The most delicious pumpkin cheesecake that requires no baking at all. So easy for last-minute Thanksgiving dinners and Halloween parties. Contains no powdered sugar - just creamy cheesecake goodness!
This super easy recipe for no-bake pumpkin cheesecake came about by my desire to make a last-minute treat for gift-giving this Thanksgiving. There was a ton to do around the house for fall so it had to be something easier than pumpkin spice macarons. I thought no-bake cheesecakes might do the trick. It also had to be in individual portions because making a whole cheesecake seemed a bit daunting, plus I think individual cheesecakes are just so perfect for gift-giving. You only need to wrap up a few in a pretty box to make an enormous impact. It's beautiful, delicious and easy to assemble. I think you'll really love this recipe too!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Easy - No-Baking!
- Quick - this pumpkin cheesecake can be prepared and ready to eat in just one hour.
- Delicious - rich, creamy with a slight tang, not overly sweet. The crust is SO addictive too!
- Unique hybrid cheesecake style that is neither too dense or light.
- No powdered sugar - doesn't contain powdered sugar which can sometimes leave an aftertaste or is hard to incorporate, resulting in sugar clumps.
- Convenient portions - for gift giving and events. Easy to serve, hygienic servings for party tables.
No-Bake Versus Baked Cheesecakes
As the name implies, no-bake cheesecakes require no baking time and most likely contains no eggs or flour (because it doesn't get to be heated in the oven). No-bake cheesecakes get set by being chilled in the fridge as opposed to being baked in the oven. Some say that the texture of baked cheesecake is more dense due to the eggs and less incorporation of air inside the batter. On the other hand, many no-bake cheesecake recipes use powdered sugar or condensed milk which creates a lighter texture. This recipe uses neither so it's more like a hybrid between both, not too dense or light but still rich and creamy! (If you like dense and rich cheesecake-like cakes also try my easy Chocolate Cream Cheese Pound Cake or Matcha Cream Cheese Pound Cake.)
What is Pumpkin Puree?
Pumpkin puree is made from a pumpkin that has been cooked and processed to a smooth consistency. It is usually sold in canned form at the grocery store. The ingredient label will say, "100 pure pumpkin". There's a lot of discussion that the pumpkin puree found in canned pumpkins isn't really pumpkins but different types of squash. This is because of the looser restrictions allowed on labelling this product, read this Epicurious article on What's Really In Canned Pumpkin. I used a simple canned pumpkin in this recipe and found the pumpkin taste to be just fine with me. I would not recommend using homemade pumpkin puree in this recipe due to the excess moisture that might be left in the puree, it can make the cheesecake too soft. Do not use "pumpkin pie filling" in this recipe since it contains other ingredients that will alter the taste and texture of this cheesecake.
Ingredients You'll Need and Substitutes
- White baking chocolate - use a good white chocolate intended for baking as chocolate chips and other ready to eat white chocolates contains additives that are not suitable for melting into baked goods. I have tried using white chocolate chips in this recipe, I found the taste to be comparable but the texture was a bit grainy.
- Cream cheese - use the full-fat brick type as cream cheese in a tub is too soft for use in this cake. It needs to be softened to a spreadable consistency, microwave it on medium at 8-10 second intervals. Make sure it is no longer hot when it is added to the batter.
- Butter (for the cheesecake) - unsalted, it needs to be at room temperature for the mixture to incorporate together. If using salted butter, omit the salt in the recipe, it may or may not be too salty, depending on the butter you're using.
- Pumpkin puree - use a canned one as homemade ones can contain too much moisture for use in this recipe. The label should say "100% pure pumpkin", do not use pumpin pie filling.
- Sour cream - is added for a tangy taste. This can be substituted with a few drops of lemon juice, according to taste.
- Ground cinnamon - all the spices together can be substituted with pumpkin pie spice.
- Sea salt - highlights the flavors and contrasts with the sweetness in the desert. It can be substituted with half the amount in table salt.
- Graham cracker crumbs - purchasing pre-crushed crumbs is more convenient. You can also make your own crumbs by placing graham crackers inside a Ziploc and crushing it with a dough roller. Digestive cookies also work too.
- Brown sugar - I used Demerara, it's a type of brown sugar, containing molasses in a smaller amount than dark brown sugar so it has a more mellow caramel flavor. It can be substituted with other brown sugars or granulated sugar.
- Butter (for cookie crust) - unsalted, melt it completely in the microwave on 15 second intervals.
Tips for Making No-Bake Cheesecakes
- Since this no-bake cheesecake requires no oven time, the proper incorporation of all the ingredients is integral. To ensure all the ingredients become one homogenous mixture, all the cheesecake ingredients need to be at room temperature. Not too hot, not too cold.
- Graham cracker/crumbs flavors can vary from brand to brand. Mix with melted butter and add sugar to taste as you go along.
- Melt the chocolate over a pot of hot water to ensure even melting and prevent separation of the chocolate.
- Line the cupcake tray with paper cupcake liners only. Do not use silicone or aluminum foil liners as these materials are too firm and won't peel off nicely. FYI: skipping the liners won't work as the cheesecakes won't release nicely from the cupcake tray.
- To speed up the setting process once the cheesecakes are assembled, place the tray in the freezer for 15 minutes. When they come out, the paper liners will be stuck to the cupcake tray, place in the fridge for another 15 minutes so they can be released more readily. They can be eaten right away. For the best results, let it chill in the fridge for another hour or so.
