The ultimate pumpkin cheesecake recipe combines a gingersnap crust, a creamy pumpkin filling, and a salted caramel topping for an indulgent fall dessert. Topped off with homemade whipped cream before serving, this recipe is perfect for Thanksgiving or any fall celebration.
Are you ready to take your love for pumpkin desserts to the next level? I’ve got the best pumpkin cheesecake recipe for you. This isn’t your average cheesecake; it’s an indulgence with a creamy pumpkin filling, a gingersnap crust, and homemade caramel sauce.
Pumpkin cheesecake is a perfect combination of classic cheesecake and pumpkin pie. It’s rich, creamy, and full of warm fall flavors. This dessert features a crust made from gingersnap cookies. Key ingredients like room-temperature cream cheese, pumpkin puree, and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg are blended into a smooth filling. The baking technique helps achieve a crack-free, evenly baked dessert, making it a showstopper for holiday gatherings. It can be topped with a homemade salted caramel sauce and whipped cream.
For the Crust:
- Gingersnap Cookies: These add a spiced, robust flavor that elevates the crust from a simple base to a crucial part of the dessert’s overall flavor profile.
- Pecans: These nuts are rich in healthy fats and add a nice crunch, complementing the gingersnap cookies beautifully.
- Salt & Melted Butter: Salt enhances the flavors, and butter acts as the binding agent, ensuring your crust holds together perfectly.
For the Cheesecake:
- Cream Cheese: Use room temperature cream cheese for a smooth and creamy result.
- Granulated & Brown Sugar: Granulated sugar adds sweetness, while brown sugar brings in a hint of molasses, enhancing the pumpkin flavor.
- Pumpkin Puree: Be sure to use pure pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling, which contains additional spices and sugar.
- Flour: Acts as a stabilizer, giving your cheesecake structure and reducing the likelihood of cracks.
- Spices & Salt: Cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg make up the pumpkin spice blend that’s crucial for that fall flavor.
- Eggs & Egg Yolk: These not only add structure but also richness to the cheesecake. Room temperature eggs integrate more easily into the batter.
- Vanilla Extract: Adds aromatic complexity. A little goes a long way to enhance flavors.
- Sour Cream: Adds tanginess and ensures the cake is creamy. It’s crucial to use room temperature sour cream for an even, creamy texture.
For the Salted Caramel
- Granulated Sugar: The basis for caramelization. It’s what gives the caramel its rich color and flavor.
- Butter: Adds creaminess to your caramel. Using room temperature butter ensures it incorporates smoothly.
- Heavy Cream: Adds richness and helps achieve that luscious, pourable consistency.
- Flaked Sea Salt: Balances the sweetness and enhances the caramel flavor.
Step by Step Instructions
Check out the step-by-step photos as a guide for the best spanakopita recipe.
- Preparation: Start by preheating your oven to 350°F. Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and grease both the sides and the bottom. Set this aside for later.
- Crumb Mixture: In a food processor, combine gingersnap cookies, pecans, and salt. Process until you achieve fine crumbs.
- Moisten and Press: Add melted butter to the crumb mixture and blend until all crumbs are moist. Press this mixture evenly into the bottom and up the sides of your prepped springform pan.
- Bake: Slide your crust into the oven for a quick 10-minute bake. Once done, take it out and set your oven to 325°F.
- Water Bath Prep: Place a large roasting pan on the bottom rack of your oven. Boil approximately 6 cups of water and carefully add it to the roasting pan.
- Mix Cream Cheese and Sugars: In your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine room-temperature cream cheese, granulated sugar, and light brown sugar. Mix on low until creamy, taking about 3-5 minutes.
- Add Pumpkin Puree: Scrape the bowl’s sides down and blend in pumpkin puree on a low setting for another minute.
- Dry Ingredients: Incorporate the flour, spices like cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg, and a pinch of salt. Keep the mixer on low.
- Eggs: Add in your room-temperature eggs and additional egg yolk one by one. Remember to scrape the bowl between each addition. Add a splash of vanilla extract.
- Sour cream: Using a large rubber spatula, fold in the sour cream until it’s blended into your cheesecake batter.
- Pour and Bake: Pour your filling into your pre-baked crust, smoothing the top. Give your pan a couple of taps to release air bubbles. Place your cheesecake in the oven, directly above the water bath. Shut the oven door quickly and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the center has a slight jiggle.
- Cool in Oven: Turn off the oven, crack the oven door, and allow the cheesecake to cool and set for an hour.
- Room Temp Chill: After cooling in the oven, allow your cheesecake to further cool on the counter for an additional 30 minutes.
- Refrigerate: Chill your cheesecake in the fridge for at least 4 hours, but overnight is optimal.
- Serve: Carefully remove your cheesecake from the springform pan, place it on a serving plate, and top it with your homemade salted caramel sauce and whipped cream.
- Whipped Cream: Whip heavy cream to stiff peaks and dollop or pipe on top of the cheesecake.
- Pumpkin Spice: Sprinkle some extra on top for a special touch.
- Biscoff Cookies: As an alternative to gingersnap crust, try using Biscoff cookies.
