Strawberry Cheesecake

This Strawberry Cheesecake recipe is a stunning showstopper for every occasion! It’s silky creamy crowned with the best strawberry topping that’s even better than it looks.

This glorious Strawberry Cheesecake is the cheesecake of your spring and summer dreams!  It’s light and fresh yet and rich and creamy at the same time. The juicy, sweet strawberries are coated in a light, luscious strawberry glaze that mingle with the rich fluffy filling for the perfect bite. This Strawberry Cheesecake recipe can be made 100% ahead of time, including the whipped cream (thanks to my stabilized whipped cream technique) for a stress-free dessert!  I’ve included detailed instructions on how to make Strawberry Cheesecake so even if you’ve never made cheesecake before, it will be a runaway success!

I’m always excited for spring and summer because it’s synonymous with strawberry season!  Some of our favorite strawberry desserts include strawberry pie, strawberry shortcakestrawberry shortcake cake, strawberry syrup, strawberry cream cheese pie and of course this strawberry cheesecake!

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How to make strawberry cheesecake video

 
front view of a slice of strawberry cheesecake showing the glazed strawberry topping

STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE RECIPE

Strawberry Cheesecake has to be the most quintessential cheesecake second only to New York Cheesecake but it’s even more delicious in my opinion!  This recipe elevates plain cheesecake (that’s already stand alone fabulous) and dresses it up with the most sensational strawberry topping that you ever tasted.

This recipe is ideal for every spring and summer gathering because it’s make-ahead friendly and will have everyone swooning.  Serve it up at holidays like Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and 4th of July, events like baby showers, bridal showers and birthday parties, and every pool party, potluck and barbecue in between.  Add a big dollop of fresh cream and heaven awaits!

Here’s what sets this recipe apart from the rest:

  • It doesn’t shy away from the strawberries – pile them high!  This recipe uses 2 pounds of strawberries compared to 1 pound found in most recipes (which just leaves you yearning for more strawberries!). 
  • It boasts extra strawberry flavor thanks to a hint of strawberry Jell-O.   The combination of the fresh flavor of pureed strawberries plus strawberry Jell-O cannot be beat!  The glaze isn’t overly sweet or heavy, or stiff, just smooth, tangy, bright, summery perfection.
  • The strawberry topping isn’t runny.  It’s thick enough to coat the strawberries but thin enough to glide down the cheesecake in mesmerizing statement fashion.
  • It’s 100% leakproof thanks to my hack!  Many people shy away from making cheesecake because the water bath often leaks. The answer?  Wrap it up in a roasting bag or slow cooker liner for a fool proof win every time.
  • It’s 100% make ahead friendly thanks to the stabilized whipped cream. This means you can make the cheesecake 24 hours up to 7 days ahead of time thanks to the stabilized whipped cream.  It will hold its shape and won’t deflate or weep ever. 
  • It’s straightforward to make.  Did you know that cheesecake is actually easy to make?  It is not a quick dessert, but it doesn’t require any special skills. In fact, the actual cheesecake filling can be beaten together in less than 10 minutes!  Most of the “work” is hands-off waiting while the cheesecake bakes and cools.  In this post, I’ll walk you through each step with process photos and a video tutorial and strive to answer all your questions so you can make cheesecake like a pro! 
strawberry cheesecake with strawberry topping on to of the cheesecake

cheesecake graham cracker base

Every cheesecake needs a buttery base that compliments but doesn’t distract from the decadent filling.  I’ve stuck with honey Graham crackers to keep the crust delish but neutral so the Strawberry Cheesecake can really shine.  To make, it’s as simple as processing the crackers into crumbs then combining with sugar and butter.  You will need: 

  • Graham crackers:  14 whole graham cracker sheets or a scant 2 cups crumbs of your favorite cookies/crackers.
  • Butter:  Salted or unsalted butter will work in the crust.  
  • Sugar: Granulated sugar please.

