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. joanski

    MJ, FYI:

    I asked what might have seemed like a “silly” question but that’s because I own a Cuisinart 4-1 Multicooker that’s fairly versatile. I finally got a flash of brilliance, duh; consulted the instruction book for the unit and found a “similar,” type recipe that dictates the use of the baking rack which comes with the unit for any cheesecake mix like this. Once I even saw something on a blog somewhere suggesting the use of a kitchen towel as a cushion in a conventional slow cooker. Thanks anyway M.J. I ended up answering my own question. RTFM! (Translated: read the “expletive deleted” freakin’ manual!) You and the rest of the crew all are indeed patient people. Thanx!
    Best regards,
    JB
    OH hon, I have SO been there too. Amazing the stuff they put in the manual, eh? 😉 ~ MJ

    Reply
  2. Gambles

    That was the most redundant and funny blog comment list I’ve read so far. I can hardly believe so many people managed to post the exact same question right on top of each other and obviously before you all had a chance to post the answer. Kudos to your patience in answering it over and over and over… 🙂

    All my love and props to Jon, you totally deserve a medal for handling my slip-up so well! ~ MJ

    So now that I know to use 1/2 pint jars, where do I buy them? I’m homebound so I have to send someone out shopping. Hopefully you will tell me they are at the grocery store. Also, if I have a 6 qt crock pot, how many will fit? No sense buying more than I can use…

    Thanks very much,
    Suzanne
    Hi Suzanne,
    The jars will be sold at some grocery stores, but you’ll often have better luck finding them at the hardware or feed store. They come in sets of 12, with lids and rings. I’d say you’ll probably be able to fit 5 or 6 into your crock pot. I use these types of jars for everything at my house. Drinking glasses that can handle 3 dogs and 2 cats, spice storage, leftovers in the fridge. You’ll never run out of uses for them. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  3. Jack Belle

    What is the water temperature of your crock pot? I’d like to do this in a temperature controlled water bath.
    MJ? Do you have an idea of the water temp? Elisabeth

    Sorry, I don’t know the water temp of my slow cooker. In doing a little research online, it looks like 160°F would be a good place to start. ~ MJ

    Reply
  4. churtenb

    I am curious, when I use my crock pot, condensation develops on the inside of the lid.
    Would that not happen and drip into the cheesecakes?
    Susan Reid asked me this question as well, and I did not experience this. It may be because the cooker is only on for an hour? I’m not sure why it didn’t seem to be an issue, but if you have troubles with dripping, you could lay a layer of foil over the top of the crock before putting the lid on, this will catch any drips. Hope it helps! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
    1. linnie

      When I bake bread in my crock pot I cover the top with a paper towel(s) before putting on the lid – it keeps the drips off the bread and the paper towel absorbs the moisture

    2. The Baker's Hotline

      Thanks for sharing that tip, Linnie. Sounds like a great way to reduce an excess mess. Happy cheesecake baking! Kye@KAF

  5. Mary Rose

    Brilliant idea to use both the jars and the slow cooker!

    I just attended a cooking class where the instructor told us she cooks jars of mousse and creme brulee in a Dutch oven to impress the hunters she feeds at their camp. I’ll have to tell her about this cheesecake!

    Reply
  6. joanski

    So…in the recipe it says “Prepare a 7-8-quart slow cooker for baking.” Does that mean lining the interior or something like using a rack? Could you clarify please? TU

    JBB
    It just means to gather all the pieces for your cooker and put them in place. No lining or special prep needed. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  7. wendyb964

    Can also be done in the oven in a 9×13 pan partially filled with hot water. I have heat/freezer-safe jars, so can make many and freeze ahead. Cool uncovered in the refrig overnight to diminish condensation risk.
    Yes, you sure can. They are both water baths doing the same function. Enjoy! Elisabeth

    Reply
  8. wendyb964

    I first did this with the Girl Scouts in 4oz jars for their parents Valentine’s Day. Works with almost any cheesecake recipe (yes, even the “box” no-cook kind w/o the slow cooker).

    I use my regular recipe, add coffee or swirl in apricot/fruit puree, and whatever cookie crumbs we have.

    These may cook incredibly quickly: do not overbake. Check plenty early being sure not to let the condensation on the top drip onto the jars.

    Great for a party with a “toppings bar.” I prefer to use a one quart squat wide-mouth jar and fill less full to allow plenty of toppings. With scorching summers we do this outside. Such a great idea!

    For the kids we make similar desserts with pudding (cooked or instant, often layering the cookies) and let them top them as well. Thanks for reminding me of such an easy make-ahead, people think you’ve slaved all day dessert.
    Thank YOU Wendy for sharing these great ideas with us! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  9. a mcclure

    I was thinking about serving cheesecake at my daughter’s casual spring wedding and this will be perfect!!
    Oh, oh, oh! Be sure to send pictures along. We LOVE weddings! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  10. argentyne

    I almost always bake cheesecake in my slow cooker. But in the regular cake pan type pan.

    I like the idea of jars MUCH better since perhaps it will slow down my consumption of said cheesecake. 😉

    I normally make a pumpkin cheesecake with a chocolate swirl… I think I am definitely going to have to try it in this format, perhaps stealing someone else’s idea to do layers. One layer of crust, one layer of pumpkin cheesecake, one layer of chocolate… hmmmm. And MMMMMMM.

    Awesome idea! I like the layered effect, though you do want to be careful as some of the layers can overcook if you’re not careful…Best, Kim@KAF

    Reply

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