Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake is the perfect alternative to Pumpkin Pie for your Thanksgiving dinner! It’s simpler to make than a pie, but it still makes for a show stopping dessert. Top it with nutmeg-spiced whipped cream and salted caramel sauce, and prepare to fall in love with this creamy, decadent dessert!
Reasons to Love Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake:
- Easier to make than pie, if you’re a pie novice
- Not TOO pumpkin-y
- A great alternative if you don’t love pumpkin pie but still want a festive pumpkin dessert
- Looks GORGEOUS but in reality it took almost zero effort to make the swirl design
- Can easily be made Gluten-Free by using gluten-free cookies or graham crackers in the crust
- Pairs wonderfully with whipped cream and salted caramel sauce
Have I convinced you yet that this cheesecake deserves a place on your Thanksgiving table?
How to Make Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake:
First, pulse up some gingersnap cookies in your food processor, and mix them with melted butter – this is the easiest + laziest crust ever but it tastes SO good! Perfect for people who don’t want to mess around with pie crust. Next, mix up the CREAMIEST cheesecake batter while the crust bakes on it’s own for a bit. The batter is made with super simple ingredients like eggs, cream cheese, and sugar.
We’re going to set aside a portion of the batter and mix in some pumpkin and spices – the whole cheesecake isn’t pumpkin flavor, which is nice because it isn’t too IN YOUR FACE with the whole pumpkin thing. Dollop spoonfuls of the batter into the pan, alternating between the plain and pumpkin. Drag a knife through the batter to create the swirls! I love this technique because it looks like you worked really hard to make a fancy dessert but in reality all you did was play with your food a little bit. WIN.
There’s NO water bath to worry about with this recipe – and you still end up with an incredibly creamy, decadent cheesecake! I wanted to keep things simple so that anyone could confidently make this recipe for the holidays – and I absolutely believe you can! I know lots of people worry about having cracks in the top of their cheesecake – honestly, it’s NOT a big deal at all if that happens (it still happens to me). You can hide it with the whipped cream – remember that a few cracks in the top do not mean that your cheesecake is ruined. Not even a little bit.
Oh, and that homemade whipped cream? Also a breeze to whip up! Just mix cold heavy whipping cream with a few tablespoons of sugar, a splash of vanilla, and a pinch of nutmeg on high until stiff peaks form. Save this part for just before serving – fresh whipped cream is the BEST!
And, if you’re feeling like you want to take this even another level further, you can serve it with my 10-minute homemade salted caramel sauce! I promise that this will be everyone’s new favorite Thanksgiving dessert.
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Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust
dinner! It's simpler to make than a pie, but still makes for a show stopping dessert. Top it with fresh whipped cream & salted caramel sauce, and prepare to fall in love with this decadent dessert!
For the Gingersnap Crust
- 32 gingersnap cookies
- 1/3 cup salted butter, melted
- 2 TBSP granulated or cane sugar
For the Cheesecake
- four 8 ounce packages cream cheese the block kind, full fat, 32 ounces total
- 1 and 1/2 cups granulated or cane sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For the Pumpkin Portion of the Cheesecake Batter
- 1 cup canned pumpkin not pumpkin pie filling
- 1 and 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1 and 1/2 tsp ginger
For the Whipped Cream
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 TBSP powdered sugar
- pinch nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 Recipe Salted Caramel Sauce
- Prep: Make sure your cream cheese and eggs are at room temp - set them out 15 minutes before you begin. If they're too cold the batter can clump and the cheesecake won't turn out. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (yes, 300 not 350!). Crush the gingersnaps in a food processor until you have fine crumbs. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray and make sure the bottom is tightly secured.
- Make the Crust: Stir together cookie crumbs, melted butter, and sugar. Press into the pan and up the sides a bit. Bake for 9 minutes. Set aside.
- Make the Cheesecake: It's important not to over-mix the batter - this will result in a cheesecake that collapses a bit when it's out of the oven and cooling. Mix things until they're just incorporated, then stop! In a large mixing bowl, cream the cream cheese with electric mixer just until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and mix until just combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until just combined after each one, adding the vanilla in with the last egg. Spoon 2 cups of the mixture into a medium mixing bowl. Stir in the pumpkin and spices. Spoon the batter, alternating between the plain and pumpkin, into the baked crust. Take a knife and gently swirl the batter - drag from top to bottom and left to right, sticking the knife down into the batter so that the swirls show throughout the cheesecake, not just on top.
- Bake: Bake for 1 hour 45 minutes to 1 hour 56 minutes. (Mine took the full 1 hour and 56 minutes). Try to open the oven as few times as possible to minimize the cracking on top of the cheesecake. If it does crack, DO NOT WORRY. It won't ruin the cheesecake and you can hide it with whipped cream. When done, the edges will be slightly raised and set, and the center will be only slightly jiggly. A small amount of batter will be on a toothpick inserted into the center of the cheesecake. Once done baking, turn the oven off, and open the door at least 4 inches. Leave cheesecake in the oven for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, and set on a cooling rack. Run a butter knife around the edge to gently loosen cheesecake, but do not release the springform pan yet. Once completely cool, cover tightly with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 5 hours or overnight.
- Serve + Store: The next morning, remove the cheesecake from the springform pan. Use a large spatula or pancake flipper to gently slide the cheesecake off the bottom piece and onto a serving plate. Make the whipped cream, and the caramel sauce to serve with the cheesecake. Store leftovers, tightly covered, in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Make Ahead Tips: This makes a great make-ahead dessert because the cheesecake has to chill for 5 hours in the fridge anyways. The caramel sauce can be made up to 4 days ahead and kept in the fridge until ready to use. Microwave at 20 second intervals to loosen the sauce back up when ready to serve. Do NOT make the whipped cream ahead of time - it can get a little funky. Make it just before serving, or at least the day of, no more than 4-6 hours ahead.
- Whipped Cream: Make sure the heavy cream is VERY COLD, straight from the fridge, before you begin. If it isn't cold, it won't whip up. Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl and mix with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form when you turn the mixer off and lift it straight out of the bowl. DO NOT keep mixing at this point - over-mixing will ruin the whipped cream. Store in the fridge, tightly covered, until ready to use. If you've had issues with whipped cream in the past, you can chill your beaters and the bowl in the fridge before using.
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