How to Store
- Storing: To store any leftover pumpkin cheesecake, cover it with plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container. The cheesecake can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
How to Freeze
- Pre-Freeze: Place the cheesecake, uncovered, in the freezer for about 1-2 hours to allow it to become firm. This step ensures the toppings or the cheesecake itself won’t stick to the wrapping.
- Wrap Tightly: Take the semi-frozen cheesecake out of the freezer. Wrap it securely in plastic wrap, making sure to cover all exposed areas to prevent freezer burn.
- Double Up: For extra protection, place the wrapped cheesecake in an airtight container or zip it into a resealable plastic freezer bag. Alternatively, you can also wrap it in a layer of aluminum foil after the plastic wrap.
- Freeze: Place the well-wrapped, cheesecake back into the freezer. A properly stored cheesecake can last in the freezer for up to 2-3 months.
- To Thaw: Remove the wrapping and place the cheesecake in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Once the cheesecake thaws, place it on a serving plate, and enjoy!
- Room Temperature Ingredients: Always use room temperature ingredients. This ensures a smoother, lump-free cheesecake batter.
- Water Bath: Placing a roasting pan filled with hot water on the bottom rack helps keep the oven moist and distributes the heat evenly, minimizing the risk of cracks.
- Don’t Overmix: Overmixing can incorporate too much air, leading to cracks. Mix just until ingredients are incorporated.
- Check for Doneness: Your cheesecake should have a slight jiggle in the middle but not be soupy. Overbaking can lead to a dry texture.
- Cool Gradually: Cooling your cheesecake first in the oven with the door ajar, then on the counter, and finally in the fridge helps it set without cracking.
- Clean slices: To ensure neat slices, dip your knife in hot water before each cut. Wipe the knife clean between slices.
- Parchment Paper: Using parchment paper at the bottom of the springform pan makes it easier to transfer the cheesecake to a serving plate.
- Prep Ahead: You can make the crust and caramel sauce a day ahead to streamline the process.
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely, graham cracker crumbs will also work well, although you’ll miss out on the spiced kick that gingersnap cookies offer.
Yes, you can substitute about 2-3 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice for the individual spices listed.
You can use an electric mixer or mix by hand, although this will require more time and effort to ensure a smooth mixture.
Make sure to pre-bake your crust for about 10 minutes, and always use a water bath to keep moisture out.
You can use gluten-free gingersnap cookies or graham crackers for the crust and substitute a gluten-free flour blend in the filling.
Cracks often occur due to overmixing or rapid temperature changes. Following a gradual cooling process and using a water bath can help prevent this.
If you make this recipe, take a photo and tag #bakedambrosia on Instagram and Facebook so that I can see your creations and feature them on Instagram! To stay up to date with the latest recipes, follow Baked Ambrosia on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube. ♡
Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe
- 14 oz gingersnap cookies
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup butter melted
- 3 8 oz packs cream cheese room temperature
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1/4 tsp ginger
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 eggs room temperature
- 1 egg yolk room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup sour cream room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 6 tbsp butter room temperature
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp flaked sea salt
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the sides of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Grease the sides and bottom of the pan and set aside.
- To make the crust, place gingersnap cookies, pecans, and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Process until fine crumbs. Mix in melted butter until the crumbs are moistened. Evenly press the mixture into the bottom and sides of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Place a large roasting pan in the bottom rack of your oven. Boil about 6 cups of water and carefully place water in the roasting pan.
- To make the cheesecake, add the cream cheese and sugars to a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the pumpkin puree and mix on low for another minute.
- Add the flour, spices, and salt and mix on low to combine.
- Add the eggs and egg yolk one at a time, mixing on low speed, scraping down the bowl before each addition. Mix in vanilla extract.
- Finally, stir in the sour cream with a large rubber spatula until completely incorporated.
- Pour the cheesecake batter into the baked crust. Smooth out the top and give it a couple of bangs on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Place the cheesecake in the middle rack, directly above the roasting pan of water. Quickly close the oven door and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes–1 hour 20 minutes. The cheesecake will be done when there is a slight jiggle when you gently shake the pan.
- Turn the oven off and leave the door ajar. Let the cheesecake cool in the oven for 1 hour to set, then cool on the counter for 30 minutes.
- Refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight. Once the cheesecake has completely set, carefully remove from the springform pan and transfer to a serving plate. Top with caramel sauce and whipped cream! Store any leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Salted Caramel Sauce
- To make the salted caramel, heat the sugar in a heavy bottom saucepan over medium heat. Once the sugar begins to melt, whisk the sugar to get rid of any clumps. After about 10 minutes, the sugar should be completely melted and an amber color. Remove the saucepan from heat and immediately whisk in the butter and cream. Stir in the salt. Pour the mixture through a sieve into a heatproof bowl to remove any lumps of sugar. Set aside to cool completely.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or in a bowl using a hand mixer, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Beat in powdered sugar. Make sure not to over-beat the cream.
- Make the caramel in advance. The caramel must be completely cool before topping the cheesecake. You can make the caramel up to three days in advance and store it in an airtight container in the fridge until you’re ready to serve the pumpkin cheesecake.
- Storing leftover cheesecake: To store any leftover pumpkin cheesecake, cover it with plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container. The cheesecake can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Cheesecake freezes well and can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months.