Easy No-Bake Cheesecake

from 3 votes

This recipe for Easy No-Bake Cheesecake stars a rich and creamy cheesecake filling made with five simple ingredients tucked inside a graham cracker crust. It’s a foolproof alternative to the traditional dessert!

A top-down view of a cheesecake topped with dollops of whipped cream and lemon zest.

This isn’t any ordinary cheesecake. There are no eggs and no baking, so rather than a traditional cheesecake consistency that’s firm, and yet fluffy, this no-bake cheesecake is more pudding-like. But when it comes to taste, it’s just like the classic dessert—not too sweet and just a touch sour.

This recipe delivers big on the flavor front. Five simple ingredients blend together into a slightly lemony yet definitely vanilla-y custard that’s poured into a DIY graham cracker crust and then chilled until set. It’s the perfect dessert for summer when you want to bypass the oven, but it’s also a great make-ahead dessert for any holiday.

Why You’ll Love this Recipe

This recipe takes the stress out of notoriously fussy cheesecake. There’s no water bath, no fear of a cracked top, and definitely no soggy crust. 

  • Smooth, creamy, pudding-like texture.
  • Not too sweet and just a touch sour.
  • The best buttery graham cracker crust.
  • Completely foolproof.
Melted butter being poured atop crushed graham crackers and sugar in a clear bowl.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Graham crackers: It’s important to finely grind the graham crackers so that there are no large pieces. The smaller the crumbs, the higher likelihood your crust will stick together. The best way to achieve this is in a food processor or by putting them in a sealed plastic bag and crushing them with a rolling pin.
  • Melted butter: The ratio of graham cracker crumbs to butter is essential. You need enough fat to hold the crumbs but not so much that it becomes oily.
  • Sugar: Just enough to sweeten the crust and bind it together. 
  • Cream cheese: You’ll need two 8 ounce blocks of full-fat cream cheese, not cream cheese spread. Be sure to bring the cream cheese to room temp so it will cream easily.
  • Sweetened condensed milk: Because we aren’t using gelatin in this recipe, sweetened condensed milk is essential to create stability.
  • Lemon juice & lemon zest: To achieve the best flavor, use fresh lemon juice because bottled lemon juice is often bitter.
  • Vanilla extract: Adds just the right amount of flavor.

Pro Tip: This can be made a touch sweeter with a dollop of my top-rated Secret Ingredient Whipped Cream.

A top-down view of a hand holding a measuring cup pressing graham cracker crumbs into a springform pan.

How to Make Creamy No-Bake Cheesecake

  1. Make the graham cracker crust. Stir together the finely ground graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar until the mixture is well combined and looks like damp sand. Press the mixture firmly into the bottom and up the sides (about 1 ½ inches) of a 9-inch springform pan. (You can use the side and bottom of a dry measuring cup to help press the crumbs into the pan.) Cover the crust with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 20 minutes (no baking required!).
  2. Make the filling. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth and then stream in the sweetened condensed milk. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Pour the filling into the chilled graham cracker crust, cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 4 hours, or until firm.

Kelly’s Note: This cheesecake has a softer, pudding-like consistency. Because there is no gelatin in the mixture, the cheesecake will never fully harden past the pudding stage.

The paddle attachment of a stand mixer over a clear stand mixer bowl containing creamy no-bake cheesecake filling.

Tips for Recipe Success

  • In need of a shortcut? A premade graham cracker crust will do the trick!
  • Make sure the cream cheese is at room temp before blending it to avoid any lumps.
  • Don’t rush the chilling process. It takes time for the pudding-like filling to set.
A no-bake cheesecake with a graham cracker crust topped with dollops of whipped cream and lemon zest with one slice missing.

FAQs

How long does no-bake cheesecake last?

If it’s well-covered and stored in a refrigerator, it will keep for up to 5 days. 

Can it be frozen?

Yes! For the best results, chill the cheesecake in the refrigerator first (as instructed in the recipe), then wrap it tightly with a layer of plastic wrap and a layer of aluminum foil before freezing. It’ll last up to 3 months in the freezer. Thaw in the refrigerator before slicing and serving.

Why didn’t my no-bake cheesecake set?

To get the filling to set completely, it needs to be refrigerated for a minimum of 4 hours but overnight is ideal. If you skip this step, the cheesecake won’t firm up properly.

More Cheesecake Recipes

Dollops of whipped cream atop a cheesecake with a graham cracker crust on a round serving plate.

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Dessert

Easy No-Bake Cheesecake

This recipe for Easy No-Bake Cheesecake stars a rich and creamy cheesecake filling made with five simple ingredients tucked inside a graham cracker crust. It’s a foolproof alternative to the traditional dessert!
Author: Kelly Senyei
5 from 3 votes
A top-down view of a cheesecake topped with dollops of whipped cream and lemon zest.
Prep Time 4 hours
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 4 hours
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients 

  • 2 sleeves (18 sheets) graham crackers
  • 11 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions 

  • Place the graham crackers in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground. (Alternately, crush the graham crackers in a sealed plastic bag.) Transfer the graham cracker crumbs into a medium bowl and stir in the melted butter and sugar until the mixture is well combined.
  • Press the graham cracker mixture firmly into the bottom and up the sides (about 1 ½ inches) of a 9-inch springform pan. (You can use the side and bottom of a dry measuring cup to help press the crumbs into the pan.) Cover the crust with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 20 minutes.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth and then stream in the sweetened condensed milk. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Pour the filling into the chilled graham cracker crust, cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 3 ½ to 4 hours, or until firm. (See Kelly's Notes.)
  • When ready to serve, remove the cheesecake from the fridge and unclasp the spring on the springform pan to remove the outer ring. Top the cheesecake with whipped cream then slice and serve.

Kelly’s Notes:

  • Don’t rush the chilling process. It takes time for the pudding-like filling to set.
  • This cheesecake has a softer, pudding-like consistency. Because there is no gelatin in the mixture, the cheesecake will never fully harden past the pudding stage.
  • If it’s well-covered and stored in a refrigerator, the cheesecake will keep for up to 5 days.
  • ★ Did you make this recipe? Don't forget to give it a star rating below!

Nutrition

Calories: 169kcal, Carbohydrates: 6g, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Cholesterol: 41mg, Sodium: 26mg, Potassium: 18mg, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 480IU, Vitamin C: 3.5mg, Calcium: 7mg, Iron: 0.1mg

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Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.


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5 from 3 votes

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Comments

  1. Looking forward to making this recipe, however, I’m wondering why there are so many comments about Pomegranate seeds on this no bake cheesecake recipe? There’s none in the picture and no mention of them in the directions.

    1. Hi Dinah! I recently updated the photos. In the original photos, I garnished the cheesecake with pomegranate seeds. :)

  2. I make the recipe similar but instead of the milk, I use Cool Whip. It makes it a little firmer.

  3. 5 stars
    I have made this pie many times. Its definitely a big hit ! However at times the consistency is a little too “loose”. Im wondering if adding “heavy whipping cream” will firm it up without taking away from its tremendous flavor. Anyone ever try this? If so what were taste results?

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