This post may contain affiliate links, view our disclosure policy.
This Pumpkin Cheesecake is a must-make Fall and Thanksgiving dessert! With a brown sugar graham cracker crust, filled with two layers of cheesecake and pumpkin cheesecake, all you need is a dollop of whipped cream for the best pumpkin dessert recipe. It’s like a cheesecake + pumpkin pie. Two desserts in one!
Amazing Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe
Pumpkin Cheesecake is a classic dessert recipe that is perfect for Thanksgiving. Homemade graham cracker crust that is filled with two layer of cheesecake; one vanilla cheesecake and the other pumpkin cheesecake. It’s like the best of both worlds with cheesecake + pumpkin pie!
Cheesecake can be intimidating which is why I share lots of helpful tips so that you can easily make this pumpkin cheesecake recipe in your own kitchen. Tips to prevent cracks on top of the cheesecake and the best ingredients to use so you get the best possible results too.
Ingredients You Need
Graham Cracker Crust
- Graham Crackers – You will need whole graham cracker sheets for this recipe. I use honey graham crackers but you can also use the cinnamon graham crackers if wanted.
- Light Brown Sugar – Sweetens the graham cracker crust.
- Melted Butter – butter binds the crust together. I use salted butter but unsalted butter can be used just as well.
Pumpkin Cheese & Cheesecake Filling
- Cream Cheese – Please do not use reduced-fat cream cheese. It has a much thinner, watered down texture and taste. Always use real, full-fat cream cheese when making cheesecake. I highly recommend using Philadelphia brand for this recipe.
- Granulated Sugar
- All-Purpose Flour – This will give the cheesecake filling some structure to help it set while baking.
- Large Eggs – It’s important that these are at room temperature before using them, it will help prevent the top of the cheesecake from cracking while baking.
- Vanilla Extract – I recommend using pure vanilla extract.
- Pure Pumpkin – This is 100% pure pumpkin and not the pumpkin pie filling. They look similar but they are very different.
- Light Brown Sugar – Sweetener for the pumpkin cheesecake filling.
- Ground Cinnamon
- Ground Ginger
How To Make a Homemade Pumpkin Cheesecake
There are several steps, and several hours needed to make this recipe, but the end result will be worth it! All the steps, fridge time, ingredients are important to ensure that you get a gorgeous, soft cheesecake, with no cracks on the top.
- Preparation : Preheat the oven to 325° F. Grease the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with softened butter or shortening. Wrap the springform pan in a large piece of heavy-duty foil, making sure the base and sides are completely covered. Set aside.
- Graham Cracker Crust : Add the crushed graham crackers, brown sugar, and melted butter into a small mixing bowl. Stir together until it resembles moistened crumbs like sand. Press into the prepared springform pan onto the bottom and slightly up the sides. Bake for 10 minutes.
- Cheesecake + Pumpkin Cheesecake Fillings : In a large bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat together the softened cream cheese, sugar, and flour until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat just until combined. Try not to over-mix the eggs or else the cheesecake may crack while baking. Add the vanilla extract in with the last egg. Set aside. In a separate mixing bowl, stir together the pure pumpkin, brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Add half of the plain cheesecake batter into it and stir to combine.
- Springform Pan : Add the vanilla cheesecake into the pan on top of the graham cracker crust. Pour the pumpkin cheesecake batter over it and carefully use a spatula to evenly spread it out. Try not to mix the two cheesecake layers together.
- Bake : Place the cheesecake into a large roasting pan and fill with boiling water until it reaches about halfway up the sides. Loosely lay a piece of tin foil over it and bake for 1 hour. Remove the tin foil and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes or until the center of the cheesecake is slightly jiggly. Turn off the heat but leave the cheesecake in the oven for 1 hour. Remove it to a cooling rack and let it cool, at room temperature, for 30 minutes.
- Fridge Time : Cover the cheesecake with tin foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before slicing and serving. I recommend making it the day before and letting the cheesecake refrigerate overnight.
Pumpkin Cheesecake FAQ’s
How To Store Leftover Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Store any leftover slices of pumpkin cheesecake in the fridge, in an airtight container or covered, for up to 5 days.
