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The Perfect Pumpkin Cheesecake

|| byKat

This is the best pumpkin cheesecake you’ll ever try. It’s ultra creamy, perfectly spiced and just ridiculously delicious. The cheesecake filling is packed with flavour thanks to a whole can of pumpkin puree (that you cook down to remove some of the moisture) and it’s topped with a salted-caramel-swirled whipped cream that transforms it into the perfect holiday showstopper. And it’s really easy to make – no water bath needed!

This post has been created in collaboration with Villeroy & Boch. All opinions expressed in the post are my own… plus, there’s a whole lotta deliciousness ahead – so read on. (For more information you can check out my Disclosure Policy.)

Pumpkin cheesecake topped with whipped cream, salted caramel and pepitas on a light blue plate.

I’m pretty sure I’ve found my all-time favourite pumpkin dessert. And, rather unsurprisingly, it’s a cheesecake.

But not just any cheesecake: it’s an ultra-creamy, perfectly spiced, ridiculously luxurious pumpkin cheesecake topped with salted-caramel-swirled whipped cream. In a word: it’s DIVINE.

And as with all my cheesecakes: it’s also incredibly easy to make. You don’t even need to use a water bath!! Thanks to my no-water-bath baking method that I’ve optimised to work with a pretty much 100% success rate, you can reliably prevent your cheesecakes from cracking *without* having to fuss about with boiling hot water in your oven.

The recipe uses a whole can of pumpkin puree – this way, you get a lovely, intense pumpkin flavour and you also avoid any leftover puree. I like to reduce (cook down) the pumpkin puree to remove some of the moisture content. This concentrates the flavour and also prevents the cheesecake from being too “watery”.

This, paired with an abundance of warming fall spices, results in a cheesecake that’s wonderfully creamy and aromatic. And don’t be tempted to skip the whipped cream topping and the drizzle of salted caramel sauce!! That’s what really takes this cheesecake from amazing to OUT OF THIS WORLD DELICIOUS.

A slice of pumpkin cheesecake, drizzled with extra salted caramel sauce, served on a light blue plate.

Pumpkin cheesecake on a large blue plate, with a few pieces already cut.

In addition to the incredible flavour, this cheesecake also looks simply gorgeous (if I do say so myself). And what really helps it shine is the beautiful Crafted Blueberry porcelain range by Villeroy & Boch – and I’m so, so excited to be partnering with them to bring you this recipe.

Now, you should know that I’m somewhat obsessed with ceramics and porcelain and cutlery. My photography prop shelves are overflowing with all sorts of plates and bowls (and a strangely large collection of milk jugs, of all things). And for the longest time, I’ve been a huge fan of Villeroy & Boch.

They are one of the world’s leading ceramic manufacturers and they have an incredibly impressive history – they were founded in 1748 and they’ve produced some seriously jaw-droppingly gorgeous, high quality ceramics collections. And this Crafted Blueberry range is no different. All the plates, cups and bowls you see in the photos in this post are from this range, and I AM IN LOVE.

Thanks to a special reactive glaze, no two pieces in the Crafted Blueberry collection are the same, which makes it even more special. I could seriously write essays about all the reasons for why I love this collection (the way in which the blue tones of the plates complement the warm orange notes of the cheesecake is just pure magic) – but I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

You can find out more about Villeroy & Boch here, and you can see the full Crafted Blueberry Collection here.

Overhead view of a table setting with light blue plates. Pumpkin cheesecake has been cut and served.

A cup of coffee in a blue cup on a stack of plates, with the pumpkin cheesecake in the background.

Before we get to the bits and bobs of making this amazing cheesecake – if you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my newsletter to keep up to date on the latest recipes and tips!

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Note: the whole recipe, including the ingredient quantities, can be found at the bottom of this page – just scroll down to the bottom, or click the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button at the top of this post.

How to make THE BEST pumpkin cheesecake

Making this pumpkin cheesecake from scratch is incredibly simple. You don’t need any special equipment – no stand or hand mixers, and no water bath.

