When I was growing up, holidays and special occasions were always celebrated with my grandma’s famous cheesecake. Some dinner invitations hinged on the fact that a cheesecake would be accompanying us.
Grandma was always very generous, and she would make pastries and pies (including this recipe) for friends and family members “just because.” She also shared her recipe with anyone who asked, so it could live on after she was gone.
I learned from an early age that making this type of dessert is an all-day process. Grandma would start baking in the morning, and we wouldn’t get a chance to sample some cake until late that night, or sometimes not until the next day.
She liked to experiment with her recipe, halving it to make smaller portions, and even using ramekins instead of a larger springform pan for individually-sized servings.
She was not a big fan of toppings, and honestly, her homemade filling could stand on its own. I personally love cherry cheesecake, but then again, I love cherries on anything.
My grandma’s original version did not include a graham cracker crust – this was a later addition after it became popular, and that’s what I have included here.
Canned fruit is called for in the recipe below. But what if you want to use fresh cherries? Be sure to get one of the best cherry pitters for the best results!
You can cook down fresh cherries until they have the consistency of pie filling, in a little water with some sugar and lemon juice, and then proceed with the recipe.
You can also be inspired to create your own unique versions of the original recipe. Love chocolate? The cherry topping would be the perfect accompaniment to our dairy-free chocolate cheesecake recipe!
After enjoying Grandma’s homemade version and making it myself in my own kitchen, store bought options could never compare. Once you try this recipe, I can almost guarantee that you’ll never buy one from the bakery again.Print
Tart and creamy, cherry cheesecake is a classic dessert that you must make this week. It’s the ideal sweet treat, just like Grandma’s.
For the Crust:
- 1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers (10 crackers, about 5 ounces)
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
For the Filling:
- 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
- 16 ounces sour cream, room temperature
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 5 large eggs, room temperature
For the Topping:
- 1 14.5-ounce can pitted tart cherries
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the ingredients for the crust. Press firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan.
- Bake for 9 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Increase oven temperature to 375˚F.
- Add cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until whipped and fluffy.
- Add sour cream, butter, cornstarch, vanilla, lemon juice, and sugar. Beat until combined. Beat in eggs one at a time on medium speed, fully incorporating between additions.
- Grease the side walls of the springform pan with unsalted butter. Double wrap the base of the springform pan with aluminum foil.
- Place springform pan in a large roasting pan. Pour in filling mixture.
- Fill roasting pan halfway with about 6 cups boiling water, making sure it doesn’t go up past the foil on the pan.
- Bake for 1 hour. The filling should be set, still wiggly but not wet in the center.
- Remove springform pan from water bath. Set aside to cool on the countertop for 3 hours. Then refrigerate for 6 hours.
- Once the cheesecake is chilled, drain cherries, reserving the juice in a small bowl.
- In a medium saucepan, combine cherry juice, sugar, and cornstarch. Bring mixture to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until thickened.
- Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice and reserved cherries.
- Spread over filling. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Unmold from springform pan, slice, and serve.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
- Category: Cheesecake
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Dessert
Keywords: cheesecake, cherry, cream cheese, sour cream, graham cracker
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prep and Measure Ingredients for the Crust and Filling
Crush enough graham crackers so you have 1 1/2 cups total. You will need about 10 crackers, or 5 ounces of crumbs. Homemade graham crackers are excellent for this!
Melt 1/3 cup unsalted butter for the crust in the microwave, in a microwave-safe bowl. Set aside.
Measure out the remaining ingredients listed for the crust and the filling. Allow all of the dairy products to come to room temperature, if you haven’t already.
Preheat your oven to 350˚F. Line the base of a 10-inch springform pan with parchment paper.
I like to trace the base of my springform pan onto the paper, then cut it out carefully with kitchen shears. This liner will help with easy removal when you’re ready to slice and serve.
Step 2 – Make Crust
Stir together all of the ingredients listed for the crust in a medium-sized bowl.
Press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan.
Place in the oven and bake for 9 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside on a wire rack to cool.
Increase oven temperature to 375˚F.
Step 3 – Make Filling
While you make the filling, put about 6 cups of water on to boil – you’ll need this later.
Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer. It’s important to start with room temperature cream cheese, so it will blend smoothly.
Fit your mixer with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed, until the cream cheese is whipped and fluffy. This will take about 3 to 5 minutes.
One at a time, beat in the eggs on medium speed, until they are fully incorporated.
Cracking the eggs into a separate bowl first is recommended, so you can avoid accidentally adding any shell fragments to the filling mixture!
Step 4 – Bake
Grease the sides of the pan with unsalted butter and pour in the filling.
Double wrap the base of the pan with aluminum foil and place it in the center of a large roasting pan.
This dessert is baked in a water bath, so you’ll need to fill the roasting pan about halfway with boiling water. I used about 6 cups of water to accomplish this.
Be careful not to overfill the pan. The water should not come above the level of the foil, and you do not want to risk having any water reach up over the lip of the pan to ruin your filling.
To avoid spills, you can actually pull out your oven rack, place the roasting pan on top, quickly fill the pan with boiling water, and close the door. It will be heavy!
Otherwise, you can fill first, and carefully place it in the oven.
Bake for 1 hour, until the filling is set but still a little wiggly. The center should no longer be wet.
Step 5 – Chill
Remove the springform pan from the water bath and place it on a wire rack on the counter. Cool for 3 hours before transferring to the refrigerator to chill for 6 hours.
Step 6 – Make the Topping
Measure out all of the ingredients listed for the cherry topping.
Drain the cherries and reserve the juice. Set the fruit aside in a small bowl.
Add the cherry juice, sugar, and cornstarch to a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil.
Cook for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and cherries.
Spread the cherry topping over the cheesecake.
Step 7 – Chill and Serve
Chill for at least 2 hours. Unmold from the springform pan and serve.
What Makes This Dessert So Special?
This recipe is one that is uniquely flavorful and creamy, with the classic tart cherry topping that you likely know and love, either from childhood, your favorite restaurant, or the bakery on the corner.
Paired with the sweet-tart fruit, I think the sour cream in this version really makes all the difference. Not only does it emphasize the tangy notes of the cherries, it also adds a silkiness to the filling that you just can’t get without it.
For more cheesecake inspiration, check out these recipes next:
What occasion will you celebrate with this recipe? Or will you bring it out on an average weekend at home to make it a little more special? Tell us in the comments below, and come back to rate the recipe once you try it for yourself!
Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on August 20, 2015. Last updated April 29, 2020. 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.
About Jennifer Swartvagher
Jennifer is an experienced journalist and author. Her work has been featured on TODAY Parents, The New York Times Blog, BlogHer, Scary Mommy, and scores of other parenting and cooking publications.