It's my birthday week over here, and I'm starting this week off with a bang. One of my favorite cheesecakes and one that is most definitely worth making on repeat. My lemon meringue cheesecake combines the best of both worlds. Rich, creamy and silky cheesecake topped with sweet tart lemon curd, toasted marshmallowy meringue and baked on a crispy graham cracker crust, like lemon meringue pie. This cheesecake is so, so delicious, and makes an impressive dessert for any occasion.
Tips for Cheesecake Success
Super important, make sure your cheesecake ingredients are room temperature. If they’re too cold, the mixture could end up lumpy or curdled. The cheesecake mixture comes together pretty quickly in the bowl of stand mixer. Once the eggs are added, do not over beat. Eggs trap air and this could cause the cheesecake to puff and deflate. It’s best to do the heaviest beating when mixing the cream cheese and sugar. This ensures your cream cheese is smooth so you won’t feel like you will have to over mix to smooth out lumps when the remaining ingredients are added and mixed.
Prep the springform pan for the water bath by wrapping it with foil. The best foil to wrap your springform pan in, is 18″ wide heavy duty aluminum foil. This foil is long enough to wrap the pan without coming up short, which could allow the water to seep in. Double layer the foil for extra protection. The foil pan is then placed in a roasting pan, or a large pan (I’ve used a 14″ cake pan many times), and filled with hot water, halfway up the outside of foiled pan. The cheesecake is baked slowly in the water bath for about an hour/hour and fifteen. When the cheesecake is done baking, turn the oven off, prop the oven door open and let it slowly cool in the oven for 45 minutes. This process is crucial for preventing cracks. Cooling the cheesecake too fast can cause cracking. Finishing cooling at room temperature for 2-3 more hours.
The base of the cheesecake is a traditional graham cracker crust that is baked to golden brown before adding the cheesecake mixture. The cheesecake consists of cream cheese, eggs, egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla and a little bit of heavy cream. I prefer to use Philadelphia brand cream cheese for my cheesecakes. It’s consistent quality and flavor, and a brand I know I like to bake with. Use a cream cheese you enjoy eating, but also one that doesn’t have a lot of odd ingredients and fillers.
When the cheesecake is nearly at room temperature, make the lemon curd. While the lemon curd is just warm, and the cheesecake is room temperature, spread the curd over the top of the cake. Cover the curd with plastic wrap to prevent a film from forming. Then chill the cheesecake for 3 more hours in the refrigerator. This will allow the curd to set up completely and also for the cheesecake to be properly chilled through.
Before serving the cheesecake, prepare the meringue topping. This meringue comes together quickly and requires no cooking or sugar syrup. Just beat room temperature egg whites with cream of tartar and a pinch of salt until foamy. Increase the mixing speed, slowly add in the sugar and whip until thick and glossy. I use a small kitchen torch (always good to have on had for baking projects) to toast the meringue.
If you make my lemon meringue cheesecake, let me know! Drop a comment or tag me on Instagram. I love seeing your creations.
For more cheesecake recipes, check out these posts:
Summer Berry Eton Mess Cheesecake
Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake Brownies
Lemon Meringue Cheesecake
Graham Cracker Crust
- 1 ½ cup (150g) graham cracker crumbs, about 10 graham cracker sheets
- ¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons (84g) unsalted butter, melted
- pinch of salt
- 5 (8oz) blocks (1130g) cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 ⅓ cups (266g) granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup (120ml) heavy cream
- 5 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
- ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
- zest from a lemon
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup (120ml) lemon juice
- pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 large egg whites, room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- pinch of salt
- ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
Make the crust.
- Heat the oven to 325F. Line the bottom of a 9" springform pan with parchment paper.
- Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, melted butter and salt and mix with until evenly moistened.
- Press the crumbs evenly into the bottom of the springform pan.
- Bake the crust for 12-14 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges.
- Cool the crust completely. Cut (2) 18" pieces of heavy duty aluminum foil. Criss-cross the pieces so that they overlap, and tightly wrap the foil around the pan and up to the edges of the pan. This size of foil is critical to make sure that the pieces aren't too small, which could allow leaking. Set aside and make the filling.
Make the Cheesecake.
- In the bowl of the stand mixer, place the softened cream cheese. Beat on medium speed to combine and break up the cream cheese.
- Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, then beat for another minute.
- Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl again, then add in the sugar and salt. Beat until combined.
- Scrape the bowl again, then beat for an additional minute, ensuring everything is well blended.
- Add in the cream, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla. Beat on low until combined, about a minute.
- Scrape the bowl. Add both egg yolks and mix until combined, about a minute.
- Scrape the bowl. Add in the eggs, 1-2 at a time, beating until combined, scraping the bowl between additions.
- Lightly brush the sides of the springform pan with melted butter.
- Place the springform into a roasting pan or a large (14") cake pan. Prepare a pitcher of hot water.
- Pour the cheesecake mixture into the pan, and use an offset spatula to smooth out the batter.
- Place the roasting pan into the oven. Fill the roasting pan with the hot water, just enough to come halfway up the sides of the foil of the springform pan.
- Bake the cheesecake until the cheesecake jiggles slightly, no longer appears wet and an instant read thermometer reads 150F, about 60-90 minutes.
- Once done baking, turn off the oven. Prop the oven door open slightly with a wooden spoon. Let the cheesecake slowly cool in the water bath in the oven for 45 minutes.
- Remove the cheesecake from the oven. Remove the foil. Place the cheesecake on a wire rack.
- Run a small knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cheesecake and keep it from splitting in the middle.
- Cool the cheesecake to room temperature, about 2-3 hours.
Make the lemon curd.
- Combine the sugar and lemon zest into a bowl. Rub the mix between your hands to release the oils of the zest. The mixture will be like wet sand.
- Add the eggs and egg yolks to the sugar mixture and whisk to combine.
- Add the lemon juice and whisk to combine.
- Pour the mixture into a medium sauce pan, and place over a medium low heat. Add the butter. Stir continuously to keep the mixture moving so your eggs don't scramble.
- Cook the curd until thick and just beginning to bubble, or until an instant read thermometer reaches 170F. The curd will thicken more in the refrigerator.
- Strain the curd into a clean shallow bowl, and let it sit until it reaches room temperature.
- Pour the curd onto the room temperature cheesecake. Use a spatula to spread the curd evenly over the cheesecake.
- Carefully lay a piece of plastic wrap over the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Place in the refrigerator until the curd is set and the cheesecake is cold, about 3 hours.
Make the meringue topping.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar.
- Whip the egg whites on low/medium speed until the whites are foamy.
- Turn the mixer up to high speed and slowly pour in the sugar.
- Whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form and the mixture is thick and glossy.
- Top the cheesecake with the meringue. Use a kitchen torch to toast the meringue. Serve immediately.
Can this recipe be made the day before? Or can I make everything except the meringue topping and do that on the day?
I would love to take this with me on Christmas day for my family but don't want to spend the day in the kitchen!
Hi Jess! Yes, it can be made in advance. Make the meringue on the day you serve it.
I made this for Thanksgiving this year and it is amazing! Lemon meringue pie was always a tradition around our holiday tables when I was young and at some point we stopped doing it. I thought this cheesecake recipe sounded like a great way to reinvent and reintroduce our old tradition. If you follow this recipe step by step you will surely have a dessert that will impress all your guests!
So happy you loved it. Thank you Brie!