This Classic New York Style Cheesecake Recipe is so creamy and decadent and will be a favorite at all of your holiday celebrations and will have your family, friends or coworkers fighting over the last piece. Shhhh….. don’t tell them it was this easy.Jump to Recipe
My Classic New York Style Cheesecake recipe is a staple at all of our Holiday celebrations. After the first year I brought it to Christmas, close to 10 years ago, I have been asked to bring it year after year. Now I make it for our Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations and for both sides of our family.
I used to think Cheesecake was this out of reach recipe that was too difficult to make. It was a desert I could only get at the store or from a nice restaurant. However, once I made it and saw just how incredibly easy it was to make, I’ve not bought Cheesecake since.
Don’t be intimidated anymore! Hopefully my tips and tricks for this Classic Cheesecake Recipe will help you conquer your cheesecake fears and give you the confidence you need to make this recipe.
As a side note, check out our desert table for Thanksgiving. Most of these were made by my sister and brother-in-law, but there’s my cheesecake on the top right of the table.
With just a little preparation and a few ingredients, you will make a beautiful Cheesecake that will taste amazing and impress all of your guests.
History of Cheesecake.
Im gonna go all geeky on you for a second. I find food history pretty interesting, more than I do typical history so I wanted to include this bit that I read about Cheesecakes origins.
Understandably, most people associate the Classic Cheesecake with New York. However, and maybe surprisingly, Cheesecake actually originated amongst the Greeks on the Island of Samos in the Fifth Century B.C. It was a simple cheese patty pounded with flour and honey and baked. Cheesecake was a widespread treat and valued for its high energy attributes. There is evidence it was even served to Athletes before the Olympic Games of 776 B.C.
Since its earliest creations, Cheesecake has been through many transformations. Eventually, it settled into Philadelphia where they changed the cheese curds to cream cheese. This gave it the smooth, rich and creamy texture we love and know today as New York Style Cheesecake.
For more on the history on Cheesecake and how it came to America, click here.
Tip #1 A Rich and Creamy Classic Cheesecake Recipe
Perhaps the most identifiable quality of Cheesecake is its creamy texture. Everyone knows that smooth and sweet creamy goodness that melts in your mouth as you savor every bite.
How do you get such a decadent texture? The very first tip is to work only with room temperature ingredients. This means, your eggs, your milk, your cream cheese… All of your ingredients must be at room temperature.
This step is not just for the texture. There are other ramifications, like an over beaten mixture that is prone to dryness and cracking.
However, the main reason for room temperature ingredients is creaminess.
Cold cream cheese, cold eggs and cold milk won’t blend well. Your cream cheese will stay lumpy and in an attempt to get the lumps out you will end up over working your mixture. This adds too much air into the batter.
*Note: In a pinch you can carefully microwave your cream cheese, milk and sour cream and put your eggs (still in their shells) in a bowl of warm water.
Tip #2 Avoiding The Great Divide in your Classic Cheesecake
Unfortunately Cheesecakes crack. You put all of this work in and if you are not careful you get this ginormous crack right down the center of your finished cheesecake.
While a cracked cheesecake is not pretty, it is still delicious and everyone will undoubtedly enjoy it. I used to get more cracked cheesecakes than not. I suppose that’s how I learned these next tips.
Its been a while since Ive had a cracked cheesecake, but I still remember the frustration. If, however, you do end up with a Great Divide, I have some tips for that too and will add those later.
- Room Temperature ingredients
- Dont over mix your batter
- Water Bath under your cheesecake
- Cool to room temperature slowly
Some of these reasons overlap each other but they are all equally important. For instance, over beating your batter will cause your cheesecake to not set properly and be too soft, but it will also cause it to crack. Cold ingredients will cause your cheese cake to be lumpy, and also crack. Cheesecakes seem to want to crack so the keys is to avoid the behaviors that allow them to crack.
Tip #3 Don’t Burn Your Cheesecake
Until recently all of my cheesecakes had a browned edge to them. I just assumed this was never going to be any different. In the past I even tried to trim the top to get the unevenness and browned edges off. That turned out TERRIBLY! Don’t try that. Just trust me on that one.
