No bake desserts are perfect for summer, when you want to enjoy dessert but don’t want to have to heat up the oven to do it. One of my favorites is no-bake cheesecake and you can’t go wrong with my recipe for the Best No-Bake Vanilla Cheesecake. I’ve tried many no-bake cheesecakes over the years and most have been a let-down. Some are too soft and dense, while others are too airy and light. Many include a generous helping of whipped topping folded into the cheesecake mixture, giving the dish a mousse-like quality. This cheesecake is rich and creamy, with just the right balance between sweet vanilla and tangy cream cheese. I can almost guarantee that you won’t be able to stop after just one bite.
The filling is made with plenty of cream cheese, along with sugar, vanilla, heavy cream and gelatin. The gelatin is what gives the cheesecake stability and makes it easy to slice. It also allows you to skip the whipped topping, which is typically used because it lends a lot of stability to other mixtures. The ingredients are combined in a food processor and whizzed until the filling is smooth and creamy, then it is poured into a prepared pie crust. A hand mixer can also be used to prepare the filling, but you may need to spend an extra minute beating the cream cheese to get it to the optimal consistency.
This recipe makes a decent sized cheesecake, but it doesn’t make one that will reach the towering height of some NY-style cheesecakes (which are baked cheesecakes, of course). If you’re looking for an extra-tall recipe, you can double this filling. The only caveat is that you need to be sure that your springform pan can handle a taller cake, so I recommend using a pan that is at least 3-inches deep if you’re going to go for the deep dish cheesecake.
The cheesecake is ready to eat as soon as it has set up and it is at its best within a day or two of making it. Since mine is on a No Bake Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust, I topped each slice with some shaved dark chocolate, which ties in the vanilla filling with the mini chocolate chips of the crust. Fresh berries are a great topping option, as is a drizzle of caramel or fudge sauce. As with a traditional cheesecake, there is no limit to the number of ways you can finish off this dessert. But unlike traditional cheesecakes, this one will be prepped and ready to eat in a matter of hours, with no preheat time necessary!
The Best No-Bake Vanilla Cheesecake
9-inch no-bake crumb crust (or this recipe)
2 tbsp water
1/4-oz powdered gelatin (2 1/2 tsp or 1 packet)
16-oz cream cheese, softened (low fat is fine)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
In the food processor, whiz together softened cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract until creamy, scraping the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula to ensure even consistency.
In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine water and gelatin and allow gelatin to “bloom” for 2-3 minutes. Microwave the mixture in 20-35 second intervals, whisking until gelatin is entirely melted and mixture is smooth.
Turn on the food processor and with the motor running, slowly pour the gelatin mixture into the cream cheese mixture. Keep the motor running and stream in the whipping cream, continuing to process until filling is light and smooth, about 1 minute.
Pour cheesecake filling into prepared pan and rap gently on the counter to even out the surface of the cake and shift any large air bubbles out of the batter.
Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight, until well-set.
Slice with a warm, clean knife to get neat slices.