This German Cheesecake (AKA Käsekuchen) is as authentic as it gets! When given to my German neighbors, they declared it “tastes like home” and gave it 5 stars!
So I am kind of in love with my German neighbors.
I discovered they were German when I delivered leftover treats to our apartment complex’s clubhouse and they were in there. At first I thought their accent (they were speaking in lower voices) was French, and I got excited to use my 10-year old rusty French I learned in high school to communicate with them. But then I found out they spoke German, and I took that as a challenge to learn it!
We got to talking and they got used to me bringing in treats to share, so one day, they offered me some cookbooks to look through since they know I love baking. The only problem: the cookbooks and cooking magazines were all in German!
(Thank god for Google Translate!)
They casually mentioned that German Cheesecake is so different from American cheesecake – lighter, fluffier, and very delicious. American cheesecake can be quite dense, and I was intrigued by this fluffy cheesecake, so I decided to translate one of the cooking magazines advertising pages of käsekuchen (aka, cheesecake) and make it myself.
After lots and lots of typing into Google Translate (and a brief meltdown regarding what quark is) I had a recipe and I whipped it up immediately. (Oh, and BTW – quark is the German answer to cream cheese. However, if you cannot find quark in your grocery store, this tastes amazing with whole-milk ricotta cheese!)
Some tips before diving in to this German classic:
- This recipe uses vanilla sugar and vanilla pudding powder, both of which are German ingredients you can find at an international supermarket or somewhere like World Market, which is where I found mine. Dr. Oetker is the brand, and if you click the hyperlinks above, it’ll take you to Amazon where you can purchase these ingredients. As far as substitutions go, you could definitely use vanilla extract in place of the vanilla sugar, but the vanilla pudding powder is a must! (I have not tried this with Jell-O pudding, but I am assuming it would work).
- The crust is a shortbread-like crust that is so delicious with this cheesecake. You could also use graham crackers like an American cheesecake.
- This cheesecake tastes similar to traditional American cheesecake but has a lighter and fluffier texture. You could always experiment by adding in fresh fruit or even chocolate to the cheesecake batter before baking.
The secret to this cheesecake being light and fluffy has to do with the different type of cheese the Germans use: quark. I know it kind of sounds like a Pokemon character, but it has a different texture to cream cheese. Again, if you cannot find quark, use ricotta! (Full confession: I could not find quark, so I used whole-milk ricotta which my neighbors assured me was very similar to quark.)
And the other secret? Separating the eggs! The stiffened egg whites get folded into the batter which makes it extra airy and light, unlike traditional American cheesecake. The result is a gorgeous, cloud-like cheesecake you’ve got to try!
*recipe from Frau im Trend, a German magazine
Authentic and Easy German Cheesecake (Käsekuchen)
- 3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp (200g) salted butter softened slightly
- 1 cup (225 g) granulated sugar
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup (225 g) all-purpose flour
- 4 cups quark a German cheese - if you cannot find quark, use whole-milk ricotta
- 1 pkg vanilla sugar (.32 oz or 9g)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 pkg vanilla pudding powder (1.5 oz or 43g)
- Fresh whipped cream and berries for garnish optional but recommended
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease the bottom of a 9" round springform pan. Add in a parchment round, then liberally grease the parchment round and sides of pan.
- For the crust: In a medium bowl, combine 2/3 cup butter, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1 egg and the flour with a spoon until combined. Press into the bottom of the pan and lightly up the sides of the pan.
- For the cheesecake filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together remaining butter and the remaining granulated sugar with the paddle attachment until creamy, about 1 minute. Separate the eggs - one bowl of whites, and one bowl of egg yolks, and add in the egg yolks to the cheesecake batter one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in the quark or ricotta. Beat in the vanilla sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon juice, followed by the vanilla pudding powder. Set aside briefly.
- In another stand mixer bowl, beat the egg whites until stiffened, about 5-7 minutes. Fold the stiff egg whites into the cheesecake batter until fully incorporated. Pour the cheesecake batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top.
- Bake for approximately 1 hour, then turn off the oven and crack the door, leaving the cheesecake in the oven for 10 minutes. Gently remove the cheesecake and allow to come to room temperature before refrigerating for at least 2 hours to set and chill. Serve with whipped cream and berries, if desired.
Light, fluffy, airy cheesecake with a delicate texture and a sweet vanilla flavor! You cannot beat this German käsekuchen!
Have a super sweet day!
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Sarah D.V. says
The pudding powder – is it instant or the kind you need to cook?