CHEESECAKE FILLING

The cheesecake filling is incredibly smooth, rich and creamy. The addition of sour cream and one extra egg yolk make the filling extra creamy and the addition of lemon zest adds the perfect pop of sunshine to cut through the richness.  And the best part – making the filling is the easiest part of the entire recipe!   Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Cream cheese: I used full fat cream cheese but it will also work with less fat, but remember less fat = less flavor and creaminess. Please do NOT use nonfat cream cheese.
  • Sour cream:  Please use full fat sour cream at room temperature. It will make your cheesecake luxuriously creamy and never dry.
  • Sugar:  Granulated sugar will sweeten the cheesecake filling while letting the lemon flavor shine.
  • Eggs:  Use four large eggs and one large egg yolk (so you will need a total of five eggs).  The eggs bind the cheesecake together and the extra yolk makes it extra creamy.  Take care your eggs are at room temperature.
  • Lemon zest:  The zest of one lemon adds a pop of citrus to cut through the richness. Lemon zest is the bright yellow outer layer of the lemon peel. Use a micro-plane or a box grater for grating. Make sure you stop grating at the yellow part as the white under part (pith) is extremely bitter.
  • Vanilla extract:  Use quality extract for best results.
front view of strawberry cheesecake with slices missing showing the strawberry topping and rich cheesecake

STRAWBERRY TOPPING FOR CHEESECAKE

Most cheesecake recipes don’t use enough strawberries which always leave you wanting more! Instead, this Strawberry Cheesecake is brimming with fresh strawberries coated in an irresistible sweet, fresh strawberry glaze.  This strawberry topping utilizes both fresh strawberries and a hint of strawberry Jell-O to really pump up the fresh strawberry flavor while still keeping the flavor fresh and natural. It also rewards you with a glaze that isn’t runny or stiff, but just thick enough to coat the strawberries.  You will need:

  • Fresh strawberries: 2 pounds of fresh, ripe strawberries.  It may seem like a lot, but the ratio is perfect for the rich and creamy filling.
  • Sugar: Use granulated sugar to make the syrup-like coating.
  • Jell-O: Strawberry Jell-O adds sweet strawberry flavor but will not make the texture thick and Jell-O like.  Please don’t omit this ingredient or the water/sugar/cornstarch ratios will be off.
  • Cornstarch:  Thickens the strawberry glaze.
  • Lemon juice:  Brightens the glaze and enhances the strawberry flavor.  Fresh or bottled is fine.

WHIPPED CREAM (OPTIONAL)

You don’t have to add whipped cream to the Strawberry Cheesecake, but I love the ethereal lightness it brings.  You can use stabilized whipped cream (so it can be added ahead of time) or just plain whipped cream with the same ingredients but omit the unflavored gelatin and water. 

So, what is this magical stabilized whipped cream?  If you make traditional whipped cream and pipe it onto the cheesecake, it will deflate, or even worse, it will be weeping within the hour.  Stabilized whipped cream, however, will hold its shape long after the last bite of cheesecake is gone (it holds indefinitely).

Stabilized whipped cream is made by dissolving unflavored gelatin in water then whipping it into the heavy cream to give it structure but it doesn’t alter the flavor. To use this stabilized whipped cream, pipe it onto the cooled cheesecake any time and either serve or pop it back in the refrigerator, avoiding any last minute stress.

up close of strawberry cheesecake with a piece missing showing how creamy it is

Ingredients for Whipped Cream

  • Heavy cream: Look for “heavy whipping cream” at the grocery store.  You must use heavy cream – no other substitutions will work.  Take care that your heavy cream is very cold, remove it from the refrigerator just when ready to use.
  • Powdered sugar:  Also known as confectioner’s sugar, interacts better with the gelatin than granulated sugar. You also want to use powdered sugar in homemade whipped cream when you’re using more than a couple tablespoons.
  • Vanilla extract:  Use quality extract for the best results.
  • Unflavored gelatin (optional):  This is a common baking ingredient and can be found next to the packages of Jell-O and pudding at your grocery store. It is what makes this “stabilized” whipped cream and not just whipped cream.

POSSIBLE RECIPE VARIATIONS

I don’t recommend straying from the cheesecake recipe as baking is science and can go wrong very quickly, but you can make adjustments to the crust or strawberry topping. Here are a few ideas:

  • Swap crust:  You may substitute the Graham cracker crust with your favorite cookie such as shortbread, vanilla wafers or vanilla Oreos.  If using shortbread cookies or vanilla wafer cookies, combine them with the sugar and butter per recipe instructions.  If using vanilla Oreos, combine them with sugar but reduce the butter to 4 tablespoons because the Oreo filling creates the same binding effect. 
  • Make it gluten free: Use your favorite gluten free cookie such as gluten-free Graham crackers.
  • Add blueberries or raspberries:  Swap some of the strawberries for an equal amount of blueberries or raspberries.
  • Berry swirl:  Pour half of the cheesecake filling onto the crust.  Drizzle strawberry jam over the top, then top with remaining cheesecake filling followed by another drizzle or raspberry sauce.  Use a toothpick or knife to gently swirl everything together.
  • Lemon curd whipped cream:  Use the lemon curd whipped cream found in my strawberry shortcakes in place of the whipped cream for a tangier version.
  • Mint:  Garnish the cheesecake with fresh mint.