Of course, if do you want to use a stand mixer, that’s perfectly fine. You’ll need the paddle attachment, and always use the lowest speed setting to avoid whipping too much air into the mixture. I also don’t recommend using a hand mixer, but more on that below!

Ingredients for pumpkin cheesecake

Here’s what you’ll need to make THE BEST pumpkin cheesecake (ever):

  • Digestive biscuits or graham crackers for the crust. You could also use gingersnap (or ginger nut) cookies, their spicy flavour would go amazingly well with the pumpkin cheesecake filling.
  • Melted butter for the crust.
  • Full-fat cream cheese. Make sure that your cream cheese is at room temperature before starting.
  • Full-fat yoghurt or sour cream. This lightens up the flavour of the cheesecake. Just like with the cream cheese, make sure that it’s at room temperature.
  • Caster/superfine sugar – if you don’t have it on hand, you can use granulated sugar instead.
  • Light brown soft sugar. This adds wonderful caramel-like notes to the filling, which go incredibly well with the pumpkin and spices.
  • Cornstarch (known as cornflour in the UK). This helps to thicken and set the cheesecake.
  • Vanilla bean paste. If you don’t have it, you can use vanilla extract instead.
  • Eggs & egg yolks. Unlike some of my other cheesecake recipes, this one uses egg yolks in addition to whole eggs. This gives it a much richer, more luxurious texture. I don’t recommend omitting the extra egg yolks, they really make an enormous difference.
  • Reduced pumpkin puree. (More of the reducing part below!)
  • Spices! Now, you can use a shop-bought pumpkin spice mix, but I like to mix up my own spices from ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and allspice.

The ingredients for pumpkin cheesecake.

Reducing the pumpkin puree: concentrating the flavour & removing moisture 

This recipe uses a whole 15 ounce (425g) can of pumpkin puree – this way, you get the maximum pumpkin flavour and also avoid having to deal with leftover pumpkin puree.

However, if you were to add the pumpkin puree directly into the cheesecake filling as it is, you’d get a cheesecake that’s rather “watery” in texture, slightly bland in flavour and disappointing in colour. That’s because pumpkin puree contains A LOT of moisture, and that water content dilutes the cheesecake filling.

So, the first step in making this pumpkin cheesecake is removing some of the moisture (water) from the pumpkin puree. To do this, cook (reduce) the pumpkin puree over medium-high heat with frequent stirring until noticeably thickened and slightly darker in colour, about 10-15 minutes.

This reduces the pumpkin puree from one 15 ounce (425g) can to just over 1 cup or about 270g. That’s a HUGE amount of moisture that we’ve managed to remove – 36% by weight, in fact!!

Pumpkin puree before and after reduction (cooking down).

By reducing (cooking down) the pumpkin puree, you concentrate the flavour and prevent the moisture content of the pumpkin from diluting the texture and colour of the cheesecake. This way, you get a cheesecake with a wonderful pumpkin flavour, a deliciously creamy texture and an intense orange colour.

Once reduced, set the pumpkin puree aside to cool completely to room temperature before you use it in the cheesecake filling.

The cheesecake crust

To prepare the cheesecake crust, you’ll need crushed-up digestive biscuits of graham crackers. For an extra kick of spice and flavour, you could use gingersnap (or ginger nut) cookies instead!

  1. Crush up digestive biscuits or graham crackers (or a gluten free alternative if you want the cheesecake to be gluten free – by the way, I have an AMAZING recipe for gluten free digestive biscuits in my book, Baked to Perfection!!) until you get fine crumbs. I used a food processor but you could easily put them into a plastic bag and bash them up with a rolling pin.
  2. Add the melted butter and mix well until the mixture resembles wet sand.
  3. Transfer into a lined 8 inch (20cm) springform pan and, using the flat bottom of a glass or measuring cup, compress it into an even layer with an approximately 1 ½ inch (4cm) rim around the edge.
  4. Bake at 350ºF (180ºC) for about 10 minutes, then allow to cool until warm.

Making the cheesecake crust.

