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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The whole family loved this! I made it once before and liked it. But this time I put lemon curd on top and whipped cream for decoration.
Glad to hear that Esperanza! Whipped cream makes everything look so festive eh? 🙂
This is without a doubt the best cheesecake I baked and eaten. I’m not a great baker but this came out perfect. The whole family loves it. I didn’t change anything. Thanks for the recipe!!
Glad to hear that Char!
I really want to try this recipe but I live in Italy and we don’t have lemon pudding here…. I know crazy right? What would you suggest I use instead?
Hi Michelle! I’m sorry but I don’t know of any suitable alternative. Would you like to try another kind of lemon cheesecake? Here’s one where you don’t even need to bake 🙂 – https://theunlikelybaker.com/no-bake-lemon-cheesecake-video/
You could try powered lemonade plus vanilla pudding???
I’ve baked many cheesecakes and my kids love them but my eldest daughter loves this one the best. I will make it again so I want to thank you Jolina for the recipe I always get many many complements about it. If it helps anyone wanting to bake the cake – I always bake mine longer than the recipe says. I just look at it and trust my guts and if it looks raw it doesn’t come out of my oven until it is perfect. I consider myself an intermediate baker. I top it with lemon curd for extra lemon flavor.
Hi Hannah! You’re most welcome and it’s wonderful that you and your family like it. It’s one of our favourites too 🙂 Thanks for the baking tip!
Do you put whip cream over the lemon curd then to serve?
Do you bake with the lemon curd in it?
This is my favorite cheesecake to make. I made another one and it’s so good. I always cook it longer than suggested based on how it looks and always put lemon curd on top for extra lemon flavor. For everbody saying the cheesecake is not setting for them I suggest ignore the baking time and look at your cheesecake for doneness. If you think its not ready its not ready and continue baking. Our family loves this recipe. My children even suggested I should sell cakes for Christmas. Thank you unlikely baker for the recipe. Hope you can make similar vanilla or chocolate cheesecakes.
That’s awesome Reina, thank you for your tips! If you’re interested in a vanilla cheesecake try this recipe, no baking required! – https://theunlikelybaker.com/no-bake-mini-cheesecakes/
I made this last week for my son’s birthday. If I had more cream cheese I would be making another one right now for us to take camping this weekend. It is a keeper recipe and is already printed and in my recipe binder! We absolutely LOVED the coconut in the crust!! I used organic, food grade lemon essential oil in the pie itself and then added a tablespoon of lemon pudding to heaving whipping cream for the top dressing. Next time I might use the standard sour cream baked topping with some lemon oil. The flavor of the pie and the creaminess of the texture was great!
One thing: The recipe calls for (and so I used) a 10” springform pan — We found it was way too much crust and way too much filling. I had to cook it longer (even though the oven thermometer said the temp was a-okay) – the very middle did not set correctly. I would recommend using a 12” springform pan or 2- 6” springform pans and splitting the recipe between them.
Next time I will use the larger pan so the middle will be set correctly and the crust won’t be half an inch thick – thinner would finitely be better. ! I wrote it on my copy of the recipe as it’s a keeper. Lovely light and creamy, and especially refreshing and light dessert after a heavy meal.
Hi Wren! I’m glad you liked it. And thanks very much for your tips!
I am going to give this a try for Thanksgiving would it be good with Lemon Curd and a few Blueberries on Top?
Hi Tara. Absolutely. If you read through some of the comments here, a few have said they did add lemon curd for that added zing. And blueberries would be a great addition too. Hope you have a happy thanksgiving!
Hi Jolina, this cheesecake turned out absolutely amazing. I made this recipe last year during Thanksgiving and this year because I was craving it. Just wondering if you have tried any other pudding flavors with this? Thanks
Hi Angela. Glad to hear it turned out well! Unfortunately I’ve only ever used lemon-flavoured pudding in the recipe. Maybe you can sub with vanilla? Then you can up the lemon flavour another way. Other readers mentioned they added lemon curd and lemon extract to get an extra lemony kick.
Do you make the pudding first and then put it in? or do you just put in the powder?
Hi Courtney, you just put in the powder.
I don’t bake often so I was hesitatnt to make this but Im glad I did! I took others suggestions to top it with lemon curd to add a little more lemon flavor and to bake a little longer so it can set. Perfect! My daughter who don’t usually like lemon cakes had seconds.
Hi Leti! So glad you guys liked it! The addition of lemon curd is lovely. Happy Sunday!
do you make it with 4, 8oz packages of cream cheese or 48 oz of cream cheese?
Hi Natalie. It’s 4 packages of cream cheese that’s 8 oz each.
I made this for a dinner with family. It was a hit! I topped it with the lemon curd and that gave it the lemon punch it needed. I will definitely make this again. Oh, and by the way, this was my first baked cheesecake! Thanks for the amazing recipe!
That’s awesome Connie! And you are most welcome 🙂
I am visiting my in-laws and made this for their bible study group. It was an absolute hit with everyone! After tasting the batter per the recipe, we decided to add lemon extract (maybe 7-10 drops), to give it a more pronounced lemon taste. It had to bake (at 325 with our light-colored pan) about 70 minutes to be slightly brown on top and jiggly in the middle, but it was perfect, especially with lemon zest added to the whipped cream we made. Thank you for an amazing recipe!
Hi Maggie. Glad to hear you and yours liked it! Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend 🙂
My Family is not fond of Lemon, could Vanilla Pudding be substituted for the Lemon? This looks so yummy & I can’t imagine making it and having to eat the whole cheesecake. As good as that sounds it would be wrong on so many levels.
Hi Melinda! I suppose you can. I haven’t tried though so I can’t say for sure. I’d love to hear how it goes!
Melinda L Kriskie
I’m going to give it a try, will let you know how it turns out. Thank You for getting back to me.
Made this for Christmas dinner, and it was a hit. Was going to make a raspberry sauce to accompany and brought along whipped cream but we used neither. I like the tips in the comments to add a little lemon zest and to top with lemon curd.
It was a light refreshing flavor to finish off the turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy extravaganza.
My oven runs a little hot so the top was browner than pictured. I may lower the temperature to 300 next time and bake a few minutes over an hour, keeping an eye on it.
Hi Michele! So glad you and your guests liked it. This really is one of my favourites. And I agree on keeping an eye on it…I watch my cheesecakes like a hawk 🙂 Hope you have a wonderful NYE!