Who doesn’t love cheesecake? Whether it’s the classic New York-style cheesecake or the flavorful strawberry-filled one, we know there’s hardly anyone out there who can say no to this delicious dessert.
Making cheesecake at home is a fun and rewarding process, however, it can be a little tricky, especially when it comes to figuring out when it is perfectly cooked.
An undercooked cheesecake will be too runny, sink in the middle, and simply be unable to retain its form.
To get the perfectly soft, creamy, and melt-in-your-mouth texture that cheesecakes are famous for, you need to learn a few tips and tricks to master the art.
So, how can you tell if your cheesecake is undercooked? The easiest method for checking cheesecake is to stick a digital thermometer into the center of the cheesecake after it has baked. If it has reached 150°F, then it’s done. If it hasn’t, place it back in the oven to finish baking.
What’s great is that in addition to easily testing out the cake’s doneness, there are simple ways to fix it if it is undercooked.
Read on to find out details about the best ways to tell if your cheesecake is undercooked and simple fixes to make it firmer:
How To Tell If A Cheesecake Is Undercooked
Just as any other baked dessert, a cheesecake needs to be cooked to perfection. This refers to the right ingredients, measurements, and baking time, all three of which are extremely crucial to the final outcome.
An undercooked cheesecake is runny, difficult to serve, unappetizing to look at, and just unpleasant to eat.
Also, there is a very thin line between undercooking and overcooking your cheesecake, and you need to be able to recognize a well-baked cheesecake from an undercooked (or overcooked) one.
Here’s how you can tell if your cheesecake is undercooked:
Method #1: Use A Thermometer
Checking the temperature of the cheesecake using an instant thermometer is probably one of the easiest and fool-proof ways to tell if your cheesecake is undercooked.
Here are step-by-step instructions on how to use a thermometer to check whether your cheesecake is perfectly cooked or not!
(Note: It’s helpful to get an instant-read cooking thermometer for the task so that you don’t have to wait for several minutes to determine the temperature.
This will not just save you time but also prevent the cheesecake from overbaking in the meantime.)
- Clean the thermometer properly and calibrate it by taking the temperature of boiling water. The thermometer must read 212°F.
- Next, stick the thermometer halfway through the center of the cheesecake. Do not push it all the way down to the pan. The edges of the cake are usually warmer and firmer when well-cooked, therefore take the temperature of the middle part.
- You must look for a reading of 150°F in the center of the cheesecake. Once it reaches that temperature, take it out of the oven and let it cool completely on a cooling rack.
- If it is not done, put the cheesecake back in the oven for a couple of minutes and repeat the process until you get the right reading.
- Sticking a thermometer in the middle of the cake may cause it to crack, so try to do the test only once. If you need to check the temperature again, stick the thermometer in the same hole as before instead of making a new one to prevent unnecessary damage.
Method #2: Jiggle Test
If it jiggles too much, it’s not right. If it jiggles too little, that’s not right either. A perfectly cooked cheesecake must have just the right amount of jiggle, and here’s how you can test it:
- Wear a pair of oven mitts, place your hands on each side of the baking pan, and gently give your cheesecake a little shake. Don’t be too rough or your still-wet cheesecake might crack. Also, be careful to not get water inside the pan if you’re using a water bath.
- Next, check to see how much the center of the cake jiggles. If a small area, around 2 inches in the center jiggles slightly, the cheesecake is perfectly cooked. Turn off the oven and let the cake cool for a couple of hours.
- If the jiggly area is larger than 2 inches or the uncooked batter breaks the surface or spills over to the edges of the baking pan, it is undercooked and you need to put it back in the oven for a couple more minutes.
- If the cheesecake is completely firm and doesn’t jiggle at all, it’s probably overcooked. Take it out of the oven before it starts to crack.
Method #3: Toothpick Test
Using a toothpick is another simple method for testing the doneness of the cake, however, it is not the most accurate.
For that reason, it is usually considered a last-minute workaround for when you don’t have a cooking thermometer on hand.
As with a cooking thermometer, a toothpick is also poked into the center of the cheesecake. The difference is that instead of relying on a specific reading, you have to depend on your observation and evaluation skills.
Here are step-by-step instructions on how to use a toothpick to check if your cheesecake is undercooked:
- Stick a clean toothpick through the center of the cheesecake. If the toothpick is a small one, you can stick most of it in the cake. But if it is a long one, poke it halfway through. Pull it out after a few seconds.
- Check the toothpick to see if it has any residual batter on it. If it has dripping liquid on it or feels somewhat wet, it is an indication of the cake being undercooked.
- If the toothpick is completely dry and it comes out clean, the cheesecake is done.
- If the cheesecake is undercooked, bake it for a couple of minutes and give the test another try. To avoid ruining the cheesecake, make sure to use the same hole as you would with a thermometer.
Method #4: Pressure Test
This is a simple test that requires no extra tools and can be performed by simply using your fingers. Although very simple, this test requires you to be extra gentle otherwise you risk ruining or cracking the surface of the cheesecake.
Here are step-by-step instructions on how to perform the pressure test on a cheesecake:
- Since this test requires you to use your bare fingers, make sure they are clean before touching the cheesecake. Wash them with soap and warm water and dry them completely.
- Next, use one or two fingers to gently touch the center of the cheesecake to check the doneness. Do not press too hard.
