When you need to choose a cheesecake mix, there are several different things to consider. First, you should decide if you want a cheesecake that has to be baked or one that only needs to be mixed and refrigerated. Second, you can choose a basic mix or choose from many different flavors and gourmet cheesecake varieties. Finally, decide if you want to purchase a cheesecake mix that is designed for a special diet, such as a sugar-free, vegan or organic mix.
Cheesecake ingredients are generally fairly basic: cream cheese, sugar, eggs, vanilla and the ingredients for the crust. Sour cream or heavy cream may also be used. A cheesecake mix will generally not have the same texture or taste as a homemade cheesecake because the fresh dairy ingredients are typically not used — most boxed or bagged mixes called themselves a "cheesecake dessert" rather than an actual cheesecake because of the differences.
Mixes will generally have a separate packet for the crust, usually consisting of graham cracker or vanilla wafer-type crumbs and sugar. This will usually need to be mixed with an ingredient such as melted butter and pressed into a pan to form the crust, which may or may not need to be baked for a few minutes to set. Most no-bake cheesecake mixes also do not require the crust to be baked.
A larger packet will typically contain the main cheesecake ingredients in powdered form. Cold milk is usually added and whipped with the powder to form the bulk of the cheesecake dessert. Some types of cheesecake mix may call for other ingredients or contain other packets of flavoring. Certain cheesecake varieties also come with packets for a topping, such as a sauce that can be drizzled on after the cheesecake is set and firm. There are many different combinations available in flavored and gourmet mixes.
Almost all types of cheesecake mix are no-bake, which means they are mixed, poured into a pan and refrigerated before they can be served. A few varieties of mix are available that must be baked, but these are not as commonly available. These mixes may actually call for ingredients such as cream cheese and eggs that you would add if you were making a homemade cheesecake. In some cases, unless you are purchasing a mix because of dietary restrictions, it may be just as simple to make a homemade cheesecake than to use a mix that must be baked. Many homemade cheesecake recipes are available that do not require baking as well.
If you have special dietary restrictions, some types of baked cheesecake mix could allow you to enjoy cheesecake without going off your eating plan. Cream cheese may still be required, but the mix might not contain sugar or other dairy products, allowing you to customize it to fit your diet. You may also be able to find baked and non-baked types of cheesecake mix designed for organic eaters or for those with certain food allergies. One other benefit of choosing a mix is that the company that created it often will have recipes available that will allow you to turn the mix into a variety of other desserts.