Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake
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This luscious and creamy vanilla cheesecake with swirls of spiced pumpkin cheesecake sits atop a flavorful gingersnap crust. Top with homemade pumpkin spice whipped cream or your favorite seasonal topping.
Ok, while summer is grand and all, who else gets super excited for fall? Any hands in the air? Because mine is waving around like a maniac just in case you can’t see me through the screen.
Fall is the season of apples, cinnamon, pumpkin, and all of the good things that make the baking world go round. Something about the crisp air, the big round pumpkins at every market stand, and the leaves changing color call me back to the kitchen to bake.
This pumpkin swirl cheesecake is the perfect way to welcome the changing weather, all while enjoying the creamy and decadent texture that only cheesecake can bring.
While I haven’t always been a huge cheesecake fan, I’ve won myself over through the years, and now I can say it’s one of my favorite things to bake.
If you love the texture of real pumpkin and the warmth of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger (also known as pumpkin spice), you’re going to be begging for another slice of this pumpkin cheesecake with its gingersnap crust.
And if you’re sold out for the pumpkin spice life like I am, you must try a few of my recipes from previous years. Pumpkin fudge is a personal favorite, but don’t let the season go by without trying some pumpkin spice cookies, OR the super fun (and super easy) pumpkin Rice Krispies treats.
The cheesecake itself has three main components: the gingersnap crust, the cheesecake filling (and pumpkin swirl), and a fluffy and sweet topping.
What really makes this pumpkin swirl cheesecake recipe stand out against the rest is the ah-may-zing gingersnap crust.
Yes, we love graham crackers all day every day, but I hold a special place in my heart for gingersnap cookies.
Not only are gingersnap cookies just plain fabulous for eating (and dunking into milk), but they also make a particularly festive cheesecake crust.
Add those holiday spiced, everything nice cookies into a food processor and give them a crushing. Then mix with butter, sugar, cinnamon, and ginger and press it into a springform pan. What’s not to love?
Oh, and if you are ride-or-die with the homemade graham cracker crust? You can absolutely do that instead! Just use my graham cracker crust recipe in place of the gingersnap version.
The cheesecake filling is the same as the one I use for my funfetti cheesecake recipe. Minus the sprinkles, of course! It’s a great traditional cheesecake base recipe and lends itself well to a variety of flavors, including this autumnal pumpkin spice version.
All you need are 4 blocks of full fat cream cheese (softened of course), some sugar, heavy whipping cream, sour cream (or Greek yogurt), vanilla extract, eggs, and 2 extra egg yolks for a rich texture.
Most of all, we need to talk about cheesecake and room temperature ingredients. I feel like I give this lecture often, but it is warranted: always use room temperature ingredients.
That includes your cream cheese, heavy cream, sour cream (or Greek yogurt), and eggs. It does require a bit of planning ahead, but if you set everything out the morning before you bake you should be good to go.
Why room temperature you ask? Well, all these ingredients need to blend and come together into a smooth, consistent batter in order to get the perfect cheesecake texture. Having cold ingredients makes this process more cumbersome, and you’re going to have more lumps and bumps than you need.
Just trust me, you’ll love the results!
PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE SWIRLS
And finally, the pumpkin cheesecake swirls are made by adding some pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and some extra cinnamon to a portion of the cheesecake batter. We’re essentially making a pumpkin cheesecake recipe out of just a small portion of the whole of the cheesecake batter.
Seriously, does it get any easier than that!?
HOW TO MAKE PUMPKIN SWIRL CHEESECAKE
Making a swirled cheesecake is quite simple. We’ll make the crust, then get the whole cheesecake batter situation settled, and add pumpkin flavor swirls to the vanilla cheesecake base. Three simple components!
MAKE AND BAKE THE CRUST
To get started with the Thanksgiving-inspired gingersnap crust, preheat your oven to 325ºF (162ºC) and spray a 9″ springform pan with nonstick spray. Sneak a few gingersnap cookies if possible (just make it happen) and set the prepared crust aside.
Add your gingersnaps to a food processor and crush them until they resemble fine crumbs. I like to use the pulse feature towards the end just to make sure I get the perfect consistency.
Then go ahead and pour those crumbs into a large bowl and add the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and melted butter. Stir everything together to combine, making sure all of the crumbs have been moistened with butter.
Empty the crushed gingersnap mixture into the prepared springform pan, and press it into the bottom of the pan in an even layer. You can do this with your fingers or the bottom of a measuring cup.
Add the pan to the oven and bake for 8 minutes– just long enough for it to crisp up ever so slightly and provide a sturdy base for the cheesecake filling.
Once the crust has baked, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool while you prepare the pumpkin swirl cheesecake filling.
MAKE THE CHEESECAKE BATTER
As I mentioned, the cheesecake filling used in this recipe is based on the one I used in my funfetti cheesecake. It’s a great classic cheesecake recipe and contrasts with the creamy pumpkin cheesecake swirls beautifully.
