Easy Homemade Lemon Cheesecake Recipe

Mary and Brenda Maher

By Brenda & Mary

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The creamy texture and zesty lemon taste perfectly complement the hot summer days. It became a tradition that I looked forward to every year, and now I carry on that tradition by making it for my family gatherings.

Lemon Cheesecake final

This homemade recipe for lemon cheesecake is a must-try if you’re a fan of citrusy desserts or simply looking to try something new. Keep reading to learn how to make this delightful treat at home.

Why You’ll Love This Lemon Cheesecake With Lemon Curd

Let me break down why this lemon cheesecake will charm your next gathering:

  • Refreshing flavor: Have you ever bitten into something and felt like it literally brightened your day? That’s the vibe of this lemon cheesecake. Its lemony zing brings a kick that perfectly balances the creamy richness of the cheese, just like my iced lemon pound cake and lemon blueberry cake.
  • Visual appeal: This isn’t just a treat for your taste buds. With its lively yellow color, often jazzed up with a sprinkle of lemon zest or a few artful lemon slices, this cheesecake is a feast for the eyes.
  • Diet adaptability: With a few tweaks, this recipe can accommodate various dietary constraints, whether you’ve got gluten-free friends, vegan family members, or health-conscious pals looking to cut back on fat.
  • Year-round availability: No more waiting around for peak seasons to whip up a special treat. The ingredients are available year-round. You can whip up this cheesecake anytime, no matter the season.
How to make Lemon Cheesecake

11 Steps to Make Lemon Cheesecake


Graham Cracker Crust

  • Graham cracker crumbs (1 and ¾ cups): I’ve bumped up the amount from the usual to ensure the crust holds up better with the slightly runnier filling of this cheesecake.
  • Unsalted butter (5 tablespoons, melted): A notch less than usual to offset the rich, moist filling.
  • Granulated sugar (1/4 cup): Just the right amount to sweeten the crust without overpowering it.


  • Granulated sugar (1 and ¼ cups)
  • Lemon zest (1 tablespoon, packed): From about 1 lemon, this really amps up the citrus punch.
  • Full-fat brick cream cheese (32 ounces, softened): Make sure it’s at room temperature for smooth blending.
  • Fresh lemon juice (½ cup): I use juice from about 3–4 lemons; it also must be at room temperature to mix well.
  • Sour cream or plain yogurt (⅓ cup): Also at room temperature; this helps in adding a bit of tanginess and creaminess.
  • Pure vanilla extract (1 teaspoon)
  • Eggs (3)


  • Lemon curd (3/4 cup): I highly recommend using this for a rich lemony layer.
  • Homemade whipped cream: Perfect for dolloping on top.
  • Lemon slices and/or fresh berries: For garnish, add freshness and a pop of color.


Make the Crumb Crust

Step 1

Adjust your oven temperature to 350°F (177°C) and position the rack in the lower-middle level.

Step 2

graham cracker

Crush full graham crackers in a food processor or blender into fine crumbs. In a medium bowl, combine these crumbs with sugar, then mix in the melted butter until the mixture becomes sandy.

step 2

Step 3

Press the mixture firmly into the bottom and slightly up the sides of an ungreased 9-inch springform pan. A small measuring cup’s flat bottom can help create an even layer.

First bake the crust for 10 minutes. Afterwards, remove it and carefully wrap the hot pan with a large piece of aluminum foil on a flat surface. This prepares it for the water bath later. Let the crust cool while you get the filling ready.

Lemon Cheesecake baking

Make the Filling

Step 4

Step 4 make filling

Add sugar to a clean processor and top it with the lemon zest. Pulse until the mixture is well combined and the lemon zest becomes granular (about 10-12 pulses.) The result is the lemon sugar.

Step 5

In a large mixing bowl, use a stand mixer fitted with a paddle to cream together the lemon sugar with cream cheese on medium-high until smooth, roughly 2 minutes.

Step 6

Step 6

Continue to beat on medium-high to incorporate the vanilla extract, sour cream, and lemon juice. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing on medium after each until just combined. Over-mixing can lead to a cheesecake that deflates or cracks upon cooling.

Pour this savory batter over your pre-baked crust, smoothing it out with a spatula.

Make the Water Bath

Step 7

Boil a full water kettle – you’ll need about 1 inch in your roasting pan.

Step 8

step 8

Set your foil-wrapped pan inside a large roasting pan. Either before placing it in the oven or once it’s in, pour the hot water around the pan.

This cheesecake needs about 60-70 minutes in the oven, or until the center nearly sets but still slightly wobbles upon gently shaking the pan. If it’s browning too quickly, tent the top with foil halfway through.

Step 9

Once done, turn off the oven, open its door slightly, and let the cheesecake sit in its water bath to cool down for an hour.

Decorate and Serve

Step 10

make lemon curd
Make lemon curd

Prepare the lemon curd while the cheesecake bakes; it needs time to cool. Spread about half of the prepared lemon curd evenly on the cooled cheesecake with an offset spatula. Let it extend near the edges but not spill over.

Refrigerate the cheesecake, uncovered, for at least 4 hours or, ideally, overnight.

