We Tested 4 Famous Cheesecake Recipes and Found a Clear Winner (2024)

We Tested 4 Famous Cheesecake Recipes and Found a Clear Winner (1)

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Recipe Review

Jesse Szewczyk

Jesse SzewczykContributor


updated Sep 28, 2022





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I’m what some might call an “avid baker.” I bake something new almost every week and am always on the hunt for a fresh and exciting recipe to try. But rarely do I make cheesecake.

The thing with cheesecake is that even the easiest recipes require a fair amount of work (and a significant amount of time), so I find myself not wanting to commit unless I know the recipe’s a winner.

The best way to find that winner? Bake a lot of cheesecakes and see which one stands out. So I sorted through a lot of cheesecake recipes, picked out four of the most iconic ones, and battled them off in hopes of finding the ultimate cheesecake.

The contenders: Junior’s New York-style cheesecake, a copycat Cheesecake Factory recipe, the classic Philadelphia version, and an old stand by from The Joy of Cooking.

Too often, cheesecakes are too sugary, too soft, or unpleasantly gritty — so for me, the winning recipe had to strike the perfect balance of tart and sweet, be firm enough to hold a slice, and have a dreamy, silky-smooth texture. It should be light but still decadent, and the crust should be crisp, not soggy.

I spent an entire weekend baking and compared the four recipes side-by-side to see which one stood out. After two days of nonstop baking (and 16 blocks of cream cheese), I finally found a winner. Here’s what I thought about each of the recipes.

Meet Our 4 Cheesecake Contenders

1. The Old-School Recipe That Let Us Down: The Joy of Cooking’s Sour Cream Cheesecake

The Joy of Cooking is an iconic cookbook with timeless, reliable recipes, so I knew I needed to include its cheesecake recipe. Within its pages I actually found a handful of cheesecake recipes, ranging from one made with ricotta to something called “gelatin cheesecake.” But the most classic recipe I came across was a sour cream version made with a graham cracker crust.

The recipe itself was pretty straightforward and didn’t require a ton of effort to pull off. The issue, however, is that it just wasn’t very good. The texture was way too loose and the cheesecake never fully set. Once sliced into, it lost its shape and started to melt onto the plate. The crust was also too sweet (it’s made with over a cup of powdered sugar) and made the whole thing a bit sickly. It was disappointing, to say the least.

  • Difficulty to Make: 6/10
  • Taste/Texture: 2/10
  • Appearance: 7/10
  • Overall Rating: 4/10

Read more: Why the Old-School “Joy of Cooking” Cheesecake Recipe Did Not Bring Me Joy

2. The Basic (but Good) Cheesecake to Keep in Your Back Pocket: Philadelphia Classic Cheesecake

This recipe is as basic as basic gets. It only takes six ingredients to make, comes together in no time, and doesn’t even require a water bath. Sometimes these too-good-to-be-true recipes are actually the best, but sometimes they’re super sleepy and barely get the job done. I was eager to see if such a simple formula could actually produce something worthwhile.

Sadly, this recipe was as basic as the ingredients it takes to make it. While it certainly wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t anything worth making again. The texture was super creamy, and the crust was crisp, so it’s a good base recipe to keep in your back pocket and riff on when inspiration strikes.

Try topping it with fresh macerated fruit, or adding additional extracts to liven it up a bit. It’s such a simple recipe that it’s worth revisiting — just with a little more love.

  • Difficulty to Make: 1/10
  • Taste/Texture: 5/10
  • Appearance: 4/10
  • Overall Rating: 5/10

Read more: The Classic Philadelphia Cheesecake Recipe Is as Easy as It Gets. But Is It Too Good to Be True?

3. The One with the Unexpected (and Seriously Delicious) Crust: Junior’s Original New York Cheesecake

For those of you outside New York, Junior’s is the place to get cheesecake. It’s a small chain of restaurants known for this dessert. The thing that makes their recipe unique is that it completely ditches the traditional graham cracker crust for a thin layer of sponge cake.

Sure, it sounds weird (and it kind of is!), but I figured it could be a welcomed change to the often-soggy bottoms of most cheesecakes. And as it turns out, the sponge cake “crust” was even more delicious than I imagined.

The sponge cake made the entire cheesecake light but still decadent, and transformed the dessert into something entirely new. The flavor was also spot-on. It had a tart cream cheese flavor that was balanced with just enough sugar and a touch of lemon extract for added flavor.

The base is made with a bit of cornstarch as well, so the cake sliced beautifully and didn’t crumble at all. Sure, opting to make sponge cake versus a standard graham cracker crust is a commitment, but it was well worth the effort.

  • Difficulty to Make: 8/10
  • Taste/Texture: 7.5/10
  • Appearance: 8/10
  • Overall Rating: 7/10

Read more: The Unexpected Crust Technique That Makes Junior’s Cheesecake So Darn Good

4. The Absolute Best Cheesecake Recipe: The Cheesecake Factory’s Original Cheesecake (Copycat Version)

The Cheesecake Factory hasn’t actually published their original cheesecake recipe anywhere, so I tried the most popular copycat version, which is as close to the real deal as you can get. We needed to know: Would it actually be as good as the ones served in restaurants?

