Cheesecakes, Pies, & Tarts

Lemon Cheesecake

The best lemon cheesecake that’s creamy, bright and topped with a zesty homemade lemon curd. With a graham cracker crust (or try my shortbread or Biscoff crust pairing!), it makes for an amazing decadent treat. 

lemon cheesecake with whipped cream and fresh lemons

The best lemon cheesecake

A few things make this absolutely the best lemon cheesecake. It is very creamy with that bright refreshing lemon flavor. Pair with a graham cracker crust and a fresh whipped cream to balance out the flavors and tartness.

The first must in making this the best lemon cheesecake is using fresh lemons. You notice quite a difference between using fresh lemons compared to bottled lemon juice. It’s worth it, I promise! I also absolutely love the homemade lemon curd on top. It gives the cheesecake the extra zest zing that we love from our lemon desserts. If you have a favorite store bought lemon curd though, feel free to use that! 

lemon cheesecake overhead

How to make amazing cheesecake

A few tips I’ve learned along the way to create perfect cheesecake:

Springform pan: Springform pans create a nice even bake and releases perfectly from the edges of the cheesecake. I love the quality of this brand, but this one is cost friendly and will also do the job well! 

Room temperature ingredients: Cheesecake batter mixes up SO much better when all of the ingredients are added at room temperature. If you’ve forgotten to set it out on the counter beforehand and are in a rush, put the eggs in a bowl of warm water and put the cream cheese in the microwave for just enough time to soften. Don’t skip this little step. 

Not over mixing: Once you’ve added the eggs to the cheesecake mixture, the key is to NOT over mix to prevent any air bubbles from getting into the cheesecake.

Water bath: A water bath isn’t necessary, but it will almost guarantee that you won’t get any cracks in your cheesecake. If you’re making a cheesecake with an additional layer on top that will cover any cracks, like this with a curd on top, or my Cheesecake Factory Oreo Cheesecake or Biscoff Cheesecake, then it’s not crucial. A large roasting pan makes a great water bath. You wrap the bottom of the cheesecake in a thick layer of aluminum foil, stick it in the roasting pan, and have the water line come about 1/3 – 1/2 way up the pan. Allows for a nice slow, even bake that prevents cheesecake from cracking. 

Long cooling time: Another factor that can help prevent a cheesecake from cracking is avoiding any sudden changes in temperature. When the cheesecake is done baking, typically around 55 minutes, I turn off the oven and keep the oven door CLOSED. Then after 30-6o minutes, I crack the oven door open and let it sit in there for another few hours before transferring it to the fridge. Don’t rush perfection! 

Crust options

I went with the traditional graham cracker crust for this cheesecake, but I’ve also tried it with a Biscoff cookie crust and a shortbread crust – both of which are also amazing with this cheesecake. 

If you’re looking for an option other than a graham cracker crust, use this Biscoff cookie crust recipe from this cheesecake, or this shortbread crust recipe from this pie. If you go the shortbread route, it would be fun to dust powdered sugar on top to create a lemon bar cheesecake approach. 

Lemon cheesecake slice close up

Make ahead and storing tip

This cheesecake is easy to make in advance and store! Spread out the steps and make ahead to limit the work right before an event.

– The crust can be made a few days in advance. 
– The lemon curd can be made a couple weeks in advance.
– The whole thing can be made up to a couple days in advance. 

TO STORE: You can also freeze the whole cheesecake, or wrap slices individually in plastic wrap to make it easy to thaw single servings. If you freeze it, transfer it to the fridge the night before to slowly thaw. 

Lemon cheesecake slice close up

More cheesecake recipes you'll love...

If you make this recipe, make sure you tag @loskitchenco on Instagram and leave a comment below! You can also save for later by clicking the ‘Pin Recipe’ button on the recipe card. Happy baking! 

