This Classic Sour Cream Cheesecake features a light and creamy filling with a tangy sour cream topping. It’s the perfect dessert for any occasion!
This recipe has been a long time coming. Each holiday season, I put it on my MUST MAKE list, and every season it slips away, another holiday passed without cheesecake. I’d like to blame this sad state of affairs on procrastination or the simply overwhelming number of creative recipes I have stewing in my brain (ha!), but that would be a lie. You see, this isn’t just any cheesecake. This is Mom’s Cheesecake. The creamiest, richest, tangiest best dang cheesecake I’ve ever had.
Mom’s cheesecake sets a high bar, and honestly, I didn’t know if I could meet it. I mean, why mess with perfection, anyway? Mom can keep making cheesecakes, and I can stay in my comfort zone with fudge brownies and sour cream banana bread.
This year I added Mom’s cheesecake to my holiday to do list just like every other year. I thought for sure something else would come along to pop it out of its spot on the calendar, but for once, I had no good excuse. It was time.
I made this during a crazy morning in an even crazier week. It was Halloween. Our kiddo had a wicked cold. We were sleep deprived. The odds were certainly not in my favor, but by this point I was determined. I set the cream cheese out to soften first thing in the morning. By mid-day, P was happily distracted by an episode of Bob the Builder, and I took the opportunity to get to work.
Here’s the thing about Mom’s cheesecake. It’s deceptively easy to make and actually quite forgiving. The graham cracker crust takes minutes to throw together, and the filling is made from just cream cheese, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and lemon juice. It should’ve taken me 20 minutes to put it all together and bake it. But then I got halfway through and realized I didn’t have enough sugar. Then P wanted to “help” and proceeded to spill the lemon juice all over the counter. Then the UPS man came and our dog freaked out, and it seemed a hundred little other distractions and mini catastrophes stood between me and cheesecake.
Finally, after scrounging up some spare sugar from the coffee sugar bowl, the cheesecake was in the oven. And somehow, despite all odds, it turned out great. A small crack settled in the center of the cheesecake, but I knew not to fret, because Mom’s cheesecake has a secret.
Atop that classic, creamy filling goes a sweet sour cream topping that covers a multitude of amateur cheesecake baker wrongs. It flows over cracks and crevices, and, after a brief six minutes in a blazing hot oven, creates a smooth, glassy finish that tastes even better than it looks. Of course, when I went to cover the cheesecake, I let the saran wrap sag onto the surface, thereby ruining aforementioned glassy smooth finish. Ah well, we can’t all be as good as mom, right?
This is the cheesecake of my childhood, and it’s nothing like the firm, dense texture you might find in a traditional New York style cheesecake. This cheesecake is silky and creamy, with an almost whipped texture. I credit the incredible flavor of this cheesecake to the heavy dose of lemon juice and vanilla inside. The lemon juice doesn’t go so far as to make this a lemon cheesecake, but it’s strong enough to counteract the richness of the cream cheese and brighten the whole thing.
This sour cream cheesecake isn’t as heavy as traditional cheesecake, which means a slice disappears way too easily. The slices can be enjoyed plain, of course, but I love topping mine with cherry pie filling. I like cherry pie filling for exactly one thing: this cheesecake. You could also pick up some blueberry or peach pie filling or drizzle the cheesecake with chocolate sauce or smashed strawberries.
I’m happy to say Mom’s cheesecake didn’t disappoint, even in the hands of a novice like myself. The recipe makes a metric ton of cheesecake and can serve a crowd, so it’s perfect for taking to holiday gatherings, although I’m never sad when a few slices make it back home with me. Just beware, as long as this cheesecake is hanging out in your fridge, it will be calling your name! Mom’s cheesecake is impossible to resist.
For the crust
- 2 cups crushed graham crackers (about 14 whole crackers)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Pinch salt
For the filling
- 3 8 ounce blocks cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
For the topping
- 2 cups sour cream
- 5 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 inch spring form pan.
- In a small bowl, combine the graham crackers, sugar, butter, and salt. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan and 1/4 of an inch up the sides.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the lemon juice and vanilla. Pour the mixture over the graham crackers.
Bake in the preheated oven for 25-35 minutes or until set. Remove from oven, then increase the heat to 450 degrees.
In the meantime, whisk together sour cream and sugar until smooth and no longer grainy, about 2 minutes. When the oven is preheated, pour the sour cream mixture over top of the cheesecake and bake an additional 5-7 minutes or until set and just barely golden. Remove from oven and cool, then chill for at least 2 hours or overnight. Serve plain or with your favorite pie filling (we're partial to cherry around here!).
My mom adheres to a gluten free diet. The only changes she makes is using gluten free graham crackers to make this gluten free!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 395 Total Fat: 26g Saturated Fat: 14g Cholesterol: 111mg Sodium: 263mg Fiber: 0g Sugar: 28g Protein: 5g