Classic Cheesecake with Sour Cream Topping
This post was originally published on 6/15/2011. It has been updated with new text and pictures but this popular recipe is the same!
Earlier this week was my husband Andy’s birthday. In anticipation I asked him weeks ago what kind of birthday cake he wanted.
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 wife 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 it seemed to simple, 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
- 1½ cup crushed Graham Crackers (about half a box)
- ¼ cup melted butter
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2-8oz packages of cream cheese at room temperature
- ½ cup sugar
- 3 large eggs - at room temperature
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Sour cream topping:
- 1 pint sour cream
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 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 1½ cups into a medium sized bowl.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Pour mixture over the crust. Gently tap the pan to encourage any air bubbles to rise to the surface.
- 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.
For the Sour Cream Topping:
- 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.
- 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.
- Refrigerate the cheesecake overnight to set. *Don't put cheesecake in the fridge until it has cooled to room temperature.
Recipe adapted from Andy's Mom!
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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!
I’ve been making cheescakes for years, NY Style, Key lime, Lemon, Turtle pecan, banana creme and have never used a sour cream topping. It looks awesome, but what does it taste like? I’m also somewhat of an enigma, I do not like the taste of plain cream cheese. I, 100% dislike the taste of sour cream as well. I refer to many of these as “White death”. Mayo, sour cream, cottage cheese, blue cheese. I don’t understand it either. My neighbor has purchased several cheesecakes from me and has requested a Fresh Strawberry NY style. I want to make it look as fancy as possible, and wanted to add the sour cream topping, again, I’m asking what does it taste like. Thank you….
It’s a wonderful semi sweet tang to counter the sweeter cheesecake filling. Ever since I started doing the sour cream layer- I never made it again without!
Yes I agree- it adds such a nice touch!
When you bake that crust SEPERATELY it just adds so much to the final taste… that baked buttery crust plus the final sour cream topping just hits the roof of your mouth all together- pure heaven!
I personally think that if you dislike the taste of sour cream, you will still love the topping. It has a nice sweet yet fresh taste to it, and it almost tastes like vanilla yogurt. No matter if you like sour cream or not, if you like yogurt, you will like the sour cream topping. It adds so much flavor, too!
I made a cheesecake with the sour cream topping for an office party. One of my coworkers said he only ate cheesecake with a berry topping. He tried it and said he couldn’t expect it to be so good. I always use some lemon juice which really makes it better than just with vanilla.
just what a cheesecake should look like! dense and creamy. i’m sure your man was delighted :)
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.
I made it and it looks awesome and tastes great!
It’s best with sour cream topping; offsets the sweet cake very nicely.
I swear … there’s nothing like the classics!
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!
My Mom’s makes the same cheesecake, she has for years and it’s definitely my favorite!
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.
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…
I don’t think that I’ve ever made a simple and proper cheesecake with the sour cream topping. This is something that must be remedied!
This looks (and sounds) great! My husband is the same way…he had cheesecake for his groom’s cake…plain, simple cheesecake!
Lick your fingers dessert..Looks fantastic and very creative using sour cream..wonderful as always!
Boys and their mom’s cooking — it’s adorable! Glad he was happy with it and I’m super happy to learn a crack-proof cheesecake recipe.
This looks so awesome! I really should make a real cheesecake one of these days.
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?…
Ovens vary greatly in temperature profile , but 375F gets you there. After ~35-40 min start testing the cheesecake by inserting a butter knife into the center – if it comes out with batter stuck to it, bake for another 5 minutes & recheck – keep doing it until the knife is dry. You won’t get any cracks this way.
Once it’s ready pull it out and let it cool for 15 minutes. Skip the vanilla in the sour cream (you have it in the cheesecake already). Apply the sour cream as thick as you’d like it (1/4″ min) and put back in the oven at 375F for 10 min (450F dries out the sour cream and will overbake the cake). Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool. The sour cream will cure to a perfect pudding consistency
My mom used to make this cheesecake with the sour cream topping. We loved it. The sour Thancream topping is sweet and smooth and it finishes the cake which is also sweet and creamy. Nothing sour in that cheesecake!
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. :)
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!
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!
