Crunchy, crisp graham cracker crust around velvety, tangy, classic cheesecake and topped with gooey, sweet, fresh strawberry topping and fluffy clouds of pipped whipped cream. Whether you love the classic restaurant chain Cheesecake Factory Strawberry Cheesecake or you just love a solid cheesecake recipe - this one is for you!
Best of all, you don’t have to get all dressed up! You can go ahead and eat your restaurant-quality cheesecake topped with fresh strawberry sauce in the comfort of your own home in your pajamas!
Am I speaking from experience on that? Well, yes, yes I am…
But seriously, your girl loves a solid Cheesecake Factory copycat recipe - just like this brown bread that tastes just like the one they serve there! Or this sparkling version of the strawberry martini. OR this red velvet cheesecake. So good, no reservations required.
Cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts to make. It's sweet but also tangy and (in my opinion) easier than making a fancy layer cake!
But this new one, the fresh strawberry topping with the classic vanilla cheesecake, she’s my favorite and soon to be yours too!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INGREDIENTS & SUBSTITUTIONS
You will need all the traditional cheesecake ingredients for this recipe, plus a few extras like the topping and garnish to make it look just like Cheesecake Factory strawberry cheesecake.
The crust is made out of graham crackers, sugar, and butter. For a gluten free crust you can substitute gluten free graham crackers or make my gluten free, oat based, crust recipe. It’s one of my most popular recipes and so so good!
The cheesecake filling calls for cream cheese, eggs, sour cream, sugar, and vanilla extract. I recommend using full fat cream cheese and sour cream, its worth it for getting the proper texture and richness.
The strawberry topping will need whole strawberries (fresh or frozen), water, lemon juice, sugar, and cornstarch. The sugar and cornstarch are the important players that will make that perfectly gooey strawberry sauce.
You have two options for the whipped cream. The recipe card below will walk you through the steps of making stabilized whipped cream so you can pipe it and it will last 2 to 3 days without falling. If you plan to top your cheesecake right before serving it, you can go ahead and make regular whipped cream to pipe on it.
HOW TO MAKE FRESH STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE
There are 4 different parts to the recipe - the crust, the cheesecake filling, the strawberry topping, and the whipped cream garnish. During the down time while the cheesecake is baking and chilling you can get a lot of the prep work for the other parts done.
So while this recipe might seem like a lot to take on, it's no more work than a traditional layer cake. It’s also 10000% worth the effort and everyone that eats your cheesecake will say so.
PREPARE THE PAN
Every cheesecake baker has their own personal go-to tips and tricks. This is mine.
TIP: Line the springform pan with parchment paper.
I cut mine into a circle so it fits fairly perfectly then lightly butter the pan before placing the parchment paper down to make sure it stays in place.
TIP: Wrap the hot springform pan with plasticwrap to seal it for the water bath.
While the crust bakes lay out several pieces of plastic wrap. Start with a vertical piece, then horizontal, then one of each of the diagonals - like cutting a pizza.
When the hot crust pan comes out of the oven, let it cool for a minute, then place it in the center of plastic wrap and carefully form the wrap to the outside of the pan to seal it from any water bath water leaking in. Then, wrap it with tin foil.
This method is a little unorthodox, so, you do you. If you don’t want to risk burning your hands on the warm pan, or the idea of baking with the plastic wrap around the pan freaks you out, go the traditional route of wraping the pan with tin foil.
TIP: Purchase the extra-large size of tin foil so you only need one sheet of tin foil to wrap the entire pan.
MAKE THE GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST
Make your graham cracker crust by pulsing the graham crackers in a food processor until finely ground or placing the crackers in a food storage bag and rolling over them with a rolling pin.
Transfer the crumbs to a mixing bowl and mix in the granulated sugar. Melt the butter. Using a fork, slowly pour in the melted butter while tossing the graham cracker crumbs until all the crumbs are completely coated. The crumbs shouldn’t be dry but the mixture should not be mushy wet either.
TIP: Use the flat side of a measuring cup to press the graham cracker crust down evenly on the bottom of the pan and up the sides.
Bake the crust and let cool.
MAKE THE CHEESECAKE FILLING
Start the filling by making sure the ingredients are at room temperature.
You can use a standing mixer or a hand mixer. Beat the cream cheese until creamy - I use speed #6 on my kitchen aid for about 2 minutes, scraping the beater and bowl down halfway.
