The Best Caramel Cheesecake

This is seriously The Best Caramel Cheesecake recipe! Made with a buttery graham cracker crust, a smooth and creamy cheesecake batter and covered with a rich homemade caramel sauce.

Caramel cheesecake with graham cracker crust and homemade caramel sauce poured on top.

If you are looking for similar recipes, check out my Double-Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake, Pie de Limón (Lemon Meringue Pie) and Coconut Cream Tart with Figs.

The Best Caramel Cheesecake

This Caramel Cheesecake is heaven. It has the smoothest and creamiest texture I’ve ever tried, the balance of sweetness from the caramel and saltiness from the crust is just *chef’s kiss*. It has been triple tested and reviewed by hundreds of cheesecake lovers and Cheesecake Factory fans, so I’m 100% confident this is the best recipe you’ll ever try!

This recipe combines a classic cheesecake with homemade caramel sauce for an extra touch, but it can be served as is or with additional toppings. In this post, I’ll walk you through each step to make this recipe a success.

Why You’ll Love This Caramel Cheesecake

  • Texture – buttery, crumbly crust, smooth and creamy filling, and silky caramel topping
  • Flavor – Creamy cheesecake meets sweet caramel meets salty crust
  • Time – takes a little while, but most of it is hands-off oven and chill time.
  • Effort – easy to follow, no fancy tools or techniques needed.

Ingredients

Ingredients to make Caramel Cheesecake: cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, flour, eggs, vanilla, graham cracker crumbs, butter, cinnamon, salt, brown sugar, heavy cream.


For the Crust:

  • Graham cracker crumbs: My go-to base for cheesecakes for its buttery and nutty flavor.
  • Melted butter: Binds the crumbs and adds richness.
  • Sugar: Sweetens the crust and complements the cinnamon.
  • Salt: Enhances the graham cracker flavor and balances the sweetness.
  • Cinnamon: Warm spice that adds depth and complexity to the crust.

For the Cheesecake Batter:

  • Cream cheese: Rich, creamy base of the cheesecake, providing a smooth and silky texture.
  • Sour cream: Adds tanginess and helps prevent cracks.
  • Sugar: Sweetens the filling and balances the tangy flavors.
  • Vanilla extract: Enhances the sweetness and adds a touch of warmth.
  • Flour: Provides structure and helps prevent the filling from becoming runny.
  • Eggs: Bind the ingredients and create a smooth texture.

For the Homemade Caramel Sauce:

  • Brown sugar: Provides a deep, caramelized flavor and thickens the sauce.
  • Butter: Adds richness and creaminess.
  • Heavy cream: Creates a smooth and luxurious texture.
  • Vanilla extract: Complements the caramel flavor and adds warmth.
  • Salt: Balances the sweetness and enhances the overall flavor.

See recipe card for quantities.

Substitutions & Variations

  • For a Gluten-Free Cheesecake Crust: use Gluten-free Graham Crackers and follow the same steps on the recipe card.
  • To make Salted Caramel: follow the instructions for the caramel sauce, whisk in 1 teaspoon of fine sea salt with the vanilla extract.
  • Swirl in some melted chocolate for a chocolate-caramel cheesecake.
  • Use dulce de leche instead of caramel sauce.
  • Top the plain cheesecake with fresh berries and whipped cream instead of caramel sauce.

How to Make The Best Caramel Cheesecake

Instructions to make cheesecake crust: combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar, cinnamon and salt, still until resembles wet sand, press into bottom and sides of pan, bake for 10 minutes.

Make the Crust:

  • In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, salt, cinnamon and butter (Photo 1). Stir until the mixture resembles wet sand (Photo 2).
  • Press into the bottom and sides of the springform pan (Photo 3). Bake for 10 minutes and remove from the oven (Photo 4).
Instructions to make cheesecake batter: beat cream cheese until smooth, add in sour cream, sugar and continue beating. Add in flour, eggs one at a time, and vanilla. Pour over crust and bake for 1 hour.

