This is the creamiest, most delectable, most lemony cheesecake! It’s speckled with lemon zest and topped with tart, luscious lemon curd. It’s just what you need to satisfy that sweet-tart craving.
Cheesecake is a huge favorite among my husband’s family, and I have spent the last decade (and then some) perfecting my method.
I’ve made many iterations, and my favorite always include a tart component, like lemon, to counter the rich cheesecake.
THE SECRET TO TRULY LEMONY CHEESECAKE
The lemon in this cheesecake is two-fold—it’s in the batter in the form of zest and also on top of the cheesecake in the form of bright, smooth lemon curd.
When I serve this cheesecake, before cutting it, I like to pipe dollops of curd on top that I then smash-n-drag (technical term) with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to create the flower burst effect you see here in the photos–I always have to be extra!
Honestly though, feel free to just dollop it on top or stick a spoon in the jar and serve it up tableside.
NO WATER BATH NEEDED
You might notice that I don’t bake this cheesecake in a water bath like most classic recipes. I ditched the water bath method a while ago in favor of creating a steamy environment for the cheesecake to bake in.
Here’s what I do: I just place a 9×13-inch baking dish full of boiling water on a rack below the cheesecake while it bakes. The cheesecake still bakes gently, and I don’t have to worry about water finding its way into the cake pan.
HOW TO PREVENT YOUR CHEESECAKE FROM CRACKING
In my many years of making cheesecakes for my family, I have learned a few key tips for success.
- The first is—don’t over-beat the batter! Resist the urge to beat the mixture too much. Over-beating can pull too much air into the mixture, resulting in a cracked cheesecake.
- The second is—patient cooling. Seriously, I cannot stress this enough. Be patient when cooling your cheesecake.
Yes, I tell you to leave the cheesecake in the oven to cool for an entire hour after it’s done baking (I know, it’s a lot). Then with the door cracked for another 45 minutes, then on the counter, and finally, it chills in the refrigerator.
I swear I am not insane, nor am I trying to torment you. I have found that, without fail, rushing the cooling process almost always cracks the cheesecake. I have even saved slightly over-baked cheesecakes (you know, the ones that dome and soufflé) from cracking, using this method.
Additionally, please let the cheesecake chill in the fridge for at least six hours before serving. The purpose of this long, cold nap is for texture—if your cake is still room temp in the middle, it won’t be silky, smooth, and perfect. It will be sort of eggy, crumbly, and almost foamy.
HOW TO STORE YOUR CHEESECAKE
I almost always make this cheesecake a day before I want to serve it so it has plenty of time to chill in the refrigerator.
The minimum is six hours, but 12 or more is even better. That means you can also make the cake three or four days in advance. It can be covered tightly with plastic wrap (a layer of foil on top of that is great insurance if your refrigerator has a lot of pungent contents that may lend unwanted flavors to the cake).
Leftover cheesecake can be stored similarly, loosely wrapped with plastic, or in reusable containers.
CHEESECAKE ON THE BRAIN? TRY THESE OTHER RECIPES!
- The Perfect Cheesecake is for those who love classic New York style cheesecake.
- Don’t have time for the oven? Then make this No-Bake Cheesecake!
- Pumpkin Cheesecake in the Instant Pot!
- Sous Vide Cheesecake in jars!
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