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!
If I use mini cheesecake pans is the bake time the same? I am using 3
Sorry for the delay- I would cut the bake time for sure, you want the inside to be slightly jiggly when you pul them out.
this looks amazing.. and exactly what i am craving right now. im gonna make it tonight.
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?
I always double the sour cream because we like a lot of topping!
had this receipe yrs ago and lost it what a wonderful find today! thanks
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!
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!
I hope you have good luck with this and that your husband is pleased! :)
Success! Thanks. Happy hubby :-)
this is a good recipe i made it with my mom for christmas
Can we make this in 4 inch pans?? And can we add flavors putting a little jelly or Coco powder??? Any tips for making flavors?? Husband loves plain I like flavors lol can’t wait to try this!!
Yes I think so! Just adjust the baking time.
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!
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!
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
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.
I love cheesecake and this looks so nice and tasty, put the favorites and the first opportunity I will try!!!
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!
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?
Can we make this in 4 inch pans?? And can we add flavors putting a little jelly or Coco powder??? Any tips for making flavors?? Husband loves plain I like flavors lol can’t wait to try this!!
Yes I think 4 inch pans would work if you reduce the baking time. I’d suggest picking a jam or fruit puree and swirling it in.
Drizzle in Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup to your taste and there you have it
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
This is the exact cheesecake my husband brought to our marriage via his mother. He has actually won two different contests baking it!
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!
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
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!
Oh… and not a “crack” in sight!
Add a generous amount of cinnamon over the filling after cooled then add the topping. Great!
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
“Almost” identical to the 100yr old family recipe I use all the time, by far one of the best cheese cakes ever!!
My cheesecake looks lovely, but the sour cream topping cracked. I have made many cheesecakes and have never had the topping crack before. I bought a new spring form pan, that is the only difference. It is not a big deal, I will cover it with berries, but I wonder why the topping would crack?
HI Suz- I also have never had that happen! I’m so sorry I don’t have any advice other than maybe it was just a random fluke?
You overdried the topping. Keep the oven at 375 (not 450) and pull it after 10 minutes. You do this to evaporate some of the water in the sour cream. Too much water loss will crack the sour cream as it dries and shrinks. 10 min @375F is all you need for a nice pudding-like topping once cooled
Decided last minute that I wanted to make a cheesecake. I had a cheesecake very similar to this at my Thanksgiving this year. I followed your recipe and it came out wonderful. I was always afraid of making cheesecakes because everyone said they were a lot of work. You recipe is quick and easy.
Hi, do you use unsalted butter in the crust?
This is the closest recipe to my mom’s that I have found. She used powdered sugar with the sour cream topping part because it was smoother. I will try turning the oven up to 450 for the finish bake! My adult kids always ask for this cheesecake for their birthdays!
So glad you found something similar! :)
If I want to add cherry or chopped pineapple topping, when do you recommend doing so?
Used crushed pineapple years ago. Added it on top of the sour cream topping before baking
That sounds like a great addition!
Question if I freeze this can I add the sour cream topping later? Would I still back for 19 minutes after I get the cheesecake defrost over night?
My mom added lemon zest to the crust and to the lower cream cheese level and I do too. I also reduce the sugar. So good!
My Mom also added grated lemon zest … it gives it just that special “je ne sais quoi” touch that makes it taste heavenly. We lost my Mom very recently, and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to find the recipe. I’m sure she originally found it on the graham crackers box (before you could buy the cracker crumbs, and you had to crush the cracker/cookies yourself)… and I believe they called this recipe “Super Cheesecake”. I like that: my Mom was a baking SuperHero !! Thank you for sharing this recipe, with picture (my mom just made it in a regular pie pan)
How long can it sit out specially with the Sour cream on top?
Can we make this in 4 inch pans?? And can we add flavors putting a little jelly or Coco powder??? Any tips for making flavors?? Husband loves plain I like flavors lol can’t wait to try this
Yes! I commented in a different thread- sorry you didn’t see it. Just adjust the baking time. For mix ins, some jam swirled in should work out well!
