This Japanese cheesecake is light, fluffy, and creamy-dreamy good. It’s like sponge cake meets cheesecake in one incredible dessert! A slice of Japanese cheesecake on a plate with the rest of the cheesecake in the background.

What is a Japanese cheesecake?

Japanese cheesecake, also known as “cotton cheesecake” or “soufflé cheesecake,” is a popular dessert that originated in Japan. It’s light and airy, almost like a chiffon or sponge cake, yet it tastes rich and creamy like a cheesecake.

It differs from an American cheesecake, which is more like a thick and heavy baked custard. American cheesecake is made with mainly cream cheese, while a Japanese cheesecake is made with mostly eggs. The egg whites are beaten separately and then folded into the batter to give it volume and create that light and fluffy texture. Japanese cheesecake topped with strawberries on a cake stand with a quarter of it removed.

Why this recipe is so great:

  • Simplified method and faster bake time – This recipe has been streamlined to be as easy as can be. There is no fussing with a double boiler – you simply melt the cream cheese and butter in the microwave. Instead of baking low and slow, you bake at an initial high heat to get the max volume and this also reduces the bake time by half.
  • Perfect texture and taste – This Japanese cheesecake is pillowy soft and just melts in your mouth like velvet. The taste is mellow, yet rich and buttery with a little bit of tang. It’s not too sweet, with highlighted notes of vanilla and cream.
  • Can be made in advance – Like most cheesecakes, this one is best made the day before, making it a convenient dessert option for special occasions or for when you want to plan ahead.

Japanese cheesecake topped with red berries in a blue and white cake stand.

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • cream cheese & butter
  • granulated sugar
  • milk
  • lemon juice & vanilla extract
  • AP flour & cornstarch
  • eggs
  • cream of tartar or white vinegar

How to make Japanese cheesecake:

(the ingredient amounts are listed in the printable recipe card further below) images showing steps 1-4 of how to make a Japanese cheesecake

  1. In a large microwave-safe bowl, warm the cream cheese and butter until melted. Whisk in the sugar until smooth.
  2. Whisk in the milk, lemon juice, and vanilla. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, mixing in between.
  3. Sift in the flour and cornstarch. Whisk again until smooth. Set aside.
  4. Beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar or vinegar and beat again. Slowly add in the sugar and continue beating until soft peaks form.
  5. Gently fold 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into the egg yolk mixture at a time until blended.
  6. Pour the batter into an 8″ springform pan. Bake in a water bath in a 400F preheated oven for 15 mins. Reduce the temp to 300F and bake for another 15 min. Turn off the oven and open the door just a crack to let the cheesecake slowly cool down in the oven for 30 minutes before removing.

two images, one showing cotton cheesecake batter in a bowl and the other in a springform pan

Expert tips:

  • Cream cheese & butter – Cut the cream cheese into cubes and cut the butter into tablespoons to make it easier to melt in the microwave.
  • Egg whites – Beat the egg whites just until soft peaks form, meaning a peak that curls over like soft-serve ice cream. So check your peaks regularly. Overbeating will cause the cheesecake to rise too much and crack upon cooling.
  • Baking – Bake the cheesecake in a water bath to ensure moisture and even heating around the cheesecake. Also, baking on the lowest rack helps prevent the top of the cake from over browning before the center is fully cooked.

How to serve:

Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar, apricot jam glaze, or honey glaze. Great accompanied by some fresh fruit and green tea.

FAQ:

Is Japanese cheesecake gluten-free?

No, but you can make it gluten-free by using rice flour instead of all-purpose flour.

How to store Japanese cheesecake:

Japanese cheesecake can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap or in an airtight container and stored in the fridge for 3-4 days.

What does Japanese cheesecake taste like?

It tastes like a fluffy, creamy, and mildly sweet cheesecake. Its delicate and airy texture, combined with its balanced taste, makes it a delightful dessert option for those who prefer a lighter cheesecake experience.

Can I freeze Japanese cheesecake?

Yes, wrap the completely chilled cheesecake tightly with plastic wrap and place it in an airtight container or freezer bag. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before serving. A slice of cotton cheesecake on a plate with a piece missing and the rest of the cake in the background.

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Japanese Cheesecake

  • Author: Lily Ernst
  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Cook Time: 60 min
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 min
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: dessert
  • Method: bake
  • Cuisine: Japanese

Description

This Japanese cheesecake is light, fluffy, and creamy-dreamy good. It’s like sponge cake meets cheesecake in one incredible dessert!


Ingredients

Scale

Egg yolk batter

  • 8 oz (227g) cream cheese, cubed
  • 1/4 cup (57g) salted or unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) milk (dairy or plant-based)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup (32g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp (15g) cornstarch

Meringue

  • 5 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar or white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar

Optional toppings

  • powdered sugar for dusting
  • apricot jam glaze (1 tbsp jam mixed with 2 tsp hot water)
  • honey glaze (1 tbsp honey mixed with 1 tsp hot water)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F and place a rack in the lowest position. Butter an 8″ springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Wrap two sheets of aluminum foil around it to prevent any water from seeping in and place it in a 9×13″ pan or any larger roasting pan. Set aside and boil a kettle of water.
  2. In a large microwave-safe bowl, warm the cream cheese and butter for 1-2 minutes at 50% power (check every 30 seconds) until melted. Whisk in the sugar until smooth.
  3. Whisk in the milk, lemon juice, and vanilla. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, mixing in between.
  4. Sift in the flour and cornstarch. Whisk again until smooth. Set aside.
  5. Beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar or vinegar and beat again. Slowly add in the sugar and continue beating until soft peaks form.
  6. Gently fold 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into the egg yolk mixture at a time until blended.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Fill the larger pan halfway with the boiled water. Be careful not to splash any water on the batter.
  8. Bake at 400F on the lowest rack for 15 mins. Reduce the temp to 300F and bake for another 15 min. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly to let the cheesecake slowly cool down in the oven for 30 minutes before removing it. Use a wooden spoon to keep the oven door open just a crack if needed.
  9. Let cool to room temperature before serving or cover and store in the fridge until ready to serve.
  10. When ready to serve, dust with powdered sugar or brush with apricot or honey glaze if desired.

Notes

Be sure to read the blog post for all the tips and tricks to help with this recipe.

Leftover cheesecake can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap or placed in an airtight container and stored in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Keywords: Japanese cheesecake recipe, cotton cheesecake, souffle cheesecake

Recipe adapted from Foxy Folksy.

This Japanese cheesecake has the texture of a sponge cake and taste of a cheesecake. It's the best of both in one amazing dessert! #Japanesecheesecake #cottoncheesecake #fluffycheesecake #soufflecheesecake

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