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Martha's Favorite

Classic Cheesecake

A crumbly graham cracker crust and silky cream cheese filling make this New York-style cheesecake a winner.

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 12
Classic Cheesecake

Source: Everyday Food, April 2009


For Crust

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus room-temperature butter for pan
  • 12 graham crackers (3-by-5 inch)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

For Filling

  • 2 1/2 pounds bar cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Make crust: Butter a 9-by-3-inch springform pan. In a food processor, pulse graham crackers until fine crumbs form; add melted butter, sugar, and salt, and pulse to combine. Press crumb mixture into bottom and about 1 inch up side of pan. Bake until set, 12 to 15 minutes; let cool on a wire rack. Reduce oven to 325 degrees.

  2. Set a kettle of water to boil. Make filling: Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese on medium until fluffy, scraping down side of bowl. Gradually add sugar, beating until fluffy. Beat in lemon zest and juice, and salt. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down side of bowl after each addition. Beat in sour cream.

  3. Wrap bottom half of pan in foil. Pour in filling; place in a roasting pan. Pour in boiling water to come halfway up side of springform. Bake until just set in center, about 1 3/4 hours. Remove pan from water; let cool 20 minutes. Run a paring knife around edge; let cool completely. Cover; chill overnight before serving.

Reviews (51)

  • Mrsrajan 3 Feb, 2015

    Can ready made graham cracker crumbs be used instead of grinding graham crackers for this recipe? Seems like am we some recipe, excited to make it this weekend. Thank you all for the tips and reviews.

  • Geneoo 30 Jan, 2015

    I made this recipe and forgot the sour cream. I felt stupid until I tasted it. It was wonderful. The family said it was better than restaurant cheese cake. Tonight I am making it again, this time with the sour cream. The family has agreed to judge which is better. Just know that even without the sour cream this is a great recipe.

  • missjulieanne 23 Dec, 2014

    So amazing!!! I'll be making this again tomorrow as one of the things to take over to my parent's for Christmas. This is my third time making this since I discovered this recipe a year or so ago. SO easy to make, do exactly as the recipe says. Like another guest said, the water bath especially and lemon are totally a must. BEST ever, yay!!!

  • Wired1001 29 Sep, 2014

    This was the easiest recipe to follow
    Not only did my cheesecake come out perfect without any cracks it was creamy and silky throughout! This was my first attempt at a cheesecake and I made it for a bi-weekly game night, everyone loved it by the end only one slice remained. So EASY - Thank you Martha!

  • Matt Harrell 3 Aug, 2014

    Fantastic cheesecake. I have one baking now with raspberry coulis swirled into it, as I prefer a classic base to the swirl recipe on here. One thing I do differently is that I use a cold water bath with ice in it, then bake to an internal temperature, in the center, of 160° F. This gives me a cheesecake that is perfectly smooth and creamy from edge to edge. It's a personal preference, but everyone who has tried it loves it, and I've even converted a few self-proclaimed cheesecake haters.

  • Shirley5234 17 Jun, 2014

    Recipe is the very best cheesecake ever! Do not skip the water bath or lemon...

  • Valzy13 9 Jun, 2014

    does anyone have any suggestions on how to bake this cheesecake without a water bath??? didnt realize i let someone barrow my roasting pan and nothing else is big enough for my pan

  • Bella611 1 Jun, 2014

    To die for! I made this yesterday for a family picnic today. Everyone raved about it!! I was very nervous about how it would come since it was my first time baking such a large thick cheesecake. I baked it for exactly 1 hr 45min. I let it get golden brown on the top and it was fine. I spread cherry topping on it to make it prettier.
    It really was a hit with everyone! Lots of compliments and it was completely devoured in no time!

  • LovelyZ 5 May, 2014

    Simple, quick, and easy. I love that the cake has to sit in the fridge overnight, forcing you to make it a day in advance. I usually feel guilty for doing that because I want my dishes to be as fresh as possible. In this case, you have no choice. Anyway, it was a hit with my guests and looked beautiful on the table.

  • auntiejan 27 Apr, 2014

    I can't believe it took me 65 years on this planet before I made my first cheese cake. I love Sarah's her humor and her relaxed style makes me think I can make a cheese cake, no problem!
    It's in the oven now, but if licking the filling off the beater is any indication, I know everyone is going to love it.
    And another thing...sunset magazine...I had to go to Martha Stewart to learn how to do a jelly roll for a recipe you had in your April issue.... Shame on you!

