Cheesecakes in a jar: The neat way to eat a handful of cheesecake

CheesecakeJar

Cheesecake and fresh summer fruit is an amazing combination. The rich creamy custard is a perfect foil for the sweet, tangy, juicy fruits. But cheesecake has a bit of a reputation…

People, myself included, tend to think of cheesecake as a formal dessert. One that requires you to be dressed up and on your best behavior. I wonder why that is?

Does it have to do with the expense involved? Did it just become habit only to make cheesecake for special occasions? Even the casual cousin version of cheesecake in muffin cups tends only to be served at summer parties, not for a weeknight dinner dessert. How about a slice of cheesecake at the beach? UNheard of!

Well, thanks to our Pinterest pages, and our friends out there who love to share recipes, I came across the idea of baking cheesecake batter in heat-proof canning jars, individual servings that could be lidded up and taken anywhere. I was sold even before I started shopping for groceries.

I’m sure this method will be an old favorite for some of you, but I’m hoping that others like me will be thrilled with the new discovery.

I’m sure, too, that the photo above is just making you hanker for a good bite of cheesecake, so let’s not delay any further – let’s make Cheesecake in a Jar.

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There’s a huge difference in temperature, not to mention texture, between cream cheese straight from the fridge and cream cheese that’s been at room temperature for an hour.

If there’s one thing you can do to ensure a smooth batter for your cheesecake, it’s taking the time to let the cream cheese warm up.

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Prepare your favorite cheesecake batter according to the recipe directions. I used our Brooklyn-style cheesecake filling for its richness and perfect texture. Don’t worry about tracking it down, I’ve reprinted it in the recipe.

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In a small bowl, mix 1 cup graham cracker crumbs with 1 tablespoon sugar. Place 2 tablespoons sweetened crumbs in each of seven 1/2-pint Mason jars. Press down lightly.

One of the beautiful things about this method is that you never have to turn on the oven. Even the crust bakes in the slow cooker.  If you like a richer crust you can add melted butter to the crumb mixture, but I happen to like the crumbs a little looser and crisp.

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Place the jars in a  7- to 8-quart slow cooker. Can you see the messy jar I filled up in the back? Do try to be a little neater than I was.

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Fill each jar 3/4 full with your cheesecake filling. I found pouring the filling from a pitcher with a spout to be a great help.

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Cheesecakes bake best in a warm water bath, called a bain marie. With the temperature control of the slow cooker, the water stays at a constant temperature and the moist air keeps the cakes from forming a crust on top.

To fill the cooker with water, loosely place a lid on each jar to prevent water from splashing in. Pour warm water in until the level reaches at least halfway up the sides of the jars.

Remove the lids from the jars, cover the slow cooker, and set the cooker to high for 1 to 2 hours.

I know this seems like a very wide range of time for cooking, but slow cookers vary, cheesecake batters vary, so it’s better to have a big window.

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To test the cakes for doneness, insert a knife about 1/2″ in from the outer edge. The blade should come out moist, but clean. The centers of the cakes should no longer be wiggly or jiggly.

Turn off the slow cooker and allow the cheesecakes to cool down for about 20 minutes before transferring them to a rack.

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Allow the cheesecakes to rest at room temperature for an hour before sealing with lids and rings. Chill the jars in the fridge for several hours (or up to overnight) before serving. Store tightly covered in the fridge for up to a week.

I’ve never been a big fan of freezing cheesecakes, but I’m pretty sure these would survive well in the freezer for at least a month.

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Pass the berries, cherries, hot fudge sauce, and whipped cream for a topping party. Each person can create his or her own favorite combination, then dig in with a long-handled spoon. Forget iced tea, this is the true reason to break out Aunt Elaine’s set of silver spoons.

Tell us about your summer picnic experiences and your cheesecake triumphs in the comments below. It truly does mean the world to me and my fellow bakers when you share your joy of baking, food and, of course, eating!

Please make, rate, and review our recipe for Cheesecake in a Jar.