Lemon Cheesecake decorating

Step 11

Lemon Cheesecake recipe

Run a knife around the rim of the springform pan to loosen the chilled cheesecake, then carefully remove the rim. Decorate with additional toppings such as berries or whipped cream. Wipe your knife and dip it in warm water between cuts for clean slices. 

Crave an even more luscious mouthfeel? Check out my lemon meringue pie!

Best Lemon Cheesecake
Lemon Cheesecake

Tips on Making Lemon Cheesecake

Garnishing with Different Lemon Cheesecake Toppings

Jazzing up your lemon cheesecake can be a ton of fun. Going simple with a cloud of whipped cream really lets it shine, or you can get fancy with fresh lemon slices and berries. If you’re feeling extra, why not drizzle over some raspberry, blue-sub lemony, or strawberry topping?

But remember, these extras are just the cherry on top. Even a bare slice of this lemony delight is bound to impress with its glistening lemon curd layer.

Baking the Cheesecake

The baking time can be a bit finicky—it’s about finding the sweet spot. You’ll know it’s done when the edges firm up, but give the pan a gentle tap. The center should still do a little dance (a slight wobble). Once chilled, this soft center becomes perfectly creamy.


Avoid going from hot to cold too fast. Here’s the scoop: turn off your oven, pop the door just ajar, and let your cheesecake chill out in its water bath inside the cooling oven for about an hour. Then, bring it to room temp before moving it to the fridge. That is how the slow cool-down prevents those dreaded cracks.


You can keep this lemon cheesecake in the fridge, topped with curd, for a couple of days. Want to save it for later? Freeze it without the curd. Just firm it up on a tray, then wrap the whole cake—or sneak away with ready-to-enjoy slices—in protective plastic wrap and a freezer bag. It can stay there for up to two months.

When ready for a treat, defrost in the fridge overnight or let slices sit out for about 30 minutes to restore that perfect creamy texture.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Did My Lemon Cheesecake Crack and How to Avoid It?

This often results from sudden temperature changes. Avoid opening the oven door frequently during and immediately after baking to prevent it. After baking, let your cheesecake cool gradually in the oven with the door slightly ajar.

How to Prevent Water from Seeping into My Springform Pan?

Use multiple layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil around the base and up the sides of the pan. Securely wrap the foil so that it is tight and covers all gaps. There is no need for duct tape—effective foil layering should be enough.

What If I Don’t Have a Springform Pan?

To make removing the lemon-flavored cheesecake recipe easier, you can use a regular cake pan lined with parchment paper. A deep-dish pie plate or a removable-bottom tart pan can also work well.

I hope this basic lemon cheesecake recipe brings you as much joy as it has brought me over the years. Go forth and dazzle with it!

Discover More Unique Cake Recipes:

Lemon Cheesecake final

Lemon Cheesecake

A creamy lemon cheesecake recipe that artfully balances the tartness of lemon with sweet, decadent cheesecake, crowned with a vibrant lemon curd.
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Course: Cake
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Total Time: 8 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 16
Calories: 395kcal
Author: Brenda Maher


Graham Cracker Crust

  • cups (14 full sheets) graham cracker crumbs
  • 5 tbsp melted, unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ cup white/granulated sugar


  • cups white/granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest, packed
  • 32 ounces softened, full-fat brick cream cheese
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice, room temperature
  • cup sour cream or plain yogurt, room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature


  • ¾ cup lemon curd
  • Homemade whipped cream
  • Lemon slices and/or fresh berries for garnish


Make the Crumb Crust

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
  • Mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter and sugar. Press into a 9-inch springform pan.
  • Bake for about 10 minutes, then wrap the pan with foil.

Make the Filling

  • Blend sugar and lemon zest. Cream with cream cheese.
  • Mix in vanilla extract, sour cream, and lemon juice. Add eggs one at a time.
  • Pour over the crust and smooth the top.

Bake in Water Bath

  • Place a foil-wrapped pan in a roasting pan. Add hot water to the roasting pan.
  • Bake at 350°F for 60-70 minutes until the center is set but slightly wobbles.
  • Let cool in the oven with the door ajar for an hour.


  • Apply lemon curd on cooled cheesecake.
  • Refrigerate it for 4 hours or overnight.
  • Remove the springform rim. Garnish as desired with berries or whipped cream.


  • Cheesecake is done when the edges are firm but the center slightly wobbles.
  • Optional toppings include whipped cream, fresh lemon slices, or berries.
  • Allow to cool slowly in the oven, then at room temperature before refrigerating.
  • Refrigerate topped with curd for a few days. Freeze without curd for up to 2 months.


Calories: 395kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 5.9g | Fat: 28.5g | Saturated Fat: 16.4g | Cholesterol: 150mg | Sodium: 212mg | Potassium: 470mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 26g | Calcium: 68.6mg | Iron: 2mg
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Mary and Brenda Maher

Mary & Brenda Maher

Mary & Brenda Maher, are the founders of Cake Girls, a Chicago-based online baking shop specializing in cake supplies, party decor, and DIY cake tutorials. They are known for their elaborate and artistic cake creations, which have been featured on the Food Network Challenge and in a reality show, Amazing Wedding Cakes.

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