Baked vegan pumpkin cheesecake that is packed with pumpkin flavor and spices, has a crunchy ginger cookie crust and optional caramel pecan topping.
What to expect from this recipe
RICH AND CREAMY: The recipe uses dairy-free cream cheese, rather than cashews, which makes it taste more like a traditional cheesecake!
EASY TO MAKE: Prepared in a food processor (or blender) and one bowl! However, like any good baked cheesecake, it takes time for the cheesecake to bake and chill.
ALLERGY-FRIENDLY: Dairy-free and egg-free but can easily be made nut-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free and soy-free. You can even make it coconut-free!
This cheesecake is the perfect vegan Thanksgiving dessert in Fall.
Ingredients for this cheesecake
A complete list of ingredients, quantities and instructions are in the gray recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Notes about the ingredients
Vegan cream cheese. This pumpkin cheesecake recipe works well with Tofutti and Sheese cream cheese and readers have successfully used many other brands. Some readers said that Violife and Daiya do not work well as they split. Alternatively, I also have a recipe for a baked cheesecake without cream cheese.
Coconut cream that is thick and scoopable from a can (not coconut milk). The natural fats in the coconut cream help set the cheesecake. Don't worry, the cheesecake has no coconut flavor because we're using a lot of cream cheese and pumpkin. Alternatively, tofu will work (see the notes in the recipe box for tips).
Pumpkin puree. This vegan pumpkin cheesecake works well with either canned pumpkin puree (I used Libby's) and homemade pumpkin puree.
Vegan-friendly ginger cookies for the crust. Plain sweet cookies or graham crackers will also work (see the notes in the recipe box at the bottom of this post). You can also use gluten-free cookies for a gluten-free cheesecake.
Making the ginger cookie crust
First, we need to use a food processor or high-powered blender to pulse the cookies into fine crumbs. If your cookies are extra firm, this will take a few minutes.
If you don't have a food processor, place the cookies in a food-safe bag and crush them with a rolling pin.
Then mix the cookie crumbs with melted vegan butter until it resembles wet sand.
Press the crust mixture into your cake pan as firmly as possible. This will prevent your vegan pumpkin cheesecake from crumbling when you cut into it!
We're par-baking the crust so it remains crunchy in the final cheesecake.
Tips for making the cheesecake filling
The vegan pumpkin cheesecake filling is smooth, creamy and slightly fluffy. Here are some tips for making the creamiest filling:
- Use room-temperature vegan cream cheese. Beat it first to remove any lumps.
- Avoid overmixing the cheesecake filling. Adding too much air to the cheesecake can cause it to rise and fall when baked.
- If your mixture is still lumpy, try pressing it through a strainer or blending it in a high-speed blender.
Finally, pour the filling into your cake pan. Tap the vegan pumpkin cheesecake on your kitchen bench a few times to remove any air bubbles. The cheesecake filling is quite thick so you may need to smooth the surface before baking.
Creating a water bath for the cheesecake
I recommend using a water bath to bake this vegan pumpkin cheesecake as it makes the filling really smooth and creamy. I mean, it will still work without a water bath but the filling can crack and feel chalky.
The traditional way to create a water bath is to cover the bottom of a cheesecake pan with aluminum foil and place it in a roasting pan or deep tray filled with hot water. Culinary Hill provides helpful step-by-step pictures of this.
If you don't have aluminum foil at home, you can:
- Place your pumpkin cheesecake in a slightly larger cake/quiche pan. Place this in the middle of a larger roasting pan (such as the one that came with your oven).
- Place the roasting pan in the middle rack of your oven.
- Pour boiling water into the roasting pan. Immediately close the oven door.
Alternatively, you can pour the hot water into your roasting pan and then place the cheesecake in the middle (whichever works for you).
Some tips for baking the best vegan pumpkin cheesecake:
- Avoid opening the oven door for at least 1 hour while the cheesecake is baking. This will create sudden temperature drops and may cause the cheesecake to crack. However, if your cheesecake is browning on top, you can quickly open the oven door to cover the cake pan.
- If your oven runs hot or has strong top heating elements, tent your cake pan with aluminum foil or a small oven-safe tray at the beginning of baking. This will prevent your cheesecake from burning.
How to tell if the cheesecake is done
The 'jiggle test' is the easiest way to tell if this pumpkin cheesecake is ready. At around 60-70 minutes gently shake the cheesecake and it's done when the edges look set but the middle is a little jiggly. The middle should 'jiggle like jello', but not 'ripple like water'.
You can see the 'jiggle test' in this video by Food52 or this video by Allrecipes. Don't worry if your cheesecake takes longer to bake (your oven may run cool).
