This irresistibly creamy Lemon Cheesecake is topped with a layer of lemon curd and is paired with a buttery toasty almond graham cracker crust. The combination of rich cream cheese, the refreshing tartness of lemon juice and lemon zest plus the sweetness of whipped cream makes this the perfect Lemon Cheese Cake recipe!
Welcome to #LemonWeek 2022 hosted by Lynn from Fresh April Flours and Rebecca from Devour Dinner. Come join me and my fellow Lemon Week bloggers as we bring you recipes – from appetizers to drinks to entrées and desserts!
Lemon Cheesecake Recipe
This lemon cheesecake recipe is made of a creamy, smooth and tart lemon cheesecake filling topped with a thin layer of puckering tangy lemon curd. The velvety cheesecake is encrusted in a sweet, buttery and nutty toasted almond graham cracker crumb crust! Whipped cream and fresh lemon slices complete this deliciously seductive masterpiece!
The Perfect Lemon Cheese Cake
I used to be terrified of cheesecakes. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved cheesecake, but the thought of water baths and cracked tops used to make me nervous even after I attended culinary school.
It was my friend and colleague Martha who finally showed me that making cheesecakes, as perfect as the ones at the Cheesecake factory, was super easy! Yes, you heard me! Easy peazy lemon squeezy (sorry I couldn’t resist!)
So what is the secret for the best and most perfect baked cheesecake? A water bath and cooling the cheesecake slowly in the oven. Yes, it’s as simple as that!
Why This Recipe Works?
- Water Bath and Cooling Slowly: Baking the cheesecake in the oven in a water bath or bain marie bakes the cheesecake evenly and prevents it from drying out. Allowing the cheesecake to cool slowly in the oven is the best way to prevent cheesecake cracks!
- Flavor: Not too tangy but not ridiculously sweet. This lemon cheesecake has a good balance of tartness and sweetness.
- Texture: Graham crackers meet almonds for a toasty and nutty crust that complements the velvety smooth cheesecake beautifully. A match made in cheesecake heaven!
Lemon Cheese Cake Ingredients
This is just a quick review of most of the ingredients to make this lemon cheesecake recipe. Be sure to check the printable recipe card below for the complete ingredient’s list and their exact quantities.
For the Cheesecake Filling:
- Cream cheese: Use bricks of full-fat cream cheese for best results. This is not a diet recipe and reduced fat cream cheese is not allowed! This is a decadent dessert and you should embrace that, even if you only eat a sliver! Good luck with that! Room temperature cream cheese is easier to work with.
- Lemons: Fresh lemons are a must. You will need both, the lemon juice and the lemon zest. Lemons add flavor, freshness and tartness to the dessert.
- Heavy Cream: Also sold as heavy whipping cream.
- Eggs: I use large eggs. Add the eggs until they are just incorporated, making sure not to overmix the batter. Over-mixing adds unnecessary air bubbles that contribute to cracks and can make the cheesecake deflate and collapse.
- Sugar: I use granulated sugar for the cheesecake filling, for the crust and for the whipped cream topping.
- Vanilla Extract: Using good quality pure vanilla extract when making desserts is important. Vanilla is a classic flavoring for cheesecake.
For the Cheesecake Crust:
- Graham Cracker Crumbs: You can buy the crumbs or the whole crackers. You will need about 10 full sheets for the crust recipe.
- Almonds: I keep roasted, salted almonds at home so that is usually what I use, but unsalted and raw almonds can be used as well. Pecans, macadamia nuts and walnuts are also good options.
- Butter: I use unsalted butter for most desserts, but if you only have salted butter that works too!
- Lemon Curd: Homemade lemon curd is easy to make and always tastes amazing. Store-bought lemon curd is what I used for this recipe to save time.
- Whipped Cream: Making homemade whipped cream is super easy and you can control how much sugar you add to it. I’m not saying that I never use store-bought whipped cream or whipped topping because I would be lying! Sometimes we all need to squeeze that tip and fill our mouths with whipped-creamy-goodness!
How To Make The Best Lemon Cheesecake
- Prep: Preheat the oven to 350º F . To prevent the cheesecake batter from leaking, we cover the bottom of the springform pan with aluminum foil. Check the recipe card for details.
- Make the crust: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the nuts and the graham crackers (crumbs or whole crackers) and pulse until fine crumbs form. Next, in a medium bowl combine the crumbs, the sugar and melted butter. Mix until the crumbs are moistened. Press the crust into the prepared spring form pan. I use a small measuring cup to help get the crust flat and level.
- Bake the crust: We pre-bake the crust to get it set before adding the cheesecake filling. After baking, place the crust on a wire rack to cool.
