Foolproof Cheesecake with Pecan Crust: The One Dessert That’ll Never Fail You

When it comes to baking and making a stellar dessert, the process can be a little intimidating.

Vertical image of a plate of cheesecake with a chocolate drizzle on top, with another plate, a cake stand holding more of the dessert, and a small stack of plates on a white cloth in the background, on a gray surface, printed with orange and white text in the top third and at the bottom of the frame.

There are so many elements to consider, including exact measurements, baking time, altitude, and many more.

And that means there are even more ways to possibly mess up a recipe.

Vertical overhead image of a homemade cheesecake on a cake stand, with a dark chocolate drizzle on top, with a blue and white plate, forks, a white cloth, and a wood and metal cake server at the base, on a mottled gray-blue surface.

Trust me, I’ve had multiple baking failures in the kitchen, from cookies that flatten out to cakes that won’t rise. I’ve have muffins sink in the center, and I’ve had water seep into pans when I’m baking in a water bath.

There have been times when I’ve burned the bottoms of cookies, and I’ve even had cakes literally explode in the oven (don’t ask me how that one happened, I am still trying to figure that out myself).

So, it’s a fair statement to say: baking can be hard.

Vertical overhead image of a white plate with blue speckles with a slice of cheesecake on top, garnished with a chocolate drizzle, on a gray surface.

Sometimes I wonder why I even bother with baking, but then I remember that amazing feeling when you take something out of the oven and it is perfect.

Baking is a science, and honestly, it’s also an art. It takes patience and focus.

You can’t simply throw a bunch of unmeasured ingredients in a pan and make it work.

That’s why foolproof recipes like this one are the best to keep in your back pocket for whenever you just want a recipe to work.

Vertical overhead image of two slices of cheesecake on blue and white plates, with more plates and silverware to the left on a white cloth, and a cake stand topped with the remainder of the dessert and a wood and metal serving utensil at the top of the frame, on a mottled gray-blue surface.

After I have a few terrible mess-ups in the kitchen (it’s like they come in waves), rather than giving up, that’s when I turn to a recipe that I know will turn out perfectly.

It’s kind of a way to get my baking mojo back. When you have a bunch of fails in the oven, it’s nice to feel like you can get back in the saddle without fearing the absolute worst results.

This is one of those recipes I love to turn to when I am in a baking funk.

Vertical image of a forkful of cheesecake resting on a rim of a white plate with a blue polka dot pattern and the remainder of the slice of dessert, with more plates and a gathered white cloth in the background, on a mottled blue-gray and white surface.

No matter what you do, this cheesecake is pretty hard to screw up. There’s only one real danger zone that comes up in the process, and that’s the water bath.

My biggest tip regarding this is to be sure that you tightly double wrap the pan in heavy duty foil, and make sure that foil comes up the sides by at least 1-2 inches.

That way, there’s no risk of the water seeping into the cheesecake, and ruining the filling or the crust.

Other than that, making this delicious dessert is a piece of cake.

Vertical overhead image of two plates topped with slices of cheesecake with a chocolate drizzle on top and forks on the rims of each dish, with more plates and cutlery on a white cloth to the left, and the remainder of the dessert on a cake stand with a serving utensil at the top of the frame, on a blue-gray and white mottled surface.

The filling is the creamiest, dreamiest you will ever try. I am absolutely in LOVE with the texture. It melts in your mouth, with a cooling sensation that is pure heaven.

The flavor has that cream cheese tang that you adore about cheesecake, but with a subtle sweetness that is paired perfectly with the dark chocolate drizzled on top.

The nuttiness of the pecans makes for an excellent crunch, and added flavor that I believe far outshines any graham cracker crust that you are used to (not that there’s anything wrong with a homemade graham cracker!).

How can you resist a slice? Don’t even try to. It’s pure perfection, and it’s worth inhaling the calories. Trust me.

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Horizontal oblique head-on image of two white and blue plates of cheesecake with a chocolate drizzle on top, with a stack of more plates on a gathered white cloth to the left, on a mottled blue-gray and white surface.

Foolproof Cheesecake with Pecan Crust


  • Author: Meghan Yager
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 40 minutes
  • Yield: 1 9-inch round cheesecake 1x

Description

For a dessert that will never fail, our foolproof cheesecake with pecan crust is the only sweet treat you ever need to make.


Scale

Ingredients

For the Crust:

  • 3/4 cup whole grain spelt flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup Sucanat or granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp lemon zest (optional)
  • 6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the Filling:

  • 40 oz cream cheese, softened (5 8-ounce packages)
  • 1 3/4 cups sucanat or granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp whole-grain spelt flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 oz melted dark chocolate, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

To Make the Crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. In a large bowl, stir to combine the flour, sugar, pecans, and lemon zest. Cut in the cubed butter until crumbly.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk and vanilla. Add this to the flour mixture, and stir to combine.
  4. Press mixture onto the bottom of prepared springform pan. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and set aside.
  5. Reduce oven temperature to 325˚F.