  • smithhallmom 21 Apr, 2014

    Made it for Easter and it was great! So silkly smooth and creamy. My other recipe I have made for years is great but it is a denser cheesecake.

  • KatyAnder 10 Mar, 2014

    I've made this twice now. First time, I used less than half the amount of cream cheese called for because I misread "2 1/2 pounds bar cream cheese" as two 1/2 pound bars of cream cheese. That one was denser, possibly just because I mixed it by hand haha. I also use vanilla greek yogurt instead of sour cream. My only issue was creating a good enough seal with my aluminum foil to keep the water out while cooking. My first crust was a bit on the moist side, but both times it tasted great anyways!

  • Mark Koss 2 Mar, 2014

    If you follow the recipe to the letter, this is a great cheesecake.

  • Eneida1 7 Jan, 2014

    I am not from New York (I am Croatian - Europe) but I made something similar these days, so yummy, I added a little bit of cinnamon in the crust, try if you like it, And congratulations for your good recipes and more!

  • rhahn2 11 Dec, 2013

    This was a perfect recipe. And, it was very simple too. Just like New York Cheesecake. I would prepare some sort of glaze next time too.

  • Marguerite Gualtier 18 Nov, 2013

    That is perfect. Finally -- a simple recipe that is perfection.

  • Brazington1 14 Sep, 2013

    After watching Martha create this on her show I had to give it a try! It's my first from scratch cheesecake and it looks beautiful! I even added the raspberry swirls to give it an extra pop! So much easier than I envisioned and no cracks! Love this recipe!

  • cicillionaire 9 Aug, 2013

    If you can't follow a recipe that has actual measurements (so that you can have a accurate idea of the ingredients that you need) then perhaps you shouldn't attempt a cheesecake from scratch. This recipe is not "misleading". Its awesome. I've made it 4 times and it comes out perfectly. In fact, its the ONLY cheesecake recipe that consistently comes out perfectly. Follow the recipe and instructions and you will get a beautiful cake. SUCH a crowd pleaser and absolutely delicious.

  • doodlebug99 2 Jul, 2013

    I just made this, following the recipe to the "T". It turned out beautifully. The top did get golden and is fine with me. This was my first attempt at a cheesecakes and I'm now empowered to try a more fancy flavor. Thanks Martha

  • letoile603 12 May, 2013

    People really??? Its not rocket science! Some people think 2 and half pounds is 2 and half packs cream cheese...Each pack is 8oz....16oz = 1 lb....Therefore you need 5 packs of make this cheesecake...however she demonstrates 7 packs! and put flour in her recipe... I stuck to 5 pks c.cheese and no flour...Perfect!! everytime I make it...:)

  • buthole 6 Apr, 2013

    Im very disappointed, very misleading recipe. used 4 pkg. of cream cheese. too much cake, risen past the top of springfoam pan. took longer than a one and 3/4 hour to get done. browned on top. followed recipe to the letter!!

  • bellamaci 1 Apr, 2013

    I have made this cheesecake three times already, and so far it has tasted as good as it looks !!!!! I am very proud of accomplishing this and
    hope I can master the other recipes Martha has !! I do seem to have a problem with the top also turning into a lovely golden brown !!!! I don't mind it,
    but I have a friend who says it should be a lot lighter-I am following the instructions to the letter, so I don't understand why it doesn't come out lighter,
    like in the photograph (?) !

  • winniwoo 28 Mar, 2013

    So todayI tried this recipe. At firsti thought everything was fin to review the recipe and to my surprise found that the way it is written is misleading. The amount of Cr. Cheese required needs to be written more cleary. Interpretation of what is there is not what . I now have to start all over again. Thanks Martha

  • bsosa 16 Dec, 2012

    me parece muy practica

  • Aaron12 13 Nov, 2012

    Hi, does anyone know what difference salt makes to the cheesecake. which factor does it specifically affect - the taste or texture?
    And, does anyone know how heavy the finished cheesecake is?


  • Aaron12 13 Nov, 2012

    Hi, does anyone know th difference salt makes to the recipe. is the taste or texture affected by the presence of salt in the cheese cake?
    and does anyone know what is the exact weight of the completed cheesecake? (:


  • Aaron12 13 Nov, 2012

    Hi, does anyone know th difference salt makes to the recipe. is the taste or texture affected by the presence of salt in the cheese cake?
    and does anyone know what is the exact weight of the completed cheesecake? (:


  • Tammy Gerardot 12 Nov, 2012

    How can I keep the top of my cheesecake from turing golden brown?

