These pumpkin cheesecake bars are layers of graham cracker crust, vanilla cheesecake and pumpkin cheesecake, all baked together to create an impressive dessert. The perfect alternative to pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving day!
These layered pumpkin cheesecake bars are the perfect addition to any fall event. They’re simple to make, serve a large crowd, and always get rave reviews! While these bars may look complicated, they’re practically foolproof even for the beginning baker.
How do you make pumpkin cheesecake bars?
Start by making a graham cracker crust, then pressing the crust mixture into an even layer in the bottom of the pan. Mix together the cheesecake filling ingredients, then divide the mixture in half. Stir pumpkin puree and spices into one half of the cheesecake mixture. Pour the vanilla cheesecake layer over the crust, then add the pumpkin layer on top. Bake until the cheesecake is just set. The cheesecake then goes into the fridge to chill until firm. Carefully cut the bars into small squares, then add a garnish of whipped cream and a candy pumpkin for a fun and festive touch.
Tips for the perfect pumpkin cheesecake bars
- Be sure to use pumpkin puree, and not canned pumpkin pie filling. The pie filling contains additional ingredients and will not work properly in this recipe.
- Your cream cheese should be very soft to keep your batter from getting lumpy. You can microwave your cream cheese in 30 second increments to soften it quickly.
- You can swap out the graham cracker crust for a gingersnap crust for an additional nuance of spice flavor.
- It’s critical that your bars are fully chilled before you slice them to maintain the nice neat layers on the inside.
- I typically cut my cheesecake bars into 2 inch squares, but you can cut them larger or smaller depending on how many people you’re looking to serve.
- These bars can be made up to 3 days before you plan to serve them. Add the whipped cream and candy pumpkins right before serving.
Can you freeze cheesecake?
You can freeze these pumpkin cheesecake bars for up to 2 months. Do not add the decorations if you’re planning to put the bars in the freezer. Freeze the whole slab, or cut them into squares and wrap individually. Thaw the cheesecake bars in the refrigerator, then add the whipped cream and candy garnish just before serving.
How do you prevent cheesecake from cracking?
Cheesecakes are notorious for cracking as they bake. There are some easy ways to avoid or minimize cracking when making cheesecake.
- Use softened cream cheese to avoid large lumps which could cause cracks.
- Once you start adding the eggs, mix all the ingredients together at medium speed until the filling is smooth and consistent. Be careful not to mix the eggs at high speed or they may get frothy which can add air to your filling and make it less stable.
- When baking the cheesecake bars, open the oven door as little as possible. Sudden changes in temperature may cause cracking.
- Don’t over bake the cheesecake. When you turn off the oven, a little jiggle in the center of the pan is normal. Just try to avoid a runny or liquid center.
Whether you’re looking for an elegant holiday dessert or a sweet way to celebrate fall, these cheesecake bars are sure to be a hit!
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Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars Video
Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
For the crust
- 2 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/2 cup butter melted
- cooking spray
For the filling
- 6 8 ounce blocks cream cheese softened
- 2 1/4 cups sugar
- 6 eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
For the topping
- 1 1/2 cups whipped cream or thawed whipped topping
- 24 candy pumpkins
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Coat a 9"x13" pan with cooking spray and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
For the crust
- Place the graham cracker crumbs and butter in a bowl; stir until well combined.
- Firmly press the graham cracker mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan.
For the filling
- Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat for 3-4 minutes or until light and fluffy.
- Add the sugar and beat until just combined.
- Add the eggs, two at a time, beating after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and mix for 30 seconds.
- Pour half of the cheesecake mixture over the crust and spread into an even layer.
- Stir the pumpkin puree and the pumpkin pie spice into the remaining cheesecake mixture in the bowl.
- Pour the pumpkin cheesecake layer over the vanilla layer, gently spreading evenly into the pan.
- Bake the bars for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the oven door slightly ajar. Allow the cheesecake bars to cool in the oven for an hour.
- Refrigerate the bars for at least 3 hours or up to 3 days.
- Cut the bars into 24 squares. Use a piping bar and star tip to decorate each bar with a dollop of whipped cream, then place a candy pumpkin on top. Serve.