A rich, creamy no bake lemon cheesecake, perfect for a Summer dessert, or any time of year you want an easy, make-ahead dessert.
Why I love this no bake lemon cheesecake
- This no bake lemon cheesecake is perfect for Summer entertaining, or any time of year when you want an easy, make-ahead dessert.
- This cheesecake keeps really well in the fridge and can be made 24 hours ahead. It will keep even longer in the fridge to enjoy the left-overs.
- This no-bake cheesecake can be topped with any number of toppings (scroll down for some ideas!) or enjoy it plain.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Cream Cheese – full fat cream cheese is recommended, as it will produce the best texture and stability in the finished cheesecake and a good-quality cream cheese will also produce the nicest results (I love Philadelphia Brand).
I haven’t tested this recipe with a lower-fat cream cheese. Using a lower fat cream cheese will produce a less smooth and rich texture and may also impact the stability of this no-bake cheesecake, making it a bit less sturdy.
Whipping Cream – aka heavy cream, this is the 35% b.f. cream. As the cream needs to be whipped, you will need to use whipping cream and not a lighter cream.
Lemon Zest and Juice – you can easily tweak the amount of lemon flavour at the end of mixing. As this cheesecake is not baked, simply taste and add more lemon, if you like. I suggest adding more lemon zest first, as adding too much lemon juice may thin the filling too much.
Icing/Confectioners’ Sugar – Icing sugar is used to sweeten the cheesecake. Like the lemon flavour, you can tweak the amount and add additional icing sugar at the end of mixing after tasting.
- Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and melted butter until evenly moistened.
- Pour graham cracker mixture into prepared 9-inch springform pan and pop into the freezer to chill while you make the filling.
- Press the crumb mixture evenly over the bottom and about 3/4″ up the side of the pan.
- Prepare the filling by sifting the icing/confectioners’ sugar into the mixing bowl with the cream cheese and beat until smooth.
- Mix in the sour cream.
- Add the lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla and mix in.
- Whip the cream, then fold in to the cream cheese mixture.
- Spoon the filling on top of the chilled graham crust.
- Smooth out the filling, cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
Be sure to allow sufficient time for the cream cheese to come to room temperature. It could take 2 hours or more set on the counter. (Don’t forget to take the sour cream out ahead of time, too, so it has time to come to room temperature, too.)
I divided my cake into 8 sections for easy decorating, but I find a half slice a fine serving, so you could easily get 16 servings from this cheesecake.
Making Ahead, Storing and Freezing
Making ahead is built in to this no bake cheesecake, as it will require at least a 4-hour chilling period. It can chill up to 24 hours before serving.
Beyond that, store well wrapped in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
You can freeze no-bake cheesecake, well-wrapped, for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. The texture after freezing and thawing may be slightly different, but should still be quite nice.
How to Serve Lemon Cheesecake
Serve this no-bake cheesecake directly from the fridge. Top with any topping or enjoy plain. Here are some topping ideas –
Fresh Fruit – Top with any fresh fruit. I’ve used a few blueberries here, with a slice of lemon and some mint leaves. Strawberries, raspberries or blackberries would also be great. You can use a few or a lot, as you like.
Fruit Sauce or Coulis – simply cook up the fruit with a bit of cornstarch and sugar. Serve cooled or warm on a slice of cheesecake. Use any berry or try mangos, for a bright, Summery flavour. I have a great blueberry sauce recipe, that would work perfectly and you can adapt that base recipe for different fruit.
Cookie Crumbs or Chopped Nuts – sprinkle the top with crumbled cookies or chopped nuts.
Get the Recipe: No Bake Lemon Cheesecake
For the crust:
- 1/2 cup salted butter, melted
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
For the lemon cheesecake filling:
- 1 cup whipping cream, 35% b.f.
- 24 oz full fat cream cheese, at room temperature (three 8 oz packages)
- 3/4 cup icing/confectioners' sugar, sifted, plus more as needed
- 1/4 cup full fat sour cream, at room temperature
- 1 Tablespoon lemon zest, plus more, to taste
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
- Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Make the crust: Melt the butter in the microwave in a medium bowl (or melt in a saucepan and place in a medium bowl). Stir in the brown sugar until smooth, then add the graham cracker crumbs. Stir until the crumbs are evenly moistened.
- Spoon the crumb mixture into the prepared pan. Use the bottom of a glass or other flat object to press the mixture into the bottom of the pan and about 3/4-inch up the side of the pan. Place the pan with the crust into the freezer uncovered to chill while you make the filling.
- Whip the cream: Add the whipping cream to a medium bowl. Whip with an electric mixer (or using the whisk attachment in a stand mixer) until firm peaks form. Set bowl in the refrigerator until needed.
- Make the filling: Place the room temperature cream cheese into a large bowl (if using an electric hand mixer) or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Sift the icing/confectioners' sugar into the bowl. Mix together at low speed just until combined, about 1 minute, then increase speed to medium and beat until smooth, light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add the sour cream, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla to the bowl and mix in until well combined.
- Remove bowl from mixer. Spoon in the whipped cream and using a rubber spatula, fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until well combined.
- *Taste filling. As this is a no bake cheesecake, how it tastes now is how it will taste later. You can add add a bit more icing sugar, if you want it a bit sweeter (I often add another Tablespoon or two) and you can add additional lemon zest, to taste. Be careful adding additional lemon juice, as it can thin the filling too much and affect the set.
- Spoon filling into chilled crust. Spread evenly into the pan and smooth the top. Cover with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
- Serve chilled from the refrigerator, topped with fruit, if desired.
Watch the No Bake Lemon Cheesecake Web Story
Hi! I’m Jennifer, a home cook schooled by trial and error and almost 40 years of getting dinner on the table! I love to share my favourite recipes, both old and new, together with lots of tips and tricks to hopefully help make your home cooking enjoyable, stress free, rewarding and of course, delicious!