Easy pumpkin cheesecake that you can bake at home. Inspired by The Cheese Cake Factory, it comes complete with a graham cracker crust and a creamy pumpkin filling spiced just right.
Give it as a gift or take one to the party—everybody deserves something very special this year. This is the perfect make-ahead dessert to get everybody talking.
NOTE: THIS IS A FULL-SIZE CHEESECAKE AND IS NOT "FOR TWO" FRIENDLY.
We needed a special treat for out of town company, and my wife AKA "pumpkin hound" had a hard week recovering from a cold. So this one was for her.
Inspired by Cheesecake Factory Pumpkin Cheesecake which has top reviews. This recipe has been around the internet for over 20 years. Just a few minor adjustments for ease and complete step-by-step instructions for you.
This is a Philadelphia-style cheesecake which means mainly cream cheese with additives. New York style cheesecake will usually have sour cream or heavy cream mixed in the batter. An interesting fact is that the original recipe (probably similar to this one) reportedly had a thin sour cream layer on top.
A wife rating... way up there.
The Pumpkin: This recipe calls for pumpkin puree. You can make your own or buy it. Be sure not to get pumpkin pie filling—it is not the same thing.
Cream Cheese: Use a quality full-fat cream cheese that is allowed to rest at room temperature to soften. You can cheat and do a brief microwave. The softening is important to prevent lumps.
The Eggs: Should also be room temperature.
Spicing: cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice is recommend or use 1 teaspoon of Pumpkin Pie Spice which will have some ginger and cloves also.
This uses a simple graham cracker crust. Crumble the crackers then add some melted butter and cinnamon. Then spread it over the bottom a well-buttered springform pan and slightly up the side and bake to firm it up. You could use gingersnaps of something similar if you wish instead of graham crackers.
Bake on a middle rack of a preheated 350° oven. Total baking time can vary a bit but a good estimate is one hour but do a quick check for done at 50 minutes.
You are looking for the edges to be slightly browned and a little bit of puffiness. The center will look like it is just setting up and still have some jiggle.
When the cheesecake is done, turn off the oven and use a wooden spoon to prop open the oven do0r about ½ inch to allow slow cooling for about 1 hour more. Then move to room temperature for a few hours before refrigerating.
This uses an 8 to 9-inch spring-form pan which are very common. Do not use a regular pan. A 10-inch spring-form pan is too big here.
Cracking of Cheesecakes
There are several causes of cheesecakes cracking.
>Sudden large changes in temperature so don’t open the oven door if possible.
>Over mixing can trap air in the batter. Just get it completely mixed and then stop.
>Over baking will cause a firm top leading to cracking while cooling.
Many recipes recommend a “water bath” for baking cheesecakes. Briefly, you warp outside of the spring-form pan in foil and set it in about 1 inch of very hot (boiling or close) water in the oven.
The benefits are the added moisture will help decrease cracking and slow the cooking a bit to help the texture. I have done this number of times on cheesecakes and except for me making a mess, I don't see much difference for me. I now generally skip it. So the choice is yours.
Good refrigerated for 3-4 days. Good in the freeze for 2-3 months.
Allow cream cheese and eggs to come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350° with the rack in the center of the oven.
Crush 9-12 graham crackers but not into dust. You need 1 ½ cup of crumbs.
Melt 5 tablespoons butter and mix into the graham cracker crumbs with one tablespoon sugar and mix until coated.
Prep an 8 or 9-inch spring-form pan with a good coat of butter. Mash the graham cracker into the bottom and about one inch up the side. Bake for 5 minutes then remove to cool while making the filling.
In a large bowl, combine the three 8 oz packages cream cheese, one cup sugar, and one teaspoon vanilla. Mix with an electric mixer until smooth.
Add one cup pumpkin, three eggs, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, and ¼ teaspoon allspice. Optional if you want more "pumpkin pie" taste change the spices out for 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice. Mix until completely combined but do not over mix.
Mix until smooth and pour the filling into the pan.
Bake until browning around the edges. That will be about 60 minutes depending on your oven. But take a fast peek at 50 minutes to be sure it is not cooking too fast. Turn off the oven and prop open the door slightly for 60 minutes. Then, cool at room temperature for a few hours then refrigerate until cold (4-6 hours or overnight.)
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Editor's note: Originally Published October 22, 2015. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.