This delightful Vanilla Bean Cheesecake is a classic dessert with a graham cracker crust, creamy cheesecake filling, and white chocolate whipped cream topping.
❤️ Why You’ll Love This Recipe: You can’t go wrong with a timeless dessert like homemade vanilla bean cheesecake. And this is the absolute best recipe for a smooth, creamy cheesecake, a crisp crust, and a light and airy white chocolate mousse whipped cream topping.
Update: This is a great dessert to serve for entertaining or birthdays all year long. I’ve updated the post with in-depth tips and new photos to show you how to make it step-by-step.
How to Make the Best Vanilla Bean Cheesecake
This is a homemade version of TGIF’s vanilla bean cheesecake. The components to this stunning dessert are a simple graham cracker crust, a creamy cream cheese filling, and a white chocolate mousse topping. I recommend making the components in that order so the cheesecake can cool before you add the mousse layer.
I recommend using a 9-inch springform pan for the cheesecake, which makes removal and serving easier.
Graham Cracker Crust
You’ll need about 1 ½ to 2 sleeves of graham crackers to make the crust. Save the rest for snacking or s’mores!
When making the crust, be sure that everything is evenly distributed. It should resemble wet sand when it’s done. Then, evenly press the crumb mixture into your pan. You can use the bottom of a flat glass or jar to tamp the crust down well. Make sure to go all the way to the outer edges.
Before you start making the vanilla cheesecake layer, make sure that all of your ingredients are at room temperature. Any chilled ingredients will create small lumps in the cream cheese that will not mix. They won’t look pretty and it can also affect the taste of your cheesecake.
⏲️ Time-Saving Trick: Put the cream cheese in a Ziploc bag and place it in warm water (not hot) for 10 minutes. Add the eggs to the warm water and let sit for another 5 minutes.
The vanilla bean flavor in this cake comes from the seeds of one vanilla bean. The little black specs are pretty and they are very flavorful and fragrant. If you do not have a vanilla bean, however, you can use vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract.
When you’re ready to bake, pour the cheesecake mixture into the pan with the crust and spread it evenly to the outside edges with an offset spatula.
Water Bath for Baking Cheesecake
The reason for a water bath is that it helps the cheesecake cook evenly and slowly. This way, the cake stays smooth and even all the way through (not burnt on the edges and soft in the center). It also helps avoid cracks.
If you’re worried that your pan may leak, I recommend wrapping the cake in a turkey baking bag. Look for them by parchment and plastic wrap in the grocery store). They are watertight and they hold up to the heat in the oven.
Place your cheesecake pan into the bag, but leave the top open. Then place the bagged cake pan into a larger pan and pour hot water around it. You only need the water to come about halfway up the sides of the cake pan. To minimize risks of spilling, do this near the oven so you don’t have far to go with the filled water bath.
If you can’t find the turkey bags, you can also wrap the edges of your cake pan with aluminum foil (heavy duty foil is your best bet).
Tips for Baking Cheesecake
Once you set up the water bath, baking is simple. It takes about 55 minutes to cook a 9-inch cheesecake through. It’s done when the center has a bit of jiggle to it.
👍 Helpful Tip: Take the guesswork out of making cheesecake by using an instant-read thermometer. Your cheesecake is ready to come out of the pressure cooker when the middle is above 140°F.
DO NOT open the oven door when your cake is done, just turn off the oven. Any drastic change in temperature may cause the top of your cheesecake to crack. Then let the cake cool in the oven for 1 hour before moving it to the counter to cool to room temperature.
When you remove the cheesecake from the bag or remove the foil, please note that the butter in the crust can leave an oily film on the bag or foil. This is normal, so no need to worry about water getting in.
Finally, place it in the fridge to chill and set up fully.
White Chocolate Mousse Topping
Make the whipped cream topping once the cheesecake is fully chilled. Use cold cream, room temperature cream cheese and vanilla bean seeds. Or replace the seeds with 1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract.
Be sure to let the melted white chocolate cool before adding it to the whipped cream. It should be soft and pourable but not hot. If it is too hot, it will melt the cream cheese.
Assembling Vanilla Bean Cheesecake
When the cheesecake is chilled and ready, fit a piping bag with a large star tip and add the mousse topping. To decorate the cheesecake, start on the outside edges and pipe stars all around the top of the cheesecake until you reach the center. Then go back and fill in any empty spaces.
If you do not want to pipe your whipped cream topping, you can scoop it onto the cheesecake and spread it smooth with an offset spatula or butter knife.
To serve your masterpiece, divide the cake into neat slices. It’s easier to make clean cuts when you whip off the knife after each slice
This cheesecake is perfect with the white chocolate mousse topping, but you could also top it with chocolate syrup, caramel drizzle or chocolate shavings. Fruit topping would be delicious as well!
Refrigerate leftovers either in an airtight container or covered in plastic wrap. When ready to serve, take the cake out of the refrigerator and set it on the counter for 15-20 minutes to soften up. Then slice and enjoy!
More Cheesecake Recipes
If you love this vanilla bean cheesecake, try these other crowd-pleasing cake recipes:
- Birthday Cheesecake In A Jar are adorable miniature cheesecakes perfect for a birthday celebration
- Layered Instant Pot Strawberry Cheesecake is made in the pressure cooker and has a beautiful multi-colored layered look.
- Chocolate Cheesecake Cake Recipe features layers of tangy cheesecake and fluffy chocolate cake.
Vanilla Bean Cheesecake
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1 stick butter melted
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 sticks of cream cheese 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract or the innards of a vanilla bean
- 1 tbsp liqueur optional
WHITE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
- seeds from one vanilla pod
- 4 ounces ⅓ less fat cream cheese softened
- 4 ounces white chocolate baking squares melted
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.
- Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too – baker’s choice. Set crust aside.
- Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and liqueur (if using) and blend until smooth and creamy.
- Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water. (I didn’t want to risk water getting into my springform pan so I just put a pan of water on the rack underneath my cheesecake.)
- Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done – this can be hard to judge, but you’re looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don’t want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won’t crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill.
WHITE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
- In a cold mixing bowl beat cream until soft peaks form. Gradually add powdered sugar and vanilla seeds and beat until stiff peaks form. Put this in a bowl in the fridge. In another mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, until fluffy. Add the white chocolate and beat until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream.
- After the cheesecake has cooled spread the mousse evenly on top. Refrigerate several hours before serving.