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Classic New York Style Cheesecake

Classic New York Style Cheesecake

My husband and I agree that we love cheesecake.  We disagree however, about whether a cheesecake should be sweet or tangy. I prefer sweet cheesecakes (think Philadelphia style cheesecakes), while Nabil prefers a tangy cheesecake made with sour cream (aka a New York style cheesecake).  Regardless of your opinion on this topic, you will fall in love with today’s recipe.  This Classic New York Style Cheesecake is deliciously rich and tangy with a dense, smooth and creamy consistency.  It is definitely worth the calories.  I especially think it’s tasty when paired with fresh or macerated fruit. 

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Graham Cracker Crust1:

Ingredients:
Making the crust:

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Make graham crackers crumbs by pulsing in a food processor until finely ground.  If you don’t have a food processor, place the graham crackers in a Ziploc bag and crush with a rolling pin until finely ground.  Make sure to close the bag before crushing the cookies otherwise you will have crumbs all over your kitchen.

In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar before stirring in the melted butter.  If you add all three ingredients at the same time, the sugar usually clumps and there isn’t an even distribution throughout the crust.  Make sure that all of the graham crackers crumbs are moistened with the butter before putting them into the pan. 

Classic New York Style Cheesecake Crust

Press crumbs into the bottom of a buttered spring form pan2.  I usually cover the bottom of the pan with parchment paper to more easily release the cheesecake when it’s done baking.  Make sure to really pack down the crust otherwise the crust will crumble and not hold its shape after it is baked.  You can press the crust down using your fingers or a straight-sided object (e.g., a measuring cup). 

Bake the crust for 10 minutes3.  Then remove from the oven and cool on a rack.  Do not remove the crust from the pan while cooling.

This classic graham cracker crust is on the sweeter side, which helps to balance the tanginess from the sour cream in the filling.  Because this cheesecake is a basic cheesecake without any added flavors, you can go crazy with your crust.  Feel free to experiment with different kinds of cookies (e.g., crushed oreos) or add some ground nuts.   

Classic New York Style Cheesecake Filling:

New York Style Cheesecake Filling Ingredients
Ingredients:
Making the Filling:

While the crust is cooling, begin to make the filling.  Increase the oven temperature to 350°F.

In the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large mixing bowl if using a hand mixer), beat cream cheese and sugar on the lowest setting until very smooth (about 3 minutes).  Use the whisk attachment.  You do not want to whip too much air into the cheesecake because it should be dense when baked.  Too much air will make it more likely to crack.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each step while making this recipe.  The cream cheese has a tendency to stick to the bowl and you want to make sure that you don’t end up with any lumps in your cheesecake filling.

Classic New York Style Cheesecake Filling

Add the eggs one at time, beating well after each addition until smooth. 

Next, add the lemon juice, vanilla, and salt.  Beat until incorporated.  Finally, add the sour cream and beat to combine.  Scrape the sides of the bowl one last time with a spatula to make sure that all ingredients have been incorporated and there are no lumps. 

Pour the filling into the springform pan (on top of the cooled crust).  This cheesecake recipe is baked in a bain-marie (i.e., a warm water bath) to allow for gradual and even cooking.  This will help to prevent cracks while the cheesecake is cooking and while it is cooling.  To ensure that water will not get into the springform pan and ruin the crust, wrap the pan in 1-2 layers of aluminum foil.  Place the cheesecake into another, slightly larger container (I like to use a larger cake pan) and pour about one inch of very hot water between the side of the larger container and the springform pan. 

UPDATE (5/7/20): Rather than using aluminum foil, which sometimes lets water in if there is small tear, I place the springform pan in a cake pan that is slightly larger before putting both pans in a second larger cake pan. In other words, I use a cake pan that will not allow water to reach the springform pan instead of wrapping the cheesecake in aluminum foil. This method, makes it so there is no way water can get into the springform pan and saturate the cheesecake crust.

Baking and cooling the cheesecake:
Classic New York Style Cheesecake

Very carefully, place the pans in the oven (you do not want to get water on the cheesecake or on yourself).  Bake for 45 minutes and then turn off the oven WITHOUT opening the oven door.  A sudden change in temperature will make the cheesecake more likely to crack.  Let the cheesecake cool in the oven (with the door closed for 45 minutes). Then, crack the oven door open and let the cheesecake continue to cool for another 45 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven, remove the aluminum foil from around the springform pan, and allow to cool on a wire rack for approximately one hour (or until the cheesecake is room temperature).  Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  Do not let the plastic wrap touch the top of the cheesecake or it will stick.

