Lightened Up Mini Cheesecake

Our kitchen is a disaster. But it is such a beautiful, beautiful disaster.

A collage of photos showing different views of a lightened up mini cheesecake recipe.

Yup, I just went there. I know it can be hard to find the positives in a kitchen that’s a huge mess after a big cooking project, or one that has less-than-ideal storage space. But a well-used kitchen is also well-loved.

There’s always room for improvement, but I won’t get into too many kitchen details right now because I would so much rather talk about this cheesecake. Wouldn’t you? Yup. So let’s get to it.

Homemade light cheesecake made with yogurt and cottage cheese, in partial shadow, with vanilla wafer cookie crumbs on top, on a folded off-white cloth.

I had been planning to make a cheesecake for AJ since early in the summer. My aunt Elisabeth sent me a picture of this beautiful 4th of July themed cheesecake with raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries, and I put it on my list of things to make pronto.

But then, life got in the way, life got in the way some more, and life got in the way again!

You know how it goes.

A miniature homemade lower-calorie cheesecake with scattered pieces of vanilla wafer cookie, on a folded off-white cloth.

But finally, finally, I have succeeded in telling life where it can put its getting-in-the-way-edness, and I made a cheesecake. Two, actually.

I did this for two reasons: 1. Because the first one wasn’t super beautiful, and 2. because it was so damn good.

So for this one, I made it taste just as good, but made it much more beautiful. Behold, cheesecake.

Top-down shot of a mini cheesecake made with cottage cheese and Greek yogurt, and scattered vanilla wafer cookies and fragments, on a folded beige cloth.

You might have noticed that this cheesecake is, well, a little smaller than most. And that’s because I LOVE mini desserts.

Everything in life is better when it’s made in miniature, and that includes desserts. Because nobody wants a whole cheesecake sitting around at their house when there’s only one or two of you there to eat it.

Closeup of a homemade dessert on a round metal pan, round a beige with a brown vanilla cookie crumb crust, on top of a folded tan cloth.

And when it’s mini, it’s totally okay to eat the whole thing by yourself in one sitting. Right? Because mini things have fewer calories for the same serving size… right? Right.

I’m speaking from experience here.

Top-down shot of a homemade dessert, creamy and beige with a brown vanilla cookie crumb crust, on a round metal pan with a slice removed to a white plate, with more plates and a spoon, and scattered vanilla wafer cookies, on a beige folded cloth on top of a black table.

But really, this cheesecake is a little bit lighter in calories because I used light cream cheese, some Greek yogurt, and a secret ingredient for the base.

What’s my secret? Cottage cheese.

Don’t be weirded out. This fresh, curdy, and tangy cheese is actually a trusty assistant of flavor, texture, and moisture. I’ve even mixed it in pancake batter!

And I’m not lying when I say using it in this dessert is super amazing, and tastes just like “the real thing,” just like any classic cheesecake your grandmother would make!

A slice of homemade light cheesecake cheesecake with a vanilla cookie crumb crust, on a white plate, with a stack of more plates in the background and a vanilla wafer cookie in the foreground, with selective focus on the dessert.

I adapted this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated on the suggestion of my mother-in-law, who promoted it as the best she’s ever had.

Plus, there’s no hot water bath required, so you don’t need to mess around with filling a roasting pan, or carefully transferring it to and from the oven.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about my mother-in-law, it’s never to doubt her cooking advice. Because she is always, always right.

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Closeup image of a cheesecake on a round metal pan, with cookie crumbled on top, on a wrinkled and folded off-white cloth.

Lightened Up Mini Cheesecake

  • Author: Raquel Smith
  • Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


This Lightened Up Mini Cheesecake recipe is the perfect quintessential cheesecake – just smaller! You’d never know it was made with fewer calories – but your waistband will thank you!



For the Crust:

  • 2 1/2 oz vanilla wafers
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • Cooking oil spray

For the Filling:


For the Crust:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325ºF.
  2. Pulse the vanilla wafers in a food processor or blender until reduced to a fine powder. Transfer to a medium bowl and add the sugar and melted butter. Stir until everything is evenly moistened.
  3. Transfer to a 5-inch springform pan and press firmly and evenly into the bottom using your fingertips. The crust should only come up the sides just a bit.
  4. Bake for 7-9 minutes, until fragrant and just beginning to brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Turn the oven down to 200ºF.

For the Filling:

  1. Line a bowl with a couple of layers of paper towels and add the cottage cheese. Let drain for about 30 minutes (for the sake of time, it’s best to do this before you make the crust).
  2. Add the drained cottage cheese, cream cheese, and yogurt to a food processor and process until completely smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Add the sugar, salt, lemon juice, and vanilla to the bowl and process until mixed. Add the egg and process just enough to mix it all together.
  3. Spray a paper towel with cooking oil, then wipe the sides of the pan until evenly greased, being careful not to disturb the crust.
  4. Pour the filling into the pan, stopping about 1/2 inch below the rim.
  5. Bake for 50 minutes, then turn the oven off and open the door just a bit. Let sit for 1 hour, then remove to a rack to cool.
  6. Once cooled to room temperature, refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Remove the sides of the pan, cut into quarters, and serve.


The first piece can be really difficult to get out. Make sure you cut all the way through the crust, leave the first slice in place, then cut another right next to it. Use a thin metal spatula to coax on of the pieces out. The pieces to follow should be much easier to remove!

Mini springform pans often come in sets of two. Feel free to double the recipe and use both!

  • Prep Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Cheesecake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Dessert

Keywords: cheesecake, light, dessert

Whether you serve it with fruit on top or on its own, in one sitting or savored a tiny sliver at a time, this is the perfect dessert for whenever you’re craving something extra special and homemade, and a little bit lighter so you can ditch the guilt.

A hand holds a spoonful of homemade lightened-up cheesecake up to the camera, with a white plate of dessert and a brown table in shallow focus in the background.

How will you enjoy this wonderful mini dessert? Share your suggestions with us in the comments below, and don’t forget to give it a five-star rating if you love it!

We have more recipes to share with you! Our other alternative, yet still delish, cheesecake recipes are right around the corner:

Photos by Raquel Smith, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on October 12th, 2015. Last updated: April 21, 2023 at 13:08 pm.

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 Raquel Smith

Raquel is a whole foods enthusiast, an avid mountain biker, and a dog lover. She works by day at Food Blogger Pro and formerly maintained her food blog "My California Roots" (now merged into Foodal).

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