This vanilla cheesecake will not disappoint! With a crunchy graham cracker crust, creamy vanilla cheesecake filling, and vanilla whipped cream frosting, this cheesecake will become your go-to favorite cheesecake recipe!
Vanilla Cheesecake Ingredients
Graham cracker crust
- Graham crackers: For this recipe, I used 15 graham crackers to make 2 1/4 cups of graham cracker crumbs.
- Brown sugar: For a touch of sweetness.
- Salt: Adds some contrast to the sweetness of the creamy cheesecake filling.
- Unsalted butter: Melted.
Vanilla cheesecake filling
- Cream cheese: Room temperature for easy creaming.
- Granulated sugar: For sweetness.
- All-purpose flour: A bit of all-purpose flour helps create the perfect texture.
- Salt: A pinch of salt enhances flavor and contrasts sweetness.
- Eggs: Large eggs, room temperature.
- Heavy cream: Room temperature. Creates a smooth and creamy cheesecake filling.
- Sour cream: Sour cream lightens up the cheesecake filling so it is not too heavy and dense. Room temperature.
- Vanilla extract – A good quality vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste is the star of the show in this recipe!
Vanilla whipped cream frosting
- Heavy cream: Cold heavy cream or heavy whipping cream.
- Powdered sugar: For a touch of sweetness.
- Vanilla extract: Vanilla extract adds even more vanilla flavor to this recipe.
How to Make the Graham Cracker Crust
- Prepare an 8-inch springform or cheesecake pan with a parchment paper circle. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Pulse graham crackers in a food processor to make fine crumbs.
- In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, salt, and melted butter. Mix to combine.
- Pour crumb mixture into the prepared pan.
- Use a flat bottomed measuring cup to gently pat the crumbs on the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Once the crumbs are evenly spread over the bottom and sides, you can pack them down firmly so that the crust holds shape.
- Blind bake the crust for approximately 10 minutes until slightly golden brown and toasty. Remove from the oven and allow the crust to cool while you make the cheesecake filling.
How to Make Vanilla Cheesecake Filling
To make the vanilla cheesecake filling, I recommend using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or an electric hand mixer. While you are making the cheesecake filling, reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
- Cream room temperature cream cheese, granulated sugar, all-purpose flour, and salt until smooth.
- Add the room temperature heavy cream and sour cream and mix on low speed until fully combined and smooth, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl occasionally.
- Add in room temperature eggs, one at a time, mixing in between each addition.
- Pour in vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste and mix on low until combined.
- Pour the vanilla cheesecake batter into the prepared graham cracker crust.
- Bake the cheesecake in a water bath at 300 degrees F for 90 minutes. (Scroll down to recipe tips to learn more about baking in a water bath)
- Turn off the oven and allow the cheesecake to sit in the closed oven undisturbed for 30 minutes.
- Open the oven door and allow the cheesecake to continue to cool for another 30 minutes.
- Remove the cheesecake from the oven and water bath and place on a wire rack to cool to room temperature.
- Chill the cheesecake in the refrigerator for at least six hours but ideally, overnight.
How to Make Vanilla Whipped Cream Frosting
I love adding some fresh vanilla whipped cream onto vanilla cheesecake to add another layer of vanilla flavor and texture.
To make the vanilla whipped cream, simply whip together heavy cream, powdered sugar, and a little vanilla extract. I recommend doing this with a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or an electric hand mixer. Whip the cream until medium peaks form, meaning, the whipped cream is relatively sturdy but still is a bit soft. Over beating your whipped cream will result in sweet butter. Sounds good, but not on cheesecake!
Vanilla Cheesecake Recipe Tips
Use a springform or cheesecake pan
To ensure the cheesecake is easily removed from the pan, I recommend using a springform pan or cheesecake pan. These pans have separate bottoms and sides which allow for easy release while keeping the crust in tact.
Because these types of pans have two pieces, steps need to be taken to prevent water from leaking into the pan while baking in a water bath. I like to take three large pieces of foil and layer them in the shape of an asterisk, folding them up around the pan.
