A slice of the Best Pumpkin Cheesecake is smooth, rich, and creamy and will have everyone going back for more after Thanksgiving dinner.
Every year for Thanksgiving we make and share this Traditional Pumpkin Pie. Why? Because it’s tradition to have pumpkin pie for dessert in November. Am I right?
Well, it was until a few years ago anyway. When my husband and I started making more cheesecake, we added pumpkin cheesecake to our holiday dessert list.
This one is simple version of the pumpkin chai cheesecake that we included in our cookbook Cheesecake Love. To be honest, I’m not sure which one I love more. The chai topping in the book version or the gingersnap crust in this one…
Maybe I need to make another one of each, so I can compare them side by side and bite by bite. LOL! That’s probably not the best thing I could do for my skinny jeans. Or is it?
Making the Best Pumpkin Cheesecake is actually easier than you think. I know a lot of people have a phobia when it comes to making cheesecake recipes. Cheesecake has gotten a bad rap over time because it can be difficult to master.
I’m here to convince you that making cheesecake is actually easier than you probably think. I shared a lot of tips and tricks for baking cheesecake when I made this Vanilla Bean Cheesecake.
Water Bath vs. Steam Bath:
One of the biggest controversies when baking cheesecake is whether to use a water bath or not. My personal opinion and preference is no water bath.
A water bath is when you wrap the bottom of your pan with foil and place it directly into a pan of water. The temperature of the water helps the cheesecake bake evenly. I prefer to not mess with this method. I’m lazy like that. LOL!
I like to place a pan of water on the rack under a cheesecake as it bakes…aka steam bath. The water heats up and begins to steam creating a steamy humid environment in the oven. This extra moisture will help your cheesecake bake extra creamy.
For the crust in this pumpkin cheesecake, I used a box of gingersnap cookies. Feel free to change it up and make a graham cracker crust, a brownie crust, or an Oreo crust. Any of those would be amazing!
How to make the Best Pumpkin Cheesecake:
- Place a large sheet pan of water on the very bottom oven rack. Fill it at least halfway with hot water. Preheat the oven.
- Crush the cookies and mix with melted butter. Press the cookie crust into a parchment lined springform pan.
- Beat the softened cream cheese with the granulated and brown sugar until creamy.
- Add the heavy cream, pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, flour, and spices and mix again.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time until just mixed in. Do not over mix the batter because that can cause the cheesecake to puff up as it bakes and then crack as it deflates and cools.
- Remove the cheesecake once the timer goes off and place it on a wire rack. Cool 5 minutes, run a knife around the edges, and continue cooling for an hour before refrigerating.
- Decorate the top of the Pumpkin Cheesecake with Cool Whip swirls, extra gingersnap cookies, and a dusting of pumpkin pie spice right before serving.
Tips for Pumpkin Cheesecake Success:
- Beat the cream cheese and sugars until light and creamy. It should be fluffy and pale in color. Make sure to use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and blade. This will ensure that your final cheesecake will be creamy and lump free.
- Use a mixture of granulated and brown sugar in the cheesecake batter. The addition of brown sugar deepens the flavor and adds subtle hints of molasses to your final product.
- Line your pan with parchment paper before pressing the cookie crust into the pan. You will be able to remove this easily after the cheesecake cools.
- Bake the cheesecake with a steam bath to yield a smooth creamy consistency.
- Once the cheesecake is done baking, let it cool 5 minutes. Use a knife to loosen the edge of the cheesecake from the pan. As cheesecakes cool, they shrink slightly. If it is still attached to the pan, it will pull and cause cracks in the center.
- Make the cheesecake ahead of time because it needs time to chill completely. The flavors in the cheesecake will blend and meld better if they have time to chill long enough. You can make this cheesecake 1-2 days earlier than when you need it.
How do you know when pumpkin cheesecake is done?
The center of the cheesecake should jiggle when you gently shake the pan. The top will jiggle as a whole and the center two inches will look soft. The center of the cheesecake will continue to cook and firm up as it cools.
Can you freeze pumpkin cheesecake with a gingersnap crust?
Yes you can. Freeze individual slices, then wrap each one in foil or plastic and place in a freezer-safe bag for up to 1 month. You can also freeze a whole cheesecake wrapped this way and it will keep for 4-6 weeks.
Other easy Thanksgiving Day desserts you may like:
- Easy Pumpkin Crunch Cobbler
- Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake
- Pecan Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie
- Pumpkin Fluff Donut Salad
- Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecakes
- Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownie Pie
- More Thanksgiving recipes
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For the Crust
- 1 - 12 ounce box gingersnap cookies
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 6 Tablespoons butter, melted
For the Cheesecake
- 4 - 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 - 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3 large eggs
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place a large sheet pan on the very bottom rack in the oven and fill at least halfway full with hot water. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper.
- Crush 35-40 cookies to make 2 cups of crumbs. Mix the crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press the mixture evenly in the bottom of the prepared pan.
- Beat the cream cheese and sugars until creamy. Add the whipping cream, pumpkin, vanilla, flour, and spices and mix again.
- Beat the eggs in one at a time until just combined. Do not over beat the batter.
- Pour the cheesecake batter into the prepared crust. Place the pan on the oven rack directly over the pan of water. Bake for 90 minutes.
- Remove the cheesecake and place on a wire rack. Cool for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the outside edge of the cheesecake to loosen it from the pan.
- Let the cheesecake cool for an hour, then place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or until chilled through.
- Remove the cheesecake from the pan and place on a plate or cake stand. Decorate the top edge of the cheesecake with Cool Whip and extra gingersnap cookies. Dust with pumpkin pie spice.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 516Total Fat: 32gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 123mgSodium: 386mgCarbohydrates: 51gFiber: 2gSugar: 32gProtein: 7g