- If the middle part of the cheesecake feels firm with a little bit of give, it is cooked perfectly.
- If your finger sinks into the center and comes out with a bit of batter on it, the cake is undercooked and needs more time in the oven.
- Pop it back in the oven for another 5 minutes before checking again using the same technique.
Method #5: Browning Edges
In this last method, you can tell whether your cheesecake is undercooked or not simply by looking at it. Here’s how:
- The edges cook before the center of the cake, which is why when a ½ inch ring around the edges starts turning golden-brown and a little puffy, know that your cheesecake is perfectly baked and ready.
- In comparison, the center must remain pale and a little jiggly. If it is firm and starts getting a little color, it means that it is overcooked.
- On the other hand, if the edges are pale and the center is still liquid, the cheesecake is undercooked and needs more time in the oven.
Another way to determine if the cheesecake is ready is by checking how shiny the surface is. An undercooked cheesecake has a shiny surface, whereas a perfectly cooked one is no longer shiny.
Therefore, make sure that the cake, including the edges and the center, has lost all shine before removing it from the oven and onto a cooling rack.
How To Fix An Undercooked Cheesecake
Getting your cheesecake right can be a little tricky and it might take you a few attempts to get it right. The good news is that even if you end up with an undercooked cheesecake, there are simple ways to fix it:
Method #1: Let it Rest
Sometimes all it takes is a little time and rest. Unlike most other baked desserts that are ready to be served within minutes of coming out of the oven, cheesecakes require time to set and have a longer cooling period.
The best way to cool off a cheesecake is to leave it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, preferably overnight, before it is cut into slices and served.
During this cooling process, it becomes firmer in the middle without any additional help and is sometimes all that is required to fix a seemingly undercooked cheesecake.
Method #2: Water Bath
A water bath is a common method used in baking to ensure that the dessert is cooked evenly and no cracks are formed on the surface.
If you want a creamy cheesecake with just the perfect texture, we recommend you use a water bath. What you’ll need is to wrap your baking pan in foil and place it inside a larger pan with hot water.
Make sure to not fill it with too much water. Usually, 1 inch of hot water will suffice.
This brilliant method is used not just for making the creamiest cheesecakes but also to fix undercooked ones.
However, you must take note that despite this method proving successful at times, it is not recommended to re-bake your cheesecake since the chances of ruining it are very high.
If after leaving the cheesecake in the fridge overnight, you see that it still hasn’t set, take it out and let it reach room temperature. Prepare your water bath and place the cake inside it.
Turn on the oven and set it to a low-to-moderate temperature since you wouldn’t want to overcook the cake and crack the edges.
For best results, use an instant cooking thermometer to take a reading of the center of the cheesecake. When it reaches 150°F, it is perfectly cooked and ready.
Method #3: Slow Cooking
If you do not want to use a water bath, you can simply put your cheesecake back in the oven, although you will have to be extremely careful to not overcook it.
To do that, turn on the oven at a low temperature and allow the cheesecake to slow-cook to the right temperature (150°F).
The process shouldn’t take longer than 15-30 minutes, but to be extra careful, come back and check it every 5 minutes.
Do not wait for the center of the cake to solidify completely or turn golden brown since these two are indicators of an overcooked cheesecake.
Method #4: Frozen Dessert
Sometimes, to not risk ruining the cake any further, you just have to accept your mistake and look for alternate ways to use the undercooked dessert.
One great way is to turn the cheesecake into a frozen dessert. Simply put it in the freezer for a couple of hours and you’ll have yourself a delicious frozen cheesecake.
You can let your creativity flow with this one and turn it into a fun dessert to be enjoyed by both you and your guests. You can add fruit or toppings, or even dip it into a chocolate shell!
Here are a few additional questions we thought you might have about cheesecakes!
What is the difference between baked and no-bake cheesecake?
The main difference between the two is, simply put, one is baked in an oven while the other isn’t.
Apart from that, a baked cheesecake has ingredients like eggs in its batter and is baked in an oven before it is transferred to the fridge to fully set.
A no-bake cheesecake, on the other hand, relies on ingredients such as gelatin to give it a shape and form and is directly kept in the refrigerator for cooling and solidifying.
There is a textural difference between the two as well, with the baked variety having a creamier and smoother texture that is difficult to achieve with the no-bake technique.
How long does cheesecake last in the fridge?
You can keep your cheesecake in the fridge for up to 5 days. Make sure that it is either kept in an airtight box or tightly wrapped in plastic wrap.
For best results, you can keep your cheesecake in the freezer until the night before you wish to eat or serve it. Transfer it into the fridge to thaw overnight so that you get the perfect texture and consistency.
How long does cheesecake last out of the fridge?
The maximum time that a cheesecake can go without being refrigerated is 2 hours.
The ingredients in cheesecakes, such as eggs and milk, have a high protein and moisture content that, when left at room temperature, are the perfect conditions for bacteria to multiply.
Therefore, it is best to keep your cheesecake in the fridge as soon as it is cool enough to be chilled after baking, or when everyone has grabbed a slice to eat.
If you accidentally leave it on the counter for longer than the recommended time, it might be best to toss it and start from scratch.
If you’re looking for a visual when learning how to bake your own cheesecake, check out this video from the folks at Tasty!