Behold, my favorite luscious dessert! This cheesecake recipe hails from the Basque region of Spain—specifically, from a restaurant called La Viña, where fresh cheesecakes line the walls and smell like heaven.
Honestly, I’m not sure why this cheesecake (tarta de queso in Spanish) is called Basque cheesecake over here. We should call it La Viña cheesecake or Santiago Rivera’s cheesecake to give full credit to the man who created the concept in 1990.
We enjoyed the real deal on our honeymoon in San Sebastián in 2019. We spent the evening wandering through the old part of town, sampling pintxos and sipping marvelous inexpensive white wine everywhere we went, as you do in San Sebastián. I insisted that we make room for the magical, mythical cheesecake at La Viña, so we followed our noses around the corner until we found it.
Fast-forward a few years, and we’re sleep-deprived with a baby at home. My husband brought home a surprise Basque cheesecake from a local shop. We’ve been obsessively recreating it at home ever since, trying different methods and proportions. I’m super excited to share the perfected recipe with you today.
6 Reasons to Love Basque Cheesecake
Before we get to the recipe, here’s why you’ll love Basque cheesecake. It’s an experience!
- Basque cheesecake is remarkably delicious. It’s creamy, rich, and tangy with a deeply caramelized crust on top that offers tons of flavor.
- Basque cheesecake is the easiest of homemade cheesecakes. If you have the ingredients, you could make it on a whim for any occasion—for Valentine’s Day, a celebratory dinner, a potluck with friends, or just as a fun weekend project. Just keep in mind that it will need about an hour to cool, and it’s a great recipe to make a day ahead if that timing works for you.
- No water bath required for Basque cheesecake. Indeed, we want the top to crack. Embrace it!
- There’s no crust to fuss with. Again, embrace the experience. With the amount of flavor in the caramelized top, you won’t miss it.
- It’s not too sweet. Traditional cheesecake can be way too sweet, and Basque cheesecake is not overwhelming in that way. The recipe below offers a range for sugar content so you can make it suit your taste buds.
- Basque cheesecake freezes well. Store any leftover cheesecake in the freezer for several months, or bake an extra to have on hand for your next celebratory occasion. You can cut the cheesecake even when it’s frozen, so you can pull out a slice any time you’d like.
Basque Cheesecake Ingredients
Here’s what you’ll need to make this wonderful cheesecake:
Like other cheesecakes, this Basque cheesecake relies on cream cheese for its heft, creaminess and tang. You’ll need two pounds for this recipe, which is four eight-ounce blocks of cream cheese. Do not substitute “cream cheese spread” or whipped cream cheese for this recipe.
Plain old sugar is best here. I tried making the recipe with honey, and it simply wasn’t as good or as creamy. For a lightly sweet cheesecake that still tastes like a treat, use one and one-fourth cups sugar. For more traditional sweetness, add another one-fourth cup. Sweetness is subjective, but we found the sweetness cloying when we used closer to two cups.
Heavy cream thins out the cream cheese mixture without watering it down. We’ll need one pint of heavy cream for this recipe. We’ll use a portion of it upfront with the cream cheese to help mix it, then we’ll add the rest later.
Cheesecake relies on eggs for structure. A half-dozen eggs is just right; seven eggs tastes distractingly eggy.
While technically optional, a light splash of vanilla ramps up the flavor a bit.
A small amount of flour absorbs excess moisture, which becomes more apparent the next day. You have several options. All-purpose flour works well, as does sifted whole wheat flour (unsifted will leave little flecks of bran in your cheesecake). To make the cheesecake gluten free, we successfully used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour.
Basque Cheesecake Tips
Let Basque cheesecake be.
I tried several variations of Basque cheesecake—with added orange zest, honey instead of sugar, Greek yogurt instead of cream cheese, macerated strawberries on top, and so on. Basque cheesecake is truly best served plain. With the caramelized top, it is not boring in any way. It’s a delight! If you want to add some presentation value, try serving with a ripe red strawberry on the side.
