This perfectly velvety and creamy NY-style cheesecake gets a holiday spin with some eggnog cheer! With plenty of nutmeg, a hint of bourbon and a fluffy whipped cream, this make-ahead Eggnog Cheesecake is made for any holiday table!
Cheesecake is one of my top desserts. To say that it’s a rich and creamy dessert is an understatement. The addition of eggnog is a great match: cheesecake is already a celebratory dessert and eggnog is a celebratory holiday drink!
Bonus, the custard-like consistency of eggnog is a dream with the custard-like cheesecake so they just belong together!
This is a pretty traditional NY-style cheesecake. Which means there’s no flour in this recipe and we’re fully dependent on the eggs in the recipe to set the cake. Which also means we get that incredibly rich final texture!
Traditionally, this recipe would have a combination of heavy cream and sour cream which we have swapped for the incomparable eggnog!
- Cream cheese. Here’s the trick, I prefer using the less expensive cream cheese options for baking. Still use the full-fat variety, but skip the “creamiest” Philadelphia brand. “Creamiest” = “Wettest” and while that’s great for bagels, we don’t want it in our cheesecake!
- Granulated sugar. Sweetens and helps to set the cheesecake custard.
- Eggnog. Use a good, thick refrigerated nog.
- Nutmeg. I prefer freshly grated for the best, most fragrant, flavor.
- Bourbon. OK, this is optional, but it really deepens the final flavor. You can substitute in your favorite rum or brandy too.
- Eggs. Eggs are providing all our structure today, they are doing the heavy lifting!
In a cheesecake, the crust is equally important. Because eggnog has a pretty subtle flavor, I kept the crust crumbs a bit less strong in flavor.
- Graham Cracker Crumbs. I like to grind my own crumbs so I can get a really fine texture. Blitz graham crackers quickly in a food processor. Even if I use the pre-made graham crumbs, I still blitz them first for the best texture.
- Granulated Sugar. Just a hint to sweeten the crust.
- Nutmeg. This reinforces the nutmeg flavor throughout.
- Melted Butter. There should be just enough butter to give the crumbs the texture of wet sand and it should hold together when you press it together.
Tips for Cheesecake Success
Cheesecake is notoriously a little tricky. But if you set yourself up for success, and give yourself PLENTY of time, this is so easy! That’s why this eggnog cheesecake is a perfect make-ahead holiday dessert. Make it the day before, pull it out of the fridge for dinner the next day and boom! you are ready to go!
Perfect the crust. The crust has to be a perfect base. It’s best to grind your own cookie crumbs so you can get a really fine texture. Add in enough melted butter to just hold and not be greasy. Press the crumbs into the sides of the pan with a straight-sided glass or measuring cup so you get a 90° corner.
I like to leave the tops of the edges a little wavy and rustic for visual interest, but you can absolutely smooth it along the top for a straight edge.
Use a food processor. It’s not common to use a food processor for cake making. But here, it’s a great option. Not only does it create a very smooth texture, but it limits the amount of aeration in the batter. Less aeration means fewer bubbles and less of a chance of collapse.
Use room temperature ingredients. Cold cream cheese will always be a little clumpy. Really let it come to room temperature before beginning.
Protect your pan. OK, but here’s the problem with a water bath. It’s a liquid and cheesecake needs to bake in a pan that has a crack on the bottom. So we have to avoid getting water INSIDE the pan.
If you have extra-wide, heavy duty, aluminum foil, 2 layers of foil will do if the foil reaches well over 1″ on all sides. In my case, my foil isn’t wide enough to cover that high.
Make a water bath. This is the most important part for a smooth and silky cheesecake. If you bake with the cheesecake directly in the oven, you will get the eggs too hot too fast, it will puff up and crack.
Creating a water bath will regulate the temperature because water can only get *so* hot (212°F) it keeps the cheesecake cooking low and slow so it sets without a crack.