Add the sugar and repeat.
With the mixer on low, add the vanilla and sour cream then eggs one at a time. Scrape down the beater and bowl of the mixer, then increase the speed of the mixer to #6 on a kitchen or high on a hand mixer and mix for about 1 minute. Scrape the batter bowl again to make sure there are no lumps!
Transfer the filling to your prepared crust and pan.
Place the cheesecake in a deep-sided, ovensafe pan and fill the space between the pan and the springform pan with water. The water should reach about 2” up the side of the springform pan.
Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 1 hour. After 1 hour of baking, shut the heat off and let the cheesecake sit in its water bath in the oven for 1 hour.
THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART: DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN.
Again, just in case the people in the back didn’t hear….DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN. Like at all. During the whole 2 hours. Unless something is literally on fire in the oven, don’t open it.
After the hour of chilling in the hot steamy oven passes, remove the cheesecake from the water bath. Remove the wrap around the outside of the pan and refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 6 hours, but overnight is best.
MAKE THE STRAWBERRY TOPPING
To make that classic gooey sauce with the whole strawberries we’re going to start with cornstarch and water. Add the cornstarch to a saucepan and whisk in the water until there are no clumps. Add the lemon juice and sugar, then gently stir in the strawberries.
You can use whole, diced, or sliced strawberries.
Heat over medium heat, gently stirring occasionally. The more you stir, the more the strawberries will break down. Which is fine if you diced them, but if you want that classic whole strawberry look, stir less.
Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes before topping the cheesecake.
MAKE THE WHIPPED CREAM
As mentioned before, you can make regular whipped cream (heavy whipping cream or heavy cream, confections sugar, vanilla) to pipe along the outside.
I prefer to make stabilized whipped cream so I can make this dessert a day or two in advance and not worry about the whipped cream losing its detail or falling.
This stabilized whipped cream recipe calls for gelatin. If that’s not cool with you, I’d recommend going the traditional whipped route or using a cornstarch-based recipe.
Combine the gelatin and water and let it sit until firm. (You’ll come back to it.)
In a standing mixer or using a hand mixer, combine the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla. Beat until the liquid has just started to thicken, but hasn’t reached the soft peak stage yet.
TIP: Use a chilled bowl, especially if its a hot day or the kitchen is hot.
Heat 5 to 10 seconds in the microwave to get it liquid again and remove any foam from the top of the gelatin - I just use a fork for this.
With the mixer running on low speed, slowly drizzle in the gelatin. Once all the gelatin is added increase the speed of the beater to high (I use a #8 on my standing mixer) just until stiff peaks form.
TIP: Don’t step away from the mixer to prevent overbeating the cream.
If you overbeat the whipped cream it will separate and look curdled. You can fix this by chilling the mixture a bit, then add a little heavy cream add a time while the mixer is mixing until the whipped cream smooths out.
ASSEMBLE YOUR CHEESECAKE
Served immediately or chill up to 3 days before serving.
It needs more baking time. However, if you follow the don't open the oven, bake for 1 hour, rest for 1 hour method, this should prevent a runny cheesecake.
Yes! Cheesecake can be frozen for up to a month before losing flavor and texture. To defrost a frozen cheesecake, transfer to the refrigerator 24 hours before serving.
If you need to speed up the chill time for your cheesecake after baking, place it in a pan filled with cold water for 45 minutes before transferring it to the freezer for 1 hour. After that, chill the cheesecake in the fridge.
Bake your cheesecake in a waterbath for 1 hour, then let it rest in the steamy oven for 1 hour without out
I hope all these tips, tricks, and steps help you achieve your at-home copycat Cheesecake Factory strawberry cheesecake dreams!
If you loved this recipe, please leave a star rating in the recipe card below and tag me in your social posts so I can see your beautiful desserts! Thanks for your support!
Cheesecake Factory Strawberry Cheesecake - Copycat Recipe!
- springform pan
- parchment paper
- high sided oven safe pan for waterbath
- plastic wrap
- tin foil
- piping bag
- star piping tip
Graham Cracker Crust
- 2 packages graham crackers
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter (melted)
- 4 packages cream cheese (room temperature)
- 5 large eggs (room temperature)
- 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup full fat sour cream (room temperature)
Fresh Strawberry Topping
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water (warm)
- 2 cups whole strawberries (tops removed)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
Stabilized Whipped Cream
- 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
- 1½ tablespoons water (cold)
- 1½ cups heavy whipping cream (cold)
- ½ cup confectioners sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
Graham Cracker Crust
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly rub the springform pan with cold butter or cooking spray, then line with parchment paper.
