Cheesecake lovers, this page is for you. Consider it your resource page for all things cheesecake, not only all my cheesecake recipes, but also resources, tips and tricks, and equipment and cookbook recommendations.
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Cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts ever, and if you’re the same, I hope you give these recipes a try and that you find the cheesecake information helpful!
WHAT IS CHEESECAKE MADE OF?
Cheesecake is a custard, by definition. So the main ingredients in cheesecake are dairy (soft cheese, in this case) and eggs, sometimes with an additional yolk or two added in.
Seriously, if you mixed cream cheese together with egg and baked it, you would have a cheesecake.
We add other ingredients for both flavor and texture.
In sweet cheesecake, you may find any number of the following:
- sweetener of some sort (sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc)
- additional dairy such as buttermilk, cream, sour cream, etc. The addition of more creamy liquid keeps the texture from being too stodgy.
- salt–always. In both sweet and savory cheesecakes, salt brings out the flavor.
- additional flavoring like liqueurs, extracts, spices, citrus zest, etc.
- possibly some starch: people add starch to cheesecakes for a couple of reasons.
- Reason One: the starch will bind up some of the liquid in the cake and keep it from weeping after it has been in the fridge for a couple of days.
- Reason Two: Starch can keep your cheesecake from curdling, but you still have to be careful of baking temperature.
WHAT ARE THE BEST CHEESES TO USE FOR CHEESECAKE
In the US, cream cheese is the cheese of choice for cheesecake. In Italy, it’s ricotta and/or mascarpone cheese. Mascarpone is pretty much the Italian version of cream cheese, so there you go.
There are no hard and fast rules. But for sweet cheesecakes, here are some other choices:
- young goat cheese
- cottage cheese (drain and then process until smooth unless you want curds in your cheesecake. It’s a personal preference.)
You can also use a mixture of cheeses. Cream cheese and some goat cheese, for example.
WHAT DO EGGS DO IN CHEESECAKE?
In baked cheesecake, eggs provide:
- Richness in the form of fat in the yolks
- Liquid in the whites, and probably most important,
- Protein to set the structure of the cake.
HOW MUCH EGG DOES A CHEESECAKE NEED?
Generally speaking, cheesecake recipes use 1 whole large egg per 1 package of cream cheese (8 oz).
Put another way, for every pound of soft cheese, you need 2 large eggs.
This is good information to have, because there is no reason in the world you can’t come up with your very own cheesecake recipe, as long as you know how many eggs per x amount of soft cheese.
MY BASIC CHEESECAKE FORMULA
As I said, you can make up your own cheesecake recipe and not be worried if it will turn out or not, because you’ll know the proportions of each ingredient.
For me, here’s my basic cheesecake recipe, written per 8 oz of cream cheese:
For every 8 ounces cream cheese, use:
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup additional dairy (optional)
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
You can use a bit more sugar per 8 oz of cream cheese if you like your cheesecake sweeter.
This basic formula is just a starting point. You may find that you want additional dairy in your cheesecake recipes or to use more or fewer eggs.
Find a recipe for a cheesecake that you really like, and then look at the proportions of the main ingredients and adjust accordingly.
HOW TO MAKE A SAVORY CHEESECAKE
I have only one savory cheesecake on the blog right now, but that doesn’t mean I don’t whip them up more often.
You can easily make a savory cheesecake by leaving out the sugar, increasing the salt, and adding savory flavors with herbs and/or spices to your favorite base recipe.
The basic ratio of 1 egg per 8 oz of cream cheese still applies.
A savory cheesecake can make a wonderful holiday appetizer when paired with crackers, vegetables or even sliced fruit. Spread the top with some pepper jelly or some cherry chutney, and you are all set.
A small savory cheesecake is also a really nice and unexpected addition to a cheese plate.
Here are a couple more savory cheesecakes you might enjoy. This Savory Spinach Artichoke Cheesecake turns everyone’s favorite dip into a cheesecake.
And this Savory Basil and Goat Cheese Cheesecake combines two of my favorite flavors.
I am also partial to my savory goat cheese cheesecake. Great for entertaining.
WHAT IS THE BEST PAN FOR MAKING CHEESECAKE?
My favorite cheesecake pan is a 9″ x 3″ 2 piece push pan. A push pan has sides that are all in one piece and a metal disc that fits down onto a rim around the sides of the pan.
This is the kind I use. I love it and have never had issues with it.
Once you bake your cheesecake and it cools, run a thin knife or spatula around the inside of the pan, place the base on a large can or other stable surface, and then carefully pull the sides of the pan down. This leaves the cheesecake sitting on the metal disc that is the bottom of the pan.
I also have several springform pans, the kind where the sides lock onto a base with a latch.
My most recent acquisition is this springform pan from Anolon. It's a nice weight and it works well.
For either kind of pan, I always wrap them well in a double thickness of foil if I am baking in a water bath. I'm not concerned that a thick cheesecake batter will leak out, but rather that water can seep in.
HOW TO MAKE A GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST FOR CHEESECAKE
Often I will just purchase Graham crackers and either whiz them up in the food processor or put them in a zip top freezer bag and bash them into crumbs with my rolling pin.
For every 2 cups of crumbs, I use about 4 Tablespoons of butter, enough to just moisten them so it will pack nicely into a pan.
This happens when all that sugar melts in the oven and then hardens into a sheet of candy once cool.
When I have enough time, I still contend that making your own homemade Graham crackers is the best way to make the best Graham cracker crust.
HOW TO BAKE A CHEESECAKE
I like to bake almost all my cheesecakes in a water bath.
- moist environment
- gentle, even heating
Adding boiling water to a larger pan and then setting your well-wrapped cheesecake pan in it to bake provides insulation for the custard so it doesn’t overbake, doesn’t rise up (souffle) and then collapse, and has a nice, even top instead of one with a crater in the center.
It’s most important to bake a cheesecake in a water bath if it doesn’t have side crusts and/or it doesn’t contain any starch.
You can get away without a water bath if your cheesecake has crust that comes all the way up the sides.
Whether or not you use a water bath, bake at no higher than 325F. The lower the temperature you bake your cheesecake, the creamier it will be, but it will also take longer to bake.
A cheesecake baked at 325F in a water bath will take longer than a cheesecake baked at 325F without a water bath since there will be no water to insulate the sides of the cheesecake.
Read more about how to bake a cheesecake in a water bath.
HOW TO CUT A CHEESECAKE
At room temperature, cheesecake is pretty delicate, so it is best to cut them straight out of the fridge.
Cheesecake is dense and creamy and has no “crumb” like a regular butter cake does. Because of this, knives tend to drag through cheesecake instead of cutting cleanly.
The less surface area your knife has, the less drag, and the cleaner the cuts, so use a sharp knife with a thin blade. I like to use a boning knife for this, only dragging the knife towards me and out of the cake once I have sliced down cleanly through the cake and crust.
The best way to cut clean slices of cheesecake is to dip your knife into very hot water, dry it and then make the first cut. Wipe off any cheesecake from the blade, dip in more hot water, dry it, and then make another cut.
Always wipe the knife blade, dip in hot water, then quickly dry the blade between each cut.
- Dip your knife in very hot water
- Dry the blade quickly.
- Cut each slice straight down without sawing back and forth.
- Wipe the blade clean.
- Repeat as necessary
If after you read this post you still have cheesecake questions, please feel free to email me. I am happy to help!
Now, onto all the cheesecake recipes you'll find here (so far).>