This is the BEST pumpkin cheesecake! It’s super rich and creamy, baked with an entire can of pumpkin puree, warm spices, a brown butter graham cracker crust, and is topped with a cloud of soft whipped cream. It’s a MUST for any Thanksgiving table and I’m sharing all of my tips to ensure it turns out perfect and crack-free every time.
What makes this pumpkin cheesecake recipe so good?
When I was developing this recipe, I wanted to create a unique twist on this classic dessert. I tried a sugar cookie snickerdoodle crust, I tried a swirl of cinnamon sugar in the center, and I tried it with a cinnamon sugar sour cream topping.
While these all turned out to be delicious options, I found myself craving a more traditional recipe. In other words, I went through all that testing just for me to realize that classic pumpkin cheesecake is perfect on its own. And I try not to mess with perfection.
But what I do like to do is enhance perfection, making this pumpkin cheesecake recipe just a bit more special. I did so by making a filling that’s bursting with pumpkin flavor, using an entire can of pumpkin puree, and a crust that’s just a touch above a basic graham cracker crust.
This one is mixed with brown butter and a hint of cinnamon. It adds a rich warmth to the crust that pairs perfectly with the creamy pumpkin cheesecake.
To round out the dish, the entire cheesecake is topped with a cloud of whipped cream. The heavy cream is whipped to soft peaks, making a melt in your mouth consistency that floods every single bite of this delicious pumpkin cheesecake.
How to make pumpkin cheesecake
Cheesecake can be tricky, especially when baking with an aim towards perfection. It must be super creamy with a smooth and crack-free surface. To ensure yours turns out just the same, here are my top cheesecake baking tips:
- Parchment Paper – Before adding the crust, line the bottom and side of a springform pan with parchment paper. I found that cheesecake tends to stick to the sides of the pan and as it cools, it shrinks. With the sides sticking to the pan, this creates tension in the center thus forming a big crack. Parchment paper prevents this from happening.
- Cream Cheese – If you can, always use Philadelphia full fat cream cheese. It provides the BEST flavor and texture. This is not sponsored, it’s just the only cream cheese I’ll ever use. But if you can’t get ahold of Philadelphia brand, at least go for full fat cream cheese. Reduced fat just won’t be as creamy!
- Room Temperature Ingredients – Before starting, make sure all of the refrigerated ingredients are at room temperature…especially the cream cheese. This prevents lumps and over mixing (adding too much air to the batter can create cracks). To speed up the process, add the cream cheese (still in the wrappings) and eggs to large bowl of warm water. Let it sit for about 30 minutes and the cream cheese will be perfectly softened. If the sour cream is this recipe isn’t at room temperature, that’s perfectly fine as it’s a very small amount with a consistency that’s easy to mix in.
- Low & Slow – Always keep the mixer on LOW speed, whether it’s a hand or a stand mixer (although stand is preferred). This means the mixing process will take a little bit longer, but it also ensures the cheesecake turns out smooth and crack-free.
- Easy Water Bath – Most importantly, always bake cheesecake in a water bath. Place a roast pan on the bottom rack of the oven and start a pot of boiling water on the stove top. When you’re ready to bake the cheesecake, pour the boiling water into the roast pan and then place the cheesecake on the middle rack above. Baking in a moist environment prevents the cheesecake from drying out and cracking.
- Jiggle Test – To make sure the cheesecake is done, crack open the door and nudge the pan. If the center wobbles like a bowl of milk, it’s not done. If it jiggles like jello, it’s ready.
- Gradual Cooling – I’ll cover this in more detail later in the post, but allowing the cheesecake to slowly come back to room temperature provides the perfect texture and stops any cracks from forming.
For even more tips on how to bake the best cheesecakes, see my post for the BEST classic cheesecake recipe.
Chilling the pumpkin cheesecake
This is a crucial step that is often overlooked when baking cheesecake. Of course the bake is important, but what happens AFTER the oven shuts off is just as pressing.
When the cheesecake is done, turn the oven off and crack open the oven door with the cheesecake still inside. This allows it to come back to room temperature very slowly, while also gently baking the center all the way through.
Leave the cheesecake in the oven for an hour before taking it out. This process prevents the cheesecake from cracking. If you take it out right when it’s done, it will cool too fast. As the cheesecake cools, it shrinks and if this process happens too quickly, a crack will form down the center. Taking it out too soon could also leave you with an under baked center.
After the hour is up, take the cheesecake out of the oven and leave it at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
At that point, it should be firm enough to take the springform ring off. Peel back the paper and place the cheesecake in the fridge for at least 4 hours but preferably overnight. This helps the cheesecake completely settle, creating a super creamy texture that’s easy to slice.
Can this pumpkin cheesecake be made gluten free?
Absolutely, as the only ingredient that needs to be subbed is the graham crackers. Nowadays, it’s easy to find gluten free graham crackers. I’ve linked my favorite ones in the recipe card.
Do I have to include the whipped cream?
Nope, the cheesecake is just as delicious with or without it! A quick and easy option is to use store-bought whipped cream and serve it on the side. This way, people can choose just how much they want with their slice of pumpkin cheesecake.
For more pumpkin dessert recipes, check out my:
- Brown Butter and Maple Chewy Pumpkin Cookies
- Mini Pumpkin Hand Pies
- Pumpkin Bread with Maple Glaze
- Butterscotch Pumpkin Bundt Cake
- Cookies & Cream Brownie Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
Make sure to tag me @butternutbakery on Instagram and comment below if you make this pumpkin cheesecake. To pin this recipe and save it for later, you can use the button on the recipe card or on any of the photos above. Happy baking!Print