The low temperature of the slow cooker is perfect for making a cheesecake that is silky smooth with no cracks on the surface. Slow Cooker Classic Cheesecake is a hands-off dessert that can be made ahead in a round springform pan or loaf pan.
Last year I made Slow Cooker Pumpkin Cheesecake the star of every fall event we hosted. It’s the sort of dessert that’s best made ahead of time, so there’s no fussing with dessert the day-of. We loved that pumpkin version so much that I was due to make a classic variety. Slow Cooker Classic Cheesecake is perfect for someone like me who has always been a little afraid of making cheesecakes until I started using the slow cooker.
Now that I have the slow cooker on my side, I make cheesecake all the time, and you can too! Cooking the cheesecake in a water bath at the low temperature provided by the slow cooker makes it practically fail-proof. Best of all - it comes out silky smooth, light and creamy, absolutely delicious.
I really like making the cheesecake in a loaf pan, so there’s no special equipment required if you have a loaf pan that will fit in your slow cooker. If not, use a 6-inch springform pan and make the adjustments described below.
Here’s how to do it!
Why Make Cheesecake in the Slow Cooker
Low and slow is key for making a smooth, creamy cheesecake without cracks. The slow cooker provides just that - a steady, consistently low temperature. For this method, create a water bath in the slow cooker and then cook cheesecake inside the water bath. (Or, if using a small springform pan, cook the cheesecake elevated above the water.)
- Cream Cheese – Be sure to use regular cream cheese, sold in blocks. Don’t use low-fat cream cheese or the whipped / spreadable type that comes in a tube or the texture of the cheesecake will be off.
- Sour Cream – A small amount of sour cream gives the cheesecake an extra smooth texture and a subtle tangy flavor.
- Graham Crackers – Graham crackers are a classic for cheesecake crust. Oreo cookies also make a really good cheesecake crust!
- Eggs, Unsalted Butter, Sugar – You’ll also need these basic pantry / fridge ingredients.
- Topping - Leave the cheesecake plain, or add some toppings. Fresh berries are great for spring and summer. Pie filling (cherry, blueberry, or strawberry) is classic. A little whipped cream is always fun too!
How to Prep a Slow Cooker for Making Cheesecake
Slow cooker classic cheesecake is easy to make, but you need to spend a few minutes setting things up. First, take a loaf pan and place it inside your slow cooker. Add water to the slow cooker (around the outside of the loaf pan) until it reaches about 2 inches from the top of the pan. Leave the water in the slow cooker and take the loaf pan out. Cut a piece of parchment paper so that it will fit inside the loaf pan, with a few inches of overhang. (This will make it easy to lift the finished cheesecake out of the pan.) Now you’re ready to make the crust and filling.
The only other unique thing you need to do to prepare the slow cooker for making cheesecake is to place a towel under the lid to absorb condensation as the cheesecake is cooking. You don’t want liquid to gather on the lid and drip down on to the smooth surface of the cheesecake. Use a few paper towels or a large dishtowel to wrap around the lid of the machine as you close it.
How to Make Slow Cooker Classic Cheesecake
- Let cream cheese and sour cream come to room temperature. This is important for a smooth cheesecake.
- Combine graham crackers, melted butter, and 2 teaspoon sugar in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand. Press it into the prepared loaf pan.
- Wipe out the food processor and then combine cream cheese, sour cream, ½ cup sugar, and vanilla in the empty food processor. Blend until very smooth. Scrape down the sides. Add eggs and blend just until smooth. (Do not overmix once the eggs are added. This is another key to a smooth cheesecake.)
- Pour cheesecake filling over crust.
- Gently lower cheesecake into the slow cooker, being sure that no water gets inside the pan.
- Finally, once the cheesecake has been assembled in the loaf pan and placed in the slow cooker, place two layers of paper towels on top of the slow cooker and cover with a lid. (The paper towels will prevent condensation from dripping onto the surface of the cheesecake.)
- Cook on low for 3 hours (or high for 2 hours). The cheesecake will still look a little wobbly in the middle but the edges will be set.
- Remove cheesecake from the slow cooker and let it cool completely.
