Original publish date July 23, 2016. Updated 2022 with new photos and expanded information.
How could I bring myself to host this website without a signature healthy cheesecake recipe? This is my Greek Yogurt Cheesecake, a lighter spin on Instant Pot’s flagship dessert – silky, wholesome indulgence with 100 fewer calories per serving than typical cheesecake recipes!
Jump to Section:
- Why To Use Your Instant Pot for Cheesecake
- “Healthy Cheesecake”
- Nutrition Insights
- Equipment: Instant Pot Bakeware
- Ingredients: The Building Blocks of Greek Yogurt Cheesecake
- Cheesecake Crust Options
- Step By Step: How to Cook
- Cheesecake Flavor Options
Why to Use Your Instant Pot for Cheesecake
In Instant Pot’s dessert repertoire, cheesecake is the unexpected star. What makes the pressure cooker such a good tool for this job? The high-pressure steam in the sealed vessel cooks the dense filling evenly, while the moist environment helps prevent the surface from drying and cracking. It’s the perfect storm for cheesecake perfection!
While I have enjoyed traditional cheesecakes on occasion, more often my cravings draw me to something a bit less heavy. I like contrast in desserts, and need a little tang to cut through richness.
A typical cheesecake of this size uses 1 pound (2 blocks) of cream cheese. I doctored my dessert by balancing just half a block with 1.5 cups of whole milk Greek yogurt, resulting in a cheesecake that’s still very rich but with a lighter, soft, silky texture.
As written, the cheesecake is lightly sweetened (just 1/4 cup sugar in the filling), which is how I prefer it – but I don’t forsee any issues with increasing the sugar if you like your desserts to be very sweet.
Food for thought, from your friendly neighborhood Registered Dietitian Nutritionist + food science buff!
The nutrient profile will obviously vary based on the specific products you use, but I’ve calculated that compared to a similar 8-slice cheesecake made from cream cheese only, my recipe has about 100 fewer calories per serving, with both total and saturated fat decreasing by about 40%.
(Don’t get the wrong idea… I’m not preaching stale ideas about the evils of fat – and also please realize that there’s still a substantial amount of it in this treat. This is just a tasty dessert that happens to apply a little moderation to a generally extreme food.)
Equipment: Instant Pot Bakeware
Before you get started, proper bakeware is key. A springform pan is ideal for cheesecake, because the removeable outer ring is the only way to cleanly unmold this dessert.
What kind of pan should we use for cheesecake in the Instant Pot? For a standard 6-quart model, use a springform pan with a 7-inch diameter. This size leaves enough space around the edges to allow airflow of the high pressure steam in your Instant Pot to evenly cook your cheesecake.
My preferred material for this pan is stainless steel. Pans with nonstick coating are common, but I don’t like worrying about scratching the finish and I never have issues with unmolding desserts from my uncoated pans.
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Ingredients: The Building Blocks of Greek Yogurt Cheesecake
Greek yogurt is higher in moisture and protein compared to cream cheese, but it can still be used as the main ingredient for a cheesecake-style filling. It is thick, creamy, sometimes a bit tangy, and results in a light, silky texture. Only use whole-milk Greek yogurt to make cheesecake – lower-fat or non-fat products do not contain enough fat to firmly set the filling.
Cream cheese is still in the picture – it is a cheesecake, after all! A half block of cream cheese is all we need to enrich the filling and gain authentic cheesecake flavor.
Eggs lend to the structure of the cooked filling. They are essential to creating a solid, firm texture.
Granulated sugar is the simple sweetener in this filling.
Vanilla extract is here for its sweet, floral aroma.
Cheesecake Crust Options
My Favorite Almond Crust
My favorite crust is built with a base of coarse almond meal. I actually use almond pulp – the chaff left over from homemade almond milk, dried in a food dehydrator. I understand this is not a common ingredient in most kitchens, but it is something my family has in surplus because we like making almond milk. True almond meal (store bought or ground from whole almonds) has more fat but can be used in this recipe as well.
Along with the almond meal, the crust is made with a bit of maple syrup, cornstarch, salt and coconut oil. Together, these bind, enrich and sweeten the crust. For a chocolate crust, just add cocoa powder!
Cookie Crumb Crusts
For a traditional cookie crust, crush your favorite crunchy cookies and bind with melted butter or coconut oil. Try it with graham crackers, ginger snaps, vanilla wafers, pecan sandies… go nuts!
Step By Step: How to Cook
Bring Ingredients to Room Temperature
Before you begin, it’s critical to bring the filling ingredients to room temperature. Chilled cream cheese is too difficult to mix properly; if you use it, you’ll have to resort to aggressive mixing and the texture of your dessert will suffer.
If you have a couple of hours before you plan to start cooking, you can simply take your ingredients out of the fridge and set them out on the counter to warm up. If you need to speed things along, you can place sealed packages in a bowl of warm water (not too hot – you don’t want anything to liquify!)
Prepare the Crust
While the filling ingredients are warming up, you can get your crust ready. Mix together your crust ingredients to form a crumbly texture that can hold its shape when pressed together with your fingers. If the crumbs are unable to press firmly together, try adding an extra tablespoon of oil or melted butter. I mix up my crumbs directly in the spring form pan – no need to dirty another dish!