Print just the recipe.

Plan the perfect picnic with these other great recipes:  Deviled Eggs; Turkey, Avocado, Strawberry Sandwiches; Pickled Red Onions.

MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

  1. binag

    Not everyone has a slow cooker. What are the alternatives?

    The best alternative would be a low oven (300 degrees) in a water bath. The cakes should take about 30 minutes!-Jon

    Reply
  2. sohn

    I love the slow cooker au Bain marie idea. Brilliant!

    It really is pretty neat! I think I need some cheesecake now…-Jon

    Reply
  3. wingboy

    Great idea! I never thought of using a slow cooker as a bain marie.
    Hmmm. I have a vision of custards and brulee.
    New possibilities are on the horizon.
    Thanks!!

    Please let us know which custards you try out with this method.-Jon

    Reply
  4. "Paul from Ohio"

    Brilliant idea. Baking in the Slow Cooker is nothing short of Genius! And the Brooklyn Cheesecake recipe has been a big winner in our household for some time now. You are one sharp cookie, or is that, one sharp cheesecake!, of a baker blogger MJ! Crafty and luscious and so practical! In the heat of summer, who needs to bake in the oven!!! And everyone gets to select their own topping – another GREAT IDEA!

    She is pretty crafty and wonderful!-Jon

    Reply
  5. annapolprior

    Oh no, this is just not right, the crust is the best part and the amount of cheesecake is disproportionate to the crust! More crust!

    You can always add more crust without a problem!-Jon

    Reply
  6. KAF_Keri

    So with the cheesecake being in individual jars, would it be easy enough to add different flavorings to each jar without messing up the consistency? I’m thinking: lemon zest in one jar, lime zest in another, Snickers chunks, blueberries, pumpkin filling swirl, etc etc. The possibilities would be endless! It would be perfect for a party where people have different tastes. What do you think?

    Sounds like a fine idea to me. You should experiment with some different flavors and let us taste test them, just to be on the safe side!-Jon

    Reply
  7. Pam H

    I really think there has been a type and those are “1/2″ pint jars rather than pint jars.

    I think so too, I have let MJ know so we will have an answer soon!-Jon

    Reply
  8. davidjanet

    If you had 2 slow cookers could you use 14, 1/2 pint jars instead of the pint size to make a single serving? I need to make a lot of these for a house warming party. How would this affect the time? Thanks
    You could absolutely do smaller jars. Start checking much earlier. I haven’t tried it, so maybe check at 30 mins? Let us know if you give it a try. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  9. tpel_91

    Exactly what size jars are you using? Because that picture looks like half-pint [8 oz] jars rather than the pint [16 oz] jars to me. And for individual servings, 16 oz is a LOT of cheesecake no matter how good :) I’ve seen a lot of this on Pinterest too and have been rather afraid to try the recipes just because the baking time could be so different. I’ve seen some pictures where the recipe is saying pint jars and the picture is showing quarter-pint [4 oz] jars…

    Sorry for the confusion, half pints were used.-Jon

    Reply
  10. Grandma

    The pictures and post of this recipe states to use 1 pint Mason jars. The Ball jars pictured don’t come in pint size, they’re 8 ounce jelly jars.

    Hmm, I will let MJ know so the error can be fixed!-Jon

    Reply
  11. clmaurer

    Can you halve the recipe and prepare in 1/2 pint jars? It makes it truly individual servings.

    We actually had a little typo for this recipe, you should definitely use 1/2 pint jars!-Jon

    Reply
  12. Bernadette

    Seems like a lot of filling for a little crust so how about using the half-pint Mason jars if you have them or perhaps individual ramekins. You might have to increase the crumb mixture to have enough for all the little desserts but I don’t think that would be much of a problem. I wonder how you would adjust the cooking time for smaller jars?

