Creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake

Pumpkin cheesecake is a rich, decadent dessert and has been gaining popularity to its close holiday dessert cousins the apple pie and pumpkin pie.

close up of a slice of pumpkin cheesecake with caramel sauce drizzle


 

‘Tis the season for all things pumpkin. I felt the need to create a pumpkin cheesecake recipe with a little something, something to give it a unique edge, not literally pumpkin pie cheesecake cause that is just pumpkin pie filling with cream cheese and the same old graham cracker crust.

I started with a Food Network recipe for slow cooker cheesecake and worked my way back to this one. What makes it different?

close up of whipped cream flowers on a cheesecake

Why Is This Different?

  • This creamy cheesecake uses a gingersnap crust instead of a graham cracker crust. Just slightly more pizazz in the crunchies.
  • Although the original jumping-off point recipe was done in a slow cooker, I realized that virtually no one has a slow cooker than accomodate a 9-inch springform pan, so I adapted it for a good old oven recipe.
  • Instead of grabbing a can of whipped cream (totally acceptable!) I made a homemade whipped cream blended with pumpkin pie spice. I love the little flecks, but it is just another element providing holiday cheer.
  • You know I have a love affair with salted caramel, so of course I drizzled the whole cheesecake with my homemade caramel sauce. Also feel free to use a bourbon sauce or even caramel praline.
overhead slice of pumpkin cheesecake with caramel and whipped cream

What You’ll Need

Gather all of the pumpkin cheesecake ingredients before you get started. This list looks long, but I promise you that it uses simple ingredients used over the holiday season for nearly all your pumpkin desserts. You will need a spring form pan for this recipe.

ingredients to make pumpkin cheesecake
  • Gingersnap Cookies- These are thin, crispy cookies made with ginger and candied ginger. Very similar to flavor of molasses cookies, but instead of being soft, they are crispy. Save yourself a tiny bit of time and grab a package at the store. Graham crackers are more traditional and be swapped, as can nearly any crispy cookie or sweet cracker.
  • Unsalted Butter– Using unsalted allows you to control the saltiness. Differing brands also contain a wide range of salt that can intentionally dry out your baked goods. Aim for a high quality butter too. Many lower store brands have more water and less dairy, which can impact the richness of your final produce.
  • Fine sea salt- You heard right- not coarse kosher salt, LOL. For the crust, I needed something that would dissolve fast and evenly distribute. Make sure it isn’t table salt which can leave a metallic aftertaste.
  • Cream Cheese- This isn’t the time to make a light cheesecake, grab the full fat version and call it a creamy, rich and delightful day.
  • Light brown sugar– You can also use dark brown sugar, which just adds a tad more molasses, a complementive taste to the other natural flavors in this homemade cheesecake recipe.
  • Pumpkin Puree– I will not fault you if you grab a can, but try to make your own puree at least once in your life using a pie pumpkin (they are sweeter and have more pumpkin flavor). Pay attention to the can and don’t get pumpkin pie filling, which is already sweetened.
  • Pure vanilla extract– For flavor! Another ingredient that begs for good quality; avoid imitation vanilla. If you happen to have vanilla bean paste, swap for that.
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice– I’m sure you have a jar in the pantry… but how old is it? Ground spices like these tend to start losing potency at around 6 months after being opened. Do a taste test to see if yours has any flavor left at all. If not, chances are you have all the ingredients to make a new homemade batch. Apple pie spice is only slightly different and can also work.
  • Eggs- Always assume recipes call for large eggs and don’t swap them out for extra large. Even that small difference can make or break a baked good. Remember, baking is chemistry.
  • Heavy cream & powdered sugar– Both used for making a homemade whipped cream. If you want to skip this part, grab a package of real whipped cream and gently fold it with pumpkin spice or apple pie spice.
  • Garnish– Lots of options for garnishing this amazing pumpkin cheesecake. Also consider chocolate shavings or salted pepitas (small green pumpkin seeds).
slice of pumpkin pie cheesecake on a white serving plate

How to Make Pumpkin Cheesecake

If this is your first time, take a deep breath, maybe pour a glass of wine and read all of the instructions at least once before starting. Also know that it is hard to get a crack-free cheesecake, small cracks are fine, the cake will still be delicious, creamy and smooth. A small crack can be covered up with garnish.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Crust

