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Cheesecakes in Jars

I like the idea of serving little individual desserts at get togethers and these little cheesecakes do the job. People can just pick one up and go - no slicing and serving required. I made lemon pound cake parfaits in taller jars but these little cheesecakes are in the smaller 4-ounce jelly jars. You can find them easily at your grocery store.  They are just about the perfect serving size for all those people who say, "Oh, I shouldn't eat dessert. Well, maybe just a few bites."  The toppings that you can use are endless.  I had to make a few of these with mini chocolate chips for my sweet guy, Nathan - he doesn't do raspberries. I was also thinking a nice layer of caramel sauce would be heavenly.

The recipe calls for vanilla extract, something I never buy in the grocery store. I've purchased vanilla beans for a long time from Beanilla, a great company that sells the most luscious, plump vanilla beans you ever saw. I love slicing a vanilla bean and scraping out the seeds, or caviar, for desserts. It adds such a depth of flavor. Rob, the founder of Beanilla, has some very interesting items in addition to the vanilla beans.  I've used his vanilla bean paste in this recipe.  It's a quick way to add the vanilla bean seeds without having to use a whole vanilla bean.

Vanilla Bean Paste from Beanilla 


Cheesecakes in Jars


for a printable recipe, click here

makes 24 little cheesecakes.  (the recipe is easily halved)

you will need 24 4-ounce regular mouth jelly jars


for the cheesecake:

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (16 whole graham crackers, ground)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted 
  • 4 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used 1/4 teaspoon vanilla paste)
  • zest of 1 lemon

for the Raspberry Topping:

  • 2 pints of fresh raspberries
  • strawberry or raspberry jelly

Other toppings:  I used mini chocolate chips.  You can really do anything you like for the toppings.  All kinds of fruit would work, caramel sauce, meringue, etc.  



Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.

Spray the jelly jars with non-stick cooking spray, making sure to spray the bottoms so the crust doesn't stick.

Blend the graham cracker crumbs, 2 tablespoons of sugar and melted butter in a bowl.  Place about 1 heaping tablespoon of the crumbs into each jelly jar and tamp down to make the crust (I used a wine cork). 

I used a Rabbit wine cork to tamp down the crumbs for the crusts

In a large mixer bowl, mix the room temperature cream cheese with the 3/4 cup of sugar until smooth.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix well.  Add the sour cream, vanilla and lemon zest and mix until well incorporated. Fill each jelly jar with about 1/3 cup of the filling, leaving room at the top for your topping.

Place the jars in a large roasting pan or two deep baking dishes.  Fill the pan with hot water halfway up the jelly jars.  Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove jars with tongs and place on a wire rack to cool.

garnish with fresh mint

For the raspberry topping:  pick over the raspberries and discard any that are moldy or bruised.  Place 7 raspberries on top of each cheesecake.  Heat about 1/3 cup of the jelly in a microwave and stir so that the jelly is spreadable.  Brush the tops of the raspberries gently with the jelly to glaze them.  Refrigerate cheesecakes until ready to serve.  Can be made the day before.

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Reader Comments (92)

I'm thinking about maybe using 4oz baby food jars? Good idea? Bad idea?

November 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

Jennifer the small jam jars give you the perfect amount of crust. Cooking times would change too.

November 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDana

This might be a dumb question but can you put the lids on these after they are done?

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRachelle

Rachelle, yes you put the lids on :) It keeps them fresh.

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDana

I made mini cheesecakes in 4oz jars for my sons wedding reception. I made every flavor you can imagine for their dessert bar and they were a HUGE hit. I think the most popular flavor was the Turtle cheesecake. I topped the cheesecakes with caramel, melted chocolate and pecans...HUGE hit! Other favorites were Oreo cheesecake (just stir chopped oreos into cheesecake mix...and use finely ground oreos for your crust instead of graham crackers), also made pumpkin cheesecakes, using crushed gingersnaps for the crust. The possibilities are just endless!

January 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCherie

From The Italian Dish:

Cherie: You totally made my day! Thanks for sharing.

