A smooth and creamy pumpkin cheesecake with an easy homemade gingersnap cookie crust. The perfect dessert for fall!
When it comes to the holidays, the one thing I always look forward to are the pumpkin desserts. Or more specifically, pumpkin pie. But this year I wanted to change things up so I decided to create a pumpkin cheesecake recipe.
The filling for this pumpkin cheesecake is smooth, creamy, and full of spices that really accentuate the flavor. It’s also topped on a simple homemade gingersnap crust that really takes this cheesecake over the top. Plus, how gorgeous would this be on the dessert table at your next holiday gathering?
This easy pumpkin cheesecake uses fairly simple ingredients. I wanted to go over just a few of them to ensure that this cheesecake turns out right for you. Because let’s be honest, nothing is more frustrating than spending the time making a cheesecake and it doesn’t turn out quite right!
- Gingersnap Cookies: I used store-bought gingersnap cookies, you just want them to be nice and crispy so the crust holds up well for the cheesecake.
- Cream Cheese: Make sure to use bricks or blocks of cream cheese and not cream cheese spread in a tub. Cream cheese spread has ingredients added to it to make spreadable, which will result in a cheesecake that’s not as thick and creamy.
- Pumpkin Puree: Not to be confused with pumpkin pie filling! Pumpkin pie filling is sweetened and has spices already added to it, so make sure to stick with pumpkin puree.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice: To keep things simple, I use pumpkin pie spice in this recipe. Don’t have any on hand? You can use my pumpkin pie spice substitute.
How To Make Pumpkin Cheesecake
To make this cheesecake, start by adjusting your oven rack to the lower-middle position, this will ensure that the top of your cheesecake doesn’t get too dark. Then, preheat your oven to 325°F (163°C) and place a large pot of water on the stove to boil. Don’t worry – I’ll explain why you need the boiling water in just a bit!
Next, make your gingersnap cookie crust. Add the gingersnap cookies to a food processor or blender and process until you have fine crumbs. Once the gingersnaps are crushed, mix the crumbs together with some sugar and melted butter until well combined.
Then, press the mixture down into a springform pan and bake the crust for 10 minutes. Pre-baking the crust will help ensure that it’s solid and firm and can hold up to the cheesecake filling. Once it’s baked, set it aside to cool while you mix up the filling.
For the filling, start by beating your cream cheese until it’s nice and smooth. Then, scrape down the sides of your bowl and mix in some granulated sugar and pure vanilla extract. Once they are well combined, add your pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, ground cinnamon, and continue mixing until everything is well combined.
The final step for the filling is to beat in four room temperature eggs. When it comes to the eggs, you want to make sure to beat each one in on low speed until just combined. Avoid over-mixing the eggs into the cheesecake batter because it can incorporate more air and potentially cause your cheesecake to crack.
Speaking of cracks, it’s also best to bake your cheesecake in a water bath. A water bath helps to ensure that your cheesecake bakes evenly in the oven and adds humidity to your oven as well.
To make a water bath, you’ll need a roasting pan, an oven bag (or aluminum foil), and boiling water. Most people like to wrap their springform pan with foil before they put it in the roasting pan and fill it with water, which is fine, but I find an oven bag works really well.
Once you’ve placed the cheesecake in the bag or wrapped it with foil, place it in your roasting pan, and fill the pan with about 1 to 1 and 1/2 inches of the boiling water you placed on the stove earlier.
The cheesecake will need to bake for about one hour or until the center is almost set. Once you’ve reached that point, turn the oven off, slightly crack the door, and let the cheesecake sit in the oven for one more hour.
Why the extra step? Sudden temperature changes can cause cheesecakes to crack. By letting the temperature of the cheesecake slowly decrease in the oven, you’re less likely to get a crack in the top. I know it’s an extra step, but you don’t have to do anything but set a timer and wait.
After the hour is up, you can remove the cheesecake, let it cool completely, and then refrigerate it. The cheesecake will need to cool and chill for several hours so I actually prefer to make it the day before and then just let it chill overnight.
How To Store & Freeze Your Cheesecake
The wonderful thing about cheesecakes is that they are a fantastic dessert that you can make ahead of time! Once this cheesecake has cooled completely, you can cover it tightly, and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
If you need to prepare this cheesecake further in advance, then I recommend freezing it. To freeze it, let it cool completely, wrap it tightly with plastic wrap, and store it in a large freezer bag in the freezer for 2 to 3 months. To thaw the cheesecake, place it in the refrigerator and let it thaw overnight. If you’re adding whipped cream on top, I recommend adding it right before serving. You can also freeze and thaw individual slices the exact same way!
- Be sure to set a large pot of water to boil for the water bath while you’re making the cheesecake.
- Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature before getting started. This will ensure a much smoother cheesecake filling.
- If you forget to set your eggs out ahead of time, place them in a bowl of warm water for 5 to 10 minutes, then use them as directed in the recipe.
- Once the center of the cheesecake is almost set, turn the oven off, slightly crack the door, and let the cheesecake sit in the oven for one hour. This will help prevent any sudden temperature changes with the cheesecake and reduce the chances of it cracking.
- Slide a knife between the outside of the cheesecake and your springform pan once it comes out of the oven. This will help ensure that it doesn’t stick to the pan when you are trying to remove it.
For the gingersnap crust:
- 1 and 1/2 cups (200 grams) gingersnap cookie crumbs
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons (45 grams) unsalted butter melted
For the pumpkin cheesecake:
- 24 ounces (680 grams) brick-style cream cheese softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
- 2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 large eggs room temperature
To make the gingersnap crust:
- Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position. Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C). Set a large pot of water on the stove to boil.
- Add the gingersnap cookies to a blender or food processor and process until you have fine crumbs. Scoop the crumbs into a mixing bowl, add the sugar and melted butter and mix until fully combined.
- Scoop the mixture into a 9-inch springform pan, making sure to press it down firmly into one even layer. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Keep the oven temperature at 325°F while you make the filling.
To make the pumpkin cheesecake filling:
- In a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix in the sugar and vanilla extract until well combined. Add the pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and ground cinnamon and mix until fully combined, making sure to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs one at a time and mix on low speed until each one is just combined.
- Scoop the cheesecake filling on top of the pre-baked gingersnap crust and spread it around into one even layer.
- Place the springform pan in an oven bag (you may cut the bag or tie it so it's not covering the top of the cheesecake) or wrap it well with aluminum foil and place in a roasting pan. Pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan until you have about 1 to 1 and 1/2-inches of water surrounding the springform pan.
- Carefully place the roasting pan in the oven with the cheesecake. Bake at 325°F (163°C) for 55 to 65 minutes or until the center of the cheesecake is almost set. Turn off the oven, slightly crack the door, and allow the cheesecake to sit in the oven for one hour.
- Carefully remove the roasting pan with the cheesecake from the oven. Remove the cheesecake from the oven bag or foil and place it on a wire rack, slide a knife around the sides of the cheesecake to loosen it from the pan. Let the cheesecake cool completely at room temperature, about 2 hours, then cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 5 to 6 hours (or overnight) or until the cheesecake is thoroughly chilled.
- Once chilled, release the cheesecake from the springform pan, slice into pieces, and enjoy!