Alton Brown’s Awesome Cheesecake

Today wasn’t the greatest, but one good thing came out of it – a terrific cheesecake! I started this recipe shortly before the air conditioner broke and resumed once it was fixed. It was an attempt to use up a bunch of cream cheese which I bought by accident last week, but his afterthought-cheesecake turned out to be one of the best cheesecakes I’ve ever made and impressively free of cracks.

Some cheesecakes are denser and have more of a pull to them. This one is thick, but creamy and very smooth. It’s from Alton Brown who bakes it in a 9×3 inch cake pan and uses a water bath. Since I don’t own a 9×3 inch cake pan (mine are all 9 by 2-ish), I had to use a regular 9 inch springform pan wrapped in foil. I also changed the flavorings a bit and added an extra half hour to the original cook-time – that part is imperative.

Here’s the original cheesecake recipe, but make sure you add 30 minutes to the cook time.

Cook at 250 for 1 ½ hours, let sit in closed oven for 1 hour = perfect cheesecake.

My “secret” flavoring combo is 2 teaspoons of vanilla plus 1/2 teaspoon orange extract plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice. The orange extract doesn’t taste like orange – it just adds a little “Hmmm, what is that?” background flavor. Alton uses 1 tablespoon vanilla and none of the other stuff.

Also, I took this picture after only 3 1/2 hours chill time. The cheesecake is good at this point, but I think it will be even better tomorrow.


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  1. says

    Gosh that looks so good. I haven’t made cheesecake in such a long time!! I’m glad the air conditioner got fixed and you were able to get back to this!

  2. says

    ooooooooooooooooooooooooooh! Cheesecake! I can’t believe that I’m such an insane cheesecake lover, yet I’ve only made one, once and very long ago. I’ve actually been craving cheesecake badly lately, so maybe I’ll have to give this a whirl. YUM!

    And, also glad the AC got fixed. NO FUN! :-\

  3. says

    I love cheesecake and this looks awesome.
    I like the addition of the orange extract and lemon juice just ads a little something.
    This looks like it will be a definite winner with the family.

  4. Rina says

    I wonder why Alton didn’t suggest using a springform pan? The cheesecake looks like it has a separate sour cream-type topping (which I’ve never tried and always been curious about) – but maybe that is because it is still chilling. Regardless, it looks creamy and delicious. I might sub coconut extract for orange…

  5. says

    Yep that looks pretty awesome and creamy! I also love the thick crust on the corner!!! But I’m curious, how does one buy cream cheese by accident, lol?

  6. beth says

    Wow, this looks really yummy. My grandmother always added lemon to her cheesecake, but never the orange. I am going to give it a whirl. How do you buy a bunch of cream cheese by accident? Just wondering:)

  7. says

    This looks go great! I have been wanting to do a cheesecake for a while now and keep saying that I am going to, but I am a little scared!!! I had bookmarked Alton’s recipe because everything I have tried of his has turned out great…this one looks great and I think I will use the springform also, don’t have a deep dish 9″ either.
    Also I love your blog…what in the world do you do with all these cookies?? 😉

  8. says

    Mmm, it looks great! I, like Rita, (shocker!) love the thick crust. Whatever will you do with the 4 oz. of cream cheese you still have? jk 😉

  9. says

    Alton doesn’t use the springform pan because he bakes the cheesecake in a water bath, and the springform may allow some of the water to get into the cheesecake. One way to get around that is to wrap the springform in foil, like Anna did.

  10. says

    That’s right. Alton’s trying to save people the hassle (and potential leakage) associated with a foil-wrapped springform pan.

    It just occurred to me that this recipe, halved, might work well in standard 8 by 2 inch round cake pan. I might try that one of these days since we’re always looking for smaller yield desserts.