Now I know what you might be thinking.  That sounds like a lot of work for one dessert.  But I guarantee you it’s worth it.  This method will get you a perfectly baked cheesecake without cracks.  

Classic New York Style Cheesecake

Let’s consider for just a second that the unthinkable happens and you end up with a crack in the top of your cheesecake.  Don’t freak out!  Cracks have happened to everyone at one time or another.  The cheesecake won’t taste any differently and there are a ton of ways to hide cracks4.  You can still present an amazing cheesecake that will taste heavenly. 

Removing cheesecake from pan:

As the Classic New York Style Cheesecake cools, it will pull away from the sides of the pan.  Run a thin metal spatula around the side of the cake to ensure that it is not sticking to the pan.  Then, release the side of the pan and gently remove.  Take a plate that is larger than the cheesecake, cover it with plastic wrap, gently set the plate on top of the cheesecake, and invert the cheesecake.  Remove the bottom of the springform pan and peel away the parchment paper.  Then place the serving plate gently on the cheesecake (i.e., on top of the crust) and flip the cheesecake back over. 

Classic New York Style Cheesecake

Refrigerate the cheesecake until a few minutes before serving.  Cut using a knife that was dipped in warm water and then wiped off.  This will help to make clean, sharp cuts.  Wipe off any cheesecake residue between slices. 

Classic Windy City Cheesecake

Leave the classic New York Style cheesecake plain or decorate with your favorite topping and enjoy!

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Notes:
  1. This recipe is for a 7-inch cheesecake (i.e., a small cheesecake).  If you are making a normal sized cheesecake (i.e., 10-inch), double all of the amounts for the crust and filling. 
  2. A spring form pan has a removable bottom and a spring on the side that releases the bottom and makes it easier to remove the pan from around the cheesecake.  Do not bake a cheesecake in a normal cake pan (i.e., a pan without a removable bottom).  You will not be able to get the cheesecake out without destroying it.  This is a link for a 7-inch spring form pan, which is size that I am making today. You can also buy a larger 10-inch pan if making a normal sized cheesecake.
  3. I usually put the spring form pan on a baking sheet in case the butter leaks while cooking.  You will thank me when you just have to wash a cookie sheet rather than cleaning burned butter from the bottom of your oven. 
  4. You can hide cracks on the top of a cheesecake by making a fruit topping, placing fresh fruit over the crack, covering the top with whipped cream, or you can try this hot water + spatula trick (full disclosure, I’ve never tried this technique so I don’t know if it will work or not). 

Have any more helpful hints to make a great cheesecake?  Please share it below!

Classic New York Style Cheesecake
Print Recipe
5 from 8 votes

Classic New York Style Cheesecake

Ingredients

Graham Cracker Crust

  • 3 Tbsp (43g) unsalted butter, melted
  • ¾ cup (85g) graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp (30g) granulated sugar

Cheesecake Filling

  • 8 oz package of Philadelphia brand cream cheese (no substitutions)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • Tbsp lemon juice
  • ¾ tsp vanilla extract
  • tsp salt
  • cups sour cream

Instructions

Making the crust

  • Preheat oven to 325°F.
  • Make graham crackers crumbs by pulsing in a food processor until finely ground. If you don’t have a food processor, place the graham crackers in a Ziploc bag and crush with a rolling pin until finely ground.
  • In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar before stirring in the melted butter. If you add all three ingredients at the same time, the sugar usually clumps and there isn’t an even distribution throughout the crust. Make sure that all of the graham crackers crumbs are moistened with the butter before putting them into the pan.
  • Press crumbs into the bottom of a buttered and parchment paper-lined springform pan. Pack down the crust to avoid crumbling after it is baked. Press the crust down using your fingers or a straight-sided object (e.g., a measuring cup).
  • Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Then remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Do not remove the crust from the pan while cooling.

Making the filling

  • While the crust is cooling, begin to make the filling. Increase the oven temperature to 350°F.
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large mixing bowl if using a hand mixer), beat cream cheese and sugar on the lowest setting until very smooth (about 3 minutes). Use the whisk attachment. Do not whip too much air into the cheesecake because it should be dense when baked. Too much air will make it more likely to crack.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each step while making this recipe. The cream cheese has a tendency to stick to the bowl and you want to make sure that you don’t end up with any lumps in your cheesecake filling.
  • Add the eggs one at time, beating well after each addition until smooth.
  • Next, add the lemon juice, vanilla, and salt. Beat until incorporated. Finally, add the sour cream and beat to combine. Scrape the sides of the bowl one last time with a spatula to make sure that all ingredients have been incorporated and there are no lumps.
  • Pour the filling into the springform pan (on top of the cooled crust). This cheesecake recipe is baked in a bain-marie (i.e., a warm water bath) to allow for gradual and even cooking. This will help to prevent cracks while the cheesecake is cooking and while it is cooling. To ensure that water will not get into the springform pan and ruin the crust, wrap the pan in 1-2 layers of aluminum foil. Place the cheesecake into another, slightly larger container (I like to use a larger cake pan) and pour about one inch of very hot water between the side of the larger container and the springform pan.

