This nostalgic pie with a silky, creamy texture has the flavors of cheesecake but is so much faster and easier to make. It can be eaten plain or topped with fruit. It's an old-fashioned recipe that goes back to at least the 1960s in my family.
Nothing takes me back to my childhood and my mom Pat's kitchen like a piece of this pie. Mom made it frequently for our family, and it's the first pie I learned how to make. Since losing my sweet mom last year, I've reminisced often about the significant influence she had on my life. Two of those influences stand out the most.
- First, mom lived life with a glass-half-full optimistic outlook and I strive to live by her example. She was always quick to smile and express gratitude even as she struggled with Alzheimer's in her final years and covid in her final days. The photo below is one of the last ones I took of her. The card she's holding says it all. And, that smile ❤️❤️❤️!
- Second, mom was an amazing cook and profoundly influenced my sister, Nelda, and me as we grew up cooking by her side. We didn't know at the time how much she was teaching us--not just cooking skills, but also a desire to try to new recipes and fearlessly experiment on our own. Above all, Mom taught us the value of cooking together and gathering around the table with family and friends as we shared a good meal and lively conversation. To this day, when Nelda and I are together we are either cooking or talking about food. Not that long ago, Mom was in my kitchen cooking with us. Oh, how we miss her. Many of the recipes I've shared on this blog originated with mom. I link to some of them at the end of this post.
In 1976 when I was leaving home to live on my own for the first time, I went through mom's recipe box and copied favorite recipes to take with me. Pictured above is the recipe card I made of her cream cheese pie. Through the years, it's become one of my husband's favorites, too--one of many examples of how food and recipes create traditions that connect generations. I'm guessing my grandkids will be making their great-grandmother's pie for their children someday.
I've expanded and clarified the instructions from that original recipe card. Read on to learn how to make this easy, yummy pie that transports me right back to my childhood.
Step-by-step photos for making
Cream Cheese Pie
Step 1. Assemble the ingredients
- cream cheese
- sour cream
- lemon juice
Ingredients for the graham cracker crust:
- graham crackers
Step 2. MAKE GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST in a 9" pie pan. Refer to my post, Simple Graham Cracker Pie Crust, for the recipe and step-by-step photos. Refrigerate the unbaked crust so it firms up before filling it.
Step 3. MAKE FILLING. Add cream cheese and sugar to a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer, blend on low speed 1-2 min. until smooth, scraping the sides down once or twice to ensure that no lumps remain in cream cheese. Add eggs, vanilla, and lemon juice. Mix on medium speed until completely combined and smooth (30-60 seconds).
view on Amazon: KitchenAid stand mixer
Step 4. FILL AND BAKE. Pour filling into chilled pie crust. Spread evenly and smooth with a spatula. Bake 25-30 min.
- Pro tip: Place the pie plate on a baking sheet. This makes it easier to move in and out of the oven without disturbing the crust edges.
view on Amazon: my 9-inch pie plate
Step 6. MIX TOPPING. While the pie bakes, in a small bowl whisk together sour cream, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.
view on Amazon: small wire whisk
Step 7. BAKE UNTIL PUFFY. Remove the pie from the oven when it is puffed around the edges and has a slight jiggle in the center.
Step 8. DRIZZLE ON TOPPING. Use a spoon to lightly drizzle the top with the sour cream topping in an even layer. Use a small offset spatula to spread and smooth the topping, completely covering the top of the pie.
- OOPS ALERT! When my mom taught me to make this pie for the first time I was 9-years-old. I made the mistake of dumping all of the topping into the center of the hot pie and the weight of it created a sinkhole in the middle of the pie. I still remember that mishap, but I sure did learn the lesson to drizzle on the topping gently all over the surface of the pie. Mom and I laughed about it later and through the years as we relived that moment many times.
view on Amazon: small offset frosting spatula
Step 9. FINISH BAKING. Return the pie to the oven for 10 more minutes to set the topping. Place it on a cooling rack and allow it to cool at room temperature for 1 hour.
