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Cheesecake Recipe Without a Water Bath

Baked low and slow, our cheesecake recipe without a water bath will give you a beautifully moist and picture-perfect cheesecake that tastes even better than it looks. There’s no need to mess with a water bath, which makes this an easy cheesecake recipe for any experience level, and one that will likely become your go-to!

It’s pretty enough to serve on its own or you can dress it up. Strawberry topping for cheesecake is always our first choice but you also can’t go wrong with a drizzle of butterscotch sauce, salted caramel sauce, or this heavenly lemon dessert sauce.

A slice of cheesecake on a plate with the larger cheesecake in the background.

So, how is our cheesecake recipe without a water bath different from one that requires a water bath? And does a water bath make a difference with cheesecake?

Cheesecake recipes often call for a water bath, or bain-marie, because it helps the cheesecake bake more evenly and the moisture protects the cheesecake’s surface and texture which can easily over-bake. An over-baked cheesecake is noticeable in both appearance and taste- it will lack the soft, creaminess that cheesecakes are known for and cracks will form on the surface.

While water baths play a major role when it comes to baking delicate cheesecake, custard, or flan, the truth is they’re not always necessary. Honestly, sometimes we don’t want to mess with a water bath.

And what do you do if you don’t have a water bath for cheesecake? That’s why we’re thrilled to share this easy cheesecake recipe! Thanks to a simple baking method you can skip the water bath and still get the best cheesecake every. single. time.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe:

This cheesecake recipe without a water bath is:

  • Easy to follow
  • Low-stress and no-fuss
  • Results in a deliciously creamy, soft, and PERFECT cheesecake
  • Authentic cheesecake without sour cream or cream.

Most recipes for cheesecake use sour cream or cream to help give the cheesecake a soft, creamy texture (our bourbon vanilla cheesecake is loaded with sour cream). But this recipe is 100% cheesecake without any fillers. You only need 4 ingredients: cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. We want to show you that you can get a smooth and creamy cheesecake without the extra ingredients.

You can use our baking technique with any cheesecake recipe (the bake time will change in accordance with the size of the pan). Just use this recipe as a guide to show you how to bake a cheesecake without a water bath.

A cheesecake on a cake pedestal.

The Ingredient List:

This cheesecake has a lovely vanilla flavor and is similar to (but not quite) a New York cheesecake recipe. For ease, we use crushed cookie crumbs which create a sweet, buttery base for the cheesecake filling. If you want to make a graham cracker crust, then that works as well.

One thing to note before even starting this recipe is that when making a cheesecake, it’s really important to work with cream cheese and eggs that are at room temperature. This ensures a cheesecake batter that is smooth and free of any lumps.

You will need:

  • Crushed cookie crumbs
  • Granulated sugar (for the crust and the filling)
  • Butter, melted
  • Cream cheese, at room temperature
  • Vanilla extract
  • Eggs, at room temperature

Our recipe is for a 10-inch traditional-style cheesecake. You will need a 10-inch springform pan as well as parchment paper to line the sides and bottom of the pan.

Two slices of cheesecake on plates, forks in the background

How to Bake a Cheesecake Without a Water Bath:

Overall, this super yummy cheesecake is actually incredibly easy to make! The process includes three main steps: making the crust, making the cheesecake filling, and preparing the topping (if serving with one). We’ve outlined all the steps here but be sure to scroll down to the printable recipe card to see all the details and ingredient amounts.

  1. Bake the crust: Combine the ingredients for the crust and press the mixture into the bottom of the pan, then bake it until golden brown.
  2. Make the custard filling: Mix the cheesecake filling in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Bake the cheesecake: Pour the cheesecake batter into the crust and bake. At the end of the baking time, turn the oven off, crack the door open about 2 inches, holding it open with a wooden spoon and leave the cake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  4. Let the cheesecake cool slowly. Open the oven door completely and let the cheesecake cool for another 30 minutes in the oven. Next, place it on a wire rack on the counter until it comes to room temp then place it in the fridge to chill.
  5. Slice and serve: When ready to serve, gently remove the rim of the pan and peel away the parchment paper. Use a spatula to lift the cake onto a serving plate. Slice and serve plain or with your favorite cheesecake topping.