    We actually did use the half pints, we had a little typo in the blog post! You can also increase the crust if you like without a problem.-Jon

    Reply
  13. julandrobm

    Since the cheesecake is so rich, do you think this would work with the
    smaller mason jars rather than the pint size? Of course, it would require
    slow cooking a double batch but would then be just the right amount for one
    person.

    We actually had a little typo in our blog; half pints are the way to go!-Jon

    Reply
  14. wendafriesner

    So, is the error that the incorrect jars are shown or that the recipe should be prepared in 8 oz. jars instead of 16 oz. jars? I would prefer the 8 oz. jars if that would constitute a single serving per jar. For the smaller jars, would the baking time be as stated in the recipe, or should it be reduced? I’d love to take these cheesecakes on a 4th of July picnic I’m planning.

    The recipe as written is for 8 oz (half pint) jars, the mention of a pint jar was the typo in this case.-Jon

    Reply
  15. momcatsmac

    Yes, these are 8 oz jars, the size I use for tomato jam every summer. I was excited about this recipe until I got to the part about having to share….

    No need to share if you don’t want to.-Jon ;)

    Reply
  16. ficelle

    THIS IS PERFECT!!! I’m having a big family gathering June 22nd. We’re in a high-rise condo, which doesn’t lend itself to casual entertaining because we have only a small balcony for outdoor access. I’ve been knocking my head trying to come up with an elegant but casual menu. THIS will be the dessert. I’ll find smaller jars, and put another layer of the crumbs in the middle of the cream cheese. I’ll make ‘em in advance, freeze ‘em, and have the kitchen top them with whatever is the best fresh fruit the day of.

    Will try to remember to post a picture after the party.

    Yum, sounds like a perfect idea. We can’t wait to see the results!-Jon

    Reply
  17. mwalton

    Such a clever idea. What about using the 4 ounce wide mouth jars and making these individual portions? Would be easy to up the crust to cheesecake ratio with the smaller wider jar also.Must try!!!

    The 4 ounce jars will work as well, but the baking time will decrease so make sure to keep an eye on them!-Jon

    Reply
  18. "Since 8"

    This would be a good time to use your canning funnel if you have one (I do!).

    Absolutely, it will make filling these jars a piece of (cheese) cake!-Jon

    Reply
  19. jeanl0u

    Any chance you could provide nutritionals for this recipe? It looks wonderful!

    Unfortunately we do not have this information available, but we hopefully will in the future.-Jon

    Reply
  20. arlie

    If the 1/2 pint jar serves 2 then why not make some in 4 oz. canning jars so that each person could have their own jar? Has that been tried? Also you could use a canning funnel to fill those jars and avoid some of the mess.
    You certainly could use smaller jars. You would need to either cut the recipe in half, or plan on baking two batches to use up all of the filling. The baking time would be somewhat shorter, but not having tried it I don’t have any specifics for you. If you do give it a go, we’d love to hear about it.
    p.s. Too true about the funnel. Mine is amongst the lost socks, so I’ve got to get a new one. ~MJ

    Reply
  21. Karen Nardella

    MJ and KA this is outstanding. I cannot wait to try it and to hear other variations form others. So excited :)

    Reply
  22. Kimberly

    OMG a cheesecake “bar”?? Funny how cheesecake in a slow cooker isn’t the idea that grabbed me…I adore a “bar” of any kind and make them any time I get the chance. Pancakes, waffles, omelettes, tacos, pasta, pizza, sandwiches (especially grilled cheese…YUM!) if I can put out a bunch of different toppings and let people go nuts, it’s my favorite thing in the world! Being able to do it with CHEESECAKE??? I can’t wait!! Thank you for the idea :) and yes, using the slow cooker in summer is a great idea. Love you, KAF!

    Sounds like my kind of party, mmm!-Jon

    Reply
  23. Sharon

    I love this idea, but am wondering if they can ship. My son is in Afghanistan and would loves these as a treat. Would they survive a week in the mail?

