Bursting with sweet cherry flavor, this Philadelphia cherry cheesecake recipe is super simple to make. Starting with a crunchy graham cracker crust filled with a creamy cheesecake center and topped with a luscious cherry sauce, this easy cheesecake is perfect for any occasion. It’s decadent yet light and guaranteed to impress.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. Learn more
The best Philadelphia cherry cheesecake recipe
My Philadelphia cherry cheesecake recipe is rich and creamy, with sweet, juicy cherries on top. The buttery graham cracker crust pairs so wonderfully with the silky smooth cream cheese filling.
This easy cherry cheesecake will win everyone over, whether you serve it for a holiday, birthday, or summer BBQ. After one bite, you’ll feel tempted to bake this treat over and over.
So please don’t be intimidated by the idea of baking cheesecake – it’s easy! In this post, I’ll walk you through all my tips and tricks, and you’ll have the perfect cherry dessert ready in no time!
Got extra cherries? Try our cherry yum yum, cherry crumble, and cherry strudel. And for a miniature version of this treat, try our mini cherry cheesecakes!
The ingredients in this delicious Philadelphia cherry cheesecake recipe are pretty straightforward. It features a graham cracker crust (my favorite on a cheesecake), a creamy cream cheese filling, and a juicy cherry topping. You can see the exact measurements in the recipe card below.
- Graham cracker crumbs: Buy premade crumbs or make your own. If you are crushing full graham cracker sheets, grind them as evenly and small as possible to avoid large chunks in your crust.
- Melted butter helps to hold the crust together. I prefer salted butter to give my cheesecake a slightly salty base. Of course, unsalted butter + a pinch of salt are also fine.
- Philadelphia cream cheese: Full-fat brick-style Philly cream cheese is my go-to for the best flavor. The spreadable type from a tub isn’t suitable here. Cold cream cheese will result in a lumpy batter, so bring it to room temperature before using.
- Granulated sugar: You need a cup of granulated sugar to sweeten the cheesecake, plus a little extra for the crust and the cherry topping.
- Cornstarch: A little cornstarch helps to set the filling and thicken the cherry sauce.
- Eggs: 3 large eggs help make the cheesecake filling smooth and create a rich texture. Take your eggs out of the fridge to warm up ahead of time.
- Blueberries: You can use fresh or frozen cherries to make the sauce. And if you are short on time or cherries are out of season, grab a can of your favorite cherry pie filling.
- Vanilla: I highly recommend using pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste. After all the work you put into this Philly cheesecake, you don’t want to finish it with imitation vanilla with a weird aftertaste.
- Almond extract: You won’t believe how much more flavorful the cherry cheesecake filling is when you add almond extract to the batter. It highlights the cherry flavor in the most beautiful way.
How to make Philadelphia cherry cheesecake
Philadelphia cream cheese cherry cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts to make. It’s a bit more work than, say, a brownie, but it’s always worth it in the end. It’s so creamy, delicious, and satisfying! Follow the steps below and this recipe will turn out perfect.
#1: Make the crust
- Make crust mixture. In a medium bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press the mixture into a springform pan.
- Prebake crust. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then set aside to slightly cool.
#2: Mix cheesecake filling
- Mix cheesecake batter. In a large mixing bowl and using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, sugar, and cornstarch until smooth and fluffy.
- Incorporate eggs and extracts. Add the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the vanilla and almond extract until smooth.
- Fill pan. Pour the cheesecake batter into the graham cracker crust, spreading the top into an even layer.
#3: Bake cheesecake
- Set up a water bath. Place the springform pan into a larger silicone cake pan. Then put the silicone pan into an even larger baking pan. Fill the gap between the pans with warm water to reach about halfway up the sides of the silicone pan.
- Bake. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. The cheesecake is done when the center is mostly set, but still slightly jiggly.
#4: Cook cherry topping
- Cook cherry sauce. Bring the cherries, water, and sugar to a simmer over medium heat in a medium saucepan, stirring occasionally. Cook until the cherries soften and the sauce is syrupy.
- Thicken sauce. Whisk together the cornstarch, 1/4 cup water, vanilla extract, and almond extract in a small bowl. Stir the cornstarch slurry into the simmering cherries. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly, until thickened. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
- Garnish. Spoon the cherry topping over the cooled cheesecake in an even layer before slicing. Enjoy!
