Seriously, the Best Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust
If there’s one recipe you can count on me making every year for Friendsgiving or Thanksgiving, it’s this Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust. My friends & family are so obsessed with it that they won’t accept anything other than this perfect pumpkin cheesecake for dessert at our holiday gatherings! (I’m not kidding…Chris’ best friend texts me randomly throughout the year to tell me he’s dreaming about it!)
And to be honest, I can’t blame them – this pumpkin cheesecake is insanely good.
We first published this recipe way back in 2016 – it’s one of the first recipes ever published on PWWB! – but I revisit it every year, just to make sure it’s as good as I remember. And let me tell you, this epic pumpkin cheesecake never lets me down.
It’s so good that even I, a lifelong pumpkin dessert-hater (eek – controversial, I know!), can’t resist a slice…or 2. If you haven’t tried it just yet, make this year your year. You are in for a major, major treat!
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust Recipe Highlights
This is the BEST-EVER pumpkin cheesecake & here’s why…
- LIGHT & FLUFFY YET ULTRA CREAMY. This pumpkin cheesecake has the most incredible texture. While it’s definitely a rich & indulgent dessert, it couldn’t be further from dense or heavy. The pumpkin filling is light, fluffy, & totally creamy-dreamy. Each bite sort of melts away in your mouth – just how cheesecake should!
- SNAPPY CRUST. IMHO, gingersnap crust is the best crust for pumpkin cheesecake. It offers the kind of spice & zing that cuts right through the creaminess of the pumpkin cheesecake filling.
- WONDERFULLY BALANCED. Each bite of this pumpkin cheesecake is the combination of smooth & creamy with a welcome crunch. It’s a texture lover’s dream!
- PERFECT FALL DESSERT. Spiced with fall’s favorite cozy flavors, it’s like autumn in cheesecake form. Make this pumpkin cheesecake for any celebration this fall – birthdays, dinner parties, Halloween, or even Thanksgiving (who needs pie anyways?!).
Seriously perfect, every single time. ♡ Read on to learn more about this Best-Ever Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe, or jump straight to the recipe & get baking!
Pumpkin Cheesecake Key Ingredients
Among the reasons I absolutely adore this pumpkin cheesecake recipe is the fact that it doesn’t call for any specialty ingredients. It’s made entirely of ingredients you expect to see in a cheesecake!
You will need…
- Cream cheese & sour cream – A combination that creates a rich cheesecake filling with a slightly tangy flavor. If sour cream isn’t your jam, you can use crème fraîche or full-fat plain Greek yogurt in its place for a similar effect.
- Pure pumpkin purée – You can DIY it & make homemade roasted pumpkin purée, or just use the canned stuff (which is exactly what I do!). Whatever you do, be sure to use pumpkin purée, not canned pumpkin pie filling!
- Pumpkin pie spice – Use your favorite store-bought spice blend (mine is Penzey’s!), or whip up a batch of homemade. I use this trusted recipe, typically adding a smidge more ginger.
- A few baking staples – like butter, eggs, & pure vanilla extract.
- Gingersnaps – For the perfect spiced gingersnap crust!
Ingredient Spotlight ⇢ Best Gingersnaps for Cheesecake Crust:
A key factor in what makes this pumpkin cheesecake recipe the best pumpkin cheesecake is its gingersnap cookie crust. It should come as no surprise that choosing the right gingersnaps is super important: they need to be very crispy & they need to have really spicy & zingy ginger flavor.
My favorite gingersnap cookies to use in this recipe are the Triple Ginger Gingersnaps from Trader Joe’s. They’re made with 3 kinds of ginger: fresh, ground dried, & crystallized. They have the best spicy ginger flavor. You can find them in the cookie section, above the freezer coolers; you’ll need one 14-ounce tub for this recipe.
Don’t live near a Trader Joe’s? No problem! Use a different gingersnap cookie for the crust. Look for crispy gingersnaps (vs soft-baked), such as Stauffer’s. PWWB readers have also successfully used these gluten-free gingersnaps for a gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake.
Can’t find crispy gingersnaps? Make a classic graham cracker crust, but zhuzh it up with some cinnamon & ginger to emulate the spicy-sweet flavor of gingersnaps. There’s an exact how-to in the Recipe Card, below!
