Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars are luxuriously creamy and rich, with lots of pumpkin flavor. A creamy pumpkin cheesecake layer on top of vanilla cheesecake and buttery graham crust. Topped with a hefty amount of homemade cinnamon whipped cream this is the perfect Thanksgiving dessert.
Pumpkin recipes are a must-make during the holiday season and we have the best delicious desserts to share with you. Make our fool-proof Instant Pot Pumpkin Cheesecake, or try our traditional Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe. If you want to go all-in, make this Pecan Pie Pumpkin Cheesecake, it’s guaranteed to impress. For more pumpkin flavors make sure to check our sweet and savory recipes, there is something for everyone!
Easy Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars Recipe
Best Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars are my latest favorite fall dessert and they will quickly become one of your favorite pumpkin desserts. They are irresistible, made of two layers: one is a classic vanilla cheesecake, and the second, is a very flavorful pumpkin layer cheesecake.
This creamy cheesecake basically combines the best of two worlds, and the vanilla cheesecake balances the pumpkin flavor in the most perfect way.
The cheesecake bars are topped with homemade cinnamon whipped cream, that is lighter in texture and works well with the fall flavors in this dessert. These perfect Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars are a nice change from the classic Pumpkin Pie if you are looking for something more special to try on Thanksgiving Day.
You can also make this recipe in a large springform pan. You can skip the vanilla layer and mix the pumpkin puree into the entire cheesecake batter, for a classic pumpkin dessert.
For the buttery graham cracker crust you will need:
- A few cups of graham cracker crumbs
- Brown sugar
- Spices: Ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and ground cloves
- Melted butter
- 9×13 inch non-stick pan
For the cheesecake layers you will need:
- Cream cheese: We prefer to use full-fat cream cheese.
- White sugar
- Heavy cream and sour cream
- Vanilla extract
- Pumpkin puree: You will need an entire can of pumpkin puree to make the pumpkin pie cheesecake bars. Also, you can use pumpkin pie filling to make this recipe.
- Spices: Ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and ground cloves, pumpkin spice
How do you make pumpkin cheesecake bars?
- Crust: First, in a medium bowl combine cracker crumbs with the rest of the crust ingredients and press into the bottom of the pan, and chill.
- Cheesecake mixture: After that, in a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar on low speed. Add the cornstarch, eggs, cream, sour cream, and vanilla extract. Beat until combined.
- Divide: Transfer half of the cheesecake batter on top of the crust and level it with a spatula. Place the baking dish in the freezer for the cheesecake layer to harden.
- Pumpkin layer: After that, add the pumpkin layer ingredients to the remaining cheesecake filling. When combined, pour the mixture on top of the vanilla cheesecake in an even layer.
- Bake: Finally, after adding the pumpkin mixture layer, bake the pumpkin bars in the preheated oven. Read the post to learn how to make a water bath.
- Chill: After that, once done cooking, transfer the pan onto a wire rack to fully cool. Once fully cooled transfer to the fridge and chill for at least 6-8 hours or better refrigerate overnight.
- Whipped cream: When ready to serve, make the cinnamon whipped cream, slice the dessert into bars, and serve topped with whipped cream.
- Store: Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days in the fridge.
- Spices: Instead of using the spice blend that we have created, you can simply add a few teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice.
- Crust: Also, instead of graham crackers use gingersnaps to make a gingersnap crust.
- Make pies: As an alternative use a pie dish, and a traditional pie crust, to make pumpkin pie cheesecakes!
- Fresh pumpkin: Cook a fresh pumpkin to use in this recipe instead of the canned filling.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to Make a gluten-free cheesecake crust?
- Use almond meal instead of the graham cracker mixture.
- A combination of quick oats and nuts works as well
- Use gluten-free crushed cookies or gluten-free graham cracker crumbs
How to bake a cheesecake in a water bath:
- Wrap the outside of the springform pan in a double layer of foil, covering the bottom and sides of the pan, you need to cover the sides only from outside. This will prevent the cheesecake from water leaking in. If using a baking pan, there is no need to do this.
- Set the prepared pan in a large roasting pan that is deep enough to add water to it. Pour HOT water into the roasting pan, about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan.
- Transfer to a pre-heated oven and bake, until the center jiggles slightly like Jell-O, and the sides are puffed and a light golden brown. The residual heat will cook the center of the cheesecake. If the cheesecake doesn’t wobble a bit in the center, it means it has been over-baked, and most likely will crack.
- Cool the cheesecake in the oven with the door slightly cracked for one hour.
