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Best Authentic German Cheesecake (Käsekuchen)

This German Käsekuchen (German Cheesecake) is made with Quark cheese (homemade or store bought) and has a hint of lemon. One bite and you’ll swear you’re in Germany!

There are many variations of German cheesecake (and as I make them all, I’ll share them here with you).

This version is light, fluffy, and has a crust. If you’re looking for a denser, crustless cheesecake check out my easy Crustless German Cheesecake recipe. And if you’re looking for a simple and classic German cheesecake (or a gluten-free option that doesn’t include butter), try my Classic German Cheese with Quark.

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German vs. US American Cheesecake

Ready to make German cheesecake? Great! But don’t get out the cream cheese! This cheesecake is made with Quark.

Huh? What’s Quark?!

Quark is super popular in Germany and other parts of Europe but much less so in the US. It’s starting to catch on here in the US, though, and I’m so excited about that because I LOVE Quark!

I use it all the time in my baking, cooking, for breakfast, healthy snacks, an easy dessert…so many things.

So what is Quark? It’s is a fresh, soft, un-aged cheese. Quark has a texture similar to a thick Greek yogurt but tastes less tart. It’s also high in protein and is delicious spread on toast, combined with fresh berries (both make an excellent breakfast) or in lots of German desserts and baked items.

Using Quark in recipes that call for it (rather than using a substitute) will make your recipes more authentic and often healthier!

Where Can I Buy Quark?

It used to be SO hard to buy Quark in the US. Like, almost impossible. But now there’s Wünder Quark! They make authentic European-style Quark in both plain (great for baking) and several delicious flavors (perfect for everything else).

I stumbled across Wünder Quark while grocery shopping a few months ago and jumped for joy when I tried their strawberry Quark because it tasted just like what I used to eat in Germany.

When I saw that they also made plain Quark, I reached out to them to see if we could work together. I’m excited to partner with them so I can help you make your recipes more authentic and even more delicious!

You can find Wünder Quark at grocery stores around the US (use their store locator to find one near you) and you can now order it online! It’s super easy to order both plain and flavored Quark and then have it shipped right to your house.

My Quark arrived cold and in perfect condition. It shipped quickly, and love that you can reuse the ice packs and packing material or recycle it. (My husband took the plastic off to recycle the packing material and decided to use some to make his office chair more comfy!)

You can order both large (24oz) and small (5oz) plain Quark or 5oz cups in several flavors. All of the flavors I’ve tried so far have been delicious but my favorite is coffee. OMG, it’s amazing.

Wünder Quark has a shelf-life of 1.5 months in the fridge so you can stock up and have Quark at the ready when you want to do some baking or just enjoy a healthier breakfast, snack or dessert!

Click here to order Wünder Quark!

Can I Make German Quark at Home?

Yes, you can (here are my step-by-step homemade Quark directions)! I’ve done it loads of times. It’s pretty easy but you do need to allow 2-3 days for it to set and drain, and it can be kinda messy.

So you definitely need to plan ahead and make sure you have the tools you need and room in your fridge. What I do now is keep a couple tubs of Wünder in my fridge so I can bake at a moment’s notice!

Are There Any Substitutes for Quark?

I always recommend using Greek yogurt or pureed cottage cheese. I’ve used both. That said, using real Quark does make a difference and I recommend making or buying authentic European Quark cheese if at all possible.

Tell Me About the Crust for This Quark Cheesecake

Put the graham cracker crumbs back in the cupboard! Unlike most cheesecakes in the US, German cheesecake uses a short crust instead of graham cracker or cookie crumbs. The crust in this recipe is so tender, lightly sweet, and has a slight lemon flavor due to the lemon zest. It’s delicious!

How Should I Serve this Cheesecake?

I serve it with fresh whipped cream and sometimes also fresh berries on the side. It also tastes great with a dusting of powdered sugar — or just by itself!

For next time I’m thinking about making a berry topping using my Rote Grütze recipe, which is another amazing German dessert. I’ll have to make a whole new cheesecake to try that, though, because this cheesecake didn’t last but a couple days. It’s not a German thing to top cheesecake with Rote Grütze but I think it could make a good topping!

If you’re looking for a new cheesecake to try or are just hungry for a taste of Germany, try this authentic German cheesecake!

What You Need for this German Cheesecake Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract)
  • Lemon zest
  • Butter (cold and room temperature)
  • Egg + egg yolks
  • Butter
  • Heavy cream
  • Quark (or alternative)
  • Corn starch
  • Egg whites (beaten to stiff peaks)

Equipment:

  • Mixing bowls
  • Stand mixer (or hand mixer)
  • Spatula
  • Scale or measuring cups/spoons
  • Flour sifter
  • Zester/microplane
  • Whisk
  • Springform pan

How to Make German Cheesecake with Quark

This recipe has 5 steps:

  1. Make the crust
  2. Make the filling
  3. Bake the cheesecake
  4. Chill the cheesecake
  5. Eat cheesecake!

To make the crust, sift the flour into a medium sized mixing bowl. Add the baking powder, salt, lemon zest, sugar, and vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract). Whisk to combine.

Then cut the cold butter into small pieces and add it to the flour. Use your fingers to work the butter into the flour until it resembles crumbs.

Add the beaten egg and form into a dough. Wrap dough in plastic and chill in the fridge for an hour.

After the dough has chilled, form it into a disc, press down on it a few times with your rolling pin to flatten it out, and then gently roll it out on a floured surface. If the dough is very crumbly and hard to work with, form it back into a disk and gently roll it out again. Just don’t overwork the dough.

