Cheesecakes in a jar: The neat way to eat a handful of cheesecake

Cheesecake and fresh summer fruit is an amazing combination. The rich creamy custard is a perfect foil for the sweet, tangy, juicy fruits. But cheesecake has a bit of a reputation…

People, myself included, tend to think of cheesecake as a formal dessert. One that requires you to be dressed up and on your best behavior. I wonder why that is?

Does it have to do with the expense involved? Did it just become habit only to make cheesecake for special occasions? Even the casual cousin version of cheesecake in muffin cups tends only to be served at summer parties, not for a weeknight dinner dessert. How about a slice of cheesecake at the beach? UNheard of!

Well, thanks to our Pinterest pages, and our friends out there who love to share recipes, I came across the idea of baking cheesecake batter in heat-proof canning jars, individual servings that could be lidded up and taken anywhere. I was sold even before I started shopping for groceries.

I’m sure this method will be an old favorite for some of you, but I’m hoping that others like me will be thrilled with the new discovery.

I’m sure, too, that the photo above is just making you hanker for a good bite of cheesecake, so let’s not delay any further – let’s make Cheesecake in a Jar.

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There’s a huge difference in temperature, not to mention texture, between cream cheese straight from the fridge and cream cheese that’s been at room temperature for an hour.

If there’s one thing you can do to ensure a smooth batter for your cheesecake, it’s taking the time to let the cream cheese warm up.

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Prepare your favorite cheesecake batter according to the recipe directions. I used our Brooklyn-style cheesecake filling for its richness and perfect texture. Don’t worry about tracking it down, I’ve reprinted it in the recipe.

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In a small bowl, mix 1 cup graham cracker crumbs with 1 tablespoon sugar. Place 2 tablespoons sweetened crumbs in each of seven 1/2-pint Mason jars. Press down lightly.

One of the beautiful things about this method is that you never have to turn on the oven. Even the crust bakes in the slow cooker.  If you like a richer crust you can add melted butter to the crumb mixture, but I happen to like the crumbs a little looser and crisp.

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Place the jars in a  7- to 8-quart slow cooker. Can you see the messy jar I filled up in the back? Do try to be a little neater than I was.

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Fill each jar 3/4 full with your cheesecake filling. I found pouring the filling from a pitcher with a spout to be a great help.

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Cheesecakes bake best in a warm water bath, called a bain marie. With the temperature control of the slow cooker, the water stays at a constant temperature and the moist air keeps the cakes from forming a crust on top.

To fill the cooker with water, loosely place a lid on each jar to prevent water from splashing in. Pour warm water in until the level reaches at least halfway up the sides of the jars.

Remove the lids from the jars, cover the slow cooker, and set the cooker to high for 1 to 2 hours.

I know this seems like a very wide range of time for cooking, but slow cookers vary, cheesecake batters vary, so it’s better to have a big window.

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To test the cakes for doneness, insert a knife about 1/2″ in from the outer edge. The blade should come out moist, but clean. The centers of the cakes should no longer be wiggly or jiggly.

Turn off the slow cooker and allow the cheesecakes to cool down for about 20 minutes before transferring them to a rack.

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Allow the cheesecakes to rest at room temperature for an hour before sealing with lids and rings. Chill the jars in the fridge for several hours (or up to overnight) before serving. Store tightly covered in the fridge for up to a week.

I’ve never been a big fan of freezing cheesecakes, but I’m pretty sure these would survive well in the freezer for at least a month.

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Pass the berries, cherries, hot fudge sauce, and whipped cream for a topping party. Each person can create his or her own favorite combination, then dig in with a long-handled spoon. Forget iced tea, this is the true reason to break out Aunt Elaine’s set of silver spoons.

Tell us about your summer picnic experiences and your cheesecake triumphs in the comments below. It truly does mean the world to me and my fellow bakers when you share your joy of baking, food and, of course, eating!

Please make, rate, and review our recipe for Cheesecake in a Jar.

Print just the recipe.

Plan the perfect picnic with these other great recipes:  Deviled Eggs; Turkey, Avocado, Strawberry Sandwiches; Pickled Red Onions.

MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

  1. Grandma

    The pictures and post of this recipe states to use 1 pint Mason jars. The Ball jars pictured don’t come in pint size, they’re 8 ounce jelly jars.

    Hmm, I will let MJ know so the error can be fixed!-Jon

    Reply
  2. tpel_91

    Exactly what size jars are you using? Because that picture looks like half-pint [8 oz] jars rather than the pint [16 oz] jars to me. And for individual servings, 16 oz is a LOT of cheesecake no matter how good 🙂 I’ve seen a lot of this on Pinterest too and have been rather afraid to try the recipes just because the baking time could be so different. I’ve seen some pictures where the recipe is saying pint jars and the picture is showing quarter-pint [4 oz] jars…

    Sorry for the confusion, half pints were used.-Jon

    Reply
  3. davidjanet

    If you had 2 slow cookers could you use 14, 1/2 pint jars instead of the pint size to make a single serving? I need to make a lot of these for a house warming party. How would this affect the time? Thanks
    You could absolutely do smaller jars. Start checking much earlier. I haven’t tried it, so maybe check at 30 mins? Let us know if you give it a try. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  4. Pam H

    I really think there has been a type and those are “1/2” pint jars rather than pint jars.

    I think so too, I have let MJ know so we will have an answer soon!-Jon

    Reply
  5. KAF_Keri

    So with the cheesecake being in individual jars, would it be easy enough to add different flavorings to each jar without messing up the consistency? I’m thinking: lemon zest in one jar, lime zest in another, Snickers chunks, blueberries, pumpkin filling swirl, etc etc. The possibilities would be endless! It would be perfect for a party where people have different tastes. What do you think?

    Sounds like a fine idea to me. You should experiment with some different flavors and let us taste test them, just to be on the safe side!-Jon

    Reply
  6. annapolprior

    Oh no, this is just not right, the crust is the best part and the amount of cheesecake is disproportionate to the crust! More crust!

    You can always add more crust without a problem!-Jon

    Reply
    1. Beth

      Or use a smaller jar like a Ball 4oz. You would have to adjust the water level and cooking time, but easy to do.

    2. Emily

      I love the crust too! I’m going to shake up this recipe a bit by alternating layers of crust and cheesecake batter until i reach about 3/4 up the canning jar before baking. I think it will look so pretty being able to see the layers through the clear glass! I’ll let everyone know how it turns out!!

  7. "Paul from Ohio"

    Brilliant idea. Baking in the Slow Cooker is nothing short of Genius! And the Brooklyn Cheesecake recipe has been a big winner in our household for some time now. You are one sharp cookie, or is that, one sharp cheesecake!, of a baker blogger MJ! Crafty and luscious and so practical! In the heat of summer, who needs to bake in the oven!!! And everyone gets to select their own topping – another GREAT IDEA!

    She is pretty crafty and wonderful!-Jon

    Reply
  8. wingboy

    Great idea! I never thought of using a slow cooker as a bain marie.
    Hmmm. I have a vision of custards and brulee.
    New possibilities are on the horizon.
    Thanks!!

    Please let us know which custards you try out with this method.-Jon

    Reply
  9. sohn

    I love the slow cooker au Bain marie idea. Brilliant!

    It really is pretty neat! I think I need some cheesecake now…-Jon

    Reply
  10. binag

    Not everyone has a slow cooker. What are the alternatives?

    The best alternative would be a low oven (300 degrees) in a water bath. The cakes should take about 30 minutes!-Jon

    Reply
    1. Peggy Soucie

      What about a non-pressure type canning pot, in place of the slow cooker. I know my old one has a metal basket, so you can lift the jars from the boiling water easily. Keeping the water at a constant simmer, wouldn’t that work ?

    2. The Baker's Hotline

      Peggy, most slow cookers are designed to cook foods in the “simmer” range, between 190 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit. If you can maintain this constant, low temperature in your canning pot on the stove, you are more than welcome to give it a try! We recommend using a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature of your water and to check for doneness sooner than if you were using a slow cooker (around 45 minutes-1 hour). The centers should no longer be jiggly or wobbly, and a knife inserted into the cake about 1/2″ from the edge should come out clean. We hope this gives you the cute little cheesecakes you are looking for! Happy baking! Kye@KAF

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