    It’s a lovely thought Sharon, but given the dairy and egg combination (plus the fact that these aren’t being “canned” per se), I wouldn’t ship these in the mail. They would have to be mailed in a way that would keep them at 40F for the entire duration of shipping–and by the time they arrived, they’d already be going bad. I’m so sorry, but I think this just would not be a wise idea–better to keep your son healthy! Best, Kim@KAF

    Reply
  24. furrykids

    Would this work with 1/2 pint wide mouth jars? I use them frequently and they would not require a long spoon to eat. They would also give you a larger surface area for toppings. I realize you would most likely need to up the crust per jar a bit.

    That would definitely work, though you won’t be able to fit as many into the slow cooker and you’d want to turn down the cooking time: check after 30-40 minutes to see how they’re setting up and cook until they’re done as the recipe states. You could always do 2-3 batches in the slow-cooker, being sure to keep the jars waiting to go in nice and chilled in your fridge. Kim@KAF

    Reply
  25. heatherindustries

    Would it be possible to use nonfat half and half or light cream or a lower fat milk product and still have a creamy cheesecake texture?

    You can always use a lower-fat dairy product, but the cheesecakes will definitely have a leaner texture and taste. If you were to use a lower-fat option, I wouldn’t go lighter than whole milk, which is significantly lower in fat than light cream. You could try with the nonfat dairy creamer and let us know the results! NOTE: nondairy creamers can often be highly sweetened, so opt for one that does not contain extra sugars/flavors for a better result. Best, Kim@KAF

    Reply
  26. arlie

    I’m going to try it with the 4 oz jars. Might not all fit in at once but that’s ok. Or maybe do some of each size jar.

    Just be sure to cut down on the cooking time if you use smaller jars (you can also set up the other jars and keep in the fridge until you’re ready to cook them off. I would suggest checking the jars after 30-40 minutes to see how the centers are setting. Best, Kim@KAF

    Reply
  27. bakingsince12

    I love the idea and would definitely go with the smaller size since most friends watch weight. One question however : I don’t have a slow-cooker. Could you give alternate instructions, please? Thanks!

    You can always bake these in the oven if you use the water bath method: set the oven to 300F, place the jars in a large roasting pan or a tall-sided pan that can accommodate the jars while allowing you to have water in the pan that comes at least half-way up the side of the jars. Bake until the middles are no longer jiggly: you may want to check after 30 minutes to see how they’re doing and extend the cooking time, but check every 10 minutes or so, especially if you use smaller jars than the 8oz ones we use. Best, Kim@KAF

    Reply
  28. furrykids

    Kim@KAF – Would I really want to lower the cooking time if I use wide mouth jars? They hold the same amount as the regular but they are fatter/shorter. I would think it would take longer to heat it all the way to the middle.

    No, the more surface area you have exposed would allow the cheesecakes to evaporate their moisture more quickly and thus coagulate the proteins at a faster rate. You may not need to adjust it much, but they will cook more quickly because of the increase in surface area of the cheesecakes. Great question! Kim@KAF

    Reply
  29. Sandy

    Actually, I can give you a very good reason why cheesecake is thought of as a special-occasion dessert:
    Unless it’s one of the recipes using non-fat, fake-fat or artificially-non-fatted dairy subs (and I suspect that the original real cream cheese and sour cream are actually better for your health, altho that is an entirely separate subject), it’s going to be incredibly rich. One recipe will serve 12, usually. If you’re a small household, that’s cheesecake every evening for 3 to 6 days. It’s just overwhelming.
    This, however, is a somewhat smaller recipe to start with, and looks like it can be cut in half for my 3.5-quart crockpot . . . . This does look promising!!

    Thanks for sharing, Sandy! Yes, I find cheesecake to be quite sumptuous and a special-occasion dessert given how decadent it is/can be. I hope the smaller recipe size works out for you! Feel free to post your findings! Kim@KAF

    Reply
  30. Pia

    could i make it in the oven if i don’t have a crock pot that’s big enough?

