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You (yes you!) can master how to make Vanilla Cheesecake from scratch. Start with a graham cracker crust, then top and bake the crack-free Vanilla Cheesecake filling for a show-stopping dessert recipe you’ll make again and again.

A plate of Vanilla Cheesecake with berries and whipped cream on top.

Besides chocolate lava cake, creme brulee, and ice cream, cheesecake recipes are among the most popular dessert recipes on restaurant menus. But why reserve decadent, creamy, just-sweet-enough Vanilla Cheesecake for dinners out alone?

My guide for how to make homemade cheesecake will walk you through an easy graham cracker crust recipe, the vanilla custard filling, plus how to bake cheesecake without cracks.

Grab that apron, give yourself a pep talk, and prepare to make your best Vanilla Cheesecake ever.

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Recipe FAQs
  6. Vanilla Cheesecake Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for vanilla cheesecake.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Graham crackers: Honey-flavored, cinnamon, or even chocolate graham crackers all work well. If graham crackers aren’t available in your part of the world, you can substitute 1 ½ cups crushed digestive biscuits (9 sheets of graham crackers yields about 1 ½ cups of crumbs).
  • Sugar: Or substitute 2 tablespoons brown sugar or omit sugar from the crust entirely.
  • Cream cheese: You’ll want four 8-ounce blocks of plain, full-fat cream cheese for this homemade cheesecake recipe. Slice into cubes to speed up their softening time; room temperature is best to ensure clump-free Vanilla Cheesecake filling.
  • Sour cream: A ½ cup is all you need for just enough tang to balance out the sugar in the filling. Again, full fat is my top pick for the best flavor and texture.

Step-by-step instructions

To make the crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a food processor, blender, or in a plastic bag with a rolling pin, finely crush graham crackers (you will have about 1 ½ cups crumbs).
Crushed graham cracker crumbs in a food processor.
  1. In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, butter, and sugar.
A bowl of graham cracker crumbs with butter being poured in.
  1. Pour into a 9-inch springform pan. Using the bottom of a measuring cup, press the crust evenly and firmly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
A graham cracker crust in a springform pan.
  1. Bake until golden brown and fragrant, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
A graham cracker crust in a springform pan.

To make the filling:

  1. In a standing mixer fit with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand-held electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, flour, and salt until very smooth and fluffy. Scrap the sides of the bowl frequently.
Cheesecake filling in a mixing bowl.
  1. Add the sugar, sour cream, and vanilla and beat until combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Pour filling into prepared crust and smooth the top.
Vanilla cheesecake in a springform pan (not yet baked).
  1. Bake until the filling is set but the center jiggles slightly and the edges are slightly puffed, about 60 to 75 minutes. The filling will firm up as it cools. Cool on a rack to room temperature, then cover and chill until cold (overnight is best).
Vanilla cheesecake in a springform pan.
  1. Unclasp and remove the sides of the springform pan, then run a long, thin spatula between the bottom of the pan and the crust to loosen.
Vanilla cheesecake in a springform pan.
  1. Slide the cake on to a serving platter.
A baked vanilla cheesecake.
  1. Using a thin-bladed knife, cut the cake into slices, dipping the knife into hot water and wiping dry before each cut. Serve with whipped cream and fresh berries if desired.
Slices of vanilla cheesecake on white plates.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This Vanilla Cheesecake recipe makes 12 slices of rich, silky cheesecake (you can cut them bigger or smaller as desired!).
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  • Make ahead: After baking, cool the Vanilla Cheesecake completely and then store covered (or wrapped in plastic) in the refrigerator up to 3 days in advance.
  • Freezer: While the cheesecake filling is best prepared just before baking, you can freeze the prepared crust up to 3 months in advance. Thaw before using.
Plates of Vanilla Cheesecake with berries and whipped cream on top.

Recipe FAQs

Can I make this in a different style of pan?

You can bake this Vanilla Cheesecake recipe in a 9-inch square pan if you prefer that over a springform pan.

Do I need to bake the Graham Cracker Crust?

