No-Bake Cheesecake with Cool Whip is a light and refreshing dessert you can make without turning on the oven. It sets up perfectly in the refrigerator into a smooth and creamy no-bake cheesecake that’s delicious with fresh fruit or your favorite pie filling.
- You’re going to love this
- Step-by-step Instructions
- Storage & Freezing
- Make Ahead Instructions
- How to Make Cherry Cheesecake
- More Toppings for No-bake Cheesecake
- Expert Tips
- How to Thicken No-bake Cheesecake
- How long does it take for a no-bake cheesecake to set?
- How to Fix No-bake Cheesecake Mistakes
- Recipe FAQs
- Recipe Essentials
- More No-bake Recipes
- Let's Stay in Touch
- No-Bake Cheesecake with Cool Whip
Baking a traditional cheesecake can be kind of intimidating. There’s the whole water bath to figure out, trying not to over or under bake it, worrying about the pan leaking, cracks … it’s just kind of a lot.
That’s why I love this no-bake cheesecake recipe. It’s so easy to make, you won’t feel like you need to wait for a holiday or special occasion to make it.
The cream cheese filling is smooth, creamy, and tangy, and the buttery graham cracker crust is thick and sturdy.
You’re going to love this
Easy no-bake dessert with simple ingredients — there’s nothing complicated about this recipe.
This cool and creamy cheesecake is super refreshing on a sweltering summer day.
Special enough for holiday entertaining and easy enough for a random Tuesday.
Refer to the recipe card for the full ingredient list.
No-Bake Graham Cracker Crust
Graham crackers. A graham cracker crust is a classic with cheesecake. You can make the crust with any flavor of graham cracker or cookie you love — gingersnaps, Oreos, vanilla wafers, or chocolate wafer cookies.
Brown sugar. The brown sugar in the graham cracker crust adds a rich molasses flavor.
Cinnamon. Cinnamon brings warm spiciness to the cookie crust.
No-Bake Cheesecake Filling Ingredients
Cream cheese. Use full-fat blocks of cream cheese for the most creaminess and firm texture.
Soften the cream cheese at room temperature for at least 30 minutes so it will mix up light and fluffy without lumps.
Powdered sugar. Powdered sugar sweetens and thickens the cream cheese filling.
Sour cream. Sour cream adds tang and creaminess to this cheesecake.
Lemon juice. Lemon juice reacts with the sour cream and helps thicken the cheesecake, without adding lemon flavor. You won’t taste it.
Cool Whip. Whipped topping makes this no-bake cheesecake light and creamy. Both Cool Whip and TruWhip work well in this recipe.
Make the no-bake graham cracker crust.
Crush 18-19 graham crackers into 2 ½ cups of crumbs. I use this little food chopper, you can also use a food processor or place them in a zip lock bag and crush them with a rolling pin.
Place the graham cracker crumbs into a medium bowl. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon and mix together with a fork, breaking up the brown sugar.
Add the melted butter and stir until completely combined.
Tightly pack the crumbs into a 9-inch springform pan. Use a sturdy measuring cup or glass to press it up the sides and into the crease of the pan.
Place the pan into the freezer for 15-20 minutes.
Make the no-bake cheesecake filling.
Whip the softened cream cheese and powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl with a hand or stand mixer until it is light and fluffy. Add the sour cream, vanilla, and lemon juice. Mix until it is perfectly smooth and creamy with no lumps.
Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture until it is completely combined, smooth, and creamy. The cream cheese mixture is quite thick so you’ll need a sturdy spatula and a little elbow grease.
Be careful not to overmix. Do not use your mixer for this or it will result in a less-firm filling.
Pour the filling into the graham cracker crust and evenly spread the filling around. Use an offset spatula or knife to smooth the top.
Cover the cheesecake tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate 12 hours or overnight. The longer you chill it the more set up it will be.
Run a knife between the outside of the graham cracker crust and the inside of the pan to loosen the crust. Remove the sides of the springform pan.
To cut clean slices, wipe the knife clean between each cut.
