While I do love the convenience of a quick and easy no-bake cheesecake, nothing quite compares to the creamy smooth texture you get from a classic baked cheesecake just like this Lemon Cheesecake recipe!
If you love a lemon dessert then be sure to check out these Lemon Cream Cheese Cookie Bars also!
This baked cheesecake will melt in your mouth, complemented by a buttery graham cracker crust and a pronounced lemon curd flavor – and if you’ve followed me for a while, you know just how much I LOVE my lemon-flavored treats!
Leave your Lemon Cheesecake plain or decorate it with fresh fruit and lemon slices when serving this unassuming yet incredibly decadent dessert for any special occasion!
Table of contents
What is Lemon Cheesecake?
Lemon cheesecake is a standard baked cheesecake with lemon juice and zest to give it that irresistible lemon flavor – similar to what you’d expect from a lemon meringue pie filling.
Variations and Substitutions
- While I’ve used regular lemons for the cheesecake batter, you could certainly use Meyer lemons instead which have a slightly sweeter taste.
- Keep the lemon cheesecake plain or dress it up with fresh fruit such as fresh blueberries, whipped cream, and some edible flowers – add these once the chilled cheesecake has been removed from the fridge!
- My go-to crackers for a cheesecake crust are Graham crackers but you could use a different cracker or biscuit such as digestive biscuits or shortbread cookies.
Common Mistakes To Avoid When Baking Cheesecake
To ensure that you end up with a baked cheesecake that ticks off all the usual boxes for a truly delicious creamy and tangy baked dessert, make sure that you avoid these common mistakes:
- You’ll want to make sure that you’ve crushed the Graham crackers very fine otherwise you could end up with big chunks of cracker and your crust won’t hold well when you slice and serve your cheesecake.
- While this recipe doesn’t call for it, you can certainly blind-bake your crust for about 8-10 minutes to ensure that it holds up and remains firm against the wet cheesecake filling.
- Make sure that you get your crust halfway up along the sides of the springform. This helps to seal the cake while baking in the water bath and will also result in a lovely thick crust base per cheesecake slice when it comes to serving your lemon cheesecake.
- This isn’t the time to consider cutting back on full-fat ingredients such as the cream cheese and sour cream. The full-fat content is what gives this cheesecake it’s creamy texture and it’s also responsible for helping to firm up the filling. Most times, if you’ve ever been served baked cheesecake that is a bit runny, it’s most likely due to low-fat products used.
Preventing Cheesecake Cracks
- Don’t beat in the eggs as this adds excessive air into the batter which will then make the cake puff up during baking and collapse during cooling, which in turn results in cracks in the cake. Instead, beat the cream cheese, sugar, and lemon ingredients well and then take it easy when it comes to mixing in the sour cream, whipping cream, and eggs.
- Turning off the oven before opening it and then cracking the oven open for some time before removing the cheesecake allows the cheesecake to finish cooking and cool slowly while the temperature is gradually reduced. This step has saved me many times from a cheesecake that’s cracked or been overbaked.
The Baking Process
- I’ve cooked this cheesecake at a low temperature to maintain that creamy perfect texture.
- Baking the cheesecake in a water bath will help bake the cheesecake evenly, maintaining creaminess and consistency throughout.
- The springform pan used isn’t water tight, so you need to make sure to wrap it well (i.e. with heavy duty aluminum foil, DOUBLE LAYER!) to keep any hot water from getting in from the water bath.
This baked lemon cheesecake can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Serve your stored cheesecake straight from the refrigerator or allow it to first thaw from frozen in the refrigerator before enjoying a slice (or two!).
Great question! While I love no-bake cheesecakes due to the simplicity of the process, my heart has always belonged to a baked cheesecake. Yes, it may take extra time before you can enjoy it, but man…it’s so worth it!
So what are the main differences between the two methods? A baked cheesecake includes eggs in the cheesecake filling, requires being baked in a water bath, and then cools before being refrigerated for a period of time before being served. On the other hand, a no-bake cheesecake does not include eggs and effectively sets in the refrigerator before being served.
If you ask most cheesecake lovers, the smooth and creamy texture of a baked cheesecake always trumps a no-bake cheesecake. That’s not to say that no-bake cheesecake doesn’t have its benefits – it’s a great option if you need to whip up a delicious dessert without adding any baking time!
Tips for Making Lemon Cheesecake
- This recipe calls for a combination of lemon juice, zest, and extract, to achieve a prominent, but natural lemon flavor. You could also use a potent yet natural lemon oil instead.
- To increase the lemon flavor in your cheesecake, consider increasing the extract or zest (or add lemon oil) but be cautious of adding additional lemon juice as the liquid content may affect the consistency of the cheesecake.
- This Lemon Cheesecake can be dressed up easily if you intend making it for a special occasion. Consider adding some fresh berries, lemon slices, and whipped cream to the cheesecake after it has chilled in the refrigerator.
Check Out These Fun Cheesecake-Inspired Recipes!
Graham Cracker Crust
- 1½ cups Graham cracker crumbs
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup salted butter melted
- 3-8 oz. packages cream cheese softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1½ tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1½ tsp lemon extract
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup sour cream room temperature
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream room temperature
- 1-2 tbsp lemon zest
- ¼ cup lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- whipped cream
- lemon slices
- Grease a 9” springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- In a medium mixing bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and ⅓ cup granulated sugar until thoroughly combined.
- Press graham cracker mixture into the springform pan, creating a thick, even layer across the bottom and about halfway up the sides of the pan. Pack down the crumbs so that the crust holds together. Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with a hand mixer (or standing mixer) until light and fluffy.
- Add 1 cup of granulated sugar and continue beating for 1 minute.
- Add flour, lemon extract, and vanilla extract to the mixture and combine.
- Beat in sour cream, heavy cream, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Mix just until combined.
- By hand, mix in the eggs, one at a time. Stir gently to prevent extra air from getting into the mixture.
- Pour cheesecake mixture into the prepared graham cracker crust and spread the top smooth.
- Wrap the springform pan in aluminum foil (to prevent water from getting in) and place the pan into a larger vessel that can hold water at least 1” up the sides of the pan.
- Fill with water to create a water bath for the cheesecake.
- Bake for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, turn off the oven, keeping the door closed for 20 minutes. After this 20 minutes, crack the oven door and leave the cheesecake in place for another 20 minutes.
- Remove the cheesecake from the oven. Allow to cool the rest of the way and then transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 additional hours.
- Top with dollops of whipped cream and/or berries or lemon slices and serve.
- Store any leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 1 month.
- Cheesecake can be finicky when baking – this recipe addresses the common issues that people have with cheesecakes.
- The springform pan isn’t water-tight, so wrap it well – even using a double layer of aluminum foil – to keep the water from the water bath out.