It’s fall baking season, and we’re all crazy about these amazing and delicious Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars!
These easy cheesecake bars are rich and creamy with a touch of fluffiness. They are the perfect combination of classic cheesecake and pumpkin spice flavors. Plus, there is no need for a cheesecake water bath. Just pop it in the oven and done!
You’ll love these pumpkin cheesecake bars! They are best served when chilled, so it’s a great make-ahead and even freezer-friendly recipe.
I love fall because it’s the perfect time for comfort baking. It’s already getting a bit chillier here in Michigan, so I couldn’t help but start testing out new pumpkin-inspired recipes, and let me tell you…these pumpkin cheesecake bars are to die for!
Here’s what I like about these pumpkin cheesecake bars:
- Ease: You don’t need a cheesecake water bath, which usually prevents cheesecakes from cracking, sinking, or puffing up. These cheesecake bars are thinner than regular cheesecake, so they bake faster and more evenly with very little cracking, even without a water bath.
- Texture: It’s creamy and rich, but not dense.
- Tasty: The combination of classic cheesecake and pumpkin spice flavors are a match made in heaven!
Let me show you how to make this delicious seasonal treat!
Baking Cheesecake Bars: What You Need to Know
- Use room temperature ingredients: This is super important to achieve a smooth and creamy batter without over-mixing.
- Use full-fat cream cheese and full-fat sour cream to achieve richness and the right texture.
- Don’t over-mix: Over-mixing will cause the cheesecake to crack or sink in the middle. Follow the mixing times and mixer speed guidelines in the recipe card.
- Don’t over-bake: It’s done when the sides are set and the center is a bit wobbly. It will continue setting as it cools down. Over-baking leads to cracks.
You may already have many of the ingredients needed to make these easy pumpkin cheesecake bars. Below is an overview of the ingredients you need, plus notes and tips.
For the cinnamon graham cracker crust:
- Graham crackers: They crumble very well to form a compact crust.
- Granulated sugar: For sweetness.
- Ground cinnamon: More fall-inspired flavors!
- Salt: Balances out sweetness.
- Melted unsalted butter: Adds moisture and structure to the crust.
For the cheesecake filling:
- Full-fat cream cheese: It NEEDS to be at room temperature. Otherwise, the batter will be lumpy.
- Granulated sugar: For sweetness.
- Full-fat sour cream: Keeps the cheesecake moist and a bit softer. It also adds a bit of tanginess.
- Vanilla extract: Flavor.
- Eggs: Help the cheesecake set properly and provide structure.
- A pinch of salt: To balance out flavors.
- Pumpkin puree: Use canned pumpkin puree for best results.
- Spices: cinnamon, all spice, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, ground cloves.
1. Make the crust
In a food processor, pulse graham crackers with sugar, ground cinnamon, and salt. Then drizzle melted butter until moist crumbs form. Transfer to a 9×13 inch baking pan, form a compact crust. Pre-bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes.
Pre-baking the crust will prevent it from getting soggy after you add the filling.
2. Make the cheesecake filling
In a stand mixer or with an electric mixer, beat the SOFTENED cream cheese with the sugar for 2 minutes over medium-high speed, until creamy.
Reduce to medium speed, and mix in the sour cream and vanilla extract. Mix in the eggs, ONE AT A TIME, until fully incorporated. Do not overmix.
Tip: You MUST start with room temperature ingredients to prevent lumps and over-mixing. The batter should be smooth, velvety, and glossy.
3. Add pumpkin flavors
Scoop out a little bit less than half the batter onto another bowl, and mix in the pumpkin puree plus all the spices.
Pour the regular cheesecake batter onto the pre-baked crust and smooth it out with an offset spatula. Then carefully dollop the pumpkin cheesecake mixture over, and form swirls.
Bake at 325 degrees F for 40 to 45 minutes until almost set. The borders should be set, but the center should be wobbly when gently shaken. It will continue setting as it cools down.
6. Chill and slice
Run a knife around the edges to loosen it up to prevent further cracks. Let it cool completely in the pan. Then refrigerate, covered, for at least 6 hours or overnight. To serve, cut into squares.
Make It Ahead
These pumpkin cheesecake bars should be made ahead always because they need to refrigerate overnight. Cheesecake tastes better when it’s chilled. They also set better this way.
It’s freezer-friendly too! Simply cover and freeze the cheesecake for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
Pairing and Serving Ideas
For serving, I like to cut the pumpkin cheesecake bars into squares. Make sure to serve them chilled – cheesecake always tastes better when cold.
Try these add-ons: a dollop of whipped cream or a drizzle of caramel.
