Japanese Cheesecake Recipe

This mixing technique is a little unconventional, but heck, I’m game:

2 ounces (4 tablespoons) butter
8 ounces cream cheese
3 ounces (1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon) milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
6 egg yolks, room temperature
2 ounces (generous 1/2 cup) cake flour
1 ounce (1/4 cup) cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
5.25 ounces (3/4 cup) granulated sugar

Preheat your oven to 325 and line an 8″ springform pan with parchment paper. Separate the eggs. Combine the cream cheese, butter and milk in a micorwave-safe bowl and using as many 10 second bursts on high as necessary, melt the cream cheese and butter until you have a homogenous mixture. Stir between each burst, using the residual heat to do most of the work. Allow the mixture to cool. Whisk together the flour, cornstarch and salt together, then whisk into the mixture. Whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice together, then whisk that into the cheese mixture. Lastly, in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whip, whip the egg whites until they’re foamy. Add the cream of tartar and all of the sugar and whip the mixture to soft peaks. With the machine on low, add the cheese mixture and stir until combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, place the pan in a water bath, and bake for about 1 hour, until the cheesecake is puffed and well browned on top.

30 thoughts on “Japanese Cheesecake Recipe”

  1. wow! sure is much easier than baking, trying to spot the jiggle, cooling with the oven door open and overnight refrigeration!

  2. Thanks so much for trying this, Joe. Your recipe looks a lot more comprehensive than the several I cobbled together. Most of them didn’t even include flavoring so I should have forseen the impending failure. I can’t wait to see how yours turns out.

    1. We’ll see! I have no idea what to expect, really. Should be fun, though, thanks for the suggestion!

  3. Joe, this cheesecake is very popular in Asian countries. It’s light and fluffy, and not supposed to be too sweet. Some might say it’s too eggy, but we asian just love it. One thing I want to point out is I bake this in water bath, so it is evenly and tenderly baked. Just my 2 cents.

  4. Ohhh. I’m so glad you’re trying this. I made it a couple of weeks ago, 2 times because well, it didn’t look like the picture. (http://www.thelittleteochew.com/2009/10/cotton-soft-japanese-cheesecake-encore.html ) I still don’t think it came out light enough. I too used a water bath. Awaiting better instructions. tx, tracy ps I also tried to make kasutera from the website you gave me for the melon pan. That didn’t work either if you’d like to try.

    1. Hmmm….well, we’ll see how it goes. I’m looking forward to trying this, if it goes well, who knows what else might go on the project list!

  5. Hi Joe,

    I have to echo Chia Moeller’s point on baking it in a water bath – it makes it oh-so-delightfully even 🙂 Although, the first time I tried making a matcha flavoured Japanese cheesecake, it was an absolute nightmare. My tin foil wasn’t tight enough around the springform pan, so the water bath water leaked in, and then I accidentally flopped the cake upside down right onto the oven door when I was taking it out…I’m scarred for life with making Japanese cheesecake now.

    However! I’m super excited to see this when it’s done! 🙂 I’m especially super excited to see how it comes out without being baked in a water bath!

    1. Hi April!

      I’m excited to see how it comes out myself. Assuming it does, of course. But indeed I do plan on using a water bath. That’s the best way to make Western-style cheesecakes as well. It stands to reason the same rules would apply for the Japanese version.

      Wish me luck!

  6. oh my god! i have been asking you to show us how to make this for 2 years now i think
    thank you soooo much

  7. What do you mean by a water bath?
    I know some people have another pan of water in the over while baking. is that what it means?

    1. Hello Yen!

      Sorry not to be more specific. What I mean is a “bain marie.” Another, larger pan that you’ll put the cheesecake into as it bakes. You want enough water in the larger pan so that it comes half way up the sides of the cheesecake pan. Here it also helps to surround the cheesecake pan with tin foil to help prevent any leaking. Hope this helps!

      – Joe

    1. Yes you can. The cheesecake will be a little chewier but still excellent!

      Let me know how it goes, Sima!

      – Joe

      1. I had many compliment, it came out so good.
        Thank you so much for all your recipes and your fun comments!

        1. Very glad to hear it, Sima! Thank you for letting me know!

          Just out of curiosity, where are you writing from?

          – Joe

  8. Okay, so I tried to make this today. It rose in the oven but then flattened like a fallen souffle and when it was cool it was super dense. Not light at all.
    I used all purpose flour because I didn’t have cake flour and I forgot to use a water bath, but I followed all the other ingredients and directions. Any ideas on why it would have turned out this way?