How to Serve Pumpkin Cheesecake
To top off your beautiful cheesecakes, add a swirl of whipped cream on top and dust on some ground cinnamon with a tea strainer. If desired, add some pre-made decorations of your choice like cinnamon sticks, candy corn, leaf sprinkles, pumpkin Mellocreme candy, pumpkin chocolates etc. I used pre-made fondant to sculpt these small orange pumpkins. It's best to add the whipped cream and decorations only before serving to prevent deflation and melting, respectively. If you are looking for a Halloween/Thanksgiving treat that is more stable for gift-giving or transport, try this Salted Reese's Peanut Butter Cookie.
How to Store Pumpkin Cheesecake
These no-bake pumpkin cheesecakes can be made in advance and stored in the fridge in an air-tight container for up to 3 days without compromising the freshness or texture (as per above, don't add decorations or cream until serving). They can also be frozen for up to one month and thawed in the fridge for a few hours before serving. If you know you will be freezing them for future use, keep the cheesecakes in their original cupcake liner and wrap them individually with plastic wrap after the initial chilling step in the freezer. Then place them in a Ziploc bag for easy storage.
How to Make It
Make the Crust
Melt butter in microwave, heat on medium at 15 second intervals. Mix melted butter with graham cracker crumbs and sugar (to taste) until homogeneous. Evenly distribute graham crust mixture into each cupcake cavity lined with paper cupcake liners, around 2 teaspoon each. Press down to compact as much as possible for a firm crust that won't fall apart easily. Place in fridge to set while making cheesecake.
Melt the Chocolate
Place chocolate in a heat-proof bowl, hang it over a pot of bowling water, do not let it touch the water. Stir until it's completely melted. Set aside to cool to room temperature before use.
Whip Butter & Cream Cheese
Soften cream cheese in the microwave on medium for 10 seconds. It should be at a spreadable consistency. In a large mixing bowl, whip room temperature butter until it's fluffy. Check that the cream cheese cheese is no longer hot, add to butter and whip together until just incorporated.
Add Remainder & Fold
Add the remaining ingredients into the butter-cream cheese mixture. Gently fold together until homogenous.
Assembly & Setting in the Fridge
Evenly distribute pumpkin cheesecake into each cavity of the cupcake tray filled with graham cookie crust. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes to set. (The liners will end up sticking to the tray.) Place tray in the fridge for 15 minutes before attempting to remove from baking tray. (For the best no-bake cheesecake texture, chill in the fridge for a minimum of one hour.) Gently pry out cheesecake from tray with a butter knife. Remove liners. Immediately before serving, top with whipped cream and a light dusting of cinnamon.
No-Bake Graham Cookie Crust
- 270 grams graham cookie crumb*
- 65 grams brown sugar
- 120 grams unsalted butter, melted
No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake
- 120 grams white baking chocolate
- 90 grams cream cheese, softened*
- 70 grams unsalted butter, room temp
- 140 grams pumpkin puree*
- 30 grams sour cream
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/16 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/16 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/16 teaspoon sea salt
- Handheld mixer
- Heat-proof bowl
- Cupcake tray
- Paper cupcake liners
No-bake Graham Cracker Crust
- Melt butter in microwave, heat on medium at 15 second intervals.
- Mix melted butter with graham cracker crumbs and sugar (to taste) until homogeneous.
- Evenly distribute graham crust mixture into each cupcake cavity lined with paper cupcake liners, around 2 teaspoon each. Press down to compact as much as possible for a firm crust that won't fall apart easily.
- Place in fridge to set while making cheesecake.
No-bake Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake
- Place chocolate in a heat-proof bowl, hang it over a pot of bowling water, do not let it touch the water. Stir until it's completely melted. Set aside to cool to room temperature before use.
- Soften cream cheese in the microwave on medium for 10 seconds. It should be at a spreadable consistency.
- In a large mixing bowl, whip room temperature butter until it's fluffy.
- Check that the cream cheese cheese is no longer hot, add to butter and whip together until just incorporated.
- Add the remaining ingredients into the butter-cream cheese mixture. Gently fold together until homogenous.
- Evenly distribute pumpkin cheesecake into each cavity of the cupcake tray filled with graham cookie crust.
- Place in the freezer for 15 minutes to set. (The liners will end up sticking to the tray.)
- Place tray in the fridge for 15 minutes before attempting to remove from baking tray. (For the best no-bake cheesecake texture, chill in the fridge for a minimum of one hour.)
- Gently pry out cheesecake from tray with a butter knife. Remove liners. Immediately before serving, top with whipped cream and a light dusting of cinnamon.
- No-bake pumpkin cheesecakes should be kept in the fridge in an air-tight container. It can be enjoyed for up to 3 days without change in texture or freshness. Enjoy!
1. Graham cookie crumbs can be made by crushing graham crackers in a Ziploc bag with a dough roller.
2. Use canned pumpkin labelled 100% pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling.
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Honey Maid Honey Graham Crackers
Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin, 15-Ounce (Pack of 8)
KRAFT PHILADELPHIA CREAM CHEESE BRICK ORIGINAL 8 OZ PACK OF 4
Callebaut White Chocolate Chunks 16 Ounce
Simply Organic Nutmeg Ground CERTIFIED ORGANIC 2.3oz. bottle
McCormick Ground Ginger, 1.5 oz
McCormick Ground Cinnamon, 7.12 oz