These sweet and tasty mini lemon cheesecakes are the perfect dessert for spring and summer. Homemade graham cracker and almond crust is topped with a creamy mascarpone cheesecake filling and finished off with a light and tangy lemon curd on top.
These decadent mini lemon cheesecakes have become a favorite dessert in our family. They are super creamy and rich but balanced perfectly with the fresh tang of lemon curd. Because these mini desserts are made in a muffin pan, they are both easy to serve and perfectly portioned.
🍋 Ingredient notes
- Crust - Graham crackers and sliced almonds are mixed with melted butter and a pinch of salt to make the crust. For a nut free version, substitute the sliced almonds for 2 more sheets of graham crackers.
- Filling - A 50/50 mix of both cream cheese and mascarpone cheese are whipped together to make the filling. Mascarpone cheese is an Italian cream cheese that is both buttery and rich and adds a delicious flavor and texture to this homemade filling. I also use this cheese in my pumpkin roll cake and for my grilled fresh peaches recipe.
- Lemon curd - My favorite curd recipe is from Ina Garten for her easy and delicious lemon curd. It's easy to make and it comes out perfect every time. If you aren't up to making your own curd, you can use store bought lemon curd as an alternative. You will need approximately 12 ounces or 1 - 1 ½ cups.
🥣 Step by step instructions
Pulse the graham crackers in a food processor or blender until they become fine crumbs. Then, add the melted butter, salt, and sliced almonds. Continue to pulse until the almonds are chopped and the mixture resembles wet sand.
Evenly divide the crumbs into a muffin pan with paper liners, gently pressing down with your fingers or the bottom of a glass. Pre-bake the crusts till lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
Prepare the cheesecake filling while the crusts are cooking by mixing the mascarpone and cream cheeses together until creamy with a hand mixer or food processor. Next, add the sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla extract and continue to mix, scraping down the sides as necessary. Lastly, mix in the eggs until everything is well combined.
While the crusts are cooling, prepare the lemon curd by zesting both lemons and adding it to a bowl with the sugar and butter. Beat it until the mixture is light, fluffy, and creamed together. Add in the eggs and salt and mix until well combined.
Cook the mixture in a small pot over medium low heat while stirring constantly. This should take about 10-12 minutes and you want to make sure the mixture doesn't boil. If it starts to boil, lower the heat so the curd doesn't scramble.
When it's done, you should be able to run your finger down the back of the spatula and the mixture should not run, but stay in place. Chill the curd in the fridge with plastic wrap laid right on top of it.
Next, evenly divide the cheesecake filling between all of the cooled crusts and bake for 15-20 minutes until the tops are no longer shiny and the middles are only slightly jiggly. Don't worry if they brown or crack as they will be covered by the curd.
Let the cheesecakes cool completely before adding the curd to the top and then chill the finished cheesecakes for at least 2 hours or overnight for best results.
Serve the mini cheesecakes in the wrapper or remove and serve on a tray or platter.
If you ever don't recognize a tool or skill that I mention, be sure to look it up in the Glossary of Cooking Terms and Definitions for more information.
⭐ Top tip
Bring your mascarpone, cream cheese, butter, and eggs all to room temperature before making both the cheesecake filling and the lemon curd. They will incorporate better when mixed together and make both a smoother cheesecake and curd.
- Fresh berries - Top with fresh blueberries, raspberries or diced strawberries
- Pie filling - Top with your favorite prepared pie filling. Cherry, blueberry or peach would be great!
- Chocolate - Sprinkle with chocolate chips or drizzle with melted chocolate
- Whipped cream - Add a dollop of whipped cream for some extra sweetness
💭 Frequently asked questions
Cheesecake needs to be refrigerated to prevent it from spoiling. Keep it in the refrigerator before serving and do not let it sit out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
Lemon curd will last 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator when stored in an airtight container.
🧁 More dessert recipes
If you loved this recipe for my mini lemon cheesecakes, check out these other delicious dessert recipes.
- White Chocolate Bread Pudding
- Cannoli Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling
- Chocolate Whiskey Brownies
- Boston Cream Pie
Mini Lemon Cheesecakes with Mascarpone
- 8 sheets graham crackers
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- 3 Tablespoons melted butter
- pinch kosher salt
- 8 ounces mascarpone cheese room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese room temperature
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 2 medium lemons zest and juice
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 large eggs
- 1 pinch kosher salt
Graham Cracker Crust
- Preheat the oven to 350° and line a cupcake tin with paper liners.
- In a food processor, pulse graham crackers until they become fine crumbs that equal approximately 1 cup. Add sliced almonds, melted butter, and salt and continue to pulse until the almonds are chopped finely and the mixture is well combined.
- Evenly divide the crust mixture into each muffin cup and gently press the mixture into the bottom of the cup with the bottom of a glass or your fingers.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 5 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Prepare the cheesecake filling while the crusts are cooking.
- Next, add the sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla, continue to mix. Scrape the sides of the bowl down, add in the eggs, and then mix thoroughly to combine them. Set the filling aside and remove the crusts from the oven. Make the lemon curd while the crusts are cooling.
- After removing the crusts from the oven, make the lemon curd by zesting both lemons and adding the zest to a medium bowl with the sugar and butter. Mix on medium speed for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is light, fluffy, and creamed together.
- Add in the eggs and continue to mix until they are combined, scraping the sides of the bowl halfway through. Lastly, add the lemon juice and salt and mix until well combined.
- Pour the mixture into a small pot and heat over medium-low heat. Cook for 10-12 minutes, while stirring constantly until the butter and sugar is completely melted and the mixture is thickened. If the mixture starts to boil at all, reduce the heat. The mixture is done when you run your finger down the back of the spoon that is coated in curd and the mixture does not run down the spoon. Remove the finished curd from the heat and place in a small bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the top of the curd and let cool in the fridge.
- While the curd is cooling, evenly divide the cheesecake filling on top of the cooled crusts. Bake cheesecakes in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until they are no longer shiny on top and only slightly jiggly in the middle. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool completely.
- Once the curd and cheesecakes are completely cooled, evenly divide the curd on top of the cheesecakes. Allow cheesecakes a minimum of 2 hours of chilling time in the fridge to firm up completely or overnight for best results. Cheesecakes can be served in the cupcake liner or removed and served on a platter or tray.
- The recipe for curd is adapted from Ina Garten's Lemon Curd