This gluten-free cheesecake is a long-time reader and family favorite recipe! It’s naturally gluten-free thanks to a delicious, walnut-brown sugar crust!

This recipe originally comes from a family friend who was known for her delicious Southern recipes. We’ve been making it for years and I hope you love it too!

gluten free cheesecake topped with cherry filling
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This vanilla bean gluten-free cheesecake is a long-time family favorite! My mom would make this exact recipe over the holidays every year, even before any of our family members starting eating gluten-free.

This recipe originally comes from a family friend who was known for her delicious southern recipes. It has a naturally gluten-free crust (made of walnuts!) as well as a rich layer of cheesecake and sour cream topping.

The gluten-free cheesecake is flavored with a real vanilla bean as well as almond and vanilla extracts. It’s rich, decadent and total cheesecake perfection!

Why You’ll Love this Gluten-Free Cheesecake

  • Nobody will guess it’s gluten-free!
  • Easy walnut-brown sugar crust
  • Made with simple ingredients
  • Perfect for holidays and celebrations!

Ingredients You’ll Need

ingredients needed to make the gluten-free cheesecake
  • Walnuts: When combined with brown sugar and butter, walnuts make the perfect gluten-free cheesecake crust!
  • Sour cream: If you haven’t had a cheesecake with sour cream topping you’re in for a treat. It’s amazing! You add the sour cream topping during the last few minutes of baking.
  • Cream cheese: Full-fat cream cheese is best for this recipe. It’s rich and decadent, making a delicious creamy filling!
  • Vanilla bean: Real vanilla bean adds depth of flavor that goes well beyond vanilla extract! You could also use vanilla bean extract for similar results.
  • Vanilla extract and almond extract: These two extracts add another layer of rich flavor that make this cheesecake extra special!

For more perfected gluten-free baked goods try this gluten-free no-bake cheesecake, gluten-free cupcakes, gluten-free key lime pie and gluten-free angel food cake!

Can I Use a Gluten-Free Graham Cracker Crust?

Yes, of course! I love the naturally gluten-free walnut crust in this recipe, but if you’re a fan of graham cracker crust, you can use the crust recipe from this gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake or this gluten-free graham cracker crust.

This recipe uses a combination of gluten-free cookies and nuts to make a tasty crust. Or you can buy gluten-free graham crackers and use graham cracker crumbs in your favorite cheesecake crust recipe.

You also might like this gluten-free oreo cheesecake or round-up of the TOP 25 gluten-free desserts!

How to Make Gluten-Free Cheesecake

how to make gluten-free cheesecake crust
  1. Start by adding the nuts, brown sugar and melted butter to a food processor. Process the mixture until it resembles sand. You don’t want big pieces of nuts.
  2. Press the cheesecake crust into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 12 minutes, until golden brown.

NOTE: You will need a 10-inch springform pan to make this cheesecake.

how to make gluten-free cheesecake filling

3. In a large bowl, mix together the sour cream, sugar and vanilla for the topping and set aside for later.

4. Make the filling! Add the cream cheese and sugar to a mixing bowl. Mix to combine then add the eggs one at a time. Cut a vanilla bean down the middle and scrape out the seeds. With the mixer running on low, add the vanilla bean, extract and almond extract and heavy cream to the cream cheese mixture.

Recipe Tip

Be sure all the ingredients are at room temperature so the gluten-free cheesecake filling mixes up nice and smooth.

how to bake the gluten-free cheesecake

5. Pour the cheesecake batter over the crust in the bottom of the spring form pan, then bake the gluten-free cheesecake.

6. Bake!

adding the topping to the gluten-free cheesecake

7. Top with the sour cream filling then bake briefly again.

8. Chill for a few hours before serving. Enjoy!

How to Prevent Gluten-Free Cheesecake from Cracking

  • Gently beat the eggs. The first trick to preventing gluten-free cheesecake from cracking is to be sure not to over-beat the eggs. Add them one at a time with the mix running on medium speed.
  • Keep the oven door shut. Sudden drops in temperature can cause cheesecake to crack! Be sure to leave the oven door shut the whole time during baking.
  • Cut around the crust. Once the cheesecake comes out of the oven let it cool for 10 minutes. Then cut around the crust to release it from the edges of the pan. This will allow the cheesecake to contract as it cools without cracking.
  • Let cool completely on the counter before transferring to the fridge. To avoid sudden temperature changes, let the cheesecake cool for 2 hours or so at room temperature before transferring to the fridge.

