This creamy and smooth Lemon Cheesecake is an easy, no bake recipe that’s made with freshly squeezed lemon juice and zest! The cheesecake is the perfect balance between sweet and tart, with a light (but not overpowering) lemon zing.
Pairing lemons with sugar is a match made in heaven, as far as I am concerned. This Lemon Cheesecake is exactly that- heaven! The delicate lemon flavour is just enough to give you a refreshing citrus note without being too tart and overwhelming the dessert.
I have always been a fan of lemon desserts and love to whip them up year round. I especially turn to recipes like this Lemon Cheesecake in hotter months, as the refreshing lemon flavour is perfect for those sweltering days where other desserts feel too heavy.
If you love lemon desserts as much as I do, I know you will also love my Lemon Bars, Strawberry Lemon Cupcakes, Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting, and Lemon Ricotta Cake!
Aside from this lemon cheesecake being wonderfully creamy and downright delicious, this cheesecake requires no baking! It is really easy to make too and always a crowd pleaser!
Did I mention that it is naturally flavoured too? Similar to my other lemon desserts, there are no artificial lemon flavours here! I opted to not use any boxed lemon pudding or jello mixes in this dessert, using fresh lemons instead. Lemon juice and lemon zest are the stars of the show and they do a perfect job of flavouring this no-bake cheesecake!
Tips for making the best No Bake Lemon Cheesecake
- Soften the cream cheese. In order to ensure the smoothest, creamiest cheesecake, it’s important to make sure your cream cheese has had time to soften. This prevents any lumps from forming in your cheesecake so it is velvety smooth!
- Beat your cream cheese. Once again, to create a creamy texture for your lemon cheesecake, I always beat the cream cheese first to ensure it is nice and smooth. Then I add all of the other ingredients.
- Taste as you go. This is a no bake cheesecake so there are no ingredients in here that require cooking first, so go ahead and taste your cheesecake! Before adding the cheesecake layer to the graham crust, I recommend tasting it. If you feel like you want a sweeter cheesecake or think you need more lemon flavour, this is a great way to do that before its too late!
- Add more lemon flavour if that’s what you love! As mentioned earlier, this lemon cheesecake has a light lemon flavour. If you want more lemon flavour, you can not only add more lemon juice and zest to the cheesecake, but add more on top too in the form of lemon curd!
- Chill your cheesecake. Since the cream cheese has been softened to make it mixable, it’s important to let your cheesecake chill in the fridge for several hours. Letting it set up in the fridge makes it possible to slice. At minimum, it will require 3-4 hours to set.
Ingredients in Lemon Cheesecake
- graham crumbs
- cream cheese
- cool whip
- icing sugar (i.e. confectioners sugar or powdered sugar)
- vanilla extract
- lemon juice & lemon zest
How to make no bake lemon cheesecake
1. Prepare the graham crust: In a large bowl, add the graham crumbs, melted butter and sugar and mix together. Press the graham crust mixture evenly onto the bottom of a spring-form pan and place in the fridge to chill.
2. Prepare the cheesecake layer: In a large bowl using a hand mixer (or in the bowl of a stand mixer), mix the softened cream cheese until fluffy. Add the cool whip, sugar, vanilla and lemon juice and zest and then mix until smooth.
3. Add the cheesecake layer to the graham crust: Spread the cheesecake layer evenly over the graham crust. [I like to use an offset spatula to smooth the top of the cream cheese layer.] Chill for 3-4 hours.
4. Decorate and slice: Before serving, top with whipped cream, lemon slices, or Candied Lemon Slices, if desired.
Optional toppings for this cheesecake
You can serve this lemon cheesecake as it is or you can add some optional toppings to decorate your cheesecake. Possible toppings include:
- Whipped cream-little dollops of whipped cream around the edges of your cheesecake are a classic look! Another option is to serve whipped cream alongside your cheesecake so that guests can add as much as they desire. I placed the leftover Cool Whip topping (I had about 1 cup left in the container) in a small bowl and let everyone dollop on as much as they wanted.
- Fresh lemon slices- These look beautiful added on top of cheesecake! Do keep in mind that fresh lemon slices will leech out some lemon juice onto your cheesecake so if you are using them to decorate, I recommend adding them just before serving to minimize this. If you are storing leftovers, I recommend removing the fresh lemon slices so that they do not seep too much tart lemon juice into your cheesecake as it sits.
- Candied Lemon Slices– This is my solution to the problem associated with fresh lemon slices. No tart lemon juice seeps out of the candied lemon slices I topped my cheesecake with! They are surprisingly easy to make and can be made while the cheesecake is setting.
- Fresh mint leaves– I love the little pops of colour the bright little leaves add to this cake!
Storing leftover cheesecake
Leftover cheesecake must be stored in the fridge since it is comprised of cream cheese. It can be stored in the fridge for about 4-5 days, covered with plastic food wrap or in an airtight container. This makes it a great make-ahead dessert for parties!
Leftover cheesecake can also be frozen. In order to avoid freezer burn, its important to wrap it in plastic food wrap and then aluminum foil. If you are freezing sliced cheesecake, I recommend placing little squares of parchment paper between slices to prevent them from freezing together. This makes it possible to thaw individual slices instead of all of your leftovers. I don’t recommend freezing your cheesecake for too long. Consuming within a couple of months is best to ensure the best texture and flavour.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!
P.S. If you really love cheesecake, especially no bake cheesecakes, be sure to check out my No Bake Blueberry Cheesecake!
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Lemon Cheesecake (No Bake)
For the crust:
- 2 cups graham crumbs
- 1/2 cup butter melted
- 2 tablespoons sugar
For the cheesecake layer:
- 24 oz cream cheese softened (750g or 3 packages)
- 3 cups cool whip
- 1 1/4 cups icing sugar (i.e. confectioners sugar or powdered sugar)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (1 1/2- 2 lemons will give you enough juice)
- zest of 2 lemons
- whipped cream
- lemon slices (fresh or Candied Lemon Slices)
- mint leaves
- Line the bottom of a 9 inch spring-form pan with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, add the graham crumbs, melted butter and sugar and mix together. Press the graham crust mixture evenly onto the bottom of the pan and place in the fridge to chill.
- In a large bowl using a hand mixer (or in the bowl of a stand mixer), mix the softened cream cheese until fluffy. Add the cool whip, sugar, vanilla and lemon juice and zest and then mix until smooth.
- Spread the cheesecake layer evenly over the graham crust. [I like to use an offset spatula to smooth the top of the cream cheese layer.] Chill for 3-4 hours.
- Before serving, top with whipped cream, lemon slices, or candied lemons, if desired.