Is there anything in the world more rewarding than cheesecake? This tangy-yet creamy dessert is delicious in winter and summer alike, whether it be in the form of fall-borne pumpkin cheesecake or a summery strawberry marvel. But do these decadent cheesecakes really need to be refrigerated?
Simply put? Yes – they very much do!
Should Cheesecake Be Refrigerated?
Since cheesecake contains dairy and eggs, it is prone to spoiling quickly and should be refrigerated as soon as possible. Most cheesecakes contain a number of items (cream cheese, sour cream, eggs, and butter) that are highly perishable, making this enticing treat a prime target for bacteria to grow upon.
Cream cheese, especially, can harbor listeria, a particularly unwelcomed bacteria which can have some nasty consequences. We’ll save you the unpleasant details, but you can read more about this icky microbe at the CDC website if you like.
Foods like cheesecake and custard pie must first be baked to an internal temperature between 150ºF and 160°F for baking safety and then refrigerated after briefly cooling to settle at room temperature. Cheesecake should be ready to move to the refrigerator after 30 minutes and at this point should be chilled there for at least 4 hours before eating or covering with any irresistible toppings.
According to Better Homes and Gardens, due to the high moisture content and protein that are in common cheesecake ingredients such as eggs and milk, bacteria are likely to multiply when left at room temperature – especially in warm weather.
Even refrigerated cheesecake has a lifespan. The USDA food safety website recommends cheesecake be eaten within 5 to 7 days – if frozen, this time frame is extended to 3 to 6 months.
How Long Can Cheesecake Sit Out at Room Temperature?
It’s a common experience. You’ve invited guests for dinner and out comes the dessert. Perhaps it’s a simple New York-style cheesecake, personal cheesecake cups, or some scrumptious cheesecake bars, and your guests are savoring every bite, some even reaching for seconds! Everyone’s eating and drinking and having a grand old time – you don’t want to ruin it by getting up and putting everything away. But how long can that cheesecake sit out before it becomes, well, iffy?
The short answer? Two hours.
Think you can leave it out longer if your kitchen is cool? Nope. Two hours is the max time cheesecake should be left out at over 40°F. And if temps are over 90°F, the time shortens to one hour. Yikes!
So unless your kitchen is in a chilly cabin in Siberia, two hours really is the max. But frankly, that’s plenty of time for most people. Simply leave your cheesecake chilling until your guests are ready for dessert and once you bring it out, set a timer to remind you to put it away again. And if it’s terribly hot out, offer to refrigerate anyone’s leftovers so everyone can take chilled, food-safe slices home.
There’s always a balance. I mean, you don’t want to sweep people’s plates away while they’re still picking at them, but you don’t want them to get sick either.
Does Cheesecake Really Need To Be Refrigerated?
Yes, cheesecake most definitely does need to be refrigerated. Once taken out of the oven, let that precious dessert cool to room temp and then refrigerate immediately! One to two hours is the max time cheesecake can be left out without risking harmful bacteria growing.
Trust us – it’s not worth it. You probably don’t want to risk foodborne illness on that last slice of peanut butter cheesecake. Don’t cry though. There’s more cheesecake where that came from – you just have to make it first!
What’s that? Another excuse to bake? Yes, yes it is.
Common Cheesecake FAQs
Whether you’re baking a simple lemon cheesecake or a decadent white chocolate berry cheesecake, one thing is for certain – cheesecake is delicious. Still, you may have a few questions about this dairy-filled dessert.