eli’s chicago cheesecake recipe

Eli’s Chicago Cheesecake Recipe

Chicago Cheesecake Recipe

I usually buy my books online since they are typically much cheaper than in the stores, but my wife got a gift certificate to Borders for Christmas so we were walking though one the other day. They usually have some clearance cookbooks up front but they aren’t typically my style. On this day, though, there was a copy of Cook’s Illustrated‘s “Restaurant Favorites” for $4.95. I scooped it up and immediately began flipping through when I got home.

The first thing I noticed was the recipe for Eli’s Chicago-Style Cheesecake. My wife is a native Chicagoan and always extolled the virtues of Eli’s over any other cheesecake, so I had to give the recipe a try. I served it to a bunch of cheesecake aficionados and they were thoroughly impressed, especially with the shortbread crust. Dare I say that we preferred its lighter texture to the very dense and rich versions from New York? The recipe was terribly easy to put together, so I suggest you give it a try for yourself!

eli’s chicago-style cheesecake recipe

crust
6 TB unsalted butter, softened and cut into chunks
1/4 cup (1 ounce) confectioners’ sugar
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
pinch of salt

filling
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
zest of 1 lemon (my addition — optional, but delicious)
1 TB all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
2 large eggs
melted butter for greasing the pan

1. For the crust: In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the vanilla and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the flour and the salt and beat on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds.

2. Empty the mixture into an 8-inch springform pan (I used an 8 1/2″ pan with no problems) and press it evenly into the bottom of the pan. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Wash the mixer bowl and paddle.

3. Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Prick the chilled crust several times with a fork and bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position, maintaining the oven temperature at 350.

4. For the filling: In a standing mixture fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium-low speed to break it up and soften it, about 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl and paddle. Add half the sugar and the lemon zest (if using) and beat on medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl. Beat in the remaining sugar, flour, and salt until combined, another minute. Scrape the bowl. Add the sour cream and vanilla and beat for a minute. Add the yolk and beat for another minute. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and beat for a minute after each addition, scraping down the bowl and paddle as necessary.

5. Brush the sides of the cooled springform pan with melted butter. Set the pan on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any spills. Pour the filling onto the cooled crust and bake until the cheesecake is firm around the edges and barely jiggles in the center, around 50-60 minutes (check at 40 if you are using a larger pan). An instant-read thermometer should register 150F. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 3 hours then wrap tightly with plastic and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 4 days.

6. Unmold the cheesecake about 30 minutes before you want to serve it. Enjoy with a dollop of whipped cream and/or some fresh strawberries.

17 thoughts on “eli’s chicago cheesecake recipe”

  1. Dominic ~ I love hearing about sweet findings like this. It is great that the book tapped into something both you and your wife enjoy. Thank you for passing on the recipe – the cheesecake looks too good to pass on. A cheesecake in New Zealand is typically set upon a cookie base of some description; I like that this one doesn’t, reminding me of the many cheesecakes I ate in the US (to my partner’s surprise – he doesn’t care for them much).

  2. Hey thanks for the recipe, worked out really well, i tried using jullienne’d zest but i should have crystallized it which I didn’t do because of a lack of time…

    but the recipe was killer, i topped it with a homemade strawberry jam + 1tbsp cointreau + about a 1/3 – 1/2 pkg of knox gelatin.

    my friends hardly believed that i’d made it. and to quote one of my friends,

    “This cake is so much better than the traditional-jewish style cheesecakes in montreal, its way better!”

    another guy said he was pissed that he didn’t pay me for this cake a week ago, after he dropped 55$ buying one of the very same jewish-montreal style cheesecakes.

    FOR SURE will remake this.

  3. Hi Dominic
    We first tried Chicago Cheesecake in Singapore and fell in love. As soon as we got home we googled it and found your recipe. Awesome.

    Today the cheesecake and your recipe is being shared around an office in Outback Australia.

    Cheers
    From Down Under

  4. My husband LOVED the frozen Eli’s cheesecake that used to be available in our area, but you just can’t find it anymore. I tried this recipe the other day, and I have to say, this is BETTER than Eli’s! Fairly easy to make, and the lemon zest adds a nice ‘tang’. I had to use a 9″ pan as I simply couldn’t find anything smaller…most available around here are 10″, but it came out perfectly. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  5. Might want to consider revising the recipe directions for crust.  I’m much sure I would rather “add” the vanilla.  I usually make mine crustless as gluten free graham cracker crumbs are pretty pricey, but I’m anxious to try this.  

    1. Wow, this recipe has been up for 4 years and I never realized I called on people to “ass” their vanilla 🙂 The change has been made – better late than never!

      I bet you could use something like Bob’s Red Mill GF All-Purpose Flour Blend since the crust on this cheesecake is essentially a giant shortbread cookie.

      1. I use Deby’s gluten free all purpose flour.  So far it’s been a perfect direct substitute.  I don’t have to change any of my recipes if I use it.  

      2. I finally made this and would have eaten the whole thing myself if I hadn’t cut and served half of it already.  The shortbread crust is MUCH less expensive to do gluten free than graham cracker crumbs.  

  6. Yum, I’ve tried it with homemade hot fudge sauce swirled in and with slightly thinned homemade strawberry jam swirled in.  Both were as yummy as the original.  May have to sell these at my farmer’s market booth.  

    1. No, it doesn’t. I have done it both ways and actually prefer the texture without the water bath. But do look for it to be barely set/still jiggly when you take it out and you won’t have a problem with a cracked top.

  7. Hi
    I’ve tried Eli’s cheesecake few years ago in England. Now I’ve finally found this recipe and can’t wait to try it at home – in Poland. Will do so this Christmas – hope it’ll all work out fine (need to adjust weights and tempreture to European). Keep your fingers crossed!

  8. I have made this multiple times at home. Every time I have made it, there was nothing left of it. This is the best recipe by far for cheesecake I have ever made.

  9. Dominic, it broke my heart over the weekend when my wife spent hours making her very first cheesecake (from a recipe she’d come across recently) only to find that the finished product, while it looked gorgeous, had no real flavor. Sadly, despite her having followed the recipe diligently, the only flavor came not from the cheesecake itself but from the fresh blackberry topping she’d prepared to go with it. After all her initial excitement and anticipation of her very first homemade cheesecake, needless to say she was in a pretty down mood after marching the beautiful but bland remains of her freshman cheesecake effort to its final resting place outside in the trash can. Returning inside, she loudly proclaimed, “Never again.” In hopes of somehow reviving her interest and enthusiasm, over a couple cups of coffee this morning I did some online research. Although I read through dozens of recipes, yours was the only one I printed. After reading it, smiling with somewhat restrained anticipation she’s bravely agreed to take the cheesecake leap yet again and to give your recipe a shot. Afterwards I’ll post an update to let everyone know how it went. In the meantime, thanks for putting the wind back in my bride’s sails. You know, cheesecake-wise!

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