When it comes to making cheesecake there are lots of options! The first thing to decide is whether you want a baked cheesecake or if a no-bake cheesecake better suits what you are looking for.
Discover all about how these two creamy desserts are the same. And also what makes them unique, so you can choose the perfect dessert to enjoy!
Cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts, no matter the time of year. It is a silky, and decadent dessert often made with a crust of crushed graham crackers or cookies.
The filling is made with cream cheese and sometimes has another soft cheese added, like ricotta cheese or even cottage cheese. The texture may be light and airy or sometimes more dense and rich depending on the recipe.
How it tastes and looks depends on the method used to make it. It can be baked in the oven or sometimes simply mixed and stored in the refrigerator.
Which version is better? How are they different? Keep reading to learn these answers and more!
What's the Difference?
Baked cheesecake has a denser texture and fuller flavor than no-bake cheesecake. They are made using different ingredients. Each uses a different method to get the filling to set, and they are even made in different types of dishes.
While there are definitely many differences between baked cheesecake and no-bake cheesecake, they also have a few things in common.
Almost all cheesecake recipes use a cream cheese filling. So you can expect any type to have a sweet, cheesy flavor and a creamy texture. Most also use cookie or graham cracker crumbs for the crust.
But that’s where the similarities end. Now let’s look at the main differences between the two varieties.
You may find some overlap in the ingredient list but usually, a baked cheesecake recipe has eggs added to the cream cheese mixture. As it bakes in the oven, the raw eggs in a traditional cheesecake firm up and give it structure.
Most no-bake recipes are prepared with ingredients such as whipped cream, pudding, gelatin, or other combinations that don’t require any baking. Instead, the pie is refrigerated to develop its structure and mousse-like texture.
There’s one obvious difference you can probably guess! It’s an oven!! It’s necessary for making a baked dessert while you only need a fridge to make a no-bake cheesecake.
They may also vary in the steps involved in making them. These mini New York cheesecakes require lots of beating and the eggs are added one at a time to make the cheesecake batter.
On the other hand, this no-bake vanilla cheesecake also requires some beating but there are fewer steps involved.
The differences in ingredients and preparation methods are what create the texture. Both may be smooth and creamy but not in the same way.
A baked cheesecake usually has a silky consistency and firmer texture.
A no-bake cheesecake will have a lighter, softer, almost fluffy texture, often more like a pudding or mousse.
A regular cheesecake is going to last a bit longer than a no-bake one. While both need to be stored in the fridge, a classic cheesecake will actually stand up unrefrigerated for a bit longer, especially on a hot summer day.
You can learn more about how to best store it, along with the shelf-life differences in this detailed post on how long cheesecake lasts in the fridge.
Baked cheesecake must be prepared in some type of oven-safe dish. Like a springform pan or for mini cheesecakes, ramekins, or muffin pans.
A no-bake cheesecake offers a bit more flexibility. You can use a variety of dishes since they don’t need to go in the oven. It can work in a pie plate, muffin tins like these mini cheesecakes or you can even make no-bake cheesecakes in a jar!
When prepared in a springform pan, both types look similar as they can be topped the same way. For example, peanut butter cheesecake is often topped with peanut butter cups and whipped cream regardless of whether or not it is baked.
Why Make a No-Bake Cheesecake?
- Quick and easy: It will still need time to set but the active time is definitely less than making a baked dessert.
- No need to turn on the oven: You know those days that are miserably hot and the last thing you want to do is turn on the oven? Well, a no-bake dessert is perfect for those days! Mix up the creamy filling, pour it in, and chill it in the fridge! It may take you as long as FIVE minutes hands-on to prepare!
- Egg-free cheesecake: It’s a great option for a dessert made without eggs.
- Perfect for beginners: If you’re new to baking or not that confident with desserts, a no-bake cheesecake recipe is a great place to start since there’s often zero chance of messing it up.
- Less stress: You can make it in a springform pan, but if you don't have one it can also be made in a pie plate, like this cherry cheesecake. And there is no need to worry about cracking, overcooking, or deciding whether or not to use a water bath.
Why Make a Baked Cheesecake
- Flavor and texture: If you’re craving that thick, dense, yet creamy texture, you won’t get it from a no-bake one so you will definitely want to make a cheesecake in the oven.
- Shelf-life: It will last slightly longer in the fridge and can even be stored in the freezer. You can easily freeze the whole dessert or cut it into individual slices.
- Weather: If it’s warm outside and you will have the cheesecake at room temperature for any length of time, a baked cheesecake will hold up much better.
- Adding toppings: The structure may stand up better to heavier decorations, fresh fruit toppings, or a heated sauce.
Types of Baked Cheesecakes
New York Cheesecake: The most well-known of all baked cheesecakes is the classic New York cheesecake with a sweetened cheese filling and a crust made with graham cracker cookie crumbs, melted butter, and sugar.
This dessert uses heavy whipping cream or sour cream to create its consistency and flavor. When made properly it turns out creamy, firm, and with a silky smooth texture.
Philadelphia Cheesecake: Another famous type is the Philadelphia cheesecake. It is not actually from Philadelphia. We have the brand Philadelphia cream cheese to thank for the name.
This cheesecake has a filling that is heavy on cream cheese, without any sour cream or other fillers. That gives the dessert its signature creamy, dense texture and a more pronounced cream cheese flavor.
Basque Cheesecake: This type of cheesecake originated in Basque Country, a region in the Pyrenees mountains between Spain and France. It is crustless with a burnt, caramelized top and a creamy, custard-like center that is often flavored with vanilla extract and a hint of lemon juice.
But don’t stop there! There are tons of ways to make and flavor cheesecake. You can easily combine different filling ingredients to create a variety of flavors.
Chocolate and caramel are other popular flavors for cheesecake and the graham cracker crust can be swapped out for chocolate wafer cookies or shortbread cookies instead.
Which is Better?
At the end of the day, any cheesecake is a great option for a crowd-pleasing dessert.
- A baked cheesecake is a classic dessert. and the best choice for a special occasion or when you have guests over for dinner. If you or your guests are expecting a real cheesecake with rich flavor, you want to take the time to prepare it baked.
- Unbaked cheesecakes are great for when you don’t feel like turning on the oven and you just want a quick and easy creamy dessert.