This is my favorite recipe for no-bake cheesecake. It’s simple and quick to make and holds its shape well.
Writing my last post about my favorite kitchen products brought back memories from my days as a novice baker. Before having a “real” oven, I used a tiny toaster oven for any baked goods, believing that there wasn’t much of a difference between the two. While theoretically you could bake a cake in a toaster oven, judging by my own cakes back then, I would have to say that it probably isn’t the best idea. The fact that some did turn out delicious still remains a mystery to me.
Before the toaster oven, I had no oven at all, but that still didn’t stop me from making cakes because, if I want a cake, I will get a cake ASAP. So I made no-bake cheesecake (and chocolate salami) over and over and over again, though it wasn’t nearly as good as the one I’m sharing with you today.
This cheesecake is tall with a creamy mousse-like consistency, and it holds its shape well after refrigeration. It’s rich but not heavy, and it tastes absolutely amazing.
If you want the cake to be more stable, you can add gelatin. It’s not a must, but once you learn how to do it once, it really becomes simple and quick. First, sprinkle 12g gelatin over 1/3 cup cold water and let it sit for a few minutes to soften. Then gently heat it in the microwave for just a few seconds until melted and syrupy. Allow it to cool slightly before adding to prevent it from melting the cheese, then continue with the recipe as normal. That’s all there is to it! You can read more about gelatin in my panna cotta post.
No-bake cheesecake goes perfectly with many different toppings. Some of my favorites include berry sauce, fresh fruit, fruit puree, cherry pie filling, caramel or salted caramel sauce, dark or white chocolate ganache, lemon curd, basic streusel, or grated chocolate.
This cake is a great make-ahead dessert because it freezes well. I can make it even a week in advance if I have tight schedule, then thaw it in the fridge the night before I want to serve it. If you choose to add a topping, add it the same day you serve the cake.
- 200 g/7 oz. graham cracker or digestive biscuit crumbs* (about 2 cups of crumbs)
- ¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
- 100 g/3.5 oz. unsalted butter, melted
- 24 oz. (680 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
- ½ cup (about one box) instant vanilla pudding mix**
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- zest of one lemon, plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 cups (480ml) heavy cream
- ¾ cup (150 g/5.3 oz) granulated sugar
- berry sauce or topping of choice (see post for more suggestions)
- Make the crust: In a medium bowl, mix together crumbs and sugar, then add melted butter and mix until fully combined and crumbs are moistened. Press the mixture onto the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan using either your fingers or the bottom of a cup to form a crust layer.
- Make the filling: In a large bowl, combine cream cheese and vanilla pudding mix, whisking well until combined and completely smooth. If the mixture is grainy, beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add in vanilla extract, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Set aside.
- Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk heavy cream and sugar until soft peaks form (they should hold their shape but have a soft texture). Using a spatula, gently fold half of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture, then fold in the other half.
- Pour filling into the pan and smooth the top. Cover pan with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or until completely set, before serving. Cheesecake can be left in the fridge for up to 2-3 days. Serve cold.
- Cheesecake can also be frozen, wrapped tight, for 2 month. To thaw, place overnight in the fridge.
- Top with berry sauce, fresh fruit or any other topping you like (read above post for suggestions).
**You don’t need to make an actual pudding, just simply mix in the powder as-is. For a substitute, use ½ cup powdered sugar.