Start off by adding softened cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl with a handheld mixer. Beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth, creamy, and uniform. This should take about 2 minutes, and you may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice.
Once the cream cheese is silky and smooth, add in the granulated sugar and beat again until well combined– about another 2 minutes.
Reduce your mixer to low speed, then add the heavy cream, sour cream (or Greek yogurt) and vanilla extract while the mixer is running. Mix until everything is completely combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Make sure to keep your mixer on low, as incorporating too much air at this point can cause cracks in your cheesecake once baked. Slow and steady wins the race!
Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix on low just until the eggs disappear into the cheesecake batter. Do the same with the egg yolks. Remember: you want your batter to be smooth, creamy, and lump-free.
If there are lumps, crush them with a silicone spatula and mix until everything is silky smooth.
PUMPKIN-FY A PORTION OF THE BATTER
Once your batter is smooth, heavenly, and delightful, remove about 3 cups of it to a medium size bowl. This is going to become your fragrant, cinnamon-y, and luscious pumpkin swirl cheesecake batter.
All you have to do is add in the pumpkin purée, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. Give it a gentle stir until combined. It should come together pretty quickly.
ALTERNATE BATTERS INTO CRUST
Now, alternate adding spoonfuls of plain cheesecake with pumpkin cheesecake batter to the gingersnap crust. This doesn’t have to be in a particular pattern, but just do your best to create a semi-marbled effect with the batters. This isn’t the final destination, so no worries about perfection.
SWIRL THE BATTERS
Once all of your plain and pumpkin cheesecake batters have been added to the pan, use a knife or a toothpick to gently swirl the two together.
Again, you don’t need to aim for perfect symmetry here. Part of the charm of a “swirl” style cheesecake is the haphazardness of it. So go slow, swirling everything together until it looks like a pumpkin spice dream.
BAKE CHEESECAKE IN A WATER BATH
Once everything has been swirled to your heart’s content, create a water bath by placing the 9″ springform pan in a slightly larger round pan (I like to use a 10″ cake pan), and then place that pan into an even larger round pan (I like to use a 12″ cake pan) or roasting pan.
Fill the outer pan with hot water halfway up the sides of the middle pan, then carefully transfer the whole thing to the oven.
This is my tried-and-true approach to baking with a water bath, and I’m telling you it is SO much easier than the conventional method. No worries about spilling boiling hot water all over your precious toes as you waddle to the oven.
Once your water bath is prepared, bake the cheesecake for 1 hour 35 minutes or up to 1 hour 50 minutes. You will know your cheesecake is done when the center has just a bit of jiggle. This should be a section about 2″ in diameter, and no larger than that. If the jiggly bits are wider than 2″, you need to bake it for a little longer.
A foolproof way to know your cheesecake is done is to check the internal temperature. I use my digital instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature has reached 145ºF (63ºC), and that way I know we’re good to go without any guesswork needed.
ALLOW TO COOL AND CHILL
Once your cheesecake is cooked through, turn the oven off and allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven for a full hour. I like to prop the door of the oven open with a wooden spoon, to allow the oven to gradually release hot air.
Allowing the cheesecake to cool in the oven prevents those deep cracks you see in homemade cheesecakes sometimes. Nothing a good topping won’t cover, but the best texture comes from this slow cooling process.
After the hour is up, remove the springform pan from the nesting pans and allow it to cool on a wire cooling rack for another 2 hours.
Once the cheesecake is cooled to room temperature, wrap it tightly and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 6 hours, but overnight is best.
SERVE WITH A SEASONAL TOPPING
Once the cheesecake has chilled, it’s time to release it from the pan and give it a silky, fall-inspired topping.
Use a spatula or butter knife to gently run along the edges of the pan, loosening it from the sides. Then release the outer ring of the springform pan, and gently lift it away.
Top your cheesecake with fresh whipped cream or any seasonal topping that you like best. I highly recommend my pumpkin spice whipped cream, but my classic homemade whipped cream or salted caramel sauce would be a fabulous addition too.
STORING LEFTOVER CHEESECAKE
Cover your pumpkin cheesecake tightly with foil or plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. If you store it with a whipped cream topping, it will start to weep after a few days, so it’s best to store it without the topping if possible.
If you prefer, you can freeze your cheesecake for up to 3 months. Wrap the cheesecake tightly in two to three layers of plastic wrap and place it in a freezer bag. Label and store. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before serving.
Now that you’ve had the chance to try this dreamy, creamy pumpkin swirl cheesecake, what’s stopping you from trying a few more? Absolutely nothing, that’s what!
May I suggest you sample my ever-popular funfetti cheesecake? Or perhaps you would enjoy the salty, yet sweet pistachio cheesecake. Better yet, stick with the fall and cinnamon theme and try this cinnamon roll cheesecake.
Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Recipe
- 1 and ½ cups (155g) crushed gingersnaps approximately 20-24 cookies
- 3 Tablespoons (38g) granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ cup (57g) unsalted butter melted
- 32 ounces (900g) full fat block cream cheese completely softened to room temperature
- 1 and ½ cups (300g) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (60mL) heavy whipping cream at room temperature
- 5 ounces (153g) Greek yogurt or sour cream about ⅔ cup; at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- 2 large egg yolks at room temperature
- 1 cup pumpkin purée1
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 recipe homemade whipped cream
- 1 recipe pumpkin spice whipped cream
- salted caramel sauce
- Preheat the oven to 325ºF (162ºC). Spray a 9" springform pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
- In a food processor, crush the gingersnaps until they become a fine crumb. Pour the crushed gingersnaps into a large bowl, add the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and melted butter, and stir to combine.
- Press the gingersnap crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared springform pan, then bake the crust for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool while you prepare the filling.
- In a large bowl with a handheld mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the granulated sugar then beat again until combined, about another 2 minutes.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low2, then add the heavy cream, yogurt or sour cream, and vanilla and mix until completely combined. Add the eggs one at a time and continue mixing on low until eggs are just combined. Your batter should be smooth and creamy without lumps.
- Remove 3 cups of the cheesecake batter and place in a medium size bowl. Add the pumpkin purée, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice, and stir until combined.
- Add spoonfuls of each the plain cheesecake and pumpkin cheesecake batters to the baked gingersnap crust, alternating until you have used all of the batter. Use a toothpick or a butter knife to gently swirl the batters together.
- Create a water bath3 by placing the 9" springform pan in a slightly larger round pan (I like to use a 10" cake pan) and then place that pan into an even larger round pan (I like to use a 12" cake pan) or roasting pan.
- Fill the outer pan with hot water halfway up the sides of the middle pan, then carefully transfer the whole thing to the oven.
- Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour 35 minutes to 1 hour 50 minutes. The middle of the cheesecake (a center approximately 2" wide) should jiggle just a little bit. I use my digital instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature has reached 145ºF (63ºC). Turn the oven off4 and allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove the springform pan from all of the other pans and allow to cool on a cooling rack for another 2 hours. When the cheesecake is completely cool, cover or wrap tightly and allow to chill in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, ideally overnight.
- Remove the cheesecake from the fridge and use a spatula or butter knife to gently loosen the crust from the side of the pan, then release the outer ring of the springform pan.
- Top the cheesecake with fresh whipped cream (I used my pumpkin spice whipped cream, but you can use my plain homemade whipped cream recipe, salted caramel sauce, or any other seasonal topping you prefer). Store leftovers in the refrigerator up to 5 days. Cheesecake freezes well, up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
- Pumpkin: I always measure pumpkin purée with measuring cups as the moisture content can wildly change the weight measurements, depending on the brand.
- Mixer speed: it’s important not to go above low (or low-medium) speed after you’ve beaten the cream cheese. Incorporating too much air will create bubbles and potential cracks in your finished cheesecake.
- Water bath pans: here is a bundle that includes all the pans I use. Using this method eliminates the need to wrap anything in foil.
- Cool the cheesecake: I like to prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon or spatula.
All nutritional values are approximate and provided to the reader as a courtesy. Changing ingredients and/or quantities will alter the estimated nutritional calculations.
Amazing recipe! Can’t wait to make it again. I might even do this for dessert for Thanksgiving!
So fun for Thanksgiving!
This pumpkin cheesecake was a total dream! All of it was just a treat, and I can’t wait to make another to share with friends soon.
Thanks so much, Erin!
I am with you — never been a huge fan of cheesecake, but my family is, so treated them to this the other day and WOW, so flavorful and that gingersnap crust! YUM!
So so good!
This. is. literally. the. best. cheesecake. ever. It’s a shame pumpkin is only socially acceptable for a few months of the year because this is THE best dessert ever!
I could not agree more! Thanks so much, Lauren!
I cannot believe I can’t give this cheesecake more than 5 stars!! It is so good!! TEN STARS!!
Haha, unofficial highest rating EVER! Thank you!
I made this for my extended family thanksgiving and it was a huge hit! I had never made a cheesecake before but these notes and instructions made it so easy! Thanks for the delicious dessert!
Thank you so much, Bekah!
I mean, are we KIDDING!?!? This pumpkin spice cheesecake was to diiiiie for. I have to make it again pronto! My first time making cheesecake ever, and it was a HUGE hit. Best ever. I even used a cake pan and it still turned out so delicious! I need to buy a spring foam pan.. and I will for next time but this will be on the menu again within a week. Absolute perfection!!
I could not love this review more. Thanks so much, Ashley!
Absolutely DELICIOUS! This was the first time I baked a cheesecake, and it turned out perfectly! My husband is not a huge fan of pumpkin at all, and he could not compliment the taste, texture, and overall yumminess of this cheesecake enough! I made it for Thanksgiving and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it, including my 10 year old twins! I will be baking it again for Christmas 😊. Thanks, Lynn…your instructions, tips, and tricks make all the difference in yielding a successful dessert! You’re the best!
Thank you SO much, Kathleen! I’m so proud of you!! 🙂