This is truly the most perfect and easy no-bake cheesecake. By following this no-bake cheesecake recipe, you’ll be gifted with a smooth and creamy dessert that sets up beautifully in the refrigerator. Unlike regular cheesecake, no-bake cheesecake isn’t overly heavy. It’s lightly sweet and perfectly refreshing!
Happy Pi Day! Even though pie is my absolute favorite, I’m using today to teach you about no-bake cheesecake. Same shape, different dessert! I never tasted no-bake cheesecake until last year because I had my doubts.
- What’s the point of cheesecake if you aren’t baking it?
- Doesn’t it just taste like cream cheese?
- How is it firm enough?
- And, most importantly, does it taste like goo?
These are very serious questions you might consider before making it, especially the goo one. But after making real no-bake cheesecake and tasting the final results, I’m here to declare that no-bake cheesecake should be everyone’s dessert obsession. Kevin who “doesn’t like cheesecake” went back for seconds. This stuff is GOOD.
Let’s Rewind. What is No-Bake Cheesecake?
No-bake cheesecake is exactly what the name suggests. The graham cracker crust and cheesecake filling never see the inside of the oven, so it’s a fantastic dessert when the weather’s warm or when your oven is crowded. Or when you don’t feel like baking. 😉
No-bake cheesecake is a lot easier than baked cheesecake. Without eggs and baking, there is virtually ZERO room for error. Traditional cheesecake runs the risk of over-beating the eggs, over-baking, under-baking, and cheesecake cracking. And if you’re using a cheesecake water bath, which I always recommend, your springform pan could leak. With no-bake cheesecake, we’re essentially cutting every single complicated step!
What it lacks in oven time, it makes up for in taste and texture:
- Thick, buttery, and crunchy graham cracker crust
- Smooth, creamy, and velvet-rich cheesecake filling
It’s totally worth mentioning that the filling tastes like cheesecake mousse!
4 Minute Video Tutorial:
Thick & Sturdy Graham Cracker Crust
This is a no-bake graham cracker crust. It’s thick, crunchy, and sets up beautifully… even without baking! There are only 3 ingredients required: graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and brown sugar. I usually use granulated sugar in graham cracker crust, but prefer brown sugar in this recipe. The moisture in brown sugar helps solidify the crust. Pack it into a 9-inch springform pan, then place in the freezer while you prepare the filling.
How to Make Perfect N0-Bake Cheesecake
Like I mention above, this no-bake cheesecake recipe is very easy. Beat the filling ingredients together, then spread into your graham cracker crust and refrigerate until set. That’s it! The cheesecake filling is made in 2 bowls. In the 1st bowl, beat heavy cream into stiff peaks. In the 2nd bowl, beat the remaining ingredients. Fold everything together. Here are the cheesecake filling ingredients. Each has a job to perform!
- Heavy Cream: Beating heavy cream into stiff peaks most important step in this entire recipe and *the secret* to a thick no-bake cheesecake filling.
- Cream Cheese: Make sure you use blocks of real cream cheese, not cream cheese spread. I tested with varying amounts and 24 ounces (three 8 ounce blocks) produced a thick, yet creamy cheesecake filling. Make sure it’s room temperature.
- Granulated Sugar: Granulated sugar breaks down the cream cheese. It’s easy to go overboard on sugar, but keep it light. Less sugar helps the tangy cream cheese and vanilla flavors stand out.
- Confectioners’ Sugar: A smidge of confectioners’ sugar thickens the filling, while also keeping it light. I tested with flour and cornstarch and both left a chalky aftertaste. I recommend sticking with confectioners’ sugar.
- Sour Cream: Add a little sour cream for that trademark tangy cheesecake flavor.
- Vanilla Extract & Lemon Juice: A splash of both flavors add a little something special.
How to Thicken No-Bake Cheesecake
These 2 important steps guarantee a thick no-bake cheesecake filling. Without 1 or 2, you’ll be eating cheesecake soup. (It’s not pretty.)
- As mentioned, the most important step is to beat cold heavy cream into peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the cheesecake filling gently so you don’t deflate the air. The air creates a delicious mousse-like consistency and solidifies the filling in the refrigerator.
- Refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 6-8 hours, but overnight is better. For a sturdy no-bake cheesecake with beautifully neat slices, refrigerate for at least 12 hours. This makes for a great make-ahead dessert! Do not freeze the cheesecake to set it. The filling won’t slice and you’ll lose the velvet texture!
