Best Authentic German Cheesecake (Käsekuchen)
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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!
Thanks to Wünder Creamery for sponsoring this recipe!
There are many variations of German cheesecake. This version of traditional German cheesecake is light, fluffy, uses simple ingredients, and has a crust.
If you’re looking for a simple, classic German cheesecake (or a gluten-free option that doesn’t include butter), try my Classic German Cheese with Quark.
If you’re looking for a denser, crustless cheesecake check out my easy Crustless German Cheesecake recipe.
- 1 German vs. US American Cheesecake
- 2 Where Can I Buy Quark?
- 3 Can I Make German Quark at Home?
- 4 Are There Any Substitutes for Quark?
- 5 Tell Me About the Crust for This Quark Cheesecake
- 6 How Should I Serve this Cheesecake?
- 7 What You Need for this German Cheesecake Recipe
- 8 How to Make German Cheesecake with Quark
- 9 ?? Looking for More German Cake Recipes?
- 10 Authentic German Cheesecake
- 11 Readers Have Asked…
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, as 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 United States even North America. 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 at my local grocery store 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.
UPDATE: unfortunately, Wünder is no longer selling Quark so I have removed links to their online store.
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!
Can I Make German Quark at Home?
Yes, you can (here are my step-by-step homemade Quark directions)! I’ve my own Quark 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, if you use real Quark you’ll get better results, so 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 crackes back in the cupboard! Unlike most cheesecakes in the US, most authentic German cheesecake recipes use 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
- Baking powder
- Vanilla sugar (click here to make your own vanilla sugar!)
- Lemon zest
- Butter (cold and room temperature)
- Egg + egg yolks
- Heavy whipping cream
- Quark (or alternative, such as strained Greek yogurt or pureed cottage cheese)
- Corn starch
- Egg whites (beaten to stiff peaks)
- Mixing bowls
- Electric mixer (hand mixer or stand mixer)
- Scale or measuring cups/spoons
- Flour sifter
- Springform pan (and parchment paper or cooking spray for sides of the pan)
- Aluminum foil (to cover the cheesecake if it starts to get too brown while baking)
- Plastic wrap (to cover the cheesecake before serving)
How to Make German Cheesecake with Quark
This recipe has 5 steps:
- Make the crust
- Make the filling
- Bake the cheesecake
- Chill the cheesecake
- Eat cheesecake!
To make the crust, sift the flour into a large 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 on a medium to high speed 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 until stiff peaks form.
Fold egg whites and sifted cornstarch into cheesecake batter. Pour cheesecake batter into the springform pan.
Bake in a prereheated oven at 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.
Remove cake from oven and let cool for a few minutes on a wire rack. 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 fresh fruit (optional). Enjoy!
?? Looking for More German Cake Recipes?
Readers Have Asked…
What’s the difference between German cheesecake and regular cheesecake?
German cheesecake is made with Quark cheese, whereas a typical cheesecake you’d find in the US (like New York cheesecake) is made with cream cheese. Quark is healthier and has more protein than cream cheese, but it’s hard to find outside of Europe. You can use full-fat Greek yogurt or pureed cottage cheese instead. Or use my easy recipe to make Quark at home!
Why is Quark so popular in Germany?
Good question! Quark can be found in several countries in Europe but it’s especially popular in Germany. You’ll not only find plain Quark but also thick and creamy flavored Quark (so good). They also have Quark with higher and lower fat contents, and sometimes recipes will call for 2 different types of Quark! Germans use Quark in lots of recipes, and it makes delicious desserts, but it’s also so good just to eat by itself for breakfast or as a snack. If you eat plain Quark and maybe top with fresh fruit, it’s really very healthy!
This cheesecake looks fabulous. We love cheesecake and have never tried German Cheesecake. Thank you for sharing at To Grandma’s House we go link party.
