This Lemon Cheesecake Recipe packs tons of lemon flavor thanks to lemon juice, lemon zest, and homemade lemon curd on top. A crunchy graham cracker crust and freshly whipped cream make it an all-around winning recipe.
There’s nothing like sinking your fork into a creamy slice of classic lemon cheesecake! And once you try my version, you’ll never use another recipe. Lemon zest and freshly squeezed lemon juice get mixed into the cheesecake batter, which adds incredible lemon flavor. And topping the whole cheesecake with lemon curd amplifies the overall lemon power… and makes the cheesecake a total showstopper!
But if you want to make it even more beautiful, you can add swirls of freshly whipped cream and lemon slices! This is 100% optional, but makes the cheesecake look like it’s from a fancy bakery. My only word of advice: top with whipped cream right before you plan or serving! Or use a stabilized whipped cream recipe that can hold its shape for a while.
Ingredients for Lemon Cheesecake
Be sure to see the recipe box at the end of this post for recipe quantities and step-by-step instructions! You can scroll down or use the “jump to recipe” button at the top of this page!
- Graham Cracker Crumbs: Can you use full sheets of graham crackers? Yes, but in my opinion, buying them pre-crushed is so much easier!
- Sugar: You’ll need granulated sugar for the graham cracker crumb crust and cheesecake filling. You’ll also need confectioners’ sugar if you plan on making homemade whipped cream.
- Salt: A tiny dash of salt helps enhance all of the flavors in this cheesecake while also balances the sweetness.
- Unsalted Butter: Melted butter acts as a binder for the graham cracker crust. Do not sub this ingredient for oil. If you only have salted butter, that will work fine in a pinch!
- Lemons: Make sure you have enough lemons. I suggest buying 4 or 5 large lemons to ensure you have enough for this recipe!
- Cream Cheese: Be sure to bring you cream to room temperature, otherwise it’ll clump up when you try to mix it.
- Vanilla Extract: Be sure to use pure vanilla or a bourbon vanilla, but never imitation or artificial vanilla. In a pinch, you can just skip this ingredient.
- Eggs: This recipe uses both whole eggs and egg yolks. Be sure to add the eggs one at a time for even incorporation into the batter. And always use eggs that have been brought to room temperature.
- Heavy Cream: Do not sub milk or half-and-half for this ingredient. In a pinch, your best substitute would be full-fat sour cream or plain greek yogurt.
- Lemon Curd: You can make homemade lemon curd using my easy recipe. Or, simply pick up a jar from the grocery store. If you don’t like lemon curd, you may also skip adding this. The cheesecake will still have plenty of lemon flavor.
- Whipped Cream: While store-bought whipped cream will work in a pinch, I can’t recommend homemade whipped cream enough. It’s so easy to make. Just beat heavy cream and a tablespoon of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of stand mixer until medium-stiff peaks form.
- Mint Sprigs: This is 100% optional, but makes a really lovely garnish if you want to doll up your cheesecake. Another herb or edible flowers would also be a lovely touch!
How to Make Lemon Cheesecake
- Prepare the Water Bath: If you want an extra creamy and crack-free cheesecake, this step is essential. But don’t fret, my guide to how to make an easy water bath for a cheesecake will help you every step of the way!
- Make the Graham Cracker Crumb Crust: Preheat your oven to 350 and partially bake the crust for 10 minutes. This extra step guarantees a crunchy crust!
- Make the Cheesecake Filling: You’ll need a food processor or very strong blender/hand mixer to beat the cream cheese and make the filling. Unfortunately this cannot be done by hand.
- Bake the Cheesecake: Be sure to lower the oven temperature once the crust is done baking. This cheesecake bakes low and slow, and then also cools down inside the oven before being removed.
- Follow the Cooling Process: Be sure to allow this cheesecake to fully cool at room temperature. Then cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and chill for about 6 to 8 hours. You will no remove the cheesecake from the pan until you’re ready to serve!