Speaking of beautiful slices, make sure you smooth the filling into the crust. I like using a large or small offset spatula to make the job easier. After refrigerating, decorate with whipped cream, lemon curd, strawberry compote, fresh berries, and/or salted caramel. But if you’re a cheesecake purist, all you need is a fork. 🙂
Let’s Talk About Freezing No-Bake Cheesecake
I don’t recommend freezing no-bake cheesecake to set it– you really need to use the refrigerator for that step. And trust me, it’s worth the wait.
However, you can freeze the cheesecake to enjoy at a later time. After it sets in the refrigerator, wrap the whole pan (you can remove the sides if desired) in 1 layer of plastic wrap, then 1 layer of aluminum foil. No-bake cheesecake freezes wonderfully for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator, then slice and serve.
When it’s time to serve, I’m always shocked that the crust and filling don’t fall apart. Follow this recipe for success. Would LOVE to know if you try it!
More Cheesecake Desserts
I have an entire cheesecake recipes category, too!
This is truly the most perfect and easy no-bake cheesecake. By following this no-bake cheesecake recipe, you’ll be gifted with a smooth, light, and creamy dessert that sets up beautifully in the refrigerator. The most important steps are whipping the heavy cream into stiff peaks before folding into the filling and refrigerating the cheesecake overnight.
Graham Cracker Crust
- 2 cups (200g) graham cracker crumbs (about 12-14 full sheet graham crackers)
- 1/3 cup (67g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (8 Tablespoons; 115g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 and 1/4 cups (300ml) heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
- three 8-ounce blocks (680g) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoons (15g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1/4 cup (60g) sour cream, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Make the crust: Stir the graham cracker crust ingredients together. Pour into a 9-inch or 10-inch springform pan and pack in very tightly. The tighter it’s packed, the less likely it will fall apart when cutting the cheesecake. I recommend using the bottom of a measuring cup to pack it into the bottom and up the sides. You can watch me do this in the video above. Freeze for 10-20 minutes as you prepare the filling.
- Make the filling: Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the cold heavy cream into stiff peaks on medium-high speed, about 4-5 minutes. Set aside.
- Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar together on medium speed until perfectly smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the confectioners’ sugar, sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Beat for 2-3 minutes on medium-high speed until smooth and combined. Make sure there are no large lumps of cream cheese. If there are lumps, keep beating until smooth.
- Using your mixer on low speed or a rubber spatula, fold the whipped cream into the cheesecake filling until combined. This takes several turns of your rubber spatula. Combine slowly as you don’t want to deflate all the air in the whipped cream.
- Remove crust from the freezer and spread filling into crust. Use an offset spatula to smooth down the top.
- Cover tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 6-8 hours and up to 2 days. For best results, 12 hours is best. I chill mine overnight. The longer refrigerated, the nicer the no-bake cheesecake will set up.
- Use a knife to loosen the chilled cheesecake from the rim of the springform pan, then remove the rim. Using a clean sharp knife, cut into slices for serving. For neat slices, wipe the knife clean between each slice.
- Serve cheesecake with desired toppings (see note). Cover and store leftover cheesecake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Make Ahead Instructions: This cheesecake can be made 1-2 days in advance. It can be refrigerated in step 5 for up to 2 days before serving. You can also make the crust 1-2 days ahead of time. Freeze for up to 1 hour in step 1, then cover tightly and refrigerate for 1-2 days before adding the filling. Another way to make this cheesecake ahead of time is to freeze it. Cheesecake can be frozen up to 3 months. See instructions in blog post above.
- Lemon Juice: Lemon juice brightens up the flavor. This cheesecake does not taste like lemon. For lemon flavored no-bake cheesecake, remove the sour cream from the recipe and add 2 Tablespoons lemon juice and 1 Tablespoon lemon zest.
- Room Temperature Ingredients: Bring the cream cheese and sour cream to room temperature before beginning. Room temperature ingredients guarantee a smooth cheesecake filling. Beating cold ingredients together will result in a chunky cheesecake filling. (The heavy cream, however, MUST be cold in order to whip into stiff peaks.)
- Toppings: Before serving, decorate with whipped cream, lemon curd, strawberry compote, fresh berries, salted caramel, or your favorite cheesecake toppings. I used Ateco 849 piping tip for the whipped cream in the pictured cheesecake.
Adapted from All Recipes.
Keywords: cheesecake, no bake cheesecake