Lemon Cheesecake

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Trust me, you need this dreamy lemon cheesecake in your life. The lemon curd adds the perfect tangy kick to the creamy cheesecake filling, making every bite a smooth, heavenly experience. One slice just won’t cut it, you’ll want to indulge in the whole cake!

Lemon desserts don’t get nearly as much love as they deserve. Just thinking about them makes my mouth water! I love desserts that are the perfect balance of tangy and sweet, and these recipes are the perfect example: lemon brownies, lemon icebox cake, and lemon pudding cake. You’ll have to give them all a try! After this swoon-worthy lemon cheesecake, of course.

A slice being served with a cake spatula.

Best-Ever Lemon Cheesecake

Homemade lemon cheesecake is truly a slice of heaven on a plate! The creamy, tangy filling combined with a buttery graham cracker crust makes for a deliciously decadent dessert. Even if you weren’t a lemon lover before, you will be after a bite of this creamy goodness. With its bright and zesty lemon flavor, it’s the perfect treat to indulge in as the weather starts to warm up during springtime.

Whether you’re hosting a springtime brunch or looking for a light dessert after a family dinner, lemon cheesecake is the perfect choice. Plus, it’s easy to make ahead of time so you can spend more time enjoying the beautiful weather and less time in the kitchen. So go ahead and treat yourself to a slice (or two!) of this irresistible cheesecake. It’s happiness in dessert form! And if you need more amazing lemon desserts in your life, find my full list of recipes here!

Ingredients You Will Need

I know it looks like a lot, but this is everything you need to make the best lemon curd, most buttery graham cracker crust, and creamy cheesecake filling! Trust me, this lemon cheesecake is worth the grocery trip. For exact measurements, check out the recipe card at the end of the post!

Lemon Curd

  • Large Eggs: These guys are the backbone of the lemon curd, bringing richness and structure to the mixture. Plus, their bright yellow egg yolks add a beautiful pop of color to the final product.
  • Granulated Sugar: Sweet, sweet sugar. The ingredient that makes everything better! In this case, it balances out the tartness of the lemon juice and zest, creating a perfectly balanced flavor.
    • Fresh Lemon Juice: This is where the magic happens! Freshly squeezed lemon juice provides the bright, tangy flavor that we all know and love in lemon curd. You can also use bottled lemon juice, but the flavor won’t be quite as fresh.
  • Lemon Zest: Don’t toss those lemon peels, they’re packed with flavor! The zest adds an extra layer of citrusy goodness to the curd, and its bright yellow color makes the mixture look even more vibrant.
  • Salt: Just a pinch works wonders to boost the bright, juicy flavor of the curd!
  • Unsalted Butter: Last but certainly not least, we have butter – the key to making this lemon curd velvety smooth and rich. You can’t go wrong with butter!

Crust

  • Graham Cracker Crumbs: Crushed into fine crumbs, graham crackers provide a deliciously crunchy base for our lemon cheesecake.
  • Granulated Sugar: Adds a touch of sweetness to the crust.
    • Unsalted Butter: Butter not only adds a rich, delicious flavor, but also helps to hold everything together.
  • Salt: Again, just a pinch to keep things from tasting bland!

Cheesecake Filling

  • Granulated Sugar: Balances out the tart flavor of the lemon juice and zest.
  • Lemon Zest: Adds a bright, zesty flavor to the filling and gives it that extra pop of lemony goodness.
  • Cream Cheese: The main ingredient in our lemon cheesecake filling, giving it that creamy texture we all know and love. I recommend using full-fat cream cheese for the most dreamy filling possible.
  • Sour Cream: A dollop of sour cream not only adds some extra creaminess, but also balances out the sweetness and acidity of the lemon.
  • Fresh Lemon Juice: What’s a lemon cheesecake without some fresh lemon juice? It’s the star ingredient in the filling, giving it that tart, zingy flavor we all crave.
  • Large Eggs: Give the cheesecake filling richness and structure.
4-photo collage of lemon curd, crust, and filling being prepared.

How to Make Lemon Cheesecake

If life gives you lemons, make this lemon cheesecake recipe! This tangy and creamy dessert is sure to brighten up any day and put a smile on your face. Follow these instructions and you’ll have a delicious, creamy dessert made in no time! I’ve broken the recipe up into a few parts to help simplify the process.

Lemon Curd:

  1. Combine Ingredients: In a medium size saucepan, whisk the eggs and sugar until combined. Then add in the lemon juice, zest, and salt. Heat over medium heat while whisking constantly for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add Butter: Add in the butter and continue to whisk until melted. Continue to whisk until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
  3. Transfer to Bowl: Remove from heat and transfer into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and press the plastic wrap down so it touches the top of the curd and prevents a film from forming across the top.
  4. Chill: Chill for 3 hours, or overnight before using in the cheesecake. You will likely have extras after making the cheesecake, but leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 3 months.

