This easy gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake recipe is perfect for pumpkin season! Try it at Thanksgiving or Christmas as a fun alternative to pie.
Long live pumpkin season!
This is, culinarily speaking, my favorite time of year. October through December is just one delicious occasion after another!
One of the biggest requests I got for new recipes for pumpkin season this year was a great gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake recipe. I am HERE for it!
Pumpkin cheesecake is a great alternative to traditional pumpkin pie all through the holiday season, Thanksgiving or Christmas, and makes an impressive show without a lot of effort. Our delicious gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake recipe starts with a delicious spiced crust, layered with a creamy pumpkin cheesecake filling, and finished with caramel sauce or whipped cream.
It’s layer upon layer of delicious pumpkin flavor!
Here’s what you need to make our easy gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake…
Our gluten-free Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe, At A Glance:
Here’s What You Need To Make This Easy Pumpkin Cheesecake:
- 9-Inch Springform Pan. You’ll need a 9-inch springform cheesecake pan for this cheesecake recipe. It’s deep enough and large enough to perfectly fill.
- A Quick Graham Cracker Crust. We add spices to gluten-free graham crackers, butter and sugar to give this crust the flavor of gluten-free gingersnaps. It’s the perfect base for a pumpkin filling!
- Full-Fat Cream Cheese. Next, we start the pumpkin cheesecake filling! You’ll need 4 blocks of full-fat cream cheese (aka regular cream cheese). Do NOT use low fat cream cheese or cream cheese spread (the kind that comes in tubs), as it will impact the texture, set, and taste.
- Brown Sugar & Granulated Sugar. I love a mix of brown and cane sugar here because the molasses in the brown sugar adds warmth and cutting it with cane sugar keeps it from taking over.
- Eggs. Using eggs is crucial for the set and texture of cheesecake!
- Sour Cream. Then, a little sour cream adds brightness, while helping to balance the flavors. It also gives the cheesecake a silky smooth texture!
- Vanilla. I use a full tablespoon of vanilla extract for this cheesecake, and it is WORTH it.
- Warm Spices. I love a mix of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, and cloves. It’s got better, more nuanced flavor than pumpkin pie spice, in my opinion, and balances just right with the pumpkin, brown sugar, and vanilla.
- Cornstarch. Just a little helps the cheesecake set more evenly. (You can use gluten-free flour instead, but I find cornstarch gives a better texture.)
- Pumpkin Puree. Then, we add pumpkin! Unsweetened pumpkin purée (not sweetened pumpkin pie filling), adds gorgeous pumpkin flavor that pairs beautifully with the other flavorings.
- Caramel Sauce or Whipped Cream. Last, but not least is a few goodies for topping your pumpkin cheesecake. (More on that in a minute!)
How To Make Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cheesecake, Step By Step:
First, Make The Graham Cracker Crust:
- Start arranging the racks of the oven so one is in the center and one is below it, towards the bottom. Preheat The Oven To 325 degrees F. Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper.
- In a food processor or large mixing bowl, combine gluten-free graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and melted butter. Pulse or stir until the mixture is well combined and the crumbs are evenly coated with spices and butter.
- Pour the crumb mixture out into a 9-inch springform pan. Use the back of a measuring cup or your fingers to pat the crumbs into an even layer and about 1 inch up the sides of the pan.
- Bake the crust 10 minutes while you mix up the filling.
Then, Make The Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling:
- In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine the softened cream cheese, brown sugar, and sugar. Beat 2-3 minutes with a handheld electric mixer or stand mixer, or until light and fluffy and the sugar is mostly dissolved.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate each egg fully before adding the next egg.
- Beat in the sour cream, then the vanilla extract, cornstarch, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, and cloves. Mix until smooth and combined.
- Lastly, mix in the pumpkin puree, and mix until just combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the edges with a spatula, making sure that the filling is fully combined.
- Pour the pumpkin cheesecake mixture into your baked gluten-free crust and smooth the surface. (It will fill the pan almost to the top)
Bake & Cool The Cheesecake:
- Fill a 9×13″ baking dish with 2 inches of warm water and place on a lower rack. (The steam this creates will help prevent cracks in your cheesecake.)
- Place the springform pan on a baking sheet in case of spills, then place in the oven on the center rack.