To Make the Filling:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth. Gradually beat in the Sucanat or sugar on medium speed.
  2. Add the flour, vanilla, and salt. Beat to combine on medium speed.
  3. Combine eggs and egg yolks in a small bowl, and whisk to combine. Pour into the cream cheese mixture, and beat on medium speed until just combined. Beat in heavy cream just until combined.
  4. Pour filling into the crust in the springform pan.

To Bake:

  1. Double wrap the bottom of the springform pan with heavy duty foil, making sure it is tightly sealed to prevent water from getting in the pan. Place the springform pan into a larger baking pan with high walls. Pour very hot water into the pan until it’s about 3/4 inch deep. Make sure the water doesn’t come up higher than the foil.
  2. Bake cheesecake on the middle rack at 325˚F for about 1 hour, or until the center is almost set (jiggle the pan to check; filling should move only slightly).
  3. Remove from oven. Cool in the pan on a wire rack to room temperature, for about 1 hour. Place in the refrigerator overnight to chill.
  4. When ready to serve, run a knife around the edge before removing sides of the pan.
  5. To top with chocolate, heat in a double boiler or in the microwave until melted and smooth, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over top of cheesecake. Refrigerate until hardened, about 15 minutes.

  • Category: Cheesecake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Dessert

Keywords: cheesecake, foolproof cheesecake, pecans, pecan crust

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prep and Measure Ingredients

Finely chop enough pecans until you have 1/4 cup in total.

Zest a lemon until you have 1 teaspoon total.

Horizontal overhead image of one small square and six small round bowls of lemon zest, egg, sugar, cubed butter, flour, chopped pecans, and vanilla extract, arranged on a gray surface.

Cube 6 tablespoons of chilled unsalted butter.

Measure out all of the remaining ingredients as listed on the ingredients list. Note that you can also use all-purpose flour in lieu of whole-grain spelt flour for the filling.

Horizontal image of a collection of square and round glass and metal bowls of heavy cream, vanilla extract, flour, cream cheese, unrefined sugar, eggs and egg yolks, and dark chocolate chips, on a gray surface.

Preheat your oven to 400˚F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan.

Step 2 – Make Crust

Add the flour, sugar, pecans, and lemon zest for the crust to a large mixing bowl.

Horizontal overhead image of a stainless steel bowl with a ring handle, with separate piles of flour, lemon zest, sugar, and chopped pecans at the bottom, on a gray surface.

Cut in the cubed butter with a pastry cutter or two knives, until crumbly. Set aside.

Horizontal closely cropped overhead image of a metal mixing bowl of flour and cubed butter, on a gray surface.

In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk and vanilla extract, and whisk to combine. Add this mixture to the flour mixture. Stir until well combined.

Horizontal overhead closely cropped image of a stainless steel bowl of flour and beaten egg, with a wooden spoon stirring the mixture, on a gray background.

Press the pecan mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of the springform pan.

Horizontal overhead closely cropped image of a pecan crust pressed into the bottom of a metal springform pan, on a gray surface.

Bake for 10 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Set aside to cool slightly on a flat surface.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325˚F.

Step 3 – Make Filling

Add the cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth. Make sure there aren’t any lumps, since this will affect the final texture of your cheesecake.

Gradually beat in the sugar on medium speed until combined.

Closely cropped horizontal image of a red stand mixer beating a creamy yellow mixture in a stainless steel bowl with a paddle attachment.

Add the flour, vanilla, and salt. Beat on medium speed until combined.

Overhead horizontal closely cropped image of a metal mixing bowl with beaten egg at the bottom, on a gray background.

Add the eggs and egg yolks to a small bowl. Whisk to combine, then pour into the cream cheese mixture. Beat on medium speed until just combined.

Horizontal closely cropped image of a creamy yellow mixture in a stainless steel mixing bowl, with a paddle attachment stirring it.

Add the heavy cream and beat until just combined.

Step 4 – Bake

Pour the filling into the baked crust in the springform pan.

Horizontal overhead image of a metal springform pan filled with a creamy cheesecake filling mixture, on a gray surface with white splotches.

Double wrap the bottom of the pan with heavy duty aluminum foil, making sure it is tightly sealed. This will prevent water from getting into the pan.

Place the springform pan into a larger pan with high walls. I used a roasting pan for this. Pour very hot water into the larger pan surrounding the filled springform pan until it’s about 3/4 inch deep. Don’t let the water come up higher than the foil.

To make sure you are going to have enough water, it might be a good idea to check the capacity of your roasting or other pan first. With a springform plan in place, fill it with a little more than the amount of water that you are going to need. Transfer the water to a kettle or stockpot on the stove, and bring it to a simmer so it will be hot and ready to go when you need it.

Horizontal oblique overhead image of a springform pan filled with a cream cheese mixture, wrapped in foil and set into a roasting pan filled with a few inches of water.

