Rhubarb cheesecake is a simple dessert you can make year-round if you use frozen rhubarb. This cheesecake is smooth, creamy, and absolutely delicious–no water bath necessary!
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RHUBARB CHEESECAKE! Can you even believe I have yet to post this mashup of two of my favorite things on earth? What have I been doing with my time?
Trust me—this recipe is worth the wait. Creamy, loaded with rhubarb, and absolutely luscious, if you’re a rhubarb fan this will be love at first bite.
(And at second bite you might just be thinking of proposing marriage. . .yeah, this cheesecake is really good.)
Why you’ll love this rhubarb cheesecake
- This truly is a simple recipe, despite having quite a few components. Even if you’ve never made cheesecake before you can make this successfully!
- The addition of sour cream in the filling means that your cheesecake has a delicious tang and an ultra-creamy texture.
- There’s NO WATER BATH required for this cheesecake! Despite not using a water bath, the filling is still very creamy and, while the top might crack a bit, you won’t care because it tastes so good.
- You can use fresh or frozen rhubarb here. (Pro tip: freeze sliced rhubarb if you can’t find it already frozen. That way you can enjoy it year-round!)
How to make your crust
This cheesecake has a simple graham cracker crust as a base. If you prefer, you can substitute an equal amount of vanilla wafer cookies.
- Combine graham cracker crumbs, butter, cinnamon (see note), and a few other ingredients
- Stir until the crumbs are evenly moistened and everything is well mixed
- Press into an even layer in the bottom and about 1 inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan
Then you’ll bake the crust for a few minutes and let it cool while you work on the rhubarb cheesecake filling. And that’s it!
Graham cracker crusts are so easy and add such a delicious crunch to cheesecakes!
Notes on making the crust:
- I added a little cinnamon to my crust because it complements the rhubarb (and the graham crackers) so beautifully. If you don’t like cinnamon just leave it out.
- Don’t skip the step of baking your crust. Baking for just a few minutes before you add the filling means you’ll have a fully baked crust once your cheesecake is done.
How to make the filling
Start by cooking down your rhubarb. Remember that rhubarb on its own is very sour so you need to add sugar to make it edible, especially in a dessert.
- Combine rhubarb, sugar, water, and lemon juice in a small pan
- Cook, stirring often, until the rhubarb has broken down and mixture is very thick and free of liquid
Then set aside to cool while you work on the cheesecake component.
- Beat room temperature cream cheese with granulated sugar until very smooth and creamy.
- Add eggs, white chocolate, sour cream, and a few more ingredients and mix, again until very creamy
And that’s it! That’s your filling. Now it’s time to assemble.
- Pour about half of your cheesecake filling into the crust
- Dollop about half of the rhubarb over that and use a butter knife to swirl them together
- Top with the remaining cheesecake filling
- Then dollop the remaining rhubarb over that and swirl again
Then bake! The cheesecake will puff up a bit and turn light golden on top.
Notes on making your cheesecake:
- When cooking your rhubarb, be sure you cook out all the liquid. If your rhubarb swirl is too runny, the cheesecake won’t bake up properly. It will seem like there’s so much liquid that it will never all cook out—it will! Just be patient. (If you’re using frozen rhubarb this will seem especially true.)
- I added a little bit of red food coloring to my rhubarb to give it a vibrant color. That’s optional!
- Be sure your cream cheese is at room temperature so it combines properly with all the other ingredients.
- If you don’t have white chocolate or don’t like it, you can leave it out of the filling. The chocolate adds a really special flavor but the cheesecake is still delicious without it. I don’t recommend white chocolate chips—use a baking bar from a brand like Ghirardelli or Lindt.
- As always, melt your white chocolate slowly so it doesn’t seize. Heat in 20-second intervals in the microwave, stirring after each interval, until melted. It won’t take long. You can also do this on top of a double boiler, stirring constantly.
- You don’t have to be exact when you pour half the filling into the crust, dollop with half the rhubarb, etc. I eyeballed it rather than measuring it.
- When swirling your rhubarb and cheesecake filling together, be sure you don’t disturb the crust. You don’t want to crumble it!
