This creamy, fluffy no bake cheesecake with gelatin sets up quickly, and has the flavor balance of cream cheese and sour cream. Always smooth as silk.
How to set a no bake cheesecake with gelatin
The only essential ingredients in a classic, baked cheesecake are cream cheese, sugar, and eggs. You make it a gluten free cheesecake by baking it in a gluten free graham cracker crust, and making sure any starches you add are gluten free.
The eggs in a classic cheesecake provide structure to the cheesecake when they’re baked. They’re what make it into a cake that you can slice.
So how do you set a cheesecake without eggs? Here, we use some powdered gelatin to make a no bake cheesecake that sets even more cleanly than a traditional, baked cheesecake.
All you do is “bloom” the gelatin in some lukewarm water by mixing them together and waiting for the gelatin to swell. Then, melt the mixture in the microwave until it’s liquefied, but not hot.
The mixture of cream cheese and sour cream, with some sifted confectioners’ sugar, makes for a silky smooth cheesecake with a slight tang. There’s not a ton of confectioners’ sugar, so it’s never too sweet.
What can replace gelatin in this no bake cheesecake?
If you can’t have gelatin, you might be able to use agar agar, which is a vegan replacement for gelatin. One Green Planet has a whole primer on agar agar, and they suggest that you can replace gelatin with it in equal amounts.
For a fluffier cheesecake that doesn’t rely on gelatin, you can try the no bake cheesecake filling from our gluten free cookie cups. It calls for whipped cream in place of sour cream. It won’t slice as cleanly, but it still tastes great.
How easy is it really?
This recipe is so dead simple that I almost could have made the how-to video above in real-time. Still, you’d be surprised how unbelievably boring it is to watch someone mix something for even, like, 10 whole seconds. ⏲
But I did time myself while making this no bake cheesecake recipe, exactly as written. It clocks in at 10 minutes flat. And that’s only if you factor in crushing the cookie crumbs for the crust in a mini food processor.
It doesn’t include cleaning the dishes, though. You’ll have to do that on your own time! But this recipe is easy enough that I bet your kids could make it for you while you leaf through a magazine or something.
Ingredients and substitutions
Cheesecake is, by its very nature, made with tons of dairy. This recipe not only contains tons of cream cheese but also calls for sour cream. Plus the crust is made with cookie crumbs and melted butter.
If you use dairy-free cookie crumbs, like from my gluten free graham crackers, and use virgin coconut oil or butter-flavored Spectrum nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening in place of butter, you’ve got a dairy-free crust.
The sour cream could be replaced with a dairy-free variety. But the cream cheese is a major problem.
I’ve been working quite literally for over a year on a really good dairy-free cheesecake—no bake or not. I mean, I’ve taken breaks so it’s not like I haven’t been doing anything else. But I have tried time and again to make an amazing dairy-free cheesecake. So far, no luck.
The main problem is that even the “best” dairy-free cream cheese varieties (like Daiya and Kite Hill brands) just taste kind of strange when you use more than about 4 ounces of them in a recipe. I’ve tried making cheesecake with the same amount of dairy-free cream cheese as I would dairy cream cheese, and it’s been nearly inedible.
If you’d like to make a sugar free crust, you’ll just need to use sugar-free cookies—or leave out the crust entirely. Try replacing the confectioners’ sugar in the filling with Swerve brand confectioners’ sugar replacement.
Easy No Bake Cheesecake with Gelatin
For the crust
1 1/2 cups (225 g) gluten free crunchy cookie crumbs (I used my gluten free graham crackers, and crushed them in the food processor)
6 tablespoons (84 g) unsalted butter, melted
For the filling
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) lukewarm water
2 teaspoons (6 g) unflavored powdered gelatin
2 8-ounce packages (16 ounces total) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup (227 g) sour cream, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Seeds from one-half of a vanilla bean (optional)
1 1/2 cups (173 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted if possible
Sliced fresh strawberries
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Make the crust. In a medium-size bowl, mix the cookie crumbs and melted butter until well-combined. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a greased 9-inch springform pan or deep-dish pie plate. Set the pan aside.
In a small, heat-safe bowl, place the water and sprinkle the gelatin evenly on top. Mix to combine well, allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes until the gelatin swells. Heat the mixture in the microwave at low power (about 50%) for about 30 seconds or until the mixture has just liquefied, but isn’t hot. Set the gelatin aside briefly.
In a large bowl with a handheld mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, place the cream cheese and sour cream, and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). While still mixing, slowly pour in the gelatin mixture, and continue to mix until smooth.
Add the salt, vanilla and optional vanilla bean seeds, and beat until smooth. Add the (sifted) confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth. Pour the mixture into the prepared crust. Using an offset spatula, spread the filling into an even layer. Bang the pan flat on the counter to break any large bubbles.
Place the pan in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or until set. It will move only slightly when the pan is shaken from side to side. Remove the pan from the refrigerator, and free the filling from the sides of the pan by running a butter knife or offset spatula carefully all around the inside of the perimeter. Remove the sides of the pan, slice, and serve with strawberries and a sprinkling of sugar.
Originally published on the blog in 2017. Images, video, and some text new; recipe largely unchanged.