This easy Philadelphia lemon cheesecake recipe packs a ton of citrusy, zesty flavor thanks to lots of lemon juice, lemon zest, and a creamy lemon curd topping. A buttery graham cracker crust and swirls of whipped cream make it an all-around winning lemon dessert.
The best Philadelphia lemon cheesecake recipe
My Philadelphia lemon cheesecake is a simple recipe for a rich, flavorful lemon cheesecake with a crunchy graham cracker crust and a tart lemon curd topping. It’s the perfect treat for the lemon fans in your life!
There’s nothing quite like sinking your teeth into a slice of homemade lemon cheesecake, amirite? Freshly squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest are mixed into a creamy cheesecake batter to add refreshing lemon aroma to every bite.
Add garnishing the whole thing with lemon curd, tuffs of whipped cream, and fresh lemon wedges not only amps up the lemon flavor, but also makes this easy Philly cheesecake more beautiful and a total showstopper.
This Philly lemon cheesecake is every lemon lover’s dream dessert. Let’s chat about the ingredients in this insanely delicious recipe. And be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for exact measurements.
- Graham cracker crumbs: Pre-crushed graham crackers are convenient here, but you can also crush full-sheet graham crackers.
- Granulated sugar goes into both the crust and the filling. You’ll also need an extra tablespoonful to sweeten the whipped cream.
- Melted butter acts as a binder to hold the crust together. I always use salted butter, but if you have only unsalted butter, it’ll work fine in a pinch.
- Lemons: You’ll need freshly squeezed lemon juice and zest to give the cheesecake the best and brightest lemon flavor. When shopping for lemons, look for fruit with deep yellow skin that smells fragrant. I prefer organic lemons to ensure the zest is safe to eat.
- Philadelphia cream cheese gives our lemon cheesecake its lush texture and tangy flavor. Be sure to use brick-style cream cheese. Tubs are too soft and will not work here. You also want to bring your cream cheese to room temperature so it doesn’t clump up when you mix the batter.
- Eggs help to set the batter. Bring them to room temp as well so they easily incorporate.
- All-purpose flour: Only a small amount is required to help the batter set.
- Lemon curd adds a lovely layer of sunshine to this cheesecake. You can pick up a jar of lemon curd from the grocery store or try my homemade lemon curd.
- Heavy cream: Although ready-made whipped cream is fine, I really recommend homemade whipped cream. It’s easy to make, tastes delicious, and will hold up better.
How to make Philadelphia lemon cheesecake
If life gives you lemons… make this Philadelphia lemon cheesecake recipe! This creamy, tangy treat will brighten up your day and make you smile. Follow my instructions below, and you have this delicious dessert in no time!
#1: Make the crust
- Stir together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, lemon zest, and melted butter in a medium bowl until combined.
- Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a springform pan.
- Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then set aside to slightly cool.
#2: Mix filling
- Mix the cream cheese, sugar, and flour in a large mixing bowl on low speed until smooth and combined.
- Add the lemon juice and lemon zest and mix in on low speed. Then add the eggs.
- Pour the batter into the prebaked crust.
#3: Bake cheesecake
- 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 the cheesecake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
How to know when your cheesecake is done?
Keep an eye on your lemon cheesecake as it bakes. The cheesecake is ready once it looks golden and set around the edges, but still ever so slightly jiggly in the center when you shake the pan. This will give you the perfect creamy texture.
The cheesecake shouldn’t brown at all. And please don’t use a knife to check doneness, as that will leave a mark on your lemon cheesecake.
#4: Cool cheesecake
- Turn off your oven. Leave the oven door closed for 30 minutes. Crack the oven door to allow the cheesecake to continue cooling down slowly. This process helps to prevent cracks.
- Remove the springform pan from the oven and water bath. Chill in the fridge until firm, at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Using a spoon, spread the lemon curd over the cooled cheesecake.
- Top with swirls of sweetened whipped cream and lemon wedges. Slice, serve, and enjoy!
Homemade cheesecake can seem intimidating, especially if it’s your first time baking one! Here are a few extra tips and tricks so your Philadelphia lemon cheesecake recipe turns out perfectly!
- Buy fresh lemons: Fresh lemon juice and zest are essential to give your Philadelphia cheesecake having the perfect zing, fresh aroma. Bottled lemon juice often contains additives and preservatives that affect the flavor.
- Use room temperature ingredients: Have your cold ingredients, like cream cheese and eggs, at room temperature. This will help to avoid clumps and yield the smoothest cheesecake texture.
- Pack in the crust: I like to use a drinking glass or a measuring cup to tightly press the crumb mixture into the springform pan. This ensures the crust sticks together without crumbling apart when you cut into the cheesecake.
- Don’t overmix the batter: Overmixing introduces too much air into the batter, which can lead to cracks. Just mix until the cream cheese is no longer lumpy and everything is incorporated.
- Bake in a water bath: A water bath helps to cook your cheesecake evenly without cracking or drying out. It’s the only way to achieve a truly perfect Philadelphia cream cheese lemon cheesecake.
- Keep the oven closed: To protect your cheesecake from cracking, cool it slowly. Let it cool in the turned-off oven for 30 minutes to an hour before opening the oven door.
- Chill for at least 6 hours: After your Philly cheesecake has baked and cooled, allow plenty of time in the refrigerator to fully set up. Chilling results in a better taste and clean slices.