Can I Freeze Pumpkin Cheesecake?
- You can freeze this cheesecake but I don’t recommend it. Freezing cheesecake can change the texture of the cheesecake once thawed. You can still eat it but I personally don’t love the texture that cream cheese/cheesecake filling gets once frozen and thawed.
- If you want to freeze, prepare the cheesecake completely according to recipe instructions. Wrap the cheesecake in a double layer of tin foil. Freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw completely in the fridge before serving.
- This pumpkin cheesecake needs to be served chilled from the fridge. I would not leave it out too long as the cheesecake filling softens the longer it’s out at room temperature.
- You can serve it as is, or try topping each slice with some whipped cream (homemade or from a spray can is fine) and/or some ground cinnamon. I normally serve this with a dollop of homemade whipped cream sweetened with powdered sugar.
Variations & Substitution Ideas
- Graham Crackers : Try using cinnamon graham crackers instead of honey graham crackers for the crust. I use honey graham crackers when I make this. You can also use graham cracker crumbs from the box, you will need 1.5 cups of them.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice : Although I recommend using each different pumpkin pie spice separately, you can substitute with 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice instead if wanted.
- Ginger Snap Cookies : For a different crust try using ground up ginger snap cookies in place of the graham crackers. You will need 1.5 cups of crushed cookies if you’re using that.
Can I Make Cheesecake Ahead of Time?
- Yes! This recipe for pumpkin cheesecake must be made ahead of time! It takes about 8 hours total, and that includes all the baking time, cooling time, and fridge time, to make this recipe. I recommend making it the day before you need it and letting it refrigerate overnight until time to serve.
- This cheesecake needs at least 4 hours to chill in the fridge before slicing and serving. I recommend refrigeration overnight.
What Does a Water Bath Do When Baking Cheesecake?
- The boiling water inside the pan helps to keep the cheesecake soft while baking. A soft cheesecake while baking means that it will help prevent cracks on the top of the cheesecake.
- Make sure that the water is boiling when you add it and not warm or hot from the sink tap.
- The amount of water you need depends on the pan that you place the springform pan into. The boiling water should be about halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
What Is The Texture & Taste of This Pumpkin Cheesecake?
- This cheesecake is a firmer cheesecake similar to a New York style cheesecake.
- The crust is slightly sweetened and buttery in flavor. There are two layers of creamy and smooth cheesecake inside. The vanilla cheesecake is just a basic cheesecake flavored with vanilla and sweetened with sugar. The pumpkin cheesecake tastes like pumpkin pie with warm fall spices through out.
Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe Tips
Here are some of my helpful tips for this recipe so that you can have success recreating it for your own family.
- Room Temperature Eggs : Normally I don’t think this is important in most recipes… except for cheesecake. Remember to put the eggs out at room temperature about 30 minutes before starting the recipe. If you forget, you can place the eggs in a cup of warm water for a few minutes. The eggs will incorporate better into the cheesecake batter which means it will help prevent cracks on top of the cheesecake.
- Real Cream Cheese : Please do not use reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel cream cheese) in this cheesecake. For the best taste, texture, and thickness you want to use the full fat cream cheese that is made with cream. Reduced-fat cream cheese is made with milk & cream, which means it’s not as thick and has a more watered down taste to it compared to the real stuff. I also highly recommend using Philadelphia cream cheese when making cheesecake. It has the best taste and texture compared to the cheaper store brands.
- Read Directions Ahead of Time : For this recipe it’s important to read the entire recipe and instructions before beginning. There are a couple steps involved that take up a lot of time. This is not one of those recipes that you can throw in last minute before you need it.
- Make It Ahead of Time : This pumpkin cheesecake needs to be served chilled from the fridge, which makes it the best dessert to make the day before. There is lots of fridge time involved, baking time, and cooling time in the oven after it’s baked. I always recommend making cheesecake at least 1-2 days before you need it.
- Softened Cream Cheese : To prevent lumps of cream cheese in your batter be sure the cream cheese is softened well before using it. It can be left out at room temperature for up to 2 hours or you can microwave it for just about 20 seconds or so to get it softened. You don’t want it warm or melted at all! Just softened at room temperature.
