Swirled pumpkin cheesecake bars are the perfect mix of rich and creamy cheesecake, buttery graham cracker crust and pumpkin pie spice flavor. No water batch is needed for these Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bar.
Love all things pumpkin? Here are more crowd-pleasing Pumpkin Recipes: Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese, Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins, Pumpkin Pasta Sauce, Pumpkin Pie Bites and Pumpkin Doughnut Holes.
Important Things To Note Before Making This Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars Recipe
Before you begin making this cheesecake pumpkin bars recipe, here are some very important details to keep in mind:
- Before serving, the pumpkin pie cheesecake bars will need to firm up and chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 8 hours, so plan accordingly.
- The cream cheese and eggs MUST be at room temperature before making or else it will clump. Clumps = un-smooth cheesecake bars.
- You must use 100% Pumpkin Puree, not pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin pie filling is already loaded with spices and sweetener, which would drastically change the flavor of these bars and how they would bake.
This recipe for pumpkin cheesecake bars is made with a few staple pantry ingredients along with a few common, but non-staple ingredients. Check out the recipe card below for the full list of ingredients:
- Graham Crackers
- Pumpkin Puree
- Pumpkin Spice
- Cream Cheese
How To Make Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
Surprisingly, easy pumpkin cheesecake bars take only 15 minutes of prep work. The full instructions are in the recipe card, but here’s the gist along with a few step by step photos.
Make the Graham Cracker Crust: Mix the graham crackers, sugars and melted butter together.
Make the Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Filling: A creamy filling of cream cheese, sugar, pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice.
Bake the Cheesecake Bars: Bake in a 9×13 pan for approximately 45 minutes.
Cooling: Let the baked bars come to room temperature before transferring to the refrigerator to chill and set.
Graham Cracker Crust
The crust is the foundation of the cheesecake, so let’s get it right! Here are some tips along with substitution ideas if you’re not a graham cracker fan or are looking to mix it up:
- The graham crackers must be crumb size for the crust to set. Avoid chunks at all costs. Think more of a fine powder.
- Use the back of a measuring cup, or a firm hand, to compact the crust into the pan as to avoid a crumbly crust.
Crust Flavor Ideas
Pies with graham cracker crust are normally our go-to, however when making pumpkin cheesecake pie bars there are quite a few crust options that would work, including:
- Gingersnap Cookie Crust (Think Trader Joe’s brand!)
- Shortbread Crust
- Cinnamon Graham Crackers vs Honey Graham Crackers
To make just substitute, in equal parts, the gingersnap cookies or shortbread cookies with the graham crackers.
Gluten Free Graham Cracker Crust
To make a gluten-free crust, just use your favorite gluten free cookie such as gluten-free graham crackers.
- Use blocks of cream cheese vs. tubs as the moisture content isn’t the same.
- Like to max out on pumpkin spice? Add an extra teaspoon of the pumpkin pie spice to increase the flavor.
- Line the baking pan with parchment paper to ensure the pumpkin cheesecake bars won’t stick!
- Use a toothpick to swirl the white batter into the orange batter.
- Do not open the oven while baking as it can cause your cheesecake to shrink and crack.
- Do not over-bake as it can cause your cheesecake to shrink and crack. When ready to pull from the oven, the edges will be firm with a jiggly center.
- Top these bad boys with cool whip, whip cream or marshmallow cream.
- Once cooled, store these in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve. Bars can be stored in the refrigerator, covered, for 3 days.
Popular Recipe Questions
Can I Use Fresh Pumpkin Puree?
Yes, you can use fresh pumpkin puree, however there are two things to keep in mind: homemade pumpkin puree tends to be runnier than canned pumpkin puree, so make sure to drain it well before using.
Do not use carving pumpkins as they do not have the flavor you need for baking. Look for “sugar pumpkins” when shopping.
What If I Don’t Have A Food Processor?
Have no fear, a solution is here! To make the crust without a food processor, just put the crackers in a Ziploc bag and use a rolling pin to smash. For the batter, use a stand or hand mixer.
How To Know When The Bars Are Done
The pumpkin cheesecake squares will not be firm when removing from the oven. When you gently jiggly the pan back and forth the outer inches of the bars will be firm while the center of the cheesecake will be jiggly, but not runny.
Why Did My Cheesecake Crack?
The main reasons for cracked cheesecake: over-mixing, over-baking or using cold ingredients vs room temperature.
What’s The Best Way To Cut Cheesecake?
The best way to ensure clean cuts is to dip a sharp knife into hot water before every cut. Just wet, dry with a towel and cut away. Do this between every cut.
- 10 ½ oz Graham Crackers
- 2 tbsp Granulated Sugar
- ¼ tsp Kosher Salt
- ½ cup Unsalted Butter, Melted
- 1½ lb Cream Cheese, Brick Form (*Note 1)
- 1 cup Granulated Sugar
- ½ cup Light Brown Sugar, Packed
- 6 large Eggs (*Note 1)
- 1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
- 1½ tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
- 15 oz Pumpkin Purée
- ½ tsp Kosher Salt
- Pre-heat the oven to 375°F. Line a 9x13" baking pan with parchment paper, ensuring a minimum of 2" crawls up the long sides of the pan. Spray the exposed ends with cooking spray. Set aside.
MAKE THE CRUST
- Add the graham crackers to a food processor and mix until you have fine crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a large mixing bowl and stir in the sugar, salt and melted butter. Pour the crust mixture into the prepared baking pan and press firmly into the bottom of the pan. Make sure it's as even and flat as possible.
- Bake the crust for 10-12 minutes, until slightly browned. Set aside.
MAKE THE FILLING
- Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
- Add the cream cheese, sugar and brown sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer (or use the wiped out food processor) and mix for 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until just incorporated. Do not over-mix the eggs. Just mix until it's barely combined and move on to the next egg.
- Add the vanilla and pumpkin pie spice, and pulse until combined.
- Reserve 1/2-1 cup of the batter to swirl into the orange batter in a later step.
- Add the pumpkin puree and pulse until fully incorporated. Pour the batter into the cooled crust.
- Gently pour the reserved white batter over the orange batter in a slow, thin manner. Use a toothpick to swirl the two together to make the swirling effect.
- Bake the cheesecake for approximately 40-45 minutes, until the edges are set and the center is slightly jiggly. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature before transferring to the refrigerator to set for a minimum of 8 hours.
- When ready to serve, wet a sharp knife and cut into 12 even squares, wiping in between cuts.