If you need a dessert that is sure to impress and get rave reviews, look no further than this strawberry crunch cheesecake! It's made with a tangy, creamy cheesecake filling baked inside a delicious graham cracker crust and topped with a fresh strawberry cake coating. It tastes just like a strawberry ice cream bar but in cheesecake form!
Cheesecakes are my favorite dessert to make, whenever I need something that I know will be a crowd-pleaser, it's always the first thing I turn to! One of my favorite parts is coming up with new flavor ideas.
This strawberry crunch cheesecake is a twist on a classic strawberry shortcake ice cream bar and is hands-down delicious! The strawberry coating is made with a combination of fresh strawberry sauce and golden Oreo cookie crumbs, it's easy to make and adds amazing flavor and texture to the cheesecake!
WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE STRAWBERRY CRUNCH CHEESECAKE
GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST:
- Graham cracker crumbs: 1 and ½ cups, or about 10 sheets of graham crackers.
- Granulated sugar
- Butter: Melted and slightly cooled. Salted or unsalted butter is fine.
STRAWBERRY CRUNCH TOPPING:
- Homemade strawberry sauce: Strawberries (fresh or frozen), granulated sugar, lemon juice (or water), and cornstarch.
- Vanilla sandwich cookies: I used Golden Oreos.
- Cream cheese: Brick-style, full-fat, and fully softened to room temperature. It's important the cream cheese isn't cold or you'll have lumps in the filling. You can speed up softening by placing the foil-wrapped cream cheese package into a plastic bag and then setting the bag in room temperature water for a few minutes.
- Sugar: Granulated.
- Flour: A little flour added to the filling makes it stronger and helps prevent cracks forming.
- Sour cream: Full-fat and room temperature. Take the sour cream out of the fridge about an hour before using it.
- Vanilla extract: For flavor.
- Lemon juice: Fresh-squeezed lemon juice in the filling adds even more delicious tangy flavor!
- Eggs: Always use room temperature eggs for cheesecake. Room temperature eggs are easier to incorporate into the batter without overmixing. Leave the eggs out at room temperature for at least an hour, or place them in a bowl of lukewarm water for a few minutes before adding them to the batter.
WATER BATH FOR CHEESECAKE
A water bath (bain-marie) is a French method of baking something surrounded by boiling water. It allows for slow, gentle, even cooking, which is perfect for delicate desserts like cheesecake. Basically, no matter how hot your oven is, the temperature of the water won't get any higher than 212°F (100°C). Without a water bath, the outside of the cheesecake would be over baked and cracked before the center could finish baking.
- To keep water from seeping into the pan from the water bath, make sure you wrap it well with several layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil. *Note: No matter how well you wrap your springform pan with foil, there's still a chance of water leaking in and ruining your otherwise perfectly good cheesecake. This happened to me several times, so now I always tie a slow cooker liner around the pan after wrapping it with foil. My cheesecakes have come out perfectly dry ever since!
HOW TO PREVENT CRACKS IN CHEESECAKE
Don't overmix: Overmixing creates pockets of air in the batter that can rise up during baking and turn into cracks. This is especially true once the eggs are added. So add them last and mix the batter as little as possible once they're added.
Don't open the oven door: At least not for the first hour, which is when the cheesecake is the most delicate. Opening the door causes a sudden change in temperature which can lead to cracks.
Don't overbake: The cheesecake is done when there is a slight wobbly center and the edges are set. It will continue to bake and become set as it cools. If you're unsure, it's usually better to under bake a cheesecake than it is to overbake one.
Cool the cheesecake slowly: Sudden changes in temperature is one of the main reasons cheesecakes crack. Cooling the cheesecake as slowly as possible is the best way to avoid any drastic changes in temperature. When you turn the oven off, leave the cheesecake in with the door open for about an hour. Then take the cheesecake out of the oven and let it cool completely at room temperature for another 1-2 hours before refrigerating. It shouldn't feel warm at all when you put it in the fridge.
HOW TO MAKE STRAWBERRY CRUNCH CHEESECAKE
Arrange your oven rack to the bottom position and preheat your oven to 325°F. Start boiling water for the water bath.
PREPARE THE SPRINGFORM PAN
Line the bottom of an 8 or 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Lightly spray the sides with non-stick spray or line the sides with more parchment paper.
Wrap the pan with at least 4 layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil, and then tie an oven liner around the pan to prevent any water leaking in from the water bath. The oven liner is the best way to make sure the cheesecake stays completely dry inside the water bath. If you don't have one, make sure the pan is wrapped very well with several layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Without the liner, water from the water bath almost always leaks into the first few layers of foil.
MAKE THE GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST
Mix the graham cracker crumbs, granulated sugar, and melted butter in a food processor until well combined. It should have a texture similar to wet sand. Use the flat side of a glass or measuring cup to pack the crust down tightly and evenly into the bottom and slightly up the sides of the springform pan.
Place the pan on a large baking sheet and pre-bake the crust for 10 minutes while you make the filling.
MAKE THE CHEESECAKE FILLING
- Use an electric mixer to beat the softened cream cheese until completely smooth without any lumps. Wipe any clumps of cream cheese off of the mixer and the sides of the bowl, then add the granulated sugar and flour and mix until smooth. Mix in the room temperature sour cream, vanilla extract, and fresh-squeezed lemon juice until combined and smooth. Wipe the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
- Use a whisk to mix in the room temperature eggs, one at a time, until just combined after each. Once all of the eggs are added mix until smooth and wipe the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- Pour the batter into the springform pan over the pre-baked graham cracker crust. Bang the pan on your counter a few times to get rid of any trapped air bubbles in the filling.