Do I Need a Water Bath?

If you follow these tips there’s no need for a water bath! A water bath helps the cheesecake to cool evenly and prevents cracking. However, with these tricks and cooking the cheesecake at a lower temperature for a longer time (like the recipe states!) there’s no need for a water bath.

Topping Ideas for Gluten-Free Cheesecake

This baked cheesecake is simple and classic, so it’s perfect for any of your favorite toppings! Here are a few of my favorites for the top of the cheesecake:

  • Cherry pie filling
  • Blueberry sauce
  • Fresh berries
  • Chocolate sauce
  • Caramel sauce
  • Fresh strawberries
  • Cookie crumbs
  • Raspberry coulis
overhead shot of sliced cheesecake

Storage Instructions

Allow the gf cheesecake to cool to room temperature, then wrap the entire cheesecake in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least four hours before eating (overnight is best!). Then, store gluten-free cheesecake in the fridge for up to 5 days.

FAQs

Are any cheesecakes gluten-free?

Everything about most traditional cheesecake is usually naturally gluten-free, except the crust. Most often cheesecake has a graham cracker crust. This gluten-free cheesecake recipe uses a mixture of walnuts, brown sugar and butter to make an easy, naturally gluten-free crust. 

Can people with Celiac’s disease eat cheesecake?

Yes, people with Celiac’s disease can eat cheesecake, as long as it has a gluten-free crust. Though most cheesecake crust is not gluten-free, this recipe achieves a delicious gluten-free crust using a mixture of walnuts, brown sugar, and butter.

Is store-bought cheesecake gluten-free?

No, most store-bought cheesecake is not gluten-free, since the crust is typically made with graham crackers that contain gluten. Always read the ingredient list before purchasing, or make a homemade cheesecake like this one instead!

Are graham crackers gluten-free?

No, most graham crackers are not gluten-free, since they are made with gluten-containing wheat flour. However, you can buy graham crackers that are certified gluten-free from brands like Nairn’s or Pamela’s.

Is Sara Lee cheesecake gluten-free?

No, Sara Lee cheesecake is not gluten-free, including the original, Smooth & Creamy, and Cherry flavors.

close up shot of gluten-free cheesecake on plate topping with whipped cream and cherries

Expert Tips and Tricks for Gluten-Free Cheesecake

  • For best results, be sure to use room temperature ingredients before mixing the cheesecake together.
  • Don’t overmix filling – use low or medium speed as instructed in the recipe.
  • Bake the cheesecake in a 10-inch springform pan.
  • No peeking! Keep the oven closed while the cheesecake bakes.
  • Cook until the cheesecake is set but still jiggly in the middle.
  • After the cheesecake has been out of the oven for 10 minutes, cut around the edges of the pan so it can release as it cools.
  • Cool the gluten free cheesecake completely at room temperature before transferring to the refrigerator.
  • Refrigerate at least 4 hours and preferably overnight. It’s even better the second day!

I hope you love this best gluten-free cheesecake recipe as much as we do! If you try this gluten-free cheesecake, be sure to leave me a comment/rating below. I’d love to hear from you!

gluten free cheesecake topped with cherry filling
5 from 35 votes

Gluten-Free Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 55 minutes
Servings 16 servings
This gluten-free cheesecake is a long-time reader and family favorite recipe! It's naturally gluten-free thanks to a delicious, walnut-brown sugar crust!
This recipe originally comes from a family friend who was known for her delicious southern recipes. We've been making it for years and I hope you love it too!

Ingredients

Walnut Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter melted

Sour Cream Topping

  • 16 oz sour cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Cheesecake Filling

  • 32 oz cream cheese softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean cut down the center and the seeds scraped out
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 4 eggs room temperature
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
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Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 10-inch springform pan with cooking spray.
  • For the walnut crust: In the bowl of a food processor, blend the walnuts into fine crumbs. Pulse in the brown sugar, then pour into a medium bowl. Stir in the melted butter.
  • Press the walnut mixture into the bottom of the springform pan. Bake for 12 minutes, then remove from the oven and let cool while you prepare the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.
  • For the sour cream topping: In a small bowl, mix together the sour cream, sugar and vanilla until combined. Set aside for later.
  • For the cheesecake filling: Add the cream cheese and sugar to a stand or hand mixer. Mix on medium-high speed until totally smooth and combined.
  • With the mixer running on medium speed, add the eggs one at a time. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix briefly again.
  • Mix in the vanilla bean seeds, vanilla extract and almond extract.
  • With the mixer running on low, slowly pour in the heavy cream. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl once more to make sure everything is evenly completely mixed.
  • Pour the filling into the crust. Bake for 65-70 minutes until set, but the center jiggles just slightly.
  • Pour the sour cream topping over the cheesecake and spread into an even layer. Bake for another 5 minutes.
  • Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes cut along the sides of the pan so the edges can release as it cools.
  • Let the cheesecake cool completely to room temperature, about 2 hours. Then wrap tightly with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator. Chill for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight before serving. Slice and serve with your favorite toppings.

