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a slice of gluten-free lemon cheesecake with homemade lemon curd

Gluten-Free Lemon Cheesecake

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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Emily Dixon, Sweets & Thank You
  • Total Time: 7 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 1 (9-inch) cheesecake 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free


The perfect cheesecake recipe for lemon lovers! A buttery graham cracker crust, luscious lemon filling, zesty lemon curd, and fluffy whipped cream make each bite delicious!

While cheesecake isn’t fast (it bakes for about an hour + you’ll need 5-6 hours for it to cool at least!), it’s well worth the effort. You’ve got this!




For The Crust:

  • 2 cups gluten-free graham cracker crumbs (240 grams)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (50 grams)
  • 5 Tablespoons butter, melted (71 grams)

For The Cheesecake Filling:

  • 4 (8-ounce) blocks full-fat cream cheese,* softened to room temperature (907 grams)
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar (250 grams)
  • 1 cup sour cream, room temperature (226 grams)
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch (16 grams)
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon zest (about 2 lemons’ worth)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (60 ml)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup lemon curd (homemade or store-bought)*

For The Lemon Curd:

  • 1 cup sugar (2o0 grams)
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (120 ml)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup butter, cut into small cubes (4 Tablespoons/57 grams)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Whipped Cream & Garnish:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional decoration: Fresh lemon slices, candied lemon slices, additional lemon zest, fresh mint, or fresh raspberries


For The Gluten-Free Graham Cracker Cheesecake Crust:

  1. Preheat & Prep. Start by preheating the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. (I love to use pre-cut parchment rounds)
  2. Crush Graham Crackers. Add gluten-free graham crackers to a food processor. Pulse until you’ve crushed the crackers to fine crumbs with no big lumps. (Don’t have a food processor? You can do this in a large zip-loc bag with a rolling pin.)
  3. Add Butter. Next, add sugar and melted butter to graham cracker crumbs and pulse or stir to combine, until all crumbs are coated with butter and the sugar is evenly distributed.
  4. Pat Out Crust. Pour the crust mixture out into your prepared springform pan and use your fingers or the back of a measuring cup or drinking glass to pat the crumbs out into an even layer along the bottom of the pan and up the sides. Note: the crust will not go all the way up the sides of the pan. Just about 1 inch up the sides!
  5. Bake & Cool. Place the crust in the preheated oven and bake 10-12 minutes or until fragrant. Set the crust to the side to cool while you make the filling.
  6. Prep Pan For A Hot Water Bath. If Using A Hot Water Bath (Recommended), wrap the bottom and sides of the springform pan with foil. To fully waterproof the pan (*highly recommended*), place the springform pan into a slow cooker liner bag or an oven bag/turkey bag. Pull the bag up the sides of the springform pan, then gather the excess to one side and knot tightly to keep the bag secure to the sides.

For The Cheesecake Filling:

  1. BEFORE YOU GET STARTED: Make sure the cream cheese, sour cream, and eggs are all brought to room temperature or the filling will not mix correctly. Do not skip this step!
  2. Maintain Oven Temperature of 325 degrees F. Make sure you have a rack arranged in the center of the oven.
  3. Prepare For Water Bath. Start bringing a small pot of water to a boil while you make the cheesecake. Set out a large roasting pan for a traditional water bath or a 9×13 pan for a modified hot water bath (SEE NOTES)
  4. Combine Cream Cheese & Sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or a large mixing bowl with a handheld electric mixer. Beat the softened cream cheese and sugar together on medium-low speed 2-3 minutes, or until smooth and well blended.
  5. Add Sour Cream, Cornstarch, Lemon Zest, Lemon Juice & Vanilla to the cream cheese mixture and mix on LOW speed until just barely combined. (Keep in mind that you don’t want to add any extra air to the cheesecake, so mixing by hand or on low speed at this point is very helpful!)
  6. Add Eggs One At A Time on LOW Speed, until just barely mixed. Gently tap the bowl against the counter to help remove any air bubbles.
  7. Pour Filling Over The Crust and smooth the surface with a spatula.
  8. Create Hot Water Bath. Carefully pour 3/4 to 1-inch of boiling water into the bottom of the roasting pan. Carefully lower the prepared & wrapped springform pan into the water so the water comes about 1-inch up the sides of the springform pan. (See notes for modified hot water bath instructions)
  9. Bake. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake cheesecake 60-70 minutes or until the edges are just set and the center gently wobbles (like Jello or gelatin). If the center still seems sloshy and liquid, add 3-5 minutes to the bake time and check again. (Err on the side of under-baking rather than over-baking)
  10. Cool 1-Hour In The Oven. When the cheesecake is finished baking, turn OFF the oven heat and crack the oven door open 2-3 inches. Let the cheesecake cool IN the oven for 1 full hour. (To help prevent cracks, you can run a thin knife around the edges of the springform pan before letting it cool.) Remove the springform pan from the hot water bath and the slow cooker liner/oven bag.
  11. Chill Cheesecake Uncovered in The Fridge AT LEAST 4-6 Hours (up to overnight) before decorating.