WHAT PANS DO I NEED FOR CHEESECAKE?

  • Springform pan:  You will need one 9-inch springform pan or you can use a 10-inch springform pan but be prepared to reduce the baking time.  A springform pan is tall enough to hold the cheesecake and most importantly, it springs open and the outside of the pan is removed.  This allows you to easily remove the cheesecake and slice it.
  • Roasting pan:  You will place the springform pan inside the roasting pan, then pour water around the cheesecake to create a water bath. This prevents the cheesecake from cracking (more on the science below).  
    • What if I don’t have a large roasting pan? You can purchase a large, disposable foil pan from the grocery store for just a dollar or so if you don’t have a roasting pan.  I suggest double stacking two pans because they are quite flimsy and can buckle under the pressure of the water.  Take care to use oven mitts and two hands when removing the pans from the oven so you don’t lose your cheesecake!  
up close of a slice of strawberry cheesecake with a bite taken out showing how creamy it is

WHAT IS A WATER BATH AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT WHEN BAKING A CHEESECAKE?

A water bath may sound exotic but it simply means baking the cheesecake in springform pan set in a larger roasting pan surrounded by hot water. Cheesecakes require a water bath so the cheesecake doesn’t crack.  Here’s how it works:

  1. The water bath helps the cheesecake bake evenly.  The hot water insulates the outer edges of the cheesecake so the edges don’t bake more quickly than the middle.  This ensures even baking throughout and lessens the likelihood of the cheesecake cracking, sinking, puffing up, darkening or curdling.
  2. A water bath creates a moist environment.  This is important because cheesecakes are egg-heavy. Eggs need steam caused by the humid environment to properly rise and avoid drying out or burning, which again causes cracking.

HOW TO WATER PROOF CHEESECAKE SO IT DOESN’T LEAK!

The springform pan needs to be waterproofed so water from the water bath doesn’t seep through the bottom of the springform pan and soak into the cheesecake. Just surrounding the pan with foil, however, is not foolproof.  If you use my two-step waterproofing technique, however, I guarantee you won’t have any leaks!

  • WATERPROOFING STEP 1: Place 2 large 18″ x 18″ pieces of aluminum foil on a flat surface underneath the pan in the form of a “+.” Gently fold (to make sure you don’t create any holes) up the sides of the foil around the pan. If you use a slow cooker liner (below), you can use regular foil instead of 18-inch.
showing how to waterproof strawberry cheesecake by wrapping springform pan in foil
  • WATERPROOFING STEP 2 (optional but HIGHLY recommended): Place the foil lined springform pan in the center bottom of a slow cooker liner or large oven roasting bag. Bring the liner up to the top of the pan then gather excess to one side and tie it in a knot.

If you combine these two steps, your Strawberry Cheesecake will be 100% leak proof – winning!  If you don’t add the liner in step 2, then I suggest 2 more layers of foil around your springform pan.

showing how to waterproof strawberry cheesecake by wrapping springform pan in a slow cooker liner or oven roasting bag

HOW TO MAKE STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE

Now onto the main event – how to make this Strawberry Cheesecake recipe!  There are a quite few steps, but each one is simple and you can make them at different stages/parts of the day(s) if you wish:

STEP 1:  HOW TO MAKE THE CRUST

  • Grind Graham crackers:  First, you’ll want to make crumbs by either pulsing the Graham crackers in your food processor or crushing in a sealable bag with a rolling pin/side of a can.  You want very finely ground crumbs because they stick together better.
  • Combine crumbs, sugar and butter:  If you use your food processor, simply add the sugar and butter directly to the processor and process until the crumbs are moistened.  If you don’t have a food processor, add the crumbs, butter and sugar to a bowl and stir until the crumbs are evenly moistened.
  • Make the crust:  Transfer the moistened crumbs to your lightly greased springform pan and press firmly into the bottom of the pan in an even layer using a small bowl or bottom of a measuring cup. This helps the crust stay intact and not crumble when sliced.  But don’t compact the crumbs too much or the crust will crack when you slice the cheesecake. 
  • Bake the crust:  Bake the crust at 325 degrees F for 10 minutes then allow it to cool while you make the cheesecake filling.  Baking the crust before adding the cheesecake allows it to seal together and cooling the crust before adding the cheesecake prevents it from becoming soggy.
a collage showing how to make strawberry cheesecake recipe by adding Graham crackers to a food processor, grinding into fine crumbs then adding butter and sugar
showing how to make strawberry cheesecake recipe by pressing crumbs into a springform pan and baking until golden