When your vegan pumpkin cheesecake is ready, let it sit in the warm oven and then at room temperature. The residual heat will continue to cook the middle of the cheesecake.
This vegan pumpkin cheesecake is very rich and indulgent by itself!
For something extra, I topped my cheesecake with a caramel pecan sauce that's reminiscent of pecan pie. Alternatively, you can top your cheesecake with:
- Whipped coconut cream or any dairy-free cream
- Crushed ginger cookies
- Pumpkin seeds
- Vegan caramel sauce
Yes, use store-bought or homemade refined sugar-free gingerbread cookies for the base. For the filling, I recommend using coconut sugar. Maple syrup may work but will make the filling runnier and you'll have to bake it for longer.
Instead, you may use silken firm tofu (otherwise known as medium tofu) or dairy-free yogurt. The original version of this recipe used tofu! However, I recommend adding 2 extra tablespoons (15g) of cornstarch and baking the cheesecake for a little longer.
Yes, it will take a little less time to bake your cheesecake. Try checking it at the 50-minute mark.
I haven't tested this recipe with other fruits/vegetables. However, you can browse my other vegan cheesecake recipes.
More vegan pumpkin desserts
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Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake (baked)
- ~2 ½ cups (300g) ginger cookies, gluten-free if needed (note 1 if you only have plain cookies)
- ⅓ cup (75g) melted vegan butter, or melted coconut oil
- 24 oz (675g) vegan cream cheese, room temperature (3 x regular tubs)
- 15 oz (425g) pumpkin puree, canned or homemade (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 1 cup (250g) thick scoopable canned coconut cream, (note 2 for alternatives)
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar, or packed brown sugar
- ⅓ cup (40g) corn starch / corn flour
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice, (note 3 for homemade blend)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, optional
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
Pecan pie topping
- ½ cup (95g) packed brown sugar, or coconut sugar
- 2 tablespoons (40g) maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons (30g) vegan butter or margarine
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
- 1 cup (100g) pecans, whole or chopped
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch or 9-inch (20 or 23 cm) springform pan or loose-bottom pan with parchment paper.
Make the crust:
- Add the ginger cookies to a food processor and pulse until they form fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse until combined. Firmly press the mixture into the bottom of your cake pan.
- Bake the ginger crust in the oven for 10 minutes and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 320°F (160°C).
Make the filling:
- Use a handheld mixer, stand mixer or food processor to beat the cream cheese until smooth and there are no lumps.
- Add the remaining filling ingredients and mix until all ingredients are well combined. Avoid over-mixing the batter as it can cause the cheesecake to rise quickly and fall in the oven.
- Pour the pumpkin cheesecake batter into your cake pan and smooth the surface with a spoon. Tap the cheesecake on your kitchen bench a few times to remove any air bubbles.
Prepare the water bath:
- Boil 4 cups of water in a kettle or a medium-sized pot.
- Wrap your cake pan with aluminum foil OR place your cake pan in a slightly larger round cake pan. Place your cake pan in a larger roasting pan or deep baking tray and place this in the middle rack of your oven. Carefully pour boiling water into the roasting pan so the water is around 1 inch high. See my post above for extra tips.
Bake the vegan pumpkin cheesecake:
- Bake the cheesecake for 60-75 minutes or until done. At the 30-minute mark, if your cheesecake starts to brown on top, cover your cake pan with an oven-safe tray or aluminum foil. Your cheesecake is ready if you gently shake the cake pan and the edges look set but the middle is still jiggly. Your cheesecake will continue to set over time. (note 4)
- Turn off the oven and allow the cheesecake to sit in the oven with the door closed for at least 1 hour. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let it sit at room temperature until it reaches room temperature. Cover and refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Prepare the pecan topping:
- Add all ingredients except the pecans to a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer the mixture for 5 minutes then mix through the pecans. Remove from the heat. Allow the mixture to cool and thicken.
- Chill your vegan pumpkin cheesecake until needed. Just before serving, spoon the pecan topping or your desired topping on top.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
- Alternatively, you can use 250g plain vegan-friendly cookies and add 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground ginger and ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg. For a graham cracker crust, use 200g graham crackers, 50g brown sugar and the same spices as above.
- For a coconut-free cheesecake, you may use film-silken tofu (make sure you blend the filling). I recommend adding 2 extra tablespoons (15g) of cornstarch and baking the cheesecake for a little longer.
- For homemade pumpkin spice, use 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg and a pinch of ground cloves. If you don't have any ginger, nutmeg or cloves, use extra cinnamon.
- If your oven has a strong top heating element, cover your cake pan with aluminum foil at the beginning of baking. If your cheesecake takes less or more time to bake, that is absolutely okay. It will depend on your ingredients and how your oven works. For extra tips on how to tell if your cheesecake is done baking, read the blog post above.