Use a food processor or mix on low.
For the best texture, avoid whipping air into the batter or over-mixing the batter. This is key! Use a large food processor if you have it (minimum 12 cups capacity) or a mixer on low speed. The low mixing speed might take a few extra minutes, but it’s worth the wait.
Know when it’s done.
Bake until the cheesecake is deeply golden brown on top and still very jiggly in the center, about 60 to 65 minutes. Once cooled, the center will solidify well enough to slice, and the top will deflate and turn darker and more shiny.
If you bake somewhat regularly, you’ll probably have everything you need for this recipe. You really do need these items to bake Basque cheesecake at home (the links are affiliate links):
Large food processor or mixer
Use a large food processor (minimum 12 cups—I used my Vitamix food processor attachment), or a stand mixer (good deals on KitchenAid at Target right now!), or a hand mixer with a large mixing bowl (I’m partial to this 7-speed mixer). I tried making this cheesecake by hand and it was so difficult that I gave up.
You’ll need parchment paper for lining the pan. Without parchment paper, your cheesecake will overflow into the oven!
Lastly, you’ll need a 9-inch springform pan for baking the cheesecake. The springform pan is the ideal height and also allows you to easily remove the sides before serving.
If you only have a 10-inch springform pan, that will likely work. Your cheesecake might be done a bit sooner, so keep an eye on it as the time approaches and follow the visual cues provided. I don’t recommend substituting a cake pan for this recipe, as the sides are probably too short.
How to Serve Basque Cheesecake
Basque cheesecake, like most baked goods, tastes even better the next day. The flavors become more complex and well developed. Make the cheesecake in advance if you have the time.
Some suggest serving Basque cheesecake at room temperature. I like this cheesecake served anywhere from lightly warm to straight-out-of-the-refrigerator chilled. I even like it straight out of the freezer. In other words, I’m not picky about the temperature.
If you’d like to liven up the plate, simply serve your slices with a red strawberry on the side.
At La Viña, they often serve the cheesecake with a glass of sweet Pedro Jimenez sherry. I love this cheesecake with a glass of dry white wine, like an Albariño or Sauvignon Blanc, or a dry rosé. You could also try a dry, funky cider like you’ll find in San Sebastián. We love ANXO cider.
More Dessert Recipes to Try
If you enjoy this cheesecake recipe, try these as well:
- Citrus Olive Oil Cake
- Mini Lava Cakes for Two
- Mixed Berry Crisp (Gluten Free)
- No-Bake Greek Yogurt Tart
- Simple Blueberry Cake
Please let me know how your Basque cheesecake turns out in the comments! I love hearing from you.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 60 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Yield: 12 slices 1x
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: Basque
- Diet: Vegetarian
This Basque cheesecake is rich, creamy and utterly foolproof. It’s also very easy to make, as far as cheesecakes go! Recipe yields 12 slices.
- 2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 ¼ to 1 ½ cups sugar, depending on desired level of sweetness
- 2 cups heavy cream, divided
- 6 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- Place a rack in the middle of the oven, with no rack above it so the cheesecake has plenty of space to rise. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Tear off two generous sheets of parchment paper. Cross one on top of the other and press them into the base of a 9-inch springform pan. Roughly pleat the sides of the parchment against the pan to help make room for the cheesecake. Ideally, the paper will rise at least 2 inches all the way around the pan.
- In a large food processor (minimum 12-cup capacity), stand mixer or large mixing bowl (with a hand mixer), combine the cream cheese and sugar. Add about ½ cup of the cream. Process (or mix on low speed) until the mixture is very smooth and the sugar has dissolved, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary, about 2 minutes.
- In the meantime, crack the eggs into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. While blending, pour in all of the eggs at once and blend until smooth. Reserve the measuring cup.