STEP 2:  HOW TO MAKE THE CHEESECAKE FILLING

  • Beat cream cheese and sugar:  Making the cheesecake filling is so easy, the mixer literally does all the work!  Beat the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 4 minutes then add the sugar and beat an additional 5 minutes. You don’t want to shortcut the process for the creamiest filling. If you don’t have a stand mixer, than an electric hand mixer will also work.
  • Add sour cream and lemon zest:  Add the sour cream, lemon zest, vanilla, and beat until blended.
  • Add eggs:  Add the eggs one at a time followed by the egg yolk, beating as little as possible because overbeating eggs can cause cracks and the cheesecake to deflate.
  • Assemble the cheesecake:  Pour the cheesecake filling onto the cooled crust. Drop the pan on counter a few times to get rid of any air bubbles.
a collage showing how to make strawberry cheesecake recipe by 1) beating cream cheese until creamy, 2) adding sugar and beating until smooth, 3) adding lemon zest and sour cream, 4) adding eggs, 5) beating until creamy, 6) adding cheesecake to springform pan

STEP 3:  HOW TO MAKE THE WATER BATH

  • Add cheesecake to roasting pan:  Place the waterproofed cheesecake in a roasting pan then place the roasting pan in the oven.  I like to place the roasting pan in the oven before adding the water bath or else the pan can become heavy and the water can slosh around and threaten to get in your cheesecake while you transfer it.
  • Make water bath: To add the water, use a glass liquid measuring cup or pitcher (something with a spout) to carefully pour in enough boiling water around the cheesecake until it reaches halfway up the side of the springform pan. Make sure to add the water slowly to the corner of the pan so none of it gets on your cheesecake. 
showing how to bake a cheesecake in a water bath by placing foil lined springform pan in a roasting pan with hot water

STEP 4:  HOW TO BAKE THE CHEESECAKE

  • Bake the cheesecake:  Bake the cheesecake at 325 degrees F for 70-85 minutes or until edges are firm and the center 2-3 inches of the cheesecake is still wobbly.

HOW TO KNOW WHEN A CHEESECAKE IS DONE

Cheesecake is the creamiest when not overbaked.  You don’t want to bake the cheesecake until completely firm in the middle or it will be overcooked by the time it cools, resulting in dry, heavy, far less creamy cheesecake.  Instead, bake the cheesecake until the outside is firm and the center of the cheesecake barely jiggles. 

What does this look like? Gently shake the cheesecake wearing oven mitts so you don’t burn yourself.  If the outside of the cheesecake is firm and only a small 2-3-inch circle in the center jiggles slightly, it’s done.  If the jiggling circle is larger than a few inches, then bake on.

The baking time can vary due to the differences in ovens, baking pans, beating times, etc., so make sure to check the cheesecake at 70 minutes then add additional time as needed. 

STEP 5:  HOW TO COOL THE CHEESECAKE

  • Cool cheesecake in the oven:  Turn off your oven and crack open the oven door. Allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven for 60 minutes.
  • Cool cheesecake on the counter:  Remove the cheesecake from the oven and the water bath and place it on a cooling rack on the counter.
  • Loosen cheesecake:  Run a knife under hot water, wipe it dry, then run it along the edges of the cheesecake to loosen it from the pan.  This helps prevent cracking so the cheesecake doesn’t stick to the sides of the pan as it slightly constricts.  Unclamp the springform pan.
  • Cool cheesecake completely:  Continue to cool the cheesecake for 2-3 hours on the counter or until the cheesecake is completely cooled.
  • Refrigerate overnight:  Cover the cheesecake with foil or transfer to a cake caddy with a lid and chill in the refrigerator overnight, but best if 24 hours.
showing how to make strawberry cheesecake by cooling lemon cheesecake on a wire rack

