Vanilla Cheesecake: Zo surprising!

“Cheesecake” and “bread machine” go together like… well, kinda like jellybeans and french fries, right?

Or maybe “Lady Gaga” and “bashful.” Or, this year in particular: “winter” and “easy.”

Mismatches all, right?

Well, all except that first pair: cheesecake and bread machine. Because if you own a programmable Zojirushi bread machine, you can absolutely use it to bake a rich, creamy cheesecake.

I kid you not.

Watch closely, friends, and see how it’s done.


First, the cream cheese. We like Cabot cream cheese; its flavor is a nicely balanced blend of milky/tangy/creamy.

And whatever brand you choose, feel free to use the lower-fat version, often called Neufchatel.


You’ll need 19 ounces of cream cheese. That’s two of the 8-ounce blocks, plus a small 3-ounce package, if you can find one; otherwise, use 3 ounces from a larger block.

Take the cream cheese out of the fridge, unwrap it, and drop it into your mixing bowl. You want it to come to room temperature; and it’s much easier to let the cream cheese slowly warm in the bowl, than to try to peel the wrapper off sticky, room-temperature cream cheese.

Oh, and while you’re at it, take 3 large eggs out of the fridge, too; they need to come to room temperature.

cheesecake1Next, prepare your crust. Crush 4 whole graham crackers; stir in 4 teaspoons sugar, and 2 tablespoons melted butter.

cheesecake5Take the paddles out of the bread machine bucket; make a mental note of where you put them, so you’re not hunting for them next time you go to bake bread.

Spray the inside of the bucket with non-stick vegetable oil spray.

If you like, scatter some of the crumbs in the bottom of the bucket; I tried this both ways (with crumbs in the bottom, and without), and I prefer no crumbs. But up to you; you’ll turn the cake out, so these crumbs in the bottom will be embedded in the top of your cake, if you choose to use them.

OK, on to the filling.

cheesecake2Beat the cream cheese with 3/4 cup sugar at medium-low speed until smooth. You don’t want to beat a lot of air into the cheese; cheesecakes are supposed to be somewhat dense.

Add 3 large room-temperature eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each – again, at medium-low speed. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and continue to beat until smooth.

Stir in 1 1/2 tablespoons each lemon juice and vanilla extract; and 2 tablespoons King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour.

IMG_5185And there you have it – a nice, smooth batter.

OK, here comes the challenging part (or maybe not, if you’re an old hand at this): programming your Zojirushi.

You’re going to use one of the homemade cycles. If you’re not sure how to program a homemade cycle into the machine’s memory, check out our step-by-step guide.

Program the machine for bake, 30 minutes; add the 1-hour keep warm option. This means that every cycle is going to say either “0” or “off” – except the bake cycle (30 minutes), and the keep warm cycle, which will read 1:00 (1 hour).

Set your own personal kitchen timer for 25 minutes.

Spoon the batter into the bucket, smoothing the top. Press Start; start your own 25-minute timer, too.

cheesecake3When the 25-minute timer goes off, open the lid, and quickly and gently spread the crumbs over the filling, pressing them down gently (top). Don’t spend a lot of time on this; you don’t want too much heat to escape.

Shut the lid, and let the machine finish its entire cycle, through “keep warm.” When the cheesecake is done (bottom), you’ll notice it pulling away from the edges of the pan.

IMG_5289Remove the bucket from the machine. My digital thermometer says it’s 190°F in the center – plenty hot enough. Actually, cheesecake is considered fully baked when it’s about 165°F at the center; so I could have probably baked this 5 minutes less.

Allow the cake to cool to room temperature right in the bucket. When it’s cool, cover the bucket and refrigerate until serving time.

When the cake is completely chilled, loosen the edges with a nylon spatula or plastic table knife. Carefully turn the pan upside-down over a serving plate, and gently wiggle/shake the pan to make the cake fall out onto the plate. Some of the crumbs will fall off; that’s OK, simply nudge them back towards the crust.

photo 2Now, if you have a Zo Virtuoso with handles, this process is a bit trickier. Loosen the edges of the cake with a plastic knife or spatula. Fasten a double piece of aluminum foil to the top of the bucket (inside the handles), sealing it completely. Holding the bottom of the foil, turn the bucket over, place your hand under the foil for support, and tap the handles of the bucket gently on the counter to loosen the cake, which should drop onto the foil.

IMG_5271Transfer the cake from the foil to a serving plate. Yes, there may be crumbs flying all over; gather them up and sprinkle them artfully atop the cake, and around its edges.

cheesecake6Cut the cake into squares or long slices. Serve as is; or top with fruit, if desired. Refrigerate any leftovers.

And there you have it: cheesecake from your Zo. Especially as the warmer days of summer come along, and you want to keep things cool in the kitchen by leaving your oven off as much as possible, think of other goodies you might try baking in your miniature counter top oven: peach cobbler, anyone?

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Vanilla Cheesecake.

Print just the recipe.

Don’t own a Zo? We have plenty of other yummy cheesecake recipes to offer you. Like our Brooklyn-Style Cheesecake; NY Cheesecake; and, for those of you craving cheesecake but lacking a cheesecake/springform pan, Easy Cheesecake.


PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


    1. The Baker's Hotline

      If you are able to program your bread machine’s baking and holding times, you should be able to use another brand of machine with this recipe.~Jaydl@KAF

  1. Danell

    Could you line the pan with a parchment sling and lift the cheesecake out at the end? Then flip over onto a plate.

  2. Jennifer Weldon

    My Zo has been a faithful friend for years! But cheesecake?! My oh my….heading into the kitchen right now

  3. Pamela

    Followed some links to this recipe for Vanilla Cheesecake. I would like to know why the Vanilla Cheesecake can’t be made the “old fashion” way if you don’t own a bread machine? Why does a person have to make a NY Cheesecake or Brooklyn Cheesecake or some other Cheesecake and why this one can’t be made in the oven like any other cheesecake?

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Pamela, I hadn’t tested it in a pan in the oven so didn’t want to positively guarantee time/temperature/pan for this bread machine version, but go for it if you like. Let us know what you discover – PJH

  4. cath t

    I’m grateful for Zo recipes of all types, and this looks delightful. I bought a Zo a while ago, because KA recommends them. My previous bread machines didn’t hold up well. I feel kind of guilty that I don’t use the programmable features more, well, at all. I keep meaning to move beyond the old reliable, no-brainer breads I always do. I do actually make something akin to jam in it. It lacks pectin so it’s runny, but perfect for homemade yogurt. Come to think of it, I’d love it if I could make yogurt in the Zo; I just don’t have time to experiment. Glad you’re doing the hard work of testing out cheesecake for us Zo owners.

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      I too need to get more familiar with my ZO Cath. I’m always happy when PJ shows me something new! ~ MJ

  5. patricia

    made an apple kuchen this week by mixing the dough in my zo.I removed it before baking spread it out in a9x12 pan. sliced up peeled and cored apples in rows up and down the length of the dough. I brushed top with melted butter then covered the whole thing cinnamon sugar and chopped walnuts. i have been making this by hand for forty years the difference using the zo bread machine is remarkable. The cake pat of the kuchen was light and puffy It melted in your mouth. i cannot wait try the cheesecake

  6. Nancy W

    Great recipe, i made it today, smells wonderful..takes yummy too.. i low carb’d it pecan crust and low cal. Sweetner


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