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no bake cheesecake on a fork
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5 from 20 votes

The Best No Bake Cheesecake

Prep Time30 mins
Chill in fridge1 d
Course: Dessert
Keyword: cheesecake, no bake
Servings: 12 people
Calories: 300kcal
Author: Sally Humeniuk

Ingredients

Crust

  • 12 whole graham crackers, crushed with rolling pin or processed to crumbs in food processor (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling

  • cup sugar
  • 1 pound cream cheese (2 8-oz. containers), cut into 1-inch chunks and softened 45 minutes to an hour at room temperature
  • 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice from fresh lemon
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 cup heavy cream, divided
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin, about 2 1/2 teaspoons

Instructions

For the crust:

  • The crust may be frozen or pre-baked. (See notes for my preference) If baking your crust, preheat oven to 325F degrees and adjust oven rack to middle position. Stir graham cracker crumbs and sugar together in medium bowl, then add butter and stir well with fork until mixture resembles wet sand. Transfer crumbs to 9-inch springform pan and use your hand or a glass to firmly press the crumbs into an even layer on the bottom and slightly up the sides.
  • For frozen crust: Place pan in freezer for 30 minutes.
    For baked crust: Bake for 13 minutes or until edges just start to turn golden. Cool completely on wire rack, at least 30 minutes.

For the filling:

  • Reserve out ¼ cup of the cream and set aside. Using an electric mixer and medium bowl, beat the remaining ¾ cup of the heavy cream and sugar on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes.
  • In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or with the electric mixer using a separate medium bowl, beat the softened cream cheese at medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the whipped cream/sugar mixture and beat at medium-low until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl well with rubber spatula.
  • Add lemon juice, vanilla, and salt and continue to beat at medium-low speed for another minute, scraping the sides of bowl again. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until airy, about 1 minute. Add the lemon zest at this time and beat just to combine.
  • Pour the reserved ¼ cup of the heavy cream into a microwave-safe measuring cup. Add gelatin and whisk to combine. Let stand until gelatin is softened, about 3 minutes, then microwave on high power for 10 seconds. Let cool about 30 seconds (you don't want it to sit for too long or it will get lumpy). If a film has formed on the gelatin, stir briskly and remove any excess film. Add gelatin mixture to the filling. Beat on medium until smooth and fully incorporated, about 30 seconds.
  • Pour filling into crust and, using an offset or icing spatula, spread filling out evenly. Refrigerate for 24 hours.

Serving the cheesecake

  • To unlock the cheesecake and serve, wrap a hot, damp kitchen towel around the pan for 20 seconds. Unlock the pan and remove the sides. Slide a thin spatula under the crust and transfer the cheesecake to a serving platter.
  • You may serve the cheesecake plain, decorate with unsweetened (or sweet) whipped cream, sour cream, or serve with fruit or fruit curd. This lemon curd is a fabulous accompaniment.
  • For neat, clean slices, wipe the knife on a damp towel between each cut.

Notes

  1. The crust may be either frozen or baked for this cheesecake and I've test both methods: The frozen crust is perfectly fine but will soften quite a bit during refrigeration of the completed cheesecake. It was too almost-mushy for me. Baking the crust resulted in a perfect crust that will not absorb the cheesecake and over-soften it thanks to the sugar that's cooked and hardened into the baked graham crackers. So, if you have time, bake the crust.
  2. Since gelatin is not vegetarian, you may substitute it with agar-agar. If using this ingredient, microwaving is not necessary. Just add to the 1/4 cup cream, stir and let sit until needed. Optionally, you may omit the gelatin or agar-agar altogether. The cheesecake will taste great but will not stand up as firmly, which was a great preference among tasters when I made it both ways.
  3. If you want your cheesecake a little more tart, add 2 full tablespoons of lemon juice, rather than 1 1/2 tablespoons.
  4. PLEASE use good quality cream cheese and I highly recommend full-fat cream cheese, but reduced fat cream cheese will work just not taste as luxurious. Speaking of the cream cheese, soften it at room temperature rather than trying to do so in the microwave.
  5. Make sure the gelatin-whipping cream mixture is cooled before adding to the recipe or your cream cheese will separate and basically look like a cottage cheese cake.
  6. The cheesecake will be firm enough to serve after 6 hours but I promise you it will only taste "okay". Please make this recipe a full 24 hours before serving, you won't be sorry. It just gets better and better with time in the fridge. I absolutely love it after 2 days.
  7. When wrapped in plastic wrap or completely covered, the cheesecake stays fresh in the refrigerator for up to one week. Experts do not recommend freezing cheesecake that contains gelatin as the gelatin doesn't take well to freezing.

Nutrition

Calories: 300kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 136mg | Potassium: 67mg | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 975IU | Vitamin C: 0.3mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 0.2mg