Easy to make, this no bake strawberry cheesecake is the perfect summertime dessert! It is topped with a homemade fresh strawberry puree and we top it with some whipped cream for flavor and decoration.
We absolutely love strawberries here and we get them most often in the summer. You know when you really don't want the oven on that much! And that is how I started to make this as a no bake easy dessert.
No bake pumpkin cheesecake is another delicious dessert without the oven, perfect for those days when it is too warm to bake but you really want pumpkin.
The texture of no bake is different then ones that are cooked like chocolate swirl cheesecake and layered pumpkin cheesecake which are both cooked in the Instant Pot! They have the texture of a cooked cheesecake also without heating up the oven.
Which cheesecake is better bake or no bake?
Both cheesecakes are amazing in flavor but please note they both have a different texture and a slightly different flavor as well.
No bake cheesecake has a creamier lighter texture and does not have eggs in it. It does not heat up the house as the oven is not on. You will have to let it set in the fridge for hours or the filling will be too soft. Still edible, but not easy to cut and serve.
Baked cheesecake has more dense texture. It has eggs in it and requires cooking - can use oven or even Instant Pot here. In a case of strawberries, the flavors change if you cook them for a prolonged period of time. They still taste good, but the color changes and so does the flavor the longer you cook them.
Even when you bake a cheesecake, you still have to let it set in the fridge for hours to have the right texture and for it to cut smoothly.
So as for which one is better? It is up to you because they both have a great but different flavor and texture!
Can I make this in a springform pan?
Yes you can make this in a springform pan! You do have to add the gelatin (likely cheaper locally but this is what we use) to your strawberries tho. If you are not using gelatin, I do not recommend a springform pan. Trust me I had a mess on my hands while experimenting with this recipe without gelatin! More on that below...
This picture above is my first attempt at making this no bake strawberry cheesecake recipe. It looks fairly neat here but this was immediately upon removing the side of the pan after refrigeration.
I had added a full layer of whipped cream on top of the layer of strawberries then added a thin layer of strawberries on the top. This is not how the recipe is written, but the first way I tried it.
But now imagine this:
I have it perfect and was super excited! I am taking pictures and not quite sure how I will store it in the fridge after we all get a slice. I knew with a crumbly graham cracker crust, I couldn't transfer it. So I thought that maybe I would just put the side of the pan back on. Then I noticed something. The top layers were sliding. Yup, they were sliding all over the place and off of every side 🙁
I was devastated, my perfect masterpiece sliding into a mess! So we quickly (with multiple hands) tried putting the springform pan side back on and cleaned up our mess. It was by far edible and amazing tasting, just didn't quite hold it's perfect form for long.
This is because the strawberry layer didn't have anything to thicken it as much as it needed so it didn't hold a perfect shape!
You can make single serve cheesecakes as well
We even made this in 1/2 pint jars. This was cute but hard to fill the jars. We added blueberries in the jars. It is doable tho and if you decide to fill jars with a dessert like this, we recommend using the bottom of a spice bottle to pack down the crumb crust.
Making the no bake easy dessert
We prefer to use a square or small rectangle dish for our no bake cheesecakes. Personal preference here, but this is best for us. An 8x8 dish works great and so does 11x7.
It is made in layers but each one is pretty simple. The layers are a cream cheese layer, strawberry filling and whipped cream for decoration. We made all of the layers homemade but you can use cool whip if you prefer. I would use 1 container cool whip tho you will have more whipped cream on it since I use 2 cups of homemade and cool whip is about 3 cups in 8 ounces. You can choose how much to use, it's not an exact science for the whipped cream on top!
Making the whipped cream
I make the whipped cream first and if you are using cool whip, skip down. First I put the mixing bowl of my stand mixer and the whisk attachment in the fridge for about a half hour or in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
There are 3 ingredients in the whipped cream - whipping cream, sugar and vanilla extract. You will place all the ingredients in the mixing bowl and set stand mixer to 8 for about 2-3 minutes. Keep an eye on it and turn it off when stiff peaks just start to form - stiff peaks are easier for decorating but stop mixer immediately before you make butter. Spoon it into a bowl and set in fridge for now.
Can I use a hand mixer?
Yes you can! Beat on medium high until stiff peaks just start to form stopping immediately so you do not make butter instead of whipped cream.
This layer is easy. You will break up the graham crackers and crush them. You can use a food processor or I often use a storage bag and my rolling pin to crush them. Add in the brown sugar which is optional, we have tried it with and without.
Melt the butter in a pan. Now if you use your food processor, add the graham crackers and sugar together to crush. Then add butter directly in the mix and turn the processor on to mix the butter into the crumbs. If you use a bag like me, add the crumbs and sugar to the melted butter in the pan.
Why dirty the food processor if you don't have to, right?
Place into your dish and pack it down.
Making the cream cheese layer
This is pretty simple as well. I use my stand mixer but you can use a hand mixer as well. Just be careful with a hand mixer when incorporating the powdered sugar in (it can get messy and they do not have as low of a setting as a stand mixer.)
Start by creaming the cream cheese over medium. Once it is creamed, add in the lemon juice and beat for about 30 seconds over medium.
