The Best Lemon Cheesecake Recipe is perfect for a spring or summer afternoon with friends. With its sweet, tangy flavor and creamy texture, it's sure to be a crowd pleaser! This decadent dessert will have everyone asking for seconds! With notes of citrus in every bite, it has the perfect balance between sweet and tart.
Cheesecake Bites or 9" Cheesecake
The recipe is designed to make 24 cheesecake bites, or also called mini cheesecakes. If you don't need 24 of these, although I'm just going to say they freeze well and there is something so right about having one of these whenever you want, you could easily cut the cheesecake bites recipe in half and go with 12. Or if you want a good old fashioned 9" cheesecake you could make that instead.
How to Use a Water Bath for Your Cheesecake Baking
- One of the tricky parts of a water bath is to avoid leaks in the springform pan. Now if you are making mini cheesecakes this leaking problem is no longer a problem.
- If you are making the 9" cheesecake, you will want to wrap your springform pan tightly with aluminum foil. You don't want any water seeping into your cheesecake from the bottom of the pan.
- For the 9" cheesecake you will need a baking dish or roasting pan that is large enough to hold your springform pan and deep enough to hold a couple of inches of water. For the cheesecake mini's you just need a baking dish that you can put on your bottom rack to hold water.
- I would recommend placing your 9" springform pan into the baking dish, then adding the boiling water. You don't want to have to worry about carrying or moving a baking dish with boiling water in it.
- Now if you are making mini cheesecakes, you will place your cupcake pan on the rack in the center of the oven and the baking dish with boiling water is on the lower rack. Pour your boiling water into the baking dish, then place your cupcake pan on the center rack.
- Don't open your oven door once you have everything in the oven. The goal of the water is to create moisture and opening the oven door just lets it all out.
Tools to Make the Lemon Cheesecake
- You need a food processor to make the crust and it's also great when mixing the lemon with sugar.
- Stand mixer or hand held mixer for the filling. Although you could use the food processor for this as well.
- 9" springform pan or a cupcake pan to bake the cheesecake in.
How to Tell When Your Lemon Cheesecake is Done
The easiest way to tell if your cheesecake is done is to gently shake the pan. The edges will be lightly browned and the center just a bit jiggly. If you are making the 9" cheesecake, the jiggly center will be 3-4 inches in diameter and still pretty bright and shiny. Don't worry about the jiggly center, it will firm up as it cools. If you are making the minis, the same concept still applies. Except the center jiggle will be much smaller.
Decorating your Cheesecake
We topped our cheesecake with our handmade Lemon Curd and then topped that with Chantilly Cream and a small shaving of lemon zest. You could skip both of these if you wanted and just go with the lemon cheesecake. It's delicious all by itself.
You could even make a blueberry topping to go with this. Blueberries, sugar and lemon juice all cooked down to a thick sauce. Put a little bit of this on the top of the cheesecake it's so good! After all lemon and blueberry go together like peanut butter and jelly, bacon and eggs, burger and fries, you get the idea. Match made in heaven.
Lemon Cheesecake Ingredients
- Lemon juice and zest: I can't say this enough, go with fresh! Don't use the lemon juice you can buy from a store in the bottle. You want the lemon flavor from the fresh lemons. I also usually use organic since zest is an ingredient. If that is a budget bust just be sure to wash your lemons really well.
- Sugar: just the sweetener in the cheesecake.
- Heavy whipping cream: I chose to make this cheesecake recipe without sour cream. I like the flavor of the whipping cream instead of the tanginess of the sour cream. The dairy also helps with the texture of the cheesecake.
- Cream Cheese: You want to use softened cream cheese. Let it sit at room temperature for at least an hour. I always go with Philadelphia Cream Cheese. I like the taste and texture of this brand.
- Eggs: Eggs do a whole lot for the cheesecake. The protein in the eggs help provide structure in the cheesecake. Because there is no flour to provide structure, think of eggs as the framing of your cheesecake, like a house needs framing to hold up the walls. A general rule for cheesecakes is that for each package of cream cheese, I use one whole egg. Now that extra yolk I added in just makes it more rich and creamy for my taste buds. I also use room temperature for my eggs. This allows the yolks to mix more evenly with the whites and other ingredients. Cold eggs could reharden the fat resulting in a lumpy batter, and no one wants that.
- Vanilla: This is added strictly to enhance the flavor. You could easily skip it if you like.
- Almond Cookie Crust: I chose Archway Windmill cookies for this recipe. I felt the lemon flavor in the recipe tasted better with an almond cookie crust rather than a graham cracker crust. If you want a graham cracker crust, just use the same amount of graham cracker crumbs.
