Is cheesecake a cake… or a pie?

(I know, I know, either way, it’s delicious!)

I say… it’s a pie. Why? Well, because technically, it’s a cheesecake pie!

Here’s my reasoning. The cream cheese and other ingredients used for the filling form a cake-like confection, true. But inside a graham cracker (or other crumb) crust! Ta da! If it’s in a crust, it’s a pie!

And even if it isn’t, cheesecake is, in my opinion, super delicious.

But also, tricky to make. At least, for me it was… until I got an Instant Pot.

What? The pressure-cooker device used for soups, stews, roasts, beans… also used to make cheesecake.


Here’s my favorite recipe, credit to one of my favorite Instant Pot cookbooks, “Dinner in an Instant” by Melissa Clark. It’s truly simple! I’ve also made, with another recipe, Nutella cheesecake, but I like this basic one. (Although, in this same cookbook, there is a recipe for coconut cheesecake that I may just have to try… And if you get her cookbook–which I highly recommend–be sure to try the Dulce De Leche recipe. So ridiculously easy–basically, you just need a can of sweetened condensed milk–and delicious!)

For the crust–


  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (I keep a box of crumbs on hand–so much easier and a consistent texture)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt


  • Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
  • Combine crumbs, melted butter, brown sugar, and salt in small bowl.
  • Pat into bottom of a 6 or 7 inch springform pan, patting it all over the bottom  and 1/2 to 1 inch up the sides.
  • Bake about 8-12 minutes, until golden brown.
  • Transfer pan with baked crust to a rack to cool while you make the filling.

For the filling–


  • 16 ounces (2 regular packages) of cream cheese, softened–room temperature or unwrap and microwave on plate about 10-20 seconds. The cream cheese should be soft for the right texture for the filling.
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup sour cream (her recipe calls for either sour cream or creme fraiche but I just use sour cream–easier to find in the grocery!)
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise, or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I just use vanilla extract–so much easier, and again, easier to find in the grocery.)
  • 2 teaspoons brandy (I think you could use bourbon or rum or whiskey or brandy flavoring if you don’t keep a bottle of brandy around. I keep a small bottle for baking.)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs


  • Use your electric mixer (she says with paddle attachment, but I don’t have a mixer like that, so I just use a regular mixer and the cheesecake turns out just fine), beat the cream cheese and sugar until the mixture is smooth.
  • Beat in the sour cream.
  • Beat in the vanilla, brandy and salt..
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time. (With all this beating, be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula now and again.)
  • Pour the filling into the prepared pan.
  • Cover the pan with aluminum foil.
  • Add water to the pressure cooker, so it’s filled 1/2 inch. Put in a steamer rack.
  • Lower cheesecake pan to rack. (If you have a steamer rack with handles, it’s easier to just put the pan on the rack, and lower both into the instant pot.)
  • Cover and cook on high pressure for 32 minutes.
  • Then, let pressure release naturally for 8 minutes. Release the rest of the pressure manually. (I throw a towel over the instant pot to absorb the steam.)
  • Carefully open the pressure cooker, and carefully remove the cheesecake.
  • Put it on a wire rack, and remove foil. The middle will be jiggly but that’s OK–the inside will set as it cools Let the cheesecake cool to room temperature.
  • Then wrap and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. Release the springform sides to serve.

I like to serve with a sour cream topping (2 cups sour cream, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, thoroughly mixed.) But of course you could also add pitted cherries, strawberries or blueberries cooked with a bit of sugar into a fruit topping. Or drizzle on some caramel ice cream topping and sprinkle with just a bit of sea salt. Nom, nom.