These pumpkin swirl cheesecake bars combine the best of pumpkin pie and cheesecake in a convenient form of a bar that you can either snitch and run or sit and linger over at the table. You’re welcome.
I like pumpkin pie alright, but in all honesty, I will always take a slice of anything else over it, especially if cheesecake is an option. But pumpkin pie swirled into cheesecake? I will never say no.–Sarah Kieffer
Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars FAQs
What should I do with my leftover pumpkin purée?
This recipe won’t use a full can of pumpkin purée, but don’t toss the extra. It can be used for making pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie babka, or pasta dough.
Can I make my own pumpkin purée?
Definitely. Simply roast cubes or halves of fresh pumpkin until tender, dump into the food processor, and blitz until smooth.
How do I avoid lumps in my cream cheese filling?
Use room temperature ingredients for the smoothest, lump-free filling.
Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bars
For the crust
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 4 tablespoons (2 oz) unsalted butter melted and cooled
For the pumpkin pie filling
- 1 cup unsweetened pumpkin purée
- 1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the cream cheese filling
- 24 ounces full-fat cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
Make the crust
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (170°C). Adjust an oven rack to the middle of the oven. Line a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) pan with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch (25-mm) overhang on the long sides of the pan.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the graham cracker crumbs, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and ginger. Add the melted butter and mix with a spatula until evenly incorporated.
- Press the mixture onto the bottom of the prepared pan and bake until the crust is fragrant and a slightly darker shade of golden, about 10 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool. After the pan has cooled, wrap the outside sides of the pan in 2 layers of aluminum foil, with the shiny side facing out.
Make the pumpkin pie filling
- In a medium bowl, stir together the pumpkin, brown sugar, egg, maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt.
Make the cream cheese filling
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle on medium speed, beat the cream cheese until light and completely smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl often, making sure all the cream cheese has been incorporated and is silky smooth.
- Add the granulated sugar and beat on medium speed until completely incorporated, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the vanilla and salt and beat, still on medium speed, for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating on low speed after each addition until just combined. Pour in the heavy cream and mix on low speed until combined. Using a spatula, give the filling a couple of turns to make sure it is fully mixed.
Assemble and bake the pumpkin swirl cheesecake bars
- Pour the cream cheese filling over the cooled crust and use an offset spatula to smooth the top.
- Dollop the pumpkin pie filling over the top in 14 or 15 dollops. Use the tip of a table knife to swirl the pumpkin into the cream cheese batter, being careful not to cut into the crust. Bang the bottom of the pan on the counter a few times to help get rid of any air bubbles.
- Bake the cheesecake until the center registers 150°F (65°C) on an instant-read thermometer and the outside edges are puffed and set but the center is still jiggly, 40 to 45 minutes. Turn off the heat, open the oven door just a crack, and let the cheesecake rest and cool in the warm oven for 30 minutes.
- Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool. Once the cheesecake is completely cool, place a piece of parchment over the top of the pan (this helps keep condensation off the top of the cheesecake) and transfer it to the refrigerator. Let chill for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.
- Slice into bars and serve. The bars can be served cold or at room temperature but keep best in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This pumpkin swirl cheesecake bar recipe is a perfect union of classic dessert flavors. And in any great marriage, each personality is allowed to shine while complementing the other. No competition here, both a classic cheesecake and pumpkin pie lover will adore the flavor mix!
Do chill overnight for best results—improved flavor and texture. This will be added to our fall dessert rotation!
The flavor of these pumpkin swirl cheesecake bars is phenomenal. Tastes like fall in a bar. Creamy cheesecake with just enough of that pumpkin pie swirl.
I do think the texture could use some improvement. The graham cracker crust is too crumbly, maybe even too dry. I also think the cheesecake would benefit from being a bit denser. These tasted better after refrigerating but there are still a bit softer than I prefer.
After 10 minutes in the oven, the graham crust was a golden color, not too dark, and smelled like cinnamon before opening the oven.
Cream cheese filling whipped for 5 minutes became creamy, had to scrape the bottom of the bowl several times. I let the mixer go another 3 minutes after adding sugar. I baked my bars a total of 45 minutes before opening the door, they were still jiggly. I cut my bars smaller to yield 24 total.
