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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.
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Simple Lemon Sugar Burnt Basque Cheesecake |

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    1. Hi Sarah,
      So sorry, I have not tested this recipe with almond flour so I can’t recommend that. Please let me know if I can help in any other way! xT

  1. 5 stars
    Delicious! I subbed lime for lemon because of my husband’s preferences. Love that the sugar goes on for serving. He likes more sweet than I do!

    1. Hey Krystle,
      Happy Monday! I love to hear that this recipe turned out well for you, thanks a lot for making it! Xx

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve made this cheesecake a few times now & for someone who’s not a fan of cheesecakes— this tasted SOOOO GOOD.

    Will definitely make it again soon ❤️

    1. Hi Sam,
      Happy Friday!! Thanks so much for trying this recipe and sharing your review, so glad it was a hit! xT

  3. 5 stars
    I’ve made this cheesecake twice now and absolutely love it! It’s creamy and delicious and fairly simple to make. Definitely will keep in my favorite dessert recipe file.

    1. Hey Rhonda,
      Fantastic!! I love to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks a lot for making it! xx

  4. I made this for the first time (first time having this kind of cheesecake) but the texture was kind of grainy vs smooth like traditional cheesecake. Is that normal? However the lemon flavor and lemon sugar was divine!

    1. Hey Jennifer,
      Happy Monday!! 🍋🫐 I truly appreciate you making this recipe and your comment, love to hear that it was a hit! You definitely shouldn’t have a grainy texture in the cheesecake. Were all of your ingredients at room temp? That is key! xT

    2. Most likely you over baked it. Try taking it out of the oven as soon as the edges are set. The middle should still be wobbly.

  5. 5 stars
    We went to San Sebastian, Spain about two months ago and visited La Viña for their world famous cheesecake – it was literally the best cheesecake of my life. I’ve been searching for a copycat recipe and I’m happy to report this is probably as close as as one can get to the original! The original is slightly thicker in height; this is the only difference I have found. La Viña also offers an optional shot of Port wine to pour over the cheesecake, so now I’m on the hunt for the perfect port. Also, don’t be afraid to let it sit out at room temperature – La Viña leaves their cakes to rest in baking racks overnight. I did this and it’s melt-in-your-mouth delicious!
    Thank you for creating this recipe!!

    1. Hey Nicole,
      Fantastic!! So glad to hear that this recipe turned out well for you, thanks so much for making it! Wow, thanks for the compliment!! Have a great weekend:)

      1. Made this today and it did not disappoint! I didn’t have lemons so used orange zest instead and it was deelish!
        Can’t wait to try the pumpkin version!
        Love this site so many great recipes to try!

        1. Hey Melanie,
          Happy Monday!!☀️🌊 I appreciate you making this recipe and your comment, so glad to hear that it was a hit! xT

  6. I’d like to try this, but I was wondering about the quantity of cheese. The recipe says “3 (8 ounce) packages”, so does that mean a total of 24 ounces? That’s 680 grams, more than half a kilo, it seems like an awful lot of cheese.
    But it does says 10 servings so maybe that’s right… somebody please reply!

      1. Ok, thanks, it won’t be this week but it’s on my list!
        Good cream cheese for cheesecake isn’t easy to find in Italy, only a few shops keep it, not regular supermarkets.

    1. Hi Heather,
      The recipe calls for a 9 inch springform pan:) Please let me know if you have any other questions! xx

    1. Hey Missy,
      Sure! I would store in the fridge:) Let me know if you give this recipe a try, I hope you love it! xx

      1. This recipe sounds delicious. I can’t wait to try it! Would I be able to substitute almond flour to make this cheesecake gluten free for a friend? Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

        1. Hi Nicole,
          For best results, I think a gluten free flour blend would be best for you to use! I hope you love this recipe, let me know how it turns out! xx

          1. 5 stars
            Thank you for your response. I ended up using AP flour this time. The cheesecake was delicious! We really enjoyed the lemon flavor. Thank you for sharing your recipe!

          2. Hi Nicole,
            Happy Wednesday!! 🌞 Love to hear that this recipe turned out well for you, thanks so much for making it! xT

    1. Hi there,
      It will probably overflow:) You could try just not filling it all the way! Let me know if you give this recipe a try! xx