How to tell when cheesecake is done
Most cheesecakes are done when the center jiggles just a little (right in the middle!) if you tap the side of the pan. The edges should be set—if they’re still jiggly your cheesecake definitely isn’t done.
But always consult your recipe—if the recipe gives you an indication that the filling shouldn’t jiggle at all, then go by that.
For this cheesecake, you’re definitely looking for that jiggle in the middle.
How to store your cheesecake
This cheesecake can be stored, covered, in the fridge for three or four days. Be sure you cool your cheesecake completely to room temperature before you cover and/or pop it in the fridge.
You can also freeze your cheesecake for a couple of months. See below for details on doing that!
Can I freeze cheesecake? How do I freeze cheesecake?
You can absolutely freeze cheesecake.
Be sure to cool your cheesecake completely to room temperature, then chill it in the fridge overnight (if your recipe indicates to do so).
Then you can either wrap the entire cheesecake, still in the pan, with layers of aluminum foil and plastic wrap, or you can freeze slices.
If you opt to freeze the whole cheesecake, defrost it in the fridge overnight before serving.
If you opt to freeze slices of cheesecake, I always recommend setting the slices on a large baking sheet (preferably lined with foil or parchment) then freezing for about half an hour, until they’re hard. This is especially helpful for cheesecakes with toppings like whipped cream.
Once the slices are hard, you can wrap them tightly with foil and plastic wrap. Either defrost overnight in the fridge, on the counter for a couple of hours, or even stick them in the microwave for a few seconds.
Or you can always eat slices frozen!
Most cheesecakes will last for a couple of months in the freezer if they’re wrapped well.
Did you make this rhubarb cheesecake? That’s great! Let me know what you think with a comment and a rating below. And post a pic on Instagram! Tag @theitsybitsykitchen so I can see your beautiful creations!
Rhubarb cheesecake is a simple dessert perfect for spring and summer. And since you can use frozen rhubarb you can enjoy this treat any time of year!
- 2 1/2 cups sliced fresh or frozen rhubarb*
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- red or pink food coloring optional
- 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs from about 8 or 9 graham cracker sheets
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon optional
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 8-ounce packages full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup full-fat sour cream
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- 4 ounces chopped white chocolate melted and cooled slightly**
- Combine the rhubarb, sugar, and lemon juice in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring often.
- Reduce heat to low and, still stirring often, let cook until the rhubarb has broken down and the mixture is thick. The liquid should all have cooked out; if not, continue cooking on low.
- Remove from the heat and stir in a little food coloring, if desired.
- Set aside to cool while you work on the crust and filling.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray and set pan aside.
- Combine the graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar, cinnamon (if using), and salt in a mixing bowl and stir until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Press the mixture into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of the prepared pan.
- Set pan on a large baking sheet and bake the crust for 7 to 10 minutes, until set. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack while you make the cheesecake.
- Combine the cream cheese and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth.
- Beat in the sour cream, vanilla, and salt to combine. Add the eggs 1 at a time and beat on low speed until just combined, then mix in the melted white chocolate.
- Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat about 30 seconds more to ensure everything is mixed well.
- Pour about half of the filling into the crust. Dollop half of the rhubarb over that, then use a butter knife to swirl the two together a bit, taking care to avoid the crust.
- Repeat the process with the remaining filling and the remaining rhubarb.
- Pour into the crust and bake for 55 to 65 minutes, until the center barely jiggles when you tap the pan.
- Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Cool to room temperature, then cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Once the cheesecake has chilled overnight, slice and serve.
- Uneaten cheesecake can be stored in the fridge, covered, for 3 or 4 days or in the freezer, tightly wrapped, for about 2 months.
- *Slice your rhubarb into pieces about a 1/4-inch thick (or a little thicker). You’ll need about 10 ounces of rhubarb.
- **Use chocolate bars rather than chocolate chips. Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 20-second intervals, stirring after each interval. White chocolate scorches easily so it’s necessary to melt it slowly. You can omit the white chocolate if you prefer.
- See the body of this post for step by step photos.
- Note that the cheesecake needs to chill overnight so factor the chilling time into your plans to serve your dessert!