Hi Sarah, this is a cook and serve pudding, according to the back of the Dr. Oetker brand package!
If a German recipe calls for pudding mix it is non instant pudding mix
Cheryl Newton says
Hi, Hayley. Thanks for sharing this! Now I have to keep an eye out for quark. (I go to a couple of stores that sometimes carry items I’ve never heard of before.) But 1 question: when does the quark go into the recipe? With the butter and sugar? Thanks!
Hi Cheryl! Oops, I realized I forgot to add that in. Adding it to the recipe now!
Cheryl Newton says
Thanks, Hayley! You rock!
Quark can be found at Whole Foods and on the upper East Coast Weigmans.
Christopher Pare says
Or you can make it yourself… Get 2 x 2 liter/quart cartons of buttermilk, pour into an oven safe dish and bake at 180F for two (2) hours and then turn oven off, then let it stand in oven overnight (do not open oven). Next morning, scoop the quark into a strainer, lined with cheesecloth. Hang the quark from sink faucet for 3 – 7 hours until it stops dripping whey.
Awesome! Danke Schön!!
That is AWESOME – thank you for sharing!
Gabriele Moison says
You can use Fage 2% it works great!
Reminds me of smearcase! Which might actually be the same thing or a relative of this. Wonderful!
Do you happen to be Dutch? It’s the reference to smeerkas
K Keates says
What is vanilla pudding powder equivilant in UK?
Custard powder – 37 grams is a good substitute for the pudding mix. I have used both and cannot tell the difference. Otherwise is cornflour with a little extra vanilla ?
I’m an American who lived in Germany. Quark is identical to Greek yogurt. Pudding mix is the only way most European bakers have access to cornstarch. Greek yogurt and cornstarch are great substitutes here in the States. You can make your own vanilla sugar by using a scraped out vanilla bean pod and placing it in a small container of sugar to sit for a while. The Dr. Oetker things I found so disgusting that I asked a friend to bring over some cornstarch while I was in Europe. We take so much for granted!
Greek yogurt and Quark are not identical. Technically Quark is a soft cheese. The bacterial cultures to make quark are different to the thermophile cultures used in yogurt-making. Quark is not quite cheese, not quite yogurt and not quite cottage cheese.
Your statement in regards to cornstarch is incorrect. Starch (either potato or cornstarch) can be found in any German or European supermarket and has been around forever. It is usually located right next to the flour. Common brands in Germany would be Maizena, Mondamin, Dr. Oetker Gustin just to name a few. The German word for starch is Speisestärke.
How would we cook pudding from scratch, bake cakes, thicken fluids if we did not have access to starch?
Well any starch can be made to work. Some recipes call for corn starch, tapioca starch, flour, cream of wheat etc…..
Anyone in the Military would know “Speisestärke” because it also comes in a spray can for “starching” ones uniform! LOL
When you look at the lower fat and higher protein content of Greek Yogurt and low carbs and the texture it could be passed off as Quark and most people would not suspect a thing if it is unflavored. So in a recipe it might not be chemically identical but so similar most will never know the difference in a finished food.
Being 1 day before Christmas I was not going to the store just to get small curd cottage cheese or Ricotta to strain and dry out to use. So I just used low fat cream cheese and sour cream. Same thing with the Vanilla Sugar did not have any so just used vanilla extract.
I lived in Germany for 12 years. I lost 70 relatives in death/labor camps and my relatives in the USA fought for the USA. I am as much German as I am American. I have seen as many variations on making a German Cheese Cake as one can imagine in Germany depending on the cook book and or what part of Germany you are from. 1979-1991. Depending when someone lived there they will have a different take on what is common and what is not.It was almost impossible to find Avocados in Germany 1979-1991 unless you got one from an American but today Avocados are not hard to find at all in Germany and they are very trendy! Mens blue jeans with pockets did not exist for a long time today they are common. Same thing goes for produce what was hard to find 1979-1991 is more than likely common today. Even in the USA where you live determines what is common and what is not. While German is much smaller land mass than the USA you still have regional differences based on Geography.
After the war came to an end and Berlin was “Occupied” and in ruins my grandfather would steal flour, sugar, salt, butter, chocolate and yeast and take it to a small German bakery after his shift as a Chief in the Army ended. His stake and perception of what was normal and what was rare would be different from my experience. If my oldest son who is in the Army got assigned to Germany I am sure his experiences would differ from mine.
At the end of the day we all like good food right!
Your Käsekuchen looks deslish.