- Garnish and Serve: Once your cheesecake is fully chilled, it’s time to decorate! Spread a layer of lemon curd on top, then go crazy with swirls of whipped cream, fresh lemon slices, and mint sprigs. Of course, these are all optional ideas you can opt out of! Feel free to simply slice this cheesecake and serve as is.
Tools for this Recipe
- Springform Pan: This is the best and easiest to use cheesecake pan ever! I’ve had it for over 10 years and it’s a total workhorse.
- Large Roasting Pan: This will be used to make your water bath. You want a pan that can easily fit the spring form pan and a couple of inches of water.
- Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil: Be sure to use extra wide heavy duty foil, which covers the entire pan – no leaks!
- Hand Mixer, Food Processor, or Stand Mixer: You’ll need one of these electric mixer options to make the cheesecake batter.
- Piping Bag: A large piping bag is a must have if you want to make whipped cream swirls.
- Star Tip: I love using this tip to make pretty swirls of whipped cream on top of the cheesecake!
- Graham Cracker Crumbs: Our go-to crumbs for graham cracker crumb crusts!
- Lemon Curd: If you don’t want to make homemade lemon curd, this is my favorite store-bought option.
More Lemon Cheesecake Recipes:
- Lemon Cheesecake Bars
- Mini Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake Cupcakes
- Lemon Blueberry Swirl Cheesecake
- Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake
- Lemon Ginger Cheesecake with Fresh Raspberry Sauce
Lemon Cheesecake Recipe
For the Graham Cracker Crust:
- 2 cups (240g) graham cracker crumbs
- 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 7 Tablespoons (98g) unsalted butter melted
For the Lemon Cheesecake:
- 1 and 1/2 cups (299g) granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon (14g) lemon zest finely grated, packed
- 5 8-ounce bricks (1130g) full-fat cream cheese
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 3 large egg yolks room temperature
- 2/3 cup (151ml) lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 1/4 cup (57ml) heavy cream room temperature
For the Topping:
- 3/4 cup (171g) lemon curd homemade or store-bought
- whipped cream optional
- lemon slices optional
- mint sprigs optional
For the Graham Cracker Crust:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F). Lightly spray a 9" springform pan with non-stick baking spray. Wrap the bottom and sides of the pan with heavy duty extra wide aluminum foil. I recommend doing several diligent layers here to ensure no water creeps through when you place the pan in the water bath. Set the pan aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, salt, and melted butter. Mix well.
- Press the crust into the prepared pan, pressing the crust down firmly and slightly up the sides. Bake in a preheated oven for 10 minutes. Place partially baked crust on a cooling rack and set aside while you prepare the filling. Reduce the oven to 300 degrees (F).
For the Lemon Cheesecake:
- In the bowl of a large food processor, beat sugar and lemon zest until well combined.
- Add in the cream cheese and beat until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla.
- On the lowest speed, beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined, and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
- Beat in the lemon juice, mixing until just combined. Beat in the heavy cream, mixing just until combined. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl a few times to ensure the batter is smooth and all of the ingredients have been evenly combined.
- Pour the filling into the prepared crust and, using a silicone spatula, smooth the top. Place the cheesecake pan into a large, deep pan. Fill the pan with 3-inches of hot water. This is your water bath and will help ensure your cheesecake comes out crack free.
- Carefully place the pan in the oven and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Turn the oven off and open the oven door just slightly. Let the cheesecake sit, undisturbed, in the oven in the water bath for 45 minutes as it cools down.
- Remove cake from the oven and lift out of the water bath. Place the cheesecake on a cooling rack and cool completely, then chill for at least 6 hours. Do not remove the pan until completely cooled!
For the Topping:
- Using a small offset spatula, spread the lemon curd on top of the cooled cheesecake. Spread it to the edge of the cheesecake, but don’t spread it so far it spills over the side. Top with swirls of whipped cream, lemon slices, and mint sprigs. Slice and serve.
- Top with swirls of whipped cream, lemon slices, and mint sprigs. Slice and serve.