Classic Cheesecake with Sour Cream Topping


Last weekend was my boyfriend Andy’s birthday. In anticipation I asked him weeks ago what kind of birthday cake he wanted. I have been dying for an opportunity to make an actual cake vs. cupcakes that need to be transported. I had images of layers and fillings and frostings floating through my mind. I couldn’t wait to make him something elaborate and festive!

Andy, however, wanted a cheesecake. Not just any cheesecake, his Mom’s cheesecake. Creamy and simple with a thick graham cracker crust. “Ok!” I said. “What flavor? Any toppings? Any sauces? Anything colorful and pretty and blog-worthy??” “NO!” He said, “I just want my Mom’s cheesecake!!!” Sigh….the food blogger side of me was itching to add a beautiful flavor swirl or a fruit coulis on the side. But the girlfriend side of me gave him what he wanted on his birthday. A simple creamy cheesecake with a thick graham cracker crust.

Now even though it was simple, this cheesecake was really pretty great. The crust was crisp and thick, the consistency of the cake was creamy and silky and the birthday boy was happy which is really all that matters. I wasn’t even going to post it originally because I wasn’t crazy about the pictures, but we all loved it so much I had to share the recipe with you. It is slightly adapted from his Mom’s recipe, but he said it tasted just as good so that made me happy. Enjoy!

PS: One of the best things about this cheesecake is that it is virtually “crack-proof.” You know those dreaded cracks that sometimes form on the top of cheesecake? Well even if that happens in this case, the sour cream topping smooths right over it and won’t crack with you bake it. Yay!

Classic Cheesecake with Sour Cream Topping


  • Crust:
  • 1 1/2 cup crushed Graham Crackers (about half a box)
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Filling:
  • 2-8oz packages of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs - at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Sour cream topping:
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract


  1. Crust- Preheat oven to 375. Put half of the box of Graham crackers into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse until finely ground. Measure out 1 1/2 cups into a medium sized bowl.
  2. Stir together the crumbs and the sugar, and then evenly pour the melted butter into the mixture. Stir using a fork until everything is evenly blended.
  3. Pour crust mixture into a 9 inch springform pan. Press it evenly around the bottom and and inch up the sides until an even layer is formed. (I used the bottom of a cup for this) Set aside.
  4. Filling: In a large bowl, mix the softened cream cheese and sugar together on medium to medium-high speed. Once fully combined, add the vanilla and one egg. Blend until smooth and fully incorporated. Scrape the bowl down from time to time to ensure everything is being mixed together. Add the remaining eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly each time. (Don't mix on high speed - this will incorporate too much air into the batter and the cheesecake won't be as dense once it bakes.)
  5. Pour mixture over the crust. Gently tap the pan to encourage any air bubbles to rise to the surface.
  6. Place the cheesecake into a preheated oven and bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until the center no longer jiggles when gently shaken. Once the first layer has baked, let it cool for at approximately 15 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 450° F.
  7. For the Sour Cream Topping:
  8. While the cheesecake is cooling, whisk the sour cream, sugar and vanilla together until smooth. Once the cheesecake has cooled for approximately 15 minutes, pour the sour cream topping over top. Using a rubber spatula or offset spatula, smooth out the surface.
  9. Place back into the oven (remember the heat should have been increased to 450° F) and bake for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack to let cool to room temperature.
  10. Refrigerate the cheesecake overnight to set. *Don't put cheesecake in the fridge until it has cooled to room temperature.
Sources: Andy’s Mom and Rouxbe

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  1. says

    This post made me laugh! my husband is exactly the same. I always dream up extravagant cakes for him months in advance and when it comes around to it he just wants a chocolate cake with smarties on (like m&m’s)!! I’m sure your boyfriend was more than happy with it though, even if your food blogging self wasn’t happy posting it! I think it looks great!

  2. says

    Aww, isn’t that always the way? Now imagine you have not just the grown boy “mom’s cheesecake” factor….but then ..a 4 year old and one year old too. lol! Welcome to my world.

    I rarely make what I want to make anymore..and when I do…it’s usually fattening or a drink to numb all the chicken nugget requests I get. Oy! (disclaimer) Love them dearly and they are my everything.

  3. says

    I have never seen a sour cream topping on a cheesecake before – glad he was happy! Must be something about Men – my husband is the same way – just he basics. And I second Kate’s comment from above – the kids don’t help. This morning my 6 year old wanted pancakes for breakfast – I thought, great! But no, he wanted the frozen kind you microwave, not the fun ones I was dreaming up – urgh!

  4. says

    He sounds like my husband-we go to 31 flavors and all he wants is chocolate. Sometimes plain is good, but not all the time. It has been so long since I have had cheesecake-plain would suit me just fine! Great post.

