No-Bake Strawberry Crunch Cheesecake
Buckle up friends, you’re going to want to make this no-bake strawberry crunch cheesecake ASAP! With graham cracker crust, creamy strawberry filling, and strawberry crunch topping, it’s ridiculously delicious and decadent. Make it for dinner parties, BBQs, holidays, and everything in-between!
I bought approximately a million pounds of strawberries at the farmer’s market last weekend and was instantly inspired to dessert-ify them. Even though, ultimately, none of them made it into this cheesecake. (But don’t worry, they went to good use. I ate them for lunch every day for a week, oops!)
We all know that strawberries and cheesecake go together, it’s just no secret. My strawberry cheesecake bars are one of my most asked-for recipes after all. But what’s a girl to do when it’s sweaty and sticky and the damn air conditioner just won’t cool down her house?
No-bake, that’s what. Maybe it’s the mousse-y texture, maybe it’s that I don’t have to cry over a cracked top, but I love me a no-bake cheesecake. This one is reminiscent of childhood and summer and sunshine-y days. Make it for your next BBQ or dinner party, you won’t regret it.
Why you’ll love this cheesecake
If you were the kid whose ice cream truck was religiously a Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake bar above all else, then I can assure you that you’ll want to make this cheesecake. It’s pure decadence mixed with a good dose of childhood nostalgia. A.K.A. the best kind of dessert.
- This cheesecake is no-bake, make-ahead, and super simple.
- The strawberry filling is creamy, lemony, and a touch sweet.
- The cookie crunch topping is totally addictive.
- This recipe makes a big cake – perfect for parties & get-togethers!
The ingredient list
- Freeze-dried strawberries – this is a secret ingredient that I learned about in pastry school for making the best strawberry desserts. It adds an intense strawberry flavor without making the filling too liquid-y!
- Golden Oreo Thins – these will make up the base of the crunch topping. I prefer the thins over the regular Oreos, because they’re less sweet.
- Unsalted butter – a bit of melted butter will help both the crunch topping and the graham cracker crust stick together.
- Graham crackers – for the bottom crust. I usually buy the classic honey flavor.
- Sugar – regular granulated white sugar will add sweetness to the crust. You will also need some for the filling. Granulated sugar helps break down the cream cheese, creating pockets of air and a creamy texture!
- Kosher salt – just a pinch to offset the sweetness in the cheesecake.
- Heavy whipping cream – whipped cream lightens the cream cheese filling so it’s not too dense.
- Cream cheese – you’ll want full-fat for the best flavor and texture. Make sure to get blocks, not the stuff you use on bagels!
- Powdered sugar – while we’ll use granulated sugar to help make the filling fluffy, a bit of powdered sugar will add stability thanks to the cornstarch in the powdered sugar.
- Lemons – we’ll use both the zest and the juice. The zest will add citrusy flavor to complement the strawberries and the juice will add a hint of classic cheesecake tartness!
- Vanilla bean paste – to add depth and extra flavor.
- Sour cream – just a touch for the classic tanginess in cheesecake.
- Fresh strawberries – for decoration. These are totally optional!
- Berries – try freeze-dried raspberries or blueberries instead. Soooo delicious!
- Golden Oreos – use any vanilla shortbread cookie you like best.
- Graham crackers – to save an ingredient, try Golden Oreos or vanilla shortbread cookies for the crust.
- Vanilla – you can also use regular vanilla extract in this recipe.
How to make this cake
While it may seem like this recipe has a lot of steps, it actually comes together super quickly. Bonus: I purposefully messed around with the step-by-step instructions so you don’t even have to wash your food processor or mixer in-between making each layer. You’re welcome. 😉
- First thing’s first, you’ll want to make the secret ingredient: strawberry powder! Place the freeze-dried strawberries into the bowl of a food processor.
- Blend the strawberries until they are a fine powder. A few small chunks are ok!
- Then, sift the strawberry powder through a fine-mesh sieve. Reserve the leftover strawberry chunks for the topping!
Strawberry crunch topping
- To make the topping, use a food processor to blend the Golden Oreo Thins into semi-fine crumbs.
- Place about 1/3 of the plain crumbs into a bowl and set them aside for later.
