This Lemon Cheesecake Recipe is so easy! No water bath required! Super soft, fluffy, and perfectly sweet and lemony.
Classic and Simple Lemon Cheesecake Recipe
As we near the end of February and slowly move toward springtime weather, I can’t help but be excited for rain showers, fresh flowers, and citrus-flavored recipes!
I love this recipe because the tartness of the lemon pairs so beautifully with the soft, silky texture of the cheesecake. It’s simply irresistible!
In fact, the lemon cheesecake recipe is a great addition to any springtime party. It’s the perfect dessert for baby showers, bridal showers, and Easter celebrations.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Ingredients for the Graham Cracker Crust
Graham cracker crumbs (9 graham cracker sheets)
Ingredients for Lemon Cheesecake
Cream cheese, softened (three 8-ounce packages)
3 large eggs
Lemon zest (from about two lemons)
Lemon juice, freshly squeezed (from about two lemons, depending on their size)
How to Make the Graham Cracker Crust
The first step is to preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Then lightly grease the inside of a 9-inch springform pan.
Begin crushing your graham cracker sheets into crumbs. I just put my graham crackers into a food processor or blender and pulse a few times until the graham cracker crumbs look like coarse sand.
Next, you’ll add 2 teaspoons of sugar and 1/3 cup of melted butter and mix everything until the butter is evenly distributed.
You’ll then press this mixture into the bottom and partially up the sides of your springform pan.
Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Then remove it from the oven and let it cool at room temperature while you make the lemon cheesecake filling.
How To Make the Cheesecake Batter
Reduce your oven temperature to 250 degrees F.
In a large bowl add 24 ounces of softened cream cheese and 1 cup of granulated sugar. Beat together until very soft and there are no lumps. You can use a hand mixer or a stand mixer to complete this step.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, and sour cream and blend at a low speed.
Pour this mixture on top of your graham cracker crust. It should look a little something like this:
Next, place the pan on a cookie sheet, and cover the top tightly with foil.
Many cheesecake recipes tell you to bake the cheesecake at a high temperature (around 350 degrees F) and to use a water bath. But water baths can be tricky and intimidating. So instead, I followed the advice from The Complete Cook’s Country T.V. Show Cookbook which says to skip the water bath, and just cover the cheesecake and bake at a low temperature instead.
So you’ll bake the covered cheesecake at 250 degrees F. for 1 hour. Then you’ll remove the foil and bake for another 30 minutes. The cheesecake is done when there is just a little wobble when you gently shake it. If it wobbles a lot, then bake up to ten minutes longer.
Once the cheesecake is done baking, take it out of the oven and allow it to cool at room temperature for an hour. Then cover and place in the refrigerator for at least four hours or overnight.
When it’s time for dessert, take your cheesecake out of the fridge, add your toppings, and serve!
Common Cheesecake Questions
How long should I chill my Lemon Cheesecake?
One thing to keep in mind is that while the prep and bake time isn’t too long, you’ll want to pop your cheesecake into the fridge for at least 4 hours to chill. If you have the time, 6 to 7 hours or overnight is ideal. This will ensure that the dessert is set and the flavors are fully developed.
How should I decorate my Lemon Cheesecake?
One of the most classic looks for lemon cheesecake is thinly sliced lemon pieces and a dollop of whipped cream. I love this look because of its simple and effortless feel.
If you’re making this recipe in the summertime, you could take advantage of the season and add blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries.
In fact, I have a Berry Topping recipe that I think would go perfectly with this cheesecake.
Can I freeze Lemon Cheesecake?
Yes! If you’re going to freeze any cheesecake, just make sure to freeze it without any toppings. Also, before sticking it in the freezer, make sure it has cooled and been chilled in the refrigerator.
If you are leaving the cheesecake in the pan, wrap the entire thing in several layers of plastic wrap and a thin layer of foil.
What happens if I forget to turn my oven temperature down?
One of the most important steps in this whole recipe is turning the oven down after you’ve baked your graham cracker crust! This might seem like an unnecessary step, but you’ll thank me when your cheesecake turns out silky-smooth.
Cheesecake is a custard, and unfortunately, custards tend to overbake easily. If your oven temperature is too high, the egg proteins will tighten up and become extremely firm, resulting in a dry and gritty cheesecake texture.
How do I tell if my cheesecake is underbaked?
One of the simplest ways to tell if your cheesecake is underbaked is the ever-so-complicated jiggle test.
To conduct this test, put on a pair of oven mitts, open the oven, and gently jiggle the cheesecake. If a large portion of your dessert jiggles, it’s not ready. If only the middle jiggles, you are good to take it out.
What is a springform pan?
A springform pan is a type of cake pan that separates into two parts: a base and a removable side ring. These two parts attach together and can be used just like any other cake pan.
Most cheesecake recipes use a springform pan. This offers several advantages to using any other type of pan. The first being, it gives you that smooth outer finish that is great for photos! The second is that it makes it easy to slice and serve, because you can remove the side of the pan and the cheesecake will just sit atop the flat base.
If you don’t have a springform pan, you can get one from Amazon here. (This is an affiliate link).
Keep in mind that the size of the springform pan matters! This recipe uses a 9-inch pan, but there are many other sizes of springform pans. If you use a smaller pan, your cheesecake will be thicker and will take longer to bake, so adjust accordingly.
Can I change the crust flavor?
Yes! While cheesecakes traditionally use a graham cracker crust, you could also try an Oreo crust.
Salted or Unsalted Butter?
Honestly, most “serious” cooks say to always use unsalted butter. But I am not that picky. I almost always use salted butter in my recipes, and then just cut back a little on any other salt called for in the recipe. The only butter in this recipe is in the graham cracker crust, and I like the little bit of salty contrast to the sweet.
Sour Cream replacements
Don’t panic if you don’t have any sour cream in the house. You can easily replace the sour cream in this recipe with Greek yogurt or buttermilk.
This recipe adapted from Lemon Cheesecake Recipe on Lil’ Luna.
For the Crust
- 1 1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs (9 graham cracker sheets)
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup melted butter
For the Lemon Cheesecake
- 24 ounces cream cheese, softened (three 8-ounce packages)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons lemon zest (from about two lemons)
- 1/3 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed (from about two lemons, depending on their size)
- 1/3 cup sour cream
For the Crust
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Lightly grease the inside of a 9-inch springform pan.
3. Add the graham cracker crumbs, 2 teaspoons of sugar, and melted butter to a small bowl. Mix well.
4. Press into the bottom of the springform pan, and partially up the sides.
5. Bake for 10 minutes. Then remove from the oven and let cool at room temperature while you prepare the filling.
For the Lemon Cheesecake
1. Reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl using a hand mixer, or in your stand mixer, add the 24 ounces of softened cream cheese and 1 cup of granulated sugar. Beat together until very soft and there are no lumps.
3. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
4. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, and sour cream and blend on low speed.
5. Pour on top of the graham cracker crust in the springform pan.
6. Place the pan on a cookie sheet, and cover the top tightly with foil.
7. Bake for 1 hour. Then remove the foil and bake for another 30 minutes. Cheesecake is done when there is just a little wobble when you gently shake it. If needed, bake up to ten minutes longer.
8. Allow to cool at room temperature for an hour. Then cover and place in the refrigerator for at least four hours or overnight.
Don't insert a knife to test for doneness, as it will mar the top of your cheesecake.
Top with fresh fruit, whipped cream, or berry topping. https://icecreaminspiration.com/berry-topping-for-ice-cream/
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 382Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 121mgSodium: 282mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 0gSugar: 22gProtein: 6g