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Mini Lemon Cheesecakes

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Smooth and creamy mini lemon cheesecakes topped with whipped cream and homemade lemon curd are the perfect bite-sized summer treat! This recipe bakes up easily in a cupcake pan, with a buttery graham cracker crust and rich, lemon cheesecake filling, 

Zesty Homemade Lemon Cheesecake Bites

I’ve given my original mini cheesecakes a summery, citrusy makeover, and the results are simply the zest! This bright and fresh, bite-sized lemon cheesecake recipe is every ounce of lemony deliciousness I’d hoped it would be. Lemon desserts don’t get more perfect than this.

These mini lemon cheesecakes are made from a rich and creamy filling baked in a buttery graham cracker crust. Every bite is bursting with real lemon flavor, with delightful pops of lemon zest. I top these with homemade lemon curd and a swirl of simple whipped cream.

The best thing is, you don’t need any fancy baking pans. Just a cupcake or muffin tin, that’s it!

Two mini lemon cheesecakes stacked on top of one another, with a swirl of whipped cream on the top cheesecake.

Why You’ll Love This Mini Cheesecake Recipe

My mini lemon cheesecakes are definitely a must-try dessert. Here’s why you’ll love them, too:

  • Bite-sized. This recipe for mini cheesecakes is made in a cupcake pan, yielding perfectly portioned bites that are bursting with flavor. These are great for parties, and the smaller portions are the best for guilt-free indulging.
  • Filled with citrus flavor. This creamy cheesecake filling is infused with the sweet, tangy flavors of real lemon juice and lemon zest. It’s bright and refreshing, and made for summer!
  • Easy to make. You can make this dessert a day ahead. It’s quick and easy, and the cheesecakes actually taste even better after a night in the fridge!
Assorted mini lemon cheesecakes topped with whipped cream, with a bite missing from the cheesecake in the foreground.

Key Ingredients

Below, I go over the key ingredients that make this mini cheesecake recipe a success. Be sure to scroll to the recipe card for the full recipe amounts and details.

  • Graham Crackers – Make your own graham cracker crumbs by pulsing whole crackers in the food processor, or use ready-made crumbs from the store. You’ll combine the crumbs with melted butter to make a simple graham cracker crust.
  • Cream Cheese – Full-fat cream cheese, brought to room temperature before you start. Be sure to use the cream cheese that comes in bricks, and not the spread that comes in tubs.
  • Sour Cream – For added moisture and a hint of tang. Like the cream cheese, make sure your sour cream is also at room temperature.
  • Lemon Juice and Zest – You’ll need the zest from 1-3 lemons depending on the size (see my tutorial on how to zest a lemon for helpful tips). I highly recommend using freshly squeezed lemon juice for the best possible taste. 
  • Lemon Extract – This can be substituted with additional lemon juice if needed.
  • Eggs –Two whole eggs help to bind the ingredients while adding richness.
  • Toppings – Optional, but recommended! I top these adorable lemon cheesecakes with a dollop of homemade lemon curd (store-bought also works) and a swirl of whipped cream

How to Make Mini Lemon Cheesecakes

These zesty lemon cheesecake bites are easy to make in a cupcake pan. While the oven preheats, fill your pan with cupcake liners for easy removal. Then, set this aside while you prepare your cheesecake:

Prepare the crust. First, blend graham crackers into a fine crumb, then stir the crumbs together with melted butter. Once combined, press a spoonful of crust into the bottom of each cupcake liner. The back of a tablespoon works great for this, or a tart shaper.

Make the cheesecake filling. Next, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth, then mix in sour cream followed by lemon zest, juice, and extract. Lastly, beat in the eggs. Use a large cookie scoop to portion the lemon cheesecake batter into your prepared cupcake liners.

Bake. Bake your mini cheesecakes at 350ºF for 15-18 minutes, until they’re set on top and still slightly wiggly in the centers. Take the cheesecakes out and let them cool fully in the pan, then transfer the pan to the fridge to chill. 

Prepare the whipped cream. Just before serving, whip up a quick batch of homemade whipped cream. In a cold bowl, beat heavy cream into soft peaks, then slowly add powdered sugar until stiff peaks start to form.

Add the toppings. Finally, place a dollop of lemon curd over each chilled mini cheesecake. Follow this up with a piped swirl of sweet whipped topping. Then, dig in!

A piping bag pipes a swirl of whipped cream over top of a mini lemon cheesecake topped with lemon curd.

Can I Make a Full-Sized Cheesecake Instead?

Technically, yes, you could adapt this recipe for an 8-inch or 9-inch square pan to make cheesecake bars. Baking times may vary between 15-25 minutes. If you’re looking for a full-sized variation that’s just as easy to make, check out my no-bake lemon cheesecake.

Recipe Tips and Variation Ideas

These zesty lemon cheesecakes come together quickly enough. Here are some final tips along with some easy variations for the best mini cheesecakes:

    • If you don’t have a blender or food processor, seal the graham crackers inside a Ziploc bag and use a rolling pin to smash them into fine crumbs. This is a great task to pass on to kids!

