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This fool-proof no-bake cheesecake is made with a smooth, creamy, vanilla filling over a buttery graham cracker crust. It’s finished with homemade whipped cream and is absolutely delicious. Plus it doesn’t even require an oven or a pesky water bath.
Table of Contents
- The Best No Bake Cheesecake Recipe
- What Is A No Bake Cheesecake?
- Why This Cheesecake Recipe Works
- What You’ll Need
- How to Make No Bake Cheesecake
- Tips for the Best No Bake Vanilla Cheesecake
- Why Is My Cheesecake Runny?
- Topping Ideas
- Proper Storage
- Can I Freeze A Vanilla No Bake Cheesecake?
- More Cheesecake Recipes
- Get the Recipe
The Best No Bake Cheesecake Recipe
I love that you don’t even have to turn on the oven to make this cheesecake and it delivers almost equally delicious results as a classic baked version. The filling is thick and creamy without being overly dense. It has a lovely tang to it as well, which really takes it to the next level, in my opinion. The filling sits on top of a buttery graham cracker crust that provides the perfect, crunchy juxtaposition to the smooth filling. Wowza!
I am, without a doubt, picky about my cheesecakes. They need to be just the right texture, just the right flavor…pretty much just the right everything. It’s hard to get it right and arguably even harder if you’re attempting to do it without an oven. Luckily this no bake cheesecake breaks the mold. Plus it takes a fraction of the time needed to make a baked rendition. Try it. You’ll see.
What Is A No Bake Cheesecake?
A no-bake cheesecake is exactly what it sounds like – a cheesecake that doesn’t need to be baked. Instead of using eggs to firm it up (as you would in a classic cheesecake), a no bake cheesecake relies on significant chill time in the refrigerator and the way its ingredients interact to firm up.
Why This Cheesecake Recipe Works
Where a conventional, baked cheesecake relies on eggs to firm it up and hold it together, you cannot use eggs in a no-bake version. So what gets this no-bake version nice and firm?
- Lemon-sour cream combo. The lemon juice has a magical curdling-like effect on the sour cream that firms it up without making it lumpy. This does much of the heavy lifting when it comes to pulling the cheesecake together while also giving the dessert that classic tangy flavor we know and love in regular cheesecakes.
- Whipped cream. So long as the whipped cream retains enough volume, it creates structure in the filling that helps to keep it in place.
- Refrigeration. The cheesecake spends significant time in the refrigerator, which also helps to firm it up.
What You’ll Need
Here’s a list of ingredients needed to make this no-bake dessert. You won’t need much and some things you use twice. Be sure to scroll to the recipe card below for exact measurements.
- Graham Cracker Crumbs – You could use an equal amount of vanilla wafer cookie crumbs instead.
- Sugar – To sweeten the crust and cheesecake filling.
- Salt – For a little extra flavor in the crust.
- Butter – To bind the crust ingredients together.
- Cream Cheese – This should be at room temperature so that it mixes well. Use brick-style cream cheese. The tub-style cream cheese is thinner and won’t firm up as well. The same goes for the fat content – use the full fat stuff. It’s worth it!
- Sour Cream – As mentioned above, this works with the lemon juice to help thicken the filling. It also adds a classic cheesecake tang.
- Fresh Lemon Juice – This works with the sour cream to thicken the filling. Don’t use bottled lemon juice. It doesn’t have the same flavor.
- Heavy Whipping Cream – Be sure that the heavy whipping cream is cold. Otherwise, it will not hold volume as well and your cheesecake won’t firm up properly.
- Powdered Sugar – Do not skimp on the powdered sugar. You need it to stabilize the whipped cream.
- Vanilla Extract – For flavor.
How to Make No Bake Cheesecake
Ready to make the best no-bake cheesecake ever? Here’s a quick overview of how to do it. Don’t forget to scroll to the recipe card below for more detailed instructions.
- Make the crust. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Chill in the fridge.
- Make the filling base. Beat together the cream cheese and sugar. Mix in the sour cream followed by the lemon juice.
- Fold in the whipped cream. Whip the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold it into the cream cheese mixture in two parts.
- Assemble and chill. Spread the filling over the crust and chill in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours. Once firm, remove the cake from the springform pan and set it on a serving platter.
- Decorate. Whip the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract on high speed until stiff peaks form. Pipe swirls of whipped cream around the edge of the cheesecake. See the section below titled “Topping Ideas” to make it your own.
- Chill. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Tips for the Best No Bake Vanilla Cheesecake
This is a pretty fool-proof recipe but there are certainly a few things you can do to ensure the best no bake cheesecake possible. Here they are.
- Room-temperature cream cheese. Start with room-temperature cream cheese. Cream cheese that is too cold will give you a lumpy filling.
- Cold heavy whipping cream. Be sure that the whipping cream used in the filling and in the whipped cream topping is cold. If it is not, it will not hold volume properly. This will give you a flat whipped cream topping and a potentially runny filling.
- Full-fat everything. Use heavy whipping cream, full-fat sour cream, and full-fat cream cheese. The higher fat content in the whipping cream will allow it to whip up thicker, which is needed to hold the filling together. The higher fat content in the sour cream and the cream cheese will also help to keep the filling nice and firm.
- Don’t skimp on powdered sugar. Be sure to use the full amount of powdered sugar in the whipped cream. It stabilizes the whipped cream, therefore providing structure to the filling and topping.
