The best lemon cheesecake. Ever. Exquisitely light and lemony. Perfectly sweet and tangy. Gorgeous sunshine yellow. Delightful coconut cookie crust and topped with lemony whipped cream. This is it, the perfect lemon cheesecake.
(Craving for a lemon cheesecake but not in the mood to bake? Check out this delicious and lemony no-bake lemon cheesecake. Creamy, luscious, no oven required!)
On Monday, I professed my love for my chocolate cake with chocolate fudge frosting which I said was (and I quote), the best, the chocolatiest chocolate cake ever. It was so good it made me kind of doubt my loyalties to Team Lemon.
It is an outstanding chocolate cake. It really is. But after much thought, I’ve decided that I still prefer lemon desserts over chocolate ones.
And to prove my lemon devotion, I present to you the best lemon cheesecake ever.
The best lemon cheesecake recipe
And what an exceptional lemon cheesecake recipe this is!
It’s become one of the most popular recipes on The Unlikely Baker and for good reason – it has the perfect texture, consistency and flavour to please the most discriminating of lemon lovers.
And it’s easy to bake too.
I know it’s a cheesecake, which is known to be high-maintenance.
But I found a new way to creamy, smooth, crack-free, seep-free cheesecakes which I think you’ll love – do a bain-marie just don’t put your cheesecake in it!
How to bake cheesecakes without a water bath
Ok, let me explain.
When baking cheesecakes, I used to very carefully wrap the bottom of my springform pan with heavy duty aluminum foil to avoid water seepage before I put the cheesecake in the water bath to bake.
Seepage seems inevitable though; no matter high tightly and perfectly I wrapped my pan, I almost always get moisture at the bottom. Which is fine, it would dry up as the cheesecake sets in the fridge.
But see I experimented.
Instead of swimming in the water bath, I put my cheesecake on the rack above it.
I figure, the steam and moisture from the water bath should still make my cheesecake smooth and creamy. And should control my oven’s temperature so I could still bake it nice and slow.
And it worked! By golly this is how I bake cheesecakes now (like this crazy delicious salted caramel apple cheesecake with pecan crisp topping). Less stress too.
How to bake the perfect cheesecake without cracks
And you want a cheesecake without cracks? Patience is the answer.
The main reason cheesecakes crack is when the cake cools it tends to break away from the pan too quickly. Therefore, cracking.
So you want the cheesecake to cool gradually. Once it’s done, turn the oven off but keep the cheesecake in the oven for about an hour with the oven door slightly open.
Chill the cheesecake completely too. Hard not to devour it immediately I know but perfect cheesecakes take time. And this cheesecake is totally worth it.
How to make lemon whipped cream
And omigosh can we just talk about that lemon whipped cream? It’s so simple that it’s perfect.
I took my homemade whipped cream recipe and just added about a tablespoon of finely grated lemon zest. That’s it!
It’s wonderful and it’s the perfect complement. Frankly, I would eat the whipped cream on its own (fine, I did eat it on its own ok?)
And that crust!
Usually lemon cheesecakes sit atop a graham cracker crust, which is delicious.
But add sweetened shredded coconut to the graham cracker crumbs and you have a cheesecake crust that’s 100x better. In fact, I love this crust so much I use it on several recipes here on TUB, like for this ultra-smooth and creamy Meyer lemon pie.
The coconut just works so well with lemon it makes for a wonderful bite. Coconut crust + lemon cheesecake + lemon whipped cream. It’s a dream.
So if you’re looking for something bright and sunny to serve this holiday season, why not go with this? It really is the best lemon cheesecake ever.
The best lemon desserts
Lemon desserts are delightful. They are light and fresh and just a dose of sunshine after a heavy meal or on a gloomy day (preferably with tea).
Ok, biased person talking. But have you checked these out?
Perfectly sweet and tangy lemon bars on a buttery shortbread crust. Every lemon lover must have this in their recipe box!
You must also try to make lemon curd at home. It’s quick, so easy and the taste is beyond compare. Plus, it’s a great way to use those leftover egg yolks.
Love lemony cupcakes? These limoncello cupcakes are perfect for spring. They are frosted with the most delightful limoncello cream cheese buttercream!
And if you’re looking for a keto-friendly option, check out this Keto Lemon Cheesecake Fluff.
The Best Lemon Cheesecake. Ever.
