Recipe Review

This Easy No-Bake Cheesecake Uses an Old-School Ingredient for Perfect Slices

published Sep 8, 2022
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Cheesecake on plate with fork and water labeled 'Simply Recipes'.
Credit: Photo: Dane Tashima; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen; Design: Kitchn

When rounding up the contenders to include in our no-bake cheesecake recipe showdown, I looked for recipes that use different tricks to create the dense, creamy, slightly firm texture you expect from a classic baked cheesecake. This recipe from Simply Recipes, which uses both gelatin and whipped cream, piqued my interest. Would that combo create a cheesecake that was perfectly set — or one that could bounce off the floor? I headed to the kitchen to find out.

Credit: Photo: Dane Tashima; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen; Design: Kitchn

How to Make Simply Recipes’ Easy No-Bake Cheesecake

For this cheesecake, start with the crust. Break graham cracker sheets into large pieces, then whir them in a food processor to make crumbs. Drizzle in melted butter and process until the crumbs are moistened, then pat the mixture into the bottom (and not up the sides) of a 9-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray. 

The filling begins by softening powdered gelatin. Sprinkle the gelatin over cold water, let it stand for a few minutes until the mixture resembles applesauce, and microwave it until it’s liquefied. As the gelatin cools, beat together softened cream cheese and powdered sugar using a paddle attachment until the mixture is fluffy and creamy, then beat in some vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds. Next, switch to a whisk attachment, add some heavy cream, and beat until the mixture holds soft peaks. Add the gelatin mixture and beat until well-incorporated. Pour the filling to the pan and chill for at least an hour. While it’s in the fridge, make a fresh strawberry sauce on the stovetop to spoon over the finished cheesecake.

My Honest Review of Simply Recipes’ Easy No-Bake Cheesecake

After just one hour in the fridge, the cheesecake released easily from the pan, and slices cut cleanly and held up well — thanks to that gelatin. I was concerned that the gelatin would make the texture bouncy, but the cheesecake was creamy, even a bit fluffy. I put the cheesecake back in the fridge and chilled it three hours longer because I thought I would enjoy it colder (and I did).

Patting the crust into the bottom of the pan only (not up the sides) made for tall, beautiful, tidy slices. The vanilla bean flavor came through rich and fragrant, and the cheesecake was creamy and indulgent overall. The downside here? The flavor. Unfortunately, whipped cream was the dominant flavor and I found myself wishing for more tangy cream cheese.

Credit: Photo: Dane Tashima; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen; Design: Kitchn

If You’re Making Simply Recipes’ Easy No-Bake Cheesecake, a Few Tips

  1. Make the strawberry topping. The optional fruity topping is a fresh and vibrant contrast to the rich, creamy cheesecake. The recipe yielded about two cups, which is an ideal amount to cover the suggested 8 to 12 servings.
  2. You don’t need to coat the pan with cooking spray. The recipe instructs you to spray the springform pan before patting in the crust, but you can skip this step. Because you’re not cooking the crust, it doesn’t run the risk of adhering and sticking to the pan. It definitely doesn’t hurt to spray it, but if you don’t want to, you’ll be fine.
  3. Don’t toss out that scraped vanilla bean pod. Make vanilla sugar by burying the scraped pod in a container of sugar. You can also grind some of the pod with your coffee beans for fragrant vanilla coffee. Or tuck the pod into a bottle of maple syrup, and refrigerate it for a few weeks. (Your waffles and pancakes will thank you.) You can also drop a pod into the next batch of simple syrup you make for rich vanilla syrup for coffee or cocktails. 

Overall rating: 8.5/10