Crust:

  1. Preheat Oven, Prepare Pan: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a 10-inch springform pan by spraying lightly with cooking spray.
  2. Crumb Mixture: Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter together. This should resemble damp sand. You can use a food processor if you wish.
  3. Add to Pan: Pour the crumb mixture into the prepared springform pan and press evenly into the pan. You can use the bottom of a flat glass or a flat measuring cup to really press it in well and get a nice, even crust.
  4. Bake: Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely. Keep the oven on as the cheesecake will bake at the same temperature.

Lemon Cheesecake Filling:

  1. Sugar Mixture: Add the sugar and lemon zest to a small bowl. Use a fork to combine the sugar and zest, releasing the oils from the zest into the sugar to make lemon sugar. It should be quite fragrant.
  2. Mix Cream Cheese: Add the softened cream cheese to the mixing bowl of a stand mixer and beat with a paddle at medium/high speed for about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat for a few seconds more.
  3. Combine: Add the lemon sugar and sour cream and mix at medium/low speed until just combined. Scrape the bowl again and mix for 30 seconds.
  4. Add Eggs: Add the eggs one at a time and beat on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds-1 minute. Scrape the bowl again.

Preparing the Water Bath:

  1. Wrap Springform Pan: Using 18 inch heavy duty aluminum foil, wrap the outside of the springform pan with 4 sheets of foil, ensuring the sheets are long enough to go up all sides of the pan. You can use regular foil, but it may take a couple more sheets to ensure the water does not get into the pan.
  2. Place in a Deep Baking Sheet: Place the wrapped pan in a deep roasting pan. You can alternatively use a baking sheet, so long as the sides are about 2 inches deep.
  3. Add Filling and Curd: Add half of the cheesecake batter to the pan. Spoon ¾-1 cup of lemon curd over the filling and then top with the remaining cheesecake batter.
  4. Add More Curd: Spoon about 1 cup of lemon curd over the top in line. Use the back of a knife to drag through the curd, swirling it into the cheesecake.
  5. Add Water Bath: Using very hot water, add water to the baking sheet/ until there is about 1 ½ inch of water around the springform pan. carefully move your pan to a rack in the oven that is positioned in the lower third of the oven.

Baking the Lemon Cheesecake:

  1. Bake: Bake for 1-1 ½ hours. After about an hour of baking, check the cheesecake’s consistency. A slight jiggle of the pan (while still in the oven) should tell you if it’s ready or needs more time. The cheesecake should be jiggly, but not liquid. If it seems very liquidy still, give it 15 more minutes and check it again.
  2. Cool in Oven: Once the cheesecake is fairly firm but still has a slight wobble, turn the oven off but leave the cheesecake in the oven for another hour or so, until the oven has cooled down. Resist the temptation to open the oven during this time! The purpose of this step is to allow the cheesecake to cool slowly as the oven cools. Doing this will prevent it from cracking, as one of the biggest reasons cheesecakes crack is the drastic temperature change going from the hot oven into the much cooler kitchen.
  3. Remove: Once the oven and the cheesecake are cooled, remove from the oven and carefully remove the foil lining the pan.
  4. Chill and Serve: Chill in the fridge for 4-6 hours, or overnight before serving. If you like an extra punch of lemon, top the cheesecake with the remaining lemon curd.
A whole cheesecake topped with swirls of lemon curd.

Tips for the Best Cheesecake

I know homemade cheesecakes can be intimidating, especially if it’s your first time making one! Here are a few extra tips to keep in mind so your lemon cheesecake turns out perfectly!

  • Use Fresh Lemon: Fresh lemon juice and zest are key to your cheesecake having the perfect zingy, tangy flavor. Bottled lemon juice often has additives and preservatives that affect its overall flavor.
  • Switch Up Crust: Don’t be afraid to get creative with your crust! Try using different types of cookies, crackers, or pretzels to switch things up and add some extra texture to your cheesecake. Vanilla wafer cookies are a great option and taste amazing with the lemon!
  • How to Know When Your Cheesecake is Done: Keep an eye on your cheesecake while it’s baking. You want it to be golden brown and set around the edges, but still slightly jiggly in the center. This ensures that it will be creamy and dreamy once it’s fully chilled.
  • Keep the Oven Closed: To keep your cheesecake from cracking, allow it to cool down in the oven completely before you open the oven door.
  • Chill: After your cheesecake has baked and cooled, make sure to give it plenty of time in the fridge to set up properly. This will help the cheesecake hold its shape when its cut into slices, and just taste better overall!

Cheesecake with a slice cut out of it.

How Long Does Lemon Cheesecake Last?

Let’s be real, this lemon cheesecake won’t last long. But if you somehow manage to have leftovers, it can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. Just make sure to keep it covered so it stays fresh!

  • In the Refrigerator: Store for 4-5 days in an airtight container or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.
  • In the Freezer: Store in an airtight container or wrap with plastic wrap in tin foil. Your lemon cheesecake will stay good for about 1 month. Thaw overnight in the fridge before you serve it!

Front view of a slice of lemon cheesecake.

Print

Lemon Cheesecake

Trust me, you need this dreamy lemon cheesecake in your life. The lemon curd adds the perfect tangy kick to the creamy cheesecake filling, making every bite a smooth, heavenly experience. One slice just won't cut it, you'll want to indulge in the whole cake!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword lemon cheesecake, lemon cheesecake recipe
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Chill Time 6 hours
Total Time 8 hours 30 minutes
Servings 10 People
Calories 880kcal
Author Alyssa Rivers

Ingredients

Lemon Curd

  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 ¼ cup fresh lemon juice about 5-6 lemons
  • ¼ cup lemon zest
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter

Crust

  • 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs about 12 graham crackers
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter melted
  • 1 pinch salt

Cheesecake Filling

  • 1 ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup lemon zest
  • 2 pounds cream cheese room temperature, 4 8-ounce packages
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 5 large eggs room temperature

Instructions

Lemon Curd

  • In a medium size saucepan, whisk the eggs and sugar until combined. Add in lemon juice, zest, and salt. Heat over medium heat while whisking constantly for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add in the butter and continue to whisk until melted. Continue to whisk until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
  • Remove from heat and transfer into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and press the plastic wrap down so it touches the top of the curd and prevents a film from forming across the top.
  • Chill for 3 hours, or overnight before using in the cheesecake. You will likely have extras after making the cheesecake, but leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 3 months.

Crust

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a 10-inch springform pan by spraying lightly with cooking spray.
  • Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter together. This should resemble damp sand.
  • Pour the crumb mixture into the prepared springform pan and press evenly into the pan. You can use the bottom of a flat glass or a flat measuring cup to really press it in well and get a nice, even crust.
  • Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely. Keep the oven on as the cheesecake will bake at the same temperature.

Cheesecake Filling

  • Add the sugar and lemon zest to a small bowl. Use a fork to combine the sugar and zest, releasing the oils from the zest into the sugar to make lemon sugar. It should be quite fragrant.
  • Add the softened cream cheese to the mixing bowl of a stand mixer and beat with a paddle at medium/high speed for about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat for a few seconds more.
  • Add the lemon sugar and sour cream and mix at medium/low speed until just combined. Scrape the bowl again and mix for 30 seconds.
  • Add the eggs one at a time and beat on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds-1 minute. Scrape the bowl again.

Bake The Cheesecake

  • Using 18 inch heavy duty aluminum foil, wrap the outside of the springform pan with 4 sheets of foil, ensuring the sheets are long enough to go up all sides of the pan. You can use regular foil, but it may take a couple more sheets to ensure the water does not get into the pan.
  • Place the wrapped pan in a deep roasting pan. You can alternatively use a baking sheet, so long as the sides are about 2 inches deep.
  • Add half of the cheesecake batter to the pan. Spoon ¾-1 cup of lemon curd over the filling and then top with the remaining cheesecake batter.
  • Spoon about 1 cup of lemon curd over the top in line. Use the back of a knife to drag through the curd, swirling it into the cheesecake.
  • Using very hot water, add water to the baking sheet/ until there is about 1 ½ inch of water around the springform pan. carefully move your pan to a rack in the oven that is positioned in the lower third of the oven.
  • Bake for 1-1 ½ hours. After about an hour of baking, check the cheesecake’s consistency. A slight jiggle of the pan (while still in the oven) should tell you if it’s ready or needs more time. The cheesecake should be jiggly, but not liquid. If it seems very liquidy still, give it 15 more minutes and check it again.
  • Once the cheesecake is fairly firm but still has a slight wobble, turn the oven off but leave the cheesecake in the oven for another hour or so, until the oven has cooled down. Resist the temptation to open the oven during this time! The purpose of this step is to allow the cheesecake to cool slowly as the oven cools. Doing this will prevent it from cracking, as one of the biggest reasons cheesecakes crack is the drastic temperature change going from the hot oven into the much cooler kitchen.
  • Once the oven and the cheesecake are cooled, remove from the oven and carefully remove the foil lining the pan.
  • Chill in the fridge for 4-6 hours, or overnight before serving. If you like an extra punch of lemon, top the cheesecake with the remaining lemon curd.

Nutrition

Calories: 880kcal | Carbohydrates: 84g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 57g | Saturated Fat: 32g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 311mg | Sodium: 503mg | Potassium: 283mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 73g | Vitamin A: 2094IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 160mg | Iron: 2mg



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