Make the Cheesecake Batter:

  • Cream softened cream cheese until smooth. Beat in sour cream, vanilla, and sugar until combined. Add flour, then eggs one at a time, beating until fully combined (Photo 5).
  • Pour batter over the crust (Photo 6) and smooth out the top using an angled spatula or the back of a spoon (Photo 7).
  • Water Bath: Place a baking sheet on the lower rack and fill it with boiling water (Photo 8).
  • Bake at 325°F for 1 hour 10 minutes. Let cool in the oven with the door closed for 30 minutes, then chill for at least 4 hours.

Helpful Tip: The water bath helps prevent cracks and keeps the filling extra smooth.

Make the Caramel Sauce:

  • In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the brown sugar, butter, heavy cream, and salt. Whisk gently until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens slightly. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Cool.

Serve the Caramel Cheesecake

  • Top your chilled cheesecake with a generous drizzle of caramel sauce, spreading it around with an angled spatula or the back of a spoon.

Helpful Tip: If the caramel sauce has thickened, warm in the microwave in 10 second increments until desired, runny consistency.

Storage

Store the cheesecake in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Freeze individual slices, without the caramel sauce, for up to 2 months.

Top tips

  • Use room-temperature ingredients for the best results. This is by far the best tip to making a smooth, lump-free cheesecake.
  • For a richer texture use full fat cream cheese and sour cream.
  • Don’t overmix the batter, a few lumps are okay!
  • Check for doneness: The middle of the cheesecake should still be jiggly when you turn the oven off.
  • To remove cheesecake: Run a knife or spatula around the edges of the cheesecake before removing it from the springform pan.
  • To prevent cracks, I suggest turning off the oven and allowing the cheesecake to cool for 30 minutes without opening the oven door. Then, crack the oven door open and continue cooling for another 30 minutes.
  • Instead of a water bath: Place a baking tray on the lower rack in the oven (directly under your cheesecake) and fill it with hot water.

Recipe FAQs

Can I skip the water bath?

Skipping the water bath may increase the risk of cracks. Simply place a baking tray on the lower rack under your cheesecake and fill it with hot water.

My cheesecake is brown on top, is it ruined?

Don’t worry, a little browning is normal. Just check for doneness with a toothpick inserted near the center – it should come out with a few soft crumbs, but not liquid.

Can I use a different type of pan?

If you don’t have a springform pan, use a regular 9-inch round cake pan. Just line the bottom with parchment paper and grease the sides.

I hope you enjoy this recipe for The Best Caramel Cheesecake out there! It’s the perfect way to celebrate any occasion with friends and family.

Did You Like This Recipe?

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Cheesecake slice served with homemade caramel sauce, on a cake stand
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the best caramel cheesecake, slice

The Best Caramel Cheesecake


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5 from 28 reviews

Description

This is seriously The Best Caramel Cheesecake recipe! Made with a buttery graham cracker crust, a smooth and creamy cheesecake batter and covered with a rich homemade caramel sauce.


Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 10 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 

For the Cheesecake Batter

  • 4 (8oz) full fat cream cheese packages, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 3 eggs, room temperature

For the Caramel Sauce

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease an 9-inch springform pan with baking spray and wrap the bottom and outside of the pan with 3 layers of tin foil to ensure a waterproof seal.

For the Crust

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, salt, cinnamon and butter, and stir until the mixture resembles wet sand. Press into the bottom and sides of the springform pan.
  2. Bake for 10 minutes and remove from the oven.
  3. Lower the oven temperature to 325F.

For the Cheesecake Batter:

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Add sour cream, vanilla and sugar and continue mixing until combined. Add in flour and eggs one at a time, beating until fully combined. Do not over-mix, some lumps are okay.
  2. Pour the batter over crust and use an angled spatula or spoon to smooth out the top. 
  3. Make a water bath: Place a baking sheet on the lower rack and fill it with boiling water.
  4. Place the cheesecake on the upper rack, directly on top of the baking sheet, and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes. Do not open the door, the changes in temperature can cause the cheesecake to crack.
  5. Turn off the oven and allow the cheesecake to cool for 30 minutes without opening the oven door. After 30 minutes, crack the oven door open and continue cooling in the oven for 30 minutes.
  6. Place on the counter to finish cooling, run a knife or spatula around the edges of the cheesecake before removing from pan. Chill in the fridge for 4-6 hours before serving.