STEP 6:  how to make strawberry topping for cheesecake

  • Blend strawberries:  Add 1 cup of the least unattractive strawberries to a blender along with a bit of water then puree until smooth.
  • Thicken puree:  Add the puree to a small saucepan along with cornstarch, sugar and a pinch of salt; whisk to dissolve the cornstarch. Cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until reduced and thickened to a thick syrupy consistency.
  • Add Jell-O:  Transfer the glaze to a large bowl and stir in strawberry gelatin and lemon juice followed by sliced strawberries.
  • Chill:  Store in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or until ready to top the cheesecake.  Once cool, adjust thickness to make it the right consistency if needed by stirring in a tiny touch of water if you would like it thinner.   
a collage showing how to make strawberry topping for cheesecake by 1) pureeing strawberries in a blender, adding puree to saucepan with sugar and cornstarch, simmering until thickened, adding to a bowl with strawberry Jell-0
showing how to make strawberry topping for cheesecake by stirring strawberries into glaze

STEP 7:  HOW TO MAKE WHIPPED CREAM

You can make stabilized whipped cream or traditional whipped cream.  I am a huge fan of stabilized whipped cream because it means I can make the dessert 100% ahead of time and leftovers stay picture perfect. Making stabilized whipped cream is the same process of traditional whipped cream, just with the easy added steps of dissolving the gelatin in water and microwaving it.

  • Optional step for stabilized whipped cream:  Add unflavored gelatin to a microwave safe bowl then pour the cold water over top; let stand for 5 minutes. Transfer the gelatin mixture to the microwave and microwave for 20 seconds. Stir the mixture, then set aside to cool.
  • Whip cream to soft peaks:  While you’re waiting for the gelatin to cool, you’ll mix heavy cream, sugar and vanilla in a bowl until it thickens and forms soft peaks (the whipped cream folds over when you lift the beaters out of the bowl).  
  • Add gelatin:  Once you’ve reached the soft peak stage, you’ll slowly pour the gelatin mixture in as you’re mixing the whipped cream and continue to mix until the whipped cream forms stiff peaks (the whipped cream stands straight up and doesn’t fold over when you lift the beaters out of the bowl).
  • Add topping:  You can pipe the stabilized whipped cream onto the room temperature Strawberry Cheesecake before you pop it into the fridge or any time after that.  The beauty of stabilized whipped cream is it will hold its shape indefinitely.  If using regular whipped cream, top the cheesecake just before serving.
showing how to make strawberry cheesecake by whipping cream to stiff peaks

STEP 8:   ASSEMBLE

  • Add strawberries: Pile the strawberries high over the cheesecake, leaving a border for the whipped cream if using (below), or add the whipped cream first and then pile in the strawberries. 
  • Add whipped cream: Pipe the whipped cream around the outer edges of the cheesecake and garnish with mint if desired.

STEP 9:   HOW TO SLICE CHEESECAKE

  • Use a hot knife: Using a hot knife is crucial for clean cuts as the hot knife glides right through the cheesecake. Fill a large glass with hot water, then dip the knife in the hot water before each cut. Wipe knife clean with a paper towel after each cut, then repeat.
  • DEVOUR!
top view of strawberry cheesecake recipe with strawberry topping

HOW TO PREVENT YOUR CHEESECAKE FROM CRACKING

If you follow this recipe, your cheesecake will not crack.  Here are the rules to follow for success: 

  • Use a water bath:  As previously mentioned, the hot water insulates the outer edges of the cheesecake, so the edges don’t bake faster than the middle.
  • Room temperature ingredients:  Room temperature eggs, sour cream and softened cream cheese allow them to mix more easily which means you’re less likely to overbeat the eggs which causes cracking (more on that below). 
  • To quickly bring eggs to room temperature: Fill a bowl with warm water (not hot) and add eggs and let sit 10-20 minutes.
  • Don’t overbeat eggs:  Eggs trap air, which can rise up and cause cracks and/or the cheesecake to deflate, so mix the eggs/cheesecake filling as little as possible once they’re added.
  • Grease the pan:  Spraying the entire spring form pan with cooking spray ensures the cheesecake doesn’t stick to the sides of the pan which can cause cracks as it constricts while baking.   
  • Don’t peak!  It is paramount that you don’t open the oven while your cheesecake is cooking before 70 minutes to prevent cracking.  Opening the door causes drafts which dramatically lowers the temperature – the culprit of large cracks and a sinking center.
  • Don’t overbake:  Overbaking the cheesecake causes the filling to shrink and crack.  You want the edges to be firm but the center to wobble slightly when shaken. If there is no wiggle, the cheesecake is overbaked and likely to crack.
  • Cool gradually:  Sudden changes in temperature can cause cracks so allow the cheesecake to cool down gradually first in in the oven and then on the counter before placing it in the refrigerator.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOUR CHEESECAKE CRACKS?