Serve with fresh fruit, a drizzle of caramel or chocolate, your favorite pie filling — or a fork.
Storage & Freezing
Store leftover cheesecake tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Freeze the whole cheesecake or individual slices wrapped in plastic wrap and again in aluminum foil for up to 3 months. Place it in the refrigerator to thaw.
Make Ahead Instructions
No-bake cheesecake is a great make ahead dessert you can make 1-2 days in advance.
How to Make Cherry Cheesecake
Turn this easy cheesecake recipe into a delicious no-bake cherry cheesecake recipe with this luscious Cherry Topping.
This delicious recipe is so easy, it actually starts with a can of cherry pie filling!
Stir in some sweet cherries, maple syrup, lemon juice, lemon zest, almond extract, and nutmeg to give it more of a homemade cherry pie filling flavor without any of the hassle.
Spoon the cherry filling over the top of your cheesecake or serve it on the side -- or both!
This homemade cherry cheesecake recipe is the perfect dessert to serve at a family gathering, special occasions, or anytime!
More Toppings for No-bake Cheesecake
This no-bake cheesecake with Cool Whip is plenty delightful on its own, so it really doesn’t need anything at all. But it’s also delicious with toppings!
- Balsamic Roasted Strawberries
- Canned pie filling
- Caramel sauce with a sprinkle of sea salt
- Cherry topping
- Chocolate ganache
- Chocolate shavings
- Chopped candy bars
- Chopped nuts
- Crushed cookies
- Fresh fruit
- Fruit compotes
- Lemon curd
- Toasted coconut
- Whipped cream
- Whipped Ricotta
- White chocolate shards
Use full-fat blocks of cream cheese, not cream cheese spread. Cream cheese spread has a thinner consistency and won’t firm up as well.
Use room temperature cream cheese and sour cream to ensure they blend together completely into a smooth and creamy mixture without lumps.
Give this cheesecake plenty of time to firm up in the refrigerator. Overnight is best. It’s worth the wait!
Stir the Cool Whip into the cream cheese mixture with a sturdy spoon or spatula to keep the cheesecake filling as firm as possible.
How to Thicken No-bake Cheesecake
There are a few tricks in this recipe to help keep this cheesecake filling nice and thick.
- Sour cream and lemon juice cause a reaction that helps thicken the filling.
- Powdered sugar contains cornstarch as an anti-caking agent. It also serves as a thickener in this recipe.
- Chilling the cheesecake overnight allows the filling to set up so you can cut beautiful slices.
How long does it take for a no-bake cheesecake to set?
The filling in this cheesecake recipe is very smooth, creamy, and fluffy. Because the cream cheese and sour cream are at room temperature when you make it, you want to allow the cream cheese to get cold and firm up again. For best results, chill the cheesecake in the refrigerator for 12 hours or overnight.
How to Fix No-bake Cheesecake Mistakes
No-bake cheesecakes are much easier to make than traditional cheesecakes, but things can still happen. Here’s how you can side-step the most common mistakes.
1. Graham cracker crust is too crumbly.
No-bake graham cracker crusts need plenty of butter, just enough sugar, to be firmly packed into the pan, and some time in the refrigerator to hold the crumbs together.
- Don’t skip the sugar, even if you think the graham crackers are sweet enough on their own.
- Use a straight-sided measuring cup or glass to firmly press the crust into the bottom of the pan and up the sides.
- Chill the crust — and the entire cheesecake — to allow the butter and sugar to bind the crust together and make it nice and sturdy.
2. Cheesecake filling is lumpy.
No one wants lumps in their cheesecake. That’s why it’s important to use room temperature cream cheese. The sour cream should be room temperature, too, so it will smoothly blend into the cream cheese.
- Take cream cheese out of the refrigerator 30-60 minutes before you start making the cheesecake. Take the cream cheese out of the packaging and cut it into cubes to hurry it along.
- Take sour cream out of the refrigerator 30 minutes in advance.