For a no-bake twist on this cheesecake, you can chill the crust instead. Keep your oven off and simply refrigerate the crust for at least 2 hours to solidify the melted butter and sugar mixture before filling it.

I’ve noticed cracked tops on my previous attempts at homemade cheesecake. Do I need to worry about that with this Vanilla Cheesecake recipe?

Cheesecake batter is basically a rich custard, and it performs best with treated delicately. This Vanilla Cheesecake recipe is designed to bake perfectly on an oven rack, but for extra protection against cracks, try a water bath. The moist heat of a water bath, also known as a bain marie, helps the custard bake slowly and evenly without browning or cracking on top. Here’s how to make a water bath for cheesecake.

Water Bath for Cheesecake

A water bath, also known as a bain marie, is the baker’s secret to creamy cheesecake perfection. It’s also a wonderful way to bake custard or bread pudding. All you need for a water bath…

9 hours 35 minutes
View Recipe

More classic dessert recipes

A plate of Vanilla Cheesecake with berries and whipped cream on top.

Vanilla Cheesecake

You (yes you!) can master how to make Vanilla Cheesecake from scratch. Start with a graham cracker crust, then top and bake the crack-free Vanilla Cheesecake filling for a show-stopping dessert recipe you'll make again and again.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Servings 12 servings
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 483

Ingredients 

From the crust:

For the filling:

For serving:

Instructions 

To make the crust:

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a food processor, blender, or in a plastic bag with a rolling pin, finely crush graham crackers (you will have about 1 ½ cups crumbs).
  • In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, butter, and sugar. Pour into a 9-inch springform pan. Using the bottom of a measuring cup, press the crust evenly and firmly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
  • Bake until golden brown and fragrant, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.

To make the filling:

  • In a standing mixer fit with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand-held electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, flour, and salt until very smooth and fluffy. Scrap the sides of the bowl frequently.
  • Add the sugar, sour cream, and vanilla and beat until combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Pour filling into prepared crust and smooth the top.
  • Bake until the filling is set but the center jiggles slightly and the edges are slightly puffed, about 60 to 75 minutes. The filling will firm up as it cools. Cool on a rack to room temperature, then cover and chill until cold (overnight is best).
  • Unclasp and remove the sides of the springform pan, then run a long, thin spatula between the bottom of the pan and the crust to loosen. Slide the cake on to a serving platter.
  • Using a thin-bladed knife, cut the cake into slices, dipping the knife into hot water and wiping dry before each cut. Serve with whipped cream and fresh berries if desired.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Graham crackers: Honey-flavored, cinnamon, or even chocolate graham crackers all work well. If graham crackers aren’t available in your part of the world, you can substitute 1 ½ cups crushed digestive biscuits (9 sheets of graham crackers yields about 1 ½ cups of crumbs).
  2. Sugar: Or substitute 2 tablespoons brown sugar or omit sugar from the crust entirely.
  3. Cream cheese: You’ll want four 8-ounce blocks of plain, full-fat cream cheese for this homemade cheesecake recipe. Slice into cubes to speed up their softening time; room temperature is best to ensure clump-free Vanilla Cheesecake filling.
  4. Sour cream: A ½ cup is all you need for just enough tang to balance out the sugar in the filling. Again, full fat is my top pick for the best flavor and texture.
  5. Yield: This Vanilla Cheesecake recipe makes 12 slices of rich, silky cheesecake (you can cut them bigger or smaller as desired!).
  6. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  7. Make ahead: After baking, cool the Vanilla Cheesecake completely and then store covered (or wrapped in plastic) in the refrigerator up to 3 days in advance.
  8. Freezer: While the cheesecake filling is best prepared just before baking, you can freeze the prepared crust up to 3 months in advance. Thaw before using.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 483kcalCarbohydrates: 37gProtein: 7gFat: 35gSaturated Fat: 20gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 141mgSodium: 414mgPotassium: 152mgFiber: 1gSugar: 29gVitamin A: 1288IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 100mgIron: 1mg
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Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing another great recipe. We love cheesecake, and this step-by-step helps us. You are always doing such a great job, Meggan.