Ultra-creamy cheesecake covered with fresh strawberry sauce makes this Strawberry Cheesecake the perfect summer treat. Ideal for parties or entertaining… or just to enjoy yourself (freeze some slices to save for later!)
If you’re new around here, I’m in the middle of a year-long series on cheesecakes. So far, all the cheesecakes have had flavors added to the cheesecake itself, like peanut butter cheesecake, mint chocolate cheesecake, and red velvet cheesecake.
But sometimes, you just want a plain, creamy, cheesecake-flavored cheesecake.
Except you know I can’t do PLAIN-plain, because we like big, bold desserts with lots of flavor around here!
So we’ll top the richest, creamiest, dreamiest cheesecake with a homemade strawberry sauce made from beautiful fresh in-season strawberries.
Is it the perfect summer dessert? I think it just very well may be if you’re a cheesecake lover!
Graham Cracker Crust
Because we’re making a standard plain cheesecake, we’ll stick with the classic cheesecake crust: graham cracker! (But if you want to dress things up a little, try using shortbread cookies, vanilla wafers, or vanilla sandwich cookies. And using gluten-free cookies will make this a gluten-free dessert option!)
I have an entire post dedicated to making the perfect graham cracker crust to answer any questions you may have, or find the simple instructions in the recipe card below.
I like to press the graham crackers up the sides of the springform pan, creating a crunchy crust along the edge of the cheesecake. If you prefer your cheesecake crustless on the sides, just press the mixture down on the bottom of the pan.
Bake the crust for 10 minutes until golden and slightly crunchy, then set aside to cool.
Simple Cheesecake Filling
The filling for this cheesecake uses my favorite cheesecake base. It’s just the right combination of thick yet somehow fluffy and oh so very creamy!
Cheesecakes made with just cream cheese, eggs, and sugar tend to be pretty dry and sometimes even crumbly. To combat this, we add a little extra moisture and fat, usually in the form of sour cream or heavy cream.
All my cheesecake recipes use sour cream. Why do I think this is the best option? It’s time for my favorite subject… kitchen chemistry!
Sour cream adds extra moisture to a cheesecake along with imparting a slightly tangy flavor. The “sour” trait of sour cream prevents cheesecakes from tasting too sweet, especially when paired with fruit, chocolate, or other additionally sweet toppings.
Adding sour cream also prolongs the life of the cheesecake as the extra moisture prevents it from drying out as quickly. More moisture, tangy flavor, and longer-lasting – sour cream for the win!
Homemade Strawberry Sauce
The star of this cheesecake is really the homemade strawberry sauce. It’s sweet and delicious and perfect for anyone who likes strawberries!
I used freshly picked strawberries from our summer strawberry picking adventure, but you could also use frozen strawberries here, too. For frozen berries, I’d recommend chopping all the berries and cooking them down.
If you’re using fresh strawberries, chop half of the berries into pieces and half the remaining berries. The diced strawberries will cook down into the sauce which will coat the halved strawberries.
This results in the perfect combination of strawberry sauce with bites of larger pieces of strawberry!
Not a huge fan of strawberries? Swap them out for an equal amount of raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries!
Tips and Tricks for the Best Strawberry Cheesecake
- Always use room-temperature ingredients! To help cream cheese come to room temperature more quickly, cut the bricks into smaller cubes.
- Don’t overmix the batter! Overmixing adds additional air, leading to cracks in the cheesecake. Always keep the mixer speed on low.
- Bake the cheesecake in a water bath. The water bath creates additional steam which keeps the texture creamy and helps prevent cracking.
- Bake until the cheesecake reaches an internal temperature of 145°F or until there is roughly a 2-3 inch diameter circle in the center that still jiggles.
- Cool slowly and gently. Abrupt temperature changes cause a cheesecake to deflate and rack. Turn off the oven, leave the door open an inch, and let the cheesecake cool.
More Strawberry Desserts:
- Strawberry Layer Cake with Whipped Cream Frosting
- Chocolate Chip Strawberry Trifle
- Strawberry Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars
- Berry Pavlova with Lemon Curd Cream
2022 Cheesecake of the Month Series
For the Crust:
- 1 1/2 cups (213 grams) graham cracker crumbs (approximately 14 full size sheets, finely crushed)
- 1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, melted
For the Cheesecake:
- 32 ounces (908 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup (198 grams) granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup (151 grams) sour cream, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
For the Strawberry Sauce:
- 1 pound (454 grams) strawberries
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 cup (99 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
For the Whipped Cream:
- 3/4 cup (170 grams) heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Make the crust. Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Combine all crust ingredients together in a small bowl. Press the crumbs along the bottom and extend partway up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan, compacting the crumbs as much as possible. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven. Reduce the heat to 325 °F.
- Make the cheesecake. Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar until creamy and well combined, for 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in the sour cream, lemon zest, and salt, stirring until well combined. Crack the four eggs into a small bowl and mix with a fork to break up the yolks. Slowly pour roughly a quarter of the eggs into the cream cheese mixture, mix to combine, and repeat until all egg has been added. Do not over-mix the cheesecake - this makes it more likely to crack.
- Prepare the springform pan. Wrap the springform pan in 3 layers of aluminum foil, or create a pan-in-pan water bath by placing the 9-inch springform pan inside a 10-inch cake pan (both pans together will be placed inside the water bath). Pour the cheesecake batter into the graham cracker crust.
- Bake the cheesecake. Place the springform pan inside a larger roasting pan and pour in hot water until the water level comes approximately halfway up the sides of the springform pan (or the outer cake pan). Bake at 325 °F for 70 to 80 minutes, or until the edges have set but a 3 to 4-inch diameter circle in the center of the cheesecake still jiggles. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly; cool in the warm oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the cheesecake from the oven and let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour before placing it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
- Make the strawberry sauce. While the cheesecake chills, make the strawberry sauce. Hull the strawberries. Chop half of the strawberries and add to a saucepan with the lemon juice, sugar, and vanilla extract. Cook on medium-low heat, stirring frequently until the strawberries are broken down into a lumpy sauce, 6 to 8 minutes. Mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water to form a slurry and add to the saucepan. Cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes, until the sauce has thickened, and remove from the heat. Halve the remaining strawberries, add to the sauce, and toss to coat in the sauce. Set aside to cool.
- Make the whipped cream. Using a hand mixer, stand mixer, or immersion blender with a whisk attachment, whisk together the heavy cream, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla extract until medium-stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Assemble the cheesecake. Once the cheesecake and strawberry sauce are chilled, assemble the cheesecake. Remove the cheesecake from the springform pan. Pipe or dollop the whipped cream along the outer edge of the cheesecake. Spread the strawberry sauce and halved strawberries in the center. Refrigerate and enjoy within 4 days.
- Use room temperature ingredients to ensure proper mixing with no lumps. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl frequently while mixing the batter.
- Bake until the center of the cheesecake still jiggles or reaches a temperature of 145 °F on an instant-read thermometer.
- Strawberry cheesecake can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
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