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 optional, but once you learn how to use it, it 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. Allow it to cool slightly before adding it to the cream cheese mixture – just before folding in the whipped cream – to prevent it from melting the cheese. 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, 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.
The recipe was updated in 2019 (instant vanilla pudding mix was removed from the recipe).
- 2 cups (200g) graham cracker or digestive biscuit crumbs (to make crumbs, pulse in a food processor or blender until finely ground)
- 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 7 tablespoons (100g) unsalted butter , melted
- 24 ounces (680g) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups (180g) powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- zest from one small lemon, optional
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) heavy cream
- 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 very tightly into 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 bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a handheld electric mixer), beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add powdered sugar and beat until combined. Add vanilla and lemon zest and juice and beat until combined and smooth. Set aside.
In another bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or with a handheld electric mixer), whisk heavy cream until stiff peaks form. 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. Serve cold. Top with berry sauce, fresh fruit or any other topping you like (read above post for suggestions).
Cheesecake can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days. It can also be frozen, wrapped tight, for 2 month. To thaw, place overnight in the fridge.