Lemon Cheesecake

Baking, Cook, Desserts, In Season, Recipes, Winter

Be sure to use whole-milk ricotta for this airy, Italian-style cheesecake, an ideal dessert for the winter holidays. Make it with Meyer lemons for a sweeter flavor, or Lisbon or Eureka lemons for more tartness.


Lemon Cheesecake


For the crust:

6 oz. (185 g.) gingersnaps, plus more if needed

1 1/4 cups (5 oz./155 g.) walnut halves

1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g.) sugar

5 Tbs. (2 1/2 oz./75 g.) unsalted butter, or as needed, melted


For the filling:

1/2 lb. (250 g.) cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup (8 oz./250 g.) fresh whole-milk ricotta cheese

1 cup (8 oz./250 g.) sugar

4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

2/3 cup (5 fl. oz./160 ml.) heavy cream

Finely grated zest of 2 lemons, plus 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./65 ml.) fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/8 tsp. salt


Confectioners’ sugar for dusting (optional)


To make the crust, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). In a food processor, pulse the gingersnaps until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl. Add the walnuts to the work bowl, process until finely ground, and add to the cookie crumbs. (Alternatively, for a nut-free crust, omit the walnuts and add an additional 4 oz./60 g. of gingersnaps.) Add the sugar and 5 tablespoons melted butter and mix well, adding more butter if the crumbs don’t cling together. Transfer to a 9-inch (23-cm.) springform pan and press over the bottom and 1 1/2 inches (4 cm.) up the sides (it is fine if the edges are uneven). Bake until lightly browned, 8-10 minutes. Let cool, then place in the freezer until ready to use.


Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). To make the filling, in the clean food processor, combine the cream cheese, ricotta, sugar, egg yolks, cream, lemon zest and juice, vanilla and salt and process until cream, 4-5 minutes. Pour into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the whites into the cheese mixture just until combined. Pour the mixture into the reserved chilled crust, smoothing the top.


Place the pan on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Raise the oven temperature to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) and bake until golden brown on top, the edges are firm, and the center still jiggles, 30-35 minutes. Turn off the oven, open the door and leave the cake in the oven for about 3 hours (the center will fall slightly). Cover tightly with plastic wrap (do not let the wrap touch the surface) and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours. To unmold, run a  knife around the sides of the cake to loosen them from the pan, then remove the pan sides. If desired, dust the top with confectioners’ sugar. Serve cut into wedges, dipping a knife into hot water and wiping it dry before each cut. Serves 12-14.

27 comments about “Lemon Cheesecake

  1. Tere

    Wow, Love This! Thank you so much for sharing… Time for me to get back to baking this week!…………………….. YUM 😀

  2. Eva

    The cheesecake has a wonderful flavor, but not too keen on the texture. If you’re used to and prefer the creaminess of a New York cheesecake, this is not it. I believe it’s the ricotta cheese that gives it a bit of a lumpy texture, but as stated, the flavor is awesome! Probably would not make it again because we like the more denser, heavier cheesecakes.

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  4. Olivia Ware

    Hi B, this is a tricky one so I checked with the Williams-Sonoma test kitchen. Although most cheesecakes freeze well, they wouldn’t recommend freezing this particular one because of the ricotta. None of us have tried freezing it, though, so if you do, please let us know how it goes!

  5. Brenda

    Loved it…. Can I substitute in other fruits to get flavours other than lemon?

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  11. Heloisa

    I cannot find gingersnaps in my country. What else could I use instead?
    Thank you!

    1. Williams-Sonoma Editors Post author

      Hi Heloisa, if you can’t find gingersnaps, you can use any similar cookie with a crispy texture. We’d recommend choosing cookies with a relatively neutral flavor so the flavor of the cheesecake will stand out (like a sugar cookie or graham cracker).

  12. Tiffoni

    have just made this and have it cooling in the oven,, I found I needed to cook it longer than stated about another 15 mins ,, also needed more butter than stated .. not sure if I combined the egg whites enough with the cheese mixture … as I was careful not to remove too much air from the mixture … could still see lumps off egg whites in the mix ?? Lets hope its worth the wait ,… a cake that takes nearly a day till you can eat it better taste AMAZING!!!! lol 🙂

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  17. kmh

    this was a complete flop for me and i’ve been making cheesecakes for years. cooked it for the 30 minutes, turned the oven off and left if in there for 30 minutes, usually what i do with cheesecakes so they don’t crack. i went to take it out and it was very jelly, i didn’t think it cooked all the way through so i put the oven back on, that resulted in an over cooked top – smelled like marshmallow. i took it out, let it come to room temp … still quite jelly …. tossed it in the fridge and we’ll see what happens, but i’m not hopeful this was a success for me. good thing i bought plenty of ingredients to try it again.

    1. Mike The Great


      I am not trying to be rude, but it sounds like you may have misread and not followed the directions. 30 minutes at 300 then raise to 325 and 30-35 additional minutes of cook time. Then turn off and let rest for close to 3 hours. You may have missed 30-35 minutes of cook time and 2 1/2 hours of resting period in the warmth of the open oven. You can always try again, I find cheese cake making to be a very fun process!

  18. Pamela

    I ended up cooking it at 300 for 30 minutes, then at 325 for another 15 minutes. Knowing if I went another 20 minutes that it still possibly wouldn’t be golden, I slowly raised the oven temperature for another 15 minutes, not going above 350. Finally it looked close to the WS recipe picture. After refridgerating 24 hours, a magnificent 75% was an Italian light textured delight but the other 25% was truly not servable texture-wise. A hot knife would have been more deadly towards the middle.

    I am wondering how your second cheesecake turned out.

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  22. Spradid

    Baked this cake. Baking time is accurate, texture is a bit grainy (I guess it’s supposed to be so in ricotta cheesecakes), taste is good, a little too sweet. Nice in overall, but not a success. I don’t think I’ll make this again.

  23. Lisa

    Help – baked this cake following the directions precisely. The flavor is wonderful, but the top is a bit dry, dark brown and polka-dotted. The middle is gooey and the crust is a bit soggy. I think I may have whipped the egg whites too much and not combined them well enough creating the darker spots on the top, but does anyone have suggestions about cooking temps and time to keep the top moist and fully cook the middle without scorching it?


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