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This is the best pumpkin cheesecake recipe to serve guests for Thanksgiving. I used gingersnap cookies, but you could easily swap out and use graham crackers instead. Top with a little whipped cream and rake in the compliments!
Mmm, pumpkin cheesecake. If you are looking for a great twist on pumpkin pie during your holiday dinner, then this could be it. A pumpkin cheesecake with a gingerbread cookie crust. Oh yeah, move over pumpkin pie there is a new guy in town.
I love all things pumpkin. Except (get this)….pumpkin pie! I know, I don’t know what it is. I love pumpkin muffins. I love pumpkin bread. But pumpkin pie? No way. So on my Thanksgiving dessert table, we don’t have plain old pumpkin pie, we serve this instead.
What makes this pumpkin cheesecake take the blue ribbon at the state fair, is the crust. Instead of graham cracker crust, I decided to crush up gingersnap cookies instead. The cookie crust is what make this pumpkin cheesecake to me.
This fantastic pumpkin cheesecake recipe was adapted from Food Network’s ‘Almost Famous’ pumpkin cheesecake. Almost famous because Food Network tried to replicate as best they could from Cheesecake factory’s pumpkin cheesecake.
And after one bite, I couldn’t agree more this pumpkin cheesecake recipe is WAY better than Cheesecake Factory and because you get to have the whole cheesecake yourself! Not just one slice!
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- If you love chocolate and cherries together, then try this Black forest cheesecake! Top with whipped cream for an outstanding dessert.
- Calling all lemon lovers with this lemon cheesecake recipe! Topped with easy stovetop lemon curd for even more lemon taste.
- Biscoff cookie spread and Biscoff cookies get swirled into this dreamy Biscoff cheesecake recipe. Your whole family is sure to love it!
Why you will love this pumpkin pie cheesecake
- Great make ahead Thanksgiving dessert – Cheesecakes need time to set up in the fridge, so it’s the perfect dessert to make the day before and serve Thanksgiving day!
- Better than the Cheesecake Factory! – This pumpkin cheesecake is so creamy, and delicious and the fact that it’s homemade is what makes it way better!
- Easier than you think to make! – Making a cheesecake filling takes only a few minutes. It’s easy to prep and mix up.
Pumpkin cheesecake ingredients
For the pumpkin cheesecake crust:
- Gingersnap cookies – But you could also use graham cracker crumbs, digestive biscuits, or Oreo cookies.
- Granulated Sugar – I used white sugar, but you could swap and use light brown sugar.
- Butter – I used unsalted butter but salted butter could also work. Melted butter will get combined with the cookie crumbs, sugar and salt.
- Salt – Just a pinch is all you need!
For the pumpkin cheesecake filling:
- Cream cheese – You will need four packages of cream cheese. Use blocks of FULL fat cream cheese. Use the brick style and not the tub variety, which can be whipped and change the texture. You want softened cream cheese so you get a smooth cheesecake filling.
- Granulated sugar
- Sour cream – Full fat is best. You could also use greek yogurt.
- Canned pumpkin puree – Use pure pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling which has added ingredients. You could also use fresh pumpkin puree.
- Eggs – Make sure the eggs are room temperature so they blend easily into the cheesecake batter.
- Vanilla extract – pure vanilla extract is best, or you can try making your vanilla extract!
- Spices – I used a combination of ground cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. You could also use pumpkin pie spice instead.
- Garnish: Homemade Whipped cream (or whipped topping) and toasted pecans
How to make pumpkin cheesecake
Step One: Make The Gingersnap Crust
Pulse the gingersnap cookies in a food processor until you get fine crumbs. Then pour the fine crumbs into a bowl. Add the melted butter, sugar, and a pinch of salt.
Stir together the melted butter with the crumbs, sugar and a pinch of salt in a bowl.
Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pan, packing it tightly and evenly.
Bake until golden brown, 10 minutes. Cool on a rack, then wrap the outside of the springform pan with foil and place in a roasting pan.
Step Two: Prepare The Pan
Wrap the cheesecake pan with several layers of foil so none of the cheesecake pan is exposed. I also like to then wrap it with a slow cooker liner for added protection.
I recommend the slow cooker liner because it’s the only method I have found to keep the hot water out of the cheesecake while baking.
Step Three: Make The Cheesecake Mixture
Add the granulated sugar and beat until just light, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beaters as needed.
Beat in the sour cream, then add the pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, salt and the spices and beat until just combined.
Pour into the prepared crust.
Boil water for the hot water bath.
Gently place the roasting pan in the oven (don’t pull the rack out) and pour the boiling water into the roasting pan until it comes about halfway up the side of the springform pan.
Bake until the outside of the cheesecake sets but the center is still loose, about 1 hour 45 minutes.
Turn off the oven and open the oven door briefly to let out some heat. Leave the cheesecake in the oven for 1 more hour, then carefully remove from the roasting pan and cool on a wire rack. Run a knife around the edges, cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
Top with whipped cream, toasted pecans and enjoy!
- Use softened cream cheese. If you use cold cream cheese you will need to mix it longer for it to get smooth which can incorporate too much air into the mixture. And this will make for a smooth creamy filling.
