Basic Cheesecake

Recipe adapted from Tyler Florence



  • 2 cups finely ground graham crackers (about 30 squares) 
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted 


  • 2, 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature 
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1 pint sour cream, at room temperature 
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon 
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract  


For the crust: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. 

In a mixing bowl, combine crust ingredients with a fork until evenly moistened. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray. Using an oiled piece of waxed paper, press the crumbs down onto the base and 1-inch up the sides of the pan. Refrigerate for 5 minutes. 

For the filling: In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat cream cheese on medium speed for 1 minute until smooth and free of any lumps. Gradually add sugar. Reduce mixer speed and add eggs, 1 at a time, just until fully incorporated. Add sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla and beat just until creamy, 1 to 2 minutes, stopping the machine once in between to scrape down the sides and bottom. Pour the filling into the crust-lined pan and smooth the top with a spatula. 

Set the cheesecake pan on a large piece of heavy aluminum foil and fold up the sides around it, leaving the cake uncovered. Set this pan into a large roasting pan. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until the water is about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan; the foil will keep the water from seeping into the cheesecake. Bake for 45 minutes. The cheesecake should still jiggle (it will firm up after chilling), so be careful not to overcook. Let cool in pan for 45 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator, uncovered, for at least 4 hours. Loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the inside rim. Unmold and transfer to a cake plate.  Top cake with a fruit sauce or place a ladle of fruit sauce on a plate and place cake on top of sauce.

Slice cheesecake with a thin, non-serrated knife that has been dipped in hot water. Wipe dry after each cut. 

Makes 6-8 servings.