The Best Pumpkin Cheesecake

Prep 20 mins
Cook 1 hr 35 mins
Add'l 8 hrs
Total 9 hrs 55 mins
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Looking for the perfect fall dessert? This rich, creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake is a time-tested favorite. With real pumpkin, warm spices, and a buttery cinnamon graham cracker crust, it’s a little slice of heaven!

Creamy Autumn Cheesecake with Pumpkin Spice

Cool fall temperatures are definitely something to celebrate, especially if you live in Florida! But honestly, who doesn’t love fall weather? I know people down here who break out their plaid, scarves, and boots like clockwork every September, even if it’s still in the high 80’s, because no one wants to miss out on all that autumn goodness.

But let’s be real: the best part of fall is the food! After a summer of grilling, salads, and all that good stuff, it’s great to switch gears and make cozy soups, homemade bread, and all things pumpkin. This pumpkin cheesecake? Possibly one of my family’s very favorite fall desserts! It’s the perfect blend of creamy, tangy, homemade cheesecake and gorgeous pumpkin spice.

A triangle of cheesecake with a bite cut off. The bite is lying on the plate on a fork.

What Does Pumpkin Cheesecake Taste Like?

How can I describe this in more detail? Pumpkin cheesecake is sort of a blend of pumpkin pie, and classic cheesecake. The pumpkin flavor is lighter and more delicate than regular pumpkin pie, making it the perfect sweet, warmly-spiced contrast to smooth and tangy cheesecake. A homemade cinnamon graham crust ties it all together for a perfect fall treat! Serve this with hot coffee, or an ice-cold glass of milk.

And if you love pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake, make sure to check out my combo of the two in this Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake!

From top: Spices, pumpkin puree, cream cheese, sour cream, heavy cream, granulated sugar, eggs, lemon juice, cornstarch, salt, vanilla.

The Ingredients You’ll Need

This from-scratch cheesecake recipe features real pumpkin and a homemade graham cracker crust – so good! Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make it.

For the Graham Cracker Crust

  • Graham Cracker Crumbs: You can use store-bought graham cracker crumbs, or crush your own.
  • Granulated Sugar: A little granulated sugar sweetens the crust.
  • Cinnamon: Yum!
  • Salt: If you use unsalted butter, I think the crust is good with a pinch or two of salt thrown in. If you use salted butter, leave this out.
  • Butter: Melt the butter before using it.

For the Cheesecake

  • Cream Cheese: For best results, I recommend softening the cream cheese before you make the filling. It makes it easier to get the filling really smooth.
  • Sugar: I use regular granulated sugar for this recipe.
  • Cream: Heavy cream gives the cheesecake an added richness and depth.
  • Sour Cream: Just a little bit of sour cream adds lightness.
  • Pumpkin: Canned pumpkin puree is fine, or use homemade if you have it.
  • Eggs: A few large, whole eggs help bind the batter together as it bakes.
  • Lemon Juice: Fresh or bottled is fine.
  • Vanilla: Pure vanilla extract gives the best flavor.
  • Salt
  • Spices: For that classic, autumn, pumpkin-spice flavor, you’ll need cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves. Yum!
  • Cornstarch: A small amount of cornstarch improves the texture of the cheesecake.
  • Optional Garnishes: You can serve pumpkin cheesecake plain, or garnish it with whipped cream and a little dusting of cinnamon.
Swirls of piped whipped cream decorate a fall cheesecake.

