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Basque-Style Cheesecake

12 to 16 Servings

1 hour 20 minutes active, plus cooling and chilling

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Created in the 1990s by Spanish chef Santiago Rivera, Basque cheesecake, or tarta de queso vasca, has garnered global acclaim for its blistered, “burnt” surface and creamy-smooth center. The crustless cake bakes in a parchment-lined pan in a hot oven—no water bath needed—until the center is just barely set. Room-temperature dairy is key for ensuring a lump-free batter, but then thoroughly chilling the batter (at least 6 hours) before baking allows the cake to spend enough time in a hot oven to achieve dramatic coloring without overcooking. After much trial and error, we found that the style of springform pan makes a huge difference in how the cake bakes. For a pan with a light-colored finish, bake at 450°F; for a dark-colored pan, such as nonstick, 425°F is best. Start checking doneness after 40 minutes; a digital thermometer is best for testing the temperature. The cake keeps well in the refrigerator for at least three days. Basque cheesecake sometimes is served at room temperature, but we prefer it with a bit of a chill.

12 to 16



Don’t begin making the batter until the cream cheese, eggs and crème fraîche are at room temperature. Also, be sure to use the paddle attachment, not the whisk, to avoid incorporating excess air into the batter. Finally, don’t be alarmed by how jiggly the cheesecake is when it comes out of the oven. As it cools and chills, it will set up beautifully.

1 hour

20 minutes active, plus cooling and chilling


  • 4

    large eggs, plus 3 large egg yolks, room temperature

  • 321

    grams (1½ cups) white sugar


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Michael F.
November 14, 2023
Muchas gracias
I prepared this cheesecake for a recent pintxos party. It was a huge hit. I visited La Vina earlier this year…twice! San Sebastián is such a lovely place. I really enjoyed this recipe. I would also recommend serving it along with some Pedro Ximenez sherry. Thanks again Milk Street team.
Heather M.
February 2, 2024
Takes me back to Spain
I have made this recipe several times and it is always a smashing hit. It is amazing how something so rich and creamy is not heavy. The recipe is also absurdly easy. I will make this many times over.
Greg A.
January 12, 2024
Made this for a dinner party and it is all gone. IMO you need at 24 hours for this cake, lots of chilling and resting time. When cooking the temp does rise very quickly towards the end so, one must be diligent with checking the temp often after 40 min.
Karen G.
January 7, 2024
Absolutely loved this. Can I add vanilla? If so, how much? Would be in addition to the lemon zest or instead of lemon?
Anat S.
December 27, 2023
Best cheesecake ever!
Never thought it would be as good as it was. Great recipe!