  1. Preheat the oven and line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and then coat with cooking spray. This will make it super easy to get out of the pan for serving.
  2. Make the crumbs by placing the cookies into a food processor and giving it a few blitzes or in an airtight plastic bag and rolling it with a rolling pin until they are fine crumbs.
  3. Using a medium bowl, mix the gingersnap crumbs, salt and melted butter until everything is moist and then press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan, pressing down hard with the back of a spoon. No need to bring it up the sides, just focus on the bottom.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove and reduce the oven temperature to prep for the cheesecake.
how to make a gingersnap pie crust

Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling

  1. Cream the cream cheese until smooth and creamy in a large bowl. This takes a few minutes, but will prevent you from having little specks of unblended cream cheese in the cake. Using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer is the best way to achieve this. If you don’t have one, use a hand held electric mixer.
  2. On a low speed, add the brown sugar, pumpkin puree, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice and mix until fully combined and smooth.
  3. Lastly, add the eggs, one at a time until fully combined and smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go.
  4. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the cooked crust. Tap the whole pan on the countertop to pull out any tiny air bubbles. Set aside and prepare a water bath.
  5. Some springform pans aren’t as snug as others, to make sure that no water leaks into the cake, you can wrap the bottom in aluminum foil. Place the springform pan into a large casserole dish or the bottom of a broiler pan. Around springform pan, fill 1/2 way with water. Cooking in a water bath will keep your cheesecake smooth, allow to bake flat because the water keeps an even temperature. The moisture and steam will prevent cracking.
  6. Bake the cheesecake for 45-60 minutes, or until the center has set and edges are a light brown. If edges start to brown before the center is set (not jiggly), loosely cover with a sheet of aluminum foil. When the center is set. Turn off the oven and slightly crack the oven door to allow the temperature to reduce slowly for 30 minutes. Slowly reducing the temperature of the cake is yet another way to prevent cracking.
  7. Remove and allow to fully cool on a wire rack so air can circulate all the way around the pan. When it is fully cooled, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the pan) for a minimum of 12 hours, but preferably overnight.
  8. Carefully remove from the springform pan and remove the parchment paper from the sides of the pan. Depending on the pan, you might need to keep it on the metal pan base.
how to make pumpkin cheesecake filling

Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream

  1. Prepare the whipped cream by whipping cold, heavy whipping cream until it becomes thick and will stand on its own. Whip in the powdered sugar and pumpkin pie spice.
  2. When ready to serve, top each piece with a generous helping of pumpkin pie spiced whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce and other toppings, if desired.
how to decorate a pumpkin cheesecake

Water Bath for Cheesecake

The biggest threat to cheesecake is cracking and there are two things you can do to prevent this from happening (although even the most skilled bakers sometimes end up with cracks!). It is using the water bath method.

A water bath, also known as a bain marie, is a French technique that uses a pan of hot water that surrounds the cake offering even distribution of heat, but also moisture in the air. This method not only helps the cheesecake not crack on top, but also ensures the cheesecake will come out smooth and creamy because of the humid environment.

But you also need to make sure you don’t shock the cake when removing it from its cozy little environment. Turn off the oven and leave the door cracked so it can come down in temperature and humidity slowly and at a normal pace.

Delicious cheesecake is still possible without a water bath!

fork taking a bite of pumpkin cheesecake

How to Serve Pumpkin Cheese

Keep the cheesecake in the fridge until it is time to serve. Cheesecakes can be a bit tricky to get nice, clean cuts, but it can be done!

  1. Chilled cheesecake. Keep the cake cold until you are ready to serve.
  2. Dip a sharp knife into hot water. Fill a tall container, like a pint glass with hot tap water, and dip the knife’s blade in hot water.
  3. Cut the cheesecake from the edge. Make your first cut in the cheesecake, cutting from the border to the center of the cheesecake in one rocking motion. You might need a little pressure to get through the crust.
  4. Clean the knife. Wipe the blade of your knife with a clean towel between each cut and then repeat the process of dipping the blade in hot water.

Decorate your slices with whipped cream, caramel sauce, candied nuts, chocolate shaving or pepitas. Some folks even like a dollop of sour cream or vanilla Greek yogurt for tang or anything else with fall flavors.

overhead of pumpkin cheesecake with whipped cream dollops

Make Ahead, Storage & Freezing

Make Ahead- By definition, this cheesecake needs to be made ahead so it has time to chill. It can be prepared up to 3 days in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator. If it isn’t fully cooled before being chilled, it might develop condensation on the top or the covering, so make sure it is fully room temp before covering.

