This classic Sour Cream Cheesecake is the ultimate dessert that’s unbelievably creamy and rich with the perfect amount of sweetness. We’ve nailed the art of the perfect homemade cheesecake with this easy recipe!
Let’s take a minute to appreciate the beauty of a classic baked American-style cheesecake. Light, creamy vanilla cheesecake set inside a sweet, buttery graham cracker crust. So simple, yet so perfect and flavorful. And today I’m sharing a favorite version of a classic cheesecake, made with sour cream. Not only does is it delicious, it turns out perfectly every time. Trust me on this, my teenage son has made this recipe…it’s basically foolproof!
I know so many of you will immediately think that you won’t like this recipe, because you don’t like sour cream. Trust me, you will. If you like creamy cheesecake, forget the title, and just stay with me here. The addition of sour cream is just another layer of creaminess, but the tang from sour cream is perfectly balanced with the sweetness from the sugar and the cream cheese.
Along with the cheesecake filling, I like to make my crust from scratch for this recipe. Of course, if you’re pressed for time, go right ahead and use a ready-made, store-bought graham cracker crust.
Below I’ve included what you’ll need for both the crust and the filling. Make sure to refer to the recipe card for the full ingredient amounts.
For the Crust
Graham Crackers: You can crush up full-sized graham crackers, or use the graham cracker crumbs found in the baking aisle.
Sugar: I stick with regular granulated sugar in this recipe.
Butter: Unsalted butter, melted.
For the Cheesecake Filling
Eggs: You’ll need a total of 5 eggs for this recipe. 2 whole eggs, and 3 egg yolks. Eggs give the cheesecake richness as well as structure once baked.
Vanilla Extract: Pure vanilla extract offers the best vanilla flavor in the filling.
Heavy Cream: If you’re after the creamiest possible cheesecake, stick with full-fat heavy cream. Trust me on this one. If there’s ever a good time to ignore calories, this is the recipe to do it!
Sour Cream: Sour cream lends irresistible tang and creaminess to the cheesecake filling. Make sure you take it out of the fridge beforehand, so it has a chance to come to room temperature.
Cream Cheese: I recommend using the blocks of cream cheese when making cheesecake, and not the spreadable kind that comes in tubs. Like the sour cream, you’ll want your cream cheese at room temperature also. This helps the ingredients to mix and bake up evenly.
What Does Sour Cream Do for Cheesecake?
Ask not what sour cream can do for cheesecake, but what sour cream in cheesecake can do for you. And the answer is: it will knock your socks off.
All jokes aside, the sour cream in this recipe lightens the heaviness of the cream cheese. Without sour cream, the cheesecake would be much denser. Not only that, but sour cream adds a sharp, tangy flavor that balances just right with the sweetness of the cake.
How to Make Sour Cream Cheesecake
Time to gather those ingredients and get baking. Set your oven to preheat to 325°F, then we’ll start with the graham cracker crust, followed by that tangy, delicious filling.
Make the Crust
First, crush your graham crackers into a fine crumb. You can do this using a blender or food processor. Or, if you’re working analog, place your crackers into a freezer bag and crush them up with a rolling pin. Then assemble the cheesecake crust:
Combine the Ingredients: Add the crumbs to a large mixing bowl along with sugar, salt, and melted butter. Stir to combine.
Par-Bake: Press the graham cracker mixture into a springform pan. Par-bake the crust in the preheated oven until barely golden, about 8 to 10 minutes, then take it out to cool. After this, you’ll want to turn the oven temperature down to 250°F in anticipation of baking the cheesecake itself.
Make the Cheesecake
Before you make your filling, prepare a water bath by placing a large pan into the oven and filling it with a half-inch of water. This will allow the water to warm up while you get your cheesecake ready:
Prepare the Filling: In one bowl, whisk together the eggs and yolks, vanilla, and cream, and set aside. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the sugar and sour cream together, then add the cream cheese. Once everything is combined, slowly mix in the egg mixture.
Assemble: Pour the cheesecake filling into your par-baked crust. Since you’ll be baking the cheesecake in a water bath, you’ll need to wrap the bottom of the springform pan with a layer of foil. This prevents any water from seeping in!
Bake: Carefully place your cheesecake into the hot water bath. Bake for 65 to 75 minutes, or until the cheesecake is set around the edges with a little wobble in the center. At this point, turn off the oven. Crack the door, and leave the cheesecake in there for another hour or so. Sudden temperature changes often lead to cracks in a cheesecake, so this extra step helps prevent that.
