Direct chill (DC) casting of high strength 7xxx series aluminum alloys is difficult mainly due to solidification cracking (hot cracks) and solid state cracking (cold cracks). Poor thermal properties along with extreme brittleness in the as-cast condition make DC-casting of such alloys a challenging process. Therefore, a criterion that can predict the catastrophic failure and cold cracking of the ingots would be highly beneficial to the aluminum industry. The already established criteria are dealing with the maximum principal stress component in the ingot and the plane strain fracture toughness (KIc) of the alloy under discussion. In this research work such a criterion was applied to a typical 7xxx series alloy which is highly prone to cold cracking. The mechanical properties, constitutive parameters, as well as the KIc values of the alloy were determined experimentally in the genuine as-cast condition and used as input data for the finite element package ALSIM5. Thermomechanical simulations were run for billets of various diameters and the state of residual thermal stresses was determined. Following the contour maps of the critical crack size gained from the model, the casting conditions were optimized to produce a crack-free billet.