- Use sour cream and lemon juice. They react in a way that helps firm up the filling. Plus the combination gives the cheesecake that classic tang that we all know and love in classic cheesecake.
- Chill. A lot. Refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 5 hours before serving (overnight is even better). If you don’t chill the cheesecake for long enough, it will be too soft.
Why Is My Cheesecake Runny?
One of the most common complaints I hear when people try to make no-bake cheesecake is that it turned out too soft. Here are some common errors that will keep your filling from firming up properly.
- You didn’t chill it for long enough. This dessert needs to spend a significant time in the refrigerator before it’s ready to be served. If it doesn’t get enough time to chill, it will not firm up properly.
- You tried to use low-fat products. Using low-fat whipping cream, sour cream, and/or cream cheese is pretty much a one-way ticket to a runny cheesecake. You need the fat in all three to hold the filling together.
- Your whipping cream wasn’t cold. Warmer than cold heavy whipping cream will not hold volume as well and will thus not help to provide the structure that this cheesecake demands.
- You skimped on powdered sugar. The powdered sugar helps to stabilize the whipped cream that is folded into the filling. It adds quite a bit of structure to the whipped cream and, by association, the filling itself. Using less sugar will likely make your filling softer.
- You skipped ingredients. If you try to make this cake without sour cream and/or lemon juice, it is likely to end up runny. The lemon juice works to “curdle” the sour cream, making it firm and, by so doing, making the filling firm altogether.
The sky is the limit here! This vanilla cheesecake makes for the perfect blank canvas. Top it with pretty much whatever you’d like. Here are some fun ideas to get you inspired.
- Fresh fruit. I think this is my favorite. It just goes so nicely with the tang of the cheesecake and the subtle sweetness of the whipped cream. Fresh berries would be my top pick.
- Sauce. I love adding a drizzle of Hot Fudge Sauce or this Salted Caramel Sauce to the top of a slice of no-bake vanilla cheesecake. Lemon Curd, Raspberry Sauce, Blueberry Sauce, Strawberry Sauce would also be phenomenal options.
- Candy. Chop up some Reese’s, a Snickers bar, or another favorite candy and scatter the crumbs over the cheesecake for a super sweet treat.
Once the cake has firmed up in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours, go ahead and transfer it to an airtight cake carrier. If you don’t have one, wrap it in a double layer of plastic wrap. I suggest using toothpicks to prop the plastic away from the swirls of whipped cream. If you already sliced the cake, arrange the slices in a single layer in an airtight container. Store the cheesecake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Can I Freeze A Vanilla No Bake Cheesecake?
Absolutely! After the cake has set in the refrigerator (but before adding any toppings), pop it in the freezer for a couple of hours to firm up. Wrap the cake in a double layer of plastic wrap. Sliced it already? Arrange the slices in a single layer in an airtight container. Store the cake in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw the cheesecake in the refrigerator before your favorite topping/s, slicing, and serving.
More Cheesecake Recipes
In a cheesecake mood? Welcome to my world. Here are some of my other favorite recipes (classic and no-bake) to satisfy your craving. Yum. Yum. Yum!
- Vanilla Bean Cheesecake
- Mini Cheesecakes
- No Bake Chocolate Cheesecake
- No Bake Nutella Cheesecake
- No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake
- No Bake Oreo Cheesecake
- No Bake Cherry Almond Cheesecake
This Easy No-Bake Cheesecake Recipe makes a perfect, smooth & creamy cheesecake that sets up in the refrigerator! .
- 2 1/4 cups (302g) graham cracker crumbs
- 5 tbsp (65g) sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 10 tbsp (140g) unsalted butter, melted
- 24 oz (678g) cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 cup (104g) sugar
- 1/4 cup (58g) sour cream
- 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/4 cups (300ml) heavy whipping cream, cold
- 3/4 cup (86g) powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
Whipped Cream Topping
- 1 cup (240ml) heavy whipping cream, cold
- 1/2 cup (58g) powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- In a medium bowl, combine the crust ingredients and mix well to combine completely.
- Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Set in the fridge to chill.
- In a large mixer bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until well combined and smooth.
- Add the sour cream and mix until well combined and smooth.
- Add the lemon juice and mix until well combined and smooth. Set mixture aside.
- In another large mixer bowl, add the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Whip on high speed until stiff peaks form.
- Carefully fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture in two parts until well combined.
- Add the filling to the crust and spread into an even layer.
- Refrigerate cheesecake until firm, 5-6 hours or overnight.
- To finish off the cheesecake, remove it from the springform pan and set on a plate or serving platter.
- Add the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract for the whipped cream topping to a large mixer bowl. Whip on high speed until stiff peaks form.
- Pipe swirls of whipped cream around the edge of the cheesecake. Top the cheesecake off with your desired toppings, such as fresh fruit.
- Refrigerate cheesecake until ready to serve. Cheesecake is best for 4-5 days.
- Serving Size: 1 slice
- Calories: 414
- Sugar: 25.8 g
- Sodium: 224.6 mg
- Fat: 30.4 g
- Carbohydrates: 30.6 g
- Protein: 5.6 g
- Cholesterol: 92.7 mg
Keywords: no bake cheesecake, vanilla no bake cheesecake, vanilla cheesecake no bake