Bright, beautiful, and luscious Strawberry Cheesecake will be the talk of the season! This silky smooth cheesecake has a layer of easy homemade strawberry spread on the bottom and then a stunning swirl of it through the top. Fresh strawberry flavors with creamy cheesecake is the most perfect pair.
If you don’t want to deal with baking, try my No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake.
Table of Contents
Cheesecake with Strawberry Topping
When my baby sister was coming home from college for a spring break, the first thing she did was call me to see “if I happen to plan on making a cheesecake…?” Of course, how can I resist making a homemade cheesecake for a “starving” college student?!
I love making crazy cheesecakes with frostings, and toppings, and different flavors! But there are days when the simplest route is truly the best way to go. This strawberry cheesecake recipe is pretty classic, and the fresh strawberry flavor makes it shine very bright. There’s no need for frosting or toppings because this cheesecake has the most beautiful swirled top that’s equal parts vibrant and scrumptious!
I modeled this cheesecake after one of my favorites – White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecakes. It just looks so pretty all swirled at the top and baked into a hypnotizing design. While you don’t want to cover it up with a frosting, you can save the extra strawberry sauce that will be left over for drizzling on top of the individual slices.
Strawberries – For the best results with both flavor and consistency, be sure to use fresh strawberries only.
Vanilla – I always recommend using 100% pure vanilla extract and not imitation.
Lemon Juice – Be sure to use freshly squeezed lemon juice, not the bottled alternative.
Sugars – You’ll need both white granulated sugar and brown sugar for this recipe.
Cream Cheese – Use full fat cream cheese for the best consistency. Remember to pull it out of the refrigerator 30-45 minutes before using so it’s softened.
Eggs – Remember to take the eggs out 30-45 minutes before using to let them adjust to room temperature.
Heavy Whipping Cream – Do NOT substitute this with any other dairy product.
Sour Cream – To create the most decadent consistency, you’ll want to use full fat sour cream.
See recipe card for complete information on ingredients and quantities.
You’ll love how easy this homemade cheesecake is to make. You just have to make the strawberry sauce, crust, and cheesecake filling. Then, assemble and bake with my easy to follow steps!
Making Strawberry Sauce
Bring the strawberries, sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice to a simmer in a sauce pot over medium heat. Once simmering, lower the heat to medium-low and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
In another bowl, create a slurry by combining cornstarch and cold water. Stir this slurry into the pot. Let the strawberry sauce thicken, then blend it to a smooth consistency.
Prepare Cheesecake Crust
Prepare the springform pan by wrapping the outside of it in foil. This helps keep the water out.
Preheat the oven to 325°F. While that’s heating up, make the crust by mixing together the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, vanilla, and brown sugar until combined. Spray the inside of the pan with non-stick spray, then spread the crust mixture all over the bottom and a little up the sides of the pan.
Drizzle half a cup of the strawberry sauce over the prepared crust and gently spread it into an even layer.
Making Cheesecake Filling
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy. Scrape sides and bottom on the bowl as needed.
Pour in the sugar and beat in the eggs one at a time until smooth. Stop and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the sour cream, vanilla, and heavy cream, still on medium-high speed, until combined.
Lower the speed and beat in cornstarch. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix for a few more seconds to make sure everything is evenly combined. Pour the batter over the crust and sauce and spread it evenly.
Spoon several dollops of the strawberry sauce all over the top of the cheesecake filling. Use a long, thin handle of a spatula to swirl the sauce and filling. DO NOT mix, just swirl. Don’t go too deep!
Place the cheesecake pan inside of a roasting pan in the oven. Pour hot water into the roasting pan, enough to go halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
Bake for 85-90 minutes. Turn off the oven and open the oven door halfway. Let the baked cheesecake rest for about 10-15 minutes, then take it out of the oven. Take the foil wrap off of the pan.
Let the cheesecake rest for another 10 minutes at room temperature. Then, run a butter knife between the sides of the cheesecake to separate it from the springform pan.
Cool the cheesecake for an hour, then cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.
PRO TIP: You don’t actually have to take the cheesecake out of the pan until you’re ready to serve it.
Tips for the Best Strawberry Cheesecake:
- You can prepare strawberry sauce ahead of time and store it in the fridge until ready to make the cheesecake. If you do make it ahead, make sure to warm up the sauce so it’s softer and easier to spread and swirl.
- There will be some sauce leftover from this recipe and that is on purpose. I make sure to make extra so that people can drizzle more sauce on top of their individual slice. There are always a couple of people that want to have a little more strawberry sauce on top.
- If you don’t have graham cracker crumbs for the crust, substitute Nilla wafers. Pulse about 40-50 wafer cookies in the blender until it’s crumbs and use it in the recipe. You may want to omit or use less brown sugar in the crust if substituting Nilla wafers.
- I highly recommend that you wrap outside of the springform pan in heavy duty aluminum foil to prevent water seeping in from the water bath.
- That brings up to the water bath. DO use water bath to bake the cheesecake! The texture difference really is amazing, it’s well worth the extra step.
- Be careful swirling the strawberry sauce into the cheesecake. DO NOT mix, just swirl the sauce and cheesecake filling with a back of a spoon or another utensil with a thin handle. Don’t scrape the sides and don’t get all the way to the bottom so you don’t scrape the crust.
Yes! Once cheesecake has been cooled to room temperature, run a butter knife along the inside of the springform pan to separate the cheesecake from the pan. Place the pan with cheesecake in the freezer and freeze for about an hour.
