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Dessert of the Year: Mason Jar Cheesecake

2012 July 31
by Becky

Want to be the hit of your next BBQ/potluck/bridal shower/birthday party/Saturday night?

Whip up some of these super-easy Mason Jar Cheesecakes.
I promise, you will be everyone’s hero.

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I had these at a recent holiday picnic. I saw these plain, old mason jars nestled in an ice-filled bin. So I grabbed one, too intrigued to resist. What I found inside was downright heavenly.

Rich, tart-yet-sweet cheesecake with a traditional graham cracker crust, topped with a fruity sauce. All I had to do was pop the top and insert my spoon. A picnic dessert that’s fancy AND easy.

The bearer of the delicious dessert could not be determined, so I had to take matters into my own hands. Where did I go?

Pinterest.

I mean, where else do you go for anything dealing with mason jars? There actually weren’t as many pins about Mason Jar Cheesecakes as I expected, but there were enough. I quickly dismissed the “no-bake” versions, wanting more of a traditional cheesecake texture and flavor. I sorted out the few recipes left and found a winner at Thrifty NW Mom’s blog.

Mason jar recipes

Mason Jar Cheesecakes (adapted from Thrifty NW Mom’s recipe)

  • 2 cups of Crushed Graham Crackers
  • 1/4 cup of Sugar
  • 5-6  Tbsp of Butter, Melted
  • 3 pkgs of 8oz Cream Cheese, Softened (I used store brand)
  • 1 can of 14oz Sweetened Condensed Milk (NOT evaporated milk )
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 Tsp Vanilla
  • 11-12 Half Pint Jars (available at Ace Hardware, Safeway, Lowe’s, Home Depot, etc. for around $10 a dozen)

I grabbed some half pint mason jars I had on hand (purchased at Ace Hardware) and scrubbed ‘em clean. I threw half a box of graham crackers in a large zip lock back and enlisted Ethan to help me grind them to bits with a rolling pin. We tossed the crumbs with five-ish tablespoons (more if your isn’t sticky enough) of melted butter and sugar before tamping it into the bottom of my jars using the rubber end of a turkey baster.

I whipped the softened cream cheese in my mixer till fluffy, then added the eggs, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla. What resulted was a billowy, sweet goodness. I won’t lie, some batter licking (mostly on Ethan’s behalf) was involved at this stage in the process.

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With crusted jars settled into my large, heavy roasting pan, I tried to evenly divide the filling but ended up one jar short. Maybe I was over-zealous with my filling of jars (leaving space at the tops), but there is no way I had enough cheesy-goodness for a 12th jar. Not to worry though, I only really needed eight or nine servings anyway. Just something to note.

After filling, I poured water in the pan until the jars were halfway submerged, creating a “bath” for the cheesecakes. They baked at 350 for about 20 minutes (I don’t trust my oven so I rotated the pan halfway through) until set but still slightly jiggly. Mine got a few tiny browned spots which freaked me out, but not to worry…they tasted great.

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BE CAREFUL when removing the pan from the oven. If you use a roasting pan like mine, that sucker is going to be heavy. I used tongs to gently lift the jars from the water and let them cool on my counter for an hour or so. Once cool, I screwed on the tops and stacked the jars in my fridge.

I didn’t know what topping to use, thought about doing a variety, but once I saw big, juicy raspberries on sale at the store, my mind was made up. Thinking back to my peach shortcakes with blueberry sauce, I threw raspberries, water, and sugar into a sauce pan:

  • 2 pints raspberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp water
I smushed the raspberries as they bubbled on the stove, and after about 10-15 minutes, I added a cornstarch and water mixture.

The result was a thick, yummy-looking sauce riddled with seeds. Though I had decided not to bother straining the sauce, I broke down and put it through my fine mesh sieve. The final sauce was bright red, smooth, and perfectly sweet. I dolloped a couple spoonfuls on each cheesecake. Then back in the fridge they went till our BBQ the following day.

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The next night, after dinner, I emerged from the house with an armful of mason jars. Guest’s interests were peeked. They couldn’t imagine what I was doing as I plopped the jars into our ice-filled bucket of beer. When we were ready, guests grabbed a jar and a spoon.

The reaction was unanimous. Everyone LOVED the dessert. Even the kids couldn’t get enough. I know my jar was scraped clean!

We had two cheesecakes leftover, the two I did not top with raspberries just in case someone had an aversion to sweet berry goodness, so I tried one with chocolate sauce (of the Trader Joe’s variety) and the other with some salted carmel sauce. Both were DE-lish. So top with whatever you want…change it up!

My new go-to dessert recipe is locked down…I can’t imagine an easier, no-fuss, higher-impact, make-ahead treat for a breezy get together. Just make sure you plan accordingly—having these leftover in your fridge is dangerous.

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What’s your favorite easy, make-ahead dessert? What would you take to a party? 

You may also like:

Perfect Summer Dessert
Reveling in the Weekend
My Gift To You: Mom's Famous Toffee Recipe
9 Responses leave one →
  1. July 31, 2012

    This blog post is vary dangerous to read for pregnant ladies…if I had enough cream cheese on hand, I’d be giving these a whirl right this very minute :-)

  2. Sandy Schon permalink
    August 1, 2012

    YUM!!!

  3. Lauren permalink
    December 22, 2012

    I’ve made these in the past. They are good. Unfortunately I think u put the wrong size for the mason jars. I sent my husband to purchase the 1/2pint jars,but they too big. U need the ones that are 1/4 pint.

    • Becky permalink*
      December 22, 2012

      Hi! I’m so sorry you had an issue with the recipe! But I just went down to check my jars and they are indeed 1/2 pint (8 oz) jars. They are short and fat, not tall and thin…not sure if that makes a difference. Hope the 1/4 jars work for you! Let me know how they turn out.

      • Michelle Shearhod permalink
        August 19, 2013

        Lauren must be crazy or have uber-discipline. I have both size of jars. The 1/4 pint would be too much of a tease ;) I would be institutionalized for licking the jar. (Just kidding Lauren.)

        • Becky permalink*
          August 19, 2013

          Ha! I agree Michelle. Just having the few extra jars in my fridge after our party was like torture. They are so good! Getting ready to make another batch for a big party over Labor Day. Can’t wait!

  4. Natalie permalink
    February 5, 2014

    Hi!

    These look fantastic, just wondering if you’d be able to make them in advance and freeze them. I’m hoping to make heaps for a party and it’d make it so much easier.

    Thanks :)

    • Becky permalink*
      February 5, 2014

      Thanks! I think you could totally freeze them, once completely cool of course. But just FYI, they stay good in the fridge for a few days…we were eating on the leftovers almost a week after the last time we made them and still delish. Always a crowd pleaser! Good luck!

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