  11. says

    That cheesecake looks so good!! It happens to be one dessert that I CANNOT resist so I better not make it while trying to lose a few pounds! 🙂

  12. says

    Great idea to halve it using an 8″ pan. I can’t resist cheesecake, so having half as much in house would be much better!
    I’ve never bought orange extract before. I usually do lemon zest in my cheesecake but the orange and lemon combo sounds interesting.

  13. says

    Oh, and did you use name brand cream cheese? I’m cheap and often buy the store brand, but think for a cheesecake I would likely buy the Philly full-fat kind, as I think that might actually make a difference.

  14. Jen says

    I have become a convert to using a regular cake pan for cheesecake rather than a springform pan. The trick is to lilne the bottom with parchment. No need to hassle with the foil and the cheesecake pops right out (after lots of chilling) with just a little warming of the pan on the stove before serving. I’m going to have to try this recipe. I’m always looking for just the perfect cheesecake. I wish I know what happened to the big bottle of orange extract I used to have, though.

  15. says

    Another thing you could do with the regular cake pan would be to line the inside with Release foil. If you lined it tightly, you could go ahead and press the crust all the way up the sides AND just lift the cake out rather than deal with inverting.

    Jennifer, if you try it with the 8 inch pan, let us know! To answer your question about brands, I used H.E.B. brand cream cheese. I usually use Philadelphia brand cheesecake, but H.E.B.’s is aboug $1.00 a box so I sometimes throw a lot of it in the basket and use it off and on again. For this cake, it worked perfectly.

  16. says

    Have you tried Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Cheesecake? It’s the best I’ve ever tried (and I love cheesecake, so I’ve tried a lot of recipes).

    That doesn’t make me an expert, however. 🙂

  17. says

    Thanks for the tip, Megan. I’ll try Tyler’s next.

    I’m kind of excited about testing some smaller recipes in a standard 8 inch cake pan.

  18. Louise says

    Emeril’s Chocolate Cheesecake decorated with fresh raspberries is very tasty too. I have a few other favorite recipes that I’ll have to pull out for you. There’s a pumpkin one that comes to mind.

  19. Ms. B. says

    A question — did you reserve some of the crumbs for the sides and press them on later as the recipe says? Just wondering if that step is necessary — or if you can just press the crumbs on the bottom and sides of the pan at the same time??
    Looks delicious — can’t wait to try!

  20. says

    Nope, I just pressed the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides. I think pressing the crumbs into the side is mainly for those using regular (as opposed to springform) pans.

  21. kitty62 says

    I finally made this for many reason…. love cheesecake and i think i saw something yesterday saying it was national cheesecake day…so i started the adventure. After making it, I think it will actually take some of you more than just the 1 1/2 hours to cook,opened door for a minute and then let it sit in oven for another hour. I waited the six hours of cooling down in the frig like it suggested but when I cut into it-it seemed like it still didnt set up like a cheesecake should. I let it sit in the frig over nite and will cut into it later today. It has been very humid here in the finger lakes so Im not sure if that has anything to do with it. Other than that….its a great tasting cheesecake. I followed the recipe to a “t”, with no modifications.

  22. says

    With 2 lb of cream cheese in the fridge, I decided it was time to make a cheesecake. I have made Alton’s recipe before and liked it, but I was up to try something new. When I came to your site to see you had recent success with Alton’s, that sealed the deal – can’t beat a classic.

    This time I used 0% Fage in place of the sour cream, used the vanilla, your suggestion of lemon juice, and a tsp of almond extract. Having no graham crackers in the house, for the crust I put 1 cup grape nuts with 4 tbsp unsalted butter, 1 tbsp almond butter, and a pinch of kosher salt in a food processor until it looked like crust. I pressed it into the bottom of a spring form pan (8.5″) without baking it first.

    My one complaint when I made it before was that it wasn’t quite firm enough. Your recommendation of 30 extra minutes seems to have solved the problem perfectly! Thanks!

    Love your site’s new look. 🙂

  23. says

    Hi Lee,

    There is a link where it says “Original Cheesecake Recipe”. I think the link broke, though. It is now fixed.

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