The beauty of a plain, no-bake cheesecake is that it is easy, simple, and delicious as is, or you can level it up with a fruit topping, with chocolate chips mixed in, or a mound of flavored whipped cream on the side.
Or all of the above.
While this recipe doesn’t use eggs like a traditional cheesecake, don’t mistake this for a “light” cheesecake, either.
It has plenty of cream cheese and heavy cream, and it doesn’t use a pudding mix.
I’ve had desserts that use low- or non-fat cream cheese and pudding mix to add lift, and there’s a time and place for those. But NOW is not the time.
We are going for full on comforting, sweet, rich, and decadent.
This recipe spotlights a thick, buttery crust, and since this cheesecake without an oven sets up in the refrigerator, it’s best to really pulverize the crumbs so they stick together and slice up nicely when it’s chilled.
You don’t have to use graham crackers either. Crush vanilla wafers, shortbread cookies, Oreos, or any other crisp, baked cookie to create another level of flavor.
Even with a plain cheesecake, the outcome and presentation are tastier with high-quality, fresh ingredients.
Treat yourself to new packages of Philly cream cheese, a new box of graham crackers that you crush yourself, and fresh butter.
If you are making this plain, no bake cheesecake in small tart tins or muffin cups for a cheesecake bar or for a function, press in all the crusts first and distribute the filling after.
Tips for making Plain, No-Bake Cheesecake:
- Set out your packages of cream cheese an hour or so before you are ready to make this recipe. Make sure it’s thoroughly soft before you start beating.
- An 8- or 9-inch deep-dish pie plate will be the perfect size to hold enough crust and filling. If it’s smaller, you may need to leave out some of the filling, so it doesn’t blurb over the sides. Don’t use a large casserole dish or your crumb crust will be too thin.
- Don’t skimp on whipping the cream before adding it to the cream cheese. This incorporated air helps add loft to the final result, making for a super creamy no-bake cheesecake.
- A food processor makes quick work of this, but you can also just do a few at a time in a strong zipper baggie and beat with a rolling pin. Just make sure they are uniformly crushed. You don’t want big pieces of cookie since this isn’t getting baked.
- Clean hands work better than a spatula for pressing the cookie mixture into the pie plate.
- Don’t pull out the heavy cream until you are ready to whip it. Cold cream whips faster and higher.
The bottom line
Plain, no-bake cheesecake is not as dense and heavy as a traditional cheesecake baked in a water bath in an oven.
It is a creamier and fluffier alternative that makes a nice finisher in the summer or when you want a nice base for your guests’ toppings of choice.
It rests in the fridge instead of heating up your house, and you don’t have to worry about the cracked top that plagues most chefs when trying to perfect a cheesecake recipe.
It’s hard to beat berries on top of cheesecake. I’ve used this Strawberry Compote recipe more times than I can count.
Looking for more no-bake dessert recipes?
- 2 ½ c crushed cookie crumbs; graham crackers are the gold standard
- 1 stick of salted butter (if using unsalted, add ¼ t of table salt)
- 2 8-oz. packages of fresh cream cheese
- 1 c of heavy whipping cream
- 2 T high quality vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- 1 c of powdered sugar
- Crush the cookies into fine crumbs and add to a mixing bowl.
- Melt the butter fully and add to the cookie crumbs.
- Mix with a wood spoon until all the crumbs are moist with melted butter.
- Transfer the cookie crumb mixture to your pie plate, tart pan, or mini tins, and begin pressing the mixture with your fingers into the bottom and sides.
- Place in the refrigerator while making the filling.
- With a hand mixer, beat the two packages of room temperature cream cheese until fluffy/creamy.
- Add the powdered sugar and continue beating.
- Add the vanilla and continue beating.
- Set cream cheese mixture aside.
- In a new bowl, add the heavy cream. Use a whisk or a hand mixer with clean beaters to whip the heavy cream into stiff peaks. I like to use an immersion blender too, as it works quickly, but watch it carefully as cream can quickly turn to butter.
- Fold in the whipped cream to the bowl with the cream cheese mixture. Incorporate without overmixing.
- Using a rubber spatula, transfer the filling to your pie plate or tart tins with crust. Spread evenly, keeping the filling toward the center, and not going over the sides of the crust.
- Refrigerate for at least two hours, but overnight is better. If serving immediately the crust may crumble and the filling will be loose.
- Add fruit toppings as desired. We have a list of cheesecake topping ideas here.
For the crust:
For the filling:
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 659Total Fat: 48gSaturated Fat: 25gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 97mgSodium: 405mgCarbohydrates: 53gFiber: 1gSugar: 33gProtein: 7g