- Pause and scrape down the sides if necessary. Pour in the remaining cream, plus the vanilla and salt. Process until combined, about 30 seconds (this will take a little longer if using a mixer).
- Pour 1 cup of the mixture into the measuring cup. Whisk the flour into the mixture until smooth (this prevents the flour from flying everywhere when mixed). Pour the contents of the cup back into the food processor and blend until smooth, about 10 to 20 seconds.
- Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan. Gently jiggle the pan to distribute the batter evenly. Take a moment to crease the folds of the paper more sharply so they rest against the side of the pan. Bake until the cheesecake is deeply golden brown on top and still very jiggly in the center, about 60 to 65 minutes.
- Place the cheesecake on a cooling rack (it will fall dramatically as it cools). Let it cool for about an hour before serving it or refrigerating it for later, covered.
- To serve, release the outer piece of the pan and peel away the parchment from the sides of the cheesecake. Slice the cheesecake into wedges and enjoy. The cheesecake will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months (the cheesecake is sliceable even when frozen, so you can thaw individual slices if preferred).
Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit, Taste Cooking and King Arthur Flour.
Make it gluten free: Substitute all-purpose gluten-free flour blend. We successfully used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour.
Not clear on the size of the springform pan. You say 9″ under equipment, 10″ in the directions.
Hi Maureen, I’m sorry about that. I’ve just corrected the recipe to specify a 9-inch springform pan as that’s what I used. If you only have a 10-inch, it should work, though the cheesecake might be finished baking a bit sooner—follow the provided visual cues for guidance. Have a great day!
Thanks, Kate. I’m eager to make it. Looks sublime
I hope you love it!
Okay, now can you give us a vegan version. ;)
Now that would be a real feat. :) Maybe a cashew-based frozen cheesecake would be your best bet!
Michelle J Sorensen
Dedrian, I was thinking along similar lines (although I am vegetarian and have just been put on a anti-inflammatory diet, so it has to be gluten and soy free as well!). I am thinking of trying the recipe using:
Trader Joe’s vegan cream cheese
1:1 gf flour (I am learning to make my own)
Sucanat (vegan sugar that doesn’t use bone char in the making of the sugar)
and keeping the rest of the ingredients the same.
I hope to try this very soon!
Thank you, Kate, for your great site! Your apple crisp was the first GF/Soy-free recipe I tried when I started my anti-inflammatory journey, and I make it at least weekly now!
I just love your vegetarian recipes – have tried so many of them. My husband is gluten-free – – could we substitute Cornflour (ie Corn Starch) for the All Purpose Flour in the Basque Cheesecake?
Also, do you think it would be OK to add Lemon Zest for extra tang?
Hi Carmel! We successfully substituted Bob’s Red Mill’s 1-for-1 flour to make this recipe gluten free. I would use that rather than cornstarch, as I haven’t tried it and really don’t know how it would work. You could add some lemon zest, but I have to say that I tried adding orange zest and preferred it plain! It has plenty of tang without.
Hi Carmel, cornstarch is completely different to Flour so not a good substitute for the cheese cake. I gave up gluten as i have ms. Do an internet search for substitutes but gluten free ready made flours really work. I am in U.K. and we have a famous Brand called doves and we do get Bobs Red Mill too. I spend a lot of time in France, South West and am 2 hours drive from the Basque Country!
Kate this looks fabulous, love your cook book which is in France with me!
Hi Kate, this is a very interesting looking cheesecake! I really enjoy the challenge of baking the perfect cheesecake and I try hard to follow the science involved! I plan on baking this one in the near future, my neighbor’s are always begging me to bake one! I wanted to thank you for all the time and effort you put in to refining all of your recipes…I’ve baked every cobbler/crisp, muffin and sweet bread on your site, you’re my very favorite! I’m grateful for the healthy ingredients (when possible) and all of your useful tips, and for you…thank you for making my life a lot sweeter! I’ll leave a comment after I’ve given the Basque a try…I’m giving it stars because I have no doubt!
