Philadelphia No-Bake Cheesecake Recipe

Most people love cheesecake, but for some folks, the idea of baking a cheesecake can be intimidating. The fact is, even experienced bakers can encounter common cheesecake problems such as overbaking, browning, cracking, and underbaking.

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Sometimes we just want a decadent cheesecake without having to go through all of the stress of baking the perfect cheesecake. If you’re looking for a delicious cheesecake that will wow your friends and family, we’ve got exactly what you need.

A Classic Plain No Bake Cherry Cheesecake in a Graham Cracker Crust

With just six ingredients, the Philadelphia No-Bake Cheesecake comes together in only 10 minutes.

Besides being rich and creamy, this wonderful cheesecake is super easy to make. Moreover, it tastes like someone spent hours preparing it and it only takes minutes.

The filling for this no-bake cheesecake is custard-like and it tops a crumbly graham cracker crust.

Once you have made your basic no bake cheesecake, that’s when the fun starts. You can top it with any number of delicious and fun toppings that will delight your taste buds.

Ready to dive in and learn all about how to make cheesecake that is fool-proof, easy, and yummy? Let’s go!

Cream Cheese isolated on white

What Exactly Is a No-Bake Cheesecake?

Traditional cheesecake is baked in an oven. This type of baked cheesecake dessert, including New York Style Cheesecake, has eggs in it.

This easy cheesecake recipe uses a whipped cream product like Cool Whip to make the batter firm and get that wondrous cheesecake texture that we all know and love.

A no-bake homemade cheesecake is a great dessert option for home cooks who want to make a dessert that everyone will love. Even if you don’t have an oven at home, you can make a no-bake cheesecake.

Also, a no-bake cheesecake Philadelphia style is perfect for beginner cooks who need some wins that will help build their kitchen confidence. It’s nearly impossible to make mistakes with a no-bake cheesecake.

Freshly made graham cracker pie crust with rollong pin and crackers on wood cutting board.

Tricks and Tips for the Perfect No-Bake Cheesecake Dessert

It’s nearly impossible to mess up this easy Philadelphia cheesecake recipe, but you can definitely follow these tricks and tips for the best results.

  • Make sure you use real cream cheese for your cheesecake filling. Don’t use one of the cream cheese spreads unless it’s 100% cream cheese. Also, if you use the lower-fat cream cheese or fat-free cream cheese, you may not get the same results as you do with using the regular cream cheese.
  • Don’t use a food processor to mix your cheesecake filling. It will make your cheesecake filling end up being much too soft. Instead, use a hand-held electric mixer or a stand mixer on a low setting so that you can avoid overbeating your batter.
  • Bring your cream cheese to room temperature to ensure that you achieve a velvety and smooth texture. If your cream cheese isn’t at room temperature, your cheesecake will probably be lumpy. This doesn’t result in a bad flavor, per se, but it’s not as pleasant as a creamy cheesecake. To get your cream cheese to room temperature, remove it from the refrigerator two hours before you start to prepare your cheesecake.
  • Use pure vanilla extract. There is never a need to buy imitation vanilla extract. Pure vanilla extract costs just a little bit more and is superior in flavor.
  • In a hurry? That’s OK. You can help your cream cheese get to room temperature more quickly by putting the cream cheese (still wrapped in its foil) into a bowl that’s filled with warm water.
  • If you don’t have Cool Whip in your fridge or freezer, you can use homemade whipped cream or whipped topping as a replacement. To make fresh whipped cream, make sure your heavy whipping cream is cold. Using a mixer, beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. This is essential because the whipped cream is what gives your cheesecake the thick consistency you’re looking for.
  • If you don’t have powdered sugar, you can use granulated sugar in this no bake cheesecake recipe. However, powdered sugar will give you the creamiest cheesecake filling.
  • One alternative to using sugar is to use sweetened condensed milk. Sweetened condensed milk can also be made into a luxurious caramel sauce by cooking it in the can in a slow cooker.
  • If you don’t have Cool Whip or heavy cream to make homemade whipping cream, you can use gelatin to get your cheesecake batter to firm up.
  • Be exceedingly gentle when folding the whipped cream or Cool Whip into the cheesecake if you want to achieve a mousse-like consistency that is key to the perfect cheesecake.
  • Technically, you can make this cheesecake without the sour cream. However, sour cream makes this super creamy, so we recommend using it. If you don’t have sour cream, you can use Greek yogurt instead.
  • Add a teaspoon of lemon juice to your cheesecake batter for a delightful pop of flavor.
  • Allow your no bake cheesecake to chill for at least four hours before serving. It will be even more delicious if it sits in the refrigerator overnight. Your no bake cheesecake will be nice and firm.
  • Use a pre-made graham cracker crust or make your own graham cracker pie crust using an easy recipe that calls for butter and graham crackers. If you make your own graham cracker crust, be sure to allow it to cool if you’re using a recipe that calls for baking the pie crust.
  • If you make a homemade crust, be sure to use melted butter. If you make a crust with just graham crackers, it won’t hold together as well.
  • Consider adding toasted pecans to your food processor when you blend up your graham crackers for your crust. To do this, you need to process the pecans first, then add the graham crackers to continue processing. At the end of this article, we share a video that shows you exactly how to add toasted pecans to your graham cracker crust.
  • You can use your no bake cheesecake batter to make individual parfait-style cheesecake desserts.