How to Make the Best Pumpkin Cheesecake – Tips & Tricks
Baking cheesecake is something that can feel super intimidating, but it doesn’t need to be! Yes, a cheesecake with the perfect, fluffy texture is the result of proper technique, but there are a couple of simple things you can do to ensure your pumpkin cheesecake with gingersnap crust bakes up beautifully, without falling or cracking.
Note: full Recipe Directions with step-by-step photos provided in the Recipe Card, below.
#1 – Use Room Temperature Ingredients
Ensure that the cream cheese, sour cream, & eggs are at room temperature before you start whipping up the cheesecake filling. Room temperature ingredients come together much more easily, without any lumps or bumps in the cheesecake batter. Because they mix more easily, this also helps avoid over-mixing or overworking the batter, as this deflates the perfect fluffiness of the cheesecake.
Personally, I pull the cream cheese, sour cream, & eggs out of the fridge the night before I bake my pumpkin cheesecake, giving them ample time to come to room temperature. Easy peasy!
#2 – Bake the Cheesecake in a Water Bath!
A water bath is key in baking the perfect cheesecake! The water acts as a medium, absorbing the heat from the oven to help the cheesecake bake more gently & evenly. As a bonus, it also adds moisture to the oven as the cheesecake slowly bakes, which prevents cracking & creates the creamy, dreamy texture we’re after.
Baking with a water bath is one of those things that sounds super intimidating, but it’s totally not. To create a water bath, simply wrap your cheesecake pan with foil, pop it in a roasting pan, & surround it with boiling water before you pop it in the oven to bake. I suggest doing this right on the oven rack as you place the cheesecake into the oven to help avoid spillage.
#3 – Allow Time to Let the Cheesecake Set Properly
Between prepping, baking, & setting, cheesecake is a time-intensive baking project. There’s no way around it. This particular pumpkin cheesecake bakes for almost 2 hours & sets for up to 13 hours (1 hour in the oven after baking & 8-12 hours in the refrigerator). Allowing for ample time to set ensures that your pumpkin cheesecake will have the perfect light & fluffy texture.
Be sure to take this timeline into consideration as you’re planning your Thanksgiving menu! This pumpkin cheesecake with gingersnap crust is incredibly make-ahead friendly. Be sure to check the Recipe Notes, below, for guidance on storage & freezing.
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust Serving Ideas
With your pumpkin cheesecake baked, chilled, & set to perfection, all that’s left is the very best part – serving it!
I won’t lie – it’s pretty perfect on its own, but I think there are 3 things that take this spiced pumpkin cheesecake completely over the top:
- Freshly whipped cream – I make whipped cream with heavy cream, pure vanilla extract, & a little bit of powdered sugar. It takes just a couple of minutes to whip up in a stand mixer & it’s perfect piped or dolloped on top of a slice of cheesecake.
- Freshly grated nutmeg – Plain & simple! Finish each slice of cheesecake with a light dusting of freshly grated nutmeg for an extra aromatic quality that brings out the spices in the cheesecake.
- Salted caramel – YES, PLEASE! A little drizzling of salted caramel will take your pumpkin cheesecake completely over the top. This is my absolute favorite store-bought salted caramel. It is perfection!
I mean, is there anything more perfect than…
…I don’t think so! We can’t wait for you to make this Best-Ever Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust recipe. Once you taste it, I know you’ll be just as obsessed as my friends & family are!
If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations!Print
The Best-Ever Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust! Rich & creamy cheesecake with the perfect light & fluffy texture, laced with warm pumpkin spices, & served on a super gingery gingersnap crust. The ultimate pumpkin dessert for Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving celebrations!
for the gingersnap crust:
- 14 ounces crispy gingersnap cookies (see Recipe Notes)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
for the pumpkin cheesecake
- 32 ounces cream cheese (four 8-ounce bricks), at room temperature
- ¼ cup sour cream, at room temperature
- 2 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
- 6 large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 heaping tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- for serving, as desired: freshly whipped cream, freshly grated nutmeg, salted caramel
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Wrap the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan tightly in foil – this is the easiest way to ensure no liquid oozes in or out of the springform pan while the crust and the cheesecake bake. Make sure it’s tightly wrapped so it does not fall off while you’re transferring anything in or out of the oven!