The pumpkin cheesecake filling

  1. To a large bowl, add the room temperature cream cheese and yoghurt.
  2. Use a balloon whisk to mix them together until smooth. Note that I said MIX and not whisk – don’t aerate the mixture and stop mixing the moment they’re evenly combined and smooth. Introducing air into your cheesecake filling can cause it to crack during baking and cooling.
  3. Add the caster/superfine sugar,
  4. light brown soft sugar,
  5. and cornstarch.
  6. Mix everything together until combined and smooth.
  7. Add the vanilla bean paste and mix well.
  8. Add the room temperature eggs and egg yolks, one at a time,
  9. mixing well after each addition until combined and smooth.
  10. Add the reduced (and cooled!) pumpkin puree
  11. and spices.
  12. Mix well until combined. The final cheesecake filling will be velvety-smooth, super creamy and of a bright yellow-orange colour.

The first 6 steps of the 12-step process of making the pumpkin cheesecake filling.

The first 6 steps of the 12-step process of making the pumpkin cheesecake filling.

Assembling & baking the pumpkin cheesecake

  1. Transfer the cheesecake filling into the slightly cooled cheesecake base,
  2. and use a small offset spatula (or the back of a spoon) to smooth out the top.
  3. Make sure that the top of the cheesecake is as smooth as possible.
  4. And then: bake!

The 4-step process of assembling the pumpkin cheesecake.

The baking method outlined below doesn’t require a water bath, but it still produces a perfectly creamy cheesecake without any cracking in sight – just a lovely smooth top. Once baked and cooled to room temperature, you need to chill the cheesecake in the fridge for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.

What I find amazing about this cheesecake is that its lovely orange colour gets even more pronounced during baking – just look at how gorgeous it is!!

Overhead view of pumpkin cheesecake on a light blue plate.

Do you really need a water bath to bake a cheesecake?

NO!!! I know that using a water bath is highly popular in cheesecake baking, but I’m personally not a fan – for two reasons. First up, it’s fussy and messing about with boiling hot water is just not fun. And if you’ve been round these parts before, you know that I’m all about no-fuss baking.

Secondly, I don’t like the texture of cheesecakes prepared using a water bath. This is very much a personal preference, but to me it’s much too smooth – almost like eating a mouthful of straight-up cream cheese.

The good news is that I’ve developed an incredibly simple method for reliably preparing crack-free cheesecakes (and cheesecake bars) without using a water bath. Read on to learn all about it!

How do you prevent your cheesecake from cracking without a water bath?

I actually developed what is now my go-to cheesecake baking method while I was writing my debut cookbook, Baked to Perfection – which you can read more about and order here.

So, to prevent your cheesecake from cracking WITHOUT a water bath:

  1. Make sure that all your ingredients are at room temperature – this is particularly important for the cream cheese, yoghurt and eggs (or other add-ins if you’re making another type of cheesecake).
  2. Don’t aerate or over-mix the cheesecake filling. That means that you shouldn’t intensively whisk the filling if using a balloon whisk and doing it by hand. I also don’t recommend using a hand mixer, as it tends to introduce too much air into the mixture. If using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment and set the mixer to the lowest speed setting – again, you want to mix the cheesecake filling, rather than beat or whisk it.
  3. Bake your cheesecake at a relatively low temperature of 285ºF (140ºC). This bakes the cheesecake very slowly and prevents the filling from over-baking (which is the most common cause of cracking).
  4. Turn off the oven while the cheesecake is still wobbly in the middle. For this cheesecake, this is after about 1 hour 15 minutes in the oven. The remaining heat of the oven will fully set the cheesecake without over-baking it.
  5. Allow the cheesecake to cool until warm or room temperature in the turned-off oven with the oven door ajar. This slow cooling process further ensures that your cheesecake won’t crack during cooling.

That’s it! Now, I know that this might seem like a very long and slightly overwhelming list of ’do’s and ‘don’t’s, but trust me – it’s actually incredibly straightforward, as well as 100% reliable and reproducible! In fact, I’ve used this same method to prepare my Super Creamy White Chocolate CheesecakeEasy Blueberry CheesecakeTriple Chocolate Cheesecake and Blackberry Cheesecake Bars, and they all tuned out PERFECT.

