It’s time to indulge your taste buds with something truly spectacular: lemon cheesecake.
This delectable dessert combines two of life’s greatest pleasures.
It features creamy, decadent cheesecake and a burst of tart citrus flavor.
Together, they create a culinary delight to satisfy even the pickiest eaters.
So, are you an avid baker looking for your next challenge?
Or maybe you’re just an amateur foodie eager to try something new.
Either way, this heavenly homemade lemon cheesecake recipe has something special for everyone!
Now, let’s figure out how to make it.
Lemon cheesecake is for anyone who loves a bit of tanginess in their desserts.
The warm, sweet graham cracker crust is perfect.
But when you add the creamy lemon cheesecake filling, it gets even better.
It’s a flawless combination of sweet and tangy, crunchy and creamy.
And as far as cheesecake recipes go, it’s not hard to make, either.
People are sometimes hesitant to try their hand at cheesecakes.
They’re also afraid they’ll overcook them or not cook them long enough.
It can be tricky to get the filling to the perfect consistency.
Fortunately, if you follow the instructions below, you shouldn’t have much trouble.
And don’t worry, I won’t make you use the dreaded water bath.
(Though making it that way isn’t nearly as difficult as most people think it is.)
There are two components to this recipe: the crust and the filling. Let’s look at the crust ingredients first:
- Graham cracker crumbs. Graham cracker crumbs are the foundation of this pie crust. They’re warm, rich, and slightly crunchy when made into a pie crust.
- Butter. Butter gives the crust even more richness and helps hold it together.
- Sugar. For sweetness.
That’s it! You only need three ingredients for the crust. Here’s what you need for the cheesecake filling:
- Cream cheese. You need four eight-ounce packages of full-fat cream cheese. Be sure to let it warm and soften before using it.
- Sugar. The sweetness of the sugar helps cut down some of the cake’s tanginess. Four packages of cream cheese and lots of lemons add plenty of zest. The sugar helps tone it down.
- Heavy whipping cream. This ingredient gives the cheesecake its light, airy texture.
- Lemon juice. Freshly squeezed is best. Typically, you need three or four.
- All-purpose flour. Flour helps bind all the ingredients together and locks moisture into your cheesecake.
- Lemon zest. For even more lemon flavor.
- Vanilla extract. For a hint of sweetness.
- Lemon extract. I like mine to be extra lemony, so I also add lemon extract.
- Eggs. Eggs help ensure the cheesecake filling is smooth and fluffy.
- Yellow food coloring. You don’t have to add this if you don’t want to. However, if you want it to have its signature lemon-yellow color, you’ll need food coloring. Unfortunately, just adding lemon juice and zest won’t alter the cake’s color.
Some people leave out the lemon extract and zest. They say it makes it too tart.
Others leave out the vanilla because they say it cuts through the tartness too much.
I think the cheesecake does best with all three. Feel free to adjust the recipe however you like, though.
How to Make Lemon Cheesecake
Here are the (condensed) steps to make this yummy cheesecake.
1. Prepare. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Juice and zest your lemons, and grind the graham crackers into crumbs.
2. Make the crust. Start by mixing the graham cracker crumbs, butter, and sugar.
Then, grease a 10-inch springform pan and add the mixture to it.
Press it into the bottom of the pan and up the sides about two inches.
Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Let it cool on a wire rack.
3. Make the filling. You mix the cream cheese and sugar first. Then, add the other ingredients. When you get to the eggs, add one, then mix it in. Then, add the others the same way.
Next, you pour the filling into the crust. Then, return the cheesecake to the baking sheet.
4. Bake. Bake the cheesecake for 55-65 minutes until the filling is just set.
5. Cool and refrigerate overnight. Move the cheesecake to a wire rack to cool. You may need to run a knife around the edges to help loosen it.
After it cools, place it in the fridge overnight to chill.
6. Serve and enjoy! When you’re ready to serve the cake, release the side of the pan. Slice, serve, and enjoy!
How to Store
The best way to store most cheesecakes is in the freezer. This one is no exception.
You can either transfer leftovers to an airtight container or leave them in the pan.
(Ensure your pan is freezer-safe first. Also, be sure to cover the top with plastic wrap.)
Another option is to place it on a freezer-safe serving dish and wrap it loosely in plastic wrap.
Let it freeze solid, then take it off the plate. You can then wrap the entire thing in plastic wrap.
Whichever method you choose, be sure to store the cake upright.
If it’s not in a freezer-safe container, you should also avoid placing anything on top of it.
When you prepare to serve it, move it to the fridge to defrost for several hours.
Be sure to place it on a serving dish before it thaws out. Otherwise, it’s too difficult to move.
Tips for the Best Cheesecake
Here are a few final tips to keep in mind:
- Do all of your prep work beforehand. Don’t try to juice and zest lemons and grind up graham crackers as you’re working. Have all of that done ahead of time and ready to go.
Also, if your lemons are too hard to juice, try rolling them on the countertop first.
If that doesn’t work, pop them in the microwave for about 5 to 7 seconds.
- Zest the lemon first. Speaking of preparations, be sure to zest the lemon before juicing it. Trying to do it the other way around is a massive hassle and won’t work out.
- Work with room temperature ingredients. The cream cheese, especially, is difficult to work with if it’s still cold. Let the ingredients set out at room temperature a while before you start.
- You don’t need a water bath but must guard against cracking. The great thing about a water bath is that it prevents cracking.
Without it, you’ll need to be extra careful. Don’t overmix the ingredients – especially the eggs.
- Press the crust at least two inches along the sides. Doing this is another way to guard against cracking.
- Don’t overbake. Remember, the filling shouldn’t be fully set when you remove the cheesecake from the oven. If it’s a little jiggly, that’s fine. Overbaking will ruin it.
- Let the cake cool on a wire rack before refrigerating it. Never add hot food to your refrigerator. Instead, transfer the cake to a wire rack and let it cool for at least an hour before refrigerating it.
- Let the cake chill overnight. Cheesecake is cold. Period. Whether you make it at home or buy it somewhere, it’s meant to be enjoyed cold.
Don’t wait until the day you want to eat it to bake it. Make it the day before and let it chill overnight before serving it.
Also, if you want to top the cheesecake with whipped cream and fresh lemon slices, go for it!
Just do that piece by piece. You don’t want to freeze those ingredients if you have leftovers.
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