Our Favorite Cheesecake

cheesecake with cherry topping

Learn How to Make Our Favorite Cheesecake Gluten-Free!

How to Make our Favorite Cheesecake

In our humble opinion, our cheesecake recipe is second to none, and with a few simple substitutions, it can easily be made gluten-free.  Psst…no one will ever know the difference.  It’s THAT good!

Family Favorite Cheesecake Recipe 

We have always loved cheesecake. We love it because it is versatile and makes a beautiful addition to your holiday table.  Love peanut butter?  Chocolate chip?  Snickerdoodle?  Vanilla?  Cheesecake can be adapted to satisfy any number of your sweet cravings.  Of all of the scrumptious desserts we make, our cheesecake has become the most requested.  

Why a Gluten-Free Cheesecake Recipe?

Let’s talk gluten-free for a moment, and why gluten-free recipes are a hallmark of our cooking.  Monica was diagnosed with celiac disease about 20 years ago, after years of severe illness.  Some people choose to eat gluten-free because of gluten sensitivity or gluten allergy; however, celiac disease is much more serious–even deadly.  Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where the small intestine is seriously damaged by the ingestion of gluten.  

What is gluten?  

Gluten is the protein found in many grains, like wheat and barley, that makes food sticky.  Think of dough that rises and stretches, or foods with a chewy texture.  Gluten-free foods have come a long way over the last 20 years, thanks to improvements in gluten-free flours, and to food scientists who have finally largely mastered the “texture” issue.  In the past, flours were heavy and grainy, and pasta tasted like sand.  Today virtually any food can be made gluten-free from scratch, and many wonderful commercial products can be found on grocery store shelves.

monica adding the finishing touches on Our Favorite Cheesecake

How to Make a Cheesecake Gluten-Free?

Our Favorite Cheesecake can be converted to gluten-free in one simple step:  substitute cookies or graham crackers for gluten-free cookies or graham crackers in the crust.  The rest of the recipe is already naturally gluten-free!  Read on for the recipe.

Our Favorite Cheesecake (Classic Recipe)

Ingredients For the Crust:

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs; pulse finely in food processor (gluten-free graham crackers if you wish to make this gluten-free)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter

Ingredients For the Filling:

  • 4 8-oz. Bars Philadelphia Cream Cheese at room temperature and cut into medium chunks
  • 1 ⅓ cups white granulated sugar
  • Dash of salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (we love Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Vanilla the best), plus a few drips extra (we always love a little extra vanilla)
  • 5 large eggs
  • ⅔ cup sour cream
  • ⅔ cup heavy cream

Ingredients For the Topping:

  • Canned cherry pie filling

What Do You Need To Bake Cheesecake?

  • Reynold’s Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil (extra large)
  • Large springform pan
  • Parchment paper (optional)
  • Large roasting pan or disposable foil roasting pan (you will be baking your cheesecake in a water bath to keep it moist and to prevent cracking)

Steps to Make Our Favorite Gluten-Free Cheesecake

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees(use the convection setting if you have a convection oven)
  2. Prepare the pan:  if desired cut a circle of parchment paper the size of the bottom of the springform pan and lay in the bottom of the pan.  This makes transferring the cheesecake onto a platter much easier if you wish.  Or you can simply leave the cheesecake on the bottom of the springform pan.
  3. Make the crust:  pulse your graham crackers to make 2 cups fine crumbs.  Add the melted butter to the crumbs in a glass bowl and toss with a fork until mixed well.  Pour the crumbs in the bottom of the springform pan and push the crumbs into the pan with the back of a spoon until smooth.  Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes, depending on the speed of your oven (ours cooks fast).  Remove from the oven and cool.
  4. Make the filling:  mix cream cheese chunks in an electric mixer on medium speed for 4 minutes using the paddle attachment.  Scrape down the bowl and mix for an additional minute.  Add the sugar and mix for 4 more minutes.  Add the following ingredients, beating for one minute after each addition:  dash salt, vanilla, eggs (one minute PER egg), and sour cream.  Scrape the bowl well, and then add heavy cream and beat for another 2 minutes.  
  5. Wrap the entire pan in 3 separate sheets of heavy-duty, oversized aluminum foil.  This step is a MUST.  You MUST wrap the pan in 3 separate sheets of foil to protect the cheesecake from getting wet in the water bath.  You absolutely MUST  use the oversized, heavy-duty kind or water will leak through the layers of foil if you use the regular size.  Your cheesecake will be ruined (we have done this and it is not fun)! The oversized foil wraps all the way around the pan without having a seam.  Simply roll any extra foil around the rim of the springform pan.
  6. Pour the cheesecake filling into the pan, scraping the bowl completely.
  7. Pour 2 quarts of water into your roasting pan and carefully place your cheesecake wrapped in foil into the water.
  8. Bake at 325 for 1 hour, 10 minutes to 1 hour, 25 minutes (depending on your oven).  
  9. To test for doneness, use the jiggle test:  with potholders, gently shake the cheesecake.  If it is really jiggly all over, it needs to cook a little longer.  Cook in 3-minute increments until mostly set.  When a cheesecake is done, it will jiggle a little in the center, but not much on the sides.  Alternatively, you can insert a clean knife or toothpick in the center.  If it comes out very wet, it will be underdone.  
  10. Your cheesecake should have a nice golden brown top.  Turn off the oven and allow your cheesecake to cool with the door slightly cracked for one hour.  Slow cooling in the water bath will prevent the top from cracking
  11. After the hour, remove the cheesecake from the oven, set paper towels on the counter, and put the cheesecake on the towels.  Peel off the aluminum foil and discard.  The bottom of the cheesecake will likely be syrupy, so put clean paper towels down on the shelf of your refrigerator and refrigerate overnight.
  12. When the cheesecake is set, remove the sides of the springform pan and top your cheesecake with the cherry topping, spreading almost to the edge.
  13. Enjoy!  This is the creamiest cheesecake you have ever tasted!

Try Our Other Favorite Cheesecake Flavor Combinations 

If you would like to change the crust or topping of this classic creamy plain cheesecake recipe, check out these options:

Cheesecake Crust Options

 *follow the same directions as for graham cracker crust, substituting your favorite cookie

Chocolate chip cookie

Vanilla cookie

Snickerdoodle cookie

Oreo cookie

Vanilla or lemon cream cookie




Cheesecake Topping Options

Cherry pie filling

Apple pie filling

Homemade whipped cream with chocolate chips

Salted Caramel

Share Your Favorite Cheesecake Crust and Toppings in the Comments!

We hope you enjoyed this how to make a gluten-free cheesecake post, and we look forward to bringing you many more fabulous gluten-free convertible recipes! 

From the HartLand with love,

Monica, Brittany & Cheyenne

Leave a Reply