Fluffy Cream Cheese Pie

published Oct 27, 2021
christmas
Cheese Pie Recipe

This sweet pie is made with a handful of basic ingredients you probably already have tucked away in your pantry.

Serves8 to 12

Makes1 (9-inch) pie

Prep15 minutes to 20 minutes

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a slice of cheese pie (cheesecake) with strawberry topping poured over top, with a fork on the side
Credit: Kelli Foster

Whenever I need a truly easy, very low-effort dessert that’s impossibly delicious and guaranteed to wow the entire table, I make a cream cheese pie. It’s my back-pocket dessert, if you will. It was my go-to for potlucks (remember when we went to those?), and the treat I bring to a friend’s house for dinner, make for holidays, and sometimes whip together in the middle of the week when I want a sweet that feels a little more special than my usual package of cookies.

Cream cheese pie is reminiscent of cheesecake (if you love the taste of cheesecake, you will definitely love this pie), but a dessert entirely its own. Unlike the thick, dense texture you expect with cheesecake, cream cheese pie is lush and fluffy while having just enough firmness and structure so that it holds its shape when sliced, with a taste that delivers just the right balance of sweet tang. Perhaps best of all, cream cheese pie is incredibly easy to pull off — all you need are five basic ingredients.

What Is Cheese Pie Made Of?

Cheese pie (or, as it’s also known, cream cheese pie) is a sweet pie made with just a handful of basic ingredients, with cream cheese as the star. 

Using a combination of whipped heavy cream and powdered sugar gives the pie a creamy, fluffy texture, as well as structure. It ensures the filling firms up just enough so that it holds its shape when sliced. 

Some recipes for cream cheese pie and no-bake cheesecake simply call for beating softened cream cheese with sweetened condensed milk. This makes for a much looser filling that doesn’t firm up as much. So, when cut, the slices of pie don’t hold their shape as well. 

What Is the Difference Between Cheesecake and Cheese Pie?

Because cream cheese is the main ingredient for both desserts, they have a similar underlying taste, but there are a few distinct differences that set them apart.

  • Cream cheese pie: This is a no-bake pie (typically made in a pie pan) that does not include eggs, and has a lighter, fluffier texture than cheesecake.
  • Cheesecake: Typically contains eggs, is baked (often in a springform pan), and has a more dense texture than cream cheese pie.
Credit: Kelli Foster

Best Cheese Pie Toppings

While you could certainly serve a cheese pie just as it is and it would be delicious, a topping makes it even better. It adds another layer of flavor and texture, but it makes for a nice presentation. Here are a few of our favorite cheese pie toppings.

Cheese Pie Recipe

This sweet pie is made with a handful of basic ingredients you probably already have tucked away in your pantry.

Prep time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Makes 1 (9-inch) pie

Serves 8 to 12

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the crust (optional):

  • 6 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 12

    full-size graham crackers (about 6 1/2 ounces or 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs)

  • 2 tablespoons

    granulated sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

For the pie:

  • 16 ounces

    cream cheese

  • 3/4 cup

    cold heavy cream

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 cup

    powdered sugar

  • 1

    (9-inch) graham cracker crust, store-bought or homemade

For topping (optional):

  • Sliced fresh fruit

  • Fruit pie filling

  • Lemon curd

  • Apple butter

  • Chocolate or caramel sauce

Instructions

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  1. Cut 16 ounces cream cheese into 1/2-inch cubes and set in a large bowl at room temperature until softened, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, if not using a store-bought crust, make the graham cracker crust.

Make the crust:

  1. Place 6 tablespoons unsalted butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second intervals until melted, about 1 minute.

  2. Break up 12 full-size graham crackers and place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Add 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Pulse until the crackers are broken down into fine, even crumbs, 8 to 12 pulses. Drizzle in the butter and pulse to incorporate. (Alternatively, add 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs, the sugar, cinnamon, and salt to the bowl of melted butter and stir to combine.) The mixture should hold together in your hand when squeezed.

  3. Transfer the crumb mixture to a 9-inch pie plate (not deep dish). Press the crumbs evenly over the the bottom and up the sides of pan, using a heavy-bottomed cup as needed to press the mixture into the pan.

  4. Refrigerate the crust for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.

Make the filling:

  1. Beat 3/4 cup cold heavy cream in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes.

  2. Beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Do not overmix. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Gradually beat in 1 cup powdered sugar on low speed until combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Gently fold in the whipped cream.

  3. Transfer the filling to the pie crust and smooth the top. Cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. Top as desired right before serving.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Store covered pie in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.