Hi Patty, thank you so much for your kind note—it made my day! Hope you get a chance to try this cheesecake soon!
I loved your comments about San Sebastián! Can’t wait to make your Basque Cheesecake for my book club.
Thank you, Karen! It’s such a wonderful place to visit and we hope to go back someday.
Hi Kate! The recommended equipment section mentions a 9-inch springform pan and the step-by-step says to use a 10-inch. Will either work equally as well? Thanks!
Hi Caitlin! I’m sorry about that. I’ve just corrected the recipe to specify a 9-inch springform pan as that’s what I used. If you only have a 10-inch, it should work, though the cheesecake might be finished baking a bit sooner—follow the provided visual cues for guidance. Hope that helps!
This looks delicious! I do have a question though, in the write up above the recipe you say to use a 9” springform pan but in the recipe card you say to use a 10” springform pan. Which size should I be using?
Hi Stephanie, thank you so much for pointing out my error. I used a 9-inch springform pan for this recipe (just double-checked) so I’ve corrected the recipe.
Tried it with my kids! They loved it!
Hooray! I’m so glad!
This recipe sounds wonderful but I don’t have the necessary equipment. Do you think I could halve the recipe? Thanks very much
Hi Judith, thank you! I believe you could, but you would need to keep an eye on it in the oven and follow the visual cues. It would require less time in the oven, but I’m not exactly sure how long.
Hi Kate! Quick question: lowfat cream cheese instead of full fat?
Hi Diane! Full fat if possible. I haven’t tested with low fat; I suspect it would work but wouldn’t be as creamy. This is a decadent dessert, there’s really no way around it!
I halved the recipe, made in a 9 inch deep pie dish, Emile Henry. Final product once deflated filled the entire pie dish. When at its highest point it rose Like a souffle, a few inches above the top rim of the pie dish so a three or four inch extra length of parchment above the top rim of pie dish is necessary. Baked for 45 min for medium golden brown. slight cracking of top edges and top center could have been due to whipping too fast (I read instructions too fast and mixed on medium/high speed instead of low speed). I also didn’t tap the dish on counter to tap out air bubbles before putting in oven, and I used cold cream cheese as opposed to letting it get to room temperature 1st. I also reduced the amount of sugar but I’m not sure this caused the cracking. For a half recipe I used 1/3 of a cup of sugar and I would even go slightly lower than that next time, it was still sweet for my taste. I used Einkorn whole grain wheat flour and sifted it which was a great tip, it was undetectable in final product. I sifted in my mixing bowl. I found the seperate bowl to mix flour was unecessary. The sides slightly stuck to the parchment paper so next time I would lightly butter tor grease the paper to help prevent. I was able to use a rounded knife to gently pry away the paper the bottom released easily. I baked for 45 minutes for a medium golden Brown I knew it was done when it had risen like a souffle several inches above the top edge of the pie dish. Because of the cracking I pulled it out at 45 minutes otherwise I would have left it in a little longer to get it darker but I didn’t want it to dry out. Even though it wasn’t the prettiest cheesecake it was absolutely delicious and I would make it again with these changes.I cant imagine making the full batch unless for a crowd.
Can’t wait to try this version … but, in one place you mention a 9-inch springform and in another a 10-inch springform. Which is the recommended size?
Hi Bill, I’ve just corrected the recipe to specify a 9-inch springform pan as that’s what I used. If you only have a 10-inch, it should work, though the cheesecake might be finished baking a bit sooner—follow the provided visual cues for guidance.
Hi Kate! This looks so delicious! Any way this could be made more diabetic friendly? Thank you so much!
Hi! Sorry to disappoint, but I can’t provide those alterations. I hope you find something that works for you!
Like others, I love your recipes and prepared Blueberry Baked Oatmeal this morning for breakfast! And, your homemade applesauce is always in our fridge. Given the need for heart healthy recipes, could you substitute the plant based cream cheese that comes in 8 oz. tubs? I’ve successfully made a cheesecake using two tubs that’s mixed with other ingredients and poured into a graham cracker pie shell.
