Lemon Cheesecake is a graham cracker crust filled with a light and smooth lemon-flavored filling, all topped with a creamy sour cream layer. If you appreciate the vibrant and refreshing taste of lemons and love cheesecake, this will be your new favorite dessert! I also have a cheesecake recipe that is my go-to when I want to enjoy it plain or add my favorite toppings.

Lemon Cheesecake on a White Cake Stand with a Ruffled Edge on a White Counter in Front of a Subway Tiled Wall.
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Ingredients & Substitutions

Crust: Be sure the graham cracker crumbs are completely covered in the melted butter. This helps hold the crust together; no one wants to miss out on any part of the buttery crust! You could also use a store-bought crust. Or, try it with a different kind of cookie crust like vanilla wafers or gingersnaps.

Filling: Be sure the ingredients, specifically the cream cheese, sour cream, and eggs, are at room temperature. This helps prevent lumps in the cheesecake.

Sour Cream: You will need sour cream for the filling and the topping. Sour cream in the filling helps give the cheesecake a smoother texture with just a hint of tartness. And then, when added with confectioners’ sugar for the topping, it adds another layer of flavor. Plus, it can cover any cracks or imperfections that may be in the cheesecake. You can also substitute it with Greek yogurt.

Lemons: Since this is a lemon cheesecake, I expected lemon in each bite, and this recipe does just that! You will need 2 large lemons. First, zest the lemons to get about 2 tablespoons of zest. Then, squeeze out lemon juice from each to get about 6 tablespoons total of juice. Depending on the size of the lemons, you may need an extra.

Pouring Lemon Cheesecake Batter into a Pan with Graham Cracker Crust.

Is The Water Bath Important?

In one word, yes. Using a water bath when baking cheesecakes helps prevent the edges from overcooking. It also results in the cheesecake being more even colored without cracks. The reason is 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.

How To Tell If Cheesecake Is Done

You will know the cheesecake is done when the sides are set, but the middle is still a bit jiggly. You can check the internal temperature of the cheesecake to check for doneness (150°F). After all, you are covering the surface with the sour cream topping, so no need to worry about holes! Another option to check for doneness would be to take a wooden spoon and tap the outside of the pan. If there is a slight jiggle, it’s done!

One Lemon Cheesecake on a White Cake Stand with Ruffles and Pieces Cut with a Piece on a Plate in the Background.

How To Store Lemon Cheesecake

To store cheesecake, cover it and store it in the refrigerator for a day or two. If you tightly wrap the cheesecake in plastic wrap or store it in an airtight container, it will last up to 3 days in the fridge.

Piece of Lemon Cheesecake on a White Plate with a Fork Taking a Bite.

Can I Freeze Cheesecake?

Sure! I recommend freezing the cheesecake WITHOUT the sour cream topping. You can quickly whip that up and spread it on the cheesecake the day before you are ready to serve it. To freeze a cheesecake:

  1. Let the cheesecake cool completely.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Place the wrapped cheesecake into a zipped freezer bag or wrap it in aluminum foil. Be sure to label and date the cheesecake. It should last up to 3 months.
  5. When ready to enjoy, let the cheesecake thaw in the refrigerator.

More Cheesecake Recipes

Overhead Image of a Lemon Cheesecake on a White Cake Stand with a Ruffled Edge.
5 from 1 vote

Lemon Cheesecake

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Chilling Time 4 hours
Total Time 5 hours 15 minutes
Lemon Cheesecake is a graham cracker crust filled with a light and creamy lemon-flavored filling, all topped with a sweet and tangy sour cream layer. If you appreciate the vibrant and refreshing taste of lemons and love cheesecake, this will be your new favorite dessert!



  • 1 cup (84 g) graham cracker crumbs, about 7 sheets graham crackers, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


  • 2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature
  • cup (133 g) granulated sugar
  • cup (77 g) sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 large lemons, zested (about 2 tablespoons) and juiced (about 6 tablespoons)


  • cup (77 g) sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 7-inch springform pan with parchment paper.


  • To a medium mixing bowl, add graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter. Mix until combined. Make sure all of the graham cracker crumbs are coated in butter; the consistency should look like coarse sand.
  • Press the crust into the bottom of the lined springform pan. Wrap 2 pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil around the bottom and up the sides of the pan. This is to prevent water from getting into the pan during the water bath step. Set aside.


  • Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment beat the cream cheese until smooth and creamy.
  • Add the sugar. Continue to beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Add in the sour cream and vanilla. Blend in until smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • With the mixer on low, add in eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition.
  • Add lemon zest and lemon juice to the cream cheese mixture. Mix until just incorporated.
  • Pour the filling into the crust. Carefully place the springform pan into a deep roasting pan and place both in the oven.
  • Pour hot water into the roasting 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 60-70 minutes, until the top of the cheesecake turns golden. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.


  • Once the cheesecake has completely cooled, combine the sour cream and sugar in a small bowl until incorporated. (You may want to sift the confectioner's sugar first if there are any lumps.) Spread it over the cheesecake in an even layer.
  • Transfer the cheesecake to the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours, up to overnight.
  • Serve chilled.



*I tested this recipe with a lemon curd topping and while it was good, it wasn’t needed! I made sure the lemon flavor of the cheesecake itself shines through. However, if you would like to add a layer of lemon curd on top, you can use this awesome lemon curd recipe.

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What the Test Kitchen had to say about this recipe:


If you are lemon fan, this is definitely a cheesecake recipe you have to try. The tart lemon flavor is in every bite. Don't be afraid of the sour cream topping! It rounds out the lemony flavor is such a beautiful way!


I love this cheesecake! It has such a delicious flavor and tartness from the lemons! I was skeptical because lemon desserts are not always my first choice, but this was divine! I even loved it without the sour cream topping.


The lemon comes through but isn't overbearing. It has a great balance with the crust and the sour cream topping!


Fantastic recipe! The lemon flavor really comes through and the sour cream topping really complements the lemon flavor. It would be fantastic without it if you didn't like the sour cream as well!


I love the strong lemon flavor in this! No guessing what the flavor is in this cheesecake! I was skeptical about the sour cream topping, but really liked how it complemented and rounded out the lemon flavor. This one is really special.


This is a lovely cheesecake. The lemons provide a burst of flavor! The filling is still quite smooth but it is tart because of the lemons. I prefer this cheesecake without the sour cream topping. It still tastes great without it!

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Meet Amanda Rettke

Amanda Rettke is the creator of I Am Baker, and the bestselling author of Surprise Inside Cakes: Amazing Cakes for Every Occasion – With a Little Something Extra Inside.Over the course of her 15+ year blogging adventure, she has been featured in and collaborated with the Food Network, New York Times, LA Times, Country Living Magazine, People Magazine, Epicurious, Brides, Romantic Homes, life:beautiful, Publishers Weekly, The Daily Mail, Star Tribune, The Globe and Mail, DailyCandy, YumSugar, The Knot, The Kitchn, and Parade, to name a few.

Reader Comments

  1. Have not tried thus recipie yet, but looks delightful fir our hot summers here in LOUISIABA. I have tried one like thus before, but this one looks a little easier!!!

  2. Definitely 70 minutes. I’ve never had lemon before. OMG! Served with a sliced strawberry and a dolip of Cool Whip! New summer favorite!

  3. My cheesecake dropped and was flat with a weird texture. I’ve double checked the ingredients, etc., and have never had this happen with a cheesecake before. Wish I knew what happened!

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