Storage– The whole cake or individual slices can be stored in the refrigerated either covered or in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Freezing Instructions- Cheesecakes are excellent candidates for freezing. If freezing the whole cake, place it in the freezer in the pan and wait until it is fully frozen before removing it. Then wrap it well in freezer paper or aluminum foil and freeze for up to 3 months.

To thaw, remove from the wrapping and allow to thaw in the fridge, covered. When defrosted, cover and store until ready to use.

pumpkin cheesecake recipe for pinterest with collage and text overlay

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decorated slice of pumpkin cheescake
overhead slice of pumpkin cheesecake with caramel and whipped cream

Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe

4.91 from 66 votes
Traditional pumpkin cheesecake topped with salty pumpkin seeds and pumpkin spiced whipped cream.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 12 slices

Ingredients

Gingersnap Crust:

Cheesecake:

Whipped Cream:

Garnish:

Instructions

Make the Crust

  • Heat the oven to 375°F. Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and then coat with cooking spray.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, mix the gingersnap crumbs, salt and melted butter. Mix until all crumbs are moistened. Press mixture into the bottom of the pan, pressing down hard with the back of a spoon. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove and reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.

Make the Cheesecake

  • In a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth and creamy, approximately 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the brown sugar, pumpkin puree, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice and mix until fully combined. Lastly, add the eggs, one at a time until fully combined and smooth.
  • Pour the cream cheese mixture over crust. Tap on your countertop for at least 1 minute to pull out any tiny air bubbles. Some springform pans aren't as snug as others, to make sure that no water leaks into the cake, you can wrap the bottom in aluminum foil.
  • Place springform pan into a large casserole dish or the bottom of a broiler pan. Around springform pan, fill 1/2 way with water. Cooking in a water bath will keep your cheesecake smooth, allow to bake flat and prevent cracking.
  • Bake the cheesecake for 45-60 minutes, or until the center has set and edges are a light brown. If edges start to brown before the center is set (not jiggly), loosely cover with a sheet of aluminum foil. When the center is set. Turn off the oven and slightly crack the oven door to allow the temperature to reduce slowly for 30 minutes..
  • Remove and allow to fully cool on a wire rack. While still in springform pan, refrigerate for a minimum of 12 hours, but preferably overnight.
  • Carefully remove from the springform pan and remove the parchment paper. Depending on the pan, you might need to keep it on the metal pan base.

Make the Whipped Cream

  • Prepare the whipped cream by whipping cold, heavy whipping cream until it becomes thick and will stand on its own. Whip in the powdered sugar and pumpkin pie spice.
  • When ready to serve, top each piece with a generous helping of pumpkin pie spiced whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce, if desired.
  • If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.

Nutrition

Calories: 468 kcal, Carbohydrates: 35 g, Protein: 5 g, Fat: 34 g, Saturated Fat: 19 g, Cholesterol: 146 mg, Sodium: 310 mg, Potassium: 222 mg, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 24 g, Vitamin A: 4440 IU, Vitamin C: 1.1 mg, Calcium: 104 mg, Iron: 1.8 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 468
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pumpkin cheesecake
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!

 

overhead pumpkin cheesecake with pumpkin spice whipped cream
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and food lover behind Savory Experiments. She is obsessed with butter, salt and bacon and spends all her time in the kitchen and behind a camera. Jessica is a contributor to PopKitchen by Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal Food + Travel and more!

Read More About Jessica

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Recipe Rating




Questions and Reviews

  1. These days I am taking advantage and getting my pumpkin mega dosage! this recipe is sure to make its way to my kitchen!

  2. 5 stars
    This looks good! I did a pumpkin cheesecake last year and really liked it! My grandfather protested it LOL (He was more of a fan of the traditional pumpkin pie LOL)

  3. I love the gingersnap cookies as a crust, I have not seen that before. My family does not like gingersnaps or pumpkin but I certainly do – that mess I would not have to share!!!

  4. 5 stars
    THis looks absolutely amazing! I have never had much luck in cooking desserts but this one I think I might try!

  5. I love any dessert that contains pumpkin. Since cheesecake is my favorite dessert, I’m sure adding pumpkin to it will only make it more delicious.

  6. 5 stars
    This is something new to be but boy does it look delicious. I know I would love the combination of the salty seeds with the pie. Yum!