- Prepare a Water Bath: All you need is to boil some water and pour into a large roasting pan.
- Mix Fragrant Lemon Sugar: Combine the sugar and the lemon zest together in a small bowl and rub the sugar mixture with your fingertips. This releases the natural lemon oils of the zest into the sugar making it fragrant.
- Make Lemon Cream Cheese Filling: Using a handheld mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and lemon sugar mixture together on medium-high speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until just blended. After the final egg is incorporated into the batter, stir in the vanilla extract, lemon juice and heavy cream. Beat until just combined, about 30 seconds. The mixture should be smooth and creamy.
- Pour Filling Over Crust: Pour the cheesecake filling over the crust. Use a rubber spatula to smooth it into an even layer.
- Bake: Place pan inside of a large roasting pan. Carefully pour the hot water inside of the roasting pan. The water should reach about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan. Tent the cheesecake pan with aluminum foil and bake until the center is almost set (it should be a bit jiggly). Baking time should be between 55 and 65 minutes.
- Turn Oven Off: Turn off the oven and prop open the oven door slightly leaving the cheesecake in the oven as it cools down. Set a timer for 1 hour. The cheesecake will slowly finish baking during this time.
- Cool: After the hour has passed, remove the cheesecake from the oven and from the water bath. Allow it to cool on a cooling rack. After it’s completely cool (about 2-3 hours), refrigerate it for at least 8 hours or overnight.
- Finish and Serve: Use a knife to loosen the chilled cheesecake from the rim of the springform pan, then remove the rim. Spread a thin layer of lemon curd evenly over the top, and garnish with whipped cream and lemon slices. Serve.
You have questions? We have answers!
Can you add lemon to cheesecakes?
Absolutely!! You can add lemon juice and or lemon zest to cheesecake batter. Other citrus such as orange and grapefruit juices make delicious cheesecakes too.
How To Make A Cheesecake Water Bath?
A water bath also known as bain-marie or baking a cheesecake in a water simply means that you bake the cheesecake in a springform pan placed inside a larger pan (such as a roasting pan) filled with hot boiling water.
Why Should I Use a Water Bath To Bake Cheesecake?
If you are wondering why it is important to bake a cheesecake in a water bath, the answer is very simple, cheesecake just like a good custard is made with eggs and eggs need to be cooked gently.
The steam from the water bath creates a humid environment that prevents the cheesecake surface from drying out while also conducting heat evenly. The dry, high-heat of the oven simply dries up and toughens eggs.
Making Ahead, Storing and Freezing
Making Ahead: Cheesecake is a great dessert to make ahead. Actually you should always make cheesecake the day before you are planning on serving it as the cheesecake needs to cool and chill in the refrigerator before it is served. You can make this recipe 2 days ahead of time.
Storing Cheesecake: Store any leftover lemon cheesecake in the refrigerator, covered to prevent it from drying out for about 5-6 days.
Freezing Cheesecake: After cooling the cheesecake, run a knife through the bottom of the pan to remove it from the springform pan base. Carefully slide the cheesecake onto parchment paper or a cardboard cake round. You can also just leave it on the springform base. To freeze, wrap it in a few layers of plastic wrap and then with aluminum foil. Freeze for 2-3 months. I freeze the cheesecake without the whipped ream topping.
Lemon Cheesecake Tips For Success
- Room temp cream cheese: For a smooth and velvety cheesecake, make sure that your cream cheese is at room temperature. Softened cream cheese mixes better and produces cheesecakes with better texture.
- The right baking pan: A springform pan is a must when making cheesecakes. The latch system allows you to remove the dessert without problems.
- Wrap it up: Wrap the springform pan with aluminum foil to prevent the batter from leaking out and to prevent the water in the water bath from getting into the cheesecake mixture.
- No-cracks: To prevent cracks, the cheesecake needs to cool slowly. Turn the oven off, crack the oven door open (no pun intended!) and allow the cheesecake to cool sitting in the oven for about an hour.
- Temperature Control: Don’t open the oven door while the cheesecake bakes. Sudden drops in temperature or loss of steam are not things temperamental eggs like. Remember that eggs like to be cooked at a low and even temperature. They also love moist environments!! Honestly, if you think of your cheesecake as a baby taking a warm bath, you’ll be good!
- Topping: Although you can enjoy the cheesecake without the lemon curd topping, I suggest you add it. It adds such a delicious taste to the dessert and it also makes it look vibrant and beautiful.
If you are a lemon lover, we have the best lemon desserts for you! Check some of our favorite lemon dessert recipes:
Monday #LemonWeek Recipes
- Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf by Fresh April Flours
- Grilled Asparagus with Lemon and Feta by Palatable Pastime
- Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake No Churn Ice Cream by Blogghetti
- Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Egg Lemon Soup with Spinach by Art Of Natural Living
- Lemon Shortbread Bars by Karen’s Kitchen Stories
- Lemon Butter Salmon by Cheese Curd In Paradise
- Lemon Curd by Devour Dinner
- Lemon Curd Cookies by Best Cookie Recipes
- Lemon Donuts by The Freshman Cook
- Lemonade Bundt Cake by The Fresh Cooky
- Lemon Ginger Chicken Thighs by A Day In The Life On The Farm
- Gluten-Free Lemon Almond Cake by The Spiffy Cookie
- Creamy Lemon Basil Shrimp Pasta by An Affair From The Heart
- Lemon Cupcakes by Kathryn’s Kitchen Blog
- 15 Minute Lemon Pasta by Jen Around The World
- Lemon Smoothie by Home Cooked Harvest
- Aromatic Lemon Chicken by That Recipe
- Lemon Pound Cake by The Redhead Baker
- Lemon Muffins with Lemon Drizzle by Jonesin’ For A Taste
- Lemon Garlic Pasta by Magical Ingredients
Follow me on social media for more recipe ideas & inspiration!
- 1 cup lemon curd
- Whipped Cream (recipe provided below) (optional)
- Lemon slices (optional)
- Berries (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Open up the 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom part with foil. Put the pan back together and spray the inside with cooking spray, then wrap the outside bottom and sides of the pan tightly with two layers of heavy duty foil. You don’t need to cover the sides all the way up). This will prevent any leaks.
- Using a food processor, pulse the graham cracker crumbs (or crackers) and almonds together into crumbs. Pour into a medium bowl and mix with the sugar and melted butter until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Press into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake for 8 minutes to set the crust, then remove from the oven and set on a cooling rack.
- Prepare a water bath by boiling water. You will need about 1-inch of water in a roasting pan.
- In a small bowl, combine the sugar and lemon zest. Rub the sugar mixture with your fingertips. This releases the natural lemon oils of the zest into the sugar making it fragrant.
- Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or whisk, beat the cream cheese and lemon sugar mixture together on medium-high speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until just blended. After the final egg is incorporated into the batter, mix until creamy and smooth, then stir in the vanilla extract, lemon juice and heavy cream. Beat until just combined, about 30 seconds. The mixture should be smooth and creamy.
- Pour the cheesecake filling over of the crust. Use a rubber spatula to smooth it into an even layer. Place the pan inside of a large roasting pan. Carefully pour the hot water inside of the roasting pan. The water should reach about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan. You can also place the roasting pan in the oven first, pour the water into the roasting pan and place the cheesecake pan inside the roasting pan if that is more convenient for you ( I know those pans can get heavy!).
- Tent the cheesecake pan with aluminum foil. It doesn’t have to be sealed or tied, as we want air to circulate while the cheesecake bakes.
- Bake for 55 or 65 minutes or until the center is almost set (it should be a bit jiggly) . Turn off the oven and prop open the oven door slightly leaving the cheesecake in the oven as it cools down. Set a timer for 1 hour. The cheesecake will slowly finish baking during this time. After the hour has passed, remove the cheesecake from the oven and from the water bath. Allow it to cool on a cooling rack. After it’s completely cool (about 2-3 hours), refrigerate it for at least 8 hours or overnight.
- Use a knife to loosen the chilled cheesecake from the rim of the springform pan, then remove the rim. Spread a thin layer of lemon curd evenly over the top, and garnish with whipped cream swirls piped on top and lemon slices. Serve.
- Place a metal mixing bowl and metal whisk into the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Pour heavy cream, sugar and vanilla into the cold bowl and whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form.
- Use immediately or cover tightly and store in the refrigerator for 12 hours.
- This recipe is made with bricks of full-fat cream cheese. Don’t use cheese spread or reduced fat cream cheese.
- This recipe has not been tested using mascarpone cheese.
- Make sure the cream cheese is softened (at room temperature) to prevent any lumps.
- Wrap the springform pan with aluminum foil to prevent the batter from leaking out and to prevent the water in the water bath from getting into the cheesecake mixture.
- To prevent cracks, the cheesecake needs to cool slowly. Turn the oven off, crack the oven door open and allow the cheesecake to cool sitting in the oven for about an hour.
- Do not skip the water bath!
- Don’t open the oven door while the cheesecake bakes to prevent sudden temperature changes.
- Leftover cheesecake should be kept covered in the fridge for about 5 – 6 days.
- Cheesecake freezes well. Cool it completely and wrap it with layers of plastic wrap and a layer of aluminum foil. Freeze for 2-3 months.