How to Make Pumpkin Cheesecake
What Type of Cream Cheese for Pumpkin Cheesecake?
- Use full-fat bricks of cream cheese.
- Do not use the spreadable type of cream cheese in tubs meant for spreading on bagels.
Be sure to buy a high-quality brand. Some generic grocery store brands are watery and rubbery.
- I like Philadelphia cream cheese.
The MOST IMPORTANT thing is to ensure your cream cheese is completely and totally softened to room temperature.
- If it’s too cold, you’ll end up with a lumpy cheesecake batter.
What Type of Pumpkin Should I Use for Pumpkin Cheesecake?
- I used store-bought canned pumpkin puree for this Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe.
- Homemade pumpkin puree may work in this recipe, but I don’t necessarily recommend it because it can add excess liquid.
- Note: Be sure NOT to use canned pumpkin pie filling for this recipe – it is not the same thing as pumpkin puree.
- Check out my Fresh vs. Canned Pumpkin article for the differences between using fresh pumpkin puree, regular canned pumpkin, and organic canned pumpkin, and learn how to make your own pumpkin puree!
Alternatives to Biscoff Cookie for the Cheesecake Crust
Although the Biscoff (also called Speculoos) cookie crust is out-of-this-world delicious, if you can’t find or don’t prefer Biscoff cookies, I have included both the volume measurement and the weight measurement for the cookies, so you can swap at a 1:1 ratio for any other crushed crispy cracker, cookie, or biscuit you like. A few suggestions:
- Vanilla wafers
- Digestive biscuits
- Graham crackers
- Amaretti cookies
What’s the Best Pan for Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake?
- This recipe requires a 10-cup, 9-inch diameter springform pan like this one.
Not all springform pans are made equally.
- You want one that’s both heavy-duty and sturdy.
- Avoid putting your pan in the dishwasher as hand washing will extend the life of a springform pan.
Just because your pan is 9-inches in diameter doesn’t necessarily mean it has a 10-cup batter volume capacity.
- Every brand may vary slightly, so be careful not to overfill your pan if yours has a smaller capacity!
How to Get SMOOTH Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling
- Make sure your cream cheese is completely softened to room temperature.
- Fully beat the softened cream cheese, and then the cream cheese and sugar, until totally smooth. This may take several minutes.
- Be sure to scrape down all the nooks and crannies of your mixer bowl and paddle attachment when mixing the filling at each step.
Do I Have to Use a Water Bath? No, This Recipe Bakes Low and Slow!
Though I typically recommend baking a cheesecake with a water bath, I’ve found an alternative that still produces the best texture in cheesecake, though you may still end up with a crack in your cheesecake depending on your oven. Luckily, since this one is getting covered in a generous cloud of whipped cream, it won’t matter too much.
The cheesecake on the left is my Ultimate Classic Cheesecake, baked with a water bath. On the right is this Pumpkin Cheesecake baked without a water bath with the Low & Slow method, where we bake at 275°F for nearly two hours then cool in the oven with the heat off and the door cracked:
Every time I posted my original Cheesecake Water Bath vs. No Water Bath photo on Instagram it would always go viral. And I’d always get comments from people espousing the benefits of the Low & Slow method.
However, when I first tried that method years ago in a previous home with an old oven, I found that it just wouldn’t maintain the low temperature accurately and consistently. I decided to give it another try. What I found was that while I still got a crack with my current oven (it’s less than 5 years old), it was a small one.
Then, when we baked this exact same cheesecake recipe at my photographer’s house in her older oven, it developed the larger crack photographed below:
This is why I’ll likely still use the water bath method when I want to ensure no cracks, especially for cheesecakes that I won’t cover with whipped cream, ganache, or something that disguises a crack. OR, when I want that ultra-rich custard-y texture that only a cheesecake baked in a water bath provides.
But for this recipe, with the chaos of the Thanksgiving season, I decided Low & Slow would be the easiest method for this Pumpkin Cheesecake.
How to Tell When Cheesecake is Done Baking
- Let me say this as clearly as possible… don’t overbake your cheesecake!!
- The residual heat of the oven will continue to cook the cheesecake even after the heat has been turned off.
- That means you want your cheesecake to look dry at the edges but slightly wobbly or jiggly like Jello in the center when the baking time has ended.
- The internal temperature should be 140°F-150°F. Use a digital instant-read thermometer to verify this.
How to Serve Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Cheesecake will ONLY finish setting up after it has cooled completely, then been chilled in the fridge for at least 6 hours, but preferably overnight.
- Only then should you remove the Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake from the springform pan and slice it.
You can also sprinkle some additional Biscoff cookies on top for an extra impressive-looking Pumpkin Cheesecake.
How to Store Cheesecake
- Store your Pumpkin Cheesecake in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Avoid putting your whipped cream topping on until ready to serve.
- Beyond 3 days, the crust will become mushy. Read just below for freezing instructions.
How to Freeze Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Cheesecake freezes wonderfully!
- Place whole Pumpkin Cheesecake or individual slices on a baking sheet inside the freezer until firm.
- Wrap the cheesecake or each individual slice in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag.
- Freeze for up to 2 months.
To serve, defrost a whole cheesecake in the fridge overnight. You can also defrost individual slices in the fridge overnight, or at room temperature for about 30 minutes.