Found your recipe several years ago and have never commented, but just want you to know that about 2-3 times per year I come back to it to make this amazing cheesecake. It’s my husband’s favorite (and mine too) and our guests always rave about it. My grandma always made sour cream cheesecake and my mom said this recipe is definitely similar to the one my grandma used. About to make this now for Thanksgiving, as I do every year. Thanks for the great recipe!
Soo I just checked and yup, this is MY mother in law’s recipe as well. It’s very old so maybe there was a cookbook or magazine that put this out decades ago? I know I made this a minimum of 20 years ago.
Thanks for sharing as now more people will experience the goodness of true, simple cheesecake with that glorious sour cream topping!
Wow – this sounds wonderful! I’ve been wanting to try making spaghetti squash at home for a while, and this sounds like the perfect way to try it. Thanks for the cutting tip as well!
Can the topping be brushed on the cheesecake AFTER it has been cooled. Kinda like drizzling a topping on a cinnamon role? Or does it have to be warm when applied
my phone is acting up so I apologize of this was already asked..
1. What does baking the topping do to the cheesecake? vs Just putting on before refrigerating?
2, Am I reading this right? Take cheesecake out.. let cool.. then add topping then put back in oven for 10 mins? If so, how long do you leave it cool for?
With this recipe Can you add any fruit to the sour cream filling ? I was wondering. My grandmother had a recipe exactly like this but I could add any berry or anything to it? I remember her using it for apple once it was awesome
We always serve the fruit on top because you bake the sour cream.
These recipes all look amazing. If I had kids, I would totally try them with them! Cheese is my favorite food group so…..
I made this recipe for my first dinner party 55 years ago when I was a first year teacher — can’t remember the rest of the meal but we were dirt poor so it was probably something like spaghetti — Will be making it for a rooftop, social distanced dinner with friends this Thursday — so happy to find the classic with sour cream topping again — I have fresh local strawberries to serve over it.
I am just making this one for the first time. The only thing I changed is I doubled the vanilla and made a gluten free crust (as I am not eating wheat). For the crust I used lemon vanilla gluten free cookies mixed with crushed walnuts and a dash of coconut sugar. Used a hand blender to combine with the butter. It tastes great as is so I am hoping it works as the base! Can’t wait to try it tonight. I made strawberry coulis as that is my favourite. Strawberries, butter, vanilla and raw honey cooked on low in a pot ’til softened – then blend with the hand blender until creamy. Thanks for the recipe :)
I stumbled across this recipe a few years back and never have got around to a review, but I figured it has been long overdue. Let me start by saying this recipe is relatively easy with excellent results every time compared to others that involve too many steps, such as a water bath. This cheesecake is the epitome of delicious. Thanks for sharing!
THIS RECIPE IS THE GAWD! CLASSIC, ESSENTIAL, FOUNDATIONAL, IN FACT. THANK YOU IT HAS COME IN HANDY A COUPLE DIFFERENT THANKSGIVINGS NOW.
These recipes all look amazing.
Audra, this recipe is nearly the exact recipe I use which was published in Family Circle magazine in January 1973. (Yes, I’m old!) The only difference is the Family Circle recipe uses a couple tablespoons of chopped walnuts mixed into the graham cracker crust and then a couple tablespoons of chopped walnuts sprinkled around the top after the sour cream layer has been baked. It has been my most frequently requested dessert recipe. Thanks for the story surrounding your version.
Great recipe! I made this and topped it with fresh mixed berries and a dusting of powdered sugar. I made a mixed berry sauce to go with it, yum!!
I made the cheesecake but 375 is too hot and my cheese cake browned on top. I guess all ovens differ in temperature so I wuicyturned it down to 350.
I had a cheesecake recipe with a sour cream topping that I used to make for social gatherings back 30 years ago. I got the recipe from a restaurant after trying their delicious cheesecake and raving over it. Everyone who tried it loved it. Somewhere along the way way back then, I lost the recipe. This sounds like it could be very similar. I will definitely try this! Thank you for posting it!
My favorite recipe. The only thing I do differently is I scrape a vanilla bean to add to the sour cream topping. Something so decadent about the little flecks for me.
