Pumpkin Cheesecake

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My best Pumpkin Cheesecake features a graham cracker crust topped with a rich, creamy, and warmly-spiced cheesecake filling. Master how to make cheesecake from scratch for Thanksgiving (or any day).

A slice of pumpkin cheesecake with whipped cream on a plate.

Pumpkin Cheesecake is a spectacular mash-up of the Thanksgiving classic Pumpkin Pie and the beloved American dessert, Vanilla Cheesecake. It’s as good as it sounds (or probably even better than it sounds).

The homemade graham cracker crust is spiced with cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, and the Pumpkin Cheesecake filling is light yet custardy, cool and creamy, and not too sweet. It’s a fun alternative (or addition!) to your usual Thanksgiving dessert lineup.

I wrote a water bath into the instructions, too, because it’s the best way to ensure your Pumpkin Cheesecake bakes evenly without any cracks. By the way, my other secret for cracked cheesecake is: whipped cream. And a sprinkling of cinnamon-sugar topping isn’t bad, either!

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for pumpkin cheesecake.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Graham crackers: If you’re feeling ambitious, start with a batch of Homemade Graham Crackers. Store-bought honey-flavored or cinnamon graham crackers also work well. If graham crackers aren’t sold in your part of the world, substitute 1 ½ cups crushed digestive biscuits (9 sheets of graham crackers yields about 1 ½ cups of crumbs).
  • Pumpkin purée: Canned pumpkin pureé (not pumpkin pie filling) is convenient for this recipe. If you want to make your own Fresh Pumpkin Pureé, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut your pumpkin in half and remove all seeds and fibrous strings. Cut each half into 2 or 3 pieces, then roast until tender, 60 to 90 minutes. Cool completely, then scoop out the pumpkin flesh from the skin. Blend in a food processor blender until smooth. Finally, drain over cheesecloth or paper towels to remove excess water.
  • Cream cheese: Plain full-fat blocks of cream cheese are ideal for homemade cheesecake. Slice into cubes to speed up their softening time; room temperature is best for a clump-free Pumpkin Cheesecake filling.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Wrap a 9-inch springform pan in two layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Arrange a dish towel in the bottom of a heavy roasting pan.
A water bath for a cheesecake with foil wrapped around it.
  1. In a food processor, or in a plastic bag with a rolling pin, finely crush graham crackers. In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Pour into the springform pan, using the bottom of a measuring cup to pack the crumbs evenly on the bottom.
Pressing graham cracker crumbs into a springform pan.
  1. Bake until lightly browned and fragrant, about 10 to 15 minutes. Set on top of dish towel in roasting pan and bring a kettle or saucepan of water to boil. Pat the pumpkin puree dry with several layers of paper towel. In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, and salt. 
Draining pumpkin pie filling on paper towels.
  1. In a standing mixer fit with the paddle attachment, or with an electric mixer by hand, beat cream cheese on medium-low speed until smooth, about 1 to 3 minutes. Scrape down bowl and beaters as necessary. Add the sugar mixture in two batches, beating after each addition until incorporated, about 1 to 3 minutes.
Making pumpkin cheesecake filling.
  1. Add pumpkin, lemon juice, and vanilla and mix until combined. Add in eggs one at a time until incorporated, about 1 to 3 minutes. Beat in heavy cream until incorporated, 1 to 3 minutes.
Making pumpkin cheesecake filling.
  1. Brush the inside of the springform pan with melted butter (being careful not to disturb the graham cracker crust). Carefully pour the filling into the springform pan. With the cheesecake inside of it, set the roasting pan on an oven rack. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until it reaches about halfway up the sides of the pan.
A cheesecake baking in the oven.
  1. Bake until the cheesecake reaches 150 degrees at the center when tested with an internal thermometer, about 1 ½ hours. Remove from oven. Let cheesecake cool in the roasting pan for 45 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool until barely warm, about 2 ½ to 3 hours longer. Run a knife around the inside edge of the springform pan about once per hour to loosen the cake.
A baked pumpkin cheesecake cooling in a springform pan.
  1. Wrap the pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours. To unmold the cheesecake, wrap a kitchen towel wet with hot water around the cake pan for 1 minute. Remove the sides of the pan and carefully slide the cake onto a cake platter. Let the cheesecake sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
Slices of pumpkin cheesecake on a cooling rack.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipes makes 14 slices of decadent Pumpkin Cheesecake (or more like 10 to 12 if you’re sharing it with my family!).
  • Storage: Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Water bath 101: It’s not necessarily mandatory to use a water bath, also known as a bain marie, when making cheesecake from scratch. But without one, a cheesecake tends to brown more around the edges, end up a little drier, may fall in the center while cooling, and could crack. It’s worth the extra step to get the picture perfect masterpiece, so the method for a water bath is built right into this recipe.
  • Take it over the top: Garnish slices of Pumpkin Cheesecake with a dollop of Whipped Cream and dusting of Cinnamon and Sugar Topping. I wouldn’t be mad about a drizzle of Caramel Sauce or Chocolate Sauce, either.
A slice of pumpkin cheesecake with whipped cream on a plate.