Helpful Reminders:

  • After you bake the crust, make sure you lower the temperature in the oven to 225°F. The reason this recipe works so well without a water bath is that the oven is set at a low temperature.
  • Make sure you add the eggs one at a time to the cheesecake batter, or as in this recipe, a 1/4 of the whisked eggs at a time. It will give the eggs a chance to fully emulsify into the batter.
  • After you turn the oven off, let the cheesecake stay in the oven (with the door cracked) for 30 minutes. It will continue to cook from residual heat and cool down slowly to prevent cracking.
Processing photos of making a cheesecake

Tips for Cheesecake Without a Water Bath:

  • Good cookies to use for the crust include Oreo sandwich cookies, shortbread cookies, gingersnaps, graham crackers or pretzels.
  • Please use parchment paper. Lining the bottom will help you easily transfer the cake to a serving platter or cake stand.
  • When slicing the cheesecake, dip the knife in hot water before you make each slice. This allows for clean cuts.
  • This is a delicious recipe for a cheesecake with a water bath alternative but you can use any cheesecake recipe with this same technique.

A serving of cheesecake with strawberry topping

Cheesecake (Water Bath Alternative):

This is a no-fail cheesecake recipe. It’s a perfect consistency every time without any fussing with a bain-marie or other fancy equipment – just some simple ingredients done right.

This easy cheesecake recipe is a keeper and one that is so versatile when it comes to the many ways to serve it! Go with a fruity sauce, lemon curd, or with a rich chocolate sauce or white chocolate ganache. It’s the ultimate cheesecake recipe you need and will create a stunning, showstopper of a dessert every time, without fail. Happy baking!

Note: This recipe and method of baking a cheesecake without a water bath was given to me by my brother Jerry Hancock and I have made a couple minor alterations.

Some Other Recipes We Are Sure You Will Love:

Triple Chocolate Brownie Cheesecake: Beware all you chocolate lovers! This is a death-by-chocolate cheesecake! A thick, fudgy brownie crust, creamy, chocolate custard filling, plus a chocolate ganache poured over the top! Life is good and this cheesecake is delicious!

No Bake Cheesecake with a Surprise Inside: Delight your guests with this creamy vanilla cheesecake! A fresh chocolate-covered strawberry is in the center of our individual vanilla cheesecakes. On those summer days when strawberries are at their peak and it is too hot to turn on the oven, this no-bake cheesecake is a perfect dessert

Lavender Cheesecake: The light floral flavor of lavender adds a romantic touch to this cheesecake. A graham cracker crust, light custardy filling speckled with bits of dried lavender buds. A thick layer of sour cream topping makes this a dreamy dessert!

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a serving of cheesecake on a dessert plate

Cheesecake Recipe Without a Water Bath

Yield: 14 Servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 3 hours 35 minutes

Learn the secrets to bake a cheesecake without a water bath! This recipe results in a deliciously creamy cheesecake with a light-colored top! No more cracked, browned or sunken cheesecakes when you bake your cheesecakes with this method!

Ingredients

For The Crust:

  • 2 cups of crushed cookie crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

For the Filling:

  • 6 packages, 8 oz. (225 grams) each, cream cheese, room temperature-see notes
  • 1-2/3 cup (334 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 eggs, room temperature

Instructions

For the Crust:

  1. Heat the oven to 350°F  
  2. Coat the inside rim of a large 10-inch springform pan with butter. Cut a 3-1/2 inch strip of parchment paper to line the inside edge of the pan forming a collar that extends past the top of the pan.   Spray the paper and the pan bottom with oil spray.  (See Notes)
  3. Place the crushed cookie crumbs in a bowl and stir in the sugar.  Drizzle the melted butter over the mixture and toss to combine.
  4. Tip the crumb mixture into the prepared pan and press against the bottom of the pan.  Transfer to the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Remove and cool completely.