After an hour is up, take your cheesecake out of the oven and remove the foil. I like to slide a knife down the sides of the pan to loosen it from the crust. Finally, cover and pop your cheesecake into the fridge to chill.
Tips and Variations
When it comes to turning out a cheesecake that’s crack-free, full of flavor, and exactly how you like it, here are some tips to keep in mind:
Use Room Temperature Ingredients: Making sure that ingredients like sour cream and cream cheese are brought to room temperature will lead to a smoother, creamier cheesecake. Cream cheese that’s chilled from the fridge can cause the filling to turn out lumpy.
Don’t Skip the Water Bath: The water bath keeps the oven air humid and prevents cracks in the top of your cheesecake. Steam-baking also helps the cheesecake rise properly, and stay risen after it’s baked. If you don’t want to wait for the water to heat up in the oven, pour a half-inch of boiling water into the pan instead, right before you place the cheesecake into the bath.
Avoid Opening the Oven Door: Until the very end. I know it can be tempting to crack the oven door and take a peek at your handiwork as it bakes. Resist, friends! Drafts and temperature changes are the #1 cause of cracks in a cheesecake. So keep that oven heat sealed and steady!
Don’t Overbake: Another culprit of cracking is overbaking. Make sure to turn the oven off once you can see that the edges of the cheesecake are puffy and set, and there’s still a little jiggle in the middle.
Allow Enough Time To Chill: When it comes to chilling a cheesecake after it’s baked, overnight in the fridge is best. If not, make sure you budget enough time to chill the cake for at least 6 hours before slicing and serving.
Add Fruit: A classic cheesecake is basically a blank canvas! I love garnishing my cheesecake slices with fresh strawberries and blueberries, sliced peaches, or caramelized apple slices. You can really top it with any fruit that’s in season.
Different Crust: You can take this cheesecake recipe from classic to cookies n’ cream as easily as changing up the crust! Borrow the chocolate cookie crust from my recipe for Chocolate Pie. Or, add a pop of color with a Sprinkle Sugar Cookie base!
Storing cheesecake is as easy as wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap or sealing it inside a container, and placing it in the fridge. It will stay fresh in there for up to 5 days.
Does Sour Cream Cheesecake Freeze Well?
Freezing is a good option if you’d like to store your cheesecake for the longer term. Wrap the cheesecake either whole or in slices in a layer of plastic wrap, followed by a layer of foil. You can even store individually wrapped pieces together in a freezer bag! Cheesecake will keep fresh when frozen for up to 3 months.
Thaw this sour cream cheesecake in the fridge overnight before serving.
This classic Sour Cream Cheesecake is the ultimate effortless dessert. Set in a sweet homemade graham cracker crust, this recipe is unbelievably light, rich, and creamy all at once!
Graham Cracker Crust:
16 full-sized graham crackers (or 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
5 tablespoons butter, melted
2 large eggs
3 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cups sour cream, room temperature
20 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Crust: In a blender or food processor, pulverize your graham crackers into a fine crumb. Transfer the crumbs to a large bowl. Mix in the sugar, salt, and melted butter until evenly combined.
Press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9- inch springform pan.
Bake the crust for 8 – 10 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and cool.
Cheesecake: Reduce oven temperature to 250°F.
To prep your water bath, place a large pan filled with 1/2- inch water into the oven while you prepare the filling. You can skip this step by filling the pan with boiling water.
In a medium bowl whisk together the 2 eggs, 3 yolks, vanilla, and heavy cream until combined. Set aside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment mix the sour cream and sugar together until just combined. Add in the cream cheese and mix on low for 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Turn the mixer up to medium and slowly add in the egg mixture, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Once the mixture is combined, pour the filling into the graham cracker crust.
Wrap the bottom of your springform pan in aluminum foil to prevent water from leaking into your pan. Place the cheesecake into the hot water bath and place in the oven for 65 – 75 minutes, or until the edges of the cheesecake are set and the center is slightly loose. Turn off the oven, crack the oven door and allow the cheesecake to remain in the oven for another 60 minutes.
Remove the cheesecake from the oven. Remove the foil from the bottom of the pan and allow any excess water to drain. Run a knife around the sides of the crust to loosen. Cover the cheesecake with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6 hours, or overnight.
Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
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