Lemon cheesecake slice close up

Lemon Cheesecake

Lori Vaughn
The best lemon cheesecake. With a graham cracker crust (or try my shortbread or Biscoff crust pairing!), the creamiest lemon cheesecake, and a zesty homemade lemon curd to top. 
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 15 mins
Cooling 5 hrs
Total Time 6 hrs 35 mins

Ingredients
  

Graham Cracker Crust

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (15 graham sheets)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • cup unsalted butter, melted

Lemon Cheesecake

  • 32 oz (4 packs) cream cheese
  • 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon zest
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • cup sour cream, room temperature
  • cup heavy cream, room temperature
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 4 large eggs room temperature

Lemon Curd

  • Use homemade recipe linked below or favorite store bought

Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 package or 2 tsp whip it stabilizer *optional

Instructions
 

  • CRUST: Begin by making the crust.
    *See crust alternatives in the notes.
  • Preheat the oven to 325° F. Crush up the graham crackers using a food processor or place in a ziplock bag and crush with a rolling pin. Add sugar and melted butter and mix until combined.
  •  Press the crust into a 9" springform pan, working the crumbs about half way up the side. (Pressing the crust in using a measuring cup is really handy!)
  • Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  • CHEESECAKE: Optional water bath: Wrap your springform pan in heavy duty aluminum foil. You can also double wrap it by layering a plastic crockpot liner bag. We do this to prevent any water from coming into the pan as it cooks in a water bath. Set aside. Pull out a roasting pan or large baking dish - something large enough for the cheesecake pan to sit in. (This water bath is optional, but helps prevent the cheesecake from cracking.)
  • Gather the cold ingredients and bring to room temperature.
  • Using a stand mixer or large bowl and hand mixer, mix together the softened cream cheese and sugar until smooth and light, about 1 minute. Add corn starch, lemon zest, and vanilla. Mix again until combined.
  • Add sour cream, heavy cream, and lemon juice. Mix again until combined.
  • Add the eggs one at a time and mix until just combined. You do not want to over mix the cheesecake once the eggs are added.
  • Pour batter into prepared crust. Bake for about 75 minutes until the edges of the cheesecake are set and the center is just slightly jiggly. Add more time if needed. Turn off the oven and crack the oven door to allow the cheesecake to cool slowly for a one hour. (This slow cool process also helps prevent cracking!) Then remove and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
  • LEMON CURD: While the cheesecake is baking and cooling, prepare the lemon curd using this recipe or you can use a favorite store bought curd. (You can also make this in advance up to a couple weeks prior.)
  • Top the cheesecake with the lemon curd and chill until ready to serve. Top with fresh whipped cream if desired.
  • WHIPPED CREAM: To make the whipped cream, beat together cold whipping cream, powdered sugar, vanilla, and optional stabilizer (just helps the whipped cream stay set longer). You could top the cheesecake with swirls, spread on the entire top like a meringue pie, or serve on the side.
    Tip: Put your beaters and bowl in the freezer prior to mixing to get it really cold. It helps the whip cream form stiff peaks nicely.
  • Cheesecake will last well for a few days. You can also freeze whole or as slices for a few months. Enjoy!

Notes

Crust options: Graham cracker crust is always a classic, but for a lemon bar approach, use the shortbread crust recipe from this pie, or use the Biscoff crust recipe from this cheesecake. It's a unique and delicious pairing! 
Lemon curd: This is the recipe I use for the curd. Feel free to swap for a store bought lemon curd though
Whipped Cream: Adding a stabilizer in the whipped cream is optional. Powdered sugar does stabilize it to a point. Adding an additional stabilizer increases its stability and allows it to hold up longer. 
Making in advance & storing: This recipe is easy to make in advance, and I recommend doing so to ensure the cheesecake sets in plenty of time with no stress! You can make the crust and jam a week ahead of time. The baked cheesecake can be stored in the fridge 24 hours in advance prior to serving. You can also freeze the whole cheesecake before an event or freeze leftover slices. Transfer to the fridge to thaw at least 6 hours in advance before serving. No one will know it was ever frozen!
Can I substitute for limes?: Yes! I have done it! You can swap out the lemon juice and zest in both the cheesecake and curd to lime juice and zest! It's AMAZING.
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