Pudding was originally made with eggs, not starches. Ancient recipe: https://ohmydish.com/recipe/classic-bavarois/
Quark isn’t greek yoghurt.
And I’m german. 🙂
Eggs, and I forgot the gelatin. 😉
Oh, and try the addicting authentic german Käse-Sahne-Torte (cream cheese cake). In summer it’s prefered, in winter it’s the cheese cake. Got to googletranslate again. 🙂
Thanks for the link . I look forward to trying those recipes. I’m lucky to have several German friends that can help with translation.
You are right! It’s not identical to me either. I actually make mine real simple. I grab plain or vanilla yoghurt and let it strain through cheesecloth or coffee filter overnight. Then whatever Molke dripped I can use to add back to the quark if it turned out to thick. Works perfect and no baking or cooking needed. Only way I eat my quark now here in the states.
Tobias Claren says
Greek Yoghurt is Yoghurt wirh 10% fat. Usual “Joghurt” (in germany) has 3,5% fat (like whole fat milk), and low fat Joghurt 1,5%.
Quark is usually “Magerquark” with nearly 0% fat.
Quark is made with rennet,Yoghurt with bacterias.
I don’t know how you got the idea we do not have cornstarch. It’s called Speisestärke and the common brands are Mondamin or Maizena and they are widely used in Germany.! Looks like you just assumed you could find those only in the States. Likewise Greek yogurt is not like Quark. Quark is quite dry and Ricotta is a good substitute although creamier. Don’t take me wrong, this is not a critique, but it always makes me sad to see people living abroad and losing out because they make the wrong assumptions. I have been living abroad for many years and I found I could find all the products if I was just making the effort to get the information and speaking the language of my host country.
I don’t know how you got the idea we do not have cornstarch. It’s called Speisestärke and the common brands are Mondamin or Maizena and they are widely used in Germany.! Looks like you just assumed you could find those only in the States. Likewise Greek yogurt is not like Quark. Quark is quite dry and Ricotta is a good substitute although creamier.
Dr Oetker is a top of the line product
I have to disagree with the statement that Greek yogurt is the same as quark, I’m from Germany and live in the states and there is quite a bit of difference between the two, fat content, salt content , texture are completely different.
quark is “farmers cheese” in the US
I am a German living in America. And quark is not the same in the USA vs Germany. Nor is quark even similar to Greek yogurt. I tried making German cheesecake with quark and the consistency and taste alone are very different. Maya is correct with the quark/Greek yogurt statement!
Vanilla sugar is pretty reasonable at Amazon
What does the cornstarch do for the cake? or the pudding powder? can one leave it out?
Hi Monika! You can probably leave the pudding powder out if you cannot find it; however, this is an authentic German recipe that I translated from German so I’m not positive why they use cornstarch in the recipe!
Cornstarch or pudding mix is added for stability of the quark batter. Since this particular recipe calls for pudding mix I would not leave it out or the filling (quark or substitute) might not set. You can certainly substitute the pudding mix with cornstarch. One pack of non-instant pudding mix by Dr. Oetker (at least here in Germany) contains about 37g (mostly cornstarch) so I would use about the same amount of cornstarch and slightly increase the vanilla extract or vanilla sugar by a few grams.
Bring 2 quarts buttermilk to 120F on stovetop. Immediately remove and add 1tsp citric acid or 2 tbsp lemon juice and stir.
Leave for 20 minutes.
Strain cheese from whey with a cheesecloth or thin towel.
Let drain in refrigerator for 2 to 12 hours (depending on thickness desired).
Yields about 2 cups.
Valerie L Jefferies says
The recipe calls for 6 eggs but one goes in the crust. I just want to clarify that 5 go in batter and 1 in crust correct?
What is spring form pan and parchment round. I lived in near Stuttgart for 18 years and love this stuff
Hi Doug! A springform pan is a type of pan that has a removable ring around the circular pan. This way, you don’t need to flip the cheesecake to get it out of the pan; simply unlatch the side of the pan and pull it off with ease. The parchment round is just a round piece of parchment paper!
Hi there, thank you for this recipe! I can’t wait to try it.
Do you know how long in advance it’s okay to make this cheesecake? I am hoping to make this for an event this weekend was wondering if you think it will do well in the fridge for a couple days before serving… Alternatively, I could look into freezing it but wasn’t sure if that would have a negative impact on it.
Hi Mikaela, I have not tried freezing it, but I think that would compromise the texture. But yes, it will be okay in the fridge for a couple days!
