Lemon Cheesecake

DessertBakingCheesecake

This is the creamiest, most delectable, most lemony cheesecake! It's speckled with lemon zest and topped with tart, luscious lemon curd. It's just what you need to satisfy that sweet-tart craving.

Photography Credit: Cindy Rahe

Cheesecake is a huge favorite among my husband’s family, and I have spent the last decade (and then some) perfecting my method.

I’ve made many iterations, and my favorite always include a tart component, like lemon, to counter the rich cheesecake.

THE SECRET TO TRULY LEMONY CHEESECAKE

The lemon in this cheesecake is two-fold—it’s in the batter in the form of zest and also on top of the cheesecake in the form of bright, smooth lemon curd.

When I serve this cheesecake, before cutting it, I like to pipe dollops of curd on top that I then smash-n-drag (technical term) with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to create the flower burst effect you see here in the photos–I always have to be extra!

Honestly though, feel free to just dollop it on top or stick a spoon in the jar and serve it up tableside.

NO WATER BATH NEEDED

You might notice that I don’t bake this cheesecake in a water bath like most classic recipes. I ditched the water bath method a while ago in favor of creating a steamy environment for the cheesecake to bake in.

Here’s what I do: I just place a 9×13-inch baking dish full of boiling water on a rack below the cheesecake while it bakes. The cheesecake still bakes gently, and I don’t have to worry about water finding its way into the cake pan.

Even though we forgo the water bath here, I wrap the outside of the pan in foil so the edge of the cheesecake doesn’t over bake or turn brown. You can skip this step if you don’t mind some browning.

Cheesecake Recipe with Lemon - slice of lemon cheesecake on a plate with cake in background

HOW TO PREVENT YOUR CHEESECAKE FROM CRACKING

In my many years of making cheesecakes for my family, I have learned a few key tips for success.

  • The first is—don’t over-beat the batter! Resist the urge to beat the mixture too much. Over-beating can pull too much air into the mixture, resulting in a cracked cheesecake.
  • The second is—patient cooling. Seriously, I cannot stress this enough. Be patient when cooling your cheesecake.

Yes, I tell you to leave the cheesecake in the oven to cool for an entire hour after it’s done baking (I know, it’s a lot). Then with the door cracked for another 45 minutes, then on the counter, and finally, it chills in the refrigerator.

I swear I am not insane, nor am I trying to torment you. I have found that, without fail, rushing the cooling process almost always cracks the cheesecake. I have even saved slightly over-baked cheesecakes (you know, the ones that dome and soufflé) from cracking, using this method.

Additionally, please let the cheesecake chill in the fridge for at least six hours before serving. The purpose of this long, cold nap is for texture—if your cake is still room temp in the middle, it won’t be silky, smooth, and perfect. It will be sort of eggy, crumbly, and almost foamy.

Lemon Curd Cheesecake - Lemon cheese cake with 1/4 of the slices removed

HOW TO STORE YOUR CHEESECAKE

I almost always make this cheesecake a day before I want to serve it so it has plenty of time to chill in the refrigerator.

The minimum is six hours, but 12 or more is even better. That means you can also make the cake three or four days in advance. It can be covered tightly with plastic wrap (a layer of foil on top of that is great insurance if your refrigerator has a lot of pungent contents that may lend unwanted flavors to the cake).

Leftover cheesecake can be stored similarly, loosely wrapped with plastic, or in reusable containers.

CHEESECAKE ON THE BRAIN? TRY THESE OTHER RECIPES!

Lemon Cheesecake Recipe

Print
  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Chill Time time: 8 hours
  • Yield: 12-16 servings

Ingredients

For the gingersnap crust:

  • 7 ounces (198g) crisp gingersnap cookies (or graham crackers)
  • 4 tablespoons (57g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of kosher salt

For the cheesecake batter:

  • 2 pounds cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • 1 packed tablespoon lemon zest (from 1-2 fresh lemons)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup (227g) sour cream
  • Pinch of kosher salt

To serve:

  • Prepared lemon curd, store-bought or homemade

Special equipment:

Method

1 Prepare the oven and baking sheet: Preheat the oven to 350°F. On a baking sheet place a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to wrap around the outside of the springform pan. Set it aside.

2 Make the crust: To make the crust, place the cookies into the bowl of a food processor and process until you get fine, even crumbs. Mix the cookie crumbs with the melted butter, sugar, and kosher salt until you get the consistency of wet sand, and the mixture clumps together when squeezed in the palm of your hand.

Press the crust mixture into the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan in an even layer. You can either keep the crust layer only on the bottom, or on the bottom and pressed up against the sides. It is totally up to you!

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set on a cooling rack while you prepare the cheesecake filling.