  • Naishopa757 20 Sep, 2012

    Several days ago, I was fortunate enough to watch Martha demonstrating this recipe, on her morning show. I tried it and much to my surprise, I was simply amazed at the taste, texture and creaminess of the recipe. I garnished the cheesecake with strawberries, chilled overnight, and then served them to some friends. The water bath kept the cheesecake from cracking and the sauce looked beautiful on top of the cake. Following her instructions, it came out perfect if not, better then hers.

  • ljwaldron 16 Jul, 2012

    BTW, I used 5 8oz pkgs of cream cheese. Martha demonstrated this on her show, and that's how many she used also.

  • ljwaldron 16 Jul, 2012

    I used this recipe to teach my 12 year old grandson how to make cheesecake. It's not complicated and teaches basic steps in preparation. Not everything comes out of a box! It's rewarding to have something so amazing as a finished product. The flavor is amazing. Not easy waiting for it to chill completely before diving in!

  • bellaluna915 23 Jun, 2012


  • tonythompson 2 Dec, 2011

    BSinME, the amount of cream cheese is correct. As stated earlier it is 5- 8oz packages. This recipe is perfect, I make it all the time and I several other recipes that call for similar amounts of cream cheese.

  • BSinME 20 Nov, 2011

    Aalley, I know this is late, but I hope it helps. At first glance I thought it said 2 1/2 pounds of cream cheese. I have NEVER seen a recipe that calls for anything close to that. I looked again and it does seem to mean 2 8 oz packages. 2 or 3 packages is the norm. Will be trying this recipe this week.

  • katre22 31 Aug, 2011

    *droooool*, this looks so good! I totally have the problem of my cheesecakes sinking in the middle all the time. I ran across a really good photographic step-by-step article of how to do a water bath - it is UNBELIEVABLE how much of a difference it makes. I tried it on my last cheesecake, and it turned out completely smooth and straight on top.

  • jess83 24 Jul, 2011

    This is the most perfect NY style cheesecake I've ever made! If you follow all of the baking instructions exactly and allowing the cheesecake to cool completely at room temperature and then putting in refrigerator overnight, you have no cracks and perfect texture! I have made this recipe several times now, flawless every time! My family, friends, and I love it. I like to make a couple and serve with several topping options. Delicious!!!

  • hayarsalane 19 Mar, 2011

    Wow thanks a lot for this recipe its delicious and and very easy to make.
    greetings from Germany

  • SBrasil 12 Mar, 2011

    How do I keep the top of my cheesecake from turning golden brown?? I want it to look like the picture and be the same color throughout, but the top is always golden brown! Should I cover it?? HELP!!!

  • watscookn 19 Jan, 2011

    aalley2, there are 16 oz in a pound so you need 5 (8oz) packs of cream cheese for this recipe. Good luck!

  • aalley2 19 Jan, 2011

    Does 2 1/2 pounds mean 2 - 8oz packs of cream cheese? I looks to me that 2 1/2 could mean a couple different things, but since I have never seen any bigger than 8 0z, that is what I would go with. Places like Sam's Club probably sell huge bars of cream cheese!

  • isaiahmybaby 12 Jan, 2011

    This cheesecake is the best by far I love it and it was very easy to make I most definitely recommend it its delicious once u get this recipe no need to look any further for one its absolutely awesome.

  • MG_Laura 17 Dec, 2010

    This is by far the best cheesecake I have ever made! Highly recommend it!

  • j1222lo 20 Nov, 2010

    this was the perfect cheese cake ever.... loved it

  • zozoaraby 6 Oct, 2010

    I'm zozo from Egypt i adore u Martha I'd like to make this cake at home and i like American food

  • stephmonster87 3 Mar, 2010

    Vegan alternative! think of it as healthy cheesecake

  • EliandMarcio2013 13 Jan, 2010

    This cheesecake is just wonderful. Easy and delicious. Anyone will love it.

  • tdgutman 29 Dec, 2009

    I made this for Christmas

  • lisamaria 21 Nov, 2009

    I give up..I tried 3 times and only one showed upt and it wasn't even a comment. Sorry!

  • lisamaria 21 Nov, 2009

    Is this working? I keep typing comments and they don't show up.

  • andi928 14 Jul, 2009

    i've made this recipe twice now..and people FREAK OUT at how good it is. experienced cheesecake eaters have said it was the best cheesecake they had ever had! highly recommend it. and it's easy to make too!

  • LourdesFlorida 3 Jul, 2009

    This recipe is excellent, easy to make, and it is very moist, I highly recommend this recipe, enjoy.

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