- Prep the gingersnap crust: Add the gingersnap cookies to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the cookies are crushed into small crumbs. You will have about 2 ½ cups of gingersnap crumbs. If you do not have a food processor, you can also place the gingersnaps in a resealable bag and use a rolling pin & some elbow grease to crush them. Either way works! Transfer the gingersnap crumbs to a large bowl with the brown sugar. Mix to combine. Pour the melted butter over top and mix to combine, until the entire mixture is moist. Transfer the gingersnap mixture to the prepared springform pan. Press the crumbs into an even layer. I like to press them halfway up the sides of the springform pan and use the bottom of a measuring cup to press it in really well and create some nice edges.
- Bake the gingersnap crust for 12-15 minutes, until golden and fragrant. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Reduce the heat of the oven to 325 degrees F.
- Prep the pumpkin cheesecake filling: Meanwhile, as the gingersnap crust bakes, prep the cheesecake filling. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cream cheese, sour cream and granulated sugar. Using your mixer’s paddle attachment, beat the mixture on medium speed for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is smooth and creamy, then add in the pumpkin puree. Use a spatula to occasionally scrape down the sides of the bowl. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add in the beaten eggs, vanilla extract and pumpkin spice. Mix until just combined.
- Assemble the pumpkin cheesecake: Carefully pour the pumpkin cheesecake filling over the prepared gingersnap crust. The filling will go straight up to the top of the springform pan, & that’s totally fine. It won’t overflow! Carefully tap the pan against the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.
- Prepare the water bath: Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Set a roasting pan on the middle rack of your oven. Again, the oven should be at 325 degrees at this point! Add the cheesecake to the middle of the roasting pan, then carefully pour the boiling water in the pan, surrounding the cheesecake. The water should come about ½ way up the sides of the springform pan, but make sure the water level stays below the foil that is wrapped around the springform pan.
- Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 45 minutes, until the edges are set. The center of the cheesecake may still be a little loose, and that’s okay! It will continue to set as it sits. Turn off the oven, leaving the cheesecake in the oven for 1 hour while the oven cools. The residual heat of the oven will gently bake the cheesecake to completion. Remove the cheesecake from the oven & from the water bath and transfer to the refrigerator to set for 8-12 hours.
- Serve: Run a knife around the edges of the springform pan before releasing it. Slice the cheesecake into 8-12 slices. Top with whipped cream, freshly grated nutmeg, & a drizzle of salted caramel as desired. Enjoy!
- Gingersnaps: My favorite gingersnap cookies to use in this recipe are the Triple Ginger Gingersnaps from Trader Joe’s. They’re made with 3 kinds of ginger: fresh, ground dried, & crystallized. They have the best spicy ginger flavor. You can find them in the cookie section, above the freezer coolers. Alternatives:
- If you don’t live near Trader Joe’s, you can use a different gingersnap cookie for the crust. Look for crispy gingersnaps (vs soft-baked), such as Stauffer’s.
- For a gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake, try these gluten-free gingersnaps, which a number of other PWWB readers have used with great success.
- If gingersnaps are hard to come by, you can also make a graham cracker crust: crush 3 sleeves of cinnamon graham crackers & stir in 1 tablespoon of ground ginger.
- Springform pan: A springform pan is essential to successfully making cheesecake! This one is made by one of my most trusted baking brands & has amazing reviews (less than $20!). You’ll also want a roasting pan to properly set up a water bath for this pumpkin cheesecake – this is the one I use.
- Make-ahead, storage & freezing: This Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust will keep for up to 5 days after baking – feel free to make it ahead of time, or store your leftovers to enjoy later.
- Storage: Wrap the cheesecake in plastic & store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Freezing: This pumpkin cheesecake is also incredibly freezer-friendly. Set the chilled cheesecake on a baking sheet & freeze solid before tightly wrapping in plastic or foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw the cheesecake overnight in the refrigerator before re-serving.
Keywords: pumpkin cheesecake recipe, pumpkin cheesecake with gingersnap crust, dessert recipes, Thanksgiving, fall, winter, best pumpkin cheesecake, thanksgiving dessert
Recipe by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Eat Love Eat
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