New York-Style Cheesecake Vs. Chicago-Style: What's The Difference?

Of all the desserts in the world, sometimes you've just got to have a slice of cheesecake. It is a dessert so popular that there are pumpkin cheesecakes, raspberry cheesecakes, even those that are sensitive to lactose or vegan can easily find dairy-free cheesecake recipes these days.

When it comes to this decadent dessert, there's one city that folks most immediately associate with cheesecake, and that's fair old New York City. While Junior's Restaurant might be the most famous establishment in NYC to get your cheesecake on, you can find other delicious options in countless other bakeries and restaurants throughout the city, per Time Out New York. There's another kind of cheesecake that is famously tied to an American city, and that's the Chicago-style cheesecake. But unlike the equally well-known Chicago deep dish and New York-style pizzas, Chicago's cheesecake is not as well known, but we aim to change that. 

New York-style cheesecake

While it's easy to assume that cheesecake was born in New York, it was actually born in Greece, per Jonathan Lord Cheesecake, and was served up to hungry athletes during the first Olympic games. Eventually, cheesecake made its way from Greece to western Europe and the American colonies. It first landed in Philadelphia, then made its way to New York, where curd cheese was swapped for cream cheese in the 1930s. It was then that cheesecake got the signature recipe and texture that we all know and love today.

According to Epicurious what makes a New York-style cheesecake authentic is that it has a firm and dense texture. They recommend using a full-fat cream cheese when you make it and mixing and aerating the batter until it has a glossy texture. Whether you make your crust with graham crackers or a sponge cake base matters not. The authenticity lies in the texture, and you'd be darned if you serve it hot.

Chicago-style cheesecake

According to Ash Chef Dennis, Chicago-style cheesecake is firm on the outside but soft and fluffy in the center. So how is this achieved? You might wonder if it's a different recipe altogether. Or if more eggs are used to create more fluff? You'd be mistaken. The critical difference between a Chicago-style cheesecake and the New York cheesecake is, in fact, the amount of cream cheese in each recipe. While traditional New York cheesecake recipes call for four 8-ounce packages of cream cheese (totaling 2 pounds), the Chicago-style recipe calls for an additional 8 ounces. Chef Dennis explains that the extra cream cheese in the recipe makes for a softer batter that cooks up to be lighter and fluffier than a New York recipe. So next time you have a hankering for cheesecake, consider making a New York style and a Chicago style, then you can decide which one is your favorite, or better yet, have a cheesecake tasting with your loved ones and make an event out of it. It's doubtful that anyone would complain.