Easy No Bake Lemon Cheesecake

This no bake lemon cheese cake has a perfectly smooth and creamy cheesecake filling with a crisp graham cracker crust. This easy mousse-like treat blends the tartness of lemon pie with the richness of cheesecake. It’s smooth and tangy and light as air and citrusy. The graham-cracker crust sets in the freezer - no need to bake it in the oven, and fluffy whipped cream is folded right into the filling, along with fresh lemon juice, zest, cream cheese, sour cream powdered sugar. Then just chill it overnight and you have yourself the most perfect lemony make ahead dessert. The lemon curd topping is optional but I love the extra tart sweet layer it adds to the cheesecake and balances the richness of it.

Easy No Bake Lemon Cheesecake

No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake Recipe Ingredients:

If you love cheesecake and if you love lemon pie, then this recipe is just the recipe for you! It combines the best of both, with a graham cracker crust and light-as-air, citrusy filling. You only need a few ingredients and about 20 minutes to put this delicious pie together! It’s one of the easiest desserts to make and so good! In order to achieve that perfectly smooth and creamy filling, you’ll want to use quality ingredients and make sure to follow the directions when it calls for ROOM TEMPERATURE or COLD ingredients.

  • GRAHAM CRACKERS: A must for a classic cheesecake crust/biscuit base. Feel free to use whole crackers and process them yourself or buy them in crumbs. You can substitute them out for the cookie crumb of your choice, like Oreo for a cookies-and-cream version, digestive biscuits, ginger snaps or coconut cookies.
  • BUTTER: Unsalted Melted butter helps bind graham cracker crumbs to form the crust.
  • CREAM CHEESE: Make sure your cream cheese is at room temperature to help ensure no clumping in your cheesecake. For this recipe, I recommend using the block style cream cheese and make sure to use full fat cream cheese for the best results and flavor. The cream cheese spreads in tubs will not work as well in a cheesecake. Ensure that your cream cheese is room temperature. I stick to using classic full fat Philadelphia cream cheese as opposed to the generic brands - I have tried them all and nothing tastes or sets quite like Philly
  • SOUR CREAM: Sour Cream is another ingredient that really helps give this cheesecake the perfect texture that is creamy but not runny. It also adds a very nice and subtle tartness to the recipe.
  • VANILLA EXTRACT: A splash gives this filling a wonderful flavour with that hint of vanilla. I usually use and recommend pure vanilla extract.
  • LEMON JUICE & LEMON ZEST: Fresh lemons and freshly squeezed lemon juice is a must. The fresh lemon juice helps firm up the filling and also adds lemony tangy flavor. Lemon zest adds to the lemony flavor of this cheesecake - I use 1 tablespoon of zest but feel free to use up to 2 tablespoons for extra flavor. I also like to add some lemon zest to the crust but that is also optional.
  • LEMON EXTRACT: This is optional but for a more intense lemon flavor I recommend adding it. I tend to use it in any of my lemony desserts.
  • HEAVY WHIPPING CREAM: It gives your cheesecake that thick but fluffy texture. It cannot be substituted with regular milk or a non dairy one. It’s critical that you use heavy cream that is 35% fat or more as less than that and the cheesecake will not set as well. I whip up a little extra after the cheesecake has set to dollop over the cheesecake slices before serving.
  • LEMON CURD: I like to serve this cheesecake with lemon curd - either served on the side or I like to spread a layer over the cake after it has set.
  • OPTIONAL ADD INS: 1-2 drops yellow food coloring if you would like a subtle yellow tone to your cheesecake. I usually don’t add it but if you would like to you can.

Easy No Bake Lemon Cheesecake Ingredients

How Do You Make A No Bake Lemon Cheesecake?

  1. MAKE THE CRUST: In a medium bowl combine the crumbs with the salt and lemon zest, then stir in the melted butter. Press the crust mixture firmly into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 9 inch spring form pan, using a flat measuring cup or bottom of a glass. This will make sure the crust holds together. Chill in the freezer while you make the filling
  2. WHIP THE CREAM: Beat the cold heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks. This will ensure the right texture for the filling. You’ll know the peaks are stiff when you pull the beater or beaters out of the whipped cream and the peak holds its shape with a slight curl at the tip. Don’t go much past this or it will quickly become over-whipped and no longer as smooth.
  3. BEAT THE CREAM CHEESE: In a separate bowl beat the softened room temperature cream cheese until smooth. Then beat in the powdered sugar, vanilla and lemon juice, lemon zest, sour cream and lemon extract if using, until incorporated
  4. FOLD THE MIXTURES TOGETHER: Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese with a rubber spatula until just incorporated. DO NOT use your mixer for this or the cream will deflate.
  5. SPREAD THE FILLING ON THE CRUST: Pour filing into crust and spread evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6-8 hours or overnight. I usually do overnight - this allows the flavors and texture to develop nicely.