Baking and cooling the cheesecake

  • Very carefully, place the pans in the oven (don't get water on the cheesecake or on yourself). Bake for 45 minutes and then turn off the oven WITHOUT opening the oven door. A sudden change in temperature will make the cheesecake more likely to crack. Let the cheesecake cool in the oven (with the door closed for 45 minutes). Then, crack the oven door open and let the cheesecake continue to cool for another 45 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the oven, remove the aluminum foil from around the springform pan, and allow to cool on a wire rack for approximately one hour (or until the cheesecake is room temperature). Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Do not let the plastic wrap touch the top of the cheesecake or it will stick.

Removing the cheesecake from the pan

  • As the cheesecake cools, it will pull away from the sides of the pan. Run a thin metal spatula around the side of the cake to ensure that it is not sticking to the pan. Then, release the side of the pan and gently remove. Take a plate that is larger than the cheesecake, cover it with plastic wrap, gently set the plate on top of the cheesecake, and invert the cheesecake. Remove the bottom of the springform pan and peel away the parchment paper. Then place the serving plate gently on the cheesecake (i.e., on top of the crust) and flip the cheesecake back over.
  • Refrigerate the cheesecake until a few minutes before serving. Cut using a knife that was dipped in warm water and then wiped off. This will help to make clean, sharp cuts. Wipe off any cheesecake residue between slices.

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31 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I tried your recipe for the first time. I did not have sour cream so I used Greek yogurt instead. My springform pan was very old so I lined the whole pan with parchment paper. The taste was really good but the cheesecake was very watery. Could that have been from the yogurt or the parchment paper.

    1. Hi Jeannine,
      It’s possible it was from the yogurt. I’ve never made this recipe using yogurt before. That being said, greek yogurt is pretty thick, so I wouldn’t think it would make the cheesecake watery. Did you keep the cheesecake in the oven for the entire time (including the cooling period)? If not, that could be a reason for it being watery. The cheesecake continues to cook slightly during the cooling period because it is still in the hot water bath. Parchment paper shouldn’t have affected the texture of the cheesecake in any way. The other thought that came to my mind was that maybe water got in through the bottom of the springform pan. Is it possible there was a hole in the aluminum foil around the base?

  2. 5 stars
    Very easy to follow and detailed. I make a cheesecake once every ten years or so and like your clarity and illustrations. I did all my mixing by hand with room temperature ingredients. Perfect, no cracks, no water problems. Using a fan oven and used your baking times and all was perfect. Thanks.

  3. I have been making cheesecake for 50 years in a 9 inch pan and am about to split my recipe between 2 7inch pans. Wish me luck. The only difference in my recipe is I leave the sour cream out of the filling and then add the sour cream layer on top and bake 5 minutes more. This will hide any cracks! I will try the slow cool and water to see if that prevents the cracks though it is the taste not the appearance I’m going for. However yours is beautiful and I’m sure, delicious too.

  4. 5 stars
    This is my go-to recipe for making cheesecakes, I have made four and each one leaves the crowd begging for more!

  5. When making the 10” version, do I double the cook time as well ? So it cooks for an hour and a half verses the 45 minutes?

    1. Hi Christina. I would suggest giving it maybe up 10 minutes more, but not doubling the cooking time. The thickness of the cheesecake will be roughly the same as the small one, so the baking time won’t vary too much.

  6. Would I be able to use this recipe for a 6 inch pan, or would I have to adjust the ingredients?
    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Lee. I would say it depends on how thick you like your cheesecake. With a 7-inch pan, the cheesecake portion is pretty deep. If you like it be more shallow, you can cut the recipe down a little (maybe by a quarter or a third) and keep the baking time the same. If you like a deep cheesecake and keep the amounts the same, I would add 5-10 minutes of extra baking time to account for the depth of the cheesecake. I’ve never made this recipe in a 6-inch pan, so I’m not exactly sure about the amounts or baking time. Let me know how it goes!