Notes

Tips for Gluten-Free Cheesecake that turns out perfect every time:
  • Be sure all the ingredients are at room temperature before mixing the cheesecake together. 
  • Don’t overmix filling – use low or medium speed as instructed in the recipe. 
  • Bake the cheesecake in a 10-inch springform pan
  • No peeking! Keep the oven closed while the cheesecake bakes. 
  • After the cheesecake has been out of the oven for 10 minutes, cut around the edges of the pan so it can release as it cools. 
  • Cool the cheesecake completely before transferring to the refrigerator. 
  • Refrigerate at least 4 hours and preferably overnight. It’s even better the second day!

Nutrition

Calories: 453.54kcal | Carbohydrates: 27.14g | Protein: 5.8g | Fat: 37.09g | Saturated Fat: 17.93g | Cholesterol: 92.94mg | Sodium: 227.69mg | Potassium: 176.74mg | Fiber: 0.73g | Sugar: 25.08g | Vitamin A: 1113.02IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 105.82mg | Iron: 0.61mg

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Hi, I'm Erin!

BS Food Science,

MS Nutrition

I believe you can make amazing, gluten-free food with everyday ingredients that everyone will enjoy. I'm here to share my tried-and-true recipes with you!

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Comments

  1. I made it and it was DELICIOUS!!!!! Absolutely love this recipie!!!! Only forget to spray the pan…

    1. Hi Isabel, we think pecans would work too. Definitely worth a try! If you decide to test it out, we’d love to hear how it goes!

  2. 5 stars
    This was absolutely delicious! Made it for my daughter’s 23rd birthday and it was a hit! One of the young lads who hates the gluten free dairy free options of things had two pieces and said it’s amazing! I would like to make it into mini cheesecakes for my daughter’s bridal shower, do you think this could work and do you have my suggestions? Thank you for a wonderful dessert!

    1. 5 stars
      I made this for my mother-in-laws 70th birthday using your gf graham cracker crust recipe, along with your raspberry coulis and it was a HUGE hit. Definitely will be a go-to for future get togethers.

  3. 5 stars
    I made this recipe for Thanksgiving. Instead of using the walnut crust, I used gluten free Oreo cookies for the crust. I did leave the filling on the cookie. I used the cherry pie filling and covered the entire top of the cake with it.
    This was a big hit, exceptionally creamy and loved by all.
    Thank you.

  4. I can’t eat dairy, either, so wonder if I cxould just do this with vegan cream cheese and coconut milk. Do you think it would work well? I can just skip the sour cream topping.

  5. 5 stars
    OMG thank you! I absolutely love cheesecake and just went gluten free for health reasons, so this makes me super excited! thank you so much for sharing!

  6. 5 stars
    This gluten-free cheesecake recipe is a crowd-pleaser! The walnut-brown sugar crust adds a delightful twist. Another southern style recipe to add to my list.

  7. 5 stars
    We’ve been on a big cheesecake kick lately – I knew immediately I had to make this. OMG SO GOOD. I love that the crust is made with walnuts instead of graham crackers.

  8. 5 stars
    This is exellent. I love the walnut crust! I wasn’t sure how it would turn out because it seemed too greasy but it tasted great

  9. Hi. Can I make this in a 9″ spring pan? That is what I have already so didn’t know if I NEEDED to get the 10″. Thanks!

    1. Yes! You can use a little less than the full amount of the filling. Or bake the cheesecake a little longer because it will be thicker. I hope it turns out for you!

    1. Yes you can freeze this cheesecake! Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and then in foil. It will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month!

      1. 5 stars
        Thanks Erin. I made this last night and as the saying goes, OMG! This is the creamiest, silkiest cheesecake I think I’ve ever had. I love the flavor of almond in baked goods, especially with real vanilla, so I wonder if you could add a bit more almond extract?

        BTW, your site is my go to site for gluten free baking.

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