Made with a sweet graham cracker crust and topped with a luscious and creamy cheesecake and pumpkin filling, these pumpkin cheesecake bars are a lighter and fluffier cheesecake version of my popular pumpkin pie bars!
Table of Contents
Setting the Dessert Bar High
Bring on the cool weather comfort baking! These easy pumpkin cheesecake bars are where cheesecake bars and pumpkin pie come together in a thick and rich marbled dessert bar. It’s the best thing to bite into when the cravings for the fall flavors hit!
Since this recipe for pumpkin cheesecake bars is inspired by two classic fall treats they’re perfect for Thanksgiving and Christmas, or anytime you’ve got some pumpkin puree to use up!
Why This Recipe Works
- Comes together easily. We’re not using a water bath which eliminates an extra couple of steps! It takes about 15 minutes of prep time, then the rest is baking, cooling, and slicing!
- Always a hit. It’s perfect for anyone who adores a classic cheesecake recipe or a traditional pumpkin pie. It’s also great for those who love dessert bars and fall flavors.
- Make ahead and freezer-friendly. Pumpkin cheesecake dessert bars are even better when they’ve had a chance to sit and chill. Make these in advance to save you time later on!
Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.
- For the crust: Crushed graham crackers, melted butter, and sugar. I like to use salted butter in this case just to give the sweetness a little balance. You can crush your own crackers or buy a box of graham cracker crumbs.
- Cheesecake filling: Cream cheese, sugar, large eggs, sour cream, and vanilla extract. It’s important to remember to soften cream cheese and brings eggs and sour cream to room temperature. That way all ingredients start at the same temp for even baking. It’s also easier to whip the cream cheese once it’s soft.
- Pumpkin layer: Pumpkin puree, flour, pumpkin pie spice, ground cinnamon, and sea salt. Pumpkin puree isn’t the same as pumpkin pie filling, so don’t get them confused! You want the real pumpkin. Pat any extra moisture with a paper towel.
How to Make Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
- Combine crust ingredients. In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter until combined into what looks and feels like soft wet sand.
- Press it into the pan. Add the crumb mixture to the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch pan and use the bottom of a measuring cup to compact it down firmly so that it’s an even layer of crust across the surface. Use your fingers to make sure the crust is firmly pressed to the sides. Bake it for 8-10 minutes until golden brown and remove it from the oven. Reduce the temperature.
- Make the fillings. Beat the cream cheese and sugar on low speed until smooth. I like to use the stand mixer with the paddle attachment for this. Then, add 1 egg at a time, mixing thoroughly between each addition. Mix in the sour cream and vanilla and mix until smooth.
- Add them both the the pan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, flour, pumpkin spice, and cinnamon until combined. Then, whisk in 1 cup of the cheesecake batter until fully incorporated. This is what makes it lighter and fluffier than your average pumpkin pie filling.
- Swirl and bake. Add spoonfuls of the filling into the crust, alternating between the cheesecake layer and pumpkin filling. You should have globs of both dispersed throughout. Use a toothpick or a knife to gently swirl the two together into a marble pattern. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the center appears to be set.
- Chill, slice, and serve. Allow the pumpkin cheesecake bars to cool completely on a wire rack before transferring it to the fridge. It needs to chill for at least 8 hours before slicing. When it’s ready, slice your pumpkin pie cheesecake bars into even squares and serve with desired toppings. Whipped cream is one of our favorites!
Make It Ahead
These bars are best eaten once chilled and set, which makes it a great make-ahead dessert for busy celebrations. There’s no need to reheat anything either, simply bring the bars to room temperature before serving!
- Press the crust crumbs up the sides of the baking dish slightly. This can help to prevent cracking.
- Do not overmix it. This is another way to prevent cracking. It will also help to avoid dense textures.
- You can use parchment paper to line the baking pan if you want. It makes it easier to lift it out of the pan when you’re ready to slice it.
- Use a food processor to make crumbs from whole Graham Crackers.
- For clean slices, dip a sharp knife into hot water for a few seconds. Wipe it dry, then slice and repeat the process between every cut.
- Different layers. I love the look of the pretty marbling, but it’s not a must. If you want distinct layers you can do that too.
You can try. You want the fat of regular cream cheese and sour cream for the rich consistency, but you can swap them both if you’re okay with possibly a different taste.
Either way, only use cream cheese from a block! Not the spreadable kind that comes in a tub. This type contains a higher water content, which will definitely alter the results of your pumpkin cheesecake bars.
No! The beauty of this recipe is that as long as you use room temperature ingredients and don’t overmix your filling, that should take care of avoiding cracks!
In the end, if it does crack, it just means you’ll have to slather it with whipped cream and caramel sauce!
If you have some on hand, you’ll want to make sure to drain it through a cheese cloth or fine mesh strainer to ensure it’s thick enough to hold. Then pat it with paper towels to remove excess moisture.
You can keep the bars uncut until you’re ready to serve them. They’ll stay fresh in the pan for up to 5 days in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
If you’ve sliced them, transfer them to an airtight container and then refrigerate for up to 5 days.
To freeze them, wrap the pumpkin cheesecake bars in plastic wrap. Transfer them to a freezer container and keep them frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight or bring them to room temperature for a couple of hours before serving.
More Delicious Pumpkin Desserts
Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
- 2 cups finely crushed graham crackers (18 full sheets or 2 packs)
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup (1 stick) salted butter , melted
- 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese , at room temperature
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs , at room temperature
- ½ cup sour cream , at room temperature
- ½ Tablespoon vanilla extract
Optional topping: Whipped cream
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the graham crackers, sugar, and butter until well combined.
- In the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish, firmly press the crumb mixture evenly using a 1/4 measuring cup. Use your fingers to press the crumb mixture firmly onto the sides.
- Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 325°F.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar on low speed until smooth.
- Add 1 egg at a time, thoroughly mixing before adding the next. Scrape the sides of the bowl after each addition. Mix in the sour cream and vanilla until smooth and free of any lumps.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, flour, pumpkin spice, and cinnamon until smooth. Whisk in 1 cup of the cheesecake batter until combined.
- Into the crust, add spoonfuls, alternating between each, of cheesecake and pumpkin filling. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until the center appears to be set. There may be some minor cracking around the edges of the bars, don't worry.
- Let cool completely on a wire rack before chilling in the fridge at least 8 hours before serving.
- Cut into squares and top with desired toppings.
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
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