To avoid seepage, I placed 2 sheets of foil (criss crossed) then used a roasting bag as a shower cap on the bottom. It will be much taller than needed, but you can roll down the sides, and you will prevent any drop of water from getting into the pan. I placed one last piece of foil on top of the bag just to hold it in place.
Avoid overbaking. The cheesecake is not going to look done when you stop baking. Please trust me. It’s still going to giggle and even look a bit wet in the very center. As we let the cake cool in an off oven and chill it overnight, that center will set into that velvety texture we want. Overbaking and we end up with rubber.
Don’t rush the process. Give yourself plenty of time for cooling AND chilling. Let the crust fully cool before adding the cream cheese mixture. Allow for a slow and long bake time. Let the cake cool in the oven for an hour.
Then let the cake cool at room temperature for another hour before chilling. The slow cool process again prevents cracks. If we go from hot to cold immediately, the custard will shrink and again crack.
Chilling time needs to be at least 6 hours, but 12+ is better for the cake to completely set.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! I like to slice the cheesecake, freeze on a sheet pan until solid, then wrap each individually for easy-to-grab slices. Cheesecake will last up to 3 months in the freezer.
Yes, you can switch the cookie crumbs for gingersnaps, amaretti cookies, or even Oreos if you prefer!
To get really clean cuts, quickly run a knife under hot water for a few seconds. Quickly dry on a towel and slice. Repeat for each cut, cleaning the knife each time.
Whisk together 1/2 cup of cold heavy whipping cream with 1/4 cup (28g) sifted confectioners’ sugar until soft peaks form. Add 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and pinch of salt.
- 9" springform pan
- large roasting pan
Graham Cracker Crust
- 215 g graham cracker crumbs finely ground
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 64 g unsalted butter melted
- 904 g (4-8oz boxes) cream cheese softened to room temperature
- 250 g granulated sugar
- ¾ cup eggnog room temperature
- 3 tablespoons bourbon optional
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- Graham Cracker Crust. Preheat oven to 325°F. Place a shelf in the lower 1/3 of the oven. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with non-stick spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, nutmeg, and salt. Pour melted butter in and continue to stir with a fork until mixture resembles wet sand and holds together. Transfer to prepared pan, pressing crumbs evenly on the bottom and up the sides. Use a straight-sided cup or measuring cup to press into the corners.215 g graham cracker crumbs, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 64 g unsalted butter
- Bake for 10 minutes and allow to cool completely.
- Eggnog Cheesecake. While crust cools, prepare cheesecake filling. In the bowl of a food processor, blend together softened cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggnog, bourbon (if using), vanilla, nutmeg and salt. Add eggs one at a time until mixture is smooth.904 g (4-8oz boxes) cream cheese, 250 g granulated sugar, 3/4 cup eggnog, 3 tablespoons bourbon, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, 4 large eggs
- Before adding filling to crust, prepare the pan for a water bath. Wrap the bottom and sides of the pan with at least 2 sheets heavy-duty aluminum foil. If foil does not come up at least 1″ up sides, place the pan in a roasting bag and place another foil sheet on top to hold in place. Begin boiling water for water bath.
- Place prepared springform pan in a large roasting pan, at least 1″ wider on all sides. Pour cheesecake filling into crust. Set roasting pan on lower oven shelf. Pour boiling water into roasting pan, coming up at least 1″ up the sides of the springform pan.
- Gently slide the shelf into the oven and bake 60-70 minutes. Do not open oven before 60 minutes to test doneness. Cheesecake will be just set on the edges when touched, and center will still jiggle when moved.
- Leave cheesecake in the oven, turn off heat, crack the door open, and let sit for 1 hour.
- Remove from the oven and let cheesecake sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Transfer to refrigerator and chill for at least 6 hours, overnight is better.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Cheesecake may be frozen, whole or in slices.
Looking for other holiday desserts?
Try some of these other holiday-ready recipes!