Top Five Best Cheesecakes I’ve Ever Eaten

Happy National Cheesecake Day!

Does anyone know why is this is only a national holiday? What gives, America!? As the arbitrator of cheesecake and cheesecake vendors worldwide, I’m declaring today to be a global celebration for us all.

If you live in the United States, today (July 30) you can enjoy half-price cheesecake at your local The Cheesecake Factory restaurant. It’ll be a total mess and totally worth it, I promise.

And if you live elsewhere, like I do, perhaps you should instead celebrate this occasion by compiling a list of the best cheesecakes you’ve ever put into your mouth hole.


Top 5 Best Cheesecakes I’ve Ever Eaten

Sara Lee

5. Frozen Sara Lee Plain Cheesecake, Sydney circa late ’80s

You always remember your first. It was plain Sara Lee brand cheesecake that my sweet elderly neighbour, Mavis, bought on the sly for my birthday one year. It wasn’t just my first cheesecake, it was my first birthday cake. I was from the town’s very first ‘broken home’ and so the locals always smuggled me into their homes for pity treats. An ice-block here, a butterscotch there. Nothing as amazing and grand as a whole friggin’ cake.

Mavis had forgotten to defrost the cake and so I ate it frozen, scooping it straight out of the foil tin, my little tastebuds and dessert-deprived child brain exploding with joy over cheese flavoured ice cream and biscuit crumbs. I’ve never tried to replicate that feeling with a Sara Lee cheesecake as an adult because my palate has likely changed and I don’t want to be disappointed. Though to this day I still prefer to eat my cheesecake frozen.


CCF Original

4. Cheesecake Factory Original, Tampa Bay, Florida, 1998

En route to Tampa airport, my grandfather swung his truck into the parking lot of The Cheesecake Factory and declared that I couldn’t leave his country without eating the biggest piece of cheesecake that I’d ever see. Much like everything else at The Cheesecake Factory and also in the United States, the choices were excessive and overwhelming. I stood at the display counter for a few minutes and settled on a slice of Original because it seemed safe among others covered in foreign candies and creams.

My grandfather beamed at me like the cheesecake counter was a test and I’d just passed. He said the original was ‘New York style’ and all the best things came from New York. He was a proud Upstate man. After splitting the cheesecake — which was, as promised, the biggest and most serious cheesecake I’d ever eaten — and we’d climbed back into the truck, he slipped me his money clip and pulled me against his body for the longest, hardest hug. Our time together was over. I had to leave and he had to die.


Lime

3. Lemon and Lime Cheesecake, North Sydney, 2010

I call this ‘Independence Cake’ because it tastes like never again depending on another human being to make me happy.

When I reached adulthood I decided that it would be really neat to continue Mavis’ tradition of birthday cheesecake. So, every year, I’d hint (and later, directly ask) for my gal pal to buy me one. And every year, she did not. She wasn’t being an asshole, not exactly — she just showed love in ways that didn’t involve going to the grocery store alone and interacting with the people there.

After spending a few birthdays being quietly bummed the fuck out, on my 26th one I bought a family-sized double baked cheesecake with lemon and lime topping from a patisserie near my office. I already knew it was the amazing cake. I knew that it was velvety smooth and rich with the most perfect biscuit to cheese to fruit ratio, because I’d purchased and eaten it for my co-workers’ and friends’ birthdays but never my own.

I took the cheesecake home, put it straight in the freezer and spent the next week shamelessly stuffing it into my face until every last crumb was gone. I’ve repeated it every year since, ‘cause the only thing better than cheesecake is reminding myself that I don’t need to wait on someone else to decide I’m worth it. We’re all worthy of cheesecake.


Cheesecake
2. Red Velvet Cheesecake, Los Angeles, 2012

It was the last day of the first A-Camp. By the time Riese, Marni and I had driven down the mountain and checked into our hotel, I was ready to sleep forever. I don’t know where we found the energy to walk to The Cheesecake Factory for dinner but we did, and after some giant meals we decided to split a mammoth piece of the Red Velvet Cheesecake.

Red Velvet became our Go To cheesecake. On future visits, we’d look at the menu and throw around ideas for different flavours to try but that red velvet just kept calling us back. We learned to ask the server to pack up the cheesecake to go because we were too stuffed to eat any on the spot. It was a sentimental order, more than anything. We never finished a whole piece even once.


Low carb cake
1. Low Carb Cheesecake with Fresh Strawberries, Chicago, 2014

On our first real date at The Cheesecake Factory, I insisted on ordering the Splenda cheesecake even though I knew it would taste dull and completely wrong. Katie couldn’t eat real sugar and at some point between drooling over the Red Velvet while waiting in the foyer and the server unceremoniously slapping down laminate menus on our table, it hit me that I’d rather share boring garbage cheesecake with the most beautiful, sugar-intolerant human than to eat the world’s best cheesecake alone. I was in love.


What’s your favourite cheesecake memory and/or cheesecake flavour and vendor? I want to hear all your cheesecakey feelings.


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Crystal is a 33-year-old Australian living in Chicago. Founding member, does HR stuff, writes now and then.