3. Cheesecake filling is too runny.
Overmixing the cream cheese or the whipped topping can easily lead to a soft no-bake cheesecake. So will rushing the chill time. It will still taste fantastic, but the slices just won’t come out as clean.
- Whip the cream cheese until it’s light and fluffy and has no lumps. Mix in the sour cream and other ingredients until fully combined and the mixture is smooth and creamy.
- Stir in the whipped topping with a spatula until it’s fully incorporated; don’t use a mixer.
- Allow the cheesecake to set up in the fridge for at least 6 hours, but preferably overnight.
4. Cheesecake slices are messy.
After all that work and waiting for the cheesecake to firm up, you deserve those nice, clean edges. Here’s how to get them.
- Use a sharp knife.
- Clean the knife with hot water and wipe it dry before each cut. Yes. Each. Cut. It may seem like a pain, but if you want clean cuts, it’s what you need to do.
Yes! Wrap the whole cheesecake, or sections or slices of cheesecake, in plastic wrap and again in aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator.
Store leftovers tightly wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 5 days.
Sour cream helps make the cream cheese mixture even creamier, adds a bit more tang, and, when combined with the lemon juice, helps firm up the no-bake cheesecake mixture.
A 9-inch springform pan is great to have for cheesecakes, ice cream cakes, deep dish pizzas, coffee cakes, and quiches. The one I have is an old Pampered Chef purchase, but this is the one I'll get when it wears out.
I use my offset spatula for smoothing out cheesecake filling, icing, and loosening cakes from springform pans and angel food cake pans. Here's a nice set of 3.
More No-bake Recipes
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No-Bake Cheesecake with Cool Whip
No-Bake Cheesecake Crust
- 2 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs 18-19 graham cracker sheets
- ⅓ cup brown sugar dark or light
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 10 tablespoons melted butter
No-Bake Cheesecake Filling
- 24 ounces softened cream cheese (3) 8 oz packages
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- ½ cup sour cream, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 8 ounces whipped topping Cool Whip or TruWhip
Cherry Cheesecake Topping (optional)
Make the no-bake graham cracker crust
- Crush 18-19 graham crackers into 2 ½ cups of crumbs with a food processor or place them in a ziptop bag and crush them with a rolling pin.
- Mix the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and cinnamon together with a fork to break up the brown sugar. Add the melted butter and stir until combined.
- Tightly pack the crumbs into a 9-inch springform pan. Use a sturdy measuring cup or glass to press them up the sides and into the crease of the pan. Place the pan into the freezer for 15-20 minutes.
Make the no-bake cheesecake filling
- Whip the softened cream cheese and powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl with a hand or stand mixer until it is light and fluffy. Add the sour cream, vanilla, and lemon juice. Mix until it is perfectly smooth and creamy with no lumps.
- Add the whipped topping and fold it into the cream cheese mixture until it is completely combined, smooth, and creamy. The cream cheese mixture is quite thick so you’ll need a sturdy spatula and a little elbow grease. Be careful not to overmix or use your mixer for this or it will result in a less-firm filling.
- Pour the filling into the graham cracker crust and evenly spread the filling around. Use an offset spatula or knife to smooth the top.
- Cover the cheesecake tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate 12 hours or overnight. The longer you chill it the more set up it will be.
- Run a knife between the outside of the graham cracker crust and the pan to loosen the crust. Remove the sides of the springform pan. To cut clean slices, wipe the knife clean between each cut.
- Serve with fresh fruit, a drizzle of caramel or chocolate, your favorite pie filling — or a fork.
Storage & Freezing
- Store leftover cheesecake tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Freeze the whole cheesecake or individual slices wrapped in plastic wrap and again in aluminum foil for up to 3 months. Place it in the refrigerator to thaw.
- No-bake cheesecake is a great make ahead dessert you can make 1-2 days in advance.
How to Make Cherry Cheesecake
- Make a no-bake cherry cheesecake by topping this creamy cheesecake with this delicious Cherry Topping recipe that starts with a simple can of cherry pie filling.