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This easy Philadelphia No-bake Cheesecake is made completely from scratch! With a smooth and creamy filling and a crumbly graham cracker crust, this cool whip cheesecake is a crowd-pleasing dessert that requires no baking! All you need to do is to mix the ingredients and let the cheesecake set in the refrigerator.
Best Philadelphia Cream Cheese No-Bake Cheesecake
Traditional cheesecake can be tricky for even experienced bakers. To make a beautiful cake without browning or cracks, you may find yourself perpetually experimenting with different tips and tricks from leaving it in the oven to creating a water bath. It can be complicated and frustrating to find that foolproof technique.
This no-bake cheesecake made with cream cheese is so delicious with none of the hassles. It’s much lighter than a traditional cheesecake – more mousse-like in texture than cake-like. It takes less than 30 minutes to prepare, and you’ll have a guaranteed success. Plus, there are so many simple ways to customize it for a real top-tier dessert.
What is Philadelphia No-Bake Cheesecake?
Philadelphia No-Bake Cheesecake is a pretty common take on the delicious dessert that requires zero baking. None whatsoever. Cream cheese is blended into a sweet filling that simply needs to set in the fridge before being served. It is much lighter than a baked cheesecake, but every bit as delicious and perhaps even more so to people who aren’t fans of a traditional cheesecake texture.
Ingredients & Substitutes for This Cool Whip Cheesecake
- Graham Crackers: This ingredient makes the most classic cheesecake crust. You can substitute them out for the cookie crumb of your choice, like Oreo for a cookies-and-cream version.
- Brown Sugar: Brown sugar helps make the crust nice and sweet. You can replace it with more graham cracker crumbs and make the crust out of just crumbs and butter, but it won’t have that extra caramel-y sweetness.
- Unsalted Butter: Melted butter helps bind graham cracker crumbs to form the crust.
- Heavy Cream: It gives your cheesecake that thick but fluffy texture. Substitute it with condensed milk for a real decadent cake, but do not use thinner milk like 2%.
- Cream Cheese: Philadelphia cream cheese works the best. Make sure to leave it out a few hours before you start baking to let it get to room temperature.
- Sour Cream: Sour Cream is another ingredient that really helps give this cake the perfect texture that is creamy but not runny. It also adds a very subtle tartness to the recipe.
- Sugar: Granulated white sugars is the best option for your No-Bake Cheesecake filling.
- Vanilla Extract: As always, a dash of vanilla goes into this cake. You can use artificial extract or pure vanilla.
- Optional Pie Filling for Topping: Pie filling is such a great way to easily add flare to your cheesecake. I used the cherry pie filling, but blueberry, strawberry and lemon are all such classic topping variations.
How to Make Philadelphia No Bake Cheesecake:
1. Pulverize the graham crackers until fine.
2. Mix together graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and melted butter.
3. Pour into a 9-inch springform pan. Press with a water glass and up the sides with your fingers. Make sure it’s packed in very tightly. Freeze for about 10 minutes while you prepare the filling.
4. Beat the heavy cream on medium-high speed using a hand mixer until stiff peaks form.
5. In another bowl, add softened cream cheese and sugar. Beat on medium speed until completely combined and smooth.
6. Add sour cream and vanilla extract, and mix until smooth.
7. Add the whipped cream into the cheesecake filling. Gently mix until combined.
8.Take the graham cracker crust from the freezer and pour the cheesecake filling on top of the crust. Smooth the top with an offset spatula.
9. Cover with plastic wrap and let is set in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight.
10. Gently remove the rim. Serve with optional toppings.
Tips & Tricks for the Best No-Bake Cheesecake
Best Graham Cracker Crust That Doesn’t Fall Apart
You’ll want to pack down your crust VERY TIGHTLY until it’s firm so that it doesn’t break apart when you cut the cake for serving.
Philadelphia No Bake Cheesecake Filling That’s Smooth and Creamy
Unlike some no-bake cheesecakes that use gelatin, this recipe uses whipped cream to stabilize it for a fluffier texture instead of a jello-like one. Make sure to beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. It’s also important to bring your cream cheese to room temperature for a smooth texture.