Debbie Brugman says
Thank you so much for this recipe. I haven’t had kasekuchen for over 40 years. My German grandmother use to make it but only at Christmas time. I’ve often wondered why I’m always disappointed when I eat cheesecakeand now I remember, it was the texture I was missing. I was 10 when she died and didn’t realize until recently that it was a German “cheesecake” she made. The one thing I do remember is she always used ricotta, I thought it was funny to put it in a cake.
Hi Debbie, I am so glad you found this recipe! I hope this kasekuchen is exactly like you remembered. At the time, I couldn’t find quark which is traditional, which is why I used ricotta. Either works! You can, however, find quark at Whole Foods in the specialty cheese department I’ve heard!
Debbie Brugman says
Thank you, I’ll go to the local wholefoods and get quark and ricotta and make one of each. 😉
Grady Doster says
This recipe looks great. I use to live in Germany and ate cheesecake almost everyday. I am not a very good baker.
Is there anyplace I can purchase an Authentic German Cheesecake made with Quark? I don’t want to bake a
cheesecake I just want to buy one to eat? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
I live in Stone Mountain, GA. Please help. Grady Doster
Hi Grady, I’m not sure! Do you have a local European bakery near you in Georgia? They may have some!
I live in Warner Robins and visit Helen every year just to go to the German bakeri There is also Bernhard‘s German bakery und deli in Marietta
There is a international farmers market near Emory DeKalb Hospital that carries the Quark.
Sherry Redman says
We have a German friend who makes this cheesecake with bourbon vanilla,literally the best cheesecake I’ve ever eaten. Needs no fruit or whipped cream topping! And it can be frozen just fine for future reference.
Sherry, I am so happy to hear that! Glad it was a hit and MAN, does it sound delicious with bourbon vanilla!
Andie Mann says
If you live in an area with Middle Eastern or Israeli grocery stores, you can find quark under a different name: gvina levana. It is usually made by Tnuva and comes in 3, 5, or 9 percent fat content. Jewish-German immigrants to Israel brought quark cheese with them, renaming it simply “white cheese” (gvina levana in Hebrew).
I’ve never heard of a pkg. of vanilla sugar. What is the weight or ounces of a pkg? If I can’t find it in the store, is there a way to make it if I do not have any vanilla beans?
A quick google search says it’s about 0.32 oz!
Do you use a small or large box of vanilla pudding?
They’re like packets of pudding, and I believe it is smaller.
My 1st time making and cake looks amazing. (added raisins as my Mom always did) it is on counter cooling for 2 hrs. You mention putting in fridge to set. Do I REMOVE from spring form or leave in until ready to serve?
Thanks in advance. Hope you answer soonish!
Hi Marian, I like to keep it in the springform pan in the fridge. Helps ensure it keeps its shape while cooling and chilling.
My grandson requested a cheesecake for his birthday this week. When I googled Bavarian cheesecake recipe I came upon yours so I had to try it. I didn’t have time to drive to Atlanta to get the quark so used the whole milk ricotta. It came out perfect and everyone enjoyed it. Being military and living most of my youth overseas , including 4 years in Germany i prefer desserts that are not overly sweet so this got my approval as well.
My concern is using grams vs ounces. When I made my grandsons cake i converted the 4 cups of ricotta to grams which equals 1000gr. I made another cheesecake yesterday using the 32oz ricotta. There seems to be a difference but not exactly sure yet since I haven’t tried it yet. Will have to let you know.
Easy Quark recipe. Add buttermilk to your Instant Pot and hit yogurt. After 8 hours, pour it in a colander lined with a cheesecloth and drain it. After about 6 hours you have Quark. I am German and have made cheese cake with Philadelphia cream cheese when I couldn’t find Quark, It came out great. I use my mother’s recipe and I don’t use any pudding or starch . I just separate the eggs and whip the whites until stiff, and fold them in. I also add some melted butter, whipped cream, liquid vanilla and a few drops of real Lemmon oil. That’s it and it’s light and fluffy.
Marian Pickett says
I make a substance “quark-enough” to recreate this in the US. I take (2% but you could try with other fat contents) Greek yogurt and strain it in a yogurt strainer for about 12 hours. I have never used the pudding mix but hope it will help me lighten the cheesecake and have it come out even taller. I hope the egg whites will also help, but on their own I haven’t had much luck reducing the density of the most delicious cheesecake ever!!
Hi, this recipe looks amazing can’t wait to try it.
Could you confirm how many grams of quark and pudding powder go in the recipe please?