Make The Lemon Curd:

  1. Set Up A Double Boiler. Add 2 inches of water to a small saucepan and set out a glass heatproof bowl that fits on top of the saucepan without touching the water. Bring the water in the saucepan to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  2. Combine. In the heatproof bowl, combine sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and eggs. Whisk to combine well, then set the bowl over the saucepan of simmering water. Whisk, dropping in the cubes of butter. (They’ll look a little clunky or separated at first, but will smooth out as the mixture heats up)
  3. Cook lemon curd 20-25 minutes, or until it reaches 170 degrees F and it has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. (If you run a finger down the back of the spoon, it should leave a clear trail, and the lemon curd should be thicken enough to stick to the spoon)
  4. Strain the lemon curd through a fine mesh strainer into a glass bowl or container.
  5. Stir in vanilla extract & cool to room temperature.
  6. Cover & Chill. Press plastic wrap or food wrap down onto the surface of the lemon curd (this prevents a film or “skin” from forming) and chill at least 2-3 hours, or until totally chilled. Lemon curd will keep 1 week in the refrigerator or frozen for 2-3 months, so you can make it in advance, if needed.

To Decorate The Cheesecake:

  1. Top With Lemon Curd. Spread 1 cup lemon curd over the top of the cooled cheesecake and smooth into an even layer (an offset spatula makes this easy!). I like to leave a small 1/4-inch border around the edge of the cheesecake.
  2. Prepare Stabilized Whipped Cream. In a glass or metal bowl or a stand mixer, beat heavy cream on medium speed until it starts to get fluffy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and whip on high heat until stiff peaks form. (The whipped cream should hold its shape on your spatula even when you rotate it around.)
  3. Pipe Whipped Cream Swirls. Add whipped cream to a piping bag fitted with a piping tip (I used an Ateco 849 closed star tip) and pipe small swirls of whipped cream around the border.
  4. Decorate With Lemon. If desired, tuck halved lemon slices in between the swirls of whipped cream, sprinkle with lemon zest or garnish each slice (or each dessert plate) with a little extra lemon, candied lemon, or raspberries.

Serve & Store:

  • Serve. Enjoy right away or store uncovered in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Use a long, thin knife to cut cheesecake into thin slices. Wipe the knife off with a damp cloth between slices for the neatest cuts.
  • Store leftover cheesecake covered in the refrigerator 3-4 days.
  • Freeze. To make this cheesecake in advance, you can bake and cool it, including the 4-6 hour chill time. For best results, freeze WITHOUT decorating. Freeze uncovered on a baking sheet till firm, then wrap tightly in foil or plastic wrap and then tuck into a freezer bag. Store baked cheesecake in the freezer up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge, then decorate with lemon curd and whipped cream as desired before serving.


Ingredients + Tips:

  • SOFTEN INGREDIENTS FASTER. Do NOT microwave any of the ingredients to soften them! Instead, fill a bowl with warm (not hot!) water and place eggs, closed container of sour cream and sealed packages of cream cheese in the bowl. They’ll come to room temperature in about 15-20 minutes, rather than about 1 hour it’ll take just sitting at room temperature.
  • GRAHAM CRACKERS. Regular graham crackers are NOT gluten-free. To keep this gluten-free, you must buy the Gluten-Free graham crackers, such as Pamela’s, Schar, or Kinnikinnick. Our favorite are Pamela’s for taste and texture.
  • CREAM CHEESE. We only recommend blocks of full-fat cream cheese for cheesecake. Do not use cream cheese spreads. Our go-to brand is Philadelphia cream cheese for taste and texture.
  • PIPING TIP. To pipe the whipped cream swirls, I used an Ateco 849 closed star tip.

Hot Water Bath Instructions:

  • For Traditional Water Bath: Follow instructions above in recipe card.
  • For Modified Hot Water Bath: If you don’t have a pan large enough to fit a 9-inch springform pan, you can place a 9×13 pan on a rack below the center rack in the oven. Fill 9×13 pan with boiling water before placing the springform pan on a sheet pan on the center rack in the oven above the 9×13. The steam coming from below will help you prevent cracks and help control browning. It’s not as effective as a traditional water bath, but is better than skipping it entirely!
  • If You Choose NOT To Use A Hot Water Bath, just keep in mind your cheesecake will brown more than mine and may form cracks as it bakes or cools. This is purely cosmetic, but it will impact the look of the cheesecake, even after you spread the lemon curd on top.
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Chill Time: 6 Hours
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American
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