Love and Olive Oil

Elaine’s New York Cheesecake

Elaine's Classic New York Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce

This recipe comes from my grandma Elaine. She’s turning 90 this July, and we’re all going out to New York to celebrate. Will there be cheesecake? I sure hope so, and knowing Grams, there will be no shortage of sweets.

To call these recipe cards well-loved would be an understatement. The neat pencil script is smudged from years of use and the paper is covered in splashes and splotches of vanilla extract. My mom made this cheesecake, 4 of them to be precise, every morning before her shift at the deli in the 70’s. With a hand-mixer, no less.

She even told me that after she left her job at the deli (refusing to sell the ‘secret’ recipe to the owners), one of her regular customers begged her to share the recipe with him. He was so adamant about getting the recipe for his favorite cheesecake, that he snuck in when she wasn’t looking and copied it. The nerve! Luckily she didn’t hold a grudge as he was our family’s dentist for many years (dentists like sweets too, apparently).

Grandma Elaine's New York Cheesecake Recipe

Grandma’s index cards paired with mom’s post-it note. That about sums it up right there.

And here I am, adding my own story to the mix in the form of a blog post, making 3 generations of stories and memories written between the lines of one incredible cheesecake recipe. There’s history and tradition and plenty of love all baked up in a graham cracker crust.

Classic New York Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce

This cheesecake is perfectly imperfect. The egg whites make the cake puff, almost souffle-like, cracking and settling as it cools. Glamor shot it is not. But, as my mom says, that’s what the sauce is for.

It’s velvety smooth and surprisingly light, and not too sweet; rather, slightly tangy with a hint of almond. It could most certainly be doctored with a multitude of sauces, but for me, personally, there’s something so satisfying about the classic combo of cheesecake and strawberry.

Not your grandma’s cheesecake? No, it’s MY grandma’s cheesecake.

Elaine's New York Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce

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For Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 7 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, finely ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For Cheesecake:

  • 3 (8-ounce) packages plain cream cheese, room temperature (it is VERY important that the cheese be at room temperature; take the packages out of the fridge at least 1 to 2 hours or more before you start preparing the cake).
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For Sauce:

  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen strawberries, thawed
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • dash salt


  1. Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, ground almonds, and salt in a bowl. Drizzle melted butter and stir until evenly moistened. Press into the bottom and up the sides (as far as it’ll go) of a lightly buttered 10-inch springform pan. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to set.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  3. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine cream cheese, 1 cup of sugar, and salt and beat until smooth. Add flour and egg yolks and mix thoroughly. Stir in sour cream, lemon juice, vanilla, almond extract, and nutmeg and beat until smooth.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites with remaining 1/4 cup sugar until it form stiff peaks. Fold thoroughly into cream cheese mixture (no need to be terribly gentle with it, but you do want the whites to be evenly incorporated). Pour into chilled crust.
  5. Bake cheesecake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until top is puffed and lightly golden brown. There will be cracks, but that’s ok (that’s what the sauce is for, right?) Without opening the oven door, turn the oven off, and let the cheesecake sit in the oven as it cools for 1 hour. Do not take the cheesecake immediately out of the hot oven or it will fall. After 1 hour, transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely, then refrigerate for at least 1 to 2 hours or overnight before slicing.
  6. To prepare strawberry sauce, drain thawed strawberries, reserving any liquid. Add enough water so the liquid equals 1/2 cup. Place in blender along with berries and purée until smooth. Transfer mixture to a saucepan set over medium-high heat. Whisk in cornstarch and salt and cook until mixture thickens and just starts to bubble. Remove from heat and let cool before spooning over chilled cheesecake.
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  1. Spring form pan,water bath, easy fix.Bring foil underneath pan and up the sides.

  2. I baked your cheesecake again and it came out without cracks. I baked in a water bath of 150 degrees C for 30 minutes and at 130 degrees C for 60 minutes. Then I left it for 1 hour in the oven and after that time I opened the oven slightly for half an hour and it worked! I am very happy. Thanks again for the recipe. Best regards

  3. I am a huge fan of cheesecakes

    .I baked my first NY cheesecake. It is one of the best in my live. But i don’t like cracks . I baked 325F 80 min with a baking tray of hot water below the cheesecake.I let the cheesecake sit in the oven as it cools for 1 hour.