January 25, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Made these last Christmas and they were delicious!!! Was so happy to find an easy, goofball-proof recipe, as my first attempt at a full-size cheesecake a couple of years ago ended with steaming cheesy goo all over my kitchen floor and a nasty goo-scald on my foot (no surprise, as I'm accident prone. Let's just say my doctor is continually amused by the creative ways in which I manage to injure myself).

Anyway, wanted to give a word of warning about toppings, though... I covered some with Heath Bar chips and gave them as gifts. A couple of days later, I opened one I'd kept for myself, and was grossed out because the chips had turned into a goopy beige mush. I fear some of my gift recipients were repulsed and ended up quietly throwing theirs away, though one (who will eat anything) did eat his a week later and asked for more!
So just remember to think through how the moisture in the jar will react to any topping you use, if not eaten right away. The plain ones I'd given as gifts garnered me phone calls of effusive gratitude though, and I'm writing this as I wait for a batch to finish baking so I can take them to a birthday party.
Thanks for a recipe that's a definite "keeper" and (probably) won't send me to the emergency clinic!!

February 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoan

Great idea, thanks!!!

February 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJANE

Would it be possible to can this for storing on a shelf? If so, would you bake them first or just process them canning?

March 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRoberta

Really a nice gift idea you have given here.. :-)

March 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterItalian Food Import

What a great idea! These cheesecakes are delicious and easy to prepare. As it is still a little early for our good German strawberries (I never buy fresh strawberries out of season) I used frozen cherries to make Caramel Port Cherries (some butter + sugar, let caramelize, add some Port + frozen cherries, let simmer for a short while. I thickened the mixture with some corn starch) and chilled it. I poured it over the cheesecakes just before serving them. Everyone liked it!

April 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterInga

This is wonderful. I will use my left over baby food jars since I don't have any other small jars. Should work. This will do wonderfully for our Saturday get-togethers.

May 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTabitha Bela

there was a comment by deni stating she could make these gluten free - I would like to know how. I will need one for myself, too while everyone else enjoys these!!!!:)

May 9, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertanya

Wow! I saw this recipe and i thought "I have to make them for my sister's wedding", but I need to know in how many days in adavnce I can make them. I read all the comments, but I'm not very sure about it. Besides, can I keep it on the fridge or I have to freeze them?

May 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermes bijoux

From The Italian Dish:

Mes Bijoux: I have made them the day before, and they are great. I wouldn't refrigerate them longer than a day ahead, though - they just won't be as fresh. I have never frozen these so I can't tell you how they would be. If I were you, I would make a small batch and test freeze them and see how they do!

May 30, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I made them for my son's wedding. I made them the week before and froze them without any toppings. (We let everyone at the wedding chose.) I did a trial taste test a week before, and no one could taste the difference between the ones I had previously froze :) they were a huge hit!

May 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDana

thank you, girls!

May 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermes bijoux

Someone just posted this on facebook via another blog and I found you. Believe it or not, I've only recently been introduced to single serving desserts in jars - l.o.v.e. them! I hope you have more. I'm now following your site :)

June 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJonia

These are the cutest things!! I make the no-bake variety often in summertime using different fruit toppings. They're always a hit with everyone.

June 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

Thanks for such a great idea for a yummy classic. I've posted, pinned and tweeted your idea in honor of National Cheesecake Day 2013!
Special Chefs -

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSpecial Chefs

I have also used no-bake Lemon Icebox Pie and Key Lime Pie fillings in these little single-serve cuties! Even using vanilla wafer or Oreo cookie crumbs sometimes with the cheesecake filling. I always finish it off with a little dollop of whipped cream or topping. The possibilities are endless, get your creative juices flowing! My time-saving tip: Use the bottom of a drinking glass to press the crumbs in the bottoms of the jars.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

I bet a thin layer of lemon curd would be delicious on this. I'm on a lemon kick...

August 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn S

I made these for my nieces' birthdays yesterday and they were a huge hit. I halved the recipe and made 12. I topped 6 with a peanut butter glaze and 6 with amarena cherries. Delicious! Thank you for this recipe; it is a keeper!