How to Make the Lemon Cheesecake
My goal was to make the best lemon cheesecake recipe I could, and perfect cheesecake is just one of those things that are so simple to make. In a stand mixer or your food processor, add the cream cheese, lemon zest and sugar to combine. Then you will add in the eggs one at a time. Be sure to scrape down the sides of your bowl so everything mixes. Add the vanilla, lemon juice and the heavy cream.
The goal is to not over mix these ingredients. Overmixing affects the texture of the cheesecake. Everyone wants a creamy cheesecake, so will you. So work in short 30 second bursts to ensure that you aren't overmixing.
Baking time for me was 20 minutes. But start taking a look at about 15 minutes. We all don't have the same oven or live at the same elevation. Oven temperatures will vary, hopefully not by much.
How to Freeze Cheesecake
Cheesecake is very easy to freeze. It holds up well and you can freeze it for about 2 months. If you made the 9" version and want to freeze the entire cheesecake, you will need to let the cheesecake cool for about 4 hours, then remove the springform pan ring. Wrap your cheesecake with plastic wrap, then wrap again in foil. When you are ready to have the cheesecake, just take it out of the freezer the night before and let it thaw in your refrigerator. Make the lemon curd and chantilly cream when you are ready to use the cheesecake. Prior planning really does help when you need a lemon dessert later on.
If I am just using the cheesecake for dessert at home, I will cut the cheesecake into individual pieces and freeze them like that. It's great for grab and go and also it helps with dessert rationing so I just eat a little bit at a time.
If you made the mini lemon cheesecakes, then just place them in a freezer safe ziploc bag and freeze. Do the same process to thaw the cheesecake.
Looking For More Recipes?
The Best Lemon Cheesecake Recipe
- 2 cups Cookies - Archway Windmill Cookies or any Almond flavored cookie (240 grams)
- 3 tablespoon Sugar (48 grams)
- 6 tablespoon Unsalted Butter, melted (85 grams)
- 1 cup Sugar (219 grams)
- 2 Lemons - zested
- 3 - 8 ounce packages of Cream Cheese, Room temperature (678 grams)
- 3 Large Eggs, Room temperature
- 1 Egg Yolk, Room temperature
- 2 teaspoon Vanilla (8 grams)
- ¼ cup Lemon Juice (60 mL)
- ½ cup Heavy Whipping Cream (120 mL)
- 1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream - Well Chilled (240 mL)
- ½ cup Powdered Sugar (80 grams)
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Line two 12 count muffin pan with liners.
Make the Crust
- Combine all ingredients in your food processor and pulse until they are combined. The mixture will be sandy.
- Spoon a heaping tablespoon of mix into the liners and press into the bottom of the pan.
- Bake crust in preheated oven for 5 minutes. Remove pan and place on a cooling rack.
Make the Filling
- Bring a kettle of water to a boil for the water batch.
- In a medium bowl mix the sugar and lemon zest until the sugar is fragrant.
- In a food processor or bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and lemon sugar for about a minute or two. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Mix for a few more seconds, add in eggs one at a time. After adding all the eggs, scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl and mix again for about 30 seconds.
- Add in vanilla, lemon juice and heavy cream. Mix for an additional 30 seconds.
- Pour the cheesecake filling over the crusts.
- Place a baking dish or sheet pan on your bottom oven rack and pour the boiling water into the pan. (If you are making the 9", put your cheesecake into the water bath. )
- Place your mini cheesecakes into the oven on your center rack. Bake 18-20 minutes. The edges will be set and the center slightly jiggly.
- Place the pan on a wire rack and allow the cheesecakes to cool for about 30 minutes. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours up to 8 hours. If chilling longer than 2 hours, loosely cover the cheesecakes with plastic wrap. This keeps them from drying out.
Make the Chantilly Cream
- Pour the whipping cream into a chilled bowl.
- Mix the cream with an electric mixer on low speed for a minute. Increase speed to medium and whip for another minute.
- Increase the speed to high and slowly sprinkle in the powdered sugar. Continue whipping until soft peaks form. Another 2-3 minutes. Place cream into a piping bag and pipe onto the cold cheesecake.
Here Are a Few Of Our Best Cheesecakes If You Are Looking For More.
- Instant Pot Triple Chocolate Cheesecake
- Raspberry Mousse Chocolate Cheesecake
- White Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cheesecake
- Instant Pot Pumpkin Cheesecake
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