To Make a Round Slow Cooker Cheesecake
If you’re looking for a more classic, round shape for this cheesecake, just make the following adaptations to the recipe:
- Fill the slow cooker with just 1 inch of water
- Assemble the cheesecake as described below in a 6-inch springform pan (instead of a loaf pan)
- Use a metal rack or balls of aluminum foil to keep the cheesecake elevated above the water as it cooks
- Cook the cheesecake on HIGH for 1.5 hours, then turn the machine off and leave the cheesecake to rest inside the machine (resist the urge to lift the lid during this time) for 1 hour before removing and chilling it
More Guest-Worthy Desserts
- One-Bowl Chocolate Cake - This quick and easy chocolate cake is made in only one bowl. No mixer needed. The result is an 8×8 cake that is rich, moist, and even better a day or two after baking.
- Lemon Olive Oil Cake - Lemon olive oil cake has been bringing a little poppy seed sunshine to our kitchen this week. Baking it like a classic upside down cake gives it a fresh, pretty top that makes it look a lot more fancy (read: complicated) than it actually is!
- No-Bake Strawberry Cream Pie - No-Bake Strawberry Cream Pie is super fluffy, filled with fresh strawberries, and is served chilled for a beautiful, refreshing dessert.
- Frozen Peanut Butter Cheesecake Pie - Chocolate and peanut butter. There are a million ways to combine them and none ever get old! This pie is like a fluffy frozen peanut butter cheesecake – just defrost, slice and serve!
- Easy Apple Crumble - One of the best, and easiest desserts! Filled with tender, caramelized apples and topped with a sweet oat topping, this easy apple crumble is always a crowd-pleaser. Even better topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
- KitchenAid Slow Cooker – When I was testing slow cooker recipes last fall, I got a lot of questions about the “best” slow cooker. The truth is, I just followed the advice of other experts (including America’s Test Kitchen and Food and Wine). This $99 machine has been a staple in my kitchen for years and works better than any other slow cooker I’ve used. It’s a good size for baking cheesecake - most loaf pans will easily fit here.
- Cuisinart Food Processor - The entire recipe (crust and filling) is made in the food processor.
- Pyrex Loaf Pan - I love this sturdy loaf pan. Everything bakes nice and evenly in it.
Slow Cooker Classic Cheesecake
- Loaf Pan
- Food Processor
- 2 8oz blocks Cream Cheese, softened to room temperature (use full fat, block style cream cheese)
- ½ cup Sour Cream, full fat
- 4 oz Graham Crackers (see note)
- 3 tablespoon Unsalted Butter, melted
- ½ cup Granulated Sugar
- 2 teaspoon Granulated Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
- 2 Eggs
- Fresh Berries
- Pie Filling (cherry is great!)
- Whipped Cream
- Important: Set the cream cheese and sour cream out at room temperature for 1 hour before preparing the recipe. Starting with these ingredients at room temperature is the key to a smooth (not lumpy) cheesecake.
- To prepare the slow cooker, place a loaf pan inside the center of the slow cooker and pour water around the pan until it comes up to about 2 inches from the top of the pan. Leave the water in the slow cooker while you prepare the cheesecake.
- Line the loaf pan with parchment paper (this will make it easy to lift the cheesecake out when it’s done cooking).
- Spray the inside of the loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray, making sure to get the ends that are not lined with parchment.
- Break graham crackers into large pieces and place them in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to break down. Add melted butter and 2 teaspoon sugar and continue to blend / pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand, scraping down the sides if needed.
- Press the crust mixture into the loaf pan to form the crust.
- Wipe out the bowl of the food processor and return it to the base.
- Combine cream cheese, sour cream, ½ cup sugar, and vanilla in the food processor.
- Blend until everything is evenly combined.
- Scrape down the sides and add eggs. (Do not overmix the eggs; this is another key to a smooth cheesecake.)
- Blend just until the eggs are fully incorporated.
- Pour cheesecake filling over crust.
- Transfer cake to slow cooker.
- Place 2 layers of paper towels over the top of the slow cooker and then place the lid snuggly on top of the paper towels. (Note: The paper towels will absorb moisture and prevent condensation from dripping down onto the top of the cake.)
- Cook on low for 3 hours (or high for 2 hours), until the sides of the cheesecake are light golden brown and the center still looks a tiny bit wobbly.
- Use oven mitts to remove the cheesecake from the slow cooker. Let it cool on a wire rack for 1 hour.
- Once it has cooled, gently lift the cheesecake out of the loaf pan (using the parchment) and transfer it to the refrigerator.
- Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 2 days. Top with preferred toppings. Slice and serve.
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