While both desserts are dairy-based, decadent, and a total thrill to find on any menu, cheesecake and tiramisu are very different. Both desserts are easy to customize; you can make a number of substitutions and variations (like the addition of fruit, changing the cookie base, etc.) to the master recipe to suit your taste. But some basic differences remain.

Tiramisu, an Italian standby, usually contains very few ingredients: ladyfinger biscuits, egg yolks, sugar, coffee, mascarpone, and cocoa powder (and often a liqueur for flavoring, like brandy, cognac, or coffee-flavored liqueurs like Kahlua). There are now many varieties of tiramisu and lots of different takes—but the traditional Italian tiramisu consists of briefly dipping the ladyfingers in the coffee mixture, placing them in a single layer and spreading the mascarpone cream over them, and repeating the process until you sprinkle the top layer with cocoa powder. Served chilled and cut into wedges or small squares, tiramisu is an incredibly rich dessert, but the light and airy texture is what makes it so special.

Cheesecake, on the other hand, has a much denser texture, and has a base of crushed cookies (often graham crackers) with a thick layer that’s made from cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and any flavoring you want to add in on top. There are many schools of thought when it comes to making the best cheesecake—New York Style cheesecake incorporates cream, other cheesecakes contain ricotta, and many recipes recommend using cream cheese or even Neufchatel cheese. The Cheesecake Factory has over 30 different types of cheesecake, so the sky’s the limit when it comes to thinking up new additions to or variations on the classic recipe.

Check out our 7 recipes for tiramisu and cheesecake and you’ll have no excuse not to serve dessert tonight.

1. Classic Cheesecake


Our basic cheesecake recipe is a no-frills win every time. Try and make it the day ahead so you have time to leave it in the refrigerator overnight. And don’t use any low-fat cream cheese! Get our Classic Cheesecake recipe.

2. Tiramisu


The classic Italian dessert, our recipe for tiramisu is only as good as the ingredients you use—be sure to get crisp ladyfingers so that they’ll hold up to the quick dunk in hot coffee. Also, make sure to refrigerate for several hours before serving, so that the flavors have time to meld. Get our Tiramisu recipe.

3. Orange-Vanilla Ricotta Cheesecake


This is an adult rendition of the classic summertime treat, the Creamsicle, with a glaze made from orange marmalade and vodka. Use the best quality ricotta cheese you can find, and you can substitute your favorite type of cookie for the pecan shortbread in the crust. Get our Orange-Vanilla Ricotta Cheesecake recipe.

4. Tiramisu Crepe Cake

Butter And Brioche

The flavors of a traditional tiramisu are reinvented here with an elegant, layered set of French crepes that are doused in espresso syrup, and smothered in tiramisu-flavored mascarpone (with Kahlua and cocoa). Get the recipe.

5. Lemon Greek Yogurt Cheesecake Bars

Kristine’s Kitchen

A great pick if you’re looking for a light and summery dessert, these cheesecake bars are made from full fat Greek yogurt, with fresh lemon zest, and topped with seasonal fresh berries. Get the recipe.

6. Chocolate Cheesecake Bars


A portable and easy-to-make dessert, these chocolate cheesecake bars are great served in small squares in a packed lunch or at a picnic. You can use semisweet chocolate chips or substitute your favorite chocolate. Get our Chocolate Cheesecake Bars recipe.

7. Tiramisu Layer Cake with Ombré Mascarpone Frosting

Eat Love Eat

If you love the flavors of tiramisu but are looking for a more impressive end to a big meal, this tiramisu layer cake with ombré mascarpone frosting is the way to go. Each layer is a different cake flavor—chocolate, vanilla, coffee—and the homemade coffee syrup really takes it to the next level. Get the recipe.

— Head photo illustration by Chowhound, using: Alice Bakes a Cake/Kitchen Joy.

See more articles