How to prevent cheesecake cracks:
- Making sure that all the ingredients are at room temperature and well combined after mixed.
- Adding flour or/and cornstarch to the batter.
- Avoid opening the door oven while baking the cheesecake.
- Watch the cheesecake closely to avoid over-baking it. When the sides are puffed and the center of the cheesecake is just slightly wobbly, the cheesecake is done.
- Cooling the cheesecake in the oven, with the door slightly cracked is also very important, as the sudden change in temperature can cause cracks.
- Bake the cheesecake in a water bath, it’s one of the most successful techniques to avoid cracks on your cheesecake.
How to fix cheesecake cracks:
- You will need: 1) a small offset spatula or spoon 2) hot water 3) a kitchen towel.
- Let the cheesecake completely cool and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or per recipe instructions. The cheesecake needs to be cold to be able to fix the cracks.
- Use the spatula dipped into hot water (or you can use your fingers or a spoon) to gently push and press down in the area of the crack and spread to fill it in until the top is smooth.
- Clean the spatula with the towel as needed.
- Once finished, clean the offset spatula with the kitchen towel again, and dip it again into warm water and smooth the top of the cheesecake.
- You can add a thin layer of sour cream topping if the cracks are small.
- You can add a layer of whipped cream topping.
How to slice Cheesecake Bars:
- Run a long, sharp, thin-bladed, slicing knife under hot tap water or dip it into a glass of hot water prior to slicing the cheesecake.
- Wipe the knife clean and run it under hot water before making another cut.
- An easy, mess-free way to cut even slices is to use cheese wire or unflavored dental floss. This method can be easily used on cheesecakes baked in a springform pan. Clean the bits that stuck to the wire/floss before every cut.
How to freeze a cheesecake?
- You can freeze the cheesecake BEFORE you top it with whipped cream.
- Make sure it has fully cooled and also was refrigerated for at least 6 hours.
- Wrap the cheesecake bars tightly with aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap, or place in a heavy-duty freezer bag.
- Properly stored, it will maintain the best quality for about 2 to 3 months.
More delicious Thanksgiving recipes:
- You should use very soft cream cheese. If you want, you can microwave it for around 30 seconds – this way it will soften really quickly.
- Remember that bars should be fully chilled before you slice them.
- You can store these bars for up to 3 days, however, keep in mind that whipped cream should be added right before serving.
The Ultimate Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
- 3 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter (melted)
- 4 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese (at room temperature)
- 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoon cornstarch
- 4 large eggs (at room temperature)
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (at room temperature)
- 3/4 cup sour cream (at room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice (optional)
Cinnamon Whipped Cream:
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream (cold)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Adjust the top rack to be positioned in the middle of the oven.
- Lightly coat a 9x13-inch pan with baking spray and set it aside.
- Add the "Crust" ingredients to a large bowl and stir until well combined.
- Press the mixture into the prepared pan. Using a measuring cup, press the crust and try to line the sides about to the middle of the pan edges.
- Refrigerate or best freeze for at least 20 minutes.
- Make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature before you begin.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy on medium-low speed.
- Add the rest of the ingredients from the "Cheesecake Batter" list and continue beating until well combined and creamy. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula.
- Remove crust from freezer and pour 1/2 of the cheesecake batter mixture into the prepared pan. Return to the freezer for about 1 hour, the layer needs to freeze enough to be able to pour the pumpkin layer on top of it.
- Set aside the remaining half of the cheesecake batter. It will be used for the pumpkin layer.
- Add the "Pumpkin Layer" ingredients to the remaining half of cheesecake batter that you previously set aside, and whisk to fully combine. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula.
- Remove cheesecake from the freezer and pour the pumpkin layer on top. Level the top with a spatula.
- Read the post for "water bath" tips if you want to bake the cheesecake using a "water bath".
- Bake in the preheated oven for about one hour.
- Try not to open the door to the oven. At the 45-minute mark check on the cheesecake if it's done. A small area in the center should wobble slightly and the edges should be puffed and light golden brown.
- Turn the oven off and prop open the oven door and leave the cheesecake to cool in the oven for one hour.
- After one hour, remove from oven and place on a cooling rack for about 2 hours, until the cheesecake is cool enough to be transferred to the refrigerator.
- Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for 6-24 hours.
Cinnamon Whipped Cream:
- Add cream, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon to a large bowl.
- Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, whisk on slow-medium speed, gradually increasing to high speed. Mix until soft peaks form and the whipped cream holds its shape.
- Add the whipped cream to a pastry bag, fitted with a star piping tip, and pipe it onto cheesecake bars right before serving.