If you follow the above tips for success, you shouldn’t have any cracks!  If you happen to have a crack in your cheesecake, cover the entire surface with strawberries and no one will know!

strawberry cheesecake with slices missing showing how creamy it is

Tips for the strawberry topping for cheesecake

  • Choose in-season strawberries: Make Strawberry Cheesecake when strawberries are in season!  Strawberries are in season from spring to early summer, making this cheesecake perfect for Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day, and end of school celebrations.
  • How to pick strawberries:  Choose strawberries that are dark red, firm, fragrant and fully ripe – but not soft!  Ripe strawberries will deliver the sweetest, deepest flavor.
  • Don’t soak strawberries: You can lightly rinse and immediately dry strawberries but never soak strawberries in water or they’ll become water logged and lose flavor and nutrients.
  • Fully dissolve the cornstarch:  Take care to fully dissolve the cornstarch in the strawberry puree before you bring the mixture to a simmer, otherwise, it will clump and not activate properly. 
  • Adjust glaze consistency:  The easiest way to adjust the consistency is after the strawberry topping has chilled completely.  At this point, if you would like a runnier, thinner glaze, stir in water just a ½ tablespoon or so at a time. 
  • If there is too much glaze:  Use a slotted spoon if you don’t want as much glaze – but I guarantee it’s heavenly with the cheesecake!

TIPS FOR MAKING the CHEESECAKE

Here are a few more helpful techniques that ensure the perfect cheesecake every time:  

  • Start the cheesecake early! The biggest tip when making cheesecake is to start it early in the day because it requires 4 hours of hand’s off time between the baking and cooling before you can transfer it to the refrigerator.  The waiting will be the hardest part!
  • Line the pan.  Lining the base of the springform pan with parchment paper allows you to easily slide the cheesecake onto a platter, otherwise it’s very hard to transfer.
  • Use soft cream cheese.  The cream cheese should be soft enough that you can stick your finger in it. If it is not soft enough, then it will yield lumpy cheesecake.
  • Beat cream cheese until fluffy.  The most important part of making creamy, smooth cheesecake is to beat the cream cheese and the sugar until light and fluffy with your paddle attachment – about 4-5 minutes each. This can seem like a long time, so set your timer and don’t stop early! 
  • Don’t rush the chilling process.  Chilling the cheesecake allows the flavors to build and marry. You may serve Strawberry Cheesecake as little as 6 hours after chilling, but I suggest allowing it to chill for a full 24 hours for the best flavor – you will be amazed at the difference it makes!
  • Use the stabilized whipped cream.  If you want to prep the cheesecake recipe 100% in advance, stabilized whipped cream is the way to go. You can pipe it on days ahead of time then just pull out your stunning Strawberry Cheesecake when ready to serve.
  • Don’t overwhip whipped cream. Stop mixing as soon as stiff peaks form because over-whipped cream becomes grainy.  If you’ve accidently reached the grainy stage, you can try and salvage the whipped creamy by adding a few tablespoons of fresh cream and gently mixing it in by hand using a wire whisk. If the whipped cream is separated, then unfortunately it can’t be fixed.
front view of easy strawberry cheesecake

HOW TO MAKE AHEAD

You can completely assemble, bake and chill the Strawberry Cheesecake ahead of time or prep different elements of the recipe ahead of time, here’s how:

  • Crust: Bake, cool then cover with foil 24 hours ahead of filling. No need to refrigerate.
  • Cheesecake:  Beat the cheesecake ingredients together, cover and chill for up to 48 hours. When ready to bake, let the filling come to room temperature, then give it a whisk before layering onto the cooled crust just before baking.
  • Strawberry topping:  Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours.  
  • Stabilized whipped cream: Can be whipped and added to a piping bag 1-2 days before using and stored in the refrigerator.
  • Cheesecake: Can be made 48 hours ahead of time and tightly covered in the refrigerator. Add the strawberry topping when ready to serve or a few hours before servings.
a slice of strawberry cheesecake recipe being served

HOW TO STORE

The cheesecake without the strawberries will store up to 7 days but is at its prime 24-48 hours after making. Once the strawberries are added, it is best served the same day. 

I like to use a cake container to cover the cheesecake so I can pipe on the whipped cream and cover it without smooshing the topping. If you don’t have a cake container, you can use a large inverted bowl or tent with foil. 

HOW TO FREEZE

I do not recommend freezing the strawberry topping because the strawberries will become mushy, but you may freeze the cheesecake itself:

  • Cool cheesecake completely and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
  • Freeze uncovered on a baking sheet until firm.
  • Wrap cheesecake in plastic wrap followed by heavy duty aluminum foil and finally in a large heavy duty freezer bag.
  • Freeze for up to 2 months.
  • To thaw, remove cheesecake from the freezer to the refrigerator.  Let thaw overnight.

