Grandma Harp’s No Bake “Cheesecake”

OK, this is not a traditional cheesecake. If you are a purist, just keep on scrolling and move past this one. If however, you want to try something unique that will be the hit of any special occasion, keep reading. This is light, sweet, fluffy, and well – delicious.

I endeavor to post recipes that don’t require any special equipment or impossible to find ingredients. I will say that this recipe requires an electric mixer. A handheld mixer is fine, a stand mixer is ideal, but there is just no way to whip evaporated milk by hand.

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One last note – this is not in anyway a healthy treat. Butter, sugar, cream cheese, more sugar… you get the idea. We make it twice a year, anything in moderation.


  • 1 Box (3 packs) of graham crackers, crushed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Cup (2 sticks) melted butter
  • 1 Box lemon jello
  • 1 Cup hot (not boiling) water
  • 8 oz package of cream cheese
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • Red Food Coloring (optional)
  • 1 13 oz can of evaporated milk (very cold)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 Cup powdered/confectioners sugar

Directions – Crust

  1. In a large bowl combine crushed graham crackers, 1/2 Cup sugar and melted butter. Mix well.
  2. Use about 3/4 of the crumb mixture to create the bottom crust by pushing firmly into the bottom of a rectangular pan. I used a 9 x 13, you can use one slightly larger or smaller if that is what you have. Save 1/4 of the graham cracker mixture for the topping.

Directions – Filling

  1. Mix the lemon jello with one cup of hot (not boiling) water. Stir well and set aside.
  2. With an electric mixer beat the softened cream cheese and 1 Cup of sugar until creamy and smooth.
  3. When the jello has cooled to about room temperature whisk it into the cream cheese/sugar and set aside.
  4. Add about 3 drops of red food coloring. I’m sure you’re asking why. I have no idea, grandma always colored this a soft pink. You can skip this if you like, it won’t change the taste.

Now for the tricky part. To whip the evaporated milk you need to use very cold milk and a very cold metal bowl. I keep the can of milk in the fridge for at least an hour, over-night is ideal. I put ice water in the metal bowl for about 5 minutes before I’m ready to whip the milk. Be sure to dry the bowl completely before adding the milk.

  1. Put the very cold evaporated milk, vanilla and powdered sugar in your ice cold metal mixing bowl.
  2. Whip on high until peaks form – about 3-5 minutes
  1. Fold (stir gently) the cream cheese/jello mixture into the whipped milk.
  2. Gently pour the filling into the pan on top of the graham cracker crust.
  3. Sprinkle the remaining graham cracker crumbs over the top of the filling.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

If you found this recipe helpful or have any questions or comments please feel free to use the comments section below.  If you want to see more good stuff from the Old Guy In The Kitchen click the “follow” button here on the blog or visit my other sites:





8 thoughts on “Grandma Harp’s No Bake “Cheesecake”

  1. Matt, you are a life saver. I always make Grandma’s cheesecake for Jason’s birthday (Thursday) and I could not, for the life of me, find the recipe. Thank you for posting this! I may also make pukes (Jason’s other favorite).

  2. I would like to try this recipe. I have 2 questions: what size box of Jello does this call for? Small ( 3 oz. )or large (6 oz. ) ? Also, the cans of evaporated milk I found are all 12 oz. should I buy another to get the 13 0z called for or is one can enough? Thanks so much for sharing !

    1. Terri – thanks for stopping by the blog. Use the large 6oz jello package. I think a 12oz can of milk should work ok, no need to open a second can for 1 oz. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  3. Hello Matt, I am so excited to try out this recipe. My boyfriend has been wanting a cheesecake for the longest, but my oven is broken 😩
    So finding this is so great, and I cant wait to try it.

    Just a tip, for the ice cold metal bowl. My mom has always put her metal bowl for her homemade whipped cream in the freezer, while she bakes her cakes.

    Thank you so much for posting this, oh and I saw your Bourbon Chicken Recipe, it’s my favorite Mall food. I will definitely try that one too! 💜😁

    1. Hello Catherine – the cold bowl and chilled milk are the secret to this recipe for sure. If you can fit the bowl I. The freezer go for it (the milk too for about 30 minutes). Good luck, it is worth the effort (but the texture is lighter than a traditional cheesecake)

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