This easy recipe for Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars adds creamy and tangy texture to the warming flavor of pumpkin on a graham cracker crust. Cut into squares and serve at a Fall event or on the Thanksgiving dessert table for a treat everyone will enjoy!
If you love cheesecake and love the flavor of pumpkin, then this is the perfect dessert to make for cooler weather! Pumpkin cheesecake bars have a creamy, sweet, and tangy pumpkin cream cheese layer over a homemade graham cracker crust mixed with pecans.
A simple filling is made with pumpkin, sugar, cream cheese, and warming pumpkin pie spice. It’s then poured over a homemade crust in a baking pan and baked until the filling is set. Cool completely and cut into rectangles or small squares depending on how you’d like to serve them.
Add them to a serving plate with a side of whipped cream for a chilled dessert that makes a perfect afternoon treat or the perfect complement to a hearty Thanksgiving dinner!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- You can use store bought pumpkin puree, or use homemade pumpkin puree.
- This is a great dessert to cut up and bring to a school or work function, or for Thanksgiving.
- Make them in advance and frozen for later to save you time.
- This fall dessert is made with simple ingredients you can find anywhere.
- This is the perfect dessert for the months of September, October and November, but they taste great anytime.
Ingredients You’ll Need
Graham Cracker Crust
- Graham Cracker Crumbs – Sweet and crumbly graham crackers are crushed up to make up the base of the crust for the cheesecake filling.
- Crushed Pecans – Adds nutty pecan flavor and a crunchy texture to the crust.
- Unsalted Butter – Gives the crust a rich buttery flavor while helping to keep the ingredients uniform. You can substitute with salted butter, if needed.
- Ground Cinnamon – Adds a light warming flavor to the crust that pairs well with the pumpkin flavor. You can substitute with pumpkin pie spice if you don’t have cinnamon.
Cream Cheese Mixture
- Cream Cheese – Gives the filling a tangy and creamy base. Full fat cream cheese works best, but you can also use reduced fat cream cheese. Make sure the cream cheese is softened to room temperature before using.
- Sugars – You will need a mixture of white granulated sugar and light brown sugar. You can use dark brown sugar, if needed, but the flavor will be richer.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice – You can use a store bought spice blend or feel free to use homemade pumpkin pie spice to flavor the filling.
- Pumpkin Puree – Use store bought or homemade pumpkin puree. If using store-bought, make sure it is pure pumpkin puree. Do not use pumpkin pie filling as it is not the same.
- Vanilla Extract – Infuses the pumpkin cream cheese filling with a light vanilla flavor.
- Eggs – Helps bind and set the filling while baking. You will need three large eggs.
- Salt – Elevates the flavor of the cheesecake.
OPTIONAL: Add whipped cream to the top of the pumpkin cheesecake bars for serving. It adds that light whipped texture to the bars.
How To Make Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars
Assemble the crust: Stir together the graham cracker crumbs, crushed pecans, melted butter and cinnamon. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 13×9-inch baking pan lined with parchment paper. The crust should be in an even layer.
Bake the pie crust: Bake the graham cracker crust at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the crust to cool.
Assemble the filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (you can also use a large bowl with a hand mixer), beat cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add the sugars, pumpkin pie spice and salt and beat for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until combined. Then add the vanilla. Finally, add in the pumpkin puree and mix until just combined.
Assemble the cream cheese pumpkin bars: Once the graham cracker crust is fully cooled, pour the pumpkin cheesecake batter on top of the crust and evenly distribute it spreading with a rubber spatula. Tap the pan on a table a few times to release any air bubbles.
Bake the cheesecake bars: Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and bake the prepared cheesecake bars for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the cheesecake in the middle has only a slight wobble.
Cool the pumpkin cheesecake squares: Turn off the oven and open the door. Leave the cheesecake inside with the door open for 1 hour Then, remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling at room temperature until fully cooled. Cover, then chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Slice and serve: Lift the cheesecake bars out of the baking pan after setting them in the fridge, then cut into squares.
OPTIONAL: Add the whipped cream on top of the pumpkin cheesecake bars before slicing and serving. You can even add a drizzle of homemade caramel sauce on top of the whipped cream for a more delectable treat.
- Make sure all refrigerated ingredients are at room temperature or softened before mixing them into the pumpkin cheesecake filling. This will ensure that the cheesecake layer sets properly.
- Do not overmix the batter. After adding the eggs and pumpkin puree, be sure to mix only until just incorporated. Overmixing can add too much air to the filling. This also prevents cracks on the cheesecake.
- Cool the pie crust before adding the pumpkin layer as a warm crust could cause it to melt.
- To crush the graham crackers and pecans, you can add them to a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin if you do not have a food processor.
- Be sure to use canned pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling.
- Line the baking dish with a layer of parchment paper. This makes it easy to remove the bars and helps prevent the bars from sticking to the pan.
If you’re serving cheesecake bars at a party or for Thanksgiving dessert, they can stay out on the dessert table for about 1 hour before needing to go back in the fridge to firm up and stay fresh.
- Gluten-Free pumpkin cheesecake bars can be made by using gluten-free graham crackers. Also, make sure you check your labels on any seasonings or sugars for wheat ingredients.
- Make pumpkin cheesecake swirl bars by splitting the filling into 2 and only adding pumpkin to one. Layer on the crust, then use a toothpick to swirl the fillings together before baking.
- Make a regular sized pumpkin cheesecake by using a round pie pan for the graham cracker crust, or using store-bought graham cracker pie crust.
- Make a chocolate crust. Add ¼ cup of unsweetened cocoa powder to the crust mixture for a chocolate cheesecake bar crust.
No matter how you choose to make these bars, you will love the delicious pumpkin flavor and fall spices. They are perfect for sharing and taste great any time.
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