You need to chill the pumpkin cheesecake for at least 4 hours (or preferably overnight) before removing it out of the springform pan onto the serving plate. Then, you can serve it as is, or decorate it with lightly sweetened whipped cream and a generous drizzle of salted caramel sauce. I like to gently swirl the caramel sauce into the whipped cream to get those eye-catching, pretty swoops and swirls.

Then, finish it off with a sprinkling of pepitas (you can use them raw or toasted, or even candy them if you’re feeling extra fancy) and that’s it!

Overhead view of pumpkin cheesecake topped with whipped cream, salted caramel and pepitas on a light blue plate.

Pumpkin cheesecake topped with whipped cream, salted caramel and pepitas on a light blue plate.

For me, it’s the topping of whipped cream and caramel sauce that really completes this wonderful fall dessert. The two elements just round off the flavours and elevate what would otherwise be a rather simple cheesecake into a real showstopper. (Plus, who doesn’t love salted caramel?!)

Also, can we take another moment to appreciate the beauty of the Villeroy & Boch Crafted Blueberry collection? It’s SO PRETTY!!

Salted caramel in a large blue bowl on a stack of plates, with the pumpkin cheesecake in the background.

Can you prepare this pumpkin cheesecake in advance?

Yes!! You can bake this pumpkin cheesecake a few days in advance, and then just keep it in a closed container (or wrapped in cling film) in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. It keeps well for about 4-5 days. Serve it directly from the fridge.

If you’re making it ahead, note that it’s best that you put on the toppings (the whipped cream and the salted caramel sauce) at most a few hours before serving (otherwise the cream can start weeping).

And that’s it. This covers pretty much everything you need to know in order to make the most perfect pumpkin cheesecake. I really hope you’ll love it – and I hope it will make your holidays even more delicious. Plus, as it’s both easy to make AND you can actually make it a day or two in advance and keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve, it will hopefully make your holidays less stressful as well.

Above all: enjoy.

Happy baking!

Signature of the author, Kat.

Pumpkin cheesecake on a large blue plate, with a few pieces already cut.

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The Perfect Pumpkin Cheesecake (Gluten Free Option)

This is the best pumpkin cheesecake you’ll ever try. It’s ultra creamy, perfectly spiced and just ridiculously delicious. The cheesecake filling is packed with flavour thanks to a whole can of pumpkin puree (that you cook down to remove some of the moisture) and it’s topped with a salted-caramel-swirled whipped cream that transforms it into the perfect holiday showstopper. And it’s really easy to make – no water bath needed!
Print Rate
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook/Bake Time 1 hr 15 mins
Chill Time 4 hrs
Total Time 6 hrs
Servings 12

Ingredients

Cheesecake crust:

  • 225 g (2 ¼ cups) finely crushed digestive biscuits (You can also use graham crackers or gingersnap/ginger nut cookies. If you need the cheesecake to be gluten free, you can use gluten free digestives or rich tea biscuits, or other gluten free cookies/biscuits of choice.)
  • 75 g (⅔ stick) unsalted butter, melted (The exact amount of butter you will need will depend on the type of biscuits/cookies/crackers you use.)

Pumpkin cheesecake filling:

  • 425 g (1x 15oz can) pumpkin puree
  • 500 g (2 ¼ cups) full-fat cream cheese, room temperature (I used Philadelphia cream cheese.)
  • 115 g (½ cup) full-fat plain or Greek-style yoghurt, room temperature (You can also use sour cream.)
  • 125 g (½ cup + 2 tbsp) caster/superfine or granulated sugar
  • 125 g (½ cup + 2 tbsp) light brown soft sugar
  • 22 g (3 tbsp) cornstarch (US)/cornflour (UK)
  • ½ tsp vanilla bean paste (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 3 US large/UK medium eggs, room temperature
  • 3 US large/UK medium egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • tsp ground cloves
  • tsp allspice

Whipped cream topping:

