This Lemon Cheesecake recipe is a decadent, creamy cheesecake topped with homemade lemon curd packed with fresh lemon flavor in every bite!
If New York Cheesecake combined with Lemon Bars, you’d get this creamy smooth cheesecake with a light lemon flavor topped with a punchy tart lemon curd. Truly one of the best Cheesecake recipes you’ll ever make.
Lemon Cheesecake with Lemon Curd is a decadent dessert packed with fresh lemon flavor that’s as bright as a summer day. From the cookie crust layer to the creamy baked cheesecake filling to the tart lemon curd, this beautiful dessert is completely homemade. It takes a little more time than other lemon desserts, but it is absolutely worth it!
This recipe calls for a water bath so make sure you have a spring-form pan and a deep baking pan it can fit into with room to spare. A water bath is hands down the best cooking method for an egg heavy baked cheesecake. The steam creates a humid environment as the filling bakes, cooking the eggs evenly and giving it that signature silky smooth texture cheesecake lovers crave.
Lemon Cheesecake is the ultimate lemon dessert with a double layer of real lemon flavor. The creamy lemon filling and thick tangy lemon curd topping are made with fresh lemons, not a drop of lemon extract in sight. Five to six large lemons should be plenty for the cheesecake filling and the lemon curd.
Lemon curd has a silky, buttery flavor that balances perfectly with the tart punch from the fresh lemon juice and sweetness of the sugar. Forget store-bought lemon curd, this homemade lemon curd recipe is easy for anyone to master. No need for a double boiler or mesh strainer, just a whisk and a little elbow grease for smooth lemon curd in no time.
Lemon Cheesecake is the perfect dessert for the end of Summer or for Spring holidays. Give this cheesecake a show-stopping finish by scoring the top into individual slices. Then pipe each section with some fresh Whipped Cream. Top with a candied lemon peel, thin lemon slices, or a sprinkle of grated lemon zest for the most picture perfect, beautiful slices.
How to Make Lemon Cheesecake
- Water Bath: Tightly wrap a 9-inch springform pan with a layer of aluminum foil. Grab a large enough baking pan that the spring form pan will fit inside of and has tall enough sides so water can reach as high as the cheesecake. A large roasting pan, like the kind for a turkey, is great for a water bath.
- Prep: Move the rack to the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter together. It should have a wet sand consistency. Press crust mixture into the bottom of your spring-form pan in an even layer.
- Filling: In a stand mixer, cream sugar and cream cheese on high speed until light and fluffy. Lower the speed to medium. Add the eggs, sour cream, vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour and mix until smooth. Pour filling mixture onto the prepared crust and spread evenly.
- Bake: Put the filled spring form pan into the larger baking pan and add warm water to the large pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Place the whole thing in the oven, careful not to splash any water onto the cheesecake. Bake for 60-70 minutes, until it no longer jiggles in the center. Turn off the oven, open the oven door a couple of inches to let the heat out, and let it cool for an hour. Remove from the oven and keep at room temperature while you make the Lemon Curd.
- Lemon Curd: In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until lightened in color and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. One at a time, add in the eggs until fully incorporated. Add in the lemon juice and mix until well combined. Pour the egg mixture into a large saucepan over medium heat and whisk constantly. Keep whisking for 12-15 minutes, until thickened so when you stir the whisk a blank space is left in the pan.
- Finish: Spread the lemon curd over the cheesecake in an even layer. Place the cheesecake in the refrigerator and chill completely before serving. Garnish with whipped cream or powdered sugar and a small lemon wedge on each slice.
FAQs for Lemon Cheesecake
If you use low-fat cheesecake or sour cream, it can make your cheesecake filling runny. The fat doesn’t just make the filling indulgent and flavorful, it also helps bind the liquids so you want to use full fat dairy for a perfectly firm cheesecake.
It’s so frustrating when you realize you don’t have room temperature cream cheese to make your creamy dessert! But with a microwave and a small bowl you can speed up the process and get back to baking. Microwave the cream cheese cubes in 10-15 second intervals until soft but not melted and still slightly cool.
Achieve a flawless, crack-free cheesecake by gently mixing the filling and using a water bath. Giving your cheesecake time to cool slowly in the oven with the door slightly ajar for an hour after turning off the heat will prevent cracks too.
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- Fresh Lemon: For maximum lemon punch, this recipe uses fresh lemon and lemon zest. To get the most juice, start with warm lemons and roll the lemons on a hard, flat surface with the palm of your hand to loosen them. Always zest lemons (or other citrus fruits) before you juice them, it’s hard to zest a juiced fruit.
- Sour Cream: This cheesecake uses sour cream instead of heavy whipping cream to give it a little extra tang. Sour cream also makes your cheesecake light and fluffy because it breaks up the heavy cream cheese.
- Lemon Curd: The top layer of lemon curd makes this the perfect dessert for lemon lovers. It is tart, sweet, and smooth, and a great fancy topping to master if you love to bake. A dollop of lemon curd can make any summer dessert Top Chef worthy.
Can Lemon Cheesecake be made ahead of time?
You prepare a baked cheesecake or just the lemony filling in advance. Once you bake Lemon Cheesecake, it will stay good in the fridge for about 2-3 days before it starts releasing a lot of moisture and isn’t as pretty. The cheesecake batter can be made about 3-4 days ahead of time as long as you keep it in an airtight container in the fridge. The day you want to serve it, simply pour the lemon cheesecake filling into a prepared pie crust and bake cheesecake as usual.
- Citrus: You can swap out any citrus for lemons in this cheesecake recipe. Try blood oranges, naval oranges, tangerines, or limes. Make combinations of citrus flavors or go with one bold flavor depending on what is in season.
- Meyer Lemons: Meyer lemons are a bit sweeter than regular lemons, and Meyer lemon zest has more floral notes. They are more expensive than regular lemons but are a good option if you like lemon flavor without so much tart lemon punch.
- Crust: Swap out the graham cracker cookies with vanilla wafer cookies, Biscoff cookies, leftover Shortbread Cookies, or animal crackers. Replace a couple tablespoons granulated sugar with brown sugar in the crust mixture to give it a slight caramel flavor.
How to Store
- Serve: After topping with lemon curd, refrigerate the cheesecake until completely chilled before serving. Once chilled, it can be at room temperature for about 2 hours.
- Store: The cheesecake and lemon curd will stay good for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. You can make it in advance and the lemon flavor deepens overnight. Make up to 2 days in advance for the best looking cheesecake.
- Freeze: You can freeze cheesecake for up to 4 months. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and aluminum foil after the cheesecake is completely chilled. Remove the plastic wrap and cover with foil again before thawing so moisture doesn’t collect.
Graham Cracker Crust:
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs 12 full crackers
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted
- 24 ounces cream cheese , softened, 3 blocks
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Graham Cracker Crust:
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees and wrap a 9″ springform pan in a large piece of foil to protect from the water bath, and a large pan of water you can set the springform pan in to bake.
- Mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter together then press it into the springform pan in an even layer.
- To your stand mixer add the cream cheese and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy.
- Lower the speed to medium and add in the eggs, sour cream, vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour until smooth.
- Carefully spread the mixture on the crust.
- Place the pan in the water bath and bake for 60-70 minutes or until it no longer jiggles in the center.
- Turn off the oven, open the door a couple of inches to let the heat out gently, and let cool for 1 hour then remove from the oven.
- To your stand mixer add the butter and sugar creaming it together until lightened in color and fluffy, 2-3 minutes on high speed.
- Add in the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.
- Add in the lemon juice until well combined.
- Add the mixture to a large saucepan over medium heat and whisk constantly.
- Keep whisking until thick enough that the whisk going through the pan leaves a mark in the lemon curd, about 12-15 minutes.
- Pour the lemon curd over the cheesecake.
- Chill completely before serving.
- Top with whipped cream and a tiny wedge of lemon.