Crystal has written 329 articles for us.

53 Comments

  1. I clicked on this because I was ready to just drool over pictures of cheesecake. And then it was super sweet and artfully written and I smiled a lot??? Just lovely.

    Also, my favorite cheesecake, my go-to, is the Godiva Chocolate cheesecake at Cheesecake Factory. When I was 14, my dad brought it home for me because I was sick and couldn’t go out to dinner. It was smooth chocolate heaven and I fell in love.

    Also notable, my best friend’s mom for years has made her a chocolate chip cheesecake for her birthday that is everything one could want in a cheesecake. I’ve made it myself a few years now, because I just can’t resist, even though it’s a massive amount of work when you could just buy chocolate chip cheesecake. But it’s just not the same from the store..

      • When we were dating, M would drive all the way from the South Bay to Oakland just to bring me Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake. What happiness! What devotion! Now I’m a Kahlua Chocolate Cheesecake kind of gal, but have been meaning to branch out and try the Red Velvet! I worry it won’t be cream cheese-y enough, in terms of frosting, but that’s pure silliness, right?

  2. When I was in middle school, I had a college mentor whose boyfriend and his buddy came to visit her at school. During their visit, they decided it would be really fun to go to The Cheesecake Factory and attempt to eat an entire cheesecake. They didn’t eat all morning to work up an appetite, ordered their cheesecake, and between the two of them managed to slightly more than half of it. Predictably, they got very sick and could not eat AN ENTIRE HUGE CHEESECAKE, so they returned home in defeat with the rest in the box. Claiming they could never look at the stuff again, they gave it to me and my family had cheesecake for dessert for a week.

    • I’ve actually wondered, once or twice, whether it’s possible to order the ENTIRE cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory and whether anyone has been brave enough to attempt it. This answers those questions, thank you.

  3. NOPE. The correct answer to all 5 is Hattie’s-Homemade-Lemon-And-Ginger-Cheesecake.

    I’ll forgive you for getting it wrong though because I don’t think I’ve ever made it for you.

  4. On a family vacation to New Orleans, (I think I was in elementary school at the time) a man on the street promoted a hole-in-the-wall place to us that we would have never found otherwise, tucked out of sight from any tourists. I had veal for the first time.

    For dessert, we ordered cheesecake and creme brulee, the latter also being my first time having. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentally mythologized how amazing that creme brulee was, as every time I’ve had it since doesn’t hold up. The cheesecake was frozen and I had trouble gouging chunks off of it with my spoon, to to my little kid eyes, it was like the biggest slice I’d ever seen.

    Otherwise, best cheese-dessert thing would be the crappy zebra brownies I’d clamor to make at every chance during my childhood because I’d get to mix the cheese half from cream cheese blocks myself and it was magical to watch all of the ingredients smooth together from the swirls of my spoon. Also, I’d cherry pick through the results to get the brownies with the greatest amount of cheese filling, and later obsess over the proper way to swirl the batters together to get the most even ratios without mixing them too much and losing the pure cheese texture.

  5. my two favorite cheesecakes are both made by my dad. one is a lemon cheesecake which isn’t technically cheesecake at all because there’s no baking involved.
    the other is a chocolate cheesecake with raspberry sauce.
    i’ve stopped ordering cheesecake when out in the world, because i’ve come to accept that it’s never gonna be quite as good as the homemade version.
    (i bet there is a no sugar cheesecake recipe out there that you can make at home for you and your galpal that would be awesome)

    • OH MY GOD. My friend’s sister made these one year when I was visiting, probably at least five years ago, and I’ve been dreaming about them since then. I had no idea it was a Kraft recipe, but this looks like exactly how she made them/the ingredients she used. Thank you, you’re my hero for bringing them back into my life!

      • Of course! The first time I had Oreo cream cheese truffles was the night Obama was elected (2008) and they will be forever associated with that giddy feeling of new , Democratic beginnings.

  6. Wow, this was very sweet! Also you’ve just reached that status in my head of automatically opening everything with your byline… I may be guilty of scanning those before the headlines.

  7. i got terrible food poisoning at a diner when i was about nine; i will remember the meal for the rest of my life and it involved a slice of cheesecake for dessert. to this day, i never order cheesecake on purpose because it makes me feel a little sick to think about it.
    like, i will eat some if someone else has it, but i never order it.
    ALL THE CHEESECAKE IS YOURS.

  8. Omg! Food nostalgia!
    My favorite cheesecake is one that I used to eat every year for my birthday as a kid. And my dad had to make it. Ir was a tradition. It had Oreo or graham cracker crust. It was half chocolate and half regular cheesecake, and was topped with a delicious chocolate topping. It was 100% bliss.

  9. Ugh now I want cheesecake.

    President’s Choice has *amazing* cheescake, y’all. Highly recommend. Sadly the few times I’ve made it, it hasn’t always set and turns into a mushy pudding. Still delicious nonetheless.

  10. Though I can’t eat much of it these days, I have fond memories of getting strawberry cheesecake from the local grocery store in my hometown. The cheesecake itself was amazing but my favorite part was eating all of the leftover graham cracker crumbs at the bottom of the container.