August 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertom

I want to do this for a wedding. Once frozen how did you thaw them on wedding day?

September 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLori

I froze them without toppings, which we had in pretty bowls for everyone. (Strawberry & Blueberry Pie Filling) The wedding was in August, it was a fairly warm day. We were lucky enough to have fridge space we put them the night before. However I did test runs the week before and if we needed to could've put them out during the ceremony and they would've been perfect for dinner ;) Good luck!!

September 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDana

Can this be actually sealed like you are canning? I want to have these on hand or give as gifts for the holidays? jw it it would work? OR how do it so it does work, BC the jars will be hot out of oven and if we have bands, lids hot as well ... would they actually seal and set? Great concept if it did. Im looking for anything that way to do put up and give as gifts. IF you have any recipes or suggestions please email me at id so appreciate it. love this page. and i like you on Facebook as well. great find. God bless.

September 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterApril H

From The Italian Dish:

April: I have never tried to can these and have no idea if that will work! If anyone has any experience with that, please let us know. Thanks!

September 23, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Would like to know if you have a no bake version of this? And also how long ahead of time could these be made? Thanks for any help

October 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRhonda

From The Italian Dish:

Rhonda: No, you have to bake these because they contain eggs. The only other thing you could do is to improvise and use my no-bake cheesecake parfait recipe and layer it in the jelly jars:

October 27, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I made these for a Birthday at work. Hands down one of the best little treats I've brought in. Wonderful. Thank you for the idea, I have re used the mason jars with other desserts too.

November 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRachelle Sanders

I love this! My question though is... Have you ever made these in 8 oz jars? Do you know the cookimg time for an 8 oz jar:))))?

February 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChristine

I made these for a bake sale and they were a n adorable, delicious, huge hit. They sold out quickly with lots of compliments:)

March 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterShelly Smith

Do you know if these could be made more than a day in advance? I am looking for things to make for my daughters wedding dessert table but I am hoping to have everything baked and ready to go two days before the wedding. Thank you

May 6, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdonna giblin

From The Italian Dish:

Donna: Yes, you can bake these off in advance, cover them with wrap and refrigerate them. Making them the day before would be ideal - you can make them two days in advance and they will still be fine though. Make sure they are completely chilled before covering them with plastic wrap so moisture doesn't form.

May 6, 2014 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I made 200 of these for my sons wedding and froze them :) we had a taste testing previous. No one could tell the difference between the previously frozen (1 week prior) and fresh.

May 6, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdana

I made these for a dinner party and they were amazing!! I love that they weren't as rich as other cheesecakes if had. Everyone thinks I'm a pro even tho it was my first attempt ever.

November 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTracy Baltessen

hi i want to try this recipe, it looks great for gift giving.
i have a question, you baked the crust and the cheesecake at the same time, meaning i dont have to bake the crust like the regular cheesecakes? im assuming it was done because it was just a small serving. please enlighten me about this. thanks

also i was wondering if you have a recipe of cheesecake with a bit of flour? ive seen a recipe before and i kindaliked the texture and taste. im hoping you have one too.

thanks very much

November 19, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjoyce

From The Italian DIsh:

Joyce: That's right - you don't have to bake the crusts first. As for the cheesecake with flour, I'm sorry but I don't have a recipe for that version!

November 21, 2014 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I would like to make this for a wedding and I know recipe says to refrigerate until ready to serve but I would like to know if it is ok to have them on display at room temperature?
Thank you.

March 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBeatriz

From The Italian Dish

Beatriz: Well, that depends on how long you are going to have them at room temperature. They will be just fine for a couple of hours at room temperature, but if it's a rather warm room, I wouldn't leave them out much longer than that!

April 3, 2016 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

LOVE these and made a batch yesterday but the tops cracked. I followed the recipe EXACTLY...Any ideas?

May 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSummer

Omg! Perfect for my baby girls 1st bday! Lady bug picnic theme and this is perfect! And easy! (I don't really bake!) lol. Thank you for this! THANK YOU!!

May 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJosie T

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