Spiced pumpkin cheesecake is autumnal perfection. It's smooth and creamy, full of fall flavors, and classic. And while it takes a bit of advance prep, it's easier than you may think. Don't miss it.
Why we love this recipe, and why it works
This just-right pumpkin cheesecake recipe is creamy, satisfyingly but not absurdly dense, flavored with the perfect amount of pumpkin and spice, and not overly sweet.
A drizzle of purchased or homemade caramel sauce on top and a pinch of salt in the crust take things to the next level, augmenting the flavors without overpowering.
This recipe works because:
- Having the ingredients at room temperature helps them mix together smoothly.
- A little bit of sour cream adds the subtlest tart dimension to the mix.
- Baking at a low temperature in a water bath and then leaving the cake in the oven results in a perfectly creamy, evenly baked filling with no cracks.
- Chilling the cake overnight after cooling completely allows you to slice it into the neat wedges you'd expect from a great cheesecake.
What you'll need
Here's a glance at the ingredients you'll need to make this recipe.
- A "sheet" of graham crackers means a whole sheet of four perforated crackers. Four of these should yield about ½ cup of crumbs. To make this recipe gluten-free, use GF graham crackers.
- Use good old blocks of good-quality cream cheese. (Two pounds is four eight-ounce blocks.) Don't use whipped cream cheese or the softer kind that comes in tubs. It won't yield the right consistency.
- Use plain canned pumpkin without seasonings. Or make your own thick pumpkin puree if you like.
- A balanced mix of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves — in just the right proportions — makes the perfect pumpkin spice
- You can use purchased caramel sauce or make your own
How to make it
Here's an overview of what you'll do to make a beautiful spiced pumpkin cheesecake. It takes a little advance prep, but it's easier than you might think. You can see all the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get the details in the recipe card below.
- To make the crumb crust, spread the butter all over the bottom and sides of the pan. Crush the graham crackers into crumbs and pour them into the pan. Tilt and tap the pan around until it's coated with crumbs.
- Beat the cream cheese and gradually add the sugar and eggs.
- Beat in the creams, pumpkin puree, and spices. You'll mix until smooth and creamy without incorporating too much air.
- Pour the filling into the crust. Bake in a water bath (see recipe card for details) and then leave in the oven with the door ajar. Cool, then chill overnight. Your cheesecake is ready!
Expert tips and FAQs
Depending on the thickness of your caramel sauce, the best option for drizzling is a reusable plastic squeeze bottle or piping bag with a smallish round tip. This will give you way more control than a spoon or pitcher.
You've got two options for timing. In real life, for convenience, I like to drizzle the sauce onto the whole cake after removing from the fridge and before serving. If you're feeling extra-fancy, you can drizzle each slice after cutting so that the caramel runs gently down the sides. It's up to you!
Yes! Not only can you do so, but you must. Cheesecake has a bit of a long timeline. First, all the ingredients have to be at room temperature, so you'll need to take them out of the fridge several hours before.
The baking process is fairly long, because the cake bakes for about an hour and then rests in the oven (turned off, with the door ajar) for another hour.
Then you'll need to cool the cake completely, wrap it up, and chill it overnight before slicing and serving.
You can store tightly covered leftovers in a nice cold fridge for a week.
Yes, you can! Cheesecake freezes and defrosts remarkably well, either whole or in slices. Once it's chilled in the fridge overnight, carefully wrap either the whole cake or individual slices in plastic wrap and then foil. Freeze for up to three months (for freshest flavor).
Defrost in the fridge overnight or at room temperature for several hours before serving.
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For the crust
- 2 tablespoons (28 grams) salted butter
- 4 sheets graham crackers (for ½ cup crumbs)
- ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
For the filling
- 2 pounds (907 grams) cream cheese
- 1 ⅓ cups (266 grams) sugar
- 4 eggs
- ¼ cup (59 ml) heavy cream
- ¼ cup (60 grams) sour cream
- 1 15-ounce (425-gram) canned pumpkin puree (or 1 ¾ cup thick fresh puree)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- Purchased or homemade caramel sauce
- Have all ingredients at room temperature. Preheat oven to 325°F with a rack in the center.
- Spread the butter all over the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan.
- Crush the graham crackers into crumbs. You can do this in a sealed plastic bag with a rolling pin or in a food processor. Pour the graham cracker crumbs into the greased pan and tap to distribute them around the bottom and sides, forming a thin crust.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the softened cream cheese for 30 to 60 seconds, just until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Pour in the sugar little by little and beat until smooth and creamy, a minute or two.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating until just incorporated and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Add the heavy cream, sour cream, pumpkin puree, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Beat briefly, just until well combined.
- Pour creamy filling into crust.
- Wrap the outside of the pan tightly with foil. Place the pan into a roasting pan or large baking dish. Position the pan on the center oven rack and then carefully pour boiling water into the outer roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan.
- Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until the outsides of the cake are set and the center still jiggles when you move the pan.
- Turn off the oven and leave the door ajar (you can use a utensil to prop it open). Let the cake rest in the oven for an hour.
- Remove cake from oven and from water bath. Remove foil. Let cake cool completely in pan.
- Cover cake and refrigerate overnight to chill through completely.
- Carefully remove outer ring from cake. Drizzle with caramel sauce before serving.
- Starting with all ingredients at room temperature is very important to achieve the creamiest result.
- A graham cracker sheet means a whole sheet of four perforated crackers. To make this recipe gluten-free, simply use gluten-free graham crackers.
- Use the good old cream cheese that comes in 8-ounce blocks. Softer cream cheese in tubs or the whipped kind won't work.
- Tightly covered leftovers keep well in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to three months.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 199Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 73mgSodium: 164mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 9gSugar: 13gProtein: 7g