How to Make Cheesecake with Lemon -ginger snaps in food processor How to Make Cheesecake with Lemon - crushed ginger snaps in food processor Best Cheesecake Recipe with Lemon - crushed ginger snaps in food processor with sugar Best Cheesecake Recipe with Lemon - crushed graham crackers into springform pan Best Cheesecake Recipe with Lemon - pressing crushed graham crackers into springform pan How to Make Cheesecake with Lemon - cheesecake crust

3 Reduce the heat and create a steam bath: Turn the oven down to 325°F. Place a 9x13-inch baking dish on the lower rack of the oven and fill with boiling water; this will create a steamy environment for the cheesecake to bake.

4 Make the batter: In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a mixing bowl and hand mixer) beat the cream cheese until smooth and creamy, scraping the sides of the bowl a few times so there are no lumps of firm cream cheese. Beat in the sugar, lemon zest, and salt, then scrape down the sides.

Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing until each egg is combined and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition. Resist the urge to whip the mixture too much; just beat in each egg until mixed well—over-beating can pull too much air into the batter, resulting in a cracked cheesecake.

Cheesecake Recipe with Lemon - making cheesecake batter in stand mixer Cheesecake Recipe with Lemon - making cheesecake batter in stand mixer Cheesecake Recipe with Lemon - making cheesecake batter in stand mixer Cheesecake Recipe with Lemon - making cheesecake batter in stand mixer

5 Add the sour cream and spread the filling over the crust: On low speed, beat in the sour cream until just combined. Spread the cheesecake filling into the pre-baked crust.

Cheesecake Recipe with Lemon - making cheesecake batter in stand mixer Cheesecake Recipe with Lemon - making cheesecake batter in stand mixer Cheesecake Recipe with Lemon - cheesecake

6 Bake the cheesecake: Put the cheesecake onto the foil-lined baking sheet. Press the foil up and around the outside of the springform pan.

Place the baking sheet with the cheesecake on it, on the center rack of the oven, above the pan of hot water, for 1 hour or until the cheesecake appears set and dry on top but still jiggles in the center like Jello.

Cheesecake Recipe with Lemon - foil wrapped springform pan with cheesecake Cheesecake Recipe with Lemon - pan of water in oven with cheesecake on sheetpan on upper rackCheesecake Recipe with Lemon - foil wrapped springform pan with cheesecake Cheesecake Recipe with Lemon - foil wrapped springform pan with cheesecake

7 Allow the cheesecake to cool slowly: Turn off the oven and allow the cheesecake to cool for 60 minutes with the oven door closed.

Crack open the oven door (place a wooden spoon between the door and the frame of the oven to keep it just cracked) and allow the cheesecake to cool for an additional 45 minutes before removing from the oven to cool on a baking rack, until it reaches room temperature.

The cheesecake may have domed slightly while baking but should deflate to a flat top with a small ridge around the edge, as it slowly cools.

Remove the foil once the cheesecake has cooled to room temperature (anytime after the cheesecake has pulled away from the edges of the pan and it's cool enough to handle).

8 Transfer to the refrigerator: Once the cheesecake is at room temperature, transfer it to the refrigerator to chill for at least 6 hours before serving.

9 Top with lemon curd and serve: To create the petal pattern as shown in the photos, pipe or dollop small blobs of curd in a ring around the perimeter of the cheesecake, leaving about 1/2-inch border.

Using an offset spatula or the back of a teaspoon, gently smash and drag the blobs toward the center of the cheesecake. If you have leftover lemon curd, serve the rest when you slice the cheesecake.

Lemon Curd Cheesecake - Lemon cheese cake with 1/4 of the slices removed

Hello! All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words and link back to Lemon Cheesecake on Simply Recipes. Thank you!

Print

Products We Love

This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Simply Recipes. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.

If you make this recipe, snap a pic and hashtag it #simplyrecipes — We love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter!

Cindy Rahe

Cindy Rahe is the recipe maker and picture taker behind Hungry Girl por Vida. She loves to bake from scratch and make things that taste as good as they look. Cindy was born near Seoul but grew up in California and Nevada. She believes strongly in homemade birthday cakes, creamy coffee, and making room for dessert.

More from Cindy

3 Comments / Reviews

No ImageLemon Cheesecake

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Shirley

    I just don’t much like gingersnaps or graham crackers. They seem to take over the flavor of the wonderful lemon curd. So I use the lemon Oreo thins for my crust. I must say that I love your idea of eliminating the water bath. I always hate wrapping a double layer of heavy duty foil around the pan. I have to say that cheesecake is my favorite dessert right next to my Crème Brûlée. Thanks Cindy for your wonderful ideas.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  2. Karen Dyck

    I’d like to make this for an event when I won’t have a lot of time to cook. Do you think that I could make it ahead and freeze it, and then add the lemon curd on the day I am going to serve it?

    Show Replies (1)
Lemon Curd Cheesecake - whole cheese cake with lemon curd on top and someone is about to take a slice out of itLemon Cheesecake