How to Make It

There are a number of steps to making this recipe, so I recommend reading through them a few times before you get started. That way you’ll be familiar with the process from the start. Here’s how to make it:

  • Prep the Oven and Springform Pan. To start, preheat your oven to 350°F. Pop the bottom of the springform pan out, and cover it with a sheet of parchment. Put the pan back together, and then lightly spray the entire inside with baking spray. (You can also lightly grease it with oil.) Finally, use a large sheet of aluminum foil to wrap the outside of the pan, so that no water can seep in when you place it in the water bath.
  • Make the Crust and Press It in the Pan. Combine your dry crust ingredients (crushed graham crackers, sugar, cinnamon, and salt) in a bowl. Pour in the melted butter, and stir it well until you have an even, damp, crumbly mixture. Scrape this mixture into your prepared pan, and press it into place to make the crust.
  • Bake. Place the pan in your preheated oven, and bake for about 10 minutes. Take it out of the oven, and let the crust cool on a wire rack while you make the filling.
  • Get Ready to Make the Filling. Now it’s time to work on the filling. Turn the oven up to 400°F, because the cheesecake will need to cook at a high temperature at first. Then get out your stand mixer and fit it with the paddle attachment. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use a hand mixer, or you can do this with a whisk – and a lot of elbow grease!
  • Beat Together the Dairy Ingredients, Sugar, and Pumpkin. Combine the cream cheese and the sugar, and beat those on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy. Add the heavy cream and sour cream, and beat again. Next, add the pumpkin puree, and mix well.
  • Bake the Pumpkin Cheesecake in the Water Bath. Make a water bath for the cheesecake by setting out a large baking pan or broiler pan, and adding an inch of water. Gently place the springform pan with the crust inside. Pour the cheesecake batter over the crust. Slide the whole thing into the oven, and let it bake at 400°F for 10 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 250°F and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  • Bake the Pumpkin Cheesecake in the Water Bath. Make a water bath for the cheesecake by setting out a large baking pan or broiler pan, and adding an inch of water. Gently place the springform pan with the crust inside. Pour the cheesecake batter over the crust. Slide the whole thing into the oven, and let it bake at 400°F for 10 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 250°F and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  • Rest the Cheesecake. After the hour and 15 minutes are up, turn the oven off, but do not open the door. Let the cheesecake rest in the warm oven for half an hour.
  • Cool the Cheesecake. Once the resting time is up, open the oven door, but don’t take the cheesecake out! Let it sit on the oven rack while the oven and cheesecake cool together, for about 30 minutes longer. Finally, take out the partially-cooled cheesecake, and let it finish cooling on a wire rack at room temperature.
  • Chill. Cover the completely cooled pumpkin cheesecake with plastic wrap, and chill in your fridge for at least 8 hours before serving.
  • Serve. Slice and serve the finished cheesecake, adding whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon, if desired.
Overhead shot of a pumpkin-spice cheesecake topped with cinnamon and piped whipped cream.

Recipe Notes

To get the best result, there are a few important tips you should follow. These are the crucial points to making the creamiest, smoothest, crack-free pumpkin cheesecake:

  • Use the Right Pumpkin: Make sure you use plain pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling. Pie filling has added sugar and spices, and would not work in this recipe.
  • Incorporate the Batter: Make sure to stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula while mixing the cheesecake batter. This will ensure a smooth, lump-free cheesecake.
  • Water Bath: Do not skip the water bath. This is a very important step and will keep the cheesecake from cracking while it bakes. If you don’t have a pan deep enough to fill with an inch of water plus the springform pan, simply use any pan large enough to hold a little bit of water, and carefully add more about halfway through the bake time.
  • Resting and Cooling: Make sure to follow the instructions for resting and cooling. This helps the cheesecake completely set, and enhances its creaminess.
A slice of cheesecake being lifted out on a pie server.

Easy Variation Ideas

If you’d like to play around with the flavors in this recipe, go for it! You can make all kinds of substitutions and mix-ins to tailor it to your tastes or dietary needs. Enjoy!

  • Crust Options: You can use any cheesecake crust that you like in this recipe. Biscoff cookies or other crisp spice cookies would be great choices. If you’d like a gluten-free crust, try a pecan or walnut crust. I went with my classic homemade Graham Cracker Crust.
  • Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake: Pumpkin cheesecake would be amazing with the addition of a bit of caramel! Try topping it with a caramel drizzle, once it has baked and chilled.
  • Almond Pumpkin Cheesecake: For another twist, try adding a half-teaspoon or so of almond extract to the cheesecake batter, and top the finished cheesecake with whipped cream and slivered almonds.
Close-up, overhead shot of pumpkin cheesecake garnished with whipped cream.