The tricky part is the sugar because it can be a mess since it is powder! Add in sugar 1 cup at a time and use a pouring shield for the mixer if you are using a stand mixer. For a hand mixer, use a larger bowl and use a low setting to just barely incorporate the sugar enough to not make a mess.
Afer both cups of sugar are mixed enough to not make a mess, turn mixer up to 8 and let it go for 3 minutes. If using a hand mixer, you can go for about 2 minutes or so on a medium setting. I rarely use my hand mixer, but they do tend to be higher speeds.
Fold in 1/2 cup of the whipped cream. Do not mix with mixer, I use my spatula to do this.
Making the strawberry filling
Being this no bake strawberry cheesecake is all homemade, we use a homemade strawberry puree as well. This is simple also.
Start with adding your gelatin to a small prep bowl and adding the boiling water. Let is stand to cool a bit while preparing the strawberries.
Cut the stems off the strawberries and slice the berries. Place them into a small saucepan. Add in the lemon juice and sugar allow them to sit for a few minutes. We use a potato masher and mash them up into thick chunks. You can use them like this if you are making the small single serving cheesecakes, but they will not be thickened so they cannot be used as a layer in a big cheesecake.
Heat the strawberry mix over medium heat just enough to heat them and then add in the gelatin/water mix. Stir well and heat for about 2 minutes until the gelatin is mixed in well and no gelatin lumps (sometimes it will get lumpy if it sits too long but the heat will remove the lumps.) Allow to cool a bit and place in a bowl in the fridge until it is just starting to thicken. About 20 minutes. You want it to be pourable and spreadable but not all liquid or it will seep into any cracks of the cream cheese filling. Still edible but not perfect layers for looks!
We have also made this with our strawberry jam which is a little thicker before cooling. It is good both ways but we prefer it with the gelatin as it doesn't heat the strawberries as long.
Putting it all together
Now assembling this easy strawberry dessert takes time but it is easy. Mainly because it is a no bake cheesecake and it does need to sit in the fridge to set. You can make this the day before too, it is recommended to sit in the fridge for at least 8 hours before eating.
You have your graham cracker crust so add your cheesecake mix on top. Place in the fridge for at least an hour. Now add the strawberry filling on top of the cheesecake mix and spread it out carefully. Allow it to fully set for at least 8 hours before topping with some whipped cream!
You can make the whipped cream a thin layer or even use a piping bag to decorate the top.
Frequently asked questions
You can use cool whip in place of homemade whipped cream! It holds it's shape well and you will have plenty to decorate with or make a whipped cream layer on top. There is more cool whip in a container then the amount of whipped cream this recipe makes - the more the better, right?
I do not recommend it personally. You risk the possibility of it losing the right texture if you let it set in the freezer. It is best to refrigerate for 8 hours or longer.
This will last about 4 days in the fridge before losing it's texture.
It is recommended for it to hold it's shape better, but you can make it without. It will not hold it's shape well in a springform pan without it tho.
No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake
Whipped Cream (or you can use cool whip) - see notes
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar regular white sugar
- 10 graham crackers crushed
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar optional
- 5 tablespoons butter melted
- 16 ounce cream cheese softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ cup whipped cream prepared whipped cream
- 1½ teaspoons gelatin unflavored
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 pint strawberries
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
Making the whipped cream
- Let the mixer bowl and whisk attachment sit in the fridge for about a half hour or freezer for 10 minutes.
- Add whipping cream, sugar and vanilla extract into bowl after taking it out of freezer and put the setting on 8. It will take about 2 minutes but once you see stiff peaks just start to form, turn it off. Using a hand mixer will be on medium high for about 2 minutes
- Spoon it out into a bowl and place in the fridge for now.
Making the crust
- Crush up graham crackers with the brown sugar (sugar is optional.) Add the crushed graham crackers to the melted butter and mix well to coat the crumbs.
- Place into a 9 inch dish and push down to flatten the crumbs on the bottom of the dish.
Making the cheesecake filling
- Add your cream cheese, lemon juice and butter to the mixer bowl. Mix on stir for about a minute to combine.
- Add in the lemon juice and mix for about 30 seconds on medium high.
- Slowly add the powdered sugar a cup at a time and use a lower speed until it is just barely incorporated and not going to make a mess.Turn mixer up to 8 or medium high if using hand mixer and mix for 3 minutes.
- Gently fold ½ cup of the whipped cream into the mix with a spatula - do not use mixer.
Making the strawberry filling
- Mix the gelatin with the boiling water in a small bowl and set aside.
- Cut up the strawberries into smaller chunks and place in a small saucepan with the sugar and lemon juice.
- Use a potato masher to mash the strawberries a little bit - to desired size.
- Heat the strawberry mix over medium heat just until it is warmed - about 1 minute.
- Stir in the gelatin/water mix and continue to cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes. If gelatin had lumps, the heat will dissolve them.
- Allow to cool slightly and place in the fridge until it is just starting to thicken - about 20 minutes. You want it pourable but not a thin liquid.
Putting it together
- Spread the cheesecake filling over the graham cracker crust. Place in the fridge for at least an hour (longer if the strawberry filling isn't ready.)
- Spread the strawberry filling on top of the cream cheese layer.
- Top with remaining whipped cream - as a layer or can use it to decorate.
- Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving but at least 8 is best to set.