Honestly, I was once afraid to make cheesecake. I thought people who made beautiful and delicious cheesecakes were nearly performing baking miracles. How was I going to get a good consistency and flavorful cheesecake? One day, I decided to follow a simple Kraft recipe and I’ve been making variations ever since just like this Easy Creamy Lemon Cheesecake.
I’ve used regular cream cheese, Neuchatel, light cream cheese, store brand, and a combination of all of them trying to reduce calories and fat. But, what I’ve found is that the best tasting cheesecake is going to be full fat cream cheese. I also believe the Philadelphia brand is the best and not just because I’m from the Philly area. It tastes the best!
TIP: Whipping the cream cheese makes it fluffier. One time, I accidentally left my Kitchen Aid mixer beating cream cheese for a few minutes while I tended to something else and was worried I over beat it. The effect was quite the opposite. The cheesecake came out a little bit lighter in consistency and creamier. Ever since, I mix it longer than needed.
Now, let’s get onto softening the cream cheese. I have also tried softening cream cheese in the microwave on defrost for a minute or two however it doesn’t soften the middle as the outer edges do. The edges then tend to get too warm. I find the best way to soften cream cheese is just to let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes or more depending how warm is your kitchen. You can always soften it in the microwave on the defrost setting but, be careful not to make it too soft.
If you don’t have a zester, I recommend using a sharp knife to remove the lemon zest (only yellow part of peel.) Then cut it into fine pieces. If you attempt to use a cheese grater, you may grate some of the rind (the white part of peel) which is bitter. You only want the yellow part of the peel. If you don’t have a zester, I highly recommend getting one. There is a lot of flavor in citrus peels (i.e. lemon, lime, orange.) The zester can be used for coconut, whole nutmeg, garlic, onion and other fruits or vegetables.
I put zest in other cakes such as pound cakes, sponge cake and plain cake depending on which flavor I choose. I bought this zester shown in the picture to the left at Williams & Sonoma.
When I don’t have time to make a cookie crust for a cheesecake, I’ll use the Keebler pie crust. As long as it has a long expiration date, it should be somewhat fresh. Always check the dates. An old cookie pie crust will taste stale and impair the cheesecake’s flavor. Although you can buy cookie crumbs, it still adds extra steps and more dirty dishes. But, it will taste a bit more fresh so, it just depends how much time you have.
If you have a little extra time, consider making this delicious Creamy Cranberry Lemon Cheesecake. It is twice as big as the Easy Creamy Lemon Cheesecake but, has the extra tart of the cranberries.
Making the Easy Creamy Lemon Cheesecake
In a large mixing bowl, add softened cream cheese, vanilla, sugar, eggs, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Mix for a few minutes on high. You will begin to see the cream cheese become creamy and slightly fluffy.
After you bake this Easy Creamy Lemon Cheesecake, it is best to let it cool until it is only slightly warm on the bottom. Then, put it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. If you are making a larger cheesecake, you’ll need up to 8 hours or preferably over night.
If I’m in a rush to cool a small cheesecake, I’ll cool it on the stove for one hour, then move it to the fridge for one hour and then freezer for two hours. Then I’ll put it back in the fridge until I’m ready to serve it. That will certainly get it cold enough to eat. Just set a timer so you don’t forget.
This Easy Creamy Lemon Cheesecake recipe can be doubled! You can just double the ingredients but, you’ll have to make a cookie pie crust which, can be found here.
If you need a great tasting, creamy and of course “easy” dessert to make for a pot luck party with little prep, this easy creamy lemon cheesecake is perfect! Your guests will think it tastes better than a store-bought cheesecake and maybe even be impressed you actually made it. With only ten minutes or fewer of prep time, it is almost as easy as making a boxed cake. But, it tastes much better!
Have you ever made a cheesecake? How did it turn out?
Easy Creamy Lemon Cheesecake
- 2 pkgs of Philadelphia brand cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup of white granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- Juice of a whole lemon
- 1 tsp of grated lemon zest
- 1 Graham cracker Pie crust
- Remove cream cheese from refrigerator for about 30 minutes to soften or in microwave on defrost setting.
- Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
- Put the softened cream cheese in a mixing bowl and mix on medium speed for two minutes.
- Rinse the lemon under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Use a zester to remove lemon zest from peel. You only need one tsp of zest.
- Juice the lemon. It will be about two tablespoons of juice.
- Add sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice to the cream cheese until mixed.
- Add eggs, one at a time and continue to mix.
- Pour cream cheese mixture into the pie crust.
- Bake on 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.
- Let cool for one hour and then refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving or in freezer for two hours.