    • Start with room-temperature ingredients. This is key to a smooth and creamy cheesecake filling. If your ingredients are cold from the fridge, you’re more likely to end up with lumps.

    • Only add the eggs at the end so that they don’t overmix. Overmixing the eggs in the batter can cause the cheesecakes to fall flat after they’re baked.

    • Don’t overbake. The mini cheesecakes should have a slight giggle when they come out of the oven. This way, they’ll set up as they cool without drying out.

    • For gluten-free cheesecake, use gluten-free graham crackers.

    • Try different citrus. Make these mini cheesecakes using orange juice, zest, and extract. Or, try another citrus like lime or grapefruit.

    • Top your cheesecakes with garnishes, like fresh strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries. Additional lemon zest or a sprinkle of graham cracker crumbs are also easy add-ons.

A mini lemon cheesecake topped with lemon curd and a swirl of whipped cream, with more mini cheesecakes in the background.

Common Questions

What’s the best pan to use? 

For this mini cheesecake recipe, a cupcake pan works perfectly! Just make sure to line it with cupcake liners. Another option is to use a mini cheesecake pan (the baking times will stay the same). 

Why did my mini cheesecakes crack?

Sudden temperature changes and overbaking are the top culprits for cracked cheesecake tops. Make sure to take your cheesecake out of the oven while they’re still a little jiggly so that they don’t become too dry. In a pinch, cover any cracks with lemon curd and whipped cream!

Can I make this recipe in advance? 

Absolutely. Mini cheesecakes are a great make-ahead dessert to bake the day before and refrigerate overnight. See below for helpful storage tips.

A partially unwrapped mini lemon cheesecake topped with whipped cream, surrounded by more mini cheesecakes.

How to Store Mini Cheesecakes

  • Fridge: These mini lemon cheesecakes must be kept in the fridge. Store them airtight for up to 3-4 days. 
  • Freezer: Alternatively, you can freeze your mini cheesecakes for up to 3 months. I recommend leaving off the toppings if you plan on freezing your cheesecakes. Thaw the frozen cheesecakes overnight in the fridge and then decorate them before serving.
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A mini lemon cheesecake topped with lemon curd and a swirl of whipped cream, with more mini cheesecakes in the background.

Mini Lemon Cheesecakes

  • Author: Julianne Dell
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Chilling Time: 3 hours
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours 45 minutes
  • Yield: 15-16 cheesecakes

Description

Smooth and creamy mini lemon cheesecakes are the perfect bite-sized summer treat, topped with whipped cream and homemade lemon curd. 

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cups (112g) Graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons (43g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 16 ounces (452g) full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (48g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (60g) sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) lemon extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature

For the Toppings (optional):

  • 1 cup (236ml) heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup (65g) powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup (213g) lemon curd (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake pan with baking liners.
  2. Grind the graham crackers into a fine crumb using a food processor or blender, combine with the melted butter, and stir until well combined.
  3. Spoon 1 heaping tablespoon of the crust mixture into each cupcake liner, and press into the pan with a spoon. Set aside.
  4. In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until well combined and free of any lumps, scraping down the bowl as needed. Next beat in the sour cream, lemon zest, juice, and extract, beating until well combined.
  5. Finally beat in the eggs until well combined and smooth.
  6. Use a large cookie scoop (or ¼ cup measuring cup) to spoon the batter into the prepared cupcake liners. A heaping cooking scoop should fill the liners nearly full, leaving about ¼-inch at the top.
  7. Bake at 350°F for 15-18 minutes. The centers of the cheesecake should be slightly jiggly. Remove from the oven and cool completely in the pan. Then refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours prior to serving. Keep stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Add toppings prior to serving.

For the topping: 

  1. Add a dollop of lemon curd on top of each cheesecake.
  2. Prepare the whipped cream. Place the mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes to chill. Pour the heavy whipping cream into the chilled bowl and use an electric mixer to beat the heavy cream on medium-high speed until soft peaks start to form. Slowly add the powdered sugar and continue beating on high speed until stiff peaks form. Pipe or spoon onto chilled cheesecakes.

Notes

  • You’ll need 2-3 medium or 1-2 large lemons for the zest.
  • Lemon extract can be substituted with extra lemon juice.
  • Use homemade lemon curd or store-bought for a pop of lemon flavor

Storing

    • Fridge: These mini lemon cheesecakes must be kept in the fridge. Store them airtight for up to 3-4 days. 

    • Freezer: Alternatively, you can freeze your mini cheesecakes for up to 3 months. I recommend leaving off the toppings if you plan on freezing your cheesecakes. Thaw the frozen cheesecakes overnight in the fridge and then decorate them before serving.

Nutrition Information:
1 slice
277
14.4 g
135.7 mg
21 g
18.3 g
0.3 g
4.7 g
123.2 mg
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: lemon cheesecake, mini cheesecakes, mini lemon cheesecakes, cheesecake bites

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