Like little bites of sunshine, these cupcake-size lemon treats are just the thing for Spring. Baked in a muffin pan, these Mini Lemon Cheesecakes are creamy, tangy and tart, just like they should be. The recipe makes 4 small servings, but you can double or triple the recipe to make as many as you need.
These mini lemon cheesecakes are so quick to make because they have a secret, simple crust method. Instead of crushing graham crackers or other cookies, mixing with melted butter and more sugar, we're just going to drop the whole cookie right in! I use this crust method for my mini strawberry cheesecakes, too!
My cookie of choice for the crust on these mini lemon cheesecakes is a vanilla wafer. You know the ones in the yellow box that says 'Nilla Wafers,' right? They're great crushed into a crust, but they're also great whole.
If you're looking for a larger version of this recipe, don't miss my lemon blueberry cheesecake made in a loaf pan.
How to Make Mini Lemon Cheesecakes
If you have a muffin or cupcake pan, you can make this recipe so easily! I really recommend using cupcake liners because sometimes, the cheesecake can stick to the pan and make it hard to remove.
If you love my original mini cheesecakes with chocolate sauce and strawberries, you will love this new tangy version! If you're looking to amp up the lemon flavor even more, try topping these with my microwave lemon curd just before serving.
Yes, really, this recipe only contains 6 ingredients! Can you believe you're so close to a sweet lemon dessert that is so simple to make?
- Cream Cheese. It's imperative that your cream cheese be fully softened to room temperature. To do this, chop up 6 ounces of cream cheese and leave it on the counter for about 30 minutes. If you don't fully soften it, your mini lemon cheesecakes will have lumps in the final product.
- Egg. One large egg, the whole egg yolk and egg white!
- Sugar. While calling for ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar seems like an odd amount, please remember that's because we're small batch baking. Six tablespoons of sugar is what we need to make 4 mini lemon cheesecakes.
- Vanilla Extract. When a recipe has such few ingredients, it's best to use high quality, real vanilla extract.
- Lemon. We need one fresh lemon, because we're using the entire zest of the lemon plus one teaspoon of the juice for the filling.
- Wafer Cookies. Instead of making a crust, we're dropping a whole vanilla wafer cookie in the bottom of the cupcake liner and calling it 'done'.
First, preheat the oven to 375-degrees Fahrenheit and place 4 cupcake liners in 4 cups of a muffin pan. Drop a cookie in each cup, making sure the flat side is down.
Then, combine the softened cream cheese, egg, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice in a bowl.
Beat very well with an electric hand mixer until combined and no lumps remain. However, be careful not to over-beat because it will inflate the egg and cause the mini lemon cheesecakes to sink after baking.
Evenly divide the batter between the four cups. Give the pan a gentle tap on the counter to level out the batter.
Bake on the center rack of the preheated oven for 15 minutes. At the end of 15 minutes, they will be slightly puffy and the centers will be slightly jiggly. However, you can touch the top with your finger and the batter won't stick to your finger.
Let the mini lemon cheesecakes cool completely in the pan. They will shrink slightly in the center. This is a good place to add a dollop of lemon curd or whipped cream. Refrigerate for 4 hours (or up to 48 hours) before serving.
Equipment Needed for Mini Lemon Cheesecakes
- Muffin Pan - My photos show this small 6-cup muffin pan, which I love. If you only have a standard-size pan, place the 4 liners on the outside edge of the pan for this recipe to ensure even heat distribution.
- Microplane Grater - I really recommend this microplane grater to get perfectly zested lemons. The flavor of the lemon is in the oil, and lemon zest is such a key component to this lemon mini cheesecakes recipe.
FAQ: Lemon Mini Cheesecakes
Yes, because they contain cream cheese and eggs, mini cheesecakes need to be stored in the fridge. They will keep for up 4 days in the fridge if they're in air-tight container. Do not store them at room temperature.
Most mini cheesecake recipes sink slightly in the middle. This is because the hot edges of the pan are just too close to the batter. This is why we typically bake cheesecake in a 9-inch springform pan. To reduce the sinkage, do not over-beat your cheesecake batter. Overbeating causing air to inflate the eggs, which sink when cooling.
Yes, a scoop of lemon curd is such a lovely surprise under a dollop of whipped cream on this dessert. In fact, it's the only way I serve it.
Other Lemon Desserts:
- 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1 large lemon, zested + 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
- 4 vanilla wafers (or other small cookies)
- For serving: whipped cream and lemon slices
- Preheat the oven to 375°F, and line 4 cups in a muffin pan with paper liners. Ensure the cream cheese and egg is at room temperature.
- Drop a cookie in each liner, with the flat side down.
- In a small bowl, beat together the cream cheese, egg, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice. Beat very well until combined.
- Divide the mixture between the cups and bake for 15 minutes.
- Let cakes cool completely in the pan, and then refrigerate at least 4 hours.
- To serve, garnish with a dollop of whipped cream and a lemon slice and lemon zest.
Cream Cheese: Your cream cheese MUST BE fully softened to room temperature. To do this, chop up 6 ounces of cream cheese and leave it on the counter for about 30 minutes. If you don't fully soften it, your mini lemon cheesecakes will have lumps in the final product.
Wafer Cookies: You need small vanilla-flavored cookies. I used the ones in the yellow box labeled 'Nilla Wafers.'
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 221Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 91mgSodium: 167mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 1gSugar: 10gProtein: 5g