New York-style cheesecake is a rich and decadent dessert that is loved by many for its smooth, creamy texture and sweet flavor. However, with its high amounts of cream cheese, eggs, sugar and often graham cracker crust, cheesecake can also be high in calories. The exact calorie count of a slice of New York cheesecake can vary depending on factors like the bakery, exact ingredients and portion size.
Average Calorie Count
Most slices of New York-style cheesecake contain between 500-1,000 calories per slice. According to the USDA, a typical 1/12th slice of cheesecake with graham cracker crust has about 303 calories. So a more standard 1/8th slice would have around 405 calories. However, calorie counts can vary widely based on exact portion size, ingredients and preparation method. Thicker bakery-style slices are often in the 700-800 calorie range or even higher at fancy restaurants.
Factors Affecting Calorie Count
There are several factors that influence the calorie content in a slice of cheesecake:
The bigger the slice, the more calories it will contain. A very thin slice from a large cheesecake may have 200-300 calories while a thick bakery slice could have 700+ calories.
The ingredients used can significantly affect calorie content. Some cheesecakes are made with extra egg yolks, more cream cheese, sour cream or heavy cream, which increases calories. The addition of chocolate, caramel or fruit toppings also increases calorie count.
A graham cracker crust adds extra calories, while a basic crustless cheesecake will have slightly fewer calories. Some restaurants may even serve cheesecake with an Oreo cookie crumb crust which further increases calorie density.
A slice served alone will generally have fewer calories than one served with chocolate, caramel or fruit toppings. Being served à la mode with ice cream also drastically increases calorie count.
Higher end bakeries will often use premium ingredients like heavy cream, extra eggs and quality chocolate, resulting in a richer, more calorie-dense cheesecake. Mass produced grocery store varieties may be slightly lower in calories.
Calories per Ingredient
To understand where the calories come from in cheesecake, it helps to break it down by ingredients:
Cream cheese is the main ingredient in New York-style cheesecake. A 1 ounce serving of regular cream cheese contains about 100 calories.
Whole eggs are used for structure and richness in cheesecake. One large egg contains about 72 calories.
Granulated white sugar is used to sweeten the cream cheese filling. Sugar has approximately 16 calories per teaspoon.
Crushed graham crackers are the basis for the crust in traditional style cheesecake. About 5-6 whole graham crackers may be used per cheesecake, contributing around 140 calories total to a 1/8 slice.
Butter is often used to bind together the graham cracker crust. One tablespoon of butter has about 100 calories.
Some recipes call for sour cream to add moisture and a tangy flavor. Two tablespoons of sour cream has about 60 calories.
A richer cheesecake may use heavy whipping cream, with 1/4 cup contributing over 100 calories.
Chocolate chunks, swirls or ganache add extra calories from fat and sugar. Just an ounce of dark chocolate has about 150 calories.
When you add up the calories from each ingredient, it’s easy to see how it adds up for the entire cheesecake slice.
Ways to Reduce Calories
There are some tweaks you can make to reduce the calorie count in homemade or bakery New York cheesecake:
- Use reduced-fat cream cheese
- Substitute graham crackers for lower calorie cookies like animal crackers
- Replace some of the sugar with zero-calorie sweetener
- Use milk or Greek yogurt instead of sour cream
- Make with egg whites instead of whole eggs
- Reduce butter in crust
- Enjoy a thin slice
- Share dessert and get a smaller slice
- Skip the chocolate, caramel or fruit toppings
- Order your slice of cheesecake à la mode with lower calorie sorbet instead of ice cream
To estimate the nutrition information of a typical slice of cheesecake, we can use the nutrition facts from major restaurants as a guide:
|Cheesecake Slice||Serving Size||Calories||Fat (g)||Carbs (g)||Protein (g)|
|The Cheesecake Factory (plain)||1/10 cake (113g)||690||41||60||9|
|Junior’s (plain)||2.25 oz (64g)||290||18||21||5|
|Magnolia Bakery (plain)||3.5 oz (100g)||510||36||33||7|
As you can see, a typical cheesecake slice ranges from 300-700 calories or more depending on exact serving size. The calories primarily come from fat, mostly from the cream cheese, eggs, butter and heavy cream used to make the filling and crust.
High Calorie Density
One reason that cheesecake contains so many calories is because it is extremely calorie dense. Calorie density refers to the number of calories per gram of food. Most foods average around 1-4 calories per gram. However, cheesecake can have a calorie density upwards of 5 or 6 calories per gram, meaning a large number of calories is packed into a small slice.
It’s this combination of high fat cream cheese, eggs, butter and sugar that gives cheesecake its rich texture, but also results in each bite containing many calories.
Daily Calorie Limits
To maintain a healthy weight, the recommended daily calorie intake for moderately active women is around 2,000 calories per day, and 2,500 calories for men. A single large slice of cheesecake can therefore account for 25-50% of your total daily calorie needs. Consuming an entire cheesecake in one sitting far exceeds recommended daily calories.
Ideally, a dessert like cheesecake should be enjoyed in moderation as an occasional treat, split among several people, or reserved for special occasions. Those looking to lose weight may want to consume a sliver or skip cheesecake altogether in favor of lower calorie dessert options.
Burning off the Calories
The high amount of calories in cheesecake means you need plenty of activity to burn them off. Here’s how long it would take to walk off the calories in one slice of cheesecake (calculated for a 150 lb person):
- 300 calories = 60 minutes of walking
- 400 calories = 80 minutes of walking
- 500 calories = 100 minutes of walking
- 600 calories = 120 minutes of walking
- 700 calories = 140 minutes of walking
- 800 calories = 160 minutes of walking
As you can see, just one slice of cheesecake requires over an hour of walking to burn off. More realistically, the calories from a rich cheesecake slice are easy to consume, but take considerable physical activity to expend.
Occasionally enjoying a reasonable slice of cheesecake as part of an overall balanced diet is unlikely to have major health consequences. However, regular overconsumption of ultra high-calorie desserts like cheesecake can contribute to weight gain and associated health risks like diabetes and heart disease over time.
It’s best to think of cheesecake as a sometimes food and carefully limit portions. Sharing a sliver with others or choosing lower calorie desserts like fresh fruit more often can help offset cheesecake’s high calorie load.
A slice of New York-style cheesecake certainly delivers in rich flavor and decadent texture, but also packs a hefty calorie punch. Depending on the exact serving size and ingredients used, cheesecake can contain anywhere from 300-1,000 calories per slice.
Some tips to lighten up cheesecake include using reduced fat ingredients, smaller portions, and skipping extra chocolate or caramel toppings. At the end of the day, moderation and limiting intake to occasional treats is key to enjoying cheesecake as part of a healthy diet.