Carefully take off the side portion of the springform. You can either keep the bottom of the springform with the cheesecake or transfer it onto a piece of thick cardboard cake holder covered with aluminum foil. Wrap cheesecake and the bottom of the pan with plastic wrap, using 2-3 layers. Then, wrap the whole thing with aluminum foil.
Make sure to date and label before placing cheesecake back in the freezer. Cheesecake will stay fresh in the freezer for about 2-3 months. To thaw frozen cheesecake, make sure to do it slowly. Place cheesecake from freezer into the refrigerator and slow-thaw overnight.
Separate the springform side and bottom part. Then, take the bottom part of the pan and lay it down on a sheet of parchment paper. Use a pencil to trace around the bottom of the pan. Keep in mind that the circle will need to be just a little bigger than the bottom of the pan.
Cut out the circle you traced and put the springform back together. Spray the springform with cooking spray and fit the parchment paper circle on the bottom. When you are ready to take the cheesecake out of the pan, make sure to use large, hard spatula. Have the serving dish or the cardboard cake circle ready and be careful!
Slide the spatula in between the parchment paper and the bottom of the springform pan. Gently pull the cheesecake off of the springform and right onto the serving dish. Keep them side by side, and make sure you don’t tilt the cheesecake pan!
When the edges are set and the center is slightly soft and jiggly, you’ll know it’s cooked! As it cools in the oven and on the counter, the center will continue to set more and become more firm. DO NOT insert a knife or toothpick into the center to check for doneness, since that may cause the dessert to crack.
Baking in a water bath technique is called “bain-marie.” This technique is done to prepare delicate desserts like crème brûlée, custards, and cheesecakes. The main reason for using a water bath for these desserts is to keep direct heat away from baking dish.
Because these desserts are heavy on the cream and eggs, if not baked evenly and slowly but exposed to direct heat, it would not be baked uniformly. The outside will be overdone and inside will still be gooey. Water bath ensures even baking throughout the whole dish by keeping layer of protection between the baking dish and oven heat.
Without the water bath, cheesecake will be sagging in the middle, is likely to crack, and most importantly, it will be overcooked on the outside and under-cooked on the inside.
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- 16 oz strawberries
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tbsp cold water
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 4 tbsp salted butter melted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 32 oz cream cheese softened
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 3 eggs room temperature
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- Wash strawberries and cut off the leaves. Chop clean berries and place them into a sauce pot.
- Stir in sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon juice. Bring it to simmer over medium heat and then lower the heat. Let it simmer over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes. Make sure to stir from time to time.
- In a separate little bowl, mix cornstarch and cold water together and stir that mixture into the sauce pot.
- Let the strawberry mixture thicken and then blend it with an immersion blender or in another blender.
Prepare the pan:
- Before making the cheesecake, prepare the springform pan by wrapping outside of it in aluminum foil. Many springform pans, especially ones that have been used quite a bit, have a chance of leaking some water inside. Wrapping outside of the springform in foil will help keep water out.
- Although, there is a chance that a small amount of water will leak in, this will NOT ruin the cheesecake.
- Preheat the oven to 325°.
- Combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, vanilla extract, and brown sugar in a mixing bowl and mix very well.
- Spray inside of the springform pan with some cooking spray, making sure you get the sides too. Spread crumb mixture in the bottom of the prepared springform, evenly pressing it over the bottom and a little up the sides.
- Drizzle about 1/2 cup of the strawberry sauce over crust and gently spread it with a back of a spoon to even the layer.
- In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat softened cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy. I give it a good 2-3 minutes of beating to get it soft and smooth. Scrape sides and bottom on the bowl.
- Pour in sugar while beating and add eggs, one at a time. Beat it until smooth. Stop to scrape bottom and sides of the bowl.
- Add sour cream, vanilla extract, heavy cream and beat, still on medium-high speed, until all mixed.
- Lower the speed and beat in cornstarch. Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl and mix for a few more seconds to make sure everything is evenly mixed.
- Carefully pour the batter over the crust and sauce and spread in evenly.
- Spoon several dollops of strawberry sauce over the top of the cheesecake filling and use a long, thin handle of a spatula or another utensil to gently swirl the sauce and filling. DO NOT mix, just swirl. Try not to scrape sides and don’t go too deep so you don’t scrape the crust. (Save remaining strawberry sauce to top off individual slices.)
Bake the cheesecake:
- Place a large roasting pan into the oven and place cheesecake springform inside the roasting pan. Carefully pour hot water into the roasting pan, about half way up the side of the springform.
- Bake for 85-90 minutes. Turn off the oven and open the oven door half way. Let cheesecake rest for 10-15 minutes and take it out of the oven. Take the foil wrap off the pan.
- Let it rest for 10 minutes on the counter and then gently run a butter knife between sides of the cheesecakes and the springform to carefully separate it. (You don’t actually have to take the cheesecake out of the pan until ready to serve.)
- Cool cheesecake for an hour and then cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.
- Strawberry Sauce: note that can made the strawberry sauce ahead of time! Just make sure to refrigerate it in an air-tight food storage container. Warm up the sauce when you’re ready to make the cheesecake.
- Water Bath: remember, DO use the water bath technique, it does strongly affect the texture of the cheesecake for the better.
- How To Tell If Cheesecake If Done: You can tell the cheesecake is baked when the edges are set and the center is slightly soft and jiggly. As it cools in the oven and on the counter, the center will continue to set more and become more firm. DO NOT insert a knife or toothpick into the center since that may cause the dessert to crack.
- Cooling: DO cool the cheesecake is three steps: 10 minutes in the turned off oven, on the counter, and chill in the refrigerator.