Easy No Bake Lemon Cheesecake Steps Part 1

Easy No Bake Lemon Cheesecake Steps Part 2

Tips for Making the Perfect No bake Cheesecake:

  • Serve this cheesecake cold. Because it doesn’t have gelatin, it will soften quite a bit the longer it sits outside the refrigerator. I don’t recommend letting it sit out longer than 30min to 1 hour. I usually serve it then wrap it up again and put it right back in the fridge.
  • For this recipe in particular the amount of powdered sugar, and whipped cream are non negotiable. None of those ingredients should be substituted or reduced to ensure that your cheesecake sets properly.
  • You can use store-bought graham cracker crumbs, or use a food processor to pulverize. A zip lock plastic bag and a rolling pin will do the job too.
  • Can I bake the crust? YES you definitely can bake the crust. Although this is a no bake recipe for a more crisp cookie crust its’ always recommended to bake the crust for 8-10 min at 350°F then allow to cool completely. This of course is not necessary but it will give you a more crisp crust.
  • For the smoothest filling (no lumps), let the cream cheese come to room temperature for 60-90 minutes before mixing. But if you’re strapped for time, remove any packaging (especially foil!) and place the block of cream cheese on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high at 10 second intervals checking in between to test it by poking the center of the cream cheese block to test the texture. It should be soft but not melted or hot
  • This cheesecake doesn’t need anything extra, but a simple garnish of whipped cream and lemon slices make it look fancy. It is also perfect with a thick slather of whip cream in the middle of it for a more rustic look or with a layer of lemon curd.
  • To make sure this cheesecake has enough time to set up for clean slices, I typically make it the day before I plan to serve it which makes this the perfect make ahead dessert.
  • For clean slices, run a sharp knife under hot water and dry between each slice.

Easy No Bake Lemon Cheesecake

How Long Does No-bake Cheesecake Last?

  • This cheesecake is the perfect dessert to make ahead of time because it stores so well. You can store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days. Garnish with whipped cream just before serving though otherwise it will get watery and weep.

Easy No Bake Lemon Cheesecake

Can You Freeze No-Bake Cheesecake?

  • YES! Once your cheesecake has properly set up in the fridge, you can definitely freeze to enjoy at a later time. Remove the cheesecake from the spring-form pan and wrap in a sheet of plastic wrap and a layer of tinfoil to prevent freezer burn. You can freeze this cheesecake for up to 3 months.
  • To thaw, place in fridge until defrosted.
  • PRO TIP – Do NOT place the cheesecake in the freezer to help quicken the chilling time of the cheesecake. You’ll lose the fluffy and creamy consistency of the cheesecake. Instead, give the cheesecake at least 5 to 6 hours of chill time in the fridge (preferably overnight) to set up before wrapping and freezing if you wanted to freeze it

Easy No Bake Lemon Cheesecake

More No Bake Desserts You Will Love:


Servings: 12
Prep Time: 30 mins
Non Active Time: 6-8 hours or overnight for setting
Total Time: 6½ hours


For the Crust

  • 2¼ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)

For the Filling

  • 3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, full fat and room temperature
  • 1½ cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon extract (optional)
  • ¼ cup sour cream, room temperature
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream (no less than 35 % fat), chilled

For Serving (optional)

  • 1 cup lemon curd (store bought or homemade)
  • Sweetened whipped cream, for topping
  • Lemon slices and zest, for garnish


Make Crust

  1. Combine graham cracker crumbs, lemon zest, and butter and pinch of salt and press firmly into the bottom of a 9″ spring form pan and about ½-1″ up the sides. (Feel free to line the base of the pan with parchment paper for easy removal once set)
  2. Chill in the freezer, while you make the filling.

Make Filling

  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy and combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl
  2. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla, sour cream and lemon extract if using, and beat until well incorporated - 1 more minute
  3. Whip the cream in a separate bowl with an electric mixer with whisk attachment on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, approx 4 min.
  4. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture carefully and gently so you do not deflate it.
  5. Pour filling into crust, smooth evenly with a spatula, cover and refrigerate until set, at least 6-8 hours or overnight is even better!
  6. Add lemon curd. Once the cheesecake has set, spread it with a lemon curd if desired. If you do this step, chill the cheesecake once more for 30 minutes for the curd to firm up slightly. Once set, slice, add whipped cream, and serve.
  7. Run a knife along cake’s edge before releasing sides of pan, then under bottom to loosen if you are transferring out of pan completely and on to platter or serving plate
  8. Slice and serve with sweetened whipped cream as desired. (I pipe whip cream on mine and used lemon slices to decorate along with lemon zest for sprinkling - feel free to do dollops of whip instead or serve the curd and cream on the side)

Recipe Notes

  • Serve this cheesecake cold. Because it doesn’t have gelatin, it will soften quite a bit the longer it sits outside the refrigerator. I don’t recommend letting it sit out longer than 30min to 1 hour. I usually serve it then wrap it up again and put it right back in the fridge.
  • For this recipe in particular the amount of powdered sugar, and whipped cream, sour cream and lemon juice are non negotiable. None of those ingredients should be substituted or reduced to ensure that your cheesecake sets properly.

Easy No Bake Lemon Cheesecake