper.

How do I prevent cheesecake cracks?

Look at that shot below. Not a crack in sight!! That’s no easy feat if you’ve baked your share of cheesecakes.

The trick, of course, is gentle even baking. We accomplish this by baking the cheesecake in a water bath and by allowing it to cool completely in the oven itself.

If you’ve baked a cheesecake in a water bath before then you might have dealt with some frustrating leakage. It’s challenging to keep the cheesecake sealed off from the water, which is why I recommend using a quality springform pan and wrapping it with three sheets of heavy duty tin foil. Sometimes I’ll even use masking tape or scotch tape to really seal the tin foil around the pan if things got a little messy while wrapping.

EDIT: Reader Holly shared a wonderful tip for keeping the water out, “I use a turkey roasting bag, then put a layer of foil around the bottom and sides of the pan to hold it in place. I don’t close the bag over the top. Keeps the water out and the crust dry.”

Ultimate Cheesecake Recipe with NO CRACKS!!

How to tell when cheesecake is done baking?

Let me say this as clearly as possible… don’t overbake your cheesecake!! The residual heat of the oven will continue to cook the cheesecake even after the heat has been turned off. That means that even if your cheesecake looks slightly wobbly or jiggly in the center when the baking time has ended, that’s perfectly okay.

As long as you follow the recipe exactly, you’ll end up with a beautiful and perfect cheesecake. If you want even more kitchen-tested tips and tricks for making perfect cheesecake, be sure to download my free guide:

How to make
Ultimate Cheesecake

Recipe By Tessa Arias, Handle the Heat
Yield: about 12 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook: 1 1/2 hours


For the crust:

  • 1 3/4 cups (230 grams) graham crackers crumbs (about 15 whole graham crackers)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • For the filling:

  • 2 pounds (907 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (130 grams) sour cream
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • Boiling water, for the water bath
  • For the topping:

  • 12 ounces (340 grams) fresh raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Directions

    Preheat the oven to 325°F.

    Prepare a 9-inch springform pan for a water bath. Place a large square of heavy duty aluminum foil underneath the pan. Gently fold the edges up and around the pan. Repeat twice so there’s three sheets of foil to ensure a waterproof seal. Gently fold the top of the foil around the edge of the pan.

    Make the crust:

    In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, cinnamon, and butter until the mixture is moistened. Press into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9-inch nonstick springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool. Maintain oven temperature.

    Make the filling:

    In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese on medium speed until completely smooth and free of lumps. Add the sugar and beat until combined. Add in the sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until just combined. Be careful not to overmix.

    Pour the batter into the foiled-wrapped springform pan. Place the pan in a large roasting pan. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until the water is about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan. Bake at 325°F for 1 1/2 hours, or until set and the top looks slightly dry. If the middle is slightly wobbly, that’s fine. Err on the side of underbaking rather than overbaking.

    Turn off the oven heat and crack the oven door open just by 1-inch. Let the cheesecake cool inside the oven for 1 hour.

    Remove the cheesecake from the oven and from the water bath, unwrap the foil, and transfer it to a cooling rack. Run a thin-bladed knife around the edge of the cake to make sure it’s not sticking to the sides (which can cause cracks as it cools). Let the cheesecake cool completely on the rack.

    Refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days. Store the cheesecake uncovered to avoid creating condensation, which will create a mushy texture.

    Make the topping:

    In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the filling ingredients. Heat, stirring and breaking up the raspberries often, until the raspberries release their juices and begin to form a sauce, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and press through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl to remove the seeds. Let cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour before using.

    Release the cheesecake from the pan onto a cake stand or serving plate and top with the raspberry sauce. Serve.

    About Tessa...

    Tessa is a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. She loves to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. She's on a mission to make the world a more unapologetically DELICIOUS place. Tessa lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

    Find Tessa on  

    15 Responses to “Ultimate Cheesecake”

    1. #
      Holly — August 22, 2016 at 6:35 am

      I will put my cheesecake pan into a turkey roasting bag, then put a layer of foil around the bottom and sides of the pan to hold it in place. I don’t clods the bag over the top. Keeps the water out and the crust dry.

      • #
        Tessa — August 22, 2016 at 11:38 am

        Hi Holly, that’s a fabulous tip!! Love it! I’ve edited the post to add in your tip 🙂

    2. #
      Rita Zelig — August 22, 2016 at 6:01 pm

      This looks fantastic! I just need to know if this would be Hungarian style or French style. French is lighter and less dense. My family however, are decidedly wanting Hungarian. I just need to know before attempting something they won’t eat. Thank you Tessa!

      • #
        Tessa — August 23, 2016 at 7:59 am

        I’m guessing it would be closer to Hungarian, though I’ve never had a cheesecake that’s been labeled as such before so I can’t be sure.

    3. #
      Alex — August 22, 2016 at 10:09 pm

      I’ve made several of your cheesecakes over the years and every one was perfect and crack-free. Try a Push Pan instead of a springform pan and you will never go back! No leaks and you always get perfectly smooth sides.

    4. #
      Zena — September 28, 2016 at 7:34 am

      This looks perfect!
      Can I make this 3 days ahead of my occasion? Is it possible to freeze it? Any advice about that would be much appreciated!

      • #
        Tessa — September 28, 2016 at 10:35 am

        Hi, Zena! My Perfect Cheesecake Guide linked to on this page has tons of details about storing your cheesecake and making it ahead of time. I think you’ll enjoy it 🙂

    5. #
      Tiana — December 2, 2016 at 7:18 am

      Hiii! I’m DYING to try out this recipe for my friend’s birthday!
      Could you please tell me approximately how long I’d need to bake this for if I’m baking it without a water bath?
      And at what temperature?

      Thank you SO VERY MUCH! 😀 😀

    6. #
      Tiana — December 2, 2016 at 7:38 am

      Also, I’m planning to divide the recipe by 3/4ths, since I’m baking in an 8″ pan.

    7. #
      Deb Plapp — August 2, 2017 at 8:38 pm

      I’m looking at the push pans someone recommended for Cheesecakes, and was wondering what your thoughts are regarding whether to buy an aluminum pan or the non-stick version?The aluminum pan is supposed to heat more evenly, so I was wondering which would be best? I’m not finding a 9″ pan, but reviews I read recommended getting the 10″ pan for a 9″ recipe.

    8. #
      dils — September 24, 2017 at 2:22 am

      hi tessa!
      I really want to try this recipe, but can I skip the sour cream? because it’s super hard to find it here where I live. thank you

    9. #
      Leah Rosenberg — October 22, 2017 at 1:32 pm

      Hi Tessa,

      I made this cheesecake for my boyfriend’s birthday last year and he LOVED it. The texture was absolutely perfect. This year I want to make him an Oreo version. Would it work to combine your Oreo truffle version with this? (Oreo crust with chopped Oreos mixed into the ultimate cheesecake batter, etc etc)

      • #
        Tessa — October 23, 2017 at 11:02 am

        I don’t see why not! 🙂

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