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Woolworth Cheesecake: A Lemony Delight with a Rich History

Indulge in a creamy, lemony delight with a graham cracker crust – a timeless dessert that will tantalize your taste buds. In this article, we’ll explore the history, tools needed, ingredients, step-by-step instructions, common mistakes to avoid, frequently asked questions, and conclude with a tempting invitation to try out the delectable Woolworth Cheesecake.

History and Origins

The Woolworth Cheesecake has its roots in classic American diners, tracing back to the mid-20th century. Named after the iconic Woolworth’s lunch counters, this dessert gained popularity for its simplicity and heavenly taste. Over the years, it has evolved, becoming a cherished recipe passed down through generations.

Tools Needed and Cooking Essentials

To embark on the journey of crafting the perfect Woolworth Cheesecake, gather the following tools and ingredients:


  • 9×13-inch pan
  • Mixing bowls
  • Electric mixer
  • Spatula
  • Refrigerator


  • 1 3oz packet lemon Jell-O
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 box graham cracker crumbs (approximately 3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
  • 1 8oz package cream cheese
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 12oz can evaporated milk (well chilled) or 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

Cooking Time and Serving Size

This delightful recipe requires a few essential tools and approximately 20 minutes of preparation time. The cheesecake sets best when refrigerated for a few hours or overnight, ensuring a perfect consistency. This recipe serves a moderate gathering, making it an ideal dessert for family dinners or special occasions.

Ingredients and Possible Replacements

Lemon Jell-O

The key to the citrusy flavor of the Woolworth Cheesecake, Lemon Jell-O, can be replaced with lime or orange Jell-O for a unique twist.

Graham Cracker Crumbs

For a gluten-free alternative, almond or coconut flour can substitute graham cracker crumbs. Adjust the quantity accordingly for the desired crust thickness.

Cream Cheese

In place of regular cream cheese, consider using low-fat or Greek yogurt for a healthier option without compromising the creamy texture.

Evaporated Milk or Heavy Whipping Cream

While evaporated milk provides richness, heavy whipping cream can be used interchangeably. For a dairy-free version, coconut cream is an excellent substitute.


  1. Prepare the Lemon Jell-O: Dissolve the lemon Jell-O in 1 cup of boiling water and set aside to cool.
  2. Create the Graham Cracker Crust: Mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter to form the crust. Press it into the bottom of a 9×13-inch pan.
  3. Prepare the Cream Cheese Mixture: Beat the cream cheese until smooth. Gradually add granulated sugar, continuing to beat.
  4. Incorporate Lemon Jell-O: Stir in lemon juice and the cooled Jell-O into the cream cheese mixture.
  5. Whip the Evaporated Milk: In a separate bowl, whip the evaporated milk (or heavy whipping cream) until thick and fluffy.
  6. Combine Mixtures: Gently fold the whipped milk into the cream cheese and Jell-O mixture.
  7. Assemble and Decorate: Pour the combined mixture over the graham cracker crust, smoothing it out. Sprinkle remaining graham cracker crumbs on top for decoration.
  8. Refrigerate: Allow the cheesecake to set by refrigerating it for a few hours or overnight.
  9. Serve and Enjoy: Slice, serve, and relish in the delightful flavors of your homemade Woolworth Cheesecake.

Top 4 Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

1. Overbeating the Cream Cheese

Avoid: Beating the cream cheese excessively can lead to a dense texture. Solution: Beat the cream cheese until just smooth to maintain a light and fluffy consistency.

2. Inadequate Chilling Time

Avoid: Rushing the chilling process may result in a runny cheesecake. Solution: Ensure the cheesecake sets for the recommended time to achieve the perfect texture.

3. Incorrect Jell-O Dissolution

Avoid: Failing to dissolve the Jell-O properly can lead to uneven flavor distribution. Solution: Stir the Jell-O thoroughly in boiling water and allow it to cool before incorporating it into the mixture.

4. Neglecting Crust Thickness

Avoid: Skimping on the crust can impact the overall balance of flavors and textures. Solution: Follow the recommended quantity of graham cracker crumbs for the ideal crust thickness.


Q1: Can I use a different flavor of Jell-O?

A: Yes, feel free to experiment with lime or orange Jell-O for a unique twist on the classic recipe.

Q2: How long does it take for the cheesecake to set?

A: The cheesecake usually sets in a few hours but achieves the best consistency when left overnight in the refrigerator.

Q3: Can I use low-fat cream cheese for a lighter version?

A: Absolutely, low-fat or Greek yogurt can be used as a healthier alternative without compromising the creamy texture.

Q4: Is there a dairy-free option for the recipe?

A: Yes, substitute evaporated milk with coconut cream for a delicious dairy-free version.

Q5: Can I make the crust gluten-free?

A: Certainly, replace graham cracker crumbs with almond or coconut flour for a gluten-free alternative.


In conclusion, the Woolworth Cheesecake stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of classic desserts. By exploring its history, mastering the steps, and avoiding common mistakes, you can craft a delectable treat that will leave your guests craving for more. So, gather your ingredients, follow the detailed instructions, and embark on a culinary journey to create the perfect Woolworth Cheesecake – a timeless and irresistible delight.

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