Philadelphia cherry cheesecake may seem intimidating because you have to pay attention to a few things because you don’t want a cracked or lumpy cheesecake. I have some helpful tips to get the perfect creamy cheesecake every time!
- Use room temperature ingredients: Bring cold ingredients (such as cream cheese and sour cream) to room temperature so they will incorporate easily without overmixing. Take them out of the fridge 30 to 60 minutes in advance.
- Use a spoon or flat measuring cup to press the crust to ensure the texture is tightly packed and smooth.
- Don’t overmix the batter: Mix on low speed and avoid overmixing the cheesecake batter because it will introduce too much air into the batter. Air bubbles in the batter can result in the cheesecake rising too much and collapsing in the middle.
- Gently tap the pan: Once you pour the cheesecake batter into the crust, gently tap the on the counter to raise and pop any air bubbles in the batter.
- Leave the oven door closed: Don’t open the oven door to peek at your Philadelphia cheesecake baking. Hot air will escape from the oven and cold air will enter, which can cause the cheesecake to fall or crack.
- Let your cheesecake cool gradually: Allow it to cool in the turned-off oven for an hour before moving it to the refrigerator to chill. If you pop it directly into the fridge, it will crack.
How to store Philadelphia cherry cheesecake
Make sure to refrigerate your homemade cherry cheesecake covered, so it does not take on any smells from the fridge. It will last for around 3 to 4 days when stored properly.
Can I freeze Philly cherry cheesecake?
Yes, the undecorated cheesecake base freezes well. I recommend making the cherry topping fresh since it can turn mushy after freezing and thawing.
Wrap the cheesecake in multiple layers of plastic wrap and place it in a freezer-safe bag or container to prevent freezer burn. You can also freeze individual slices.
How do I prevent cracks in my cheesecake?
To prevent cracks on your cherry cream cheese cake, avoid overmixing the filling or beating it at too high speed. Overmixing it will aerate the batter, leading to air bubbles that rise to the surface and crack. Or the cheesecake might even rise too much and crack as it deflates.
So please ensure all ingredients are at room temperature so they will easily combine without overmixing and stop once everything is just blended.
And if you do end up with cracks, don’t worry too much about it because the cherry topping will cover it!
Should I use fresh or frozen cherries?
You can use either for this classic cherry cheesecake recipe. I like to use fresh cherries when they are in season because nothing trumps that fresh cherry flavor.
Frozen cherries are perfect in the months after summer, once fresh crop is no longer available. I recommend thawing the cherries first, as the sauce will cook faster and more evenly.
What kind of cherries are best for cheesecake?
Either use all dark sweet cherries or a mix of rainier cherries and dark sweet cherries. If using sour cherries, add a little more sugar to the sauce to ensure it tastes sweet.
I love dark sweet cherries because they are so juicy and almost taste like candy. Add to that a hint of vanilla and almond, and you’ll have the best cherry cream cheese dessert on your hand.
Can I use cherry pie filling?
Absolutely! Using canned cherry pie filling is a clever way to save time, especially when you’re preparing for a busy holiday.
Reasons to love Philadelphia cherry cheesecake recipe
- Luscious and creamy: This simple cherry cheesecake recipe tastes rich but still light, making it an absolute dream to eat. Both the cream cheese filling and cherry topping are refreshingly light and delicious.
- Fruity and flavorful: The cherry flavor shines through in this easy Philadelphia cheesecake recipe, and the crispy graham cracker crust is the supporting act to balance it out perfectly.
- Dessert to impress: There are no two ways about it, this stunning Kraft cherry cheesecake will totally wow your family and friends! It’s the perfect dessert for a birthday or celebration at any time of year.
More cheesecake recipes
If you ask me, cheesecake really is one of the best desserts in the world. This easy Philadelphia cherry cheesecake recipe is perfect for spring, but we have many more recipes for you to try. Here are a few of our other favorites:
- Classic Philadelphia Cheesecake
- No-Bake Cheesecake
- Condensed Milk No-Bake Cheesecake
- Lemon Cheesecake
- Strawberry Cheesecake
- Chocolate Cheesecake
- Blueberry Cheesecake
- Mini Cheesecakes
- No-Bake Mini Cheesecakes