Sweet Basil Cheesecake with Lemon Crust is a no-bake, make-ahead dessert that’s full of beautiful and bright summer flavors. It’s easy to make and works well for both casual or elegant entertaining.
Though you can most likely find basil year round, it’s a fresh herb that thrives in the summertime. If it's not in your backyard, it's probably in your neighbor's.
All summer fresh basil shines in pestos, salads, caprese, and now . . . . in a cheesecake!
What’s in this Basil Cheesecake?
- heavy whipping cream
- cream cheese
- powdered sugar
- lemon juice
- basil leaves
How to Make a Lemon Cookie Crust for Cheesecake
You can use almost any cookies you like for this crust. I used gluten-free vanilla cookies. (So my son with Celiac could try it). You can use any vanilla wafers, vanilla sandwich cookies, or graham crackers. If you use graham crackers, you will have to add a touch of sugar to taste.
- Blend the cookies in a food processor until they are a fairly fine crumb.
- Mix in melted butter and lemon zest.
- Gently press the crust into a springform cheesecake pan.
- Refrigerate while you’re making the filling.
(More detailed instructions are below.)
How is no-bake cheesecake different from regular cheesecake?
- Typically no-bake cheesecakes do not contain eggs. (They really shouldn't, since they would remain raw.)
- The texture, even when set, will be less firm than baked cheesecakes — imagine a consistency somewhere between a velvety mousse and a firm cheesecake.
A no-bake cheesecake is such a fabulous choice for summertime. Why heat up the kitchen and house if you don’t have to!?
Tips for making Sweet Basil Cheesecake
- There are a couple of keys to making this no-bake cheesecake successfully . . .
- The heavy whipping cream must be whipped long enough — but not too long. Whip it just until it becomes stiff and not a second longer. So you have to watch it carefully as you’re whipping. If it goes too long you will make butter, and not long enough will result in a cake that's too soft.
- Refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 12 hours before attempting to slice it.
- Be sure the basil leaves are blended into as tiny pieces as possible — this will intensify the basil flavor and make for a nicer texture.
- When you fold the cream cheese-basil mixture into the whipped cream, do so gently and with as few strokes as possible. The less folding, the less air is removed.
- Before you release the spring from the pan, go along the edges with the dull side of a knife. If you skip this step, the edges of the cake might be messy.
- I like to put a small basil leaf to mark each slice of cake. It’s a pretty garnish, and when you go to serve it will be very efficient.
- And as with most cakes, it helps to make neat and pretty slices if you wipe off the knife between cutting each piece.
Can you freeze it?
Yes you can, so this is a great make-ahead basil dessert!
- If you want to make it ahead of time to serve later, or save leftovers for more than a few days, it will freeze well.
- The best way to freeze it is in the spring form pan you made it in, covered tightly with plastic wrap. This way the plastic won’t rest directly on the cake, and it will keep its pretty surface.
- It can be frozen for about 4 weeks and should be thawed completely in the refrigerator before eating.
Sweet Basil Cheesecake with Lemon Crust is a fun, unique recipe for summertime entertaining, that your guests will love!
Here are a couple more delicious cheesecakes. . .
And if you're loving the basil-lemon combination . . .
Sweet Basil Cheesecake with Lemon Crust Recipe
- 2½ cups vanilla cookie crumbs (from about ¾-pound cookies), see notes
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- 1¼ cups heavy whipping cream, cold
- 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
- ¾ cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 cup packed basil leaves, washed and dried
- pinch of salt
- small basil leaves for garnish, washed and dried
- Add the cookies to a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and blend until you have fairly fine crumbs.
- Add the crumbs to a large mixing bowl and mix in the melted butter and lemon zest.
- Pour into a 9-inch springform pan and press it evenly and firmly onto the bottom surface. Place the crust in the refrigerator while you make the filling.
- Use an electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, to whip the cream into stiff peaks. This will take about 2 minutes. Set aside.
- Now add the cream cheese and powdered sugar to the food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Blend until it’s completely smooth. Add the lemon juice, vanilla, basil and pinch of salt and blend until the basil is tiny specks of green. Use a rubber spatula to add this to a large mixing bowl.
- Fold the whipped cream into the cheese mixture just until it’s combined.
- Remove crust from the refrigerator and pour the filling into it the pan. Smooth the top and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight (at least 12 hours).