Bake with a water bath to prevent the cheesecake from cracking or browning
A water bath is a large pan of water that the cheesecake is baked in. The water bath creates steam which helps prevent the cheesecake from cracking and also prevents excessive browning on the top.
To prevent the water from leaking into the cheesecake or springform pan, wrap the bottom of the cheesecake pan in aluminum foil as I mentioned above. Be sure the foil extends up the sides of the pan to prevent water from leaking into the pan. Be sure the water bath pan is larger than the cheesecake/springform pan. For an 8-inch cheesecake pan, I use a 13×9 baking pan or a 10-inch round pan.
Low and slow baking
Baking the cheesecake at a lower temperature for a longer period of time allows the cheesecake to bake slowly and evenly, creating a smooth and silky texture.
Gradual cooling time
As you will notice in the recipe instructions, the cheesecake spends a bit of time cooling in the oven. The gradual cooling allows the cheesecake to set up perfectly and prevents cracking. Do not skip these steps! It is important for the perfect taste and texture!
Add vanilla whipped cream frosting the day of serving
For best results, I recommend making and applying the vanilla whipped cream frosting the same day you plan on serving the cheesecake. Whipped cream has a tendency of wilting over time, so for the best taste and texture, add it to the chilled cheesecake the day of serving.
Storing and serving
Store the cheesecake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Serve the cheesecake chilled for best taste and texture. If desired, add some delicious toppings to compliment the cheesecake such as lemon curd, caramel sauce, chocolate ganache, cherry pie filling, or fresh berries or fresh fruit.
- 8" springform pan or cheesecake pan
Graham Cracker Crust
- 2 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs approximately 15 graham crackers
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter melted
- ½ tsp salt
Vanilla Cheesecake Filling
- 24 oz cream cheese room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup heavy cream room temperature
- ½ cup sour cream room temperature
- 4 eggs room temperature
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
Vanilla Whipped Cream Frosting
- 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
Graham Cracker Crust
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Line the bottom of an 8-inch springform or cheesecake pan with a parchment circle and assemble the pan.
- Pulse graham crackers in a food processor to create fine crumbs.
- In a mixing bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, melted butter and salt.
- Pour graham cracker mixture into the prepared pan. With the help of a flat-bottomed measuring cup, firmly press the graham cracker crumbs along the bottom and up the sides of the pan to create the crust.
- Blind bake the crust for 10 minutes in the oven.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool while making the cheesecake filling. Turn the oven temperature down to 300° F while preparing the filling.
Vanilla Cheesecake Filling
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or using an electric hand mixer, cream together room temperature cream cheese, granulated sugar, all-purpose flour, and salt on medium speed until smooth.
- Add in room temperature sour cream and heavy cream and mix on low speed. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to ensure all of the ingredients are well combined.
- Add in room temperature eggs, one at a time, mixing well in between additions. Add in vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and mix on low until the filling is smooth.
- Wrap the springform pan in aluminum foil, on the bottom and up the sides. We are doing this because the cheesecake will bake in a water bath and we don't want the water to leak into the cheesecake. Be sure that the foil covers up the sides and will not allow water into the pan.
- Pour the cheesecake filling into the graham cracker crust.
- Place the cheesecake in a larger baking pan and place in the 300° F oven. Pour approximately ½ inch of water in the larger baking pan around the cheesecake to create a water bath.
- Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, until the cheesecake appears set but slightly jiggly in the middle.
- Turn the oven off and allow the cheesecake to sit in the closed oven for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, open the oven door and allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven for another 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove the cheesecake from the oven and from the water bath and transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool to room temperature.
- Chill the cheesecake in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, ideally overnight.
Vanilla Whipped Cream Frosting
- I recommend making and applying the whipped cream the day you are serving the cheesecake.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or with an electric hand mixer, combine heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract.
- Whip on medium-high speed until the whipped cream achieves medium to firm peaks.
- Spread a layer of whipped cream onto the top of the whole cheesecake. Using a Wilton 1M piping tip, decorate the edges of the cheesecake with whipped cream swirls.