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Ultimate Pumpkin Cheesecake for Thanksgiving Dessert

November 13, 2023

Slice of pumpkin cheesecake with caramel drizzle

With three layers of pumpkin flavored cheesecake on a gingersnap crust, this Ultimate Pumpkin Cheesecake makes a wonderful presentation as an after-dinner dessert during the fall.  It also is a delicious alternative to the traditional pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.

COOK + BAKE   |   Updated November 12, 2023

Slice of pumpkin cheesecake on white plate

Turkey roasted to a golden perfection

Creamy mashed potatoes covered in a smooth, rich gravy

Green bean casserole topped with French fried onions

Golden butternut squash

Moist sage stuffing

A side of cranberry jello salad

And a slice of pumpkin pie topped with a dollop of Cool Whip

I'm not sure how any of this came to be traditional Thanksgiving fare considering the pilgrims likely had venison, fish, and walnuts for their first celebration. Aren't we glad the meal changed? Most would agree that Thanksgiving food now is really the best meal of the year.

Today I'm putting a little twist on the common pumpkin dessert for the holiday. I've had pumpkin cheesecake before, but this recipe for the Ultimate Pumpkin Cheesecake adapted from Taste of Home really takes the basic dessert to a whole other level.

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Why You'll Love this Recipe

This fancy dessert consists of three layers of filling over a homemade gingersnap crust. Then before serving, the cheesecake is topped with a caramel drizzle, dollop of whipped cream, and sprinkle of cinnamon.

I can't even explain how delicious this dessert is and it is just the the thing that will impress your guests gathered around the holiday table.

This cheesecake is really not as difficult to put together as it sounds. But if you'd like to make the steps a little easier, feel free to mix the pumpkin ingredients into the entire cream cheese mixture to avoid the three different layers.

What You'll Need

For your convenience, a full ingredients list, directions for making Ultimate Pumpkin Cheesecake, and a printable recipe option appear further down in this article. Here is an overview of what you'll be needing.

  • gingersnaps - finely crushed for your crust
  • unsalted butter - melted
  • regular cream cheese - softened to room temperature
  • granulated sugar
  • cornstarch
  • pumpkin puree - canned or fresh puree, not pumpkin pie filling
  • vanilla extract
  • large eggs
  • ground nutmeg
  • ground cinnamon

How to Make the Ultimate Pumpkin Cheesecake

Now let's walk through the steps to making this delicious dessert.


Preheat your oven to 350°F and place your oven rack in the middle of the oven.

Grease a 9-inch springform pan well to help prevent the filling from cracking as the cheesecake cools and pulls away from the pan.

Place it on a double thickness of heavy duty foil and wrap the foil around the bottom of the pan and up the sides. You'll be setting this cheesecake into a water bath, so you need to ensure that the water cannot seep into the pan and make your crust soggy. This water bath is what will cook your cheesecake filling and preserve it's rich, smooth custard like texture.

Crushed up gingersnaps for crust


Use a rolling pin to finely crush the gingersnaps for the crust. Then in a small bowl, combine the crumbs and melted better and press them into the bottom of your prepared springform pan. Bake the crust for about 8 to 10 minutes at 350°F, then cool it on a wire rack.

Cheesecake ready to go into oven


  • Using an electric mixer, beat on package of softened cream cheese, 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, and the cornstarch until it is smooth (about 2 minutes). Then beat in the remaining cream cheese one at a time until the mixture is smooth. Scrap down the sides of the bowl, then add the remaining cup of sugar and vanilla, making sure the batter is free of lumps. Add the eggs all at once and beat on low just until combined. If too much air is beaten into this mixture, the cheesecake will puff as it bakes and collapse and split when it cools.

  • Place two cups of the filling into a separate bowl. Stir in the pumpkin puree, nutmeg and cinnamon. Then remove 3/4 cup of this filling to another bowl.

  • Pour the remaining pumpkin filling over the crust, top with the remaining plain filling, then cut through the two with a knife to swirl. Then drop the reserved pumpkin filling by spoonfuls over the cheesecake and cut through with a knife to swirl.

  • Place the springform pan inside of a large baking pan. Add 1 inch of hot water to the larger pan to create your water bath. Place the baking pan into the middle of the oven to bake. Try to open the oven door as little as possible while the cheesecake bakes, especially for the first 30 minutes, as drafts can cause your cheesecake to crack. It will be done when the center of the cheesecake is just set, the edges are slightly puffed, and the top appears dull. This should take about one hour to one hour 20 minutes.