- Pulse the graham crackers in a food processor - or roll over with a rolling pin in a plastic zip bag - until they are a fine crumb. Transfer to a mixing bowl and mix in the sugar.
- Using a fork, toss the graham cracker and sugar mixture as you slowly pour in the butter until all the graham cracker crumbs are coated.
- Transfer to the lined springform pan and spread into one even layer. Using the bottom side of a measuring up or glass, press the crumbs into the pan and up the sides.
- Bake at 350°F for 5 to 8 minutes until graham crackers are fragrant, lightly toasted, and have baked together into a crust.
- While the crust is baking, lay out 4 strips of plastic wrap on a clean countertop like you would if you were cutting a pizza. After the crust is done baking, cool for 1 to 2 minutes then place the pan in the center of the wrap and carefully lift the plastic wrap to form to the pan and seal it from the water bath (Use oven mitts or kitchen towels or just do it with caution as the pan till still be hot!) Then wrap the pan with tin foil for an extra layer. Alternatively, wrap the outside of the pan with an extra large sheet of tin foil. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer or using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese on speed #6 or medium high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the 1¼ cup granulated sugar until fully incorporated, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl halfway.
- On low speed, add the 2 teaspoons vanilla and ½ cup sour cream. Mix until fully combined, again, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl if needed. Add the 5 large eggs, one at a time until fully incorporated, about 1 minute. Scrape down the beater, sides, and bottom and mix with a spatula to make sure there are no clumps and everything is thoroughly mixed.
- Transfer the filling to the prepared crust in the wrapped springform pan. Tap lightly to remove any air bubbles. Place inside a high-sided, ovensafe pan with about 2 inches of space between the cheesecake and the pan. Fill the space with enough water to reach about halfway up the springform pan.
- Bake at 350°F for 1 hour, turn off the heat, and let the cheesecake sit in the steamy oven for 1 more hour before opening the oven and removing the cheesecake from the waterbath. Do not open the oven during this step!
- Remove the wrap on the springform pan and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Fresh Strawberry Topping
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together the cornstarch and warm water until there are no clumps. Add the 2 cups whole strawberries, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and ⅓ cup granulated sugar and gently stir to combine.
- Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring very occasionally. Once it reaches a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes before topping the cheesecake.
Stabilized Whipped Cream Frosting
- In a small microwave safe bowl, whisk the 1 teaspoon gelatin and 1 ½ tablespoons cold water together and set aside. This will firm up as you prep the whipped cream.
- In a mixing bowl or using a stand mixer, combine the 1 ½ cups cold heavy whipping cream, ½ cup confectioners sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. (Chilling the mixing bowl in advance is best). Beat the cream mixture with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed (#6) or using a hand mixer, until the mixture starts to thicken but soft peaks have not formed yet.
- Check the gelatin, it should be firm at this point. Microwave in 5 second invervals until it is liquid again, but not hot. Use a fork to gently remove any foam that may have settled on the top.
- With your mixer on low speed, slowly drizzle the liquid gelatin into the cream mixture then gradually increase the speed of the mixer to medium-high (#6) until stiff peaks form. Do not walk away from the mixer while doing this, overbeating the mixture will result in clumpy, curdled looking whipped cream.
- Transfer the whipped cream to a piping bag and assemble the cheesecake.
Assembling the Cheesecake
- Run a butter knife along the edge of the springform pan. Release the pan and remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the cheesecake. Pipe a circle of whipped cream 1 inch from the edge of the cheesecake.
- Place the strawberries flatside down on the top of the cheese cake. Spoon extra sauce over the cheesecake without going over the whipped cream border. Pipe the whipped cream around the strawberries in a slanted circular pattern.
- I trace the bottom of the springform pan and cut the parchment paper to fit the bottom to avoid creases in the sides of the cheesecake.
- If the whipped cream does overbeat and clumpy, chill the mixture, then beat it again with a little extra heavy cream.
- You can use fresh or frozen strawberries for the topping, keep them whole or slice them.