    You sure can! I responded to this question with instructions under “Bakingsince12″: set the oven to 300F, place the jars in a large roasting pan or a tall-sided pan that can accommodate the jars while allowing you to have water in the pan that comes at least half-way up the side of the jars. Bake until the middles are no longer jiggly: you may want to check after 30 minutes to see how they’re doing and extend the cooking time, but check every 10 minutes or so, especially if you use smaller jars than the 8oz ones we use. Best, Kim@KAF

    Reply
  31. argentyne

    I almost always bake cheesecake in my slow cooker. But in the regular cake pan type pan.

    I like the idea of jars MUCH better since perhaps it will slow down my consumption of said cheesecake. ;)

    I normally make a pumpkin cheesecake with a chocolate swirl… I think I am definitely going to have to try it in this format, perhaps stealing someone else’s idea to do layers. One layer of crust, one layer of pumpkin cheesecake, one layer of chocolate… hmmmm. And MMMMMMM.

    Awesome idea! I like the layered effect, though you do want to be careful as some of the layers can overcook if you’re not careful…Best, Kim@KAF

    Reply
  32. a mcclure

    I was thinking about serving cheesecake at my daughter’s casual spring wedding and this will be perfect!!
    Oh, oh, oh! Be sure to send pictures along. We LOVE weddings! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  33. wendyb964

    I first did this with the Girl Scouts in 4oz jars for their parents Valentine’s Day. Works with almost any cheesecake recipe (yes, even the “box” no-cook kind w/o the slow cooker).

    I use my regular recipe, add coffee or swirl in apricot/fruit puree, and whatever cookie crumbs we have.

    These may cook incredibly quickly: do not overbake. Check plenty early being sure not to let the condensation on the top drip onto the jars.

    Great for a party with a “toppings bar.” I prefer to use a one quart squat wide-mouth jar and fill less full to allow plenty of toppings. With scorching summers we do this outside. Such a great idea!

    For the kids we make similar desserts with pudding (cooked or instant, often layering the cookies) and let them top them as well. Thanks for reminding me of such an easy make-ahead, people think you’ve slaved all day dessert.
    Thank YOU Wendy for sharing these great ideas with us! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  34. wendyb964

    Can also be done in the oven in a 9×13 pan partially filled with hot water. I have heat/freezer-safe jars, so can make many and freeze ahead. Cool uncovered in the refrig overnight to diminish condensation risk.
    Yes, you sure can. They are both water baths doing the same function. Enjoy! Elisabeth

    Reply
  35. joanski

    So…in the recipe it says “Prepare a 7-8-quart slow cooker for baking.” Does that mean lining the interior or something like using a rack? Could you clarify please? TU

    JBB
    It just means to gather all the pieces for your cooker and put them in place. No lining or special prep needed. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  36. Mary Rose

    Brilliant idea to use both the jars and the slow cooker!

    I just attended a cooking class where the instructor told us she cooks jars of mousse and creme brulee in a Dutch oven to impress the hunters she feeds at their camp. I’ll have to tell her about this cheesecake!

    Reply
  37. churtenb

    I am curious, when I use my crock pot, condensation develops on the inside of the lid.
    Would that not happen and drip into the cheesecakes?
    Susan Reid asked me this question as well, and I did not experience this. It may be because the cooker is only on for an hour? I’m not sure why it didn’t seem to be an issue, but if you have troubles with dripping, you could lay a layer of foil over the top of the crock before putting the lid on, this will catch any drips. Hope it helps! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  38. Jack Belle

    What is the water temperature of your crock pot? I’d like to do this in a temperature controlled water bath.
    MJ? Do you have an idea of the water temp? Elisabeth

    Sorry, I don’t know the water temp of my slow cooker. In doing a little research online, it looks like 160°F would be a good place to start. ~ MJ

    Reply
  39. Gambles

    That was the most redundant and funny blog comment list I’ve read so far. I can hardly believe so many people managed to post the exact same question right on top of each other and obviously before you all had a chance to post the answer. Kudos to your patience in answering it over and over and over… :)