This is awesome, the classic cheesecake recipe with sour cream topping – no water bath (I think baths are for the denser cake-like but still creamy cheesecakes that sink in the middle) – and is the same recipe my mom used to make (she got the recipe from a friend of mine 45+ years ago!). This is sooooo much better than the flavored kind of cheesecakes – I mean why would you want to mix chocolate and cheese :-( or coffee and cheese :-(( or peanut butter and cheese :-((( All those things are wonderful and should be eaten separately from cheesecake!
This is the same recipe I have from my Dad! I’m guessing that it was published somewhere in the past, at least 50 years ago. I’ve never found its equal commercially. I am making one this evening, the first time since Dad passed away 4 years ago. I sure am looking forward to digging into it tomorrow!
How far ahead can I make this? Can I make it Tuesday night for Thursday nighr?
It would last for 2-3 days in the fridge no problem
This is my grandmothers recipe, with one change. Swap sugar in crust with brown sugar and add some cinnamon. Yummy!
I would like to make this and give as a gift; but how can I remove it from the bottom of the Springform pan? Won’t it bend and break?
Hi — Thanks for posting this because it is extremely similar to MY mother’s cheesecake with sour cream topping and I can’t find our recipe. My mom and her best friend created their recipe over 70 years ago. I’ve been making it as a pumpkin cheesecake for the last few years and my mother always requested it for Christmas and then for her birthday (in January), which made me laugh. So I made pumpkin for Christmas and the lemony version for birthday. So happy you shared your mother’s recipe with the internet!
I made this for Christmas Eve and received rave reviews. It was delicious. Much easier and quicker than previous ones I have made with water baths, etc. I had a 10” pan so used 3 cream cheese, added an egg and upped rest of ingredients by 1/3. Kept topping the same. Cooked an extra 8 minutes.
It was gone in a flash.
Thank you so much for your comment even though I just saw it now!
I’m afraid my cheesecake got over done. It’s cooling now, bt the center wouldn’t stop jiggling & now I fear it’s over done. It’s cooling now, so I won’t know until tomorrow for sure. Also, what can you do w the extra topping? I hate to just throw it out.
Thanks so much for the recipe, I’m going to have to make this a few times before it’s perfected. ;)
I made this cheesecake for a family gathering and my youngest son said it was “the best dessert you’ve ever made.“ The only modification to the recipe I did was to bake the crust nine minutes in a 375° oven. This is the cheesecake that I remember growing up in the 1950s, called “Aunt Mary’s cheesecake.” Thanks so much for posting an “oldie but goodie.”
Thank you so much!
My mom always made this in a13 x 9” pan and I don’t have x springform pan. How do I adjust temperature and baking times?
To make in 9×13 I would double the recipe. Keep the baking time but add more if needed. My mother in law makes hers in a 9×13 too!
Step it up a bit and add a small amount of almond extract to both the cream cheese and the sour cream it is wonderful. I have been making this for 50 years. In the last three weeks I have made 5 for different occasions. Everyone requests when I say what can I bring?
That is wonderful feedback Barbara- thank you!
You are an angel for giving us this recipe! Thank you so much. I used to make it from the back of the Philadelphia Cream Cheese package. It was perfect. They no longer have it. I am very particular about cheesecake I do not want flour in it or fruit on it. As far as I am concerned you cannot buy a perfect cheesecake – they are all filled with air and flour and and and. Anyway, I am so happy to have this!
I am so glad you like it! It’s a classic in my family too!
How would you adjust for a 10” pan?
Been looking for my mom’s recipe. She is in memory care so she can’t rattle it off to me. My sister probable has the recipe box. My mom made this version for my birthday almost every year from 10 on. One for me and another for the family. I love cheese cake. All the other versions are not the same.
How wonderful- thanks for sharing!
thanks for this
My neighbor had made this type of cheesecake for our family for many years. I hated cheesecake until I had this type. We moved and I found ur recipe as it looks like the one we had . SCORE!! Amazing …. I make it w/ gluten free Graham crackers so I can eat it . Taste amazing and looks great too. I’ve had issues because I double the recipe for a bigger cheesecake and I’ve had the layer get to brown or the sour cream not b as white as it should b , but always tasted on point! Thx u for giving me another gluten free option .