Transfer dough to a prepared 9-inch springform pan. (See photos above for how to fold and transfer the dough to the springform pan.) Use your fingers to press the dough so it evenly covers the bottom and goes half way up the sides of the pa. Store in the fridge while you make the filling.

Make the Filling

First, beat the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla sugar until pale. Add softened butter and continue beating until well combined. Add the heavy cream and beat again.

Add the Quark (or alternative) and beat one more time until everything is thoroughly combined.

In a separate bowl beat egg whites and salt to stiff peaks.

Fold egg whites and sifted cornstarch into cheesecake batter. Pour cheesecake batter into the springform pan.

Bake on 300F/150C for 60-70 minutes. The cheesecake is done when the edges are browned and a toothpick comes out clean. I always check my cheesecake at 50 minutes and continue baking in 5 or 10 minute increments. The center of the cheesecake will be a bit wiggly and it will fall as it cools – that’s normal. 

After the cheesecake has cooled for a few minutes, carefully run a knife around the edge to prevent the crust from sticking to the springform pan. Let the cheesecake cool on the counter for an hour and then several hours in the fridge. It’s best to make this cheesecake the day before you plan to serve it.

Serve with freshly whipped cream and berries (optional). Enjoy!

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Authentic German Cheesecake

Authentic German Cheesecake

Yield: 10 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Chill Time: 1 hour
Bake Time: 1 hour 11 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 41 minutes

Looking for a new cheesecake recipe? Hungry for a taste of Germany? Try this authentic German cheesecake!

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 1/2 Cups [180g] flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp of vanilla extract)
  • 1 tbsp finely grated lemon rind
  • 1/4 cup [50g] granulated sugar
  • 6 TBSP [85g] butter
  • 1 egg (beaten)

Filling

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3/4 Cup [150g] granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp extract)
  • 6 TBSP [85g] butter (room temp)
  • 3/4 cup [170ml] heavy cream
  • 2 Cups [450g] plain Quark (or Greek yogurt)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 3 egg whites
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

Crust

  1. Combine sifted flour, baking powder, salt, lemon zest, sugar, and vanilla sugar or extract. 
  2. Cut in the cold butter. Add the beaten egg and then use your hands to form into a dough. 
  3. Wrap dough in plastic and chill in the fridge for an hour.
  4. After the dough has chilled, form it into a disc and then roll it out on a floured surface. Shape dough into a disc again, and roll it out once or twice more. I found the dough very crumbly and hard to work with at first, but after I rolled it out twice, it became much easier to work with. 
  5. Roll dough out once more and then transfer to a prepared 9-inch springform pan. (See photos above for how to fold and transfer the dough to the springform pan.) Use your fingers to press the dough so that it evenly covers the bottom and all the way up the sides of the pan. 

Filling

  1. Beat the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla sugar until pale. Add softened butter and continue beating until well combined. Add the heavy cream and beat again. Add quark (or Greek yogurt or pureed cottage cheese) and beat one more time until everything is thoroughly combined.
  2. Beat egg whites and salt to stiff peaks in a separate bowl. Fold egg whites and sifted cornstarch into cheesecake batter. 
  3. Pour cheesecake batter into a 9-inch springform pan and bake on 300F for about 60 minutes. (My cheesecake needed 70 minutes.) The cheesecake is done when the edges are browned and a toothpick comes out clean. The center of the cheesecake will be a bit wiggly and it will fall as it cools - that's normal. 
  4. Let the cheesecake cool on the counter for an hour and then several hours in the fridge. It's best to make this cheesecake the day before you want to serve it. Enjoy!
Nutrition Information
Yield 10 Serving Size 1 slices
Amount Per Serving Calories 395Total Fat 22gSaturated Fat 14gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 7gCholesterol 133mgSodium 234mgCarbohydrates 39gFiber 1gSugar 24gProtein 10g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

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Diane

Sunday 4th of July 2021

I've never had German cheesecake or quark but would love to give making them both a try. In the U.S., cheesecake sometimes has a graham cracker crust, or even an Oreo crust. I can now get gluten-free Oreos--how would an Oreo crust be for this cheesecake? Looking forward to trying this!!

Cate, International Desserts Blog

Wednesday 7th of July 2021

Hi Diane! Classic German cheesecake usually has a crust that's more like a pie crust (or no crust at all - here's a good crustless Classic German Cheesecake if you want to try that - https://www.internationaldessertsblog.com/classic-german-cheesecake-with-quark/). That said, why not try something different - I'm all for experimenting! Let me know how it goes!

The 16 best German foods you must try - A taste of abroad

Wednesday 16th of June 2021

[…] If you are a cheesecake lover, you should give this one a go: https://www.internationaldessertsblog.com/best-authentic-german-cheesecake-kasekuchen/ […]

Classic German Cheesecake with Quark - International Desserts Blog

Sunday 30th of May 2021

[…] so much easier and it really doesn’t need one! If you want to add a crust, use the one in this recipe. Without a crust this is a great gluten-free cheesecake […]

Anke

Tuesday 13th of April 2021

I'm sure you like to partner with them because the price is insane. You can get the same amount of quark for 1Euro on Germany.

Cate, International Desserts Blog

Tuesday 13th of April 2021

I love that Quark is ubiquitous and therefore so inexpensive in Germany! It's VERY new in the US and until recently, not at all available. I'm super glad to be able to buy it here now. And at the grocery store it's actually about the same price as Greek yogurt, French yogurt, Icelandic Skyr, etc.

MELINDA

Friday 9th of April 2021

Would I need to make any changes to the recipe if I wanted to add blueberries?

Cate, International Desserts Blog

Friday 9th of April 2021

It should be ok as-is to add blueberries. Do let me know how it turns out!

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