Using your fingers or a flat tool like the bottom of a drinking glass, firmly press the crumbs into an even layer on the bottom of your spring form pan. I prefer an even, flat disk for the base of the cheesecake, but some people like to press the crust partly up the sides of the pan.
If you decide to press your crust up the sides of the pan, just be careful to keep it low enough that it will not be higher than the surface of the cheesecake filling. If exposed, the crust can become soggy in the pressure cooker.
Prepare the Filling
If you have a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment on medium-low speed. If you don’t have a stand mixer, use a fork to thoroughly combine.
When you can no longer see tiny chunks of cream cheese in your smooth mixture, add the eggs and vanilla – again, gently to avoid whipping air into the mix.
Pour the filling over your prepared crust, and smooth the top to make an even surface. Gently jiggle the pan to encourage any trapped bubbles to release.
Pour a cup of water into your Instant Pot, place a cooking rack, and top it with the cheesecake pan.
Many recipes call for crafting a foil sling to lift the cheesecake out of the pot after cooking, or purchasing a commercial item designed for this purpose. This doesn’t seem necessary to me. I go without, and it is not difficult to grip onto the edges of the pan or the rack handles with ordinary oven mitts to remove it.
Pressure cook the cheesecake on high pressure for 30 minutes. When the cooking time is complete, allow 10 minutes for the pressure to release naturally before opening the lid.
The cheesecake should be mostly firm, with just a touch of jiggle in the center. If you’re uncertain if the cheesecake is done, you can insert an instant-read thermometer to check that the internal temperature is at least 150 degrees F. If it isn’t fully cooked, close the lid and pressure cook again for 5 more minutes.
After cooking, you will find a small amount of water collected on the top of the cheesecake. Use the edge of a paper towel or clean linen cloth to carefully wick the moisture away from the surface. Be very gentle; the texture of this dessert is soft, and the towel can leave marks on the surface, especially when it’s freshly hot from the cooker.
Cool & Chill
Take the cheesecake out of the pressure cooker and place on a rack to cool. When it has cooled to room temperature, put it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours before unmolding and serving.
Cheesecake Flavor Options
This basic recipe is simply flavored with a touch of vanilla – a blank canvas for all of your wildest cheesecake dreams.
To avoid throwing off the filling’s moisture balance, choose mix-in ingredients that don’t contain much water. Chunks of your favorite candies or baked goods will work great, but fresh fruits will cause problems.
If you’re looking for a chocolate base, see my recipe for Dark Chocolate Greek Yogurt Cheesecake.
For festive fall/Thanksgiving flair, try a layered Pumpkin Pie Greek Yogurt Cheesecake.
What flavor will you invent? Please share your successes!
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[Instant Pot] Greek Yogurt Cheesecake
Almond Crust Option:
- 1 cup (80 grams) defatted almond meal (I use dried pulp leftover from homemade almond milk)
- 1 teaspoon (3 grams) cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) salt
- 5 tablespoons coconut oil or butter melted
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
Cookie Crumb Crust Option:
- 6 ounces graham crackers or your favorite cookies to yield about 1 1/2 cups of crumbs
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 4 ounces regular (not low-fat) cream cheese softened
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 large eggs
Prepare the Crust (Almond Crust Option):
- In a large bowl, stir together the almond meal, cornstarch, salt, melted coconut oil and maple syrup. Prepare a 7-inch springform pan by lightly coating it with oil, then spread the almond mixture onto the bottom, pressing firmly into an even thickness.
Prepare the Crust (Cookie Crumb Crust Option):
- Crush the cookies/crackers into fine crumbs, using either a food processor or a ziploc bag to crumble by hand, then stir in the melted butter. Prepare a 7-inch springform pan by lightly coating it with butter or oil, then spread the crumb mixture onto the bottom, pressing firmly into an even thickness
Prepare the Filling:
- Combine the softened cream cheese, Greek yogurt, sugar and vanilla in a stand mixer or large bowl. If using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment; if mixing by hand, use a large, sturdy fork. Thoroughly but gently mix together until very smooth with no remaining visible chunks of cream cheese.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until just combined.
- Pour the filling into the springform pan, being careful not to leave any exposed crust.
- Place a trivet rack into the pressure cooker, and pour in 1 cup of water. Place the cheesecake on top of the trivet and close the lid. Set the valve to sealing position, and cook on high pressure for 30 minutes.
- When the cooking time is complete, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then carefully open the valve to manually release any remaining pressure. Open the lid and use oven mitts and/or the trivet handles to lift out the pan.
- The cheesecake texture should be mostly set with just a gentle jiggle in the center, and internal temperature should read at least 150 F. If not yet fully cooked, return it to the Instant Pot and pressure cook for another 5 minutes.
- If water has settled on top of the cheesecake, gently wick it away with a paper towel or clean linen cloth.
Cool & Chill:
- Transfer the pan to a rack and allow it to cool for 1-2 hours, until it nears room temperature. Then move it to the refrigerator to chill completely (at least 4 hours) before unmolding and serving.