- Place a large roasting pan inside your oven on the bottom rack. Add about an inch of boiling water to the roasting pan and then carefully set the cheesecake inside the pan of water.
- Bake for 1 hour. Gently shake the pan to check on it, if it looks set around the edges with a 2-3" slightly wobbly center, then it's done. If it's not set around the edges and is still wobbly all over, keep baking and check on it again in 5-minute intervals until it's done. Keep in mind it will continue to cook and set as it cools.
- When the cheesecake is done, turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake inside with the door open for about 1 hour to slowly cool to room temperature.
- Remove the cheesecake from the oven and the water bath, but don't take it out of the springform pan yet. Allow it to cool completely at room temperature for at least 1 hour, then refrigerate the cheesecake overnight before removing the sides of the pan.
STRAWBERRY CRUNCH TOPPING:
1. Add the fresh or frozen strawberries and granulated sugar to a saucepan and place the pan over medium heat. Cook and stir until the strawberries soften and release their juices.
2. In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice (or water) and cornstarch. Add it to the pan and bring the liquid to a boil. Lower the heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick. Strain the strawberry sauce through a sieve and into a bowl.
3. Add vanilla sandwich cookies to a food processor and pulse into crumbs. Combine 2 tablespoons of the homemade strawberry sauce with 1 and ½ cups of the vanilla cookie crumbs. Press the crumb coating onto the top of the cooled cheesecake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
When ready to serve, garnish with whipped cream and more fresh strawberries, if desired.
Slice and serve. Keep leftovers in the fridge for 3-5 days. You can also freeze the cheesecake for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge when ready to serve.
MORE CHEESECAKE RECIPES
- Mini Strawberry Cheesecakes
- Blueberry Swirl Cheesecake
- Chocolate Chip Cheesecake
- Lemon Cheesecake
- Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake
- White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake
- Pumpkin Cheesecake
Strawberry Crunch Cheesecake
- 8 or 9" springform pan
Graham Cracker Crust:
- 1 and ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted
- 24 ounces cream cheese, full-fat, softened to room temperature
- 1 and ½ cups granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ cup sour cream, full-fat, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup strawberries, fresh or frozen
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice (or water)
- ½ teaspoon cornstarch
Strawberry Crunch Topping:
- 1 and ½ cups golden Oreo cookie crumbs, about 18 cookies, no need to remove the filling
- 2 tablespoons strawberry sauce
- Line the bottom of an 8 or 9" springform pan with parchment paper. Lightly spray the sides of the pan with nonstick spray, or line with more parchment paper.
- Wrap the pan with several layers of heavy duty aluminum foil, then tie a slow-cooker oven liner around it (recommended) to keep water leaking into the pan from the water bath.
- Arrange your oven rack to the lower position. Preheat your oven to 325°F and start boiling water for the water bath.
Make the Graham Cracker Crust:
- Add the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter to a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is well combined and clumps together easily. It should have a texture similar to wet sand.
- Spread the crust mixture out in the prepared pan. Use the bottom of a glass or measuring cup to pack it tightly and evenly into the bottom and slightly up the sides of the pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes while you make the filling.
- In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the softened cream cheese until smooth with no lumps. Wipe any lumps off of the mixer and sides of the bowl. Add the granulated sugar and flour and mix until well combined.
- Mix in the room temperature sour cream, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Wipe the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Make sure the filling is completely smooth and there aren't any lumps at this point.
- Switch to a whisk and mix in the room temperature eggs, one at a time, until just combined after each. Mix just until the batter is smooth once you've added all of the eggs. Tap the bowl of cheesecake batter on your counter several times to release any trapped air bubbles.
- Pour the cheesecake batter into the pan over the prebaked crust. Tap the pan on your counter gently to spread the batter out.
- Place a large roasting pan on the rack in your oven. Add about an inch of boiling water to the pan, then gently place the cheesecake inside the pan.
- Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour. Gently shake the pan to check on it, if it looks set around the edges and there's a 2-3" wobbly center, then it's done. If it looks really wobbly all over, keep baking and check again in 5-minute intervals.
- When the cheesecake looks done, turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake inside with the door open for 1 hour to slowly cool to room temperature. It will continue to bake and set as it cools in the oven.
- Remove the cheesecake from the oven and the water bath and let cool completely at room temperature. About 1-3 hours, it shouldn't feel warm at all when you put it in the fridge. Refrigerate overnight, uncovered and still in the springform pan.
Fresh Strawberry Sauce:
- Add the fresh or frozen strawberries and granulated sugar to a saucepan and place the pan over medium heat. Cook and stir until the strawberries soften and release their juices.
- In a small bowl, whisk fresh-squeezed lemon juice (or water) and cornstarch. Add it to the pan and bring the liquid to a boil. Lower the heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick. Strain the strawberry sauce through a sieve and into a bowl.
Make the Strawberry Crunch Topping:
- Add the golden Oreo cookies to a food processor and pulse into crumbs. Combine 1 and ½ cups of the cookie crumbs with 2 tablespoons of the fresh strawberry sauce. Press the topping onto the top of the cooled cheesecake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.