Turns out, yes! It was — dare I say — better than the cheesecake served at the restaurant. Each individual component — the crust, the filling, and the sour cream topping — balanced each other out and created a cheesecake that was both sweet and tart.

The sour cream topping looked stunning and added an additional layer of flavor, and the crust had a subtle cinnamon flavor that perfumed the whole thing. I would 100 percent make this cheesecake again, and am now a true believer that this recipe was leaked from an actual employee. I mean, it’s too good not to be the real deal!

  • Difficulty to Make: 6/10
  • Taste/Texture: 8/10
  • Appearance: 6/10
  • Overall Rating: 8/10

Read more: I Tried the Internet’s Most Popular Copycat Recipe of The Cheesecake Factory’s Cheesecake

Your turn! What’s your go-to cheesecake recipe? Let us know in the comments!

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Recipe Review

We Tested 4 Famous Cheesecake Recipes and Found a Clear Winner (2024)


What is Raffaele Ronca's $5000 cheesecake? ›

Raffaele Ronca's $5,000 cheesecake is the most expensive in the world. It contains cheese from water buffalo, 200-year-old cognac and white truffles from Alba, Italy. The crust is made from biscotti and the chef's own chocolate and hazelnut spread.

What is the most popular flavor of cheesecake? ›

The top flavors are generally consistent, although a few may change depending on the season. The top 10 flavors always include the original, the turtle, a few fruity flavors, and a few chocolate flavors. In the fall, pumpkin flavor is also very popular.

Why did cheesecake collapse? ›

When the batter is overmixed, too much air is added and will cause your cake to rise in the oven and then collapse and crack when being removed. Don't overbake your cake. It may crack if it's too dry. Many people overbake their recipes to “play it safe”.

What is a zillionaire cheesecake? ›

And Zillionaire may be our finest work yet. The surprise of bronzed sugar. Followed by smooth, rich double chocolate ganache. Then sumptuous treacle cheesecake, floating on a buttery salted caramel,draped over a cocoa biscuit base. All those textures.

Where is the best cheesecake in the United States? ›

However, it's widely regarded that the best cheesecake in America can be found in Chicago, where it's more firm on the outside and softer, creamier, and fluffier on the inside; and in New York, where it's more dense and rich throughout.

What is the difference between New York Cheesecake and Italian cheesecake? ›

The main difference between what we would consider typical New York American cheesecake and Italian cheesecake is that in Italy, cheesecake is made with ricotta rather than cream cheese. It is also a bit lighter and dryer, more cakelike and less cloying.

What place has the best cheesecake in the world? ›

Boccione also makes softer sweets, including morning pastries filled with fruit and cream, and its justly famous ricotta crostata, some with a cherry center, others with chocolate. It might be the world's best cheesecake. A cheesecake with history: crostata ricotta from Pasticceria Boccione in Rome.

What is Chicago cheesecake? ›

Chicago Cheesecake is known for its firm outside and soft and creamy center, which comes from the extra cream cheese that is added to the batter.

What is the name of the famous cheesecake in New York? ›


Take a trip back to Brooklyn. Famous since 1950. Home of the World's most fabulous cheesecake and delicious comfort food. Come visit us!

Why is New York cheesecake so good? ›

When it comes to New York style cheesecake, heavy cream or sour cream is added to the mixture to create a denser, smoother, and creamier cheesecake. A springform pan allows for even baking and a high temperature creates a nice, attractive golden brown crust.

What not to do when making cheesecake? ›

16 Mistakes You're Making With Homemade Cheesecake
  1. Working with cold ingredients. Hobo_018/Getty Images. ...
  2. Using whipped cream cheese. ...
  3. Using low-fat cream cheese. ...
  4. Undermixing your cheesecake. ...
  5. Not diversifying your cheeses. ...
  6. Not being careful with your eggs. ...
  7. Only making plain cheesecake. ...
  8. Baking in anything but a springform pan.
May 29, 2023

Should I cover no bake cheesecake in the fridge? ›

No-bake cheesecakes should be stored in the refrigerator to keep them fresh and prevent spoilage. Here are some tips for storing no-bake cheesecakes: Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap or foil to prevent it from drying out or absorbing any odors from other foods in the fridge.

What is the oldest cheesecake? ›

Over 4,000 years ago in the fifth century BC, the ancient Greeks on the island of Samos created the earliest known cheesecake. This rudimentary cheesecake was made with patties of fresh cheese that were then pounded smooth with flour and honey.

What is the most famous cheesecake in cheesecake Factory? ›

The Original Topped with Glazed Fresh Strawberries. Our Most Popular Flavor for over 40 Years!

How much is a 7 inch cheesecake at cheesecake Factory? ›

Prices vary based on size and flavor, but you can snag a 6-inch Original Cheesecake for around $20. If you're more into chocolate, grab a 7-inch Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake for just under $32. Like I said, shuffle through the various options and pick the best dessert for you.

Why are cheesecake so expensive? ›

Because the ingredients are expensive. Brick type cream cheese is not cheap and cheesecakes are almost all cheese, with a few eggs and a bit of flavouring and sweetener. If I get cream cheese on sale, say, at $2.50 per 8 oz brick, it takes at least 3 bricks to make a modest size cake.

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