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I made this for my family for thanksgiving, as me and another family member is dairy free, and even the people who eat dairy constantly loved this dairy free cheesecake!! It was delicious, and it will become my holiday staple dessert 😄 One thing to note though is do not start baking this at 9 PM unless you want to stay up until midnight or later waiting for the cake to finish baking and cooling in oven 😅
Aw I'm so happy this was part of your Thanksgiving and that even the dairy eaters enjoyed it! And hahaha, I've definitely been in that 9pm situation before so I hear you! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment Kayla :).
Jon K says
Wonderful Recipe. Had people wowed. Very easy to follow and make!
That's amazing to hear! Thanks Jon 🙂
Thank you for this recipe! What a delight!!!
It was much easier to make than I thought and my husband and I loved it so much. Definitely making it for thanksgiving!
Aw, I'm glad that you found this cheesecake recipe approachable and that you enjoyed eating it! Thanks so much for leaving a comment Eliza!
Hello, thank you so much for this recipe! Just a quick note: I think there's something wrong with the link to the "other baked cheesecake recipe" because it keeps linking me back to this recipe. I'd love to make it with vegan cream cheese, but I live in a very remote island where you can only find Violife, so I was looking for an option either with silken tofu or cashews. Other than that, thank you again for all the hard work and happy Halloween!
Ooh thanks so much for letting me know, I've just fixed the link! The other recipe uses a combination of cashews, tofu and yogurt and I think you'd be able to replace the tofu with pumpkin. I hope that helps :). Thanks so much for your support and happy Halloween to you to!
Candace Rubio says
Hi can this be made ahead of time? I’m wanting to freeze it if possible? How long will it hold in the freezer and/or fridge? Thank you I’m advance!
Yes, the cheesecake will hold in the freezer for up to 1 month and in the fridge for up to 3-5 days. The topping changes consistency when it's chilled so I recommend making it on the day or slightly warming it up before you serve it. Hope that helps!
First time making a baked vegan cheesecake and it was amazing!
I kept mine in the oven about 30 min longer and cooled completely with the oven door shut, but otherwise followed the recipe.
Hi Annie, I'm so glad that you enjoyed this cheesecake and thanks for your feedback 🙂
Hello! I was thinking of making this but as individual servings in muffin tins- will the baking time change due to that?
P.s. love your recipes!
Hey! Yes the baking time will change a bit! Maybe try around 30 minutes. Hope that helps and thanks so much for your support! x
I just made this cake and the taste is phenomenal! Unfortunately, my oven runs a bit cool, and I often struggle with cooking things the whole way through. This cake still turned out lovely, but the consistency toward the centre is similar to a no bake cheesecake (since it didn't get fully cooked). Regardless, it looks beautiful and tastes great, just missing the thick baked feeling like the outer edge has 🙁
Do you have any tips into telling if the cake is thoroughly cooked next time? I let it cool in the oven for a couple hours until the sides and bottom of the pan were room temp, and then put in the fridge overnight hoping it would set, but I think I just needed to bake it longer (I used the same size pan as you and I set my oven to 330F and baked for 50 min, but again I think its my oven).
Thanks in advance and thanks for your recipes!
Hi Courtney, thanks for your comment and I'm so glad you enjoyed the taste of this cake!
And ooh that's completely understandable - it can be a guessing game to know when a cheesecake is baked! So, there's something called the 'jiggle' test for cheesecakes. The cheesecake is ready when you can shake it and the outside doesn't 'jiggle' but there's a small circle in the middle which does jiggle ever so slightly. Alternatively, if you touch the middle of the cheesecake (be careful because it'll be hot), the surface should be just dry to the touch but there's still something soft underneath. Another way to tell is when the whole surface of the cheesecake is *very* slightly golden brown! But it's great that you know that your oven runs a little more cool - it just means that an extra 5-10 minutes will do the trick :).
I hope that helps and thanks for your kind words!
Courtney Gauthier says
Excellent, thank you for your response and suggestions! I am going to try it again this weekend and use those tests that you've suggested.
Over the next week (I stored it in the fridge) it began to firm up just from being chilled I guess, but every person I shared this with said it was amazing - and I agree! Best vegan cheesecake I have had honestly.
Doris Ward says
HI, other than gingerbread or gingersnap cookies, what other kinds of cookies are good substitutes? Thank you.
Hi Doris, any sweet plain cookie will do!
Anastasia Chekmareva says
Awesome recipe! I took premade crust, used tofu and followed the rest of the recipe.
Would deff like to try it with the coconut cream next time!
Love the instructions!
I'm so glad to hear Anastasia and thanks for leaving a kind comment! Thank you!