- Pour the remaining cookie crumbs into a small bowl. Add a bit of strawberry powder and the reserved strawberry chunks and stir it together.
- Then, add the melted butter and stir until everything is evenly coated.
- Add the plain cookie crumbs and mix well. The mixture should be crumbly at this point.
- Store the crumb mixture in the fridge for later!
Graham cracker crust
- First, place the graham crackers in the food processor and blend until you have semi-fine crumbs.
- Add the sugar, melted butter, and a pinch of salt. Blend until a thick dough forms.
- Then, tip the dough into a springform pan.
- Use your hands to press the dough into the pan until you have a compact crust.
- Refrigerate while you make the filling!
Strawberry cream cheese filling
- To make the filling, whip the cream until very stiff peaks form.
- Spoon the whipped cream into a bowl and set it aside.
- Then, beat the cream cheese, sugar, and powdered sugar until it’s combined.
- Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla, strawberry powder, and sour cream. Mix until it’s well-combined.
- Next, fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until it’s light and fluffy.
The texture of the strawberry filling is a bit more fluffy and mousse-like than traditional cheesecake. That’s just how I like my no-bake cheesecakes! If you prefer a denser, more traditional cheesecake filling, reduce the whipping cream from 1 1/2 cups to 1 cup.
Assemble the cake
- Spread the strawberry filling over the chilled graham cracker crust.
- Cover and refrigerate until the filling is set, at least 4 hours but preferably overnight.
- Once the filling is set, release the cheesecake from the pan. Then, sprinkle the topping over the cheesecake. Top with berries, slice, and enjoy!
To help release the cheesecake from the pan, use a butter knife to gently cut the cake away from the pan. Once the cheesecake is loosened, release the sides of the springform pan, and you’ll have a gorgeous strawberry shortcake cheesecake to decorate!
Serving & decorating
This cheesecake looks so pretty on its own, but if you want to make it extra-special, try topping the cheesecake with:
- Fresh strawberries
- Whipped cream & Golden Oreos
- A scoop of vanilla or strawberry ice cream
- Strawberry compote or coulis
Storing & make-ahead
To store leftover cheesecake, cover the it with plastic wrap or store slices in an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 3-4 days.
Making this cake in advance is also super easy! Since the cheesecake needs time to set, you can make the cheesecake up to 3-4 days before serving. I would just add the crumb topping right before serving so it stays nice and crunchy.
Sorry but I do not recommend freezing this cake! The freezer will affect the texture of the cream cheese filling and make it gummy. It’s best to make this cake fresh or a few days in advance.
- 8-inch springform pan – Springform pans are traditional for cheesecakes because you can remove the sides. This makes it much easier to serve, although you could use a pie plate in a pinch. You can also use a 9” springform pan, just keep in mind that the cheesecake will be a bit thinner.
- Food processor – this will make crushing the freeze-dried strawberries, cookies, and graham crackers sooo much easier. If you don’t have a food processor, just place the strawberries, cookies, and graham crackers into zipper bags, and use a rolling pin to crush them instead.
- Stand mixer – I love my stand mixer for hands-off mixing! But, you can also use a hand mixer for the filling.
Tips & tricks
- If you don’t have a food processor, no worries! You can place the freeze-dried strawberries, cookies, and graham crackers in zipper bags and use a rolling pin to crush them instead.
- Use cold cream cheese for the filling. When I tried this recipe with room temp cream cheese, the filling did not hold its shape very well. And don’t worry about lumps! The sugar will help break down the cream cheese and make it lump-free.
- The cheesecake needs to chill for at least 4 hours. But, I recommend letting it chill overnight for the best texture.
- If you want to decorate both the top and sides of the cheesecake with crumbs, double the topping recipe. I prefer just the top, but it does look super cute with crumbs on the sides.
- For pretty slices, wipe the knife in-between each cut. Gorgeous cheesecake, every time!
How long should the cheesecake set?
Since this is a no-bake recipe, the cheesecake needs to set in the fridge for at least 4 hours. But, if you can swing it, I would refrigerate it overnight, because the filling holds its shape better the longer it chills. If you don’t let it chill properly, the filling will be too runny to slice!
What is strawberry crunch made of?