- Loosen crust: Before opening the pan, run a knife along the edges of the cheesecake to ensure the crust doesn’t stick to the sides of the pan and rip the cheesecake.
- Digestive biscuits: If you can’t find graham crackers where you are, use digestive biscuits instead.
- Try a different fruit: Don’t be afraid to get creative with the citrus flavor. This cheesecake tastes delicious with limes or grapefruits in place of lemons. Mango puree or passionfruit pulp are great substitutes for lemon as well.
- Switch up the crust: Try switching things up with different types of crackers, cookies, or mini pretzels. Vanilla wafers, golden Oreos, and gingersnaps are good options and taste great with lemon.
- Garnish ideas: If you’re not a fan of lemon curd, garnish your easy lemon cheesecake with lemon slices, a scattering of blueberries or raspberries, mint leaves, and a dusting of powdered sugar.
How to store Philadelphia lemon cheesecake
Let’s be honest, this lemon cheesecake is not gonna last long. But if you somehow find yourself with leftovers, store in an airtight container or warp it tightly in plastic wrap in the fridge. It will stay fresh for 4 to 5 days.
Can you freeze lemon cheesecake?
Yes! Place the cheesecake (or individual slices) in a freezer-friendly container or wrap it with plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Your cheesecake will be good for 1 to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
Graham Cracker Crust
- 2 1/4 cups / 300 g / 10.5 oz graham cracker crumbs (approx. 17 full sheet graham crackers)
- 1/3 cup / 65 g / oz granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup / 1 stick / 115 g / 4 oz salted butter, melted
- 1 tsp grated lemon zest
- 24 oz / 680 g Philadelphia cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 cup / 200 g / 7 oz granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup / 30 g / 1 oz all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 4 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest (from 2 to 3 lemons)
- 3/4 cup / 170 g / 6 oz lemon curd
- 1/2 cup / 120 ml / 4 fl oz heavy whipping cream
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- Fresh lemon wedges (optional)
#1: Make the crust
- Prep work. Preheat your oven to 325°F /165°C / gas mark 3.
- Make crust. Stir together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, lemon zest, and melted butter in a medium bowl until combined and moistened. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch / 23 cm springform pan.
- Prebake crust. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then set aside to slightly cool.
- Reduce oven temperature. Turn the oven temperature down to 300°F / 150°C / gas mark 2.
#2: Mix filling
- Beat cream cheese. Beat the cream cheese, sugar, and flour in a large mixing bowl on low speed until smooth and combined. Be sure to mix on low to avoid trapping air in the mixture, which could cause cracks. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Incorporate liquid ingredients. Add the lemon juice and lemon zest and mix in on low speed. Then add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scarpe the bowl as needed to ensure everything is combined.
- Fill pan. Pour the batter into the prebaked crust.
#3: Bake cheesecake
- Set up 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. Make sure the water doesn't go above the edge 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 a little jiggly.
#4: Cool cheesecake
- Turn off oven. Turn off your oven. Leave the oven door closed for 30 minutes. The cake will continue to bake but also begin slowly cool.
- Open oven door. Crack the oven door to allow the cheesecake to continue cooling down slowly. This process helps to prevent cracks.
- Refrigerate cheesecake. Remove the springform pan from the oven and water bath. Chill in the fridge until firm, at least 6 hours or overnight.
#5: Assemble & serve
- Remove cheesecake from pan. Once the cake has finished cooling, release your cheesecake from the springform pan and transfer onto a serving dish.
- Whip cream. Beat the heavy cream with granulated sugar with a mixer at medium-high speed, until stiff peaks form. Transfer the whipped cream to a piping bag fitted with a star piping nozzle.
- Garnish. Using a spoon, spread the lemon curd over the cooled cheesecake. Top with swirls of sweetened whipped cream and lemon wedges. Slice, serve, and enjoy!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 14 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 488Total Fat: 32gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 132mgSodium: 343mgCarbohydrates: 47gFiber: 1gSugar: 32gProtein: 7g
Reasons to love Philadelphia lemon cheesecake recipe
- Bursting with lemon flavor: This lemon cheesecake features lemon flavor in every component: lemon zest brightens the crust, lemon juice infuses the filling, while lemon curd and fresh lemon wedges make up the topping.
- Ultra creamy texture: The lemon cheesecake filling is light + fluffy and has the best velvety texture that just melts in your mouth. And the crunchy graham cracker crust pairs perfectly with this creaminess.
- Showstopper dessert: Whether you serve this cheesecake for a party, birthday, or to celebrate a holiday, it will be the talk of the event, and your guest will all want in on the deliciousness. I doubt you’ll have a crumb left.
More cheesecake recipes
Can we agree that homemade cheesecakes are the best? If you agree, you’ll enjoy our other cheesecake recipes as well! They are easy and so delicious, and there’s a flavor for everyone. I know you’ll love them as much as we do!
- Classic Philadelphia Cheesecake
- No-Bake Cheesecake
- Condensed Milk No-Bake Cheesecake
- Strawberry Cheesecake
- Cherry Cheesecake
- Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Mini Cheesecakes
- No-Bake Mini Cheesecakes
- Mini Cherry Cheesecakes
Other lemon treats
Here are the best recipes to make with lemons and lemon curd! They’re filled with tangy, refreshing flavor and taste like a ray of sunshine. From pies to dessert sauces, here are a few easy recipes to add to your dessert lineup.