Here today, gone tomorrow. That was the story of these pumpkin swirl cheesecake bars.
I found the baking to be stress-free. The hands-off cooking and cooling time allowed me to make dinner while anticipating the dessert. I wanted a bit more balance between pumpkin and cream cheese, but apparently that was just me. All other tasters loved a bigger pumpkin hit when biting into this dessert.
I also wanted the bottom to hold together a bit better. Perhaps more butter to bind? In the end, after the bars sat in the fridge for a day, the moisture from the cream cheese helped solidify the base nicely. I especially liked that the base itself wasn’t overly sweet.
I did use about 23 dollops of pumpkin filling vs 14-15. (see earlier remarks about balance with cream cheese) I stopped myself from swirling too much before baking, lest those “big hits” would be lessened. I would definitely make these again, and couldn’t stop thinking about seasonal variations on this theme!
To be honest, I don’t know exactly how many servings were in this dish, as everyone took varied size portions. (This is a good thing, right?) But if I had to guess I’d say 12 to 14 servings.
I love a good press-in crust…but the fact that it was topped with a delicious pumpkin pie and cheesecake filling didn’t hurt, either! It’s great if you’re serving a big family or want to venture into cheesecake without having a springform pan. Plus it’s the perfect recipe for fall! I would make this again…and again…and again.
When baking, I would recommend a water bath of sorts that sits on the rack below the pan. Because of the swirled nature of the top of the cheesecake, I have found with past similar recipes the cheesecake cracks will be VERY prominent in the swirls. With no post-baking toppings to cover the cracks, I wanted to ensure this didn’t happen, so I added the water bath.
I used Philadelphia original (full fat) cream cheese because my Nonna always said to use that one (and you don’t argue with Nonna).
In terms of beating the cream cheese, I don’t have a stand mixer, but this is possible with my little handheld! It took just over 6 minutes to get the consistency I believe I was aiming for.
I enjoy a good cheesecake and I really enjoy a good pumpkin pie, so to me this pumpkin swirl cheesecake is an excellent combo recipe. A great dessert!
I had help of four people with the tasting part of the recipe, including someone who isn’t a pumpkin pie fan and even he really liked these bars. In fact, everyone really liked these bars. I will definitely be adding this to my dessert recipe file.
Pumpkin season is here! I’m not the biggest cheesecake fan, but my husband is and as soon as I read the word pumpkin, I was in. I bought the last two cans of pumpkin at my store for this recipe. (I also bought a can of sweet potato puree and made a smaller second batch with that.)
Swirling the pumpkin filling into the cream cheese was my favorite part of this recipe. These bars photograph so well. The texture was light and fluffy. The pumpkin flavor was a nice amount, but could have been a teeny bit stronger for my tastes. The bars were just a teeny bit sweet for my tastes as well. Overall, this was a great recipe for someone who hadn’t made cheesecake in over ten years and was the perfect introduction to the fall season.
I used full fat cream cheese. Fat tastes better. For visual cues on the crust, it got a very lightly golden, but not much. Just small patches of golden brown. It felt done to the touch.
It took me less than 4 to 5 minutes to beat the cream cheese because it was so soft. It was closer to 2 to 3 minutes.
I needed to bake the cheesecake at least 40 minutes, maybe 43 minutes. The cheesecake was so jiggly that measuring the temperature was the only way I was sure it was done. However, the texture was absolutely perfect when it finished cooling.
I found it made 24 servings. It’s super indulgent so I wouldn’t eat more than a small square at a time.
Originally published October 24, 2020
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
These pumpkin cheesecake bars are a simply heavenly dessert. Creamy cheesecake filling, warm fall spices, sweet pumpkin swirls, and a crunchy graham crust. I love pumpkin pie and my husband loves cheesecake and together we both get a slice of our favorite. Perfection.
The pumpkin swirl cheesecake recipe came together easily with all steps easily completed. I let it cool on the counter and chilled it overnight in the fridge. Made 12 large bars.