Enjoy decadently rich, luxuriously creamy, mini cheesecakes for dessert tonight or at your next party. Each individual cheesecake is baked in a muffin cup and can be served plain or topped with chocolate ganache, soft caramel, strawberry sauce, lemon curd, peanut butter frosting, or even edible flowers.
Oooh, cheesecake. Isn't it absolutely fabulous? It's silky and smooth, sweet and tangy, and crispy and creamy all in one bite. I've had a lot of cheesecakes in my lifetime and spent years searching for the best cheesecake recipe. I believe I have found it! I hope you love it as much as I do.
Over the years I have used that recipe to create a lot of decorated cheesecakes, most of which are baked in large springform pans. When I'm hosting a party, I prefer to serve individual-sized desserts so I've adjusted the recipe to make these cheesecakes in muffin tins.
Each cupcake-sized cheesecake has a wonderful ratio of crust to filling and is so creamy that it practically melts in your mouth. The flavor of sugar-sweetened cream cheese and sour cream with hints of vanilla really comes through in this dessert.
These plain cheesecake cupcakes are so amazingly good but can be elevated to new heights when topped with chocolate ganache, caramel sauce, dulce de leche, strawberry sauce, lemon curd, or even peanut butter frosting. They can even be topped with edible flowers to make them strikingly beautiful.
These single-serve cheesecakes...
- are easy to make in a muffin tin (bake in paper wrappers for easy removal)
- don't require baking in a water bath
- won't crack on top because they bake quickly
- can be eaten by hand or with a spoon or fork
- are the perfect size for after a meal or to serve at a party
- can be topped or decorated to make them festive for any occasion
- can be transformed into many different flavors
So, let's get baking.
The ingredients listed below will make the best mini cheesecakes with a luxuriously smooth texture and slightly tangy flavor.
- cream cheese - Use softened, full-fat cream cheese. I recommend using Philadelphia Cream Cheese and allowing it to sit out at room temperature for at least 4 hours or up to overnight so that it is very soft.
- granulated sugar
- eggs - Use room temperature eggs.
- vanilla - If you like little flecks of vanilla in your cheesecakes, use vanilla bean paste, otherwise use vanilla extract.
- sour cream - This will add a slightly tangy flavor and will make your cheesecakes velvety smooth.
- graham crackers - You can use plain, honey, cinnamon, or chocolate graham crackers to make a delicious crust.
- brown sugar - I like to add a little brown sugar to the graham crackers to give it a slight caramel flavor.
- butter - You can use unsalted or salted butter to make the crust. I prefer the flavor of unsalted butter in my crust, but either will work fine.
Start by making mini graham cracker crusts in cupcake wrappers in a muffin tin (cupcake pan).
- Crush graham crackers into fine crumbs using a food processor. Or, place the crackers in a large zip-top bag and smash them using a rolling pin, a meat mallet, or the bottom of a pan.
- Stir some brown sugar into the graham cracker crumbs.
- Then, stir melted butter into the crumbs until it resembles wet sand. When you squeeze a small handful of the wet crumbs, they should hold together.
- Scoop out 2 tablespoons of the crumbs, spoon them into a paper-lined muffin cup.
- Then, press down on the crumbs to compact them into an even layer. I like using a wooden tart tamper, but your fingers work well too.
Make the plain cheesecake filling.
Place two blocks of softened cream cheese into a mixing bowl.
Beat on low speed if using a mixer until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and beat again in order to remove all the lumps.
Add the sugar.
Beat on low speed until creamy.
Add the eggs and vanilla.
Beat on low speed just until blended.
Add the sour cream.
Mix just until combined.
Do not overmix or you will incorporate too many air bubbles into the filling.
Spoon about 2 tablespoons of cheesecake filling over each mini graham cracker crust.
Gently tap the cupcake pans on the counter a few times to allow air bubbles to come to the surface and pop. Then, bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-18 minutes.
Allow the cheesecakes to cool completely for about 45 minutes in the pan. Then, refrigerate them for at least 2 hours so they firm up enough to easily remove them from the pan.
Lift them out of the cupcake pan using the paper wrappers. Peel the papers off the cheesecake cups to reveal the layers of filling on top of the graham cracker crusts.
I like to lay some paper towels over the pan of baked cheesecake cups in order to wick up any moisture from the refrigerator.
Bake at 350°F for 15-18 minutes, rotating the pan after 10 minutes.
Check the cheesecakes after 15 minutes. If the center looks wet, return to the oven for up to 3 more minutes. If the center looks set but still jiggles, it is done.
A cheesecake that is cooked perfectly will be creamy while one that is overcooked may be dry.
Store your cheesecakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Be sure to add a layer of paper towels underneath the cheesecakes to keep the graham cracker crusts dry. Add a layer underneath the lid of the container to wick up any moisture or the tops of your cheesecakes will have beads of condensation on them.
Yes, mini cheesecakes can be frozen for up to 2 months.
To freeze them, place them in an airtight container in a single row.
Be sure to add the paper towels as mentioned above to help wick up moisture.
To thaw your cheesecakes, remove the container and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before opening and serving.
They are safe to sit out on the table for up to 2 hours.
If you are hosting a party and would like to have these miniature cheesecakes sit on a dessert table, I suggest setting them out while they are still frozen just before your party guests arrive. The cheesecakes will thaw quickly within 15-20 minutes but will remain cold for up to an hour. To keep them cold longer, fill a large dish with ice cubes or ice packs and set the platter of cheesecakes on the ice.
Below is a list of some of the best cheesecake toppings. There are many choices to make your plain cheesecakes taste even better.