For the Caramel Sauce

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine heavy cream, brown sugar, butter and salt. Whisk gently until it thickens. Add in vanilla and cook for another minute.
  2. Turn off the heat, let sauce cool slightly before transferring to a glass jar.

To Serve Caramel Cheesecake:

  • Top chilled cheesecake with caramel sauce*, spreading it with an angled spatula or the back of a spoon.

Notes

  • Make Ahead Instructions: cheesecake can be made ahead a day in advance, store covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  • Storage Instructions: store cheesecake in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Freeze without caramel sauce, wrapped in plastic and foil, for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
  • To make Salted Caramel: follow the instructions for the caramel sauce, whisk in 1 teaspoon of fine sea salt with the vanilla extract.
  • If Caramel sauce has thickened, warm it in the microwave in 10 second increments until desired, runny consistency.
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cool Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 10 min
  • Category: Dessert
  • Cuisine: American

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68 Comments

  1. This is SO stunning Rosana! That caramel looks beyond perfect! I am a huge cheesecake fan, so I must try your version next time I make one!






  2. Looks like a 5-star recipe to me!! Stunning job!! I haven’t had cheesecake in so long– thanks for putting this craving in my belly!






  3. Hi !!! I’m just baking my cheescake, but I inserted the toothpick and it Cosme out wet, is that okay ? Or should be clean ?

  4. Well, I shoulda asked you this at least a week ago, but I pick recipes on the fly usually. So here I am TODAY August 21st 2020 making this as a birthday cake. I’ve never sprayed a pan before making a cheesecake, and yours says to use “baking” spray. Are you talking about the kind with flour in it, or just regular spray? It probably won’t make that much difference, but I guess I’m gonna find out! Lol

  5. Can I spread a thin layer the caramel sauce on about 2 hours before serving? The cheese cake came out gorgeous and I am bringing to a restaurant for my girlfriends birthday. I was hoping to have it ready to present without having to put sauce on separately. If it compromised the cake, I can manage!

    1. Hi. Is there any way I can make this without baking the cheesecake filling and putting it in the fridge instead?

  6. I only had a small springform so had extra filling for a mini pan….. It was my taste test and is was SO rich and delicious!






  7. My grandson told me he wanted a cheesecake with my caramel icing for his birthday. I really didn’t think my caramel icing would work well on a cheesecake, so I started looking at recipes. This one sounded so good and I tried it last weekend. Oh my goodness, we loved it! It got rave reviews from everyone and we will definitely have this for his 13th birthday next month.






  8. Caramel sauce! I could drink it. Tried other recipes for caramel sauce they didn’t work out but this one did! Perfect cheesecake also!

  9. Great recipe! I baked it twice now. I’m planning on making it for Christmas. I have a lot of guests coming, so wanted to make a 10” one instead of 9”. I figured out the difference in amounts of ingredients, but do you think I’ll have to bake it longer, or will 1 hr 10 still do it?






  10. Can you use store bought caramel in a jar and just drizzle it on cake? Also could this be refrigerated overbite before taken out of pan?

  11. When are you supposed to put the Carmel sauce onto cake ?
    Is it supposed to be hot still or is it not supposed to be added until after its cold?
    Thank you. (This is my first cheesecake..eek!!)

  12. This was just the most amazing baked cheesecake I’ve ever eaten. Definitely a crowd pleaser thank you so much for sharing this slice of heaven with the world!






  13. I am hoping to bake this on the weekend. I am curious about the addition of flour–what purpose does it have in the cheesecake? I have never seen a cheesecake recipe with flour before. I did have a very cakey cheesecake once on vacation that definitely had flour in it and was nothing like regular (New York style) cheesecake. Would this be like the vacation one, or more like a classic New York style cheesecake?

  14. So I want to try out your recipe, but I do not have a 9-inch springform pan I only have a 12-inch springform pan. Is there a way I could make the batter bigger or could I just use a regular 9- inch pan.