    All my love and props to Jon, you totally deserve a medal for handling my slip-up so well! ~ MJ

    So now that I know to use 1/2 pint jars, where do I buy them? I’m homebound so I have to send someone out shopping. Hopefully you will tell me they are at the grocery store. Also, if I have a 6 qt crock pot, how many will fit? No sense buying more than I can use…

    Thanks very much,
    Suzanne
    Hi Suzanne,
    The jars will be sold at some grocery stores, but you’ll often have better luck finding them at the hardware or feed store. They come in sets of 12, with lids and rings. I’d say you’ll probably be able to fit 5 or 6 into your crock pot. I use these types of jars for everything at my house. Drinking glasses that can handle 3 dogs and 2 cats, spice storage, leftovers in the fridge. You’ll never run out of uses for them. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  40. joanski

    MJ, FYI:

    I asked what might have seemed like a “silly” question but that’s because I own a Cuisinart 4-1 Multicooker that’s fairly versatile. I finally got a flash of brilliance, duh; consulted the instruction book for the unit and found a “similar,” type recipe that dictates the use of the baking rack which comes with the unit for any cheesecake mix like this. Once I even saw something on a blog somewhere suggesting the use of a kitchen towel as a cushion in a conventional slow cooker. Thanks anyway M.J. I ended up answering my own question. RTFM! (Translated: read the “expletive deleted” freakin’ manual!) You and the rest of the crew all are indeed patient people. Thanx!
    Best regards,
    JB
    OH hon, I have SO been there too. Amazing the stuff they put in the manual, eh? ;) ~ MJ

    Reply
  41. SheenaC

    Hi there,
    Can you tell me how much melted butter to incorporate into the crust? I would love to try this out for my annual 4th of July party. Thanks for this great and cute idea!!

    Experiment before the big party – other cheesecake recipes (baked in a pan) use proportions for 1 cup of crumbs anywhere between 2 tablespoons to 4 or 5. This will take some experimenting and taste testing to find what works for you! Wish we were neighbors so we could help in the “research”! Happy Baking – Irene@KAF

    Reply
  42. CarmenC

    Do you think we could leave out the crust for our gluten-free friends?

    Absolutely – I’m sure your friends will appreciate being able to enjoy their crustless cheesecake along with everyone else! PJH

    Reply
  43. waikikirie

    I am making these today. Can anyone tell me about the lids. I am inexperienced in canning but know that the lids cannot be reused. Because these cakes aren’t really being canned, can I re-use the lids??
    Will be playing with this recipe (after trying it out as written first) to make my Oreo Cheesecake in the jars. (Oreo cookie crust with broken up cookies in the middle – YUM)
    Yes, you can use the lids over again, as they aren’t getting pressure cooked etc. I can’t wait to hear how the Oreo ones come out. I’m free for taste testing if you need me. ;) ~ MJ

    Reply
  44. Carla

    I “bake” cheesecakes in my pressure cooker in a small springform pan. it’s quick and is always creamy. I like the little jar idea better.

    Reply
  45. Michele Lewis

    I am going to do this with 4 oz wide mouth jars so that they are single serve (loving this idea!). Has anyone figured out how long these will take in the crockpot? Or, how long they would take in the oven?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      If you bake these in a water bath in a 300 degree oven, they should take about 1/2 hour.~Jaydl@KAF

  46. Karen

    I am thinking of trying this in my electric frying pan. it will hold a lot more jars than my slow cooker. My cheesecake recipe makes alot of cheese cake

    Reply
  47. Lisa

    If I needed to fix for a crowd at one time and used my roaster oven instead of my crock pot what temperature would be best? This would be a great treat for the ladies at work on our potluck Tuesday.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The cheesecakes can easily be done the night before so they have the creamy coolness…Try in the roaster oven at 350 until they test done as directed in the recipe. Happy baking! Laurie@KAf

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