No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake


No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts. I just love the creamy texture and the delicate lemon flavor. I could eat cheesecake all day, and have to admit that I usually eat too much when I make this dessert.

Lemon Cheesecake

Growing up, this was the only sort of cheesecake I ever ate. I had heard of baked cheesecakes, but they were not really common in Australia. No bake cheesecakes ruled the day – we called them Continental Cheesecakes. There was even a delightful bakery near our house called The Continental Cheesecake Shop. That place was heaven on earth, with the huge variety of no-bake cheesecakes. These days, there are still Cheesecake Shops, alas my childhood favorite is long gone. But these days they sell both No-Bakes and Baked Cheesecakes.

Lemon Cheesecake in Hand

Perhaps no-bakes were so popular due to the fact that an oven never has to be turned on – which is definitely an advantage on a hot day. The other advantage is that they are so easy to make.

Cheesecake on Plate

I have always made my own cookie base for my cheesecakes. In Australia, we used to use arrowroot biscuits or gingernuts. In America, I use gluten free gingernut cookies (Mi-Del brand). If you do not need to eat gluten free, graham crackers would work perfectly. Basically, you are just looking for any plain, sweet cookie.

Lemon Cheesecake - Whole

This cold dessert is perfect for these days which are starting to warm up! I think I might need to make this again, because we are going to be hitting the 80’s today (highly unusual for April in Seattle!) and the one photographed is long gone!

Edited to add:   This no-bake cheesecake has a very soft, creamy texture.   It is very different from the texture of a baked cheesecake.   However, it should hold it’s shape after setting in the refrigerator.  

Here are some pointers for first timers, or if you are wondering why your cheesecake did not set:

1.   Use regular lemons (not Meyer lemons which have a lower citric acid level.   The citric acid reacts with the sweetened condensed milk to thicken and set the cheesecake).

2.  If you don’t see the mixture thicken when you beat in the lemon juice, add a little more lemon juice.   The general rule is 1/2 cup to each can of sweetened condensed milk, however a little more juice is OK.   Just taste the mixture to make sure you don’t add too much!

3.  Make sure you are using Original Cream Cheese (the rectangular block).  If you would like a visual, you can see it at Philadelphia   The spreading cream cheese, in the tub, will not work.


No Bake Lemon Cheesecake
Cookie Base
  1. 8oz gingernut cookies, crushed
  2. 4oz butter, melted
  1. 16 oz cream cheese
  2. 28 oz sweetened condensed milk (2 tins)
  3. 1 cup lemon juice
  1. Place the cookies in a Ziplock bag, and use a rolling pin to crush the cookies. Do not crush the cookies finely, as too much crushing will make the base too hard.
  2. Transfer the cookies crumbs to a medium sized mixing bowl and add the melted butter. Mix until well combined. Spread the crumbs over the base of an 9" spring form pan and press down firmly, using either your hand or the base of a glass cup.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese and 1 tin of condensed milk until smooth.
  4. Add other second tin of condensed milk and lemon juice and continue to beat until mixed.
  5. Pour the cream cheese mixture on top of cookie base.
  6. Place in refrigerator overnight, or until set.
  1. This cheesecake needs about 8 hours to set completely.
Cookies or Biscuits?


  1. Vampire says

    So plan on trying this. However, will make it with a shortbread cookie crust and top it with a raspberry sauce.

  2. portia says

    All this looks delicious, can you please convert the measurements to South African because oz’s are killing me

  3. amanda says

    Hi Werona, thanks for the lovely recipe. I was wondering about the lemon juice component. Do I squeeze enough lemons until I have a cup of pure lemon juice or do I add some water to it? Thanks, can’t wait to try out the recipe!

    • Werona says

      Hi Amanda, I use pure lemon juice. Usually it’s about 4 large lemons, but sometimes it can be more.

  4. Marry says

    Just made this recipe. Waiting patiently for it to firm up and try it out. I noticed that with the crust the amount of butter was a bit much and my cookie crumbs were mud-like. Because of this issue I had to chill the crust 10-15 minutes before adding in the filling. I think next time I’ll have to half the amount of butter used to make the crust. I also added some of the lemon zest as well to the recipe.

      • Marry says

        Well from what I was able to taste it was really nice, but it was to soft so I had to stick it into the freezer. A note for those living in the warmer climates, no-bake cakes should be frozen so that it will be easier to serve. I had it in the refrigerator overnight and less than a minute after I had removed it from the spring-form pan it began to basically melt.

  5. Carmen says

    Thanks for sharing the wonderful recipe! I have just made it and people who tasted it found it yummy. It was my first ever attempt making a cheesecake so the easy recipe and clear instructions were really helpful. One small imperfection was that my crust turned out really flaky and couldn’t stay together at all. I may Try using more butter the next time round:)

    • Werona says

      Hi Carmen, I’m glad you liked the recipe. I agree that it sounds like your cookie crust needed the extra butter.