Storing Instructions

Tightly covered with plastic wrap, this pumpkin cheesecake will keep for about one week in the fridge.

Does Pumpkin Cheesecake Freeze Well?

Yes, you can definitely freeze pumpkin cheesecake! To keep it as fresh as possible, make sure you wrap it well in a double-layer of plastic wrap followed by aluminum foil. Mark it with the date, and freeze it for up to two months. Let it thaw in the fridge before serving.

Yield: 12 Slices

The Best Pumpkin Cheesecake

A triangle of cheesecake with a bite cut off. The bite is lying on the plate on a fork.

This rich, creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake is a time-tested favorite. With real pumpkin, warm spices, and a buttery cinnamon graham cracker crust, it's a little slice of heaven!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Additional Time 8 hours
Total Time 9 hours 55 minutes

Ingredients

For the Graham Cracker Crust

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 12 - 14 sheets)
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the Cheesecake

  • 24 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅔ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Optional garnishes

  • Whipped Cream
  • Ground Cinnamon

Instructions

Make the Graham Cracker Crust

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. 
  2. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper, and lightly spray with baking spray. Wrap the outside of the pan with aluminum foil to prevent water from seeping in. Set aside.
  3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the crushed graham crackers, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add the melted butter, and mix until the texture is a wet crumb.
  4. Transfer the crust mixture into the prepared springform pan, and press down evenly. Bake in the preheated oven on the center rack for 10 minutes. Once baked, remove from the oven, and place on a wire cooling rack to cool.

Make the Cheesecake

  1. Turn the oven up to 400°F. 
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese and sugar. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth.
  3. Add the heavy cream and sour cream, and mix to combine. Add the pumpkin puree, and mix to combine. Add the eggs, and mix for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the lemon juice, vanilla, and salt. Mix to incorporate. Add the cornstarch, and mix to combine. Then add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Mix until just incorporated.
  5. Fill a large baking dish or broiler pan with an inch of water. Place the springform pan inside. Pour the cheesecake batter on top of the pre-baked crust.
  6. Place both pans into the preheated oven on the center rack, and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 250°F and continue baking for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  7. Once the baking time is up, turn the oven off, and leave the cheesecake inside to rest for 30 minutes. Once the resting time is up, open the oven door and let the cheesecake cool in the oven for another 30 minutes.
  8. Remove the cheesecake from the oven, and place it on a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Once it is completely cooled, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to cool for at least 8 hours before serving.
  9. Optional: Before serving, top with whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon. Serve immediately.

Notes

Storage:

Fridge: Tightly covered with plastic wrap, this pumpkin cheesecake will keep for about one week in the fridge.

Freezer: To keep it as fresh as possible, make sure you wrap it well in a double-layer of plastic wrap followed by aluminum foil. Mark it with the date, and freeze it for up to two months. Let it thaw in the fridge before serving.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 415Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 123mgSodium: 468mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 2gSugar: 24gProtein: 7g

Categories

More Perfect Pumpkin Recipes

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Comments

4 Responses
  1. Jennifer Rawlings

    What size pan did you use? Can I split the recipe and use 6″ springform pans to make multiple cakes?

    1. A woman holding a camera standing in front of some shelves.
      Jessica

      Hi! This recipe uses a 9-inch spring form pan. You can use two 6″ spring form pans, but you will probably need to make a little extra graham cracker crust. Also, your cheesecakes will not be as thick as this one. Also keep in mind they will need a shorter baking time. Hope you enjoy!

    1. A woman holding a camera standing in front of some shelves.
      Jessica

      You will need 1 cup of pumpkin puree! Sadly they only make cans in 15 oz sizes, so you will have some leftover.

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Welcome!

Jessica
I'm a trial & error, self taught, sugar addict who thankfully learned how to survive in the kitchen! I am also a wife, mama of 3.
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