Dairy Free Lemon Cheesecake

The lemon cheesecake I made for Easter uses cream cheese and is not the best dessert for Sarah, who is sensitive to dairy. So as a treat I developed a recipe for a completely dairy-free cheesecake using a readily available nondairy product: Better than Cream Cheese. I shared the recipe with a friend who did me a huge favor by not following the recipe exactly and thereby allowing me to shortcut some errors I might have made. Gluten-free baking is not difficult but it is tricky.

The first important pitfall to avoid is the wrong pan size and shape. Size matters. Use a springform pan with straight sides, no large than 9 inches in diameter, or the cheesecake will look like a sad little pie. If you can find an 8-inch springform pan, that much the better.

The second pitfall to avoid is shortcuts. Grating fresh lemon rind, 2 tablespoons of it (but not packed, so that makes it a little easier) makes all the difference in flavor. Soy-based products have a tendency to have an aftertaste, and fresh lemon juice and rind completely covers any lingering slightly bitter flavors.

Any cheesecake needs a bottom crust and there is a reliable, tasty brand of gluten-free graham-style crackers that I use all the time: Kinnikinnick S’Moreable Graham Style Crackers. One 8-ounce box makes the perfect size crust. The same brand offers Graham style cracker crumbs as well.

A few tips: Always fold lemon zest into cheesecake or any batter at the end and by hand; otherwise it tends to clump around the beater blades. Always line the bottom and sides of the cheesecake spring form pan with parchment paper cut to fit; this makes removing the baked cake quick and easy.


Dairy Free Lemon Cheesecake

Yield: Yield: 1 (9-inch) cake, 8 to 10 servings


  • For the crust:
  • 1 (8-ounce) box Kinnikinnick S’moreables Graham Style Crackers , pulverized in the food processor OR
  • 1 ¼ cups Kinnikinnick Graham Style Cracker Crumbs
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cocoa
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter or nondairy alternative
  • For the cheesecake:
  • 3 (8-ounce) packages Better Than Cream Cheese (Tofutti brand)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest, not packed
  • Fresh raspberries, as needed, for garnish
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries washed and hulled, for sauce
  • ¼ cup sugar, for sauce


  1. To make the crust: Combine crumbs and the rest of the crust ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Spray a 9-inch spring form pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottom and sides with parchment paper cut to fit. Transfer crumb mixture to pan, level the bottom and using a flat-bottomed glass, pat down crumbs gently but firmly, but do not press down hard. Refrigerate pan with crust. Reserve.
  2. To make the cake: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the nondairy cream cheese on medium speed until it is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating on medium between each addition and scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add the sugar and beat on medium for 5 minutes, scraping down bowl as necessary.
  3. Add lemon juice and vanilla and beat to mix well. Remove bowl and paddle from mixer. Scrape down paddle. Stir in the lemon zest by hand.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  5. Using a silicone spatula, scrape cheesecake batter into the prepared spring form pan with the chilled crust, and level the top. Set the spring form pan on a baking sheet to catch any butter that often drips out from the crust.
  6. Bake until the cheesecake is cooked through, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. (One way to judge is if the cake has risen, then begun to sink slightly and pull away from the sides of the pan).
  7. Remove pan from the oven and set on a rack. Cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  8. Remove cake from the refrigerator and run a thin spatula around sides reaching down through the crust to the pan bottom. Release the spring and remove the ring. Slide a large thin spatula carefully underneath the parchment paper lining the bottom crust. Transfer parchment and cake onto a platter.
  9. To serve: Decorate with fresh raspberries, or Strawberry Sauce. Or both!
  10. To make the strawberry sauce: Place strawberries and sugar in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process until smoothly pureed.



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