It’s delicious, Amy! Thanks for stopping by and for pinning. ?:)
I made this and it turned out great! How might I go about making a larger cake? Should I increase baking time or should I also bake it at a slightly different temperature?
I’m glad you liked it! For a larger version, I’d use the same baking temp and increase the time if the larger cake will be the same thickness (or thicker). Just keep checking the cake as it bakes to determine how much more time it needs. I usually check it every 5-10 minutes towards the end. Hope that helps! 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing this with us at our To Grandma’s house link party! I will be featuring it tomorrow morning when the new party starts, have a great week!
Thank you for featuring my German cheesecake on your link party! 🙂
I am able to find quark cheese at our German Deli. We typically only go there for Christmas to make special recipes such as this one. Pinning its looks wonderful.
You’re lucky! I rarely find it where I live so I make it from scratch. I prefer to be authentic and use quark when I make this cheesecake but Greek yogurt works well, too. Thanks for pinning the recipe. 🙂
You had me at cheesecake and German. Ah, I miss quark! And German Kaesekuhen. YUM! Never thought of using yogurt instead, but will try for sure. 🙂 Thanks for bringing back the memories. Pinned to my cheesecake board.
Greek yogurt works well in place of quark! When I can, though, I made my own (here’s the easy recipe: https://www.internationaldessertsblog.com/german-blackberry-dessert-quark/). I really miss being able to grab a tub of quark at the grocery store!
Would you please let me know what size the baking pan is and how many portions this will make.
This type of cheesecake is a long term family favpurite.
Hi Sandra, I used a regular sized springform pan, which I think is about a 9-inch pan. As far as how many servings, I’d say 14-16. I hope you enjoy the cheesecake!
I would like to try this today. Do I need a european flour or is my all purpose good? Also, what size Springform was it?
Hi Dayna, I used all purpose flour and a regular sized springform pan (which I think is about a 9 inch pan). I hope you enjoy the cheesecake!
Made this for the first time for my dinner party, and OMG this was the BEST cheesecake. I could not find quark, and made it with Greek yogurt, This will be my go-to cheesecake from now on. Way better than the cream cheese kind.
I’m so glad you liked it!
I used cottage cheese. if you puree it, it’s just like the German Quark.
I’ve used both cottage cheese and Greek yogurt when I don’t have quark. All three work great!
Have you heard of using farmers cheese for Käsekuchen? My mom made her cheesecake with farmers cheese And I hope to find a recipe that calls for farmers cheese, what memories!
That sounds good! Farmer’s cheese is so easy to make. I haven’t tried farmer’s cheese with my Käsekuchen recipe but I imagine it would work just fine!
How much arrowroot would someone use to replace the one and a half teaspoons of cornstarch?
From what I’ve read, it’s a 1:1 substitution, so 1 1/2 teaspoons of arrowroot instead of cornstarch.
Please tell me why the crust less and crusted German cheesecakes are different recipes? I really don’t want to go out and buy cream of wheat or just a couple tablespoons thank you
The two cheesecakes are similar in that they both use quark (or a quark substitute like Greek yogurt or pureed cottage cheese) but they have different textures. You can make the crustless cheesecake without cream of wheat – the texture will just be a bit different (smoother). Hope that helps!
I have fallen in love with quark. I used organic grass-fed milk and the quark turned out to be absolutely positively delicious. I tried making half a recipe of quark by using 3 cups of milk and 3/4 cup of Buttermilk but it still hasn’t thickened after 2 days. I will be making the cheesecake tomorrow. So looking forward to it! A couple days ago I made the bee sting cake and it was a big success with everyone who tried it. A couple people asked for the recipe so I passed your website and your recipe on to them. Thank you so much for this. I love to try new things
I’m so glad you’re enjoying the recipes! And thanks for sharing my site. 🙂 That Bee Sting Cake is one of my favorites!!
In the winter it can take my quark extra time to set. I often place the quark (wrapped in a towel or two) on the stove while or after I bake something in the oven. At colder times of the year it’s taken up to 36 hours for my quark to set.