In this recipe, we’re using a mix of Golden Oreo Thins, freeze-dried strawberries, and butter to get that signature shortcake crunch! A lot of other recipes use regular Golden Oreos and strawberry Jell-O, but I like the natural flavor from the freeze-dried strawberries. I also use Golden Oreo Thins (instead of regular Oreos) because they’re less sweet. You could also use shortbread cookies!
Can I use a different pan?
Sure! I like an 8” springform pan, but you could also use a 9” springform. Just keep in mind that the layers will be a bit thinner. In a pinch, a pie plate will work but won’t slice as nicely.
How long is cheesecake good for in the fridge?
This strawberry shortcake cheesecake will hold up for 3-4 days in the fridge. The crust might lose a bit of its crunch but will still taste delicious! Just make sure to cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container so it doesn’t pick up other flavors in the fridge.
More strawberry desserts you’ll love
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No-Bake Strawberry Crunch Cheesecake
- 2.4 ounces freeze-dried strawberries (2 bags)
Strawberry Crunch Topping
- 14 Golden Oreo Thins (3/4 cup crumbs)
- 1 Tablespoon strawberry powder
- Reserved freeze-dried strawberry crumbs
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Graham Cracker Crust
- 10 full graham cracker sheets (1 1/2 cup crumbs)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Pinch of Kosher salt
Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling
- 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, cold
- 16 ounces full-fat cream cheese, cold
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
- 1/3 cup full-fat sour cream
- Reserved strawberry powder
- Fresh strawberries, for garnish
- 8'' springform pan
- Food processor (optional)
- Stand mixer (optional)
- To make the strawberry powder, place the freeze-dried strawberries in the bowl of a food processor. Blend until the strawberries are a fine powder (a few small chunks are ok). Sift the powder through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any chunks and set aside. Save the strawberry chunks for the crunch topping!
Strawberry Crunch Topping
- Pour the Golden Oreo Thins into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until you have fine crumbs. You should have about 3/4 cup crumbs. Place about 1/3 of the plain cookie crumbs in a small bowl and set aside.
- Combine the remaining 2/3 of the cookie crumbs, 1 Tablespoon of the strawberry powder, the reserved strawberry chunks, and the melted butter. Stir until everything is well-coated.
- Add the remaining plain cookie crumbs and stir until the mixture is crumbly and combined. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for later.
Graham Cracker Crust
- Place the graham crackers in the bowl of the food processor and pulse until you have semi-fine crumbs. You should have about 1 1/2 cups of crumbs.
- Add the sugar, melted butter, and salt. Pulse until the graham crackers are finely ground and the mixture clumps together.
- Tip the graham cracker mixture into the springform pan and use clean hands to press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan. You can also use a measuring cup to help compact the crust. Cover, and place the crust in the fridge for later.
Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling
- Pour the cold heavy whipping cream into the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Whip the cream into stiff peaks, about 5 minutes. Spoon the whipped cream into a mixing bowl, and set aside.
- Next, add the cold cream cheese, sugar, and powdered sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Beat the mixture until it's smooth and there are no more lumps. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, as necessary.
- Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla bean paste or extract, sour cream, and the rest of the freeze-dried strawberry powder. Beat for another 2-3 minutes on medium-high speed until the mixture is very smooth and there are no streaks of strawberry powder.
- Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the strawberry cream cheese mixture about 1 cup at a time. Do this slowly so that you don't deflate the whipped cream! Continue folding until there are no more streaks of whipped cream.
- Spoon the strawberry cream cheese filling over the chilled graham cracker crust. Use an offset spatula or rubber spatula to evenly spread the filling over the crust. Make sure to gently push the filling into the edges of the pan so you don't get gaps between the crust and the cream cheese layer.
- Cover the cheesecake and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. The longer it chills, the better the texture of the filling.
- Once the filling is set, use a butter knife to gently loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan. Remove the sides of the springform pan. Then, use a spoon to sprinkle the crumb mixture over the top of the cheesecake. Gently press down on the crumbs to adhere them to the top of the cheesecake. Decorate with fresh strawberries, slice, and enjoy!
xo Sara Lynn
Song of the day – Frequency of Love by Milky Chance