    1. Hi Carolyn. Typically, when a cheesecake sinks in the middle, it’s due to the middle not be baked enough. If the cheesecake cracked, it’s also possible that they affected the structural integrity of the middle. Baking the cheesecake for a little longer should help avoid that from happening again. Hope that helps!

  7. Hi, This recipe looks exactly what I was looking for. I am just checking that it only takes 1, 8oz package of cream cheese before I start baking. Thank you!

    1. Hi again, please disregard my last question. I just read your entire post and actually looked at the images you provided. Hope I am little more observant when I start baking! Thanks!

  8. 5 stars
    I was looking for bake time for a 7″ cheesecake (bought this cute little pan and wanted to try it out) Was directed here by my search. Used my own filling recipe that i’ve used for years, but what i must say a very big THANK YOU to you is for your suggesting putting the springform pan in a cake pan and then putting both in the water bath. I never would have thought of that. I normally would just put a 9×13 pyrex with hot water on the rack beneath the rack that my cheesecake was baking on to create humidity in the oven. Never had much luck with the aluminum foil wrap. Thanks again, Happy Thanksgiving.

    1. Hi Carole,
      I’ve always had trouble with the aluminum foil wrap too. No matter how carefully I wrap it, there is frequently a small tear that lets water in. The cake pan trick NEVER lets water in. It’s great.

  9. 5 stars
    This was the first cheesecake I’ve ever made and I’m so proud of how it turned out. I followed the instructions almost exactly. The only thing I did differently was use Oreo crumbs for the crust, and for the final step of mixing in the sour cream I just folded it in by hand. I looked at many recipes for cheesecake before starting and each one said to try to avoid overmixing. They also said to make sure your cold ingredients are room temp before starting, and I’m not sure if this recipe mentioned that or not. Anyway, using a 7-inch pan, room temp ingredients, folding the cream cheese in by hand, and crushed Oreos for the crust yielded perfect results. I highly recommend serving with crushed Oreos on top for good measure! Really looking forward to trying this again some day with different cookie crusts. Thank you for helping me make my boyfriend’s Covid birthday something special!

  10. 5 stars
    My wife loves homemade cheesecake, so I made this for her birthday yesterday. It also used lemon juice and sour cream, like her grandmother used to do it, so I had high hopes.

    It was phenomenal! I have a larger springform pan, but made the recipe as written. I just now saw your comments at the end. Haha I did make 1.5x the crust so that it would be a little thicker, but also come up the sides. It turns out, making to the recipe with that crust amount, the cheesecake comes up my large springform pan about half way, so a good amount for just two of us.

    No cracks, excellent consistency and everyone enjoyed it. I also used my ninja food processor with dough hook attachment to blend everything (quickly), except I folded in the sour cream by hand in a bowl at the very end.

    I had to use my large roasting pan to fill with water, which still worked out just fine. It would have been nice to have a slightly larger cake pan to use, but it all worked out in the end.

    This was my second cheesecake recipe attempt and both have been a great success!

  11. 5 stars
    This cheesecake was excellent. Worth the wait. My husband loved it and asked me to make another one ASAP. Thank you!

    1. There are a few storage options:
      1) You can freeze a cheesecake. Place it in the freezer without being wrapped initially until it’s frozen, then, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, place it in a freezer bag (if you have one large enough), and return it to the freezer. This process will keep the plastic wrap from sticking directly to the cheesecake and ruining the smooth finish. The cheesecake can be kept in the freezer for 1-2 months without seeing a difference in quality. Remove from the freezer and thaw before serving. I like to thaw without the plastic wrap so the condensation doesn’t drip onto the top of the cheesecake and so the plastic doesn’t stick.
      2) You can keep the cheesecake in the fridge for 5-7 days. I generally place a piece of plastic wrap or aluminum foil over the top of the cake, but I do this lightly and not tightly. Sometimes, I put a toothpick in the middle of the top of the cheesecake and that helps to tent the aluminum foil and leave a space.

      I usually just keep it in the fridge because we want to eat the cake immediately.

      1. I also forgot to add, that if I’m not serving it to be fancy (i.e., to guests), I usually just keep the cheesecake in the springform pan and put aluminum foil over the top of the pan. Keeping it inside the pan gives the cheesecake an extra layer of protection in my fridge (which tends to be pretty full most of the time).

    1. I have never tried substituting whipped cream for sour cream in this recipe, but I have heard that you can substitute an equal amount of whipped heavy cream (not liquid heavy cream) in cheesecake recipes. I would image that it changes the flavor slightly since whipped cream is less tangy than sour cream. It’s also likely that the texture would be slightly different as whipped cream is a little more loose and airy than sour cream. Hope this helps!

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