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up close of a piece cheesecake with a bite taken out showing how creamy it is

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front view of a slice of strawberry cheesecake showing the glazed strawberry topping

Strawberry Cheesecake

This glorious Strawberry Cheesecake is the cheesecake of your spring and summer dreams!  It’s light and fresh yet and rich and creamy at the same time. The juicy, sweet strawberries are coated in a light, luscious strawberry glaze that mingle with the rich fluffy filling for the perfect bite. This Strawberry Cheesecake recipe can be made 100% ahead of time, including the whipped cream (thanks to my stabilized whipped cream technique) for a stress-free dessert!  I’ve included detailed instructions on how to make Strawberry Cheesecake so even if you’ve never made cheesecake before, it will be a runaway success!
Servings: 10 12 servings
Prep Time: 1 hr
Cook Time: 1 hr 15 mins

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Ingredients

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT

CRUST

  • 14 full sheets honey Graham crackers (2 scant cups crumbs)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted

CHEESECAKE FILLING

  • 4 8 oz. pkgs. cream cheese, very soft (full fat is best)
  • 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream at room temperature
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk at room temperature

STRAWBERRY TOPPING

  • 2 pounds strawberries, hulled, divided
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons strawberry gelatin (powdered Jell-O)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

WHIPPED CREAM (OPTIONAL)

  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (optional see notes)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons water (optional see notes)
  • 1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

PREP

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Begin boiling a large pot of water (about 4 quarts) for the water bath (you may not need all of it).
  • Line the bottom of a 9" springform pan with parchment paper and lightly grease the inside of your entire pan with nonstick cooking spray. (The parchment will allow you to transfer your cheesecake later.)

CRUST

  • Add Graham crackers to a food processor and pulse until finely ground (or crush in a bag with a rolling pin). Add butter and sugar and pulse (or stir) until evenly combined.
  • Add to the greased springform pan and firmly press the crumbs down on the bottom of the pan using the bottom of a small bowl or measuring cup until you have a compact, even layer.
  • Bake crust at 325 degrees F for 10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. (You can prep filling while the crust bakes and cools.)

WATERPROOF PAN

  • Waterproofing step 1: Place 2 large 18" x 18" pieces of aluminum foil on a flat surface underneath the pan in the form of a “+.” Gently fold (to make sure you don't create any holes) up the sides of the foil around the pan. If you don't add the bag in the next step, then double wrap the foil.
  • Waterproofing step 2 (optional but HIGHLY recommended): Place foil lined springform pan in the bottom of a slow cooker liner or oven roasting bag. Bring the liner bag up to the top of the pan then gather excess to one side and tie it in a knot.

CHEESECAKE FILLING

  • Add cream cheese to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes (no less!). Add sugar and beat 5 additional minutes on medium speed.
  • Add the sour cream, lemon zest, vanilla and salt and beat until blended. Add the eggs one at a time followed by the egg yolk, beating as little as possible, just until combined after each addition (overbeating once you add the eggs can cause cracks and the cheesecake to deflate).
  • Pour mixture onto cooled crust. Drop the pan on counter a few times to get rid of excess air bubbles.

WATER BATH

  • Place cheesecake in a large roasting pan then place the roasting pan in the preheated oven. Using a glass liquid measuring cup or pitcher, carefully pour in enough boiling water (add it low in the corner of the pan) until it reaches halfway up the side of the springform pan.

BAKE

  • Bake the cheesecake at 325 degrees F for 70-85 minutes or until edges are firm and the center 2-3 of the cheesecake is still wobbly. (DON’T open door before 70 minutes, this can cause cracks.)

CHILL

  • Turn off the oven and crack the oven door open about 1-inch. Allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven for 60 minutes, then remove it to a wire rack.
  • Gently run a hot knife along the edges of the cheesecake and unclamp the cheesecake (to prevent cracking). (To quckly heat knife, you can dip it in the hot water bath water.) Continue to cool for 2-3 hours on the wire rack or until the cheesecake is completely cooled.

