This is the best pistachio cheesecake ever — rich, creamy, packed with real pistachio flavor. And it’s very easy to make you won’t even need a water bath. I give lots of tips for perfect cheesecakes below. Check it out!
I love incorporating pistachios in baking (we use pistachios in savory dishes too, like in this pistachio lime baked salmon from Sandy at the Reluctant Entertainer).
I’m a fan of sweet and salty desserts and pistachios play the salty role delightfully, like in these white chocolate pistachio cookies.
It’s pretty hard to beat pistachio baklava too.
Pistachios have an incredibly rich flavor profile too, which make this pistachio ice cream so dreamy and creamy and better than anything I can get in-store
Next up is this delicious pistachio cheesecake. It has white chocolate in the batter and it complements the pistachios so well. It has a pistachio crust too!
Let’s get to it.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Real pistachios. Unlike other pistachio cheesecake recipes that use pistachio pudding to add flavor, this recipe uses pistachio paste (or pistachio butter) for real, 100% pistachio taste.
- No water bath. Also, unlike other cheesecake recipes, you won’t need to bother with a water bath here. I’ll show you an easier way to bake cheesecakes that doesn’t involve foil or water seepage but still results to creamy, crack-free cheesecakes.
- Holiday-ready. Best of all, this cheesecake is so rich and decadent, it definitely deserves a place in your holiday table or any celebration!
How to make
You’ve probably heard or experienced for yourself how cheesecakes can be fussy to make sometimes. Don’t worry, this recipe for pistachio cheesecake is easier and more straightforward than most.
Ingredients and baking tools
To make pistachio cheesecake, you’ll need the usual cheesecake ingredients. Some things to remember:
- Graham cracker crumbs — I always use pre-crushed graham cracker crumbs when baking so they’re very fine. If not available, you can use the crackers and just crush them yourself.
- Pistachio nuts — You’ll need roasted, salted pistachio nuts in this recipe. I suggest to buy shelled pistachios; it’ll save you lots of time!
- Cream cheese — You’ll also need to use cream cheese available in blocks and not in tubs (or the ones that are spreadable). I suggest using full-fat cream cheese as well for the smoothest and creamiest texture. I’m partial to Philadelphia.
- Pistachio paste — Pistachio paste or pistachio butter is simply finely ground pistachios. You place shelled pistachios in a food processor and grind until they release their oil and produce a smooth, creamy paste. It’s easy enough to make at home but I find the process a little tedious, so I just buy a jar from the store.
- Sour cream — I always use sour cream in this recipe. If you’re looking for a substitute, this is a great reference.
- White chocolate — I use baking white chocolate here but you can use any white chocolate you enjoy eating on its own.
As far as baking tools, you will need a 9-inch springform pan and a roasting pan (or a 9×13 inch baking pan).
I also like using an electric mixer (stand mixer or hand held) to achieve the smoothest batter.
Preheat oven to 325F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and set aside.
To make the graham cracker crust, combine all crust ingredients and stir until evenly moist.
Transfer to your prepared pan and use the back of a spoon or measuring cup to pack it tightly to the bottom. Set aside.
Using a handheld electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese on medium/high speed until fluffy (about 2-3 mins).
Add sugar and continue beating for another 2 minutes.
Add pistachio paste and sour cream. Beat until smooth and incorporated.
Add vanilla extract and almond extract and stir to combine.
At this point, taste your batter and decide if you’re happy with the pistachio flavor. Add one tablespoon of pistachio paste at a time, if necessary.
Once you’re okay with the flavor, add eggs one a time, beating each one just until combined. Remember to scrape the bottom and sides of your bowl to make sure you’re getting to every last inch of batter.
Add chopped white chocolate and stir until evenly blended.
Transfer batter into your prepared pan and tap gently on your counter to release air bubbles.
Place the pan on your oven’s middle rack. Place a roasting pan filled with hot water on the bottom rack.
Bake for 30 minutes at 325F then lower the oven temperature to 300F and bake for another 15 or until set.
Turn the oven off, open the oven door slightly but keep the cheesecake inside for another hour so it can gradually cool.
Take the cheesecake out of the oven, run a thin, sharp knife around the edges to separate the cake from the pan.
Don’t take the cake out of the pan though. You can place it straight into the fridge to chill 6-8 hours, preferably overnight.
To serve the cheesecake, top with whipped cream and more chopped pistachios.
Secrets to baking the best cheesecake
Easy, right? Here are more tips for perfect cheesecakes every time.
How to bake a cheesecake without cracking
While cheesecakes are admittedly more finicky to bake than a regular cake, here are little things you can do for a perfectly smooth, creamy, crack-free cheesecake every time:
- Start with room temperature ingredients. This ensures a smooth cheesecake batter that’s easy to incorporate.
- Don’t over-mix. You want the ingredients incorporated but be careful not to over do it. Over mixing leads to unnecessary air bubbles in the batter which would then rise to the surface while baking, leading to cracks.
