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. Pia

    could i make it in the oven if i don’t have a crock pot that’s big enough?

    You sure can! I responded to this question with instructions under “Bakingsince12”: set the oven to 300F, place the jars in a large roasting pan or a tall-sided pan that can accommodate the jars while allowing you to have water in the pan that comes at least half-way up the side of the jars. Bake until the middles are no longer jiggly: you may want to check after 30 minutes to see how they’re doing and extend the cooking time, but check every 10 minutes or so, especially if you use smaller jars than the 8oz ones we use. Best, Kim@KAF

    Reply
  2. Sandy

    Actually, I can give you a very good reason why cheesecake is thought of as a special-occasion dessert:
    Unless it’s one of the recipes using non-fat, fake-fat or artificially-non-fatted dairy subs (and I suspect that the original real cream cheese and sour cream are actually better for your health, altho that is an entirely separate subject), it’s going to be incredibly rich. One recipe will serve 12, usually. If you’re a small household, that’s cheesecake every evening for 3 to 6 days. It’s just overwhelming.
    This, however, is a somewhat smaller recipe to start with, and looks like it can be cut in half for my 3.5-quart crockpot . . . . This does look promising!!

    Thanks for sharing, Sandy! Yes, I find cheesecake to be quite sumptuous and a special-occasion dessert given how decadent it is/can be. I hope the smaller recipe size works out for you! Feel free to post your findings! Kim@KAF

    Reply
  3. furrykids

    Kim@KAF – Would I really want to lower the cooking time if I use wide mouth jars? They hold the same amount as the regular but they are fatter/shorter. I would think it would take longer to heat it all the way to the middle.

    No, the more surface area you have exposed would allow the cheesecakes to evaporate their moisture more quickly and thus coagulate the proteins at a faster rate. You may not need to adjust it much, but they will cook more quickly because of the increase in surface area of the cheesecakes. Great question! Kim@KAF

    Reply
  4. bakingsince12

    I love the idea and would definitely go with the smaller size since most friends watch weight. One question however : I don’t have a slow-cooker. Could you give alternate instructions, please? Thanks!

    You can always bake these in the oven if you use the water bath method: set the oven to 300F, place the jars in a large roasting pan or a tall-sided pan that can accommodate the jars while allowing you to have water in the pan that comes at least half-way up the side of the jars. Bake until the middles are no longer jiggly: you may want to check after 30 minutes to see how they’re doing and extend the cooking time, but check every 10 minutes or so, especially if you use smaller jars than the 8oz ones we use. Best, Kim@KAF

    Reply
  5. arlie

    I’m going to try it with the 4 oz jars. Might not all fit in at once but that’s ok. Or maybe do some of each size jar.

    Just be sure to cut down on the cooking time if you use smaller jars (you can also set up the other jars and keep in the fridge until you’re ready to cook them off. I would suggest checking the jars after 30-40 minutes to see how the centers are setting. Best, Kim@KAF

    Reply
  6. heatherindustries

    Would it be possible to use nonfat half and half or light cream or a lower fat milk product and still have a creamy cheesecake texture?

    You can always use a lower-fat dairy product, but the cheesecakes will definitely have a leaner texture and taste. If you were to use a lower-fat option, I wouldn’t go lighter than whole milk, which is significantly lower in fat than light cream. You could try with the nonfat dairy creamer and let us know the results! NOTE: nondairy creamers can often be highly sweetened, so opt for one that does not contain extra sugars/flavors for a better result. Best, Kim@KAF

    Reply
  7. furrykids

    Would this work with 1/2 pint wide mouth jars? I use them frequently and they would not require a long spoon to eat. They would also give you a larger surface area for toppings. I realize you would most likely need to up the crust per jar a bit.

    That would definitely work, though you won’t be able to fit as many into the slow cooker and you’d want to turn down the cooking time: check after 30-40 minutes to see how they’re setting up and cook until they’re done as the recipe states. You could always do 2-3 batches in the slow-cooker, being sure to keep the jars waiting to go in nice and chilled in your fridge. Kim@KAF

    Reply
  8. Sharon

    I love this idea, but am wondering if they can ship. My son is in Afghanistan and would loves these as a treat. Would they survive a week in the mail?

    It’s a lovely thought Sharon, but given the dairy and egg combination (plus the fact that these aren’t being “canned” per se), I wouldn’t ship these in the mail. They would have to be mailed in a way that would keep them at 40F for the entire duration of shipping–and by the time they arrived, they’d already be going bad. I’m so sorry, but I think this just would not be a wise idea–better to keep your son healthy! Best, Kim@KAF

    Reply
    1. Gretchen

      Sharon, I have baked cakes in jars (search online, Pinterest, etc) where you put the cake batter directly in the canning jars, bake, and as soon as you take out of the oven, put the lids on to seal. This method works well for service member care packages. I have tested one jar and 3 months later the cake was moist and delicious! Thanks to your son and family for their service. And good luck and happy baking!!

    2. Sheila

      Gretchen – that is a recipe for botulism! Baked goods are low-acid (pH over 4.6) and sealing them in a jar allows botulism spores to germinate and produce toxin which is NOT detectable to the senses. Please don’t do this any more. Also, the jars are not meant to be used in the dry heat of an oven (a bain marie as in the KA cheesecake recipe is fine), they could shatter.

    3. Mary

      I do quick breads and cakes in jars all of the time, but wouldn’t keep them for more than a month, due to the botulism worry. I am celiac so I take my treats with me on trips in glass jars.

  9. Kimberly

    OMG a cheesecake “bar”?? Funny how cheesecake in a slow cooker isn’t the idea that grabbed me…I adore a “bar” of any kind and make them any time I get the chance. Pancakes, waffles, omelettes, tacos, pasta, pizza, sandwiches (especially grilled cheese…YUM!) if I can put out a bunch of different toppings and let people go nuts, it’s my favorite thing in the world! Being able to do it with CHEESECAKE??? I can’t wait!! Thank you for the idea 🙂 and yes, using the slow cooker in summer is a great idea. Love you, KAF!

    Sounds like my kind of party, mmm!-Jon

    Reply
  10. Karen Nardella

    MJ and KA this is outstanding. I cannot wait to try it and to hear other variations form others. So excited 🙂

    Reply

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