Easy Cheesecake: busy days call for simple pleasures

EASY. That’s the four-letter word you long to hear! With so much going on in your everyday life, who has time to fuss over complicated desserts involving a laundry list of ingredients and lengthy instructions? Quick and easy cheesecake, welcome to the table! Click To Tweet

With a simple graham cracker crust and just four ingredients — count ’em, four — in the filling, this rich, creamy Easy Cheesecake absolutely earns its name. Add that it bakes for just 30 minutes, and you can go from “What’s for dessert?” to a cheesecake cooling on the sideboard in well under an hour.

Easy Cheesecake via @kingarthurflour

Now, easy as this dessert is, you do have to plan ahead a bit. You’ll need a pound (two 8-ounce blocks) of cream cheese at room temperature. So unwrap the cheese and put it into your mixing bowl well ahead of when you want to make the cheesecake— at least several hours before (unless your kitchen is super-hot, in which case an hour or so should soften the cheese nicely).

You’ll also need 2 large eggs at room temperature; eggs will come to room temperature much more quickly than cream cheese, but do take them out of the fridge ahead of when you want to make the cake.

Ready to make cheesecake? Select a pie pan whose inside top dimension is at least 9″, and whose height is at least 1 1/4″.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Easy Cheesecake via @kingarthurflour

Make the crust

Mix the following ingredients:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 9 to 10 crackers)
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
1/8 teaspoon salt

A food processor makes this easy; simply combine broken graham crackers with the remaining ingredients and process until uniformly crumbly.

For variety, substitute different cookies for the graham crackers: vanilla wafers, chocolate wafer cookies, and gingersnaps all make tasty crusts.

Easy Cheesecake via @kingarthurflour

Easy Cheesecake via @kingarthurflour

Press the crumbs into the pan

Press crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of the pie pan, making the bottom crust thicker than the sides. Using a piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap and a flat-bottom bowl or glass keeps any sticking to a minimum.

Easy Cheesecake via @kingarthurflour

Make the filling

Gently beat together the following:

2 cups (two 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

It helps to mix the cream cheese and sugar first, to soften the cheese; then add the eggs and vanilla once the cheese and sugar are smooth and thoroughly combined.

If the mixture is excessively lumpy, you probably didn’t have the cream cheese warm enough. Run the batter through a food processor, if you like. Or, especially if the lumps are small or not too numerous, just leave ’em be; they’ll pretty much disappear once the filling is baked.

Pour the filling into the prepared crust, and set the pan on a baking sheet. This makes transportation into and out of the oven easier.

Easy Cheesecake via @kingarthurflour

Bake the cake

Bake the cheesecake for 20 minutes, then add a crust shield; or shield the crust with strips of aluminum foil. Shield just the crust; laying a sheet of aluminum foil across the entire surface of the cake will result in filling sticking to foil.

Bake for an additional 10 minutes (for a total of about 30 minutes). A digital thermometer inserted into the crust 1″ from the edge should read between 165°F and 170°F; the filling won’t look entirely set in the center.

Easy Cheesecake via @kingarthurflour

Let the cheesecake cool

Remove the cheesecake from the oven, and set it aside to cool while you make the topping. Once the cake is cool, refrigerate it, covered, until you’re ready to serve it.

Easy Cheesecake via @kingarthurflour

At left, filling made without thickener; at right, made with thickener.

Make the topping

Here’s what you’ll need:

12-ounce bag frozen raspberries, a scant 3 cups
1 to 3 tablespoons sugar, to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons Pie Filling Enhancer, optional
pinch of ground cinnamon, optional

Place the frozen raspberries in a bowl to thaw. You can hasten the process with a quick trip through the microwave, but don’t let the berries cook.

Add 1 tablespoon Pie Filling Enhancer, and stir until well combined. Is the topping as thick as you like? If not, stir in another tablespoon Pie Filling Enhancer. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, to taste. Stir in a pinch of ground cinnamon, if desired.