For the coconut cookie crust:
- 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs see notes
- ½ cup sweetened shredded coconut
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter melted and cooled slightly
For the lemon cheesecake:
- 4 8-oz blocks cream cheese softened
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp all purpose flour
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 cup sour cream
- 4 pcs large eggs
- 2 packages 4-serving size lemon instant pudding
- Preheat oven to 300F if using a dark non-stick springform pan (if using a silver springform pan, preheat oven to 325F). Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- Mix 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs, ½ cup sweetened shredded coconut and 4 tablespoons melted butter until the mixture is evenly moist. Press onto the bottom of your pan and bake for 10 minutes. Take out of oven and allow to cool while you work on your cheesecake.
- Using a handheld electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, ¾ cup granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and 2 tablespoons milk until well combined (about 2 minutes on medium high speed). Scrape the bottom and sides of your bowl. Add 1 cup sour cream and stir until incorporated.
- Switch to low speed and add eggs 1 at a time until each one is just blended. Then add 2 packages of lemon instant pudding and stir until combined. The batter will look a little like scrambled eggs at this point, that’s OK.
- Take a roasting pan (or a fairly large baking dish) filled with hot water and put it at the bottom rack of your oven. Put your cheesecake on the middle rack and bake for an hour or until the cheesecake is puffy, still wobbly (but not soupy) in the middle and the edges are starting to turn brown and separating from the edge of the pan.
- Turn the oven off. Open the oven door slightly and keep the cheesecake in the oven for another hour. Take the cheesecake out of the pan by carefully running a sharp knife along the edge of the pan before releasing it. Chill in the refrigerator completely – at least 4 hours (preferably overnight).
- See this recipe for homemade whipped cream
- Add 1 tablespoon lemon zest when you reach medium peaks. Then continue beating until stiff peaks. Be careful not to over beat.
Nutritional information are estimates only.
(Recipe adapted from Kraft Philadelphia Ultimate Recipe Collection).
Did you make the best lemon cheesecake? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.
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My springform pan is 10 inch. How should I adjust my cooking time?
Hi Sharilyn, it shouldn’t differ by a lot. Just make sure you check for doneness a little bit earlier.
I don’t want to make a traditional graham cracker crust, but I cannot use coconut due to an allergy. Would you recommend a crumble or oat crust instead? I’ll be adding blueberry compote and blueberry whipped cream.
Hi Sarah, you can use your favorite cheesecake crust. And blueberry compote sounds delicious!
I was really looking forward to this. Added a few tablespoons of lemon extract. Followed the timed instructions and cooled it to only find out when I cut it that it was not done. It’s back in the oven. Hopefully it cooks.
Hi Jenifer, the baking time in recipes is always just a guide since all ovens are different. It’s always best to check for doneness yourself. Hope you enjoyed it!
Almost no lemon flavor. On the second attempt, I added the zest and juice of two lemons. Huge difference. I highly recommend adding lemon zest and juice to your liking.
Hi Michael, glad you were able to make the recipe work for you!
If I do a lemon curd do I add it on top after baking? How is it incorporated in the recipe? I want to make this for Thanksgiving.
Hi Cheryl, yes, most readers put them on top. You can find more tips in the comments 🙂
Nice texture, but it really didn’t taste of lemon at all. even though I added lemon zest to the filling. I should have known the lemon pudding would just be sweet and not have the tartness of fresh lemon juice needed to balance out the heaviness of the cream cheese.
Hi Chris, lots of readers add lemon curd as a topping to add tartness. Scroll through the comments for more helpful tips!
This cheesecake is so creamy and delicious. I like the coconut in the crust but I felt it wasn’t quite sweet enough. My husband has always said he did not like cheesecake, loved this one and to get his seal of approval was the cherry on top.
That’s awesome Carla! Glad to hear it 🙂
I took 2 of these yummy cheesecake to my pickleball group party. both were gone up in 20 minutes!!! The curd is BEST WITH LEMONS RIGHT FROM THE TREE.LOVE THIS RECIPE AND ENJOY MAKING UT!!!!
That’s awesome Karen! 🙂
If I wanted to omit the coconut in the crust, would I just replace it with an additional half cup of graham cracker crumbs?
Hi Corinne, yes and you may want to add a little bit of sugar to taste.
@Corinne, Hi! That’s what I just did today. Worked great! I like an all graham crust too, not a fan of coconut. I still used the same amount of melted butted too and it came together nicely. I also used an 8 inch pan instead of a 9 inch and just baked it an additional 10-15 minutes. This is a great, easy, go-to recipe. Love it!
Love this recipe, Im going to make a blueberry sauce to put over it.
Blueberry sauce sounds delicious! 🙂