Would you just substitute 32 oz. of the soft? Thanks for your time and culinary expertise!
I’m not sure without trying it, sorry!
I just assembled the cheesecake and put it in the oven! I can’t wait to try it. I used a stand mixer, and used a whisk to add the flour right into the bowl instead of pouring off some of the batter; no splatter and no batter transfer needed!
I hope you loved it, Alice! Thank you for your review.
Silly question: do I put the parchment on top of the base of the pan or just around the edges? You mention peeling it away from the sides after baking and releasing from the pan.
Hi! It should cover all the pan. I hope that helps.
5-stars! This is the easiest and best cheesecake I have ever made. No water bath, no lemon zest, no crust…and soooooo delicious! I made the recipe exactly as listed, and it was perfect. This will be my go-to cheesecake recipe from now on! It is sublime!
That’s great to hear, Lorinda!
My partner, one year old son, and I are excited about a trip to San Sebastian in May! How cool to read your post; looks delicious! Do you have any suggestions of good vegetarian spots and/or meals to try while we are there? Thanks for such a great blog. One of my main go to sources for tasty meals!
I hope you have a great trip! Send an email to email@example.com and I will be able to respond better there!
I made this tonight! It was ridiculously easy even though I’m not a baker. My boyfriend loved it. Your recipes never disappoint!
That’s great to hear, Catherine!
I made this cheesecake and it turned out beautifully! I’ve shared it with family & friends & they’ve all said it was delicious! I made one little change & subbed a decent sized shot of Amaretto liqueur for the vanilla so had to cook a wee bit longer. Thank you for sharing this recipe, it’s a keeper & I’ll be making it again!
That sounds delicious! Thank you for sharing, Julie.
I just made this just as instructed and it was so easy and so delicious. Thanks for the recipe.
Great to hear, LeOla! I appreciate your review.
Hi – Oh my! This is the most delicious cheesecake ever! I made it for dinner guests hoping it would turn out well and did it ever. It was a huge hit. I only had a 10 in springform pan so used that and cooked for a few minutes less and it was perfect. A very easy recipe to follow and thank you for the excellent directions and photos. A winner for sure!
Thank you so much, Gina! Thank you for trusting my recipe for your guests—that’s really a vote of confidence!
Ever recipe I’ve tried of yours has turned out beautifully so I felt very confident trying it out on my guests. They all raved. Thank you for all the work you put into making your recipes foolproof. Much appreciated!
Great to hear, Gina!
I’m a fairly competent baker, but I do not have a good track record with cheesecakes. I made this one yesterday, followed the instructions exactly, and hit it out of the park on the first try! It was light and fluffy and perfectly sweet. My daughter who has never enjoyed a cheesecake before (she can’t stand the texture) loved this one. We had it with blueberries and it was divine. This one is going in the “keepers” folder!
Hooray! I’m thrilled to hear it, Molly. I’ve always been too intimidated to even try regular cheesecakes, so kudos for your previous attempts. :)
The Basque Cheesecake is a delicious and unique dessert that originated in Basque Country, Spain. Unlike traditional cheesecake, the Basque version has a burnt top, a creamy custard-like texture, and a crustless exterior.
I made this at my husband’s request for his birthday dessert. We’d enjoyed this cheesecake 6 years ago while in Spain, and I’d always wanted to try it at home, and when I saw your recipe, I knew it had to be great like all your others! This cake is perfect! I made no substitutions and followed the very easy directions precisely. This will probably become our go-to cheesecake recipe now, replacing the more traditional Three Cities of Spain cheesecake recipe I’ve used regularly in the past. Thank you for being so awesome at your job, Kate!
I’m so glad you loved it and it reminded of one you had in Spain! I appreciate your review, Carolyn.