More Pumpkin Recipes You’ll Love
- Cheesecake Swirl Pumpkin Cake – This 9×13 cake tastes like a mix between a pumpkin roll and pumpkin cake! So yummy and moist with a cheesecake swirl throughout the pumpkin cake.
- Pumpkin Spice Cake – Simple recipe with simple ingredients. Nothing fancy here just the best pumpkin cake loaded with warm pumpkin spices and topped with a cream cheese frosting.
- Pumpkin Pie Pecan Cobbler – Easy dessert that starts with a cake mix poured on top of a sweet pumpkin pie mixture. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
- Bakery Style Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies – These are more like a chocolate chip cookie texture rather than pumpkin cake texture. Large cookies like the kind you find in a bakery!
- Pumpkin Sugar Cookies – Sugar cookies meets pumpkin in this crazy delicious version of sugar cookies. Topped with a simple glaze too!
- Perfect Pumpkin Muffins – Can’t go wrong with this classic recipe. Soft, moist, perfectly spiced pumpkin muffins that bake up perfectly round and domed each time.
Graham Cracker Crust
- 9 whole graham cracker sheets
- 1 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 5 tablespoons butter melted
- 3 bars (8 oz each) full-fat cream cheese softened
- 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling
- 1/2 cup pure pumpkin
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
- 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- *Make sure to place the eggs out at room temperature 30 minute prior to starting the recipe. It's best to have the eggs at room temperature. If you forget, place the eggs in a cup of hot water (from the sink tap) for about 5 minutes.
- *To soften the cream cheese, you can leave it out at room temperature for up to 2 hours before beginning. You can also microwave it for about 20-30 seconds just until softened but not warmed at all.
- Preheat the oven to 325° F. Grease the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with softened butter or shortening. Wrap the springform pan in a large piece of heavy-duty foil, making sure the base and sides are completely covered. Set aside.
Graham Cracker Crust
- Crush the graham crackers with a food chopper, food processor, or place them in a Ziploc bag and use a meat mallet or something else heavy to make fine crumbs.
- Add the crushed graham crackers, brown sugar, and melted butter into a small mixing bowl. Stir together until it resembles moistened crumbs like sand.
- Pour the graham cracker crust into the prepared springform pan, and press them into the base and slightly up the sides.
- Bake the crust for 10 minutes in the preheated oven.
Cheesecake + Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling
- In a large bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat together the softened cream cheese, sugar, and flour until smooth and creamy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat just until combined. Try not to over-mix the eggs or else the cheesecake may crack while baking. Add the vanilla extract in with the last egg. Set aside.
- In a separate mixing bowl, stir together the pure pumpkin, brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
- Add half of the cheesecake batter (in the other bowl that you set aside) into the pumpkin mixture and stir to mix together until smooth and combined.
- Pour the plain cheesecake batter over the baked graham cracker crust and spread it out evenly with a spatula. Pour the pumpkin cheesecake batter over the cheesecake batter in the springform pan. Use a spatula to spread it out evenly.* It's important to not mix the cheesecake layers together. Carefully spread out the pumpkin cheesecake to avoid mixing into the other cheesecake layer.
Baking the Cheesecake
- Place the springform pan into the center of a large roasting pan (or other large pan). The pan I use is 17"x13". Fill the pan with boiling water until it's about halfway up the side of the springform pan. Loosely lay a piece of tin foil over the springform pan.* This takes about 6 cups of boiling water or more depending on the size of pan you use.
- Bake for 1 hour, remove the foil, and the bake for another 20-30 minutes or until the cheesecake is slightly jiggly in the middle but the sides of the cheesecake look baked and slightly puffy.
- Turn off the oven but leave the cheesecake in there for 1 hour.
- Remove the cheesecake from the oven and put it onto a cooling rack to cool for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Run a thin knife (like a table knife) between the edges of the pan and the cheesecake to help release it.Leave the cheesecake on the bottom part of the springform pan and cover it with plastic wrap or tin foil. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. * Once you're at this step, you can leave the cheesecake in the fridge for up to 24 hours before serving. Make it the day before and let it refrigerate overnight.
- Top each slice with whipped cream and serve the pumpkin cheesecake chilled.