Recipe FAQs

How do I prevent cracks in my Pumpkin Cheesecake?

Pumpkin Cheesecake batter is basically a rich custard, and it performs best with treated delicately. This recipe is written with a water bath included because it helps prevent cracks in the filling. The moist heat of a water bath, also known as a bain marie, helps the custard bake slowly and evenly without browning or cracking on top. Here’s how to make a water bath for cheesecake.

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A slice of pumpkin cheesecake with whipped cream on a plate.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

My best Pumpkin Cheesecake features a graham cracker crust topped with a rich, creamy, and warmly-spiced cheesecake filling. Master how to make cheesecake from scratch for Thanksgiving (or any day).
Author: Meggan Hill
4.95 from 19 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 55 mins
cooling 1 hr
Total Time 2 hrs 25 mins
Servings 14 servings (1 slice each)
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 409

Ingredients 

For the crust:

For the filling:

Instructions 

To make the crust:

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Wrap a 9-inch springform pan in two layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Arrange a dish towel in the bottom of a heavy roasting pan.
  • In a food processor, or in a plastic bag with a rolling pin, finely crush graham crackers. In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Pour into the springform pan, using the bottom of a measuring cup to pack the crumbs evenly on the bottom.
  • Bake until lightly browned and fragrant, about 10 to 15 minutes. Set on top of dish towel in roasting pan and bring a kettle or saucepan of water to boil.

To make the filling:

  • Pat the pumpkin puree dry with several layers of paper towel. In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, and salt. 
  • In a standing mixer fit with the paddle attachment, or with an electric mixer by hand, beat cream cheese on medium-low speed until smooth, about 1 to 3 minutes. Scrape down bowl and beaters as necessary.
  • Add the sugar mixture in two batches, beating after each addition until incorporated, about 1 to 3 minutes. Add pumpkin, lemon juice, and vanilla and mix until combined. 
  • Add in eggs one at a time until incorporated, about 1 to 3 minutes. Beat in heavy cream until incorporated, 1 to 3 minutes.

To bake the cheesecake:

  • Brush the inside of the springform pan with melted butter (being careful not to disturb the graham cracker crust). Carefully pour the filling into the springform pan.
  • With the cheesecake inside of it, set the roasting pan on an oven rack. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until it reaches about halfway up the sides of the pan.
  • Bake until the cheesecake reaches 150 degrees at the center when tested with an internal thermometer, about 1 ½ hours. Remove from oven.
  • Let cheesecake cool in the roasting pan for 45 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool until barely warm, about 2 ½ to 3 hours longer. Run a knife around the inside edge of the springform pan about once per hour to loosen the cake.
  • Wrap the pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours. 
  • To unmold the cheesecake, wrap a kitchen towel wet with hot water around the cake pan for 1 minute. Remove the sides of the pan and carefully slide the cake onto a cake platter. Let the cheesecake sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Graham crackers: If you’re feeling ambitious, start with a batch of Homemade Graham Crackers. Store-bought honey-flavored or cinnamon graham crackers also work well. If graham crackers aren’t sold in your part of the world, substitute 1 ½ cups crushed digestive biscuits (9 sheets of graham crackers yields about 1 ½ cups of crumbs).
  2. Pumpkin purée: Canned pumpkin pureé (not pumpkin pie filling) is convenient for this recipe. If you want to make your own Fresh Pumpkin Pureé, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut your pumpkin in half and remove all seeds and fibrous strings. Cut each half into 2 or 3 pieces, then roast until tender, 60 to 90 minutes. Cool completely, then scoop out the pumpkin flesh from the skin. Blend in a food processor blender until smooth. Finally, drain over cheesecloth or paper towels to remove excess water.
  3. Yield: This recipes makes 14 slices of decadent Pumpkin Cheesecake (or more like 10 to 12 if you’re sharing it with my family!).
  4. Storage: Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 409kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 6gFat: 30gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 154mgSodium: 366mgPotassium: 129mgFiber: 1gSugar: 25gVitamin A: 1136IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 80mgIron: 1mg
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Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

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Comments

  1. Great recipe and explained really well! I did however add a pinch more salt and 1/8 teaspoon cardamom and drizzled a little molasses in the crumbs to make the graham richer in flavor! Thanks for not having 5 million pop up’s! 5 ⭐️

  2. Hello, you just updated this recipe and removed the ginger snap crust. Can you send me that recipe too. I just bought everything and now can’t find everything with your update.
    Thanks.

    1. Hi Nstaerkel, sorry about that! Here’s the recipe: Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust:
      – 7-1/2 ounces gingersnaps (or 1-1/2 cups finely ground gingersnap crumbs)
      – 1/4 cup granulated sugar
      – 5 tablespoons melted butter
      1. Pulse the crackers (or crumbs) and sugar in a food processor fitted with the metal blade until finely ground.
      2. Add the butter and pulse a few times to combine.

    1. Hi Jenn, it is up to you. I’ve made the crust both ways and they turn out the same. I prefer salted. :) – Meggan

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