- Bake cheesecake about 1 hour 10 minutes (70 minutes), or until the outer 2 inches are set and the center jiggles slightly. (Try not to over-bake!)
- Turn off the oven and crack the oven door open. Leave the cheesecake in the oven for 30 minutes with the heat off and the door open to finish cooking.
- Remove from the oven and run a thin, sharp knife around the edge of the cheesecake. Let sit at room temperature another 30 minutes.
- Transfer to the refrigerator and chill uncovered for at least 4 hours, or until completely chilled through and set.
- Remove the collar of the springform pan, then decorate the full cheesecake or individual slices as desired.
Yummy Ways To Decorate Pumpkin Cheesecake:
- Caramel Sauce. Pumpkin and caramel are a match made in heaven! Try our homemade caramel sauce, or pick up your favorite store-bought brand. Drizzle over individual slices, or pour over the whole cheesecake before serving!
- Whipped Cream. Pipe swirls with an open star tip around the edges, smooth an even layer over the whole thing (great for covering cracks!), or add big, pillowy dollops in the center and drizzle with caramel or sprinkle with goodies. Or, go big with caramel whipped cream!
- Toasted or Candied Pecans. A sprinkling of whole or chopped toasted pecans or candied pecans can look gorgeous. They also taste fantastic with the caramel sauce…just sayin’.
- Toffee Bits. Play up the caramel notes with a little sprinkling of toffee bits. This can look great on individual slices, or sprinkled over whip cream swirls or dollops.
- Pecan Praline Sauce. Definitely the most rich option, but a spoonful of pecan praline sauce combines the caramel + pecan ideas in a rich, velvety sauce.
FAQ + Tips And Tricks For The BEst Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cheesecake:
What Graham Crackers Are Gluten-Free? We’re using Pamela’s today, but this post outlines 7 brands of gluten-free graham crackers to try & where to find them.
How To Store Pumpkin Cheesecake. You want to leave it uncovered while it chills. This prevents water droplets or moisture on the top of the cheesecake. Once it’s fully chilled (4-24 hours), you can cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator up to 4 days. Undecorated cheesecake stores best, as toppings like caramel or whipped cream will soak in or melt with time.
Can I Use Another Kind Of Pan? Not without adapting the recipe. This recipe completely fills a 9-inch springform pan, so you cannot go any smaller. If you use a 10-inch pan, you’ll need to reduce the bake time, as it’ll turn out thinner. Regular cake pans tend not to be deep enough.
How To Prevent Cracks In Cheesecake:
It’s SO frustrating to spend time making a cheesecake only for it to crack. While cracks are purely cosmetic and won’t affect the taste, there are several things you can do to prevent them. Here’s how to prevent cracks in your cheesecake:
- Line The Pan With Parchment Paper. First, line the springform pan with parchment. This helps prevent the surface tension at the top that can lead to cracks as the cheesecake cools and shrinks. Cut 2-3 strips of parchment the depth of the pan and set aside. Then, cut a square of parchment just a bit larger than the circle base. Place the parchment square over the base and secure the ring around it, trapping the parchment on the bottom. (Pressing down while you close the ring can help keep the parchment straight.) Then, use the strips of parchment to line the sides, using a little softened butter or oil to help the parchment stick to the sides.
- Mix The Filling With Room Temperature Ingredients. This ensures a smooth filling. You can use this trick for getting eggs to room temperature quickly. (You can do the same thing with foil-wrapped cream cheese, or massage it with your hands to warm it up.)
- Use A Water Bath. I don’t fuss with boiling water. Instead, just add 2-3 inches of water to a 9×13 pan or roasting pan and place it on the oven rack below the cheesecake while it bakes. The steam helps keep the cheesecake moist and springy, which helps prevent cracks.
- Look For The Right Amount Of Jiggle. How do you know pumpkin cheesecake is done? Check the jiggle! You want the outer 2 inches or so to be set, while the middle should still jiggle like jello. If it’s still sloshing like liquid, it’s underbaked. If it barely wobbles, it’s over-baked.
- Cool The Cheesecake Gradually. Another big tip for preventing cracks! I recommend turning off the oven and cracking open the oven door for 30 minutes before removing the cheesecake from the oven. The carryover heat will help set the cheesecake, and it won’t seize up from temperature shock if you gradually reduce the heat this way.