Add toppings to your cheesecake right before serving. Some popular options include cherry pie filling, strawberries, blueberries, and peach compote.
- Philadelphia No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake: You can add a small amount of lemon juice and/or zest into your final filling mixture for a refreshing citrus flavor! Top it off with lemon curd, or even slices of candied lemon.
- Philadelphia No Bake Oreo Cheesecake: Use Oreo cookie crumbs instead of graham crackers to make the crust for a Cookies N’ Cream No-Bake Cheesecake. Decorate with whole or halved cookies, or an extra sprinkling of crumbs.
- Philly Style No-Bake Cheesecake with Condensed Milk: If you’re looking for a real indulgent dessert, try swapping out the heavy cream for condensed milk. The thicker milk will give your cheesecake a really rich texture and the cake will be much sweeter.
What’s the Difference Between New York and Philadelphia Cheesecake?
Believe it or not, this cheesecake rivalry isn’t necessarily one between states. The Philadelphia cheesecake name actually comes from the cream cheese brand. In fact, you’ll usually see Philadelphia Cheesecake referred to simply as “cheesecake”, while New York style is a different variation. The main difference is that New York Cheesecake uses fats beyond the cream cheese to get its thickness, usually sour cream and eggs. In classic cheesecake, there is no need for eggs, especially if it’s not baked.
Why Is My Philly Style No-Bake Cheesecake Not Firm?
It’s possible your cheesecake just needs more time in the fridge. However, it is crucial that you mix your heavy cream to stiff peaks before mixing with the rest of the filling ingredients. Otherwise, your cheesecake can be too runny.
How to Thicken a No-Bake Cheesecake?
The key to getting a nice, thick No-Bake Cheesecake is whipping that cream to stiff peaks and then folding in the whipped cream gently so it does not deflate.
Can I Make it Ahead of Time?
You absolutely should make this cake ahead of time. It will need a minimum of 6 hours to cool in the fridge, although overnight is even better. It can last in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Can I Freeze No-Bake Philadelphia Cheesecake?
Yes, it freezes very well once the cake has set. You can freeze it either in slices or as a whole, but double wrap in plastic wrap before covering with tinfoil. It is best to eat your cake within a month, though it should last up to two. To defrost it, just leave it overnight in the refrigerator. Do not microwave it or it will become runny!
If You Like This Recipe Try These Out
If you tried this recipe, let me know how your Philadelphia No Bake Cheesecake turns out in the comments below!
Philadelphia No Bake Cheesecake Recipe
For the Graham Cracker Crust:
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs about 16 whole graham crackers
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted
For the Cheesecake:
- 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
- 3 packages cream cheese, room temperature (8-oz each package)
- 1/4 cup sour cream, room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Optional pie filling (for topping)
Make the Graham Cracker Crust
- Pulverize the graham crackers using a food processor or blender until fine.
- Mix together graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and melted butter. It should have the consistency of wet sand.
- Pour into a 9-inch springfrom pan. Press with a water glass and up the sides with your fingers. Make sure it’s packed in very tightly, otherwise, it can fall apart when cutting the cheesecake.
- Freeze for about 10 minutes while you prepare the filling.
Make the Cheesecake Filling
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the heavy cream on medium-high speed using a hand mixer until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes.
- In another bowl, add softened cream cheese and sugar. Beat on medium speed until completely combined and smooth.
- Add sour cream and vanilla extract, and use a spatula to fold into the cream cheese mixture until smooth. (Make sure there are no lumps of cream cheese.)
- Add the whipped cream into the cheesecake filling. Gently mix until combined.
Assemble the Cheesecake
- Take the graham cracker crust from the freezer and pour the cheesecake filling on top of the crust. Smooth the top with an offset spatula.
- Cover with aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Place it in the refrigerator for 6 hours or up to 2 days. (I recommend letting it chill overnight for the best result.)
- Gently remove the rim. Serve with optional toppings.
- Bring your cream cheese to room temperature before cooking to ensure a smooth texture.
- Make sure to pack down your crust very tightly until it’s firm so that it doesn’t break apart when you cut the cake for serving.
- It’s important to beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Otherwise, your cheesecake filling can become runny.