Cheesecake topping ideas:
- chocolate ganache
- lemon curd
- fruit sauces (cherry, strawberry, blueberry)
- Dulce de Leche or caramel sauce
- ice cream toppings (strawberry, pineapple, hot fudge, butterscotch)
- whipped cream
- peanut butter mousse
These little desserts can be decorated for holidays and special occasions.
- Add edible flowers on top of the cheesecakes before or after you bake them.
- You can find the recipe to make these pretty EDIBLE FLOWER TOPPED CHEESECAKES on the DIXIE CRYSTALS website.
- Pipe colored cheesecake filling over top to make fun designs.
- Swirl colored cheesecake batter together to make cool tye-dye designs.
- Add edible decorations like cookies, candy, and marshmallows to create cute cheesecakes for a holiday.
See some ideas below.
You can also make different types of cheesecakes. There are lots of delicious flavor options like these...
- Start with softened cream cheese. Set blocks of cream cheese out at room temperature for at least 4 hours to soften. If you are in a hurry, you can heat the cream cheese in the microwave on the DEFROST setting for 10 seconds, and then flip the cream cheese over and heat them for 10 more seconds. Let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.
- Beat the cream cheese using an electric mixer on low speed until really smooth. Scrape the bowl and beaters a few times as you mix the cream cheese. Beat until you don't see any more lumps. This is the most important step in making smooth cheesecake, don't rush this.
- Don't beat on high speed or you will incorporate too much air into the cheesecake filling.
- Use room-temperature eggs and sour cream so that they blend smoothly into the cream cheese. To warm up eggs quickly, place the whole egg with the shell intact in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes.
- Submerging your eggs in water is also a great way to check the freshness of your eggs. If your eggs sit on the bottom of the bowl they are very fresh. If they float, they are old. Throw them away.
- To quickly warm up sour cream, pour it into a small bowl then place that into a larger bowl and pour warm water around the outside of the bowl of sour cream just until the water reaches halfway up the side. Stir frequently, making sure you don't splash any water into the bowl until the sour cream warms up to room temperature (about 72° F).
If your cheesecake ingredients are too cold they will require longer mixing and longer mixing adds too much air into the filling which can cause air bubbles on the surface of your cheesecake and will cause your cheesecakes to sink in the middle.
These cheesecakes will sink slightly because the edges of the cheesecakes will bake faster than the middle. I don't mind that as it makes a nice surface to add toppings that won't slide off. But overmixed batter will cause them to sink a lot which won't look attractive.
Using a hot water bath can keep the edges of the cheesecakes from baking more quickly than the center. I baked my Conversation Heart Cheesecakes in silicone molds in a water bath. If you do choose to use a water bath, be sure to use silicone cupcake pans.
Do not overmix the cheesecake filling and be sure to use LOW speed if using a mixer.
If your cheesecakes crack on the top, they were overbaked.
Pull them out of the oven when they still jiggle.
Also, be sure your oven temperature is accurate. Some ovens run hotter than the temperature listed on the dials.
Rich and creamy cheesecakes on graham cracker or cookie crusts baked in muffin tins can be served plain or topped with chocolate ganache, soft caramel, strawberry sauce, lemon curd, peanut butter frosting, and even edible flowers.
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from 28 square graham crackers)
- 5 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 8 tablespoons butter, melted
- 16 ounces (2 blocks) cream cheese, softened at room temperature
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- ⅔ cup sour cream, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- optional toppings: chocolate ganache, caramel sauce, strawberry sauce, blueberry sauce, lemon curd, peanut butter frosting
Set your ingredients (cream cheese, eggs, sour cream) out on the counter to come to room temperature at least 1 hour, preferably 2 hours before you plan to bake your mini cheeseccakes.
Preheat your oven to 350 Fahrenheit.
Stir together the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and melted butter.
Press about 2 tablespoons of the crumbs into 18 paper-lined muffin cups.
Beat cream cheese on low speed, scraping down the bowl, as needed, until smooth.
Add sugar and beat until smooth.
Add eggs and vanilla just until combined. Do not overmix at this point.
Stir in the sour cream.
Equally divide cheesecake filling among the 18 muffin cups, spooning about 2 tablespoons of filling into each.
Bake on the middle rack in the oven for 15-18 minutes until the cheesecakes no longer look wet, but the center still jiggles.
Remove and set on a cooling rack.
Allow to cool for about 45 minutes then refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Before serving, pop the cheesecakes into the freezer for 15 minutes.
Remove and immediately peel away the paper liners.
Set on a serving dish or individual dessert plates and serve plain or add your favorite topping.
Use room temperature ingredients.
- It is vitally important that your cream cheese, sour cream, and eggs be at room temperature before mixing your cheesecake filling, so set the cheesecake ingredients out on your counter at least 1 hour before you plan to bake them.
- Why? If your cheesecake ingredients are too cold they will require longer mixing and longer mixing adds too much air into the filling which can cause air bubbles on the surface of your cheesecake or can cause your cheesecakes to sink in the middle.
- If you forget and do not have time to wait, cut the cream cheese into slices and spread them out on the wrapper. The smaller pieces will soften more quickly. In a pinch, can also gently soften the cream cheese by heating it in the microwave on 50% power for 15-30 seconds. Do not get the cream cheese hot as hot cream cheese can cause your cheesecake filling to curdle.
- You can quickly bring an egg to room temperature by placing it, still in its shell, in a bowl of hot water for 5-10 minutes.
- Spread the sour cream into a thin layer in a large shallow bowl to allow it to warm up more quickly.
How to tell when mini cheesecakes are baked?
- Your cheesecakes should still giggle in the center but not look wet when done.
- Store your cheesecakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
- If bringing your cheesecakes to a party and they will sit out at room temperature for a while, I recommend freezing them and transporting them frozen. Once you set them out on the table the cheesecakes will thaw in about 20 minutes and will stay cool longer than if you set our refrigerated cheesecakes.