Step 10. CHILL IT. Transfer the pie to the refrigerator and chill uncovered for at least 5 hours before serving. (Do not cover until completely chilled to avoid sweating from release of steam.) After it's completely chilled, the pie should be covered if it won't be eaten within a few hours. A pie saver container is handy for refrigerating the pie without disturbing the edges or top of the pie.
view on Amazon: my pie saver container, wire cooling rack
This pie cuts easily and the slices hold their shape well. It's delicious plain, or you can add a fruit topping.
EASY FRUIT SAUCE TOPPINGS. These easy homemade fruit sauces make tasty pie toppings. They can be made with fresh or frozen fruit. Choose a favorite or make more than one and let people choose their topping. Cream cheese pie and a variety of fruit sauces make a fun dessert buffet. Cranberry sauce is a good choice for a holiday version of this pie.
It's hard to beat cream cheese pie with blueberry sauce!
The texture of this pie is silkier and creamier than traditional cheesecake with the added benefit of being WAY easier to make. It tastes amazing.
Sharing one of mom's favorite recipes is a fitting way to celebrate her life. I think of her sweet spirit with every sweet bite of her cream cheese pie.
Make it a Yummy day!
Cream Cheese Pie
Servings: 8 servings
- FOR CRUST:
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (ten 4-section cracker sheets, crushed to fine crumbs)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- FOR FILLING:
- 1 1/2 blocks (12 oz) cream cheese, softened at room temperature
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- FOR TOPPING:
- 1 cup sour cream, room temperature
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- OPTIONAL FRUIT TOPPING:
- sliced fruit/berries of your choice
- OR, fruit sauce (recipes below)*
- OR, prepared pie filling (cherry, blueberry, etc.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
MAKE CRUST: In medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, salt, and melted butter. Press mixture into 9-inch pie pan, covering the bottom and coming all the way up the sides with an even thickness. Refrigerate to firm up while mixing remaining ingredients. (For photo tutorial for making crust, go to: https://www.theyummylife.com/Graham_Cracker_Crust)
Add cream cheese and sugar to mixing bowl; with electric mixer, blend on low speed 1-2 min. until smooth, scraping down sides once or twice to ensure that no lumps remain in cream cheese. Add eggs, vanilla, and lemon juice. Mix on medium speed until completely combined and smooth (30-60 seconds). Set aside.
In a separate small bowl, whisk together sour cream, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Set aside.
Pour cream cheese filling into prepared crust and spread into even layer; bake for 25-30 minutes until set (it should puff around the perimeter and slightly jiggle in the center). Remove from oven and rest on cooling rack for 5 minutes. With a spoon, lightly drizzle top with sour cream topping in even layer. Use small offset spatula to gently spread and smooth topping, completely covering top of pie.
Return to oven and bake 10 minutes. Place on cooling rack and cool for approx. 1 hour until room temperature.
REFRIGERATE: Transfer to refrigerator and chill uncovered for at least 5 hours before serving. (Do not cover until completely chilled to avoid sweating from release of steam.)
SERVE: Eat pie slices plain or serve with sliced fresh fruit, fruit sauce, or fruit pie filling on the side.
OPTIONAL FRUIT SAUCE TOPPINGS:
*Raspberry Sauce recipe: https://www.theyummylife.com/microwave_raspberry_sauce
*Blueberry Sauce recipe: https://www.theyummylife.com/microwave_blueberry_sauce
*Peach Sauce recipe: https://www.theyummylife.com/Peach_Sauce
*Cherry sauce recipe: https://www.theyummylife.com/microwave_cherry_sauce
*Cranberry sauce recipe: https://www.theyummylife.com/Cranberry_Sauce
Here are more of my Mom's recipes. Her granola was the very first recipe I shared on the blog in 2010. Mom managed an Italian restaurant for many years. She developed a numer of recipes for the restaurant that are on this list.
This old-fashioned pie has the flavor of cheesecake, but it's much easier to make and has a silky, creamy texture. Serve it plain or topped with fruit. From TheYummyLife.com #creamcheese #cheesecake #grahamcrackercrust #fruitsauce #easy #pie