Last call for all the pumpkin things! It’s no secret that I’m not the biggest fan of traditional pumpkin pie. But give me a batch of pumpkin swirl cheesecake bars with a crunchy gingersnap crust any day. These pretty pumpkin squares are waayyyy easier to make than a whole pumpkin pie or a full cheesecake and 1000 times more delicious if I do say so myself.
Dessert bars take all the stress out of holiday baking. Make these pumpkin swirl cheesecake bars the day before and store them in the fridge overnight. Then just slice and serve for the perfect Thanksgiving dessert. No one will miss the pie, promise!
What makes these cheesecake bars so good?
- These easy make ahead bars are perfect for a holiday potluck or your Thanksgiving dessert buffet.
- Pumpkin + cheesecake. Need I say more?
- A fun and festive dessert that is surprisingly easy to make. Just look at those swirls!
- No water bath needed!
- These bars freeze perfectly. Wrap in individual servings and defrost anytime the pumpkin spice craving strikes.
These homemade pumpkin cheesecake bars are easy to make with just a few simple ingredients and they bring all the delicious Autumn flavor we all love this time of year. Here’s what you’ll need.
- Cream cheese – use regular, full-fat cream cheese softened to room temperature. If you’re short on time, cut it into small cubes and let it sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
- Pumpkin – puree that is! Pumpkin puree is not the same as pumpkin pie filling. Check the label – it should contain 100% pumpkin. The recipe calls for 1 cup of pumpkin so save the extra for muffins or your morning smoothie.
- Gingersnap cookies – I love the flavor of gingersnap with pumpkin but feel free to swap with graham crackers or speculoos cookies. You can crush the cookies in a food processor or place them in a large plastic freezer bag and use a rolling pin.
- Eggs – for a silky smooth batter that doesn’t curdle, make sure your eggs are at room temperature.
- Sugar – A little brown sugar in the crust and granulated sugar in the cheesecake adds the perfect amount of sweetness. I use light brown sugar but dark brown works too.
- Sour cream – No lumpy cheesecakes here. Set your sour cream out an hour before mixing the batter so that it combines well with the other ingredients.
- Spices – We’ve basically created our own pumpkin pie spice for this recipe but feel free to substitute with a teaspoon of actual pumpkin pie spice.
- Vanilla – A good quality vanilla extract goes a long way. I love using this one from Rodelle.
How to make pumpkin cheesecake bars
If you are looking for a quick and easy alternative to pumpkin pie, this is iiittttt! These simple cheesecake bars have three layers but each one is easy to make. Just mix, layer, swirl and bake. It’s that easy!
- Prepare the crust. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Crush the gingersnap cookies by pulsing in a food processor until they resemble fine crumbs. Add brown sugar and melted butter and use a fork to combine well.
- Press the cookie crust into the prepared pan. Transfer the cookie crumbs to a parchment lined 8 x 8 pan. Using a spatula or the bottom of a measuring cup, press the crumbs evenly into the pan. Bake for 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool while you make the cheesecake and pumpkin layers. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
- Make the cheesecake batter. Mix together the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, vanilla, egg and salt until light and creamy. You can do this in a stand mixer or use a hand mixer.
- Reserve 1/3 cup of cheesecake batter and pour the remaining batter over the prepared crust. Use an offset spatula to spread the batter evenly.
- Mix together the pumpkin layer. Using a hand mixer or whisk, combine the pumpkin, brown sugar, heavy cream, vanilla, egg, spice and salt until smooth.
- Pour over the top of the cheesecake. Use an offset spatula to spread the pumpkin layer evenly over the top of the cheesecake layer.
- Add remaining cheesecake batter to the top of pumpkin layer. Using the reserved 1/3 cup of cheesecake batter, use a spoon to place dollops evenly across the top of the pumpkin layer.
- Swirl the batters together. Use a toothpick or table knife to swirl the batters together for a marbled look. Don’t over do it – less is more to get those pretty swirls.
- Bake at 325°F for 50-55 minutes. Double check that you lowered the oven temperature after baking the crust. The bars should be set on the edges and will still be slightly jiggly in the center but should not look raw. Remove the bars from the oven and cool at room temperature for 2 hours. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.
Tips for the best pumpkin bars
Not gonna lie, cheesecake used to intimidate me, but these cheesecake bars are so easy to make and they bake up perfectly every time. Follow the tips below for best success.
- Plan ahead. Dessert bars are my favorite because they’re easy to throw together in one pan. These bars do require a little extra baking and chilling time so I recommend starting the day before.
- Use room temperature ingredients. Cold ingredients do not incorporate well so allow time to bring your cream cheese, sour cream, heavy cream and eggs to room temperature before mixing your batters.