How do I now avoid the brown uneven cooking? One, I bake lower. Two, cover your edges. This was made so easy with one tool, a Crust Shield, find it here. Since I have been using this amazing tool all my edges are nice and white, and don’t bake unevenly.
Tip #4 Water Bath for your Classic Cheesecake Recipe
Anyone who has baked Cheesecakes should know about a water bath. If a recipe doesn’t call for it, use one anyway. Usually, however, water baths include wrapping your pies in aluminum foil, several times over, and setting your cheesecake down in a pan filled with water. You can certainly do that, however, I simply put a pan of water on the shelf below the cheesecake and have had great success with it.
Tip #5 Leave your Cheesecake Alone
Once you put your Classic New York Cheesecake into the oven, Let It Be. It is so tempting to open the door and check on it over and over, especially when you are so eager to taste it, however, this can slow down your cooking and also cause the cheesecake to fall. Just let it do its thing and don’t open that door.
If you must look, look through the window of your oven, but for the next 7 hours you need to almost forget about that cake.
Yes, I said 7 hours! Bake it for 1 hour, turn your oven off and leave it inside, closed door and let it slowly cool for 6 hours. Depending on how much baking you will be doing, you may need to bake your cheesecake a few days before your celebration so you have time to cool your cheesecake properly.
Tip #6 The Crust
While the crust isn’t necessarily the main attraction, its certainly is still important. I change my crust up depending on where im taking the cheesecake and what I feel like eating. If im taking a Cheesecake to my husbands side, I make it with no nuts because of nut allergies in one of the families. Below are my favorite crust variations.
I have the same method for each of these crusts.
- Classic Graham Cracker Crust
- Almond Flour Crust (1 to 2 Tablespoons of Sugar)
- Pecan Crust (1 to 2 Tablespoons of Sugar)
- Oreo Cookie Crust
- Ginger Snap Cookie Crust
The Classic New York Cheesecake Batter Recipe
The Classic Cheesecake batter is easy but you still need to follow these rules. After bringing all of your ingredients to room temperature, blend your cream cheese and sugar until they are fully combined and smooth.
Add your milk and mix, again just till combined.
Then add your eggs one at a time and mix just until combined. This is the point where you do not want to over mix. You add one egg, mix it until all of the yolk is just incorporated and stop. Add another, mix just until combined and stop. Repeat until you have added all 4 eggs.
During the egg incorporation I usually like to stop and scrape down the sides and bottom to ensure that the cream cheese and eggs are fully mixing.
After your eggs are incorporated, add your sour cream and vanilla and mix.
Next I add my flour. While the whisk attachment is on low I sift in 1/4 cup of All purpose flour.
Without Further Ado…
Tools Needed For Classic New York Cheesecake Recipe
- 9 Inch Springform Pan– These are essential to making cheesecake. Cheesecake is too delicate for a cake pan. You could risk it falling apart and all your hard work ruined.
- Hand Mixer, I love my Kitchen Aid hand mixer. It was a gift a few years ago and I don’t know how I managed for so long without it.
- Mixing Bowls I love these Pyrex glass bowls. They are a great basic set that can be put in the microwave if needed or used in a double boiler. Ive even baked bread in these.
- Crust Shield – this will save your edges from getting browned, overcooked and dried out.
- Measuring Spoons I like this metal set of spoons and cups. Ive had plastic before and it can be quite frustrating when the measuring labels rub off and you can’t see the amounts anymore.
- Measuring Cups
- Food Processor– I have had a Cuisinart Food Processor, in white, for over 10 years. It is a tool I wouldn’t want to live without.
Ingredients Needed for Classic New York Cheesecake Recipe
- 20 Graham Crackers, ground in a food processor
- 8 Tablespoons Butter, melted
- 4- 8oz packages of Cream Cheese, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cup White Sugar
- 3/4 cup Milk, room temperature
- 4 eggs Eggs, room temperature
- 1 Cup Sour Cream, room temperature
- 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
- 1/4 cup All Purpose Flour
Warm all of your cold ingredients up to room temperature.
Preheat your Oven to 350°F.
Grind 20 sheets of Graham Crackers (im using 4 Cups of Pecans and 2 Tablespoons of White Sugar) in a Food Processor to a coarse sand consistency. With your food processor on, drizzle in the 8 Tablespoons of melted butter.
Press the mixture into the bottom of your 9 inch springform pan. I like to press the crust part way up the sides as well.
Bake your crust at 350°F for 15 minutes.
While your crust is baking, mix, with your hand mixer, your cream cheese and sugar just until smooth.
Blend in your milk. Scrape down sides.
Adding one egg at a time, blend until the yolks are just mixed in. Repeat with all 4 eggs. Scrape down sides between each egg addition.
Incorporate 1 cup of sour cream and 1 tablespoon of vanilla. While mixing, slowly sift in 1/4 cup all purpose flour just until combined.
Pour your Cheesecake batter into your baked crust. Turn your oven down to 300°F and bake for 1 hour.
Do not open the oven door.
After 1 hour, turn your oven off and leave the cheesecake in your oven for 6 hours. Do Not open the door.Print Recipe
Classic New York Style Cheesecake Recipe
- 9 Inch Springform Pan
- Hand Mixer
- Mixing Bowls
- Crust Shield
- Measuring Spoons
- Measuring Cups
- Food Processor
- 20 Graham Crackers ground in a food processor
- 8 Tablespoons Butter melted
- 4- 8 oz packages of Cream Cheese room temperature
- 1 1/2 cup White Sugar
- 3/4 cup Milk room temperature
- 4 eggs Eggs room temperature
- 1 Cup Sour Cream room temperature
- 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
- 1/4 cup All Purpose Flour
- Warm all of your cold ingredients up to room temperature.
- Preheat your Oven to 350°F.
- Grind 20 sheets of Graham Crackers (im using 4 Cups of Pecans and 2 Tablespoons of White Sugar) in a Food Processor to a coarse sand consistency. With your food processor on, drizzle in the 8 Tablespoons of melted butter.
- Press the mixture into the bottom of your 9 inch springform pan. I like to press the crust half way up the sides as well.
- Bake your crust at 350°F for 15 minutes.
- While your crust is baking, mix, with your hand mixer, your cream cheese and sugar just until smooth.
- Blend in your milk. Scrape down sides.
- Adding one egg at a time, blend until the yolks are just mixed in. Repeat with all 4 eggs. Scrape down sides between each egg addition.
- Incorporate 1 cup of sour cream and 1 tablespoon of vanilla. While mixing, slowly sift in 1/4 cup all purpose flour just until combined.
- Pour your Cheesecake batter into your baked crust. Turn your oven down to 300°F and bake for 1 hour.
- Do not open the oven door.
- After 1 hour, turn your oven off and leave the cheesecake in your oven for 6 hours. Do Not open the door.
- Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, overnight is better.
In the past, if im in a rush, I have cracked the oven door to cool my cheesecake faster. It still tasted good but this did sometimes cause it to fall in the center. If you are pressed for time, its a risk you will have to take.
Toppings for Classic Cheesecake Recipe
- Sour Cream with Vanilla and Sugar- a classic cheesecake topping
- Chocolate Ganache rich and creamy topping great for lots of deserts
- Sliced Fruit- Great for coving a cracked cheesecake. like to use sliced Kiwi, Strawberries, Raspberries,and blueberries and lay them on top in layers.
- Whipped Cream– Perhaps the easiest and quickest topping and also great for hiding a cracked cheesecake. Plus, the leftovers are amazing in my coffee the next morning.
- Raspberry, Strawberry, or Blueberry sauce. So easy to make and probably my families favorite Cheesecake Topping.
Well, there you have it! Ive made this cheesecake so many times that these tips are just part of it. Making a good Cheesecake can seem intimidating but I encourage you to give it a try. If its not perfect the first time, Don’t Give Up! Its taken time and some trial and error to get it to where Im consistently happy with the outcome. You can do it too!