- Strain. If your cheesecake batter is more lumpy than smooth even after the ingredients have been incorporated, instead of continuing to mix you can strain the batter through a fine mesh sieve to remove the lumps and end up with just the smooth, creamy parts.
- Tap. Before putting your cheesecake in the oven, gently tap your pan on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles hiding in the batter.
- Patience is key. Don’t be tempted to open the oven door to check on your cheesecake. It will mess with the temperature which we want to remain constant. Just peek through the oven door glass.
- Cool gradually. You want your cheesecake to cool gradually too. Once it’s done baking, turn the oven off but keep the cheesecake in the oven for about an hour with the oven door slightly open.
- Chill properly. And remember to chill the cheesecake completely too. Wait until it’s completely set before cutting into it.
If all else fails, don’t worry. Your cheesecake will still taste incredible and especially for this recipe, you can easily cover the top with whipped cream and pistachio nuts.
Nobody will ever know.
How to bake a cheesecake without a bain-marie (water bath)
Traditionally, cheesecakes are baked in a water bath — you wrap your springform pan with aluminum foil and place it on a roasting pan halfway filled with water.
The idea is to create a gentle and even heat around the cheesecake.
My problem with this method has always been seeping — water would always get into my cheesecake no matter how well I wrapped it.
Happily, several years ago I discovered a new way to bake cheesecakes without all this mess and fuss.
I simply place a roasting pan with hot or boiling water on the lower rack of the oven with my cheesecake baking on the middle rack.
No cracks, no seeping, just perfect creamy cheesecakes every time!
Of course, you can continue baking cheesecakes using a water bath if you like but I hope you try this new method too. It’s been a game changer for me.
How to tell if the cheesecake is done baking
Usually, you can tell if a cake is done if a toothpick or tester inserted in the center comes out clean. We can’t do that with cheesecakes.
To tell if a cheesecake is done baking, here are signs to look for:
- The edges of the cheesecake should be slightly puffy and the center should be almost set but still slightly wobbly (not soupy though).
- To be sure, gently shake the pan, the centre should jiggle ever so slightly (think: Jello). This center part will set as the cheesecake cools.
Not quite there yet? Continue baking but watch your cheesecake closely because a lot can happen in a minute.
Yes, you can! Instead of using a springform pan, you can use a mini cheesecake pan with a removable bottom or a cupcake pan lined with cupcake liners.
The important thing to remember is mini cheesecakes bake faster, so check at the halfway point to see how much longer you need to go.
Yes, you can! Instead of using a springform pan, you can use a square or rectangular pan.
Make sure to line it with parchment paper with a slight overhang on each side so you can easily lift the cake to slice into bars or squares later.
Leftover pistachio cheesecake must be stored in a covered container in the fridge. They should keep for up to a week.
Other delicious cheesecake recipes
If you love baking and eating cheesecakes as much as I do, you’ll enjoy these:
The Best Pistachio Cheesecake
Pistachio Graham Cracker Crust
- 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs see note
- ½ cup roasted salted pistachios shelled and chopped
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter melted and slightly cooled
- pinch salt
- Preheat oven to 325F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- To make the graham cracker crust, combine all crust ingredients and stir until evenly moist.
- Transfer to your prepared pan and use the back of a spoon or measuring cup to pack it tightly to the bottom. Set aside.
- Using a handheld electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese on medium/high speed until fluffy (about 2-3 mins).
- Add sugar and continue beating for another 2 minutes.
- Add pistachio paste and sour cream. Beat until smooth and incorporated.
- Add vanilla extract and almond extract and stir to combine.
- Taste your batter and decide if you're happy with the pistachio flavor. Add one tablespoon of pistachio paste at a time, if necessary (see note).
- Once you’re okay with the flavor, add eggs one a time, beating each one just until combined. Remember to scrape the bottom and sides of your bowl to make sure you're getting to every last inch of batter.
- Add chopped white chocolate and stir until evenly blended.
- Transfer batter into your prepared pan and tap gently on your counter to release air bubbles.
- Place the pan on your oven's middle rack. Place a roasting pan filled with hot water on the bottom rack.
- Bake for 30 minutes at 325F then lower the oven temperature to 300F and bake for another 15 or until set.
- Turn the oven off, open the oven door slightly but keep the cheesecake inside for another hour so it can gradually cool.
- Take the cheesecake out of the oven, run a thin, sharp knife around the edges to separate the cake from the pan.
- Without taking the cake out of the pan, place it in the fridge to chill 6-8 hours, preferably overnight.
- Serving size depends on how big or small you slice your cheesecake. Note that this cake is very rich, a little goes a long way. Estimated nutrition information is based on 12 servings.
- I use pre-crushed graham cracker crumbs so they’re very fine.
- Adjust how much pistachio paste to add, to taste. I usually put a little less than double the amount listed in the recipe.
Nutritional information are estimates only.