    1. The reason for it falling could be because of the cooling process perhaps. The oven should be turned off and ajar with a wooden spoon to gradually cool the cake down.The shock of cool air once out of the oven would cause it to fall.
      The density of the cake could be perhaps the batter was overly mixed or folded. Also, the meringue was not whipped up enough.Should be at minimum med-stiff to stiff peak.
      Hope that answers your questions Samantha.

  9. Hi Joe,

    I made this a couple of weeks ago and it was really fabulous, thanks! I too am not a cheesecake lover, but this was so light and fresh – a perfect treat for a spring day. My only problem was that in the absence of a springform pan, I used a combination tube-pan/flat-bottomed pan, which has sloping sides; the result was that the sides did collapse a little bit once it was out of the pan. I posted a couple of photos at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10201376925205966.1073741827.1259105065&type=1&l=e53d1856e0

    I made several modifications to the recipe since I was using natural cream cheese (labneh in my case), and I thought I’d pass them on for the interest of other readers, especially those living where Philadelphia cream cheese and similar American-style cream cheeses are unavailable or prohibitively expensive.

    For the cream cheese, I used a salted labneh, and I assume fromage frais or other natural cream cheese that has no stabilizers would work just as well for these modifications. I slightly increased the salt since my labneh was not as salty as Philly – for unsalted cheese, it would probably need to be doubled. Because labneh is a wetter product, I decreased the milk to about 2.8 oz. I increased the butter to 2.25 oz because labneh has lower fat content than Philly. I increased the corn starch to 1.5 oz. Since labneh is quite acidic on its own, I switched the lemon juice to orange juice, and incidentally that added a really lovely flavour. Unrelated to the cheese issue, I also used vanilla sugar, since I had it on hand and thought it would be a good way to add flavour without adding moisture.

    Anyway, the result was excellent, and I’m assuming quite close to the texture of yours. Thanks again!

    1. Wonderful, Jen!

      Thanks so much. This will be extremely helpful to readers around the world. I greatly appreciate it!

      – Joe

  10. Hi Joe,

    I finally found time to try this recipe and my cheesecake came out a bit different. The bottom of mine is denser and doesn’t have the airy texture of yours in your picture. Any ideas on why mine didn’t turn out the same? I didn’t have a 8″ springform so I used my 9″ one and I noticed that my cake overall didn’t rise as high as yours, mine was still a good 1/2-1″ from the top. Did I overmix the batter when I added the cheese mixture? Or was my water bath water not hot enough? I turned it off when it boiled but my batter wasn’t ready yet. I would appreciate any suggestions. Thanks!

    1. Hey Deb!

      So the bottom half or so of the cake was dense? And the upper half was still light? It sounds like the bubbles rose out of the mixture somehow. That could be caused by a too-cool water bath…but tell me more about the texture. Do you have a picture by any chance?

      – Joe

      1. Hi Joe,

        Sorry no picture, my mom took it to a lunch thing before I could take a picture of it. It got rave reviews, so I didn’t feel like a total failure.

        Yes, the bottom half was dense, and the top half was airy. And closer to the edges of the cake it was more airy, and as you go closer to the center and bottom of the cake, it got denser and denser. To the point where the absolute center bottom portion almost looked a little bit raw and translucent.

        1. Hm. So indeed it does seem that the bubbles rose out before the cheesecake could set up. That’s a shame. All I can think is that yes, next time you’ll want to make sure the water bath is good and hot so that doesn’t happen again. But the audience was receptive at least! That’s a good thing.

          Cheers and best of luck with the next attempt!

          – Joe

  11. Hey Joe! Why does the cheesecake have flour in it? I have made Japanese cheesecakes in the past, and I always thought that part was strange because I never added any flour to a New York. Can you achieve the light texture without using flour?

    Actually that’s a trick question. I know of a cheesecake that does just that. Light and fluffy with only five ingredients: cream cheese, milk, eggs, sugar, and lemon juice. I’m thinking about how I would go about making a cheesecake like this. It seems similar to a Japanese, but there’s plenty of extraneous ingredients. Any advice?

    1. Hey Wilson!

      Japanese cheesecake really is a different animal than a New York cheesecake. It lies at the intersection of New York and chiffon, or some other ultra-light non-cheese, foam-style cake. To get that texture you really do need at least a little structure, and that’s what the flour gives you.

      Now, if I were to try to do something like this without flour, I’d be thinking foam. Probably a sugar-and-egg-white foam to start, and then a process of folding that into a fattier mixture. In essence: a sweet soufflé. The result will be very light but also quite unstable. So if it didn’t bake up well (i.e., fell) I’d start experimenting with ways to reinforce those bubbles walls. Possibly a little agar, guar gum, or xanthan gum. Something gooey that would help inhibit popping.

      Anyway, that’s what I’d do. Best of luck and let me know how it goes!



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