I have absolutely positively falling in love with quark. whenever a recipe calls for cream cheese or sour cream I make a batch of quark and substitute. I’m wondering if the crusted cheesecake filling can be used as a crustless cheesecake filling. also can the recipe for the mini tarts crust be used as the crust in the crusted cheesecake
Quark is so good, isn’t it? I ate it every morning for breakfast when I was in Germany last month. 🙂
I think the crusted cheesecake would work fine as a crustless cheesecake but the texture is a bit more delicate and could be more crumbly than my other crustless cheesecake recipe. But I often use Greek yogurt if I don’t have quark on hand and the recipe works best with quark, so if you’re using quark you should be fine. I was actually planning to experiment with the two German cheesecake recipes on my site this week to see 1) how the crusted cheesecake does without a crust and 2) how the crustless cheesecake holds up without the cream of wheat. I’ll update the articles to reflect the results!
As far as the mini tart crust is concerned…hmm…maybe. My concern is that it could be a bit too “hard” as compared to the cheesecake. But German cheesecakes often have a crust that’s more pie or even cookie-like, so it could work. That mini tart crust is delicious. If you try it, let me know how it turns out! 🙂
I made it today and it took longer to bake. I followed the recipe.. I baked it for almost two hours longer… and it is still not done in the middle. I am putting it back in the oven again… not sue what went wrong… Do you have any suggestions?
It could be that your oven heats a bit lower than indicated or the cheesecake pan was a bit deeper. You do want to take it out of the oven before it looks totally done so it stays creamy. If it needs to bake longer than the recipe indicates, you’re not doing anything wrong. 🙂 I often have to adjust baking times when I bake from recipes. I hope you liked the finished product!
I’ve made this recipe several times now, and we love it. I make the quark using buttermilk. The cheesecake is absolutely delicious , and the crust with the lemon zest works really well. Thank you for sharing this recipe !!
I’m so glad! It’s one of my favorites, too.
how do you convert the ingredients to grams etc ; I’m from the uk and we don’t use cups, i find the conversion charts very confusing they all vary. many thanks
Hi Sharon, now that my audience has expanded beyond the US I’m updating recipes to show grams as well as cups. I’ll work on this one next! 🙂
Any chance you can give us the gram measurements? I’m also in the UK and desperate to make this recipe, but really don’t want to mess it up with conversion issues ??
Just added them! 🙂 Please note: I weighed the ingredients and cross-referenced that with the reference info I have, so they should be accurate, but I haven’t been able to re-make the recipe yet. I hope you enjoy the cheesecake and be sure to come back — I’m working on more German cheesecake recipes (there are so many delicious variations)!
We absolutely live this recipe and I’ve made it in a large pie pan and serve it like pie. Now that i finally bought a springform pan — when do you remove it from the pan? After it cools an hour or before? After it chills in the fridge? Thank you so much!
I’m so glad you liked it! I usually gently run a knife around the edge after it’s cooled a bit, and then I take it off before I put the cheesecake in the fridge.
I have a question for substituting Quark to Greek Yogurt. Does percentage of fat matter???
I can’t wait to make this German cheesecake but I can’t find Quark here.
I always use whole milk Greek yogurt (the kind I often use is 5% fat). I find that works the best!
Thank you Cate!
I always use whole milk Greek yogurt (the kind I often use is 5% fat)!
We’re going on a short trip in our travel trailer. I’ll make the cheesecake at home. As long as I slide a knife around the sides of the springform pan after it’s cooled, do you think it’ll be okay to separate the pan after we get where we’re going? This will be the fourth one I’ve made with your recipe – we love it!
Yep, that should work fine! I’m so glad you like it!
This came out perfectly and took me back 40 years when I was in Germany (West then.). The recipe is simple, yet the result is far superior to the typical American heavy cheese cake. This one is light and flavorful. I did find non-fat quark at the German deli, but it still was ausgezeichnet. Vielen Dank!
