No-Bake Cheesecake With a Pretzel Crust

July 15, 2019
7 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
  • Prep time 6 hours 30 minutes
  • Makes 1 (8-inch) cheesecake
Author Notes

A fuss-free take on cheesecake. Instead of creating an egg-based custard, which you stick in the oven, only to cross your fingers (and toes!) that it doesn’t crack or dry out, this recipe ditches the oven entirely. Cream cheese, ricotta, and sugar are all that’s needed for the filling. The crumb crust, meanwhile, starts with pretzels—not graham crackers—for a salty-malty twist. Both set up in the fridge, which means you and your kitchen can stay cool. Serve with sugared berries or jam. —Emma Laperruque

What You'll Need
  • Pretzel crust
  • 1 1/2 cups super-fine pretzel crumbs
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • Cheesecake filling
  • 8 ounces full-fat cream cheese, at a cool room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound whole-milk ricotta (I used Calabro brand)
  1. Get an 8” springform pan ready: The removable bottom has a rimmed border; when you lock the latch, make sure the rim is facing downward, so the cake is easier to serve.
  2. Make the pretzel crust: Combine the crumbs, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Stir to combine. Add the melted butter and mix again, until crumbs are evenly saturated. Dump the mixture into the springform pan, then use a measuring cup (¼ cup works nicely) to pat the crumbs into a thin, even crust (it should go up the sides of the pan, but not all the way). Stick the crust in the freezer for at least 10 minutes, or until firm to the touch.
  3. Make the filling: Use a knife or your hands to break up the cream cheese block into smaller pieces (they don’t have to be perfect—this just gives the stand mixer a head start). Combine the cream cheese, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Start on low speed, then gradually increase to high, and beat for 1 minute or so, until fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and add the ricotta. Again, gradually increase the speed to high, then beat for about 2 minutes until very fluffy, scraping down as needed.
  4. Pour the filling into the frozen crust and spread so the top is smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
  5. To serve, unlatch the sides, then cut into wedges. If you want to serve berries on top, you can sprinkle them on the cheesecake before or after slicing (let them hang out with a couple spoonfuls of sugar for 30 or so minutes to draw out their juices). A dollop of jam is great, too.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Tucker & Me
    Tucker & Me
  • Ron Balut
    Ron Balut
  • Jackie Nobles
    Jackie Nobles
  • Donna Young
    Donna Young
  • Emma Laperruque
    Emma Laperruque
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

18 Reviews

Tucker &. August 16, 2022
This was a HUGE hit at our annual summer soirée and a life saver for me since I could do it ahead of time. One of two no bake desserts. The other was a chocolate mousse bar which was quite good. But, this stole the show. Twenty one serious eaters. I was able to translate the recipe to a 9” springform, but even so I never even got a bite, Everyone raved about it. I just wonder if it wouldn’t hurt to bake the crust for 8-10 minutes. It got a little soft by the time I served it. Emma, what do you think? P.S. no added salt. Gluten free salted pretzels. Maybe the GF contributed to the softness🤷🏻‍♀️
Ron B. August 22, 2021
I just finished making it without the added salt. The pretzels have a lot and the cheeses are made with it. I had fun cleaning out the bowl. 😁 I don't have an 8" pan and used a 10". I added a half cup of pretzels and a couple of teaspoons of butter to compensate. It's funny that the recipe calls for 16 oz. of ricotta, all the stores near me have 15 oz. containers. It should be ok cause it tastes good but it doesn't come up over the crust. I don't think I can wait the 6 hours before I cut into it.
LULULAND May 4, 2021
If I don't want to add pretzels for the crust are they subs?
jennyg June 22, 2020
Excellent no bake version of cheesecake. The salty sweet ratio is perfection! I used slightly stale pretzels and they worked great!
Olivia October 5, 2019
Thank you so much for a recipe without gelatin! Just a quick question, can I substitute ricotta with sour cream? Would it still firm up? Appreciate your response. I want to try your recipe tmr!:)
Emma L. October 5, 2019
Hi! Since ricotta is the main ingredient in the filling, that would be a significant swap, and it's hard to say for sure how it would turn out. I'm guessing it would be alright structure-wise, but maybe too sour creamy in flavor? It would be a safer bet to make a partial swap—say, instead of 1 pound ricotta, you could do 1/2 pound ricotta and 1/2 pound sour cream.
Olivia October 6, 2019
Thanks for the reply, Emma! Since I don't have ricotta, I've just used half of the amount of Ricotta as sour cream, leaving the rest as cream cheese. Hope that it would still firm up! The cheesecake is in my fridge now. BTW: I tasted the mix before putting into the fridge, it tasted awesome!
Olivia October 6, 2019
Just an update: It tastes awesome! Much better than gelatin-based no-bake cheesecake. When I use gelatin, I feel that the flavour is compromised (as well as the texture). In the current version, though I don't think the texture is very firm, it tastes so rich and thick already. Even my parents (who always moke at my keto-baking) love them! So, if you're looking for a no-bake cheesecake without gelatin or condensed milk, this is awesome! (Even when I substitute half with sour cream!)
Emma L. October 6, 2019
Yay, so glad to hear you enjoyed it!
Natasa D. August 20, 2019
Given the addition of the salt in the crust, should the pretzels be salted or unsalted?
Emma L. August 20, 2019
Salted! If you want to decrease the additional kosher salt to taste, feel free—but the crust should be salty to balance the sweet cheesecake filling.
Jackie N. August 10, 2019
As an empty nester, I’m thinking of doing these in a cupcake size and freezing them as individual deserts. Do you think they would become weepy when they thaw?
Emma L. August 12, 2019
Hi Jackie! I wouldn't recommend freezing this recipe—the texture would probably become compromised. That said, you could cut the recipe in half (or even smaller?), make cupcake size cheesecakes, and keep those in an airtight container in the fridge.
Jackie N. August 12, 2019
Thanks Emma, I will definitely try cutting the recipe.
Donna Y. August 10, 2019
I can't wait to try this recipe! I was always skeptical of no-bake cheesecake because I mostly saw recipes using gelatin to firm it up. Ricotta, as an ingredient sounds brilliant!
Emma L. August 10, 2019
Thanks, Donna—hope you enjoy!
jena July 23, 2019
Could lemon zest and/or juice be added to the filling?
Emma L. July 24, 2019
Hi Jena! You could definitely stir in some super finely grated lemon zest—I'd start with 1 teaspoon and increase to taste. Lemon juice would probably work, too, but the amount is trickier to estimate since it would affect the way the cheesecake sets up.