Thank you ! 🙂
Michele S says
Interested in trying this but wish it had total amount rather than pkg of vanilla powder and pudding powder. I buy this in bulk and need amount info! Sounds good but pkg size or total measurement should be written when writing a recipe. Package sizes vary and can change from
different locations. Very upsetting to find a good recipe and they dont print total weight/measurement for each item. Thanks….
Michele, you’re right – I didn’t realize I never put the measurements. Will update the post now, but in the meantime: vanilla sugar is .32oz (9g) and pudding is 43g (1.5 oz).
I finally tried your recipe tonight. Looks and smells delish!
Is it normal for the top to crack?
Yes, that is normal sometimes!
Thank you for this recipe! I’ve just moved to Berlin and wanted to try making a vegan adaptation of this German favourite. I found your blog and veganised your recipe: a bit tricky to substitute all the eggs, but it worked! https://plantifulcoach.com/german-cheesecake-kasekuchen-made-vegan/
Once I tried a cheesecake in US, which didn’t tasted like one. It was made by a lady who was from Germany. What can I say, the cheesecake was delicious! It is also my uncle’s favorite cake and he is having a birthday tomorrow. I was looking for an authentic German cheesecake recipe. I guess I have found one. The cake came out perfect! The only question stands is how it taste. Regardless, thank you for this wonderful recipe!
Hayley, I love cheesecake and have never encountered the German version before. It looks amazing. Using pudding makes it very different from the cheesecake I am used to. Seems like a must try.
Liana Z says
Great recipe…loved the cake! So much better than the American style.
Thank you for sharing the recipe!
This german cheese cake have my heart , am so lucky that i have got this recipe it supper amazing in taste
Am try this cake in my last diner
I followed the instructions very carefully. About 15 min into baking I noticed one side was starting to brown/blacken. I turned the spring foam around in the oven and continued to bake for the 1 hour. The entire top is blackened. I would like to re-attempt, any suggestions? Should I lower the temp and cook for longer?
Hi Kristina, oh no, I am so sorry that happened! I wonder if your oven runs hot. The sides of mine did get darker but not black, but yes, you can try lowering by 25 degrees and see if that helps. Additionally, you can also tent the top with foil to see if that helps.
I re-attempted and lowered the temp to 325 F and baked for 1.5 hours. The result was wonderful!
I was able to salvage the first cheesecake by taking the top layer off and covering with a chocolate ganache recipe from this website. https://www.thatskinnychickcanbake.com/ganache-topped-cheesecake/
I live in Austria, near the German border, and my co workers said the cakes were authentic! The first cake was a bit more dense since it burned initially but still very tasty. Also, after some googling, burnt cheesecakes are a thing in Spain – Saint Sebastian area 🙂 so maybe didn’t need to go through the trouble of taking the top layer off and making the ganache but the end result was good.
I would definitely recommend this recipe. It’s very different than a traditional American cheesecake. Less sweet.
I just made the cheesecake. When it was cooling syrup was dripping from the join of the cake tin .must have done something wrong.
It looks delicious. This cheesecake reminds me somehow of Japanese cheesecake.
Sharlyn Ef says
Can’t wait to try this recipe! Can you tell me the amount of butter I need for just the filling? Im planning on doing a graham crust
Thanks so much!
I have just made a blend of this with pumpkin. I live in the Netherlands so Dr. Oetker is everywhere. I used 24 oz of Campina volle milde Kwark ( as its spelled in Dutch). After I boiled a pumpkin I let it’s strain over night. ( used that liquid for rice pilaf), I had 12,8 oz of pumpkin purée. I also needed to make my own pumpkin spice from clove, ginger, cinnamon, and fresh nutmeg.
They rose, cracked a little, and it was tricky because ovens in the EU are sealed.
Anyway now I will take them out of the “cracked” oven to come to room temp, should I remove the spring ring, or wait until tomorrow after it has set in the fridge?
Hi Takreem, I would wait until it has set before removing the springform pan ring.
I see that you say six eggs but is that just for the batter and then an additional for the crust or 5 for batter and 1 for crust.
Do I have to strain the ricotta cheese?
I would drain excess liquid from the container, but I do not think you need to strain it.
Can fruit be added to the filling before baking?
Hi Harj, yes that should work!
An even better substitute for Quark is skyr. I have found it at Kroger and Meyer in Detroit, when we were in the US. I baked it for my family and they liked it very much.
Skyr also comes in a wide variety of flavors, so good to experiment with it and add some extra fruit to it, like they do it here in Germany as well
Does this recipe still work if you cut it in half? Or do the ratios need to be changed?
Hi Mike, I have not tried halving this recipe.