Place in the oven on the middle rack, and bake for about 1 hour.

To determine if it’s done, the center of the cheesecake should be almost set. Put on an oven mitt and move the pan a bit to see how much the center of the filling moves. It should only jiggle slightly.

Step 5 – Chill

Carefully remove the water-filled pan from the oven, and remove the springform pan from the water bath. Cool on a wire rack in the pan for about 1 hour, until the filling comes down to room temperature.

Place in the refrigerator overnight to chill.

Step 6 – Drizzle with Chocolate

This step is optional, but I love to serve mine with a pretty garnish.

Horizontal overhead image of a small bowl of melted chocolate with a spoon sticking out of it, on a mottled blue-gray and white surface.

Melt the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, or in a double boiler on the stove, until melted and smooth. For tips on melting and saving seized chocolate, you can read more here.

Drizzle lightly over the top of the cheesecake. Refrigerate for 15 minutes until hardened.

Horizontal oblique overhead image of a cheesecake drizzled with chocolate on top, on a mottled blue and white background.

When you’re ready to serve, run a knife around the edge before removing the sides of the pan.

Slice and serve.

Customize Your Cheesecake

As some of you may know, I love to customize my recipes after I’ve gotten familiar with them. This is something that I think you should do as well, to make them your own!

Here are a few ideas to change up the flavor of your cheesecake:

  • Extracts: Add 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite extract such as lemon, orange, peppermint, or chocolate to add some additional flavor to the filling, along with the vanilla extract.
  • Mix-Ins: Do you love a little crunch in your cheesecake filling? Stir in about 1/2-2/3 cup of mini chocolate chips, chopped pecans or walnuts, or even crushed peppermint candy before adding the filling to the pan.
  • Toppings: Don’t love dark chocolate? You can use milk or white chocolate instead, or you can even melt down peanut butter or butterscotch chips if that’s what you prefer.

Horizontal oblique head-on image of two white and blue plates of cheesecake with a chocolate drizzle on top, with a stack of more plates on a gathered white cloth to the left, on a mottled blue-gray and white surface.

Want even more homemade cheesecake in your life? Here are some favorites to try:

How will you customize your expertly made dessert? Tell us in the comments below. Once you try the recipe, be sure to rate it here!

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on May 17, 2012. Last updated: July 30, 2019 at 9:46 am. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

17 thoughts on “Foolproof Cheesecake with Pecan Crust: The One Dessert That’ll Never Fail You”

  1. I’m so excited to start pouring over your blog! I just organized my google reader a couple days ago and started using it again (thanks to my new iPad…I’m finally getting a system to keeping up with blogs I love to read). What a gem to bump into yours today. 🙂

    This cheesecake looks amazing, and I know the crust must be incredible. I make a similar one buy mine is oat and walnut based. Nut based crusts are the best. Have a great weekend!!

  2. I so appreciate your candor and outlook on things. Thanks for the positive thoughts and resources 🙂 And the cheesecake.

  3. This cheesecake looks phenomenal! I’m glad to know that you can successfully sub sucanat in cheesecake recipes. My heart has been bursting with gratitude lately, so much goodness to be found. Love that talk on creativity, too!

    • Kate, I’m so glad you brought that up because I felt the same way–sometimes Sucanat can change the texture of fragile things like cheesecakes or, at the very least, darken them so they’re not so appetizing anymore, so I wondered. I think what helped with this recipe is the enormous amount of cream cheese (40 ounces!), so things still looked fairly light (and the taste worked out, too).

  4. Such good thoughts…thanks for making your ‘home’ on the internet one that is full of encouragement.
    A question about the recipe – can another flour be subbed for the spelt? I just don’t have anywhere around here to buy spelt (but I’m dying to try it out!).

    • Great question, MaryAnn. You can sub all-purpose flour–I’d recommend to try to at least get unbleached if possible. And as far as spelt, huge bummer there’s nowhere to buy it around you, but you can buy it online anytime! I once ordered a 15-pound bag. Really.

  5. Spelt flour keeps popping up. We haven’t baked with it before, but it might be fun to get our hands on some. Delicious cheesecake crust!

  6. It’s been a while since I’ve commented, but I’ve been reading all.the.while! I love, love that your recipes include sucanat.

    Thank you!

  7. Cheesecake looks fantastic. I’ve been on a buckwheat flour kick lately, how do you think it would be in place of the spelt?

    • Hi Marissa, I think buckwheat can potentially make a great cheesecake crust (the recipe for mini blueberry cheesecakes on Yum Universe looks promising, although I’d stay away from agave), but it’s not an easy one-to-one sub, so it would take some trials first. Would love to hear if you find something you like!

  8. Hi,
    Well i have never used this kind of flour or sweetener before – no idea what to expect! However, i’m now the stage of opening the oven door (after 1.5hrs) and the cheesecake has risen about 2inches above the cake tray! It looks amazing – to be eaten tomorrow evening 🙂 will let you know the final outcome.

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