I write an awful lot about things with ‘cheese’ in the name on this site, and it’s not surprising considering the minefield that is knowing which cheese-related products are safe to eat, and which aren’t.
This article tackles exactly which types of cheesecake you can – yes, can! – eat when you’re pregnant.
Pregnant women only need to avoid cheesecakes that a) contain egg and b) have been set in the fridge instead of baked. These unbaked types of cheesecakes (usually homemade) can increase the risk of salmonella infection and should be avoided in pregnancy.
This leads, naturally, to more questions as to whether frozen, shop-bought or restaurant cheesecakes are safe for pregnant women to eat.
It depends on the ingredients, so I’ve broken down some common and basic ingredients below.
The Types of Cheesecake To Avoid When You’re Pregnant
Old-fashioned cheesecake recipes, particularly those from the UK or Europe, call for the cheesecake filling to be set in the fridge, rather than baked.
These are sometimes called ‘Continental’ cheesecakes. Baked cheesecakes are far more common in the USA and the Americas and are set in the oven.
The cheesecakes to avoid are the unbaked (‘no-bake’) ones with these ingredients:
- Raw eggs (yolk or whites) that are blended into the filling and left to set rather than baked in the oven
- Eggs that are only partially cooked (e.g. in a sauce or topping) or as a mousse-style filling
- Cream Cheese that is unpasteurized
- Any sauces or toppings made from fresh cream or milk that is unpasteurized
The reason is that eggs potentially containing salmonella are only safe if full cooked to an internal temperature of 160F / 71c (source: FoodSafety.gov).
The above list of ingredients – including raw eggs – are generally only found in homemade cheesecake recipes.
If you’re making the cheesecake yourself, then opt to make a baked one instead, or use an egg-free recipe, and choose pasteurized ingredients.
If you’re at a friend’s house or somewhere else where you didn’t have a hand in its preparation, then ask about the ingredients used.
If you bake and cook a lot with eggs and want to learn more about eggs and pregnancy safety, check out our complete guide to eggs here.
The Types of Cheesecake You Can Eat When You’re Pregnant
You can eat almost all types of baked cheesecake (even if they are full of eggs) because the baking temperatures (usually 160C/320F or higher) are more than enough to kill any salmonella bacteria that may be present in the eggs.
This includes pretty much all baked cheesecakes, New York baked cheesecakes and the Chicago baked types as well.
You can also eat cheesecake that is unbaked and set, so long as it does not have raw or partially cooked egg in, and the cream cheese or other ingredients are pasteurized.
For example, the ones made with cream cheese and sugar, then set in the fridge, are fine if the cream cheese is pasteurized.
If you eat or use cream cheese a lot, you might want to read this guide to cream cheese in pregnancy, too.
Is Fresh or Frozen Cheesecake from a Shop or Store safe in Pregnancy?
If you’re going to a supermarket or large store then you’ll probably be buying a commercially-made cheesecake.
These usually contain pasteurized ingredients and have usually been baked, as it helps maintain the consistency of the filling when they’re thawed out to serve. This means they’re safe to eat during the pregnancy period.
Common Cheesecake Brands and Pasteurization
Common USA brands are usually pasteurized. For example, Sara Lee Cheesecakes are pasteurized (source: Sara Lee).
Also, Edward’s have confirmed that Edwards cheesecakes are made using pasteurized ingredients, so they’re fine to eat if you’re pregnant.
It’s also OK to use Philadelphia ready-made cheesecake, as they use pasteurized ingredients in all their products.
UK supermarkets (Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Waitrose) all offer ‘baked’ cheesecakes, both fresh and frozen – the word ‘baked’ is usually written clearly on the label.
British women also ask me a lot about the brand “Gü” since they make delicious mini cheesecakes. Yes, you can eat Gü cheesecakes – they are made with pasteurized ingredients.
However, their Anytime Mousse, Chocolate Mousses and Hot Chocolate Soufflés are made with raw egg, so you should avoid those.
Whether the cheesecake is fresh or frozen doesn’t make a difference to how safe it is for pregnant mothers to consume. The key is the ingredients.
As a rule of thumb, however, most frozen cheesecakes have been pre-baked and so are fine to eat during the pregnancy period.
Can Pregnant Women Eat Any Flavor of Cheesecake?
The main concern when you’re pregnant is whether the cheesecake filling itself has been baked and if it contains raw egg or unpasteurized ingredients.
Some contain alcohol (e.g. Bailey’s) but this is in such small amounts it’s not considered unsafe. Click here to learn more about what to do when your food contains alcohol.
That being said, you still have to pay attention to any fillings or toppings that are poured or served with the cheesecake.
If you’ve not made them yourself, double-check which ingredients have been used and avoid any unpasteurized dairy products.
Can Pregnant Women Eat Cheesecake at a Restaurant?
The Cheesecake Factory is specifically addressed below, but for all other restaurants, it depends on how they’re making their cheesecakes, and whether they are making them on the premises.
Many restaurants “buy in” their desserts from catering companies who will be mass-producing commercial-style cheesecakes, so they’re usually baked and use pasteurized ingredients. They’re therefore safe for pregnant women.
However, if you are eating at a restaurant that has “homemade” desserts and cheesecakes, then you’ll need to ask if any unpasteurized ingredients are used and whether the cheesecake has raw egg in it.
If it does, it’s better to choose something else.
Can Pregnant Women Eat Cheesecake Factory Cheesecakes?
The Cheesecake Factory sell cheesecakes both in their restaurants to eat there and then, in their bakery section and also frozen to purchase in stores.
I reached out to the Cheesecake Factory and queried this with them directly, since there was a lot of confusion online as to whether their cheesecakes were safe for pregnant women to eat.
I’m happy to report that their cheesecakes are all baked, and are made with pasteurized ingredients, so all Cheesecake Factory cheesecakes are safe for pregnant women to eat.
That said, although they’re a wonderful treat from time to time, it isn’t recommended that you eat cheesecake very much when you’re pregnant due to the high sugar, calorie and fat content.
A Suggested Pregnancy Safe Cheesecake Recipe
If you want to bake a homemade cheesecake that is also safe in pregnancy, then you’ll be delighted to learn that one of the best cheesecake recipes of all time is safe for pregnant women to eat.
It’s the New York Times Deluxe Cheesecake, and it’s been their “most requested” cheesecake recipe since 1963, so it must be good.
The ingredients are also in metric so you don’t have to be in the USA to be able to follow the recipe.
Use pasteurized cream cheese and heavy cream, make sure you bake cheesecake precisely as instructed and it’ll be perfectly safe to eat if you’re pregnant.
Cheesecake shouldn’t be eaten in great quantity, or very often (think once a month) when you’re pregnant, which I’ll go into below.
However, with a standard baked cheesecake like the one above, you can at least pair it with any ripe, fresh fruit to increase its nutritional value.
However, you should prepare the fruit yourself to ensure it’s fully washed.
Nutrition: Cheesecake in Pregnancy Should Be an Occasional Treat
Cheesecake is one of those commonly craved foods that pregnant women are often delighted to find they can usually eat.
However, nutritionally, cheesecake isn’t a wise choice and should be limited to the ‘special treat’ category.
It’s high in saturated fat, sugar, sometimes even salt/sodium (because of the base) and despite containing a few vitamins, calcium and protein, cheesecake is not recommended as a source of these nutrients in pregnancy.
Finally, you should check with your health professional if you have diabetes before eating high-sugar foods like cheesecake.