  • Remove the pan from the water bath and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cheesecake and allow it to cool for one more hour. Refrigerate at least 6 hours to overnight before removing the outside of the springform pan to serve. When cold, wrap the top of the pan with a piece of foil or plastic wrap.

  • When you are ready to serve, loosen the latch of the pan and lift the outside straight up to remove. Slice the cheesecake while it is cold, but for the best flavor, let the slices stand at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes before serving. Garnish the cheesecake with a drizzle of caramel sauce or ice cream topping, a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Tips for the Best Cheescake

  • Soften the cream cheese to room temperature for about 30 minutes before you are ready to make your cheesecake. If it isn't soft before you begin mixing, the filling will be lumpy and not smooth after creaming.

  • Overbeating the filling will put too much air into the filling. This lets the cheesecake puff when baking, leading to a collapse and split as it cools. You want to beat the ingredients just until they are combined.

  • For best results, bake your cheesecake in the middle of the oven.

  • Remove your cheesecake from the oven when the edges are slightly puffed and the very center jiggles just slightly. It will continue to cook as the cheesecake cools. Don't use a knife to check for doneness, because this will cause a crack across the top.

  • Leave the outer ring on the springform pan until you are ready to slice and serve your dessert.

  • For clean slices of cheesecake, warm the blade of a straight-edged knife with hot water, dry and slice. Clean and rewarm the knife after each cut.


Three layers of pumpkin flavored cheesecake on a gingersnap crust...a delicious alternative to the traditional pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.



  • 1 cup crushed gingersnaps (about 20 cookies)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 - 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


STEP 1: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan and place it on a double thickness of heavy duty foil. Wrap the foil around the bottom and up the sides of the pan.

STEP 2: TO MAKE THE CRUST: In a small bowl, combine the gingersnap crumbs and melted butter, then press into the bottom of the springform pan. Place the pan into the oven on a baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.

STEP 3: TO MAKE THE FILLING: Using an electric mixer, beat one package of cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, and cornstarch until smooth, about 2 minutes. Beat in the remaining cream cheese one at a time until the mixture is smooth. Add the remaining cup of sugar and vanilla, followed by the four eggs. Beat on low just until combined.

STEP 4: Place 2 cups of filling in a separate bowl. Stir in the pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg, then remove 3/4 cup of this filling into another bowl.

STEP 5: Pour the remaining 1 1/4 cups of pumpkin filling over the crust. Top with the plain filling and cut through with a knife to swirl. Drop the reserved pumpkin filling by spoonfuls over the cheesecake and again, cut through the plain filling with a knife to swirl.

STEP 6: Place the springform pan into a large baking dish. Add 1 inch of hot water to the larger pan. Bake for 60 to 80 minutes until the center is set and the top appears dull.

STEP 7: Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the crust. Cool one hour longer then refrigerate overnight.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have some questions about making pumpkin cheesecake? Here are some that are frequently asked to help guide you through the process.


The gingersnap crust adds a lot to the flavor of the fall dessert. But if you don't like gingersnaps or don't have the ingredients available, feel free to substitute an ordinary graham cracker crust to hold the filling.


If you have a 10-inch springform pan instead of a 9-inch, the cheesecake will be fine. Just keep an eye on when the filling is done as you'll likely need just the 60 minutes instead of 80.


If this recipe makes too much to enjoy at the time, feel free to store it in an airtight container in the freezer for up to three months. If you want to be able to remove individual slices, place sheets of wax paper or parchment paper between them.


If stored in an airtight container, cheesecake should stay fresh about three days in the refrigerator.

Prepare this cheesecake in addition (or as an alternative) to your traditional Thanksgiving dessert or enjoy it throughout the fall season for a delicious seasonal treat.

Other Fall Dessert Posts You Might Love

APPLE DANISH CHEESECAKE - Layers of fresh apple and cheesecake filling on top of a walnut crust.

SPICED PUMPKIN COFFEE CAKE - A semi-homemade recipe to enjoy for breakfast or dessert.

HOW TO MAKE THE BEST PUMPKIN PIE - One simple step to intense pumpkin flavor.

APPLE BUTTER PIE - Everything you love about a traditional custard pie, but filled with apple flavor.


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