  15. Cheese Cake is perfect! I cant wait to test my hands on this recipe thanks for sharing this wonderful masterpiece with us

  16. This is the first cheesecake that I ever made and it turned out perfect! The people that I work with said that it is the best cheesecake that they have ever tasted. I added toffee bits on top of the caramel before serving. It was beautiful!






  17. Made this for our Thanksgiving work potluck. It was my “extra” dish because I love to bake. I followed the recipe exactly and chilled it 4 days. I did change to a cinnamon graham cracker crust and added 1 tsp of cinnamon to the batter. Made a homemade butterscotch sauce and used 3 Granny Smith apples, diced and microwaved with 1 tsp cinnamon and 1 TBSP of water to make a compote for the topping. After it was cooled mixed the apples with the butterscotch. Placed it onto the cheesecake right before serving and drizzled the caramel sauce over all. When I brought it to work EVERYONE exclaimed, they even took pictures and said it was better than Cheesecake Factory. One of our girls literally cried while she was eating it and said it was the best cheesecake she’d ever eaten and said she waits every year for her Grandma to make the family pumpkin cheesecake fit Thanksgiving but that this one was better. I’ve been cooking, baking, and catering for 20+ years and this recipe was the BEST reaction I’ve ever had, and that’s saying a LOT!!! KEEPER!!!






  18. I have an apple cheesecake recipe that I want to use this caramel sauce recipe for (certainly going to use the cake recipe later). If I reduce the amount of cream will the sauce just be thicker – which is what I’m hoping for. Also thinking of adding pecans.

  19. Decided to use your recipe rather than the original for the apple cheesecake and I’m so glad I did. It was very moist and delicious. Made a couple of small changes. First, added 2 cups of chopped apple that were coated with 1 tsp of cinnamon and 1 tbsp of flour. Added this into the batter as the last step before pouring. We only used 3 packages of cheese as that is what we had purchased – because of this I reduced the eggs by one. I also reduced the cream a bit in the sauce because I wanted something thicker – added toasted chopped pecans.

    This one is going to be a staple for us. Thinking of doing a blueberry version with peach topping for the family over the holidays.






  20. Cheese Cake is perfect! I cant wait to test my hands on this recipe thanks for sharing this wonderful masterpiece with us






  21. Cheesecake recipe really delicious, you make my day by sharing the special cake recipe…
    thank you so much






  22. This recipe is just slightly different than the one I’ve used for years, but I made them both for my husband’s coworkers and this one won hands down! I get requests specifically for this cheesecake from them on the regular. Thank you for the detailed cook time/instructions. I think that makes a big difference in making sure it is done but not over baking it!






  23. I made this two years ago for my husband’s birthday and it was to die for!! This time I’m making it for thanksgiving and want to have the caramel sauce on the side. Does the caramel sauce need to be refrigerated?






  24. I made this cheesecake for Christmas and it turned out amazing! No cracks and it was super soft and delicious! The water bath below option worked great too!! It got rave reviews from my family and I’ll definitely be making it again!!






  25. You can make the cakes, cool them, and then wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze them. Then the day before remove from the freezer stick in the fridge to defrost. Make the buttercream fresh the day of.

  26. This creamy cheesecake was rated 5 stars by everyone at our 4th of July party.
    Easy to make. My only question was how long to cook the caramel. I kept mine bubbling for approximately 5 – 7 minutes.
    I made mine in a 9×13 glass pan. I believe I baked it about 55 minutes and then jiggled and turned oven off. I left door closed for about 20 minutes and then took out. It was a bit brown around the edges so maybe could have baked less but it was sooooo good. Thanks for sharing.






    1. I’m so glad everyone liked it!! Thanks so much for letting me know. I think the edges might have darkened a bit because of the glass pan, but I haven’t tested it myself to be certain. I’d use a round metal pan next time and see if it happens again 🙂

  27. This recipe is love. Can’t wait to try this Cheese Cake… hoping for weekend to arrive soon.
    Can I prepare it a day before?






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