These Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars are so easy to make — they’re the perfect fall or Thanksgiving dessert! They are smooth, luscious and full of pumpkin spice flavor, plus they’re easy to make ahead and freeze for later! Includes step by step recipe video.
I know I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: pumpkin isn’t my favorite.
Even so, the hubs loves pumpkin and I will go along with it so I can develop, test, and sample the recipes you see here, but the other 95% of the pie/cake/cheesecake? It’s all his. And the girls — they love pumpkin as well!
This is the very first pumpkin recipe of the 2018 on The Recipe Rebel — some of our old favorites include this No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake and this Pumpkin Pudding Cake from last year (one of your favorites, too!), and this Overnight Pumpkin French Toast and these Pumpkin Oatmeal Cups make awesome prep ahead fall breakfasts!
Although I’m not as crazy about pumpkin as the other 99% of the world, I am crazy about cheesecake.
I know you guys are not at all surprised when a new cheesecake recipe appears here on the blog! I’ve got a little collection going on here 😉
Cheesecake bars are a great way to do cheesecake for a potluck, and we all know that Thanksgiving and Christmas potlucks are just around the corner. They’re easy to make ahead at a convenient time and refrigerate or freeze until you need them, so they’re also great to keep on hand for last minute guests.
You can also double the recipe and make a large 9×13″ pan and cut into smaller bars to feed a crowd.
Tips and tricks for making these Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars:
- Feel free to substitute the spices for pumpkin pie spice if it’s something you have on hand — I usually start with individual spices and make my own blends but you do you.
- Be sure to use pure, canned pumpkin puree for this recipe and not pumpkin pie filling — they are too different things!
- I always use light cream cheese, and my cheesecakes turn out great. Feel free to substitute for full fat if that’s what you have on hand.
- Don’t overbake, don’t underbake. It takes a while before you can easily tell when a cheesecake is baked “completely”, as you want to take it out of the oven before it’s 100% set so that it is still smooth and luscious and not too heavy. You want the cheesecake to be completely set a few inches around the edge, but still slightly soft in the middle. You can see in the images of the individual bars that they are slightly soft in the center — to me, this is perfect cheesecake. I don’t like mine overbaked and dry and heavy. If you prefer yours less soft in the center, I recommend baking for 50 minutes instead of 40.
Crust options for these Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars:
I chose to use a shortbread crust for these cheesecake bars because it’s so, so easy to make, and it holds up beautifully if you’re wanting to pick up a square and eat it handheld. Graham crusts can be kind of iffy, and want to crumble and break apart.
That being said, there are lots of options here, so choose one you like:
- a shortbread crust, as listed in the recipe below – my choice
- a graham cracker crust
- a gingerbread cookie crust (with crushed store bought gingerbread cookies)
- a chocolate Oreo cookie crust
- a gluten-free shortbread crust or cookie crust, using gluten-free all purpose flour or gluten-free store bought cookies
I haven’t tested this recipe with any other crust types, because I was strategic in my selection, but if you are one who likes to experiment, go for it! And be sure to let me know the results below 🙂
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Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
- 1/2 cup butter softened
- 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour 160g
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar 50g
- 16 oz cream cheese 2 packages, room temperature
- 1 cup pure pumpkin puree 300g
- 1 cup granulated sugar 200g
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
Make the crust:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a 9×9″ pan with parchment paper or spray lightly with non stick spray.
- In a medium bowl, combine butter, flour and sugar with a fork until crumbly. Press into prepared pan and bake for 13-15 minutes, until dry on top but not brown. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth.
- Add the pumpkin, sugar, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg and ginger and beat until completely combined.
- Pour into crust and bake at 325 degrees F for 40 minutes or until the edges are firm but the middle still jiggles slightly (it will appear dry completely across the top).
- Remove from the oven and set on the counter to cool to room temperature (this can take several hours). Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight until completely chilled. Serve with whipped cream.
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