Do you love pumpkin pie and swoon for cheesecake? Then you’re going to love these Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with spiced pumpkin cheesecake batter (yum!) swirled into a sour cream cheesecake batter (double yum!).
The Best Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
Fall is in full swing, and what better way to celebrate than with some mouthwatering pumpkin cheesecake bars? They’re creamy, full of pumpkin goodness, and have a delicious graham cracker crust.
Why You’ll Love Them
- The 2-ingredient crust is a breeze to whip up and perfectly complements the creamy filling.
- Plus, with a way shorter bake time than normal cheesecake, you’ll be digging into this autumn-inspired treat in no time.
- Simple, quick, and irresistibly delicious!
Let’s dive in!
Here’s What You Need
Before we start, let’s dive into the (simple) equipment and ingredients you need to make this easy Pumpkin Cheesecake Bar recipe.
Pumpkin Cheesecake Bar Ingredients
- Graham cracker crumbs: Provides a crunchy base for our bars. If using whole graham crackers, that’s 28 square graham crackers or 14 long graham crackers. Crush them in a food processor or by hand using a rolling pin.
- Melted butter: Binds the crust ingredients together and adds richness.
- Full-Fat Cream cheese: The main star, giving our bars their creamy texture.
- Sour cream: Adds tanginess and ensures a smooth cheesecake consistency.
- Granulated Sugar: Sweetens our bars to the perfect level. You could swap in brown sugar for the pumpkin mixture if you like.
- Eggs: Act as a binding agent and give structure to the cheesecake.
- Pure vanilla extract: Enhances flavor, giving a sweet aroma.
- Pumpkin puree: Infuses the bars with that authentic pumpkin taste (if you have any left in the can, here’s a guide to freezing canned pumpkin puree).
- Pumpkin pie spice: A mix of warming spices to bring the flavours of pumpkin pie .
Variations and Substitutions
A great recipe can always be tweaked. Here are some ways to make these bars your own:
- Different crust: Swap graham crackers with Oreo crumbs or ginger snap cookies for a different base flavor.
- Cream substitute: Instead of sour cream, use Greek yogurt for a healthier touch.
- Spice it up: Use individual spices like ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and ground cloves if you don’t have pumpkin spices on hand. Details in notes.
- Filling options: Stir in chocolate chips or nuts for added texture and flavor.
Grab these Tools
To make these bars without a hitch, ensure you have these kitchen tools ready:
- Baking pan: Specifically, a 9x9x2” square one for the perfect bar size.
- Standing mixer: Makes mixing the cheesecake filling a breeze.
- Large bowl: For preparing your graham cracker crust.
- Spatula: Useful for spreading and smoothing out your batter.
- Knife: To create the marbled effect by swirling the batters.
- Wire rack: Essential for cooling the bars to the perfect temperature.
With everything ready, you’re all set to whip up some unforgettable Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars.
How to Make Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars: A Simple Guide
It’s so easy to make these beautiful, swirly pumpkin cheesecake bars, despite them looking super fancy. All you have to do is fill a baked graham cracker crust with marbled cheesecake layer, then bake until set.
Graham Cracker Crust:
- First, you’ll want to get your oven ready. Preheat it to 350°F. Then, either line a 9x9x2” square baking dish with parchment paper, use cooking spray or give it a good buttering.
- In a large bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. You’re looking for a moistened, even texture. Press this mix firmly into your baking pan. Bake for 12 minutes. Remember to keep your oven heated at 350°F for the next steps.
- In your standing mixer’s large bowl, combine cream cheese and sour cream. It’s important to get them nice and smooth. Next, mix in 1/2 cup of sugar until your mix is fluffy.
- Gently add the eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla. Now, set aside 1 cup of this cream cheese mixture.
- For the pumpkin layer, add pumpkin puree, the 3 extra tablespoons of sugar, and those warming spices to the remaining batter. Mix until they’re all friends.
Creating Your Bars:
- Onto your baked crust, alternately pour in dollops of plain and pumpkin cheesecake mixture. For a marbled look, gently use a knife to swirl the batters together.
- Pop your pan into the center of your oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the edges have puffed up a bit, and the middle has a slight jiggle.
- Let it cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Once cooled, it’s ready to be enjoyed. Any leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
These swirled pumpkin cheesecake bars are sure to be a hit for Thanksgiving dessert or any gathering. Enjoy!
How to Serve These Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
Enjoying these pumpkin cheesecake bars to the fullest means presenting and serving them in the best way possible. Here’s how:
- Cool Completely: Before slicing, ensure the bars have cooled to room temperature. This makes cutting cleaner and easier.
- Dusting: Give them a light dusting of cinnamon or powdered sugar for an elegant touch.
- Accompaniments: Serve each slice topped a dollop of whipped cream, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce for added wow factor.
- Drink Pairing: These bars go exceptionally well with a hot cup of coffee or a glass of cold milk.
Make Ahead and Storage
Getting a jump start or storing leftovers is a breeze with these tips:
- Prep the crust: You can make and pre-bake the graham cracker crust a day in advance. Just store it at room temperature, covered.
- Freezer friendly: Once baked and cooled, you can freeze the bars in a single layer and then transfer them to an airtight container. They’ll last up to 3 months.
- Refrigerate: After baking, these bars should be stored in the refrigerator. They taste best when chilled and will keep for up to 3 days.
- Serving: For optimal flavor and texture, remove the bars from the refrigerator 15 minutes before serving.
4 Common Mistakes When Making Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
Here are the most frequent mix-ups to avoid when making pumpkin cheesecake bars:
- Over-mixing the Batter: This can introduce too much air and can lead to cracks.
- Not Cooling Properly: Cutting while still hot might cause the bars to fall apart. Let them cool to room temperature first.
- Using the Wrong Pumpkin: Ensure you’re using pure pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling.
- Oven Temperature: Not preheating the oven or opening the oven frequently can lead to uneven baking.
FAQs About Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
Just skimming through? Here are some quick answers to the commonly-asked questions.
- Can I use homemade pumpkin puree? Absolutely, just ensure it’s as drained and concentrated as the canned variety.
- What’s the best way to store leftovers? Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Can I freeze these bars? Yes, once cooled, place them in a single layer in a freezer-safe container for up to a month.
- Why did my cheesecake bars crack? Over-mixing the batter or sudden temperature changes can cause this. Don’t worry, they’ll still taste great!
- Can I use a different type of crust? Certainly! You can try an Oreo or gingersnap crust for a twist. Gluten-free graham crackers or gingersnaps also works well.
- Is there a dairy-free alternative for this recipe? You can use dairy-free cream cheese and coconut cream as replacements, but this might slightly alter the taste and texture.
Final Notes, Pro Tips + Science-Based Secrets
Unlock the full potential of your Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with these key takeaways:
- Smooth batter: Room temperature ingredients, especially cream cheese, will ensure a smoother batter with no lumps.
- Pumpkin puree: Always opt for 100% pure pumpkin rather than pumpkin pie filling for a genuine pumpkin flavor.
- Avoid overmixing: Once the eggs are added, mix just until combined to prevent the cheesecake from cracking.
- Test for doneness: The edges of your cheesecake bars should look set, but the center should have a slight jiggle.
- Cooling is key: Letting your bars cool gradually (first at room temperature, then in the fridge) will also prevent cracks and ensure a perfect texture.
Other Pumpkin Recipes You’ll Love:
The Best Easy Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
For graham cracker crust:
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs see notes
- ⅓ cup melted butter
For cheesecake filling:
- 8 oz cream cheese
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ cup + 3 tbsp sugar divided use
- 2 large eggs eggs
- ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup pumpkin puree see notes
- 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice see notes
To make crust:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9x9x2” square baking pan by lining with parchment paper or buttering generously.
- In a large bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs and melted butter; stir until evenly moistened. Press firmly and evenly into baking pan. Bake for 12 minutes. Keep oven temperature at 350 degrees.
To make cheesecake:
- In the large bowl of a standing mixer, beat together cream cheese and sour cream. Add 1/2 cup sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then vanilla. Remove 1 cup of cheesecake batter and set aside.
- To remaining batter, add pumpkin puree, remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar, and spices; beat to combine.
- Drop spoonfuls of cheesecake batter onto the prepared crust, alternating between the plain and pumpkin batters. Gently swirl with a knife to create a marbled effect. Bake in centre of preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until set (edges will be puff a bit and centre will jiggle only slightly).
- Cool on a wire rack to room temperature before cutting into 12 slices. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days.
- Make sure to use 100% pure pumpkin. Avoid pumpkin pie filling.
- If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, don’t sweat it. Just use 1 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp of ground ginger, 1/4 tsp of nutmeg, and a pinch of cloves.
- If using whole graham crackers, that’s 28 square graham crackers or 14 double graham crackers. Crush them in a food processor or by hand using a rolling pin.
- Use a sharp knife to slice up the bars, and give it a wipe with a warm, wet cloth between cuts to keep the slices perfect.
Last Updated on November 10, 2023 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD