Perfect Vanilla Cheesecake
This Perfect Vanilla Cheesecake recipe is a delicious classic that’s anything but boring!
Rich, creamy and flavorful… everything a cheesecake should be!
And see that nice flat, crack-free top? I promise it’s possible (and easy)!
This will be a recipe you can come back to time and time again and mix and match with an endless variety of toppings!
I topped this cheesecake with fresh berries, but other delicious options would include lemon curd, caramel sauce, hot fudge, toasted coconut, canned pie filling (such as cherry or blueberry), fresh peaches and more!
And if you’re a cheesecake purist (like my husband), this perfect vanilla cheesecake is flavorful and delicious all on it’s own.
This recipe starts with one of my favorite kitchen staples, Challenge Cream Cheese.
I know when I use Challenge brand cream cheese I can depend on consistent quality and fresh taste.
Challenge loves to let their fresh, high quality ingredients shine through in their products and this means you can depend on a pure taste and superior results!
No added flavors, dyes, or artificial preservatives…. just fresh and delicious ingredients that are the perfect foundation for successful recipes!
As a California girl, I love knowing that the milk used in Challenge Dairy products is from local, family-owned California dairy farms.
If you’re not sure where you can find Challenge cream cheese (and butter) near you, use this helpful map.
The not-so-secret “secret” to a smooth, crack-free cheesecake is to bake the cheesecake in a water bath, and then allow the cheesecake to cool very slowly (as described in the recipe below). The moist air created from baking the cheesecake in the water bath also helps keep the cheesecake nice and creamy. It’s one little extra step that really makes a big difference in the finished recipe!
To create the water bath, simply wrap the cheesecake pan with two layers of foil, set inside a large roasting pan (or cake pan), add about an inch of HOT water to the pan, then bake as directed below.
Disclosure – I created this recipe as part of an ongoing partnership with Challenge Dairy. Partnering with brands I love allows me to provide you high quality content at no cost to you. I only work with brands I use and love. All images, text and opinions are my own.
Perfect Vanilla Cheesecake Recipe
Perfect Vanilla Cheesecake
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs 10 full crackers
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 5 tablespoons Challenge butter melted
- 8 oz Challenge cream cheese 3 packages
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest optional
- Preheat oven to 350*F.
- Melt butter in a small bowl, then set aside. Crush graham crackers and then add graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter into a medium sized bowl. Stir together until well combined. Pour mixture into a 9" springform pan and use the bottom of a glass or measuring cup to press the mixture firmly into the bottom and about 1 inch up the side of the pan. Bake in pre-heated oven for 10 minutes, then set aside to cool.
- Gather all of your ingredients on the counter so your cream cheese and eggs can warm up to room temperature.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend cream cheese until smooth.
- Add sugar and continue to blend. Add eggs, one at a time (while blending). Add sour cream, heavy cream, vanilla, and lemon zest. Blend until all ingredients are smooth and well incorporated. Pour the cheesecake batter into the prepared crust.
- Prepare the cheesecake pan to be baked in a water bath (as follows). To prepare water bath, wrap the cheesecake pan (bottom and sides) with foil, (you may need to criss cross two sheets of foil) so that no water can get into the pan. Place the foil wrapped cheesecake pan in a large roasting pan or baking dish, then pour HOT water into the roasting dish until the water is about 1" deep. Carefully move to oven and bake.
- Bake cheesecake in pre-heated oven at 325*F (note this is reduced from the crust baking temperature) for 60-65 minutes, until the outside edges are set, but the center still jiggles a bit when nudged. At this time, turn OFF the oven and open the oven door part way. Allow the cheesecake to slowly cool in the oven for 1 hour. Move cheesecake to the counter and cool an additional hour. At this time, move the cheesecake to the fridge (cover with foil) and chill for AT LEAST 6 hours, or overnight.