What’s Pie Filling Enhancer, anyway? A mixture of sugar, thickener, and ascorbic acid (for enhanced flavor). Don’t have any? Stir raspberries with 2 to 3 tablespoons sugar, to taste; the filling will be looser (see photo above). Alternatively, top the cheesecake with fresh raspberries and a shower of confectioners’ sugar.

Easy Cheesecake via @kingarthurflour

Celebrate!

Making cheesecake doesn’t have to include farmer’s cheese and sour cream, tin foil and a springform pan, a water bath, and angst over a cracked top crust. This quick and easy cheesecake is tasty proof that simplicity is often exactly what you need.

Please read, bake, and review our recipe for Easy Cheesecake.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel
About

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!

comments

  1. Sandy

    Can you bake this cheesecake without a crust? If so, what changes would I need to make? I’m thinking about sandwiching it between two chocolate cake layers for a “wow” Christmas dinner dessert. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid

      Hi, Sandy. No reason you have to have a crust; I’d recommend putting a parchment circle underneath, so the finished cake is easier to handle when you want to put it between your cake layers. And boy, I’d love to see their faces when you cut into that beauty! Good luck. Susan

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      If you’re looking to make a chocolate cheesecake, we recommend using this recipe here: Chocolate Cheesecake. If you’re in love with the Easy Cheesecake recipe and you’d like to continue using it as your base, you’re welcome to experiment with adding 1 cup (170 grams) of melted chocolate chips to the prepared cheesecake batter. You might also need to add 1/4 cup (57 grams) of milk to the batter if it seems thick or stiff; the chocolate will thicken the mixture as it sets. If you opt for this experimental method, bake your cheesecake in a springform pan if possible. (The increased amount of batter might be too much for a pie pan and end up overflowing in the oven.) Good luck and happy baking! Kye@KAF

    2. David Fletcher Sr

      I was thinking about using dark chocolate chips, the cheese cake was really great. My wife loved it.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Easy as pie, Ellen! Err- easy as cheesecake. Add the zest of two lemons into the batter — that’s it! It’ll be bright, tangy, and delicious. Annabelle@KAF

  2. RLM McWilliams

    A nice variation on the cheesecake. We do wonder why anyone would want to add sugar to the crust, since graham crackers are already sweet. Since graham crackers are sweeter than they used to be, and now contain a long list of artificial ingredients, including high fructose corn syrup… ground almonds have become our favorite crust for cheesecake – with no added sugar.

    Ditto for the raspberry topping. A little squeeze of lemon juice with the raspberries can be nice. Otherwise, the natural fruit itself is lovely to see on the cheesecake, and totally delicious.

    Our family prefers a thin layer of sour cream – unsweetened – a a topping for cheesecake. The sour cream provides a wonderful contrast to the sweeter cheesecake.

    Once we dropped sugar and most of the starch in the rest of our food, we found most dessert recipes much too sweet. Making our own allows us to enjoy desserts, without the excessive sugar load. Bonus: the flavor of many of these treats was no longer masked by the excessive sugar!

    With Type 2 diabetes (caused by long-term over-consumption of sugars and starches) rates soaring, and Alzheimer’s disease now being called ‘Type 3 diabetes’ by researchers, some may prefer to enjoy more desserts possibly over more years by reducing the amount of sugar and starch in the rest of their food (anything in a package likely contains sugars (starch is sugar, too, metabolically) – and reduce the amount of sugar in the treats they enjoy.

    Reply
    1. Sammie

      RLM McWilliams: I didn’t come to the KAF website to be lectured about the evils of sugar.

      PJ Hamel: Thank you for sharing the wonderful recipe, the step by step instructions, and baking tips. I love all your blogs and recipes and have used many of them. Appreciate that you put a lot of effort into these postings, so please, please continue doing what you do!

  3. RaviSahu

    Thanks for posting such a nice blog. I really found it so useful for me. I have read it and really it was nice too. I really appreciate your posting. Keep sharing such a nice food blog. I am always a great food lover.

    Reply

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *