Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

This pumpkin swirl cheesecake features a delicious pumpkin spice swirl, rich and creamy cheesecake filling, a deliciously spiced and crunchy gingersnap cookie crust, and is topped with fresh whipped cream and salted caramel sauce.

slice of pumpkin swirl cheesecake on a dessert server with salted caramel

Fall has arrived and we’re all in a mad dash to bake all the fall things like jalapeño cheddar bread and apple cider donuts. My latest creation is pumpkin swirl cheesecake, a delicious alternative to pumpkin pie and pumpkin cake. Judging by this reader-favorite cheesecake recipe, I know most of you are CRAZY for cheesecake too.

pumpkin cheesecake with whipped cream on a wood slice cake stand

How to Make Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

If you look at my classic cheesecake recipe, you’ll notice that today’s pumpkin cheesecake uses mostly all of the same ingredients. Besides the amounts of each, the difference is that we’ll divide the batter in half and add pumpkin puree + spices to create a hypnotizing pumpkin swirl. The result is pockets of luscious cheesecake paired with rich, creamy, perfectly spiced pumpkin cheesecake.

All this sits on top of a crunchy gingersnap cookie crust. Add extra flavor to the crust with a bit of cinnamon and ginger. Here’s my tip: Not all store-bought gingersnap cookies are the same, so make sure you read my notes below about which cookies are best for a cookie crust.

How to swirl: My trick is to drop spoonfuls of alternating batter– plain and pumpkin– until the pan is filled, then use a toothpick or knife to swirl. It doesn’t need to be perfect and it certainly doesn’t need to be neat.

2 images of cheesecake batter in a glass bowl and pumpkin batter in a glass bowl

Gingersnap cookie crust in a springform pan and pumpkin swirl cheesecake filling in a springform pan before baking

How to Make a Cheesecake Water Bath

A cheesecake water bath is nothing complicated. All you’re doing is placing the springform pan in a roasting pan, filling it with hot water, and baking. What’s the point of a water bath? I actually wrote an entire post about a cheesecake water bath years ago. Cheesecakes are egg-heavy desserts. Eggs need a moist and humid environment in the oven to (1) properly rise and (2) avoid drying out and burning. The steam from the hot water will lift the cheesecake up slowly and evenly, reducing the risk of cracks on the surface. Additionally, this slow and even baking method helps prevent the cheesecake from sinking back down as it cools. Taking a few extra minutes to prepare a water bath for your cheesecake is well worth it. I can’t say enough how valuable it is! Springform pans can leak if you’re baking the cheesecake in a water bath, but this particular pan is reliable. I haven’t had any leaking issues.

Want to skip all the water bath drama? Try my no-bake pumpkin cheesecake. It tastes like pumpkin mousse and is definitely one of my fall favorites.

pumpkin swirl cheesecake after baking in a springform pan

Tips for the Perfect Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

  1. Make sure you’re using blocks of cream cheese, not cream cheese spread.
  2. All of the cheesecake batter ingredients must be at room temperature so the batter remains smooth and combines quickly, so as to not over-beat the eggs.
  3. Do not over-mix the cheesecake batter
  4. Bake cheesecake in a water bath or alternate discussed in the recipe notes below
  5. Leave cheesecake in the cooling oven for 1 hour
  6. Cool completely at room temperature before chilling

I did have a small crack in the upper right edge of my pumpkin cheesecake, but that’s nothing a thick layer of fresh whipped cream can’t hide! Add a little salted caramel and I’m pretty sure this pumpkin cheesecake is the definition of pumpkin dessert heaven.

side view of pumpkin swirl cheesecake on a wood slice cake stand

slice of pumpkin swirl cheesecake on a white plate

How to Freeze Cheesecake

  1. Cool the cheesecake on the counter before freezing. No need to chill it in the refrigerator
  2. Freeze on springform pan: Remove the outer rim from the springform pan. Wrap the cheesecake with the bottom of the pan with a few layers of plastic wrap, then a final layer of aluminum foil.
  3. Or freeze without springform pan: After the cheesecake has completely cooled, run a sharp knife underneath the crust to release it from the bottom of the pan. Carefully slide it onto a parchment paper lined piece of cardboard or use a plate. Wrap it all in a few layers of plastic wrap, then a final layer of aluminum foil.
  4. Freeze for up to 3 months, then thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
  5. Do not freeze cheesecake with any toppings. Prepare toppings for serving cheesecake.

I would LOVE to know if you try the pumpkin cheesecake! If you want something smaller, I also have a recipe for mini pumpkin cheesecakes and pumpkin pie bars.

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slice of pumpkin swirl cheesecake on a dessert server with salted caramel

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 9 hours, 45 minutes
  • Yield: serves at least 12
  • Category: Cheesecake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


This pumpkin cheesecake features a delicious pumpkin spice swirl, rich and creamy cheesecake filling, a deliciously spiced and crunchy gingersnap cookie crust, and is topped with fresh whipped cream and salted caramel sauce.


Gingersnap Cookie Crust

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (150g) gingersnap cookie crumbs*
  • 1/4 teaspoon each: ground ginger and ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons; 60g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar


  • four 8-ounce blocks (904g) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80g) full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (227g) pumpkin puree*
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
  • topping suggestions: salted caramel and whipped cream


  1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
  2. Make the crust: Using a food processor, pulse the gingersnap cookies into crumbs. Pour into a medium bowl and stir in ginger, cinnamon, sugar, and melted butter until combined. (You can also pulse it all together in the food processor.) Mixture will be sandy. Press firmly into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 9-inch or 10-inch springform pan. No need to grease the pan first. I use the bottom of a measuring cup to pack the crust down tightly. Pre-bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the hot pan on a large piece of aluminum foil. The foil will wrap around the pan for the water bath in step 4. Allow crust to slightly cool as you prepare the filling.
  3. Make the filling: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed in a large bowl until the mixture is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sour cream and vanilla extract, then beat until fully combined. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until just blended. After the final egg is incorporated into the batter, stop mixing. To help prevent the cheesecake from deflating and cracking as it cools, avoid over-mixing the batter as best you can.
  4. Scoop out 2 cups of batter and place in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in the pumpkin, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice until combined. Begin adding spoonfuls of each batter, the plain and the pumpkin, on top of the crust. Alternate until all the batter is used and pan is filled. Using a toothpick or knife, swirl the batters together by dragging the toothpick top to bottom, then left to right.
  5. Prepare the simple water bath (see note): If you need a visual, watch me prepare a water bath right here. Boil a pot of water. You need 1 inch of water in your roasting pan for the water bath, so make sure you boil enough. I use an entire kettle of hot water. As the water is heating up, wrap the aluminum foil around the springform pan. Place the pan inside of a large roasting pan. Carefully pour the hot water inside of the pan and place in the oven. (Or you can place the roasting pan in the oven first, then pour the hot water in. Whichever is easier for you.)
  6. (Note: if you notice the cheesecake browning too quickly on top, tent it with aluminum foil halfway through baking.) Bake cheesecake for 55-70 minutes or until the center is almost set. When it’s done, the center of the cheesecake will slightly wobble if you gently shake the pan. Turn the oven off and open the oven door slightly. Let the cheesecake sit in the oven for 1 hour as it cools down. Remove cheesecake from the oven and allow to cool completely at room temperature, then refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  7. Use a knife to loosen the chilled cheesecake from the rim of the springform pan, then remove the rim. Add toppings, if desired. Using a clean sharp knife, cut into slices for serving. For neat slices, wipe the knife clean and dip into warm water between each slice.
  8. Cover and store leftover cheesecake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


  1. Make Ahead Instructions: This cheesecake can be made the day before. It has to chill for quite some time before serving. See step 5. Another way to make this cheesecake ahead of time is to freeze it. Cheesecake can be frozen up to 2 or 3 months. I find this tutorial for freezing cheesecakes helpful. When ready to eat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Glass Mixing Bowls | Springform Pan | Wood Cake Stand
  3. Gingersnap Cookies: Store-bought gingersnap cookies are ideal as they are the most dry. The ONLY brand that I’ve had issues with is the Nabisco gingersnap cookies. They’re delicious on their own, but they’re too moist for a gingersnap cookie crust. Alternatively, you can use a graham cracker crust instead. Feel free to add or reduce the amount of cinnamon and ginger based on your taste preference.
  4. Pumpkin: I recommend canned pumpkin, not fresh pumpkin puree in this recipe. I like to use Libby’s brand. Fresh will work in a pinch, but the cheesecake is tastier and more firm with canned. Do not use pumpkin pie filling.
  5. Pumpkin Pie Spice: Instead of prepared pumpkin pie spice, you can use 1/2 teaspoon each: ground allspice and ground ginger AND 1/4 teaspoon each: ground nutmeg and ground cloves.
  6. Why is Everything at Room Temperature? Bring all cold ingredients to room temperature before beginning. Room temperature ingredients combine quickly and evenly, so you won’t risk over-mixing. Also, beating cold ingredients together will result in a chunky cheesecake batter, hardly the way you want to begin!
  7. Water Bath: Some readers have baked cheesecakes with a large pan of hot water on the rack beneath the baking cheesecake. In this manner, the cheesecake does not bake directly in a roasting pan of water. I have never tried this method, but many report back with great reviews! This is a wonderful alternative if you do not own a large roasting pan or are nervous about your springform pan leaking. Simply place a large baking pan filled with 1 inch of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven.

slice of pumpkin swirl cheesecake on a white plate


  1. Hello sally!! I’m looking to make a cheesecake using lotus cookie spread. Will be better to use this recipe and chance pumpkim for lotus or will be better using the one for the sncker cheesecake?? 🙂

    1. I recommend using my peanut butter cheesecake recipe and swapping the peanut butter for the cookie butter 🙂

  2. I just made this the other night and I HAD to leave a review, and thank Sally for such an amazing recipe. We followed it step by step, and since I recently threw away my destroyed roasting pan, I put an inch of hot water in a rimmed cookie tray on the rack directly under the cheesecake and it worked just fine. I believe maybe we left it in a bit long since the top did crack and split, but it was still so moist and didn’t have a film on it. The pumpkin flavor was just right, not too overpowering. I was worried it was going to be too sweet but it was absolutely perfect. We used the Biscoff ginger biscuits (the kind you get as a snack on airline flights) and it was the best cheesecake crust I’ve ever tasted! We will definitely be making this every fall. Thanks so much for the amazing recipe!

  3. Make this in an Instapot/pressure cooker and no cracking will occur!

    1. I am interested in going the instant pot route…my coworker raves about it. Do you have any specifics on cook time etc?

  4. Is canned pumpkin the same thing as pumpkin purée? I have Shop Rite’s Wholesome Pantry canned pumpkin. It doesn’t say pumpkin pie filling or purée, it just says canned pumpkin.

    1. Yes! Same thing. I usually use canned pumpkin purée.

  5. Can I bake this normally, without using a water bath?

    1. Absolutely! The cheesecake may crack on top.

  6. This pumpkin swirl cheesecake is AH-Mazing! I made it for my son, whose favorite desserts are pumpkin pie & cheesecake. I asked him if it was a 5 star recipe, and he said “6!” Between mouth fulls! So easy and really delicious, the perfect combination of both desserts . Love the ginger snap crust, I just used store brand ginger cookies and they did the trick! I know I’ll be making this again!

  7. I made the cheesecake tonight (it’s currently doing its one hour cool down in the oven) and I plan on making the whipped cream and salted caramel tomorrow. Can I top it with the whipped cream and salted caramel tomorrow (after it’s been in the fridge all day) and expect it to hold? Or should the whipped cream and salted caramel only be added slice by slice?

    1. I usually top the entire cheesecake at once before serving. I hope you love it!

  8. Just made two of these (used pan of water on lower oven rack and no cracking). So good! Made the salted caramel and skipped the whipped cream. Rave reviews from my friends at dinner party.

  9. Is there any reason to think that Trader Joe’s gluten-free gingersnaps would not work on this recipe? I have a friend who can’t eat gluten. Hoping to make her a special treat.

    1. I can’t see why they’d be an issue!

  10. I would love to make this recipe as pumpkin cheesecake bars instead. Do you have any recommendation for how to adapt it? I was thinking to double the recipe for the crust but keep the batter portion the same and bake it in a 9×13.

    1. Hi Melissa! The crust, as written, will be enough to stretch for a 9×13 inch pan, though you could certainly double it. I’m unsure of the bake time, but it will be much shorter than the thick cheesecake.

  11. This cheesecake was delightful! Mine did crack on top, but they were barely noticeable once the cheesecake was completely cooled. The cheesecake was gorgeous and had the perfect texture! And the crust was a perfect contrast to the decadent cheesecake as it was sweet and slightly spicy! I was a little bummed that it didn’t have a more pumpkin flavor, so when I make it again (oh yeah it was so good there will TOTALLY be at least a few next times!) I will use more pumpkin.

  12. I made this recipe last week and it was so delicious. It’s definitely going on my Thanksgiving menu.

  13. Hello Sally…

    I need to bake gluten free, lactose free. Do you think this will work with the lactose free sour cream and cream cheese. (Arla-lactose-free-cream-cheese)

  14. Hi Sally,
    I’m excited to make this recipe? I’m wondering, can this recipe be made in a different type of pan? Could it be made as bars in a 9×9 or 9×13 pan?

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful recipes,

    1. Hi Jackie! You can try a 9×13 inch baking pan, but I’m unsure of the exact bake time.

  15. Can pureed sweet potatoes work instead of pumpkin ?

    1. I can’t see why not!

  16. Hi Sally! I have a quick question about the pumpkin puree. I can’t find what size can you use? My local store has a 15oz and a 29oz can. I would think using the wrong size would make a really big difference.

    1. Hi Karen! You need 1 cup of pumpkin for this recipe, not 1 can. 🙂

      1. Yes, I totally read that wrong and was confused. Search recipes when your tired probably not the best idea. Thanks for the quick response. I know there was no way you wouldn’t have all the information on the recipe. I should what waited till the morning. The would have laughed at myself when I read the ingredients list again.

  17. Sally Sally Sally Sally….
    This was the. Bomb. Just. Bomb.
    It has been officially added to the Thanksgiving menu.
    No easy task.
    It’s creamy and delicious and not hard to make.
    I made one substitution…I used Biscoff cookies for the crust and it worked perfectly.
    Six stars Sally!!!!

  18. Hello Sally, We have received rave reviews on your pie crust recipe and your caramel. We are making your cheesecake forThanksgiving. What is a store bought gingersnap that is not Nabisco?

    1. Hi Lisa! I’m so glad to read that. Other gingersnap cookie brands that I’ve seen at stores are Archway and Stauffer’s.

  19. Sally, can this be made on Wednesday for a Friday celebration?
    I like to do my holiday baking a few days in advance…thank you.

    1. Hi Kathy, I usually make this cake one day before serving. For longer storage you can freeze it – see the make ahead tips in the recipe notes. Enjoy!

  20. I don’t usually do reviews. But I made this for a work pot luck. AMAZING! I did do a gram cracker crust and used fresh pumpkin puree. Turned out sooo good. This will be my go to pumpkin cheesecake recipe for now on.

    1. I’m thrilled that you made it work for you and that it was such a hit, Lori!

  21. Can you make this without swirling and just incorporate pumpkin to entire batch?

    1. Absolutely!

  22. Mickie Hedrick says:

    Can this recipe be made in individual ramekins (no crust) and then topped with your salted caramel sauce?

    1. I don’t see why not! I’m unsure of the bake time but please let me know if you try it!

  23. Hi Sally,
    I was wondering if I could use a sour cream topping for this and bake it? I’m not a huge fan of salted caramel. This looks delicious and I am definitely trying it.

    1. What kind of sour cream topping? You can just skip the salted caramel and top with whipped cream, if desired. The caramel is not baked. 🙂

      1. It’s a baked sour cream with sugar. Mixed together and spread on top.

  24. Hi sally!
    Am i able to make this without the crust? I need it to be gluten free and we don’t love the flavor of store bought gf cookies. Thanks!!

    1. Hi Allie, You should be able to make this crustless. Perhaps add a round piece of parchment paper to the bottom of the pan so you can be sure that you will be able to remove it easily. Let me know how it turns out!

  25. Hi Sally! I had planned on making this for Thanksgiving – is there a way to incorporate pumpkin in the same way as described here into your no-bake recipe as well? Thank you!

    1. Hi Sarah, I haven’t tried the no-bake cheesecake with pumpkin, so I can’t say for sure. That would require additional testing– let me know if you try it!

  26. I literally just pulled this out of the oven! I’ve made this recipe several times now and it’s a huge hit with anyone who’s tried it. The recipe is detailed enough and easy to follow. It’s amazing with whipped cream; I’m also going to try it with a caramel bourbon sauce with pecans. If you love cheesecake and love pumpkin pie, this dessert is perfect for you! I do want to emphasize that letting all specified ingredients be at room temp is crucial. It makes mixing so much easier, quicker and you’re less likely to over mix. I’ll be making this dish for years to come!

    1. Loved reading this, Katie! The caramel bourbon sauce sounds incredible and will pair wonderfully with these flavors 🙂

  27. The taste of this cheesecake is great… but I can never get the crust to work, it is always dripping pumpkin grease and gummy. I use the exact brand of pumpkin purée it mentions in the recipe, and have tried three different ginger snap cookie brands (not nabisco) but it hasn’t worked out. What am I doing wrong?

    1. Hi Melissa! If the gingersnaps are not crunchy, then the crust will taste soggy and gummy. I highly recommend Nabisco or you can try graham crackers instead. (See note!)

      1. Hello! Just pulled my cheesecake out of the oven…crossing my fingers it comes out good after it’s chilled. I’m a little confused if you do or do not recommend Nabisco. In your notes it says you do not recommend them, so we specifically bought a different brand. I did see a little bit of a leak (not water) when I took off the foil. Anyway, I’m sure I’ll make this again at some point! I also made the salted caramel, just a half batch… yum!

      2. Hi CB, I do not recommend Nabisco for making this crust (although they are wonderful eaten on their own). If you think water has leaked into your pan then next time you can try using a pan of water on a lower rack (see recipe note #7 for details).

  28. Thank you so much for this recipe! I made this for thanksgiving dinner yesterday and everyone loved it! I had always been intimidated by cheesecake recipes but this was explained so well and it was such a success! I think this will be my go-to recipe for Thanksgiving now!

  29. Michelle Thomas says:

    Made this for Thanksgiving this year and it was a HUGE hit at a big family get together! Made as written and did the water bath… took over 70 min in my oven, but man did it come out perfectly. I was so proud of it. It’s on the sweet side for sure so next year I plan to reduce the sugar in the cake and the crust (but we just happen to like desserts less sweet than most).

    1. LOVE reading this, Michelle! Thank you so much for your positive feedback- hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! 🙂

  30. Question, when taking the cheesecake out of the oven to cool at room temp, do I remove it from the water bath?

    1. Yes, when it’s time to remove the cheesecake from the oven, remove it from the water bath.

      1. Thank you, thought so but wanted to be sure!

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