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Simply the BEST Vanilla Cheesecake recipe!

Perfect Vanilla Cheesecake

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: vanilla cheesecake
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Cool: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 15
Calories: 238kcal
Rich, smooth and creamy, with no cracks! This classic vanilla cheesecake is delicious as is, and also perfect for adding your favorite toppings!
Print Recipe



  • 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


Prepare crust

  • 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.

Prepare cheesecake

  • 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.


If you plan to top the cheesecake with caramel or chocolate, omit lemon zest.
For the fresh fruit topping shown, wash, then chop berries as desired, add to a small bowl and drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of honey. Stir and put in the fridge for at least 15 minutes and the fruit juices will combine nicely.


Calories: 238kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 69mg | Sodium: 125mg | Potassium: 62mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 473IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 1mg