To Make the Custard Filling:

  1. Reduce the oven temperature to 225°F.  
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the cream cheese and beat it on medium speed for 1 minute to break up the cream cheese.  You will need to stop the motor and scrape the bottom and sides.  
  3. Add the sugar to the cream cheese and mix on medium-medium low speed until well blended. Add the vanilla.  
  4. Increase the speed to high and beat the mixture for 6 to 8 minutes, until it is smooth, light, and creamy.  Be sure to stop the mixer at least twice during this time to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.  
  5. Break the eggs into a dish and whisk to break them up, being careful to not create bubbles or foam.
  6. Set the mixer speed to low. Pour 1/4 of the eggs into the cream cheese mixture and mix until they are incorporated about 15-20 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. 
  7. Continue adding the eggs 1/4 at a time. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl between additions.  Keep the mixer speed on low while you add the eggs so you don't introduce air into the batter.
  8. Pour the cheesecake batter over the crust. Smooth the top with a spatula.  
  9. Transfer the cheesecake to the middle rack of the oven.
  10. Bake the cheesecake for 2 hours and 10 minutes. 
  11. Turn off the oven and crack the oven door about 2-inches, holding it open with a wooden spoon.  Keep the cheesecake in the oven for 30 minutes, then remove the wooden spoon and open the oven door completely. Let the cake cool in the oven for an additional 30 minutes. 
  12. Transfer the cake to a wire cooling rack and when it has cooled completely place it into the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.

To serve:

  1. Transfer the cheesecake to the work surface, unsnap the hinge on the side of the pan and lift off the rim of the pan.  Gently peel away the parchment paper around the side of the cake.  
  2. Transfer the cake to a cake plate, use a long, thin knife to slide between the metal pan bottom and the cake, working it loose as you turn the cake.  (A turntable is useful here)
  3. When the cake is loosened, use a spatula to lift the cake onto the serving plate.
  4. Slice the cake with the thin knife dipped into hot water with each slice.  Serve plain or with your favorite topping.

Notes

  • Use a cookie of your choice, good options are Oreo sandwich cookies, shortbread, gingersnaps, graham crackers or pretzels.  
  • Adding a parchment collar to the inside of the pan ensures the batter will not overflow during baking.
  • Each 8 oz. pk of cream cheese is 225 grams, total grams for 6 pks of cream cheese is 1,350 grams.
  • Be sure the cream cheese and eggs are at room temperature.  
  • Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl before you add them to the batter. That will ensure that they incorporate into the batter easily. Don't over-whisk the eggs and make them foamy. Foamy eggs will add air to the cheesecake batter and make the cheesecake crack.
  • Add the eggs in portions, beating until mixed before adding the next portion.
  • When the cheesecake is finished baking, turn the oven off, crack the door, and leave the cheesecake in the oven. It will continue to bake from residual heat. After 30 minutes, open the oven door and let the cheesecake cool in the oven for another 30 minutes. This technique helps the cheesecake cool slowly and prevents cracks from forming.
  • If your oven has the capability of baking with either the regular bake setting or the convection setting. Choose the regular setting and the cake will remain pale as in the photos.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 14 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 430Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 99mgSodium: 291mgCarbohydrates: 46gFiber: 1gSugar: 25gProtein: 6g

Nutrition information is a guideline only, is calculated automatically by third-party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.

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Emeline PECRIAUX

Thursday 14th of October 2021

Hello ! What weight for cream cheese in grams please ?

Pat Nyswonger

Thursday 14th of October 2021

Hi, Emeline....Each 8 oz. pkg. of cream cheese is 225 grams. Six pkgs. would be a total of 1,350 grams of cream cheese. Thank you for your question, I added this information to the recipe card and in the notes.

angiesrecipes

Friday 27th of August 2021

That's a very smooth and beautiful cheesecake! Thanks, Pat, for sharing this perfect cheesecake recipes and all the helpful tips to get a smooth surface. Have a wonderful weekend!

Pat Nyswonger

Friday 27th of August 2021

Thanks, Angie!

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