  5. says

    With all the delicious flavors out there, my husband always answers ‘devil’s food cake’ when I ask him what kind of cake he wants! This cheesecake sounds yummy… Definitely a keeper! Thank you for sharing…

  6. Anonymous says

    Hi! I’ve never baked a cheesecake before and i’m kind of confused about the baking instructions. So the cheesecake stays in the oven for 25 minutes at 275 degrees and then I increase I take it out/ cool it/ put it back in into an oven at 450 degrees?…

  7. says

    Re: above comment: Yes- you bake at 375 and then while the cheesecake is cooling, you prepare the sour cream topping and raise the temp up to 450! Put it back in for about 10 minutes while the topping sets. :)

  8. Jane says

    Hi there – thanks for the recipe, and what a great website! I love hearing all the tips you have for baking.

    I just had a question about the topping for this recipe: did you use full-fat sour cream, or did you go for a lighter version? I’m assuming, as always, full-fat is better :) However, sometimes my arteries ask for a bit of a break.

    Thanks so much!

  9. says

    Jane- so sorry I JUST saw your comment! I am not sure if you even still care but I recommend either full fat or low fat. Not non-fat. Enjoy!

  10. Anonymous says

    this is my grandmother’s recipe. She came over to the UK from middle europe in the 1930s. Her cheesecake had the sour cream topping, and ever since i tasted it I have little time for any other recipe!

  11. Anonymous says

    Looks amazing! I’m wondering though, what would it taste like/ be like if you substituted the sugar for icing sugar? What would the difference be?

  12. Jennifer Cox says

    Oh, I have been trying to find my mom’s recipe, now lost, from the 1960s, and I think this comes close. We will see!

  13. says

    Oh Baker Chick, I am laughing so hard. I had to read this to my husband, the cheesecake hound. Yesterday was his 50th birthday and all he wanted was his MOM’s cheesecake. This recipe of course. I have come close before but never gotten it exactly right. Not being a much of a baker the fact that “cool 15 minutes before spreading the sour cream” is omitted on most of the recipes really made an ugly mess of my last try. Lets see how this one turns out. cheers!

  14. Vnewhall says

    This recipe is AWESOME! I made one for a Christmas dinner party last week. My boss had requested a sour cream topping because that’s how his mom used to make it. And when searching I found your blog! I had never made a cheesecake before, so had no frame of reference. All I can say is, wow! Everyone loved it. My boyfriend said it was the best cheesecake he’s ever had! :) haha. I’m actually baking another right now for a Christmas Eve dinner tomorrow with friends. Thank you for such a great recipe!

  15. Linda P. says

    Since Thanksgiving I have made this cheesecake about 8 times. Every time it comes out exactly the same…ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS! Everyone who has tried it thinks it’s one of the best cheesecakes they’ve ever had and I have to agree. Thank you for posting this recipe!

  16. Keith Pagosa says

    I did what you wanted to do

    Coconut and Graham Marsala in the crust, used two cups so added 1/4 cup Coconut Oil to crust

    Added 2 T Orange Liqueur to filling, only 1/4 cup sugar

    Then 1 T Ginger, 1 T Lemon Curry to sour cream topping

    Had 1/2 C topping left so added Coconut, Crystallized Ginger and chopped prunes to the crumbs and sprinkled that on the top

    After 10 min @ 425, reduced heat back to 350 and had to bake for another 30 min till no jiggles in center

    Fantastic !

  17. Pete from NYC says

    I have made 3 of these. These are the best. Never baked before but this turned out spectacular. thank you so much!! This was something that my Aunt used to make and I was never ever able to find again. Wow.

  18. Kayliene says

    Okay, so I made this recipe in November. But my mom doesn’t like vanilla so she requested a lime cheesecake! I added some fresh lime juice and lime zest into the cheesecake and topping. It was amazing! I lose this recipe so much!

  19. Omar says

    I’m hosting a party on Thursday. I feel inspired. But any advice on how to turn the sour cream topping into a chocolate sour cream topping? Would I just combine melted chocolate with sour cream and then bake for 10 minutes?

  20. Chris says

    Try putting a little liquor of your choice – Frangelica or Bailey’s or Kahlua all make a nice addition to the sour cream topper and add just a hint of the flavor

  21. Laura says

    This is the exact cheesecake my husband brought to our marriage via his mother. He has actually won two different contests baking it!

  22. Emma says

    This cheesecake looks delicious! I enjoy plain cheesecake as well, no toppings. I will have to get my sister to make this for my birthday!

  23. A.M. says

    This cheesecake is what one my future in-laws over. Tip to all women – find out your future father-in-law’s favorite dessert, then make it over and over forever haha

  24. says

    Just wanted to say thank you. This is the best cheesecake I’ve ever made. I had to sub half plain yogurt for the sour cream (ran out), and I accidentally doubled the sugar in the topping lol.. But the taste and texture was PERFECT! I’ve shared your recipe and link with friends. Will be making it again very soon. Thanks!

  25. Penny Hays says

    I have been looking for a recipe with sour cream topped cheese for a long time. My Mom made this cake when I was a little girl. (68 years ago). All I remembered were the ingredients for the topping, but no measurements. I knew she originally got the recipe from phidelphia cream cheese box, but the quantities the cheese came in were smaller than today.
    Thank you so much. I am very happy! Penny

  26. amanda says

    “Almost” identical to the 100yr old family recipe I use all the time, by far one of the best cheese cakes ever!!


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