No bake rhubarb and strawberry cheesecakes in glasses

Ideas for Toppings for Philadelphia No-Bake Cheesecake

Once you finished no-bake cheesecake, you can certainly enjoy it without toppings. It’s an absolutely wonderful stand-alone dessert.

However, to send this perfect little cheesecake over the top, you can use any type of toppings you like.

Caramel and Chocolate

When it comes to cheesecake toppings, you can’t go wrong with our two favorites: the reliable caramel and chocolate.

You can dress up your cheesecake with an easy drizzle of chocolate syrup or caramel syrup. Another option is to use chocolate shavings.

Caramel and chocolate cheesecake with a cup of coffee.

Berry Sauces and Pie Fillings

Who can resist a beautiful cheesecake that’s topped with cherry pie filling? For many of us, a cherry cheesecake is what defines a classic cheesecake.

Berries give your cheesecake a tartness that contrasts with the decadent creaminess and sweetness of the cheesecake.

You can use any type of berries or cherries to make your cheesecake. Consider strawberry pie filling, blueberry pie filling, raspberry preserves for raspberry cheesecake, and of course, cherry pie filling. You can buy any of these pie fillings already made at the grocery store or you can make your own delicious pie filling.

Cheesecake with summer berries cut into pieces

Fresh Fruit

You can use fresh fruit as a topping for your cheesecake. This can include fresh berries when they’re in season, diced pineapple, and more.

Crunchy Toppings

If you want to add interest, crunch, and texture to your cheesecake, go for something like broken-up Reese’s peanut butter cups, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and more.

Kids love these fun toppings and they will gobble up your cheesecake if these are included.

Can You Freeze Philadelphia No-Bake Cheesecakes?

Do you want even more reasons to love the Philadelphia no-bake cheesecake? You can make it in advance and freeze it!

The best part is that you can freeze individual slices or freeze an entire cheesecake. Follow these instructions for the best results.

  1. Place your cheesecake on a cardboard cake board, which will give your cheesecake a nice firm foundation for freezing. If you don’t have cake boards handy, simply cut out your own from a piece of sturdy cardboard and you’re ready to proceed.
  2. Using plastic wrap and aluminum foil, double wrap your no-bake cheesecake. If you are freezing individual slices of cheesecake, you will need to double wrap the individual slices. Don’t skip this step. When you double wrap your cheesecake, you’re helping it to avoid contact with air.
  3. Be sure to label the individual slices or whole cheesecake with the date that you freeze it up so that you will know when it’s still good to eat.

Frozen cheesecake will retain its full flavor for up to a month in the freezer, but you can stretch that to two months if you need to.

Frozen cheesecake with raisins in the freezer

How to Thaw Your Frozen Cheesecake

If you froze your whole cheesecake or individual cheesecake slices, you need to know how to properly thaw it.

Frozen cheesecake is best if it’s allowed to sit in the refrigerator overnight to thaw. Remove the aluminum foil, but be sure to leave it in its plastic wrap so that it doesn’t absorb odors and flavors from other foods.

If you need your frozen cheesecake to thaw more quickly, you can allow it to sit on the counter for two to four hours to defrost. When defrosting your cheesecake, be sure to remove the foil, but leave it in the plastic wrap.

Are you in a bind and need your cheesecake thawed ASAP? You can use the microwave to thaw your frozen cheesecake, but you have to be super careful to do this.

  1. Remove the foil and plastic wrap.
  2. Thaw in the microwave in 20-second intervals, checking your cheesecake after each 20-second period.

How to Make Philadelphia No-Bake Cheesecake

Cuisine: American Recipe

Servings: 8

Preparation: 10 minutes

Calories: 366 kcal

INGREDIENTS

  • 8-ounce package real Philadelphia Cream Cheese (softened to room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 8-ounce container Cool Whip or similar non-dairy whipped topping
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Pre-made graham cracker pie crust (or homemade graham cracker pie crust)
  • Toppings such as pie filling or chocolate syrup (optional)

METHOD

  1. Remove cream cheese from the fridge at least two hours before you plan to make your cheesecake.
  2. Prepare your graham cracker crust if you’re not using a store-bought one.
  3. Once your cream cheese is at room temperature, use a hand mixer to beat together the sour cream, cream cheese, vanilla extract, and sugar in a mixing bowl. Beat to a smooth consistency. If you are adding lemon juice to your cheesecake, add the lemon juice to the cream cheese mixture during this step.
  4. Fold the Cool Whip into your cheesecake mixture gently.
  5. Pour your prepared cheesecake filling into your graham cracker crust. Spoon cheesecake filling gently into your crust.
  6. Smooth out the top of the filling with a spatula or the back of a spoon.
  7. Cover your no-bake cheesecake with plastic wrap.
  8. Refrigerate your cheesecake for at least four hours before serving.
  9. Right before you serve your cheesecake, add your favorite toppings.

Watch the video below to see how to make an easy no bake cheesecake step-by-step. We love that he adds ground-up toasted pecans to his graham cracker crust. Yum!

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community.
She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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