This Apple Crumble Cheesecake is the perfect fall and Thanksgiving dessert! It has a crisp graham cracker crust, layers of spiced apples and creamy cheesecake, and is finished with an oat crumble topping. Why choose between apple pie and cheesecake when you can have them both?
Unlike a traditional cheesecake, this apple crisp cheesecake doesn't use a water bath, so you don't need to worry about the water leaking into the cheesecake. Instead, you put a pan of water at the bottom of the oven, creating enough moisture when the cheesecake bakes to prevent it from cracking.
This is the BEST trick for easy cheesecake baking with no cracking or messing with a finicky water bath! Try it with this crumble cheesecake recipe, then start using it whenever you make cheesecake!
Serve this apple cheesecake with apple cider caramel sauce from this Caramel Pecan Cheesecake to really bring that apple flavor home! For more apple crisp flavors, try:
- Apple Streusel Coffee Cake
- Cinnamon Apple Crumble Muffins with Oats
- Apple Blueberry Crisp
- Dutch Caramel Apple Pie with Crumb Topping
- Apple Crisp Bars
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Fall flavors - This apple pie cheesecake tastes like the epitome of fall. Warm apple slices get cooked down with brown sugar and cinnamon, and the whole dessert gets topped with cinnamon oat crumb topping. Bite into this apple cheesecake, and you'll be dreaming of chunky sweaters and colorful leaves falling.
No water bath - Usually, cheesecake recipes require baking in a water bath to cook the cheesecake evenly and prevent cracking. This is tricky business because if the water gets in the cheesecake, it can curdle the filling or water it down. This recipe uses the best hack so you don't have to worry about any of that!
Creamy filling - The cheesecake filling in this recipe is a classic New York-style cheesecake filling. It uses cream cheese and sour cream, creating a luscious, creamy, and tangy cheesecake.
- Graham crackers. I find that Nabisco brand graham crackers produce the sturdiest crust. Other brands of graham crackers can get soggy and lack that true graham cracker flavor.
- Apples. Firm, baking apples such as a Granny Smith, Gala, Braeburn or Pink Lady should be used so they don't turn mushy during the baking process.
- Sour cream. This adds that delicious tangy flavor that you look for in a cheesecake. Greek yogurt can also be used. Be sure either are at room temperature.
- Cornstarch. Used to help thicken the apple juices, and also gets mixed in to the cheesecake filling to help it set.
- Cream cheese. Full-fat, brick style cream cheese at a very soft room temperature should be used. Philadelphia brand is my go-to, and has the best flavor and texture.
- Cinnamon. This classic fall spice is used to flavor the apple pie filling and streusel topping to heighten that spiced apple aroma.
See recipe card for full ingredients list and quantities.
Best Apples to Use for Baking
Choosing the right type of apple to bake with is important to get the right balance of tartness and sweetness and to get the appropriate texture after the apples bake. I recommend Granny Smith, Braeburn, Gala, Honeycrisp, or Pink Lady apples, but any type of tart, firm apples work well in this recipe.
Substitutions and Variations
- Make individual mini cheesecakes by layering the components in jumbo muffin tins.
- Add a drizzle of store bought or homemade caramel sauce to serve on top. Try some apple cider caramel from these Salted Caramel Cookie Bars with Shortbread to bring out that apple flavor!
- Make this cheesecake into bars by layering the components in a 9x13 pan.
- Substitute greek yogurt in place of the sour cream.
How to Make This Recipe
A quick note - these pictures are a general visual overview of the process. See the recipe card for full instructions and timing, as some are not pictured (i.e. filling the pan for the water bath).
One: Cook down the sliced apples, sugar and spices, then add the cornstarch slurry to thicken the juices. Transfer to a plate and refrigerate to cool quickly.
Two: Line the bottom and sides of a 9" springform pan with parchment paper. Be sure the strips on the side go up at least 1" over the edges of the pan.
Three: Mix together the ingredients for the graham cracker crust with a fork until completely moistened.
Four: Press the crumbs into the bottom and sides of the prepared pan, going the whole way up the sides (to the top edge of the pan). Bake and cool.
Hot tip! Use a ⅓ cup measuring cup with straight sides to form the crust. Watch this quick video on how to prepare a crumb crust for tips and tricks.
Five: Mix together all ingredients for the crumble topping using a fork until small and medium crumbles form. Set aside.
Six: On low speed, beat the cream cheese until completely broken down.
Seven: Add the sugar and cornstarch and beat again. Scrape down the sides.
Eight: Add the whisked eggs slowly with the mixer running on low speed.
Nine: Fold in the sour cream and vanilla by hand, being sure to get to the very bottom of the bowl to incorporate all batter.
Ten: Add half of the cheesecake batter to the cooled crust and spread it evenly.
Eleven: Add the apples very gently (using your fingers or a fork) in one even layer.
Twelve: Spread the remaining cheesecake batter over top of the apples and spread to meet the edges.
Thirteen: Add the remaining apples (and any juices and spices) on top of the second layer.
Fourteen: Gently sprinkle the crumble topping the whole way over the top of the cheesecake. Bake and cool according to recipe card instructions.
- Use fully room temperature ingredients for the cheesecake filling so they easily combine. Set out the cream cheese 4-6 hours prior to making to ensure it creams easily.
- Cheesecake can be finicky