- Go easy on the swirl. Less is definitely more when it comes to the swirl. Just run a toothpick through the batter once or twice. Too much mixing and the bars will look messy once sliced.
- Chill overnight. To get that cold, creamy cheesecake texture we all know and love, these bars must be chilled overnight. I like to freeze them for about 10 minutes just before slicing.
- Use a sharp knife to slice. For those perfect, clean edges, use a very sharp knife and only cut the bars when cold. Clean the knife after each slice by running it under a stream of warm water and then wiping with a clean cloth.
Absolutely! Cheesecake bars freeze beautifully. Simply wrap the cut squares in a layer of plastic wrap and store in a large freezer bag or container for up to 2 months. Defrost at room temperature and serve cold.
Yes! Both the cheesecake batter and pumpkin layer are naturally gluten free. You can easily swap the gingersnap crust for a gluten free graham cracker crust.
I recommend making the bars a day or two ahead and keep them stored in the refrigerator. Then you can just slice and serve when you’re ready to enjoy.
Of course. To double the recipe, bake the bars in a 9 x 13 inch pan. Keep an eye on the baking time as they may take a bit longer to set.
How to serve cheesecake bars
These bars are as pretty as they are delicious and will be a big hit with all of the pumpkin (and cheesecake!) lovers in your life. Here’s a few of my favorite way to serve pumpkin cheesecake bars.
- Add a dollop of freshly whipped cream
- Drizzle salted caramel over the top of each bar
- Dust with a sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg
- Add a layer of brown sugar crumble to the top
- Serve with a warm cup of coffee or spiced cider
Wishing you and yours a Happy Turkey Day! Thank you for following along here, for leaving kind comments and sharing my recipes with those near and dear to you. I’m grateful for each and every one of you!!
Looking for more pumpkin spice recipes?
- Pumpkin Bread with Streusel Topping
- Mini Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecakes
- Mini Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
- Chocolate Dipped Brown Butter Pumpkin Madeleines
- Pumpkin Chocolate Muffins
Swirls of pumpkin spice and creamy cheesecake layered over a crunchy gingersnap crust. These easy bars will be the hit of your turkey day table! Make them a day ahead for a simple, no stress holiday dessert!
For Cookie Crust
- 6 ounces gingersnap cookies (about 2 dozen cookies), crumbled
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
For Cheesecake Layer
- 16 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/3 cup full fat sour cream, room temperature (or Greek yogurt)
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 egg plus one egg yolk, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
For Pumpkin Layer
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon all-spice
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8 x 8 baking pan with parchment paper, allowing the ends to extend over the pan by about 2 inches for easy removal of the bars once baked.
- Crush the gingersnap cookies using a food processor until they resemble fine crumbs. Be sure there are no large pieces of cookies in the mix.
- Add the brown sugar and melted butter. Stir with a fork to combine well.
- Transfer to the prepared pan and use the bottom of a glass or measuring cup to evenly press the crumbs down into the bottom of the pan.
- Bake for 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the crust to cool while you make the cheesecake and pumpkin layers.
- Important: After the crust bakes, reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
- To make the cheesecake, in the bowl of a stand mixer beat the cream cheese until light and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the sugar. Mix to combine well.
- Add the eggs and vanilla and mix on medium speed for one minute until incorporated. Add the flour and salt and mix until just combined. Do not over mix. Remove 1/3 cup of the cheesecake and set aside.
- To make the pumpkin layer, using a hand mixer or whisk, combine the pumpkin puree, brown sugar and heavy cream until combined well.
- Add the egg and vanilla. Stir to combine.
- Add the flour, spices and salt, stirring briefly to combine. Do not over mix. Set aside.
- To assemble the layers, pour the cheesecake batter (minus the 1/3 cup of reserved batter) over the top of the baked crust. Use an offset spatula to smooth the top.
- Next, pour the pumpkin mixture over the cheesecake layer. Use an offset spatula to carefully spread it across the top.
- Using a teaspoon, add dollops of the reserved cheesecake batter evenly across the top of the pumpkin layer. Use a toothpick or knife to gently swirl the two batters together. For the prettiest swirls, do not over do it. Be sure to reach towards the bottom of the pan as you swirl to combine the layers.
- Bake for 50-55 minutes at 325°F. The edges of the bars should be set and the center will still be slightly jiggly, but not raw.
- Remove the bars from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack. Once the bars have reached room temperature, cover the top of the pan with aluminum foil and transfer them to the refrigerator to chill overnight.
Slice the bars into 16 squares with a clean, sharp knife. Serve cold.
Keep bars tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Bars may be frozen. Freeze sliced bars on a baking sheet uncovered until solid. Wrap individually in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost at room temperature and serve cold.
Can substitute 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice for the spices in the pumpkin batter.
Keywords: pumpkin cheesecake bars, pumpkin swirl cheesecake bars