  • 280 g (1 ¼ cups) double or heavy cream, chilled
  • 30 g (¼ cup) powdered/icing sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla bean paste (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • ½-1 batch salted caramel sauce (for drizzling on top of the cheesecake and for serving)
  • pepitas (for decoration)

Instructions

Cheesecake crust:

  • Adjust the oven rack to the middle position, pre-heat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC) and line an 8 inch (20cm) springform pan with baking/greaseproof paper (make sure that you line both the bottom and the sides of the pan).
  • Mix together the crushed digestive biscuits and melted butter, until you get a mixture resembling wet sand. Transfer the mixture into the lined springform pan and, using the flat bottom of a glass or measuring cup, compress them into an even layer with an approximately 1 ½ inch (4cm) rim around the edge.
    Tip: Depending on the type and brand of cookies/biscuits you use, you might need slightly less or slightly more butter than listed in this recipe. Add the butter slowly, mixing well after each addition, until you reach the consistency of wet sand. You want a mixture that somewhat sticks together or holds its shape when pressed together, but it shouldn't feel/look greasy or oily.
  • Bake at 350ºF (180ºC) for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow to cool until warm.

Pumpkin cheesecake filling:

  • Reduce the oven temperature to 285ºF (140ºC).
    Tip: If your springform pan isn't 100% leak-proof, I recommend that you also get a baking sheet ready to place the cheesecake on it before it goes into the oven. This will catch any small leaks of butter from the cheesecake base, and prevent any smoking or burning at the bottom of your oven.
  • Reduce/cook down the pumpkin puree:
    In a small saucepan, cook the pumpkin puree over medium-high heat with frequent stirring, until you've reduced its weight to 270g (or its volume to just over 1 cup). This should take about 10-15 minutes.
    Set aside to cool completely.
  • In a large bowl using a balloon whisk, mix the cream cheese and yoghurt together until smooth.
    Tip: Make sure to MIX rather than whisk or aerate – you don't want to incorporate too much air into the mixture. If you don't want to do this by hand, use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on the lowest speed setting. (I don't recommend using a hand mixer.)
  • Add the caster/superfine sugar, light brown soft sugar and cornstarch/cornflour, and mix well until combined and smooth.
  • Add the vanilla bean paste and mix well until evenly incorporated.
  • Add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each addition, until smooth.
  • Add the reduced (and cooled!) pumpkin puree and the spices, and mix well until combined and smooth.
  • Transfer the pumpkin cheesecake filling into the slightly cooled cheesecake crust and smooth out the top.
  • Bake at 285ºF (140ºC) for about 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the edges are fully set and slightly puffed up, and the middle is still wobbly when you gently shake the baking pan.
    Tip: This baking time is merely a guideline – you should always judge the doneness of a cheesecake based on its physical indicators (the wobbliness of the centre, how set the edges are, etc.) rather than on the baking time, especially as each oven behaves slightly differently. You should start checking your cheesecake about 10 minutes before the recommended baking time.
  • Turn off the oven and allow the cheesecake to cool to room temperature in the turned-off oven with the oven door ajar.
  • Once cooled to room temperature, transfer the cheesecake into the fridge for at least 4 hours (or preferably overnight) before removing it from the baking pan. Keep it in the fridge until you're ready to assemble/decorate.

Assembling the pumpkin cheesecake:

  • Once the cheesecake is fully chilled, remove it out of the springform pan and onto a serving plate.
  • In a large bowl, whip the cream, powdered/icing sugar and vanilla to very soft peaks.
  • Spoon the whipped cream onto the cheesecake and use a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon to spread and swirl it around, leaving at least 1 inch (2.5cm) edge free of the cream.
  • Spoon dollops of the salted caramel sauce onto the whipped cream and use the back of a spoon to swirl it into the cream. Alternatively, you just can drizzle it all over the cheesecake.
    Use any leftover caramel sauce to drizzle the individual slices before serving.
  • Once decorated, slice and serve.

Storage:

  • The pumpkin cheesecake keeps well in a closed container or tightly wrapped in cling film in the fridge for 4-5 days.
    NOTE: Add the whipped cream and salted caramel topping at most a few hours before serving, otherwise the cream can start weeping.
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