    It was very tasty but it cracked badly when cooling, like the letter T :(.
    Can you tell me how to do without cracks?
    Greetings from Poland :)

    • This particular recipe usually cracks because of the air from the whipped egg white… but that’s what the sauce is for! ;)

      If you’re wanting a crack-free cheesecake, a recipe with whole eggs vs whipped egg whites will likely work better. Also, rather than a water bath I have much more success using a thick-walled cake pan with a removable bottom (like this one: versus a thinner springform pan.

  4. I have a doubt… What can I replace sour cream? Or how can I make it at home? I don’t have this ingredient in my country.

    • Creme friache is a similar thing, it’s essentially a thick cultured cream. Yogurt may be the closest thing, although I have not personally tested it to know if it’ll work (sour cream is higher in fat so will make for a creamier, richer final product).

  5. Olá OBRIGADA por compartilhar sua receitas maravilhosas.
    Por favor vc ou alguem aqui pode ne responder o quê significa ‘kosher’??

    O queijo cremoso qual seria?
    Aguardo obrigada a todos ( vera)

    • Kosher salt is an iodine-free variety of salt commonly available here in the States, with larger crystal size than iodized table salt. A fine-grain sea salt would work here as well, just reduce the quantity to 1/2 teaspoon.

      As for the cream cheese, Philiadelphia brand is most common here in the states. Mascarpone is somewhat similar and should work, if you can get that? Unfortunately I’m really familiar with products available in other countries. You could possibly try making your own (see here: though I have not tried this personally so cannot promise the same results. If you do try it, let me know!

  6. Cooked your cheesecake three times since I found it and let me say it’s a hit got another in the oven now

  7. I am currently making your recipe now kinda a surprise for my wife hope it turns out as good as urs looks

  8. I just used this recipe to make cheesecake cupcakes over the weekend. It came out excellent and was a huge hit with all my friends and family. It tastes just like the cheesecake from my favorite cheesecake store in NYC (I live in NYC).  This is hands down the best cheesecake recipe on the web. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe!. 

    • Grandma really knew her stuff. :) Thank you for letting me know and for the kind words. So glad you enjoyed it!!

  9. Hello! I adoore your grandmas shop in NY! And i sure love the recipie! I want to make some minicheesecakes, does this recipe work for that?

  10. I love that you are sharing this family recipe that has spanned the generations. Thank you so much. I am definitely going to make this soon.

  11. We already have a family recipe for New York Cheesecake, and it is perfect. But the story so intrigued me that I sent my mum and siblings your recipe and said “This is a cheesecake that has been served in a real New York deli- we’ve got to try it!”.
    So we did- and now we have TWO perfect recipes- yours is somehow lighter/fresher. So delicious- thanks for sharing.

  12. A lighter version of a new york cheesecake sounds so appealing! Looks so smooth and fluffy

  13. Looking forward to making this for a Saturday night get together. Just want to make sure that there is no need for a water bath?


  14. I love cheesecake and your story! I will have to try your Grandmother’s recipe. My cheesecake almost always cracks but it tastes just as good as if it didn’t!

  15. I love the story behind your cheesecake! :) I also have an old recipe book from my mum, a real treasure :D Hope one day my kids will bake my recipes as well… ;)

  16. What an awesome story, and a delicious looking cheesecake!

    PS. My grandma just turned 90 this year too! :)

  17. I love this :) grandmas recipes are always wonderful!

  18. If this recipe has been in your family for this long, it must be amazing. I’m definitely going to try it.

  19. This sounds amazing! I can’t wait to try it!

  20. I never knew the difference between regular and NY Cheesecake. Now I do! Thanks! —and now I know why it is oh so much more delicious, hehe.

  21. This looks amazing. I can’t wait to try this recipe.

  22. Gorgeous, I love the strawberry sauce!

  23. Okay, I was hoping your Mom would comment on this post. And she didn’t disappoint! Now I’m all choked up. Being gluten free, there are no heirloom recipes, sadly. Check back with my kids in a couple generations, though.


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