- Same goes for the egg! You want a room temperature egg that will incorporate into the rest of your ingredients and make for a smooth filling.
- Make sure to use pumpkin puree not pumpkin pie filling. The filling has added sugar and spices already in it.
- Use a water bath or bain marie as the French call it. Wrap your cheesecake pan several times in tinfoil on the outside of the pan and set the pan inside a larger pan (like a roasting pan) that has been filled with hot water. The key here is make sure your pan is completely covered by tinfoil so no water seeps into the cheesecake, which would result in a soggy crust! I wrap my cheesecake in 3 layers of foil and use a good quality springform pan.
- A great alternative to the water bath is placing a pan of boiling water on the rack below where your cheesecake is baking. The steam from the hot water will gently cook your cheesecake and you do not have to worry about a soggy bottom!
- Allow your cheesecake to cool in the oven with the heat off for an hour. It will appear that it is not done, and be a bit wiggly in the middle. Just allow the cheesecake to sit in the oven for an hour. Then be sure to refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours (up to overnight) at which point your cheesecake will completely set up.
- Use a different cookie for the crust – You can also use a different cookie instead of the gingersnap cookies like I used these maple cookies for this white chocolate pumpkin cheesecake. Try using Oreo cookies like did for my Strawberry cheesecake, or make a graham cracker crust instead.
- Top with a cinnamon whipped cream instead of regular! Stir in a teaspoon of ground cinnamon into the whipped cream for a fun Fall twist!
- Drizzle on caramel sauce – For a little more decadence, drizzle on a little caramel sauce to each slice before serving to really wow your guests.
- Use pumpkin spice. Swap out the ground spices, and use pumpkin pie spice instead.
Absolutely. This cheesecake will last 3 days in your fridge, as long as it’s wrapped up in plastic. If it’s an airtight container, it will last up to 5 days.
Leftover will keep for about 2 months. Freeze any leftover slices for 1 hour uncovered. Then wrap in plastic wrap and then wrap again in foil or a large plastic bag. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, before serving.
It may have cracked due to overmixing or overbaking. Be sure to use room temperature cream cheese so you do not have to mix the batter that much. Also avoid opening the door while baking. Big temperature changes like this can cause your cheesecake to crack. Be sure to bake in that water bath! That slow cooking method will help to prevent your cheesecake from cracking. And although the cheesecake may appear still jiggly in the center when the timer goes off, it is done. Do not continue to bake the cheesecake because this will cause it to become overcooked. It will firm as it cools. If it does crack, simply cover it up with some Whipped Cream!
A cheesecake water bath is essentially a slow way to cook the cheesecake. A cheesecake is type of custard and we want it to cook slowly so the texture is smooth and creamy. To achieve that, we place the cheesecake pan into a second larger pan with water. The water surrounds the cheesecake allowing it cook slowly.
You want to wrap the outside of the springform pan well so water doesn’t seep in. You can use a few layers of tin-foil but for foolproof water bath with no leakage use a slow cooker liner. Once the cheesecake is wrapped well, place it into a large heavy duty roasting pan. Pour your filling into the pan. Then add in hot boiling water into the roasting pan so it comes halfway up the sides of the cheesecake.
More Recipes To Try
For the crust
- 5 tablespoons (71 g) unsalted butter melted
- 1 3/4 cups (227 g) gingersnap cookie crumbs
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the cheesecake
- 2 pounds (4 blocks) cream cheese at room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups (500 g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (57 g) sour cream
- 15 ounces pumpkin puree not pumpkin pie filling
- 6 large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Make the cookie crust
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325°F (163°C).
- Grease a 10-inch springform pan with cooking spray.
- Stir together the melted butter, cookie crumbs, sugar and a pinch of salt in a bowl.
- Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pan, packing it tightly and evenly.
- Bake until golden brown, 10 minutes. Cool on a rack, then wrap the outside of the springform pan with several layers of tinfoil and optional a slow cooker liner as well and place in a roasting pan.
Make the cheesecake filling
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.
- Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth.
- Add the sugar and beat until just light, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beaters as needed.
- Beat in the sour cream, then add the pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, salt and the spices and beat until just combined. Pour into the cooled crust.
- Gently place the roasting pan in the oven and pour the boiling water into the roasting pan until it comes about halfway up the side of the springform pan. It's easier if you can do this without sliding the oven rack out, so you don't have to move it back.
- Bake until the outside of the cheesecake sets but the center is still loose, about 1 hour 45 minutes.
- Turn off the oven and open the door briefly to let out some heat. Leave the cheesecake in the oven for 1 more hour, then carefully remove from the roasting pan and cool on a rack. Run a knife around the edges, cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
- Bring the cheesecake to room temperature 30 minutes before serving. Unlock and remove the springform ring. To finish, I like to serve with whipped cream and a few toasted chopped pecans!
- Storage: This pumpkin cheesecake will last 3 days in your fridge, as long as it’s wrapped up in plastic. If it’s an airtight container, it will last up to 5 days.
- Freezing: Leftover will keep for about 2 months. Freeze any leftover slices for 1 hour uncovered. Then wrap in plastic wrap and then wrap again in foil or a large plastic bag. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, before serving.