STRAWBERRY TOPPING

  • The cheesecake topping is best served fresh, the same day it is assembled, after allowing to chill for at least 1 hour.
  • Add 1 cup hulled strawberries (use the least attractive ones) and ¼ cup water to a blender and puree until smooth, scraping down sides as needed.
  • Add puree to a small saucepan along with sugar, cornstarch and salt; whisk to dissolve the cornstarch. Cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until reduced and thickened to a thick syrupy consistency.
  • Transfer to a large bowl and stir in strawberry gelatin and lemon juice. Slice strawberries in half and stir into the glaze.
  • Store in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or until ready to top the cheesecake. Once cool, you can adjust the consistency if you would like it thinner by stirring in water ½ tablespoon at a time.

Assemble

  • Pile the strawberries high over the cheesecake, leaving a border for the whipped cream if using (below), or add the whipped cream first and then pile in the strawberries.

WHIPPED TOPPING

  • Optional for stabilized whipped cream: Add unflavored gelatin to a microwave safe bowl then pour the cold water over top; let stand for 5 minutes. Microwave for 20 seconds. Stir the mixture, then set aside to cool while you beat the heavy cream.
  • Add heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract to a large mixing bowl. Whip using an electric hand mixer just until soft peaks form.
  • Turn the mixer to low and slowly pour in the gelatin mixture. Mix until well combined then increase the speed to medium and continue mixing until stiff peaks form.
  • Transfer whipped cream to a piping bag fitted with a large tip. You can pipe the stabilized whipped cream onto the room temperature cheesecake before you pop it into the fridge or any time after that. The beauty of stabilized whipped cream is it will hold its shape indefinitely. If using regular whipped cream, top just before serving.

Video

Notes

  • *Foil:  You can use regular foil instead of 18×18 if using a slow cooker liner as well. 
  • Stabilized whipped cream:  Allows you to make the cheesecake 100% ahead of time!  Stabilized whipped cream is heavy cream that has been whipped with sugar and gelatin in order to give it structure but it doesn’t alter the flavor – it’s magic!  It can be added to the cheesecake at any point after it’s cooled and it won’t deflate or weep and will hold its shape long after the last bite of cheesecake is gone.  
  • Unflavored gelatin:  Is  a common baking ingredient and can be found next to the packages of Jell-O and pudding at your grocery store. It is what makes this “stabilized” whipped cream and not just whipped cream.
  • Room temperature ingredients:  Room temperature eggs, sour cream, lemon juice and softened cream cheese allow them to mix more easily which means you’re less likely to overbeat the eggs which causes cracking (more on that below). 
  • Don’t overbeat eggs:  Eggs trap air, which can rise up and cause cracks and/or the cheesecake to deflate, so mix the eggs/cheesecake filling as little as possible once they’re added.
  • To quickly bring eggs to room temperature: Fill a bowl with warm water (not hot) and add eggs and let sit 10-20 minutes.
  • Don’t overbake:  Overbaking the cheesecake causes the filling to shrink and crack.  You want the edges to be firm but the center to wobble slightly when shaken. If there is no wiggle, the cheesecake is overbaked and likely to crack.

HOW TO MAKE AHEAD

You can completely assemble, bake and chill the Strawberry Cheesecake ahead of time or prep different elements of the recipe ahead of time, here’s how:
  • Crust: Bake, cool then cover with foil 24 hours ahead of filling. No need to refrigerate.
  • Cheesecake:  Beat the cheesecake ingredients together, cover and chill for up to 48 hours. When ready to bake, let the filling come to room temperature, then give it a whisk before layering onto the cooled crust just before baking.
  • Strawberry topping:  Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours.  
  • Stabilized whipped cream: Can be whipped and added to a piping bag 1-2 days before using and stored in the refrigerator.
  • Cheesecake: Can be made 48 hours ahead of time and tightly covered in the refrigerator. Add the strawberry topping when ready to serve or a few hours before servings.

HOW TO STORE

  • The cheesecake without the strawberries will store up to 7 days but is at its prime 24-48 hours after making. Once the strawberries are added, it is best served the same day. 
  • I like to use a cake container to cover the cheesecake so I can pipe on the whipped cream and cover it without smooshing the topping. If you don’t have a cake container, you can use a large inverted bowl or tent with foil. 

HOW TO FREEZE

I do not recommend freezing the strawberry topping because the strawberries will become mushy, but you may freeze the cheesecake itself:
  • Cool cheesecake completely and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
  • Freeze uncovered on a baking sheet until firm.
  • Wrap cheesecake in plastic wrap followed by heavy duty aluminum foil and finally in a large heavy duty freezer bag.
  • Freeze for up to 2 months.
  • To thaw, remove cheesecake from the freezer to the refrigerator.  Let thaw overnight.

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