Baked vegan pumpkin cheesecake that is packed with pumpkin and spices, has a crunchy ginger cookie crust and optional caramel pecan topping. This epic Fall dessert is perfect for sharing with friends and family.
What to expect from this recipe
FLAVOR: This cheesecake is packed with flavor as it uses dairy-free cream cheese (rather than cashews), a whole can of pumpkin puree and more spices than other pumpkin cheesecake recipes! The topping is reminiscent of pecan pie and makes this cheesecake the ultimate Fall dessert.
DIFFICULTY: Easy to prepare and comes together in a food processor (or blender) and a bowl! However, like any good baked cheesecake, the most difficult part is waiting for the cheesecake to bake and chill.
ALLERGY-FRIENDLY: This cheesecake is already dairy-free and egg-free but it can easily be made nut-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free and soy-free. I've also provided an alternative to coconut cream.
Alas if you're not a fan of pumpkin, check out my vegan gingerbread cheesecake.
Ingredients for this cheesecake
Notes about the ingredients
Vegan cream cheese. This cheesecake recipe works well with Tofutti and Sheese cream cheese and likely other brands. Readers have reported that Violife and Daiya do not work well. If you prefer to a cheesecake without cream cheese, see my other baked cheesecake recipe.
Coconut cream that is thick and scoopable from a can. The natural fats in the coconut cream help set the cheesecake. Don't worry, the cheesecake has no coconut flavor because it's overpowered by the high amount of cream cheese and pumpkin. See the Q&A boxes at the bottom of this post for alternatives.
Pumpkin puree. This vegan pumpkin cheesecake works well with either canned pumpkin puree (I used Libby's) or homemade pumpkin puree.
Granulated sugar to sweeten the cheesecake. Alternatively, you may use brown sugar or coconut sugar, though they'll make your cheesecake darker in color.
Vegan-friendly ginger cookies for the crust. Alternatively, you can use plain sweet cookies or graham crackers and add spices/sugar (see the notes of the recipe card at the bottom of this post). For a gluten-free cheesecake, simply use gluten-free cookies.
A complete list of ingredients, quantities and instructions are in the gray recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Making the ginger cookie crust
First, we need to use a food processor or high-powered blender to pulse the cookies into fine crumbs. This can take anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes and will depend on how crunchy your cookies are.
If you don't have a food processor, you can place the cookies in a food-safe bag and crush them with a rolling pin.
Then add the melted vegan butter and mix until the mixture resembles wet sand.
I recommend pressing 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 the crust in the final cheesecake remains crunchy.
Tips for making the cheesecake filling
The cheesecake filling is creamy and yet slightly fluffy! Here are a few tips to help you make the best pumpkin cheesecake filling.
First, I recommend mixing the cream cheese by itself in a large mixing bowl (or stand mixer). This will smooth out any lumps in the cream cheese that are trickier to remove when other ingredients are added.
Add the rest of the ingredients then mix until everything is well combined and the sugar has dissolved.
Here are some extra tips to make the best vegan pumpkin cheesecake filling:
- Use room-temperature vegan cream cheese as it mixes more easily with other ingredients.
- Try to avoid overmixing the cheesecake filling. Overmixing the filling can create unnecessary bubbles which can cause the cheesecake to rise quickly and fall when baked.
- If your final cheesecake 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 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 you bake it.
Creating a water bath for the cheesecake
I recommend using a water bath to bake your vegan pumpkin cheesecake as makes the filling creamier and smoother.
If you really don't want to set up a water bath, this cheesecake will still work! The cheesecake will have a wrinkly surface and may crack but you can cover the cheesecake anyway! Handle the Heat shows the difference between cheesecakes baked with and without a water bath.
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 method. You can cover the cake pan with aluminum foil before or after you fill it with your cheesecake.
If you don't have aluminum foil at home (like myself), this is what I recommend:
- Place your cheesecake in a slightly larger cake or 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 things to watch out for when you bake your vegan pumpkin cheesecake:
- Does your oven run hot or have strong top heating elements? Have you ever baked a large cake and it cracks on the top but isn't baked in the middle? If so, I recommend covering your cake pan with aluminum foil placing an oven-safe tray above your cheesecake at the beginning of baking. This will ensure the middle of your cheesecake bakes.
- 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. The exception is, if your cheesecake is browning on top at the 30-minute mark, and you haven't already covered your cheesecake, you can quickly open the oven door to cover the cake pan.
How to tell if the cheesecake is done
The 'jiggle test' is the easiest way to tell if this cheesecake is ready. At around 60-70 minutes, gently shake the cheesecake and it's done when the edges of the cheesecake look set but the middle is a little jiggly.
What do I mean by 'jiggle'? If the middle jiggles like jello, it's ready. If it ripples like water, it's not ready. You can see the 'jiggle test' in this video by Food52 or this video by Allrecipes. If your cheesecake takes longer to bake, that is absolutely okay (your oven may run cool).
When your vegan pumpkin cheesecake passes the jiggle test, allow it to 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 and wonderful 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 instead of granulated sugar. Maple syrup may work but will make your cheesecake runnier and you'll have to bake it for longer.
Instead, you may use firm silken tofu (otherwise known as medium tofu) or dairy-free yogurt. The original version of this recipe used tofu! However, they're runnier than coconut cream so I recommend adding 2 extra tablespoons (15g) of cornstarch and baking the cheesecake for a little longer.
Yes, the larger your cake pan, the less time it will take for the cheesecake to bake!
Sweet potato puree will act similarly to pumpkin, though it usually contains less moisture so your cheesecake may bake in a shorter time.
I haven't tested this recipe with other fruits/vegetables. However, you can browse my other vegan cheesecake recipes.
More vegan pumpkin desserts
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 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 puree)
- 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
- 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 or loose-bottom cake 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.
- Keep the cheesecake chilled and 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.
- Instead of ginger cookies, you may 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 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.
- Instead of coconut cream, you may use film silken tofu (make sure you blend the filling). However, as tofu doesn't 'set', I recommend adding 2 extra tablespoons (15g) of cornstarch and baking the cheesecake for a little longer.
- If your oven has a strong top heating element, cover your cake pan with a tray or aluminum foil at the beginning of baking. If your cheesecake takes less or more time to bake, that is absolutely okay. It will depend hugely on your ingredients and how your oven works. For tips on how to tell if your cheesecake is done baking, read the blog post above.
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