Cranberry Cheesecake is a velvety cheesecake layer on top of a buttery graham cracker crust, topped with a vibrant homemade cranberry sauce. It’s a delicious balance of creamy sweetness and tart fruitiness. It all starts with my perfect cheesecake, which you will want to use for more cheesecake recipes, too!
Ingredients & Substitutions
Crust: Ensure all graham cracker crumbs are coated in melted unsalted butter. This is what binds the crust together.
Graham Cracker Crumbs
Pre-Crushed vs Crushing Yourself
The quality of store-bought graham cracker crumbs has changed in the last few years and they seem to be less flavorful and have a different texture. When possible, I recommend the full sheets of honey-flavored graham crackers and crushing them yourself or utilizing a food processor.
Room Temperature Ingredients: It’s important to use room-temperature ingredients for the cheesecake filling. Make sure the cream cheese, sour cream, and eggs are all at room temperature before combining them. This ensures the cheesecake is silky smooth with no lumps.
Sour Cream: Sour cream adds a tangy flavor and contributes to the smooth and creamy consistency of the cheesecake. Be sure it is at room temperature.
Eggs: Room-temperature eggs are the binding ingredients to hold the cheesecake together!
Cranberry Topping: The homemade cranberry sauce can be made up to 2 weeks in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Then, it is ready to go when you are ready to serve the cheesecake! Or, make it while the cheesecake is chilling; the sauce does take about an hour and a half to make so keep that in mind. You could also use leftover cranberry sauce from your Thanksgiving or Christmas menus!
Is A Water Bath Important?
Yes, a water bath is important when baking a cheesecake. Using a water bath helps prevent the edges from overcooking. It also results in the cheesecake being more even colored without cracks. It’s all about science. The water cannot get hotter than 212°F since this is when it turns to steam. This means the heat is distributed more evenly and the water is like a buffer protecting the edges from overcooking. The steam also helps with the smooth top of the cheesecake, adding moisture while the cheesecake is baking.
When Is Cheesecake Done Baking?
Cheesecake is perfectly baked when the sides are set but the center still has a very slight jiggle. You can also verify doneness by checking the internal temperature (150°F) or gently tapping the pan with a wooden spoon for that barely-there jiggle in the center. After baking, let it cool entirely in the pan, then refrigerate for a few hours or overnight for the ideal texture.
How To Store Cranberry Cheesecake
To store cranberry cheesecake, first, cover it. Then, store it in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. You could also freeze the cheesecake, with or without the cranberry topping.
To freeze a cheesecake:
- Let the cheesecake cool completely.
- Place the cheesecake (uncovered) in the freezer for about an hour. If you are keeping the cheesecake pie in the springform pan, remove the sides of the pan.
- After the hour in the freezer, take the cheesecake off the pan (you may have to pry it off with a knife), and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap.
- Place the wrapped cheesecake into a zipped freezer bag or wrap it in aluminum foil. Be sure to label and date the cheesecake. It will last for up to 6 months.
- 1 ½ cups (126 g) graham cracker crumbs, 10-12 sheets graham crackers, crushed
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup (½ stick / 57 g) unsalted butter, melted
- 4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 ¼ cups (250 g) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (115 g) sour cream room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 5 large eggs, room temperature
- 12 ounces cranberries
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Ensure all crumbs are thoroughly coated in butter.
- Press the crust evenly into the bottom of the prepared springform pan. Wrap 2 pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil around the bottom and sides of the pan. Set aside.
- To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add cream cheese and sugar. Mix on medium speed until smooth.
- Add sour cream and vanilla; blend until creamy. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- With the mixer on low speed, add eggs, one at a time until fully incorporated.
- Pour the filling over the crust.
- Carefully place the cheesecake into a slightly larger pan and transfer both into the oven. Pour hot water into the larger pan, 3-4 inches deep, OR about halfway up the side of the springform pan. Using a teapot with hot water works very well, as it is easy to pour and the water is already hot.
- Bake until the top of the cheesecake turns golden, about 75-80 minutes. Remove from oven. Let the cheesecake cool on a wire rack (about an hour) while still in the springform pan.
- Once cooled, transfer the cheesecake (still in the pan) to the refrigerator. Chill the cheesecake for 4 hours, up to overnight. While the cheesecake is chilling, make the cranberry sauce.
- To a medium saucepan over medium heat, add sugar, water, and orange zest. Heat until the sugar has dissolved.
- Add cranberries. Cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries start to pop.
- Remove from heat. Pour into a heat-safe bowl to cool (about an hour). This yields about 2 ½ cups of sauce. If not using immediately, store the cranberry sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
- Top chilled cheesecake with cooled cranberry sauce. Serve.
Did you make this recipe?
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What the Test Kitchen had to say about this recipe:
This cheesecake is smooth and creamy with a kick of flavor from the cranberry sauce in every single bite. I would definitely make this again!
Yum! This is so delicious with a good balance of sweet and tart. Plus, it looks festive for the holidays!
This creamy, delicious, and perfect cheesecake with a tangy homemade cranberry sauce over top is a winner. I love the tangy flavor of cranberries because it complements this cheesecake beautifully.
Oh wow! The creamy, smooth cheesecake tastes wonderful with the tart cranberries! Such a delightful treat!
This is a very creamy cheesecake with the perfect complement of the tangy cranberry sauce!
This is really delicious. You get a really nice tang from the cranberry sauce and then it finishes with the super creamy delicious cheesecake. Perfect for the holidays!