This post may contain affiliate links, please see our privacy policy for details.

Simple Lemon Sugar Burnt Basque Cheesecake…just what your weekend needs. This cheesecake has a crinkly, flaky, sweet top with a creamy lemony cheesecake filling. Its deep brown top has cracks all around for a rustic, but pretty, and very unique look. It’s really not like any other cheesecake you’ve had before. It’s flaky on the outside, but the inside is creamy, rich, and bursting with notes of springy lemon flavor. Bonus? This is the easiest cheesecake to make and (almost) impossible to mess up.

overhead photo of Simple Lemon Sugar Burnt Basque Cheesecake with a few slices of cake cut

Well look at that, not one, but two non-chocolate desserts this week. Between Tuesday’s crème brûlée and today’s cheesecake, I am really on a vanilla-themed dessert kick. I wasn’t planning to share this cheesecake today, but after I gave a little preview on Instagram the other day, it was clear that everyone seemed to want this recipe now.

With Easter rapidly approaching, I definitely have spring-themed desserts on my mind. In the past, I’ve share shared mostly chocolate Easter desserts, but this year I’m embracing more of the classics. But classics with a twist…of course.

Enter this burnt Basque cheesecake. I made a blueberry Basque cheesecake a few summers ago. But today I wanted to share a more traditional take with the addition of sweet lemon. It’s truly the simplest cheesecake you’ll ever make and possibly the most delicious too.

This one is pretty hard to beat.

prep photo of cake batter in mixing bowl

The background on the Burnt Basque Cheesecake

A little back story on the Basque Burnt Cheesecake. It originated in San Sebastian, Spain in 1990 and was created by chef Santiago Rivera of La Viña. It’s traditionally a crustless cheesecake made with a lot of cream cheese and plenty of eggs. The biggest difference between a Basque cheesecake and a more traditional American cheesecake is that the Basque cheesecake is baked at a higher temperature. The high heat creates a deep dark brown “burnt” exterior, while still maintaining a super creamy and almost custard-like interior.

Personally, what I love the most about the Basque-style cheesecake is that it’s no-fuss, no-stress, and absolutely nothing too fancy. It’s OK that it looks burnt, and it’s OK that the top has crinkly cracks throughout. In fact, the more imperfect-looking it is the better.

I’m all about that imperfect, but perfect look.

prep photo of Cheesecake before baking

Making the Basque cheesecake is easy, here is how…

Traditionally, this cake is made very, very simply with just cream cheese, sugar, heavy cream, and flour. A splash of vanilla is also added and a pinch of salt too. This helps to lighten up and balance out the rather rich cheesecake.

I kept my changes pretty simple, but I think they make a big difference.

I added in fresh lemon zest, doubled up on the vanilla, and used a smidge smaller amount of eggs for an even creamier and sweeter cheesecake.

But it’s the lemon sugar that’s the star here. It adds just the right amount of lightness to this rich cheesecake.

photo of cake just after baking

Start with the your ingredients. Everything should be at room temperature, but especially the creamy cheese and eggs. You’ll want the cream cheese to be able to easily be whipped together with the sugar and lemon zest. It turns extra light and fluffy, which creates the perfect texture for the cheesecake.

I like to cream the cream cheese with sugar and lemon to really infuse the lemon zest into the cream cheese and create an even more flavorful outcome.

My grocery store had the pretties pink lemons so I used those, but Meyer or regular lemons both work wonderfully within this cake.

Once the cream cheese is light and fluffy, simply beat in the eggs, then the cream. Once the batter is smooth, sift over a bit of flour and a pinch of salt. The sifting is key and ensures you’ll end up with a light creamy cheese cheesecake with no clumps of flour.

overhead close up photo of Simple Lemon Sugar Burnt Basque Cheesecake

And now you bake.

Pour the batter into a parchment-lined cake pan, then sprinkle with a little lemon sugar. And that’s it, one of the simplest cake batters.

As I mentioned above, you’ll bake this cheesecake a high heat…400° F, for about an hour. As the cheesecake bakes, it rises tall in the oven and turns a deep, deep golden brown with burnt patches all around. The sugar on top is not traditional, but so delish. It ends up caramelizing and creates a flaky, crackly top…which I adore.

It’s very unique and at the same time, so pretty.

Simple Lemon Sugar Burnt Basque Cheesecake slice

I let the cake cool in the pan. I then remove it from the pan and carefully pull away the sides of parchment paper. You’ll want to be careful when removing the parchment paper. If you pull too fast, you’ll end up tearing into the cake, as the cake does like to stick to the parchment around the sides.

Once the cake has cooled, you can slice, sprinkle with a little more lemon sugar, and serve. Unlike an American cheesecake, this is best served at room temperature. Though you can certainly chill it if you prefer.

And that’s it. Every bite is a little flaky with the creamiest cheesecake center that’s bursting with sweet vanilla and lemony flavors. This simple lemon sugar burnt Basque cheesecake is every bit as delicious as it sounds.

Perfect for a bit of very early spring weekend baking…

Simple Lemon Sugar Burnt Basque Cheesecake |

Looking for other springy lemon desserts? Here are a few to try:

Earl Grey Blueberry Lemon Cake

No Fuss Lemon Tart

Bursting Blueberry Lemon Layer Cake

Lemon Coconut Naked Cake with Whipped Vanilla Buttercream

Lastly, if you make this Simple Lemon Sugar Burnt Basque Cheesecake be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Simple Lemon Sugar Burnt Basque Cheesecake

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings: 10
Calories Per Serving: 210 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.