Bitte schön! 🙂 I’m so glad you liked it.
I’m curious what the difference is for using corn starch versus German imported instant vanilla pudding mix? Does the corn starch in your recipe stand-in for the pudding mix? I have a recipe from All Recipes that I used to make cheesecake before I found your recipe that used the instant vanilla pudding. I was fortunate to be able to get those ingredients (vanilla sugar, pudding mix, and Quark) from the German grocery and bakery in my city.
There are lots of German cheesecake variations. 🙂 Cornstarch is supposed to help with thickening the cheesecake and preventing cracking (but I still sometimes get small cracks). Vanilla pudding would add a little more flavor. I haven’t used it in this cheesecake but I do use a little in my Bee Sting Cake recipe. I imagine you could use pudding powder in this cheesecake recipe. I use corn starch mostly because I always have it in my pantry, whereas I don’t always have pudding powder (and I don’t have German pudding powder). But now I want to remake it and try the pudding powder! So many variations to test out! I’d love to hear how it turns out if you try it.
@Pam, I haven’t tried this recipe yet but have one from my german family which said to use instand vanilla pudding – unfortuntely, german vanilla pudding powder and American instand pudding powder are different in that ours starts to set in a few minutes while the german kind sets while it bakes. It made my cheesecake scrambled, so I’m going to try switching out for cornstarch which sets in the oven.
I’ve looked for this recipe for years. Thank you so very much. I grew up in a very German neighborhood in Milwaukee and those women certainly knew how to bake. Unfortunately, I never thought to ask for their recipes. I have not had cheesecake this wonderful since all the family run bakeries across the metro area went out of business. The flavors take me back. I use the farmer’s cheese and it works just fine. Tastes divine. Texture is divine too!
I’m so glad you liked it! Isn’t it fantastic when you can make something that you have such fond memories of? 🙂
Would I need to make any changes to the recipe if I wanted to add blueberries?
It should be ok as-is to add blueberries. Do let me know how it turns out!
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.
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.
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!!
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 recipe looks wonderful and I am going to try it (my first time making a real cheesecake).
I have one question though and forgive me for my health freak question…but do you think if i will replace the granulated sugar with agave it will work jist as good? Many thanks!!
I can’t say for sure, since I haven’t tried myself, but after doing a little research it looks like it could work! You’ll want to reduce the amount of agave – what I saw suggested is 2/3 cup of agave for every 1 cup of white sugar. If using Greek yogurt, you might even want to drain off some of the liquid. If the batter becomes too runny after adding the agave, you can try adding a little more flour or corn starch. Let me know how it turns out!
I just made this recipe, it smells unbelievable while cooking and that’s just the beginning. I went to a European deli and bought quark there, they sell a lot of Ukrainian and polish, it was called European baking cheese, the owner assured me it’s for cheesecake. It was perfect, also she recommended that it can be frozen for up to 3 months if you don’t use it all. (1kg pkg)
I’m glad you were able to find it! European delis are a great place to check. Enjoy the cheesecake! If you want to try a couple other variations, I’ve got 2 other German cheesecake recipes on the site. They’re each a bit different but all are amazing!
So glad to see a quark cheesecake recipe here!looks pretty much like my mom’s. I live in Canada and it’s hard to find quark here as well,Rocky Mountain Quark being my go to when I can find it. I’ll have to check my recipes because I’m sure my mom had a no bake cheesecake recipe as well!
But to everyone else, you haven’t eaten FABULOUS cheesecake till you’ve tried this one!
Quark is the best!! It’s so hard to find in the US, so I either make a quick version or use strained Greek yogurt. I just moved back to Germany for a while and am reveling in SO MUCH QUARK!! lol It’s so cheap and there are so many different kinds here. I hope someday we can easily get it in North America.