    • Amna says

      No the result won’t be the same with evaporated milk, condensed milk gives the cheese cake that creamy texture and just the right amount of sweetness. I think you should try this recipe as it is. It’s amazing! :)

  6. says

    Hi Melina. Unfortunately evaporated milk will not work. It is much thinner and will not set. The condensed milk also gives it the sweetness.

    • Melina says

      I guess I will have to order condensed milk online because all of the supermarkets I have been to don’t have any.
      I’ll use the evaporated milk for something else :)

  7. Mary says

    I’m planning to do this on my birthday this september.. Will you email me back of what cream
    cheese did you used? What brand? I’m from Philippines.

    Thank you

  8. Shaleen says

    Hey… The recipe sounds so simple!… I’m going to try it as a surprise for my girlfriend’s bday… Any special pointers for a first-timer?…
    Also, I doubt there is a spring-form pan available where I live (India)… What else will work?

    • Werona says

      If you cannot get your hands on a spring-form pan, you could try to line a cake tin with two sheets of parchment paper (I think it’s called baking paper in Australia but may be something different in India). The paper will act like a sling when you pull the cheesecake out. I have not made mine like this before, and I would be concerned that it would fall apart as you pull it out though. If you want to try using the parchment paper, I would suggest halving the recipe and using a smaller (perhaps an 8 inch/20cm) cake tin.

    • Werona says

      Hi Judy – it’s a bit hard to tell without seeing what you did during the making of the cheesecake, however the most common reason for the cheesecake not setting is because there was not enough lemon juice. When you add the lemon juice, you will see the mixture start to thicken – if you don’t see this happening you could try adding more lemon juice, one tablespoon at a time. My mum also just told me that she thinks Meyer lemons may not set as well as regular lemons as they have less citric acid. Another reason could be the cream cheese – make sure you use Original Cream Cheese (the rectangular block), not spreading cream cheese. The only other thing, I have never put my no-bake cheesecake in the freezer – I’ll have to try it next time to see if it makes any difference. I put mine in the refrigerator overnight. I hope one of these tips help you. Good luck.

  9. KarenMae says

    Hi, I’m planning to try this recipe, however I’m thinking not to put lemon juice. Is it okay? I mean would it be as delicious? :)

    • Werona says

      Hi KarenMae, I don’t know the science behind it but the lemon juice is required as part of the setting process. If you want to try it still, you will not be able to make it in a cake shape but you could try making it in individual cups but the topping will not set and will be a thick liquid.

  10. Christina says

    In response to Judy. Make sure your lemons are completely ripe. If they are even slightly green the mixture will not set as well. I have used this recipe successfully for nearly 50 years! 😀

    • Werona says

      Thanks Christina for this tip. I’ve also been using this recipe for a long time without a problem, and my mum before that.

  11. Talitha Taljaard says

    Would 100% pure lemon juice from a bottle also work? Or is freshly squeezed better? I am so trying this recipe this Christmas! Thanks!

    • Werona says

      Freshly squeezed lemon juice is the best as it acts as a setting agent. Most 100% pure juice is a juice concentrate where water has been added back. It can cause problems with setting. That being said – I have supplemented my freshly squeezed lemon juice with bottled juice one time as I hadn’t bought enough lemons and it’s turned out OK.

  12. Subahshini says

    Hi Werona
    I will like to add fruits. Will peaches go well? Thanks for your time and for the delicious recipe! =)

    • Werona says

      Hello. I have never used peaches, as they are not one of my favorite fruits so I cannot speak from experience. If you are using them as a topping only, I think they would compliment very well. I suspect that if you are adding them into the mixture you may have a problem with setting.

    • Werona says

      Hi Cindy,

      24cm is very close to 9 inches, therefore it will serve 12. If you want to serve very large slices, it will only serve eight. The photo I have taken is if you were serving for 12.

  13. Rebecca says

    This is the cheesecake I grew up with and still make to this day! I use crushed Granuta biscuits for the base and top it with blueberries and chopped strawberries in strawberry sauce :)

  14. Cece says

    This recipe looks delicious!
    Would it also work with orange juice? Or will it not set properly because it’s less acidic?

    • Werona says

      I have not tried making this with orange juice. My guess is that it would not set as well, due to the lower levels of pectin in many oranges.

  15. Kate says

    We don’t have the blocks of Philadelfia cheese here just the spreadable tubs is there anything i can add to these tubs to make it work?


  1. […] Further culinary adventures with my Phoenix family… my aunt was talking about this lemon cheesecake she’d had with a ginger topping and we were all like, “let’s make it!” aside from my uncle, who said he didn’t like the texture of cheesecake.  But I thought that was probably the texture of regular cheesecake, which has flour, and which I didn’t want anyway.  So we decided to try this no-bake recipe from Cookies of Biscuits. […]

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