  • 1. Place a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Lightly butter a 9-inch spring-form pan and line with parchment paper going up the sides of the pan.
    2. In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, 3/4 sugar, and 1 tablespoon lemon zest on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl until very smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time until the eggs are fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then reduce the mixer speed to medium-low. Add the cream and vanilla, beat until combined, about 30 seconds.
    3. Sift the flour and salt into the batter, then beat again to combine, about 30 seconds. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
    4. In a bowl, mix 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon lemon zest. Sprinkle the top of the cake with half of the lemon sugar, reserving the remaining sugar for serving.
    5. Transfer to the oven and bake for 50-55 minutes, until deeply golden brown on top and still very jiggly in the center. Let the cake cool 5 minutes, then unmold. Let cool completely. Slice into wedges and serve at room temperature or chilled. I like room temp best.
View Recipe Comments

Simple Lemon Sugar Burnt Basque Cheesecake |

Add a Comment

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


    1. Hey Ryan,
      I would just the recipe in half, that should work well for you:) Please let me know if you have any other questions! xT

  1. 5 stars
    Made this last night and my entire family loved it. We have tried all of NYC’s top cheesecakes and the consensus was that this beats them all.

    1. Hey Francesca,
      Wonderful!! I love to hear that this recipe turned out well for you and thanks so much for trying it out! Wow, thank you:) xx

  2. 5 stars
    So easy to make, delicious, and gorgeous looking. Loved the extra lemon zest sugar sprinkle to top off for serving.

  3. 5 stars
    Thank you for sharing another lovely recipe Tieghan. I recently made your Burnt Blueberry Basque Cheesecake, it was beyond wonderful.

    When I saw this cheesecake recipe I knew that it would be perfect for our brother-in-law’s birthday. I was right, the cake was delicious; subtly flavored, light, tender and creamy. It was enjoyed by all of us.

    I made the recipe as written, but I did take a liberty, I added some fresh raspberries to the cheesecake before baking. I also added fresh raspberries to the lemon sugar for garnishing.

    1. Hey Ger,
      Happy Friday!!❄️ Thanks so much for making this recipe and sharing your review, so glad to hear it was a winner! xx

    1. Hi there,
      Perfect! I appreciate you making this recipe and sharing your review, I love to hear that it was a hit! xxT

  4. Hello! I was wondering your thoughts on making this in individual portions for a baby shower? I have some larger and sturdy baking cups. Could I divide the batter between them and just watch them carefully as they bake? Or would it be better to bake as a big cheesecake like the recipe indicates and then try to portion between cups? Thank you! So excited to try the recipe!

    1. Hey Madison,
      Sure, I think this would work well for you ad individual sized cheesecakes, sounds like a fun idea!! I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xx

  5. Hi Tieghan

    can I add a graham cracker crust to this? or will it ruin it? love that its such a simple recipe but the wondering if it could be made with a crust if needed.

    1. Hi Sarah,
      Sure I don’t see why that wouldn’t work for you! Let me know if you give this recipe a try, I hope you love it! xx

    2. I just made it. It’s absolutely delicious and the graham cracker crust worked well! Wish I could post a picture for u cause it looks insane!

      1. Hi Sarah,
        Happy Monday! Thanks a lot for trying this recipe out, I am so excited to hear that it was a hit! xx

    1. Hey Catherine,
      Yes, that will work well for you:) Please let me know if you give the recipe a try, I hope you love it! xx

      1. Wait I’m European… What do you mean with 11/2 cups of heavy cream? I can’t find on the internet how much gram that is…

        1. Hi there,
          Just click “metric” below the list of ingredients and the measurements will adjust for you:) xx

  6. Funny story – made this for dinner with husband’s friend and his new girlfriend, never met her. She actually asked for seconds! I mean who does that in that situation unless it’s just THAT good. Made me smile ?

    1. Hey Mary Kay,
      LOL thanks so much for giving this recipe a try, I am thrilled to hear that it was enjoyed, we appreciate the feedback! xTieghan

  7. 5 stars
    Completely delicious! I made a mistake by trying to broil it at the end to deepen the top color. I lit the parchment on fire and scorched the top. Regardless, it was delicious. I will definitely make it again and use a torch rather than the broiler if extra color is needed.

    1. Hey Angela,
      Thanks so much for your comment and sharing your feedback! I love to hear that this recipe was a hit and thanks for making it! xTieghan

    1. Hey Malou,
      You bet, that will work well for you! I hope the recipe turns out amazing, let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan

  8. 5 stars
    This was so easy to make and so delicious! A wonderful cheesecake with perfect lemon flavor. Will definitely make again.

    1. Hey Ashley,
      Wonderful!! Thank you so much for trying this recipe out, I am so glad to hear that it was a winner! xxT

    1. Hey Tamara,
      Perfect!! Thanks so much for giving this recipe a go, I am thrilled to hear that it was a winner! Have the best week!? xT

  9. 5 stars
    The taste is like no other cheesecake I’ve ever tasted. This was so easy to make and it presents beautifully! I can’t wait to try more of your recipes.

    1. Hey Tara,
      Wonderful!! Thanks a bunch for trying this recipe out, I love to hear that it was enjoyed!! ?xTieghan

  10. I made this for a friends’s birthday tonight and it was outstanding! I chilled it in the fridge before taking it out of the pan and topped it with fresh pansies from the garden. It was beautiful!

    1. Hi Deborah,
      Happy Friday!! Thanks so much for giving this recipe a try, I am so glad to hear it was a winner:) ?xx