- Use a knife to loosen the chilled cheesecake from the rim of the springform pan, then remove the rim.
- Garnish with small basil leaves, slice and serve.
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Lemon and basil! A classic combination. GREG
Yes it is. 🙂
This is so decadent, refreshing and genius idea Valentina ! With basil all over the place and no bake time ?!? Glad to pin all over, dear ! Enjoy your day 🙂
Thanks so much for pinning & visiting! Hope you try and enjoy. 🙂 ~Valentina
Dawn - Girl Heart Food
What a beauty! Talk about a delicious summer dessert! We don't have much luck with basil, so I usually just buy it. For some reason, our mint and thyme grows like crazy, but basil not so much. I gotta pick more up to make this cheesecake 🙂 Love how creamy this is and that it's no bake. Wishing I had a huge piece right now to go along with my coffee 😉 Awesome that it freezes well too! Hope you're having a great weekend, Valentina!
Thank you, Dawn. You just gave me the idea that this might be delicious made with mint. And thyme, also. Hope had a great weekend, too. ~Valentina
Basil is my favorite herb and I've had it in many dishes or just plucked fresh from the bush, but never in a cheesecake. A "must try" recipe which has been pinned for a future cook.
I hope you love it when you try it, Ron. Thanks. Hope you're having a lovely summer. ~Valentina
What a great summertime dessert to have on hand. I love lemon and basil! I am thinking about making this in mason jars to take to the Hollywood Bowl picnic. I think it would work just as well.
Ooooh, I love that idea, Cathy! You always have the best looking Hollywood Bowl picnics! 🙂 ~Valentina
What a fun summer cheesecake! I love basil with strawberries and I'd love a slice of your cheesecake doused in strawberry sauce....heaven!!
Its' really tasty and interesting, Kathy. Hope you try it. 🙂 Thanks for visiting. ~Valentina
Liz, adding strawberries or strawberry sauce is brilliant, and would be so pretty, to boot! Thanks. 🙂 ~Valentina
Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop
I love cheesecake and I love basil. I must admit, I wouldn't have thought of putting them together though! Now I must try this because it sounds amazing!
Oh my goodness - basil cheesecake - I think I'm in heaven!!! This is so perfect for this time of year since turning on the oven for an extended period of time is not my favorite!!!
Thanks, Nancy. So funny, I'm between ovens (sounds so funny, like cars), but I've been doing all sorts of no-bake baking. 🙂
David @ Spiced
Lemon + basil is such a classic combination! I've never had it in cheesecake form, though. What a fun idea for summer picnics. And I love that this is no-bake, too. Nice and easy summer dessert...sounds like my kinda recipe! 🙂
Thanks, David. Would be a great dessert after that steak I just saw you made. Yum! 😀 ~Valentina
John / Kitchen Riffs
Terrific recipe! Love the idea of the lemon crust. And who doesn't like cheesecake? Adding basil is a brilliant idea -- thanks!
Thank you, John! Hope you try and enjoy! ~Valentina
My mouth is watering looking at this cheesecake, Valentina! I love desserts with herbal notes and you can't get any better than basil (especially when paired with lemon). Love that you don't have to fire up the oven either. Spectacular, my friend!
Marissa, thank you so much! I so appreciate the kind words. Enjoy! 🙂 ~Valentina
Jeff the Chef
I would never have imagined this flavor combination in a cheesecake. But now that I've read it, I can't stop wondering about it! It sounds so delicious.
I hope you try it, Jeff. 🙂 Thanks! ~Valentina
David Scott Allen
I’m entranced by the lemon cookie crust! And, of course, love the combination of lemon and basil!
Thanks, David. It's a fun one. 🙂 ~Valentina
Kelly | Foodtasia
Valentina, this cheesecake looks absolutely wonderful! I love no bake cheesecakes and the lemon and basil - how delicious and summery!
Thanks, Kelly. Yes, I'm all about summery right now. 🙂 Cheers! ~Valentina
Can you make it in a glass pie dish? Idon't have springform
Hi Joan, thanks so much for writing in. Yes, you can absolutely make this is n a pie dish. Cheesecake Pie! Hope you love it. 🙂 ~Valentina
We had this in Sicily .... more of a custard dish with a mint wafer! It was delicious! Just found your recipe and made it for family!
I'm so happy you made this. A custard version sounds delicious, too. Thanks so much and enjoy! 🙂 ~Valentina