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A rich cream cheese base is lightened with a top layer of sour cream, sugar and vanilla for a delicious velvety vanilla cheesecake you won’t soon forget.
Years ago, when my husband and I first got married, we got this cookbook. While my dad was a chef for many of my formative years, I knew how to cook the basics and that was it.
This cookbook, however, had much more than easy, basic recipes. And it sat in a cabinet for a long time before I even attempted to make anything out of it. Even when I did, many of the recipes weren’t very good, or were far too involved. It did have a vanilla cheesecake recipe in it that I chose to write down and modify to my own, though.
So, I guess one good thing came out of it. Of course, it had to be a recipe for sweets. When I’m trying desperately to not eat sugar. And all I wanted to do was make something with said sugar in it.
I justified this by saying… at least its homemade! Which, is partially true. But, I probably should have not made it. It’s worth it though. It’s so good.
Tips for an amazing vanilla cheesecake
Make it in advance
This recipe does best after it has sat for a day or two before you eat it. If you choose to eat it soon after it has set, it’s just not as good. The flavors need to mix together and it needs to sit in order for that to do it. So, I highly recommend making this at least a day before you need it. It’s even better if you have two days. And yes, I know how difficult it is to let it sit in there taunting you for two days. Worth it, but difficult.
Use the vanilla beans
Can you make it without vanilla beans? Sure, you can omit them from the cheesecake and the topping. But, it won’t have as much flavor if you do. You’ll want to make sure they’re fairly fresh, but I’d buy them online to save money. At the grocery they’re usually in the ballpark of $20 for two whole beans around here. You can buy them online much, much cheaper.
Don’t over mix
Be careful when making this to not mix it for too long. Once everything is incorporated, it’s fine to stop. If you over mix the mixture, it will crack. Will it still taste good? Absolutely. It just won’t be as pretty.
Note: I do not bake this recipe in a water bath. Some people swear by it. It was never in the original instructions and it bakes up just fine, not cracked, and evenly baked every time. Which, to me is a bonus. I have avoided cheesecake recipes simply because of that requirement.
Finely grind your graham crackers and pre-bake the crust
If you have a blender or food processor, you can use those. Or, if you’re like me and don’t like the mess, throw them in a plastic ziplock back and use your rolling pin to crush them up. This takes a little more effort, as you want them fine, but it’s definitely doable. If you don’t get them crushed enough, the crust won’t set up as well.
You also need to throw the crust in the oven after you’ve put it in the pan.
Use room temperature ingredients
All of them need to be room temp. Your cream cheese, your eggs, all of it. This will keep the batter from being all lumpy and will allow it to bake more evenly. If you add a cold egg to room temp ingredients, it will not bake as evenly.
You need a springform pan
Yep. You just can’t make a cheesecake without one. Well, you can. My no bake strawberry cheesecake doesn’t require one. But, this one does. You’ll put the graham cracker crumb crust evenly over the bottom and about halfway to two thirds up the sides. I use my hands, some people use the bottom of a glass. Whatever works. Once your cheesecake is all set up and chilled removing that spring form will make it so much easier to serve.
- 10 Graham Crackers (finely crushed)
- 1/3 Cup Sugar
- 4 Tablespoons Butter (melted and cooled)
- 4 Eggs (beaten, room temp)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
- 1/2 Vanilla Bean (contents)
- 1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
- 24 Ounces Cream Cheese (room temp)
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 3 Cups Sour Cream
- 1/2 Cup Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1/2 Vanilla Bean (contents)
- 1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
- Begin by preheating oven to 350°F with rack situated in center and lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan.
- Make the crust by mixing the finely crushed graham crumbs, sugar and butter in a small bowl. Gently press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the springform pan and up about halfway along the sides. Bake it in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes. Remove it and allow it to cool while you mix the cheesecake. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
- Next, make the filling. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until fluffy, about a minute.
- Next, add the sugar in slowly, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix once more to incorporate it all.
- Add the eggs, vanilla extract, and the contents of 1/2 the vanilla bean to the bowl, scrape it down and mix once more. Do not over mix, as this will cause cracking.
- Pour the filling into the crust and bake it at 325 until the cheesecake is barely set in center, about 45 to 55 minutes. Note, the cheesecake will still jiggle slightly when moved.
- When the cheesecake is about finished, you ca mix the topping. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment you can beat the sour cream, sugar, vanilla, salt, and contents of the vanilla bean for about a minute on low speed until it's all well incorporated.
- Once the cheesecake is almost set, remove it from the oven and reduce the temperature to 300°F. Evenly spread the topping over the cheesecake and allow it to bake an additional 5 minutes.
- Allow the cheesecake to cool for about an hour on a wire rack once removed from the oven. Refrigerate for a minimum of 6 hours, but preferably overnight before serving.
If you do not have any vanilla beans, simply increase the vanilla extract in the filling and the topping by 1/2 teaspoon.
To remove the contents of the vanilla bean, split the bean lengthwise using a sharp knife and scrape the contents into the bowl.
What’s your favorite desert? Have you ever tried to bake your own cheesecake?
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