This rich and creamy pumpkin cheesecake recipe is a great alternative to traditional pumpkin pie! It’s full of pumpkin flavor and is perfect for Thanksgiving. Top it with a dollop of whipped cream and you’ve got yourself a winning dessert.
I’ve been on a real pumpkin recipe testing kick lately, including my pumpkin cookies and pumpkin muffins, but I was dying to try making a pumpkin cheesecake. I tested some of my standard cheesecake recipes with different amounts of pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice looking for the perfect combination. I wanted a prominent pumpkin flavor that wasn’t overwhelming when you take a bite.
In this recipe, I use a bit less pumpkin puree than other recipes because I found that the more pumpkin I added, the less creamy the cheesecake was, and I was going for a super rich and creamy texture. But don’t worry–this pumpkin cheesecake is bursting with pumpkin flavor as well as warm pumpkin spice flavors like cinnamon and nutmeg! It’s the perfect Thanksgiving dessert idea.
How to make pumpkin cheesecake
This pumpkin cheesecake recipe has two components:
- Graham cracker crust
- Pumpkin cheesecake filling
How to make a graham cracker crust
Graham cracker crusts are incredibly simple to make and taste so much better than store bought, so I highly recommend making your own. It only requires three ingredients:
- Crushed graham crackers. You can also use vanilla wafers or gingersnap cookies
- Melted unsalted butter
- Pumpkin pie spices, like cinnamon, ginger, or nutmeg (optional)
I prefer using brown sugar for extra flavor but you can use granulated sugar if that’s all you have. Combine the melted butter with the crushed cookies, sugar, and spices, if using–the texture should feel like wet sand. Press firmly into a 9-in springform pan and bake in a 375F degree oven for about 8 minutes until the crust is crisp and golden brown.
To make the pumpkin cheesecake filling
This pumpkin cheesecake filling is made of cream cheese, sugar, eggs, cornstarch, pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, spices, and heavy cream. If you don’t have cornstarch, you can substitute for use all-purpose flour.
You can use brick-style cream cheese or cream cheese spread that contains about 30% fat (or a little less). The cream cheese should have a thick consistency. Low fat cream cheese is more thin, and if you use it, the cheesecake won’t be as rich or dense. Additionally, you can add a bit more or less pumpkin puree if you want a stronger or more subtle flavor. For example, this recipe calls for 1 and ½ cups of pumpkin puree but you can use 1 cup for a more subtle pumpkin flavor if that’s what you prefer.
Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature, then:
- Use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment to beat the cream cheese for 2-3 minutes until light, fluffy, and free of lumps.
- Add both sugars and beat together until fully incorporated, followed by the cornstarch. You’ll find that some of the cream cheese doesn’t incorporate and gets stuck on the bottom or sides of the bowl. To make sure everything gets mixed together, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and continue mixing so nothing is stuck to the sides.
- Next, add your room temperature eggs to the mixture one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated before adding the next one.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, vanilla, heavy cream, and spices and slowly add the mixture to the standing mixer bowl. Once everything is mixed together, pour the batter over the graham cracker crust.
*Optional tip: Instead of adding the spices individually, whip up a batch of pumpkin spice mix and replace the spices with 1 ¾ teaspoons of this spice blend instead.
Bake your pumpkin cheesecake in a water bath
This cheesecake is baked in a water bath which results in a perfectly flat and creamy cheesecake without any cracks. Here’s how to do it:
- Wrap the outside of the cake pan (bottom and sides) with a large piece of foil, then repeat with another piece. This will ensure that water from the bath doesn’t seep into the cake.
- Place the cheesecake into a large roasting pan and pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Place gently in the oven and bake for 60-70 minutes until the sides are set but the center is still slightly wobbly.
Once your pumpkin cheesecake is baked, carefully remove from the oven so you don’t splash hot water on yourself or in your cheesecake. Allow it to cool and place in the fridge for at least 12 hours until set.
Tips for making pumpkin cheesecake
- Take your ingredients out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you start baking. Cold ingredients, cheesecake in particular, are more difficult to incorporate and combine. Using room temperature cream cheese will reduce the number of lumps your cheesecake has, ensuring a smooth texture.
- Because cream cheese is thick, it tends to stick to the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl. Be sure keep a rubber spatula on hand to scrape the cream cheese down into the mixture throughout the process to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.
- When wrapping aluminum foil around the springform pan for your water bath, make sure the aluminum foil comes up high enough to block any cracks in the pan.
- Don’t allow your water bath to come up higher than the aluminum foil to ensure no water leaks into your pumpkin cheesecake.
This recipe is one of my favorite pumpkin dessert recipes! I hope you love it as much as I do.
Other highly recommended cheesecake recipes:
- The Most Amazing New York Cheesecake: This is the ultimate New York Cheesecake recipe. It’s creamy, rich, and velvety smooth. I promise you will love it!
- No Bake Nutella Cheesecake: This no-bake cheesecake is for true chocoholics only. It’s got rich and creamy Nutella mixed into the batter and is topped with a layer of chocolate ganache.
- Carrot Cake Cheesecake: A layer of moist carrot cake is topped with a layer of rich cheesecake for a truly exquisite dessert experience.
- Easy Individual No Bake Cheesecake: This recipe is perfect when you don’t feel like baking but want a beautiful, delicious, and individually served dessert.
- 1 and ½ cups (150g) graham cracker, digestive biscuits, or vanilla wafer crumbs (pulse in a food processor until finely ground)
- 3 tablespoons (37g) light or dark brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 4 and ½ tablespoons (65g) unsalted butter, melted
- 24 ounces (675g) full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
- ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (100g) light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 4 large eggs , at room temperature
- 1 and ½ cups (340g) canned pumpkin puree
- ½ cup (120 ml) heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Make the crust: Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Wrap the outside of a 9-inch springform pan (bottom and sides) with a large piece of foil, then repeat with another piece. This will ensure that water from the bath doesn’t seep into the cake.
In a medium bowl, mix together crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and ginger until combined. Add melted butter and mix until combined and moistened. Press mixture into the bottom of prepared pan to form an even layer of crumbs. Bake for 8-9 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.
Reduce oven temperature to 325°F/160°C.
Make the filling: In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese on medium-low speed until smooth and lump-free, 1-2 minutes. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat until blended. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary. Add cornstarch and mix until blended. Add the eggs and beat until fully combined. In a medium bowl whisk pumpkin puree, heavy cream, vanilla extract, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg until smooth. Add pumpkin mixture to the cheese mixture, and beat until combined.
Pour batter over cooled crust and spread evenly. Place the pan inside a large roasting pan, then pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides. Place gently in the oven and bake for 60-70 minutes until the sides are set but the center is still slightly wobbly.
Remove the cake pan carefully from the water bath, and place on a wire rack. Let the cake cool slightly, then run a knife around the sides of the pan. Let the cake cool completely. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for at least 12 hours.
Cheesecake will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.