    I’m so thankful that the Cheesecake Factory website has photos of the cheesecakes! Everything looks delicious and now I want to try them all. Are you up for this challenge?? I can’t believe I haven’t already tried the pumpkin flavor so I’d probably want to start with that one.

  11. I totally just made my girlfriend birthday cheesecake! It’s currently in my refrigerator taunting me with it’s deliciousness. It’s basically a giant and better version of a reese’s cup, so she had better appreciate it/not break up with me before I get to make some ridiculous birthday dessert request.

  12. DROOOL. Cheesecake is one of my favs, how did I not know this was a national holiday before?? My favorite cheesecake used to be the renowned Junior’s Cheesecake in NYC. I grew up in New England, and any trip to NYC would have to end with a slice of Juniors. They even have a stand in Grand Central, so you should at least get a piece to-go, or you’re just denying yourself happiness.

    Then I moved to California, and life wasn’t the same. I tried Cheesecake Factory, and it was just too sweet for me. BUT then I discovered Charlie’s Cheesecake in San Jose. AMAZING. It’s run by adorable grandpa Charlie who will give you free samples if you’ve never had them before. The cheesecake itself is the perfect balance of firm and creamy with just the right sweetness. And the crust is made of shortbread cookie, which is like the icing on the cake, only on the bottom. Most cheesecake crusts are kinda “meh” to me, Juniors is actually spongecake which I don’t care for, so Charlies is 100% perfection in my book. He also sells poppers, which are super cute cupcake sized cheesecake bites!

  13. I watch my weight so pretend that if I eat dessert of any kind it will send me immediately into a coma. Even now when I see baked New York cheesecake I see oxygen tents. To celebrate cheesecake day I’ve added my husband’s own quick secret recipe which he whips up in his café every day.

    4 shortbread biscuits
    300g tub soft cheese
    zest and juice of 1 lime
    3 tbsp icing sugar
    ½ a 380g pack of frozen mixed berries, plus a few extra to serve

    Put the shortbread biscuits into a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin until broken. Divide between two dessert glasses. Beat together the soft cheese with the zest of a lime and 2 tbsp icing sugar until smooth. Put this on top of each biscuit base and smooth out with the back of a spoon.

    Take the mixed frozen berries, defrost and blend half with 1 tbsp icing sugar and the juice of the lime. Pour this on top of each cheesecake and scatter with a few extra whole berries. Serve or sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving.

    Jean-Paul
    itsmyhusbandandme@wordpress.com

  14. A couple autumns ago Olive Garden had a pumpkin cheesecake. I was dubious, but ordered it anyway. Mmmmmmm!

    But really – just make your own, following the terribly simple instructions in Rose Levy Berenbaum’s Cake Bible.

  15. I also had my first cheesecake frozen! My mom likes to buy those pre-sliced cheesecakes that have like four different kinds of cheesecake and keep them in the freezer, we always ate it frozen as a nice treat in the summer. Then my mom started making no-bake cheesecakes that were really just like cream cheese mixed with cool whip that somehow kind of tastes cheesecakey, but are all airy and mushy. Still a good treat.

    A few years ago I went on a trip to NYC with my then girlfriend whose family lived there. I learned about the magic that are butter cookies and now I want butter cookies always. My mom had requested that I bring home a cheesecake from New York, because that’s like one of the only things we knew about New York in small town Minnesota. So I did my daughterly duties and sat with a cheesecake in a box all the way home. It was a really good cheesecake, very creamy and very tall.

  16. This was surprisingly adorable, although now I’m craving cheesecake so hard.
    I’m moving after the summer and am mainly excited by the fact that there’s a cheesecake cafe nearby. A cheesecake cafe!!

  17. I have strong feelings about cheese and also about dessert, therefore I have very very strong feelings about cheesecake:

    1. Creamy, rich, mouthwatering no-bake cheesecake is far superior to the crumbly baked New York variety.

    2. Frozen is best, 100%.

    3. No whipped cream. No. Take that vapid fluff far away from my cheesecake.

    4. Cheesecake should not be adulterated with more than one or two toppings / flavors, lest it lose its purity of cheesecakiness. HOWEVER, there is one exception to this rule, which is the hybrid pecan pie / cheesecake concoction that they serve at Milestone’s. This I will eat with great enthusiasm. Gimme.

  18. Lucky you, moving here to Chicago where you will be able to experience the joy that is Eli’s Cheesecakes! They even have a factory store where you can get not-quite-perfect cheesecakes for a discount! They even have a cheesecake festival this weekend with free samples! So many exclamation points!!!

  19. For my twelfth birthday, I wanted cheesecake, so my dad spent all the day before preparing this super special 24hr no-bake cheesecake – and then one hour before the party my dog somehow jumped up on the table and ate it all! I still long for that cheesecake.

  20. If you are in the Boston area, check out 7 ate 9 bakery in Sommerville. They have awesome mini cheesecakes. I personally love the plain or lemon flavored cakes. Also the owner is awesome (and also queer)

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