Check out these fall desserts to serve with these delicious pumpkin cheesecake bars:
This will allow you to make a smooth and velvety cheesecake batter with no lumps. It also prevents overmixing.
No. They take only 40-45 minutes to bake because it’s not as thick as a classic cheesecake, so there’s very little risk of it cracking. You may get a few small cracks, but nothing major.
The sides should be set and the center should be a bit wobbly or jiggly when you gently shake the pan. It will continue to set as it cools down.
Not starting with room temperature ingredients, over-mixing, and over-baking are the main culprits.
Yes! It should actually be made ahead because it needs to chill overnight.
Yes! After the cheesecake has cooled down completely, remove from the pan and wrap with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. Freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
Tips for Success
- Start with room temperature ingredients to prevent lumps and over-mixing. The cream cheese, especially, needs to be softened at room temperature.
- To prevent cracks, avoid over-mixing and over-baking. Follow the mixing times and mixer speed guidelines in the recipe.
- The cheesecake is done when the sides are set and the center is bit wobbly when gently shaken. It will continue to set as it cools down. Just make sure it’s not liquid-y.
- Use an electric or stand mixer for best results.
Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
- Food processor
- 9×13 baking pan
- Parchment paper
- Stand mixer or electric mixer
- Offset spatula
Graham cracker crust
- 14 graham crackers
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 8 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted (plus more for pan)
- 24 ounces full-fat cream cheese, softened at room temperature (equiv to three 8-ounce packages)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- A pinch of salt
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon all spice
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
Make the crust
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease the bottom of a 9×13 inch pan with butter and line it with parchment paper, leaving some overhang on the long sides of the pan. Set aside.
- In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers until you get fine crumbs. Add the sugar, cinnamon, and salt, and pulse a few more times. Drizzle in the melted butter and pulse until moist crumbs form.
- Transfer the graham crust mixture onto the prepared pan, and press it tightly until you form a compact bottom crust. Pre-bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven to let it cool slightly.
- Turn down the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
Make the filling
- Using a handheld electric mixer or a stand mixer (with paddle attachment), beat the cream cheese with the sugar over medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, for 2 minutes. If needed, scrape down the sides of the bowl to incorporate. Don’t overmix, or the cheesecake will crack or sink.
- Reduce mixer to medium speed. Add the sour cream and vanilla extract, and mix until just combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. The batter should look creamy, smooth, and glossy. Again, don’t overmix.
- Scoop out a little bit less than half the batter onto another bowl. To it, add the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, all spice, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, and ground. Mix until just combined. Set aside.
Assemble and bake
- Pour the regular cheesecake batter over the pre-baked crust, and smooth it over with an offset spatula. Then dollop the pumpkin cheesecake mixture over the cheesecake batter. Form swirls using a knife.
- Bake at 325 degrees F for 40 to 45 minutes, until the sides are set and the center is still a bit wobbly. Try not to open the oven until the baking time is up to prevent it from sinking. Note on doneness: the center should be wobbly but the sides should be set. It will continue setting as it cools down. Do not overbake to prevent cracks. As long as it’s not liquidy, it’s fine.
- Remove from oven and run a knife along the sides of the pan – this will prevent further cracking as it sets. After it has cooled down completely, cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Remove the cheesecake from the pan by pulling from the parchment paper overhang. Cut into squares and serve. If desired, serve with whipped cream or a drizzle of caramel. Enjoy!
- Use room temperature ingredients to prevent lumps and over-mixing. You’re looking for a smooth and glossy batter.
- Cream cheese: Use full fat cream cheese (NOT cream cheese spread). Make sure it’s softened to room temperature before mixing.
- Sour cream: Use full-fat. It adds tanginess and creaminess for a tad bit softer, less dense cheesecake.
- Pumpkin puree: Use canned pumpkin puree. Do NOT use pumpkin pie mix.
- Prevent cheesecake from cracking by using room temperature ingredients, not over-mixing, and not over-baking.
- Make ahead: This cheesecake should be made 1 day in advance to let it chill in the fridge overnight, or at least 6 hours, after it has cooled down completely.
- Freezing: Let cool completely. Remove from pan and wrap with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
- Store in the fridge, covered, for 3 to 4 days.
- Graham crackers: You can also use the cinnamon-flavored graham crackers. Just omit the ground cinnamon.
- You can use pre-made pumpkin spice instead of the combination of ground ginger, ground, ground cloves, ground nutmeg, all spice. Don’t substitute cinnamon with pumpkin spice.
- Food processor
- 9×13 inch baking pan
- Parchment paper
- Stand mixer or electric handheld mixer
- Offset spatula