My lemon cheesecake recipe is a creamy New York Style cheesecake with a vivid lemon flavor and a yummy gingersnap crumb crust. This elegant dessert is like spring in a springform pan!
lemon cheesecake is the perfect spring dessert
Like any native New Yorker worth her salt, I know a good cheesecake when I taste it. It’s been too long since I’ve made, or even had a bite of cheesecake and this one brought it all flooding back to me…why I love it, and why a great piece of cheesecake is one of life’s great pleasures. This one has the PERFECT texture, a zingy lemon flavor, and is all decked out for a party ~ what more could you want from dessert?
lemon zest is the secret to vivid lemon flavor in cheesecake
Most lemon cheesecake recipes are sorely lacking in actual lemon flavor. But I’ve got a secret weapon ~ lemon sugar. That’s sugar that has been processed with lemon zest so the two fuse into one fragrant citrus flavor bomb. You can read all about why I love it so much in my how to make lemon sugar post. It makes the lemon-i-est of lemony cheesecakes.
Cheesecake has a reputation for being difficult and time consuming to make, and I’ve fallen for that myth over the years. But every time I actually set out to make one, I’m always surprised by how quick and easy it actually is. And man-oh-man this lemon cheesecake is so worth it.
a gingersnap crumb crust makes this cheesecake extra special
The bright lemon flavor of this cheesecake begs for something a little more special than an ordinary graham cracker crust….so it’s gingersnaps to the rescue! I’ve used gingersnaps in crumb crusts a lot, most notably in my now famous Cranberry Gingersnap Pie, but also in my No Bake Lemon Crunch Bars. Gingersnaps have such an intense spicy flavor that really perks up an otherwise bland crust. Just look at that zippy color ~ you just know it’s going to taste good.
It’s just as easy to substitute more flavorful cookies when making a crumb crust, so why not? Ginger and lemon is a time honored combination that has so many varied applications, from therapeutic tea to delicious desserts. Use any gingersnap cookie you can find at your store, the thin or thick ones will work.
lemon cheesecake is delicious, but nobody is claiming it’s a light dessert.
You’re gonna need 2 lbs (that’s 2 POUNDS) of cream cheese. You’ll want regular cream cheese, not whipped, and while you can use light cream cheese, don’t try to use the fat free stuff. And don’t worry, you won’t be eating the whole cake by yourself…theoretically 😉
the secret to making great cheesecake is just 3 words…room temperature ingredients!
That’s right, it’s as simple as that. Get this right and the rest is a breeze. Have your ingredients, aka cream cheese, sour cream, and eggs, at room temperature. Room temperature ingredients blend seamlessly into a smooth, creamy dessert.
But what if you forgot to leave your butter out and your eggs are stone cold? No worries, I’ve got you covered with my tips for how to quickly bring cold ingredients to room temperature for baking!
why I add flour to my cheesecake batter ~
- The little bit of flour is the key to the perfect New York Style texture in this cheesecake. It results in a slightly cake-ier consistency. It’s still plenty creamy, but with an added fluffiness that takes it from good to awesome. Ask any New Yorker 😉
how to prevent your cheesecake from cracking ~
Everybody seems to want a smooth surface on their cheesecake, and there are a few things you can do to help ensure this…
- Don’t over beat your batter, just mix to combine thoroughly.
- Line the sides of your pan with strips of parchment paper ~ this prevents the sides of the cheesecake from sticking to the pan as the cake cools, which can cause cracking.
- Don’t over cook your cheesecake, when it’s done it will still be wobbly in the center.
- Turn off the oven and let your cheesecake cool right there with the door propped open a bit. The slow cooling helps prevent cracking.
if your cheesecake cracks, no worries!
Cracks happen. I’ve never understood why people have an issue with their cheesecakes cracking. I don’t find it a problem at all, in fact I think it looks tempting. In any event it’s super easy to cover the crack with any number of topping ideas, see below for a list of suggestions.
topping ideas for cheesecake
You can serve this lemon cheesecake plain, just slice and serve. No apologies necessary, it’s fabulous, and honestly, it’s my favorite way to serve it. But cheesecake lends itself to all kinds of delicious toppings, and toppings are a bonus if yours happened to come out of the oven with a little crack!
- You can top it with a simple sour cream layer, just thin down sour cream with a little milk or cream and spread it out evenly. You can also just add a dollop of whipped cream or whipped yogurt to each slice.
- Spread a layer of lemon curd over the top.
- Fresh berries, either one variety or a mixture. Just tumble them on top, or spread a layer of lemon curd, sour cream, or jam down first and arrange the berries.
- Cook down berries with a little sugar to make a sauce to spoon over each slice as you serve. Frozen berries will work, and wild blueberries are an amazing choice. I love it with my super quick fresh raspberry sauce or my fresh cherry dessert sauce.
you need to taste this lemon cheesecake for yourself
All the chit chat and photos in the world can’t convey my main message ~ this is a delicious reliable cheesecake recipe, and you need to give it a try.
- 9 inch springform pan
- 1 1/2 cups gingersnap crumbs process gingersnaps in a food processor until finely ground
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter melted
- 4 8-ounce packages regular (not whipped) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- zest peeled from 1 lemon
- 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- fresh berries
- mint leaves
- edible flowers
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly spray a 9 inch springform pan and line with a circle of parchment paper on the bottom. Line the sides with strips of parchment paper ~ this helps to prevent cracking as the cake cools. Note: if you have any worry about your pan leaking, wrap the outside tightly with foil.
- Mix together the gingersnap crumbs and brown sugar, making sure to get out any lumps from the brown sugar. Drizzle in the melted butter and mix until all the crumbs are evenly saturated. Press the crumbs firmly and evenly into the bottom of the pan, going up the sides about an inch.
- Bake the crust for 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Put the sugar in a food processor and process with the lemon zest until the sugar is pale yellow and all the zest is incorporated. This will take under a minute.
- Put your lemon sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the balloon whisk and blend with the cream cheese, and flour until well combined. Note: you can do this with electric beaters if you prefer.
- Beat in the sour cream and lemon juice, and then the eggs, one at a time, beating in between each addition. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl often to get everything well incorporated.
- Turn the batter into the pan and spread out evenly. Set the pan on a baking sheet.
- Bake for about 55 minutes, or just until the outside is set and the inside still wobbles. Turn off the heat and leave the cheesecake in the oven for another hour with the door propped open.
- Cool the pan on a rack until room temperature, then refrigerate overnight.
- Carefully remove cheesecake from pan, and decorate with fresh berries, mint, and flowers.
- Use regular graham cracker crumbs for the crust, or any other cookie crumbs you like. Chocolatey Nabisco Famous Wafers or Nilla Wafers would be nice, too.
- If you only have a 10 inch pan you can use it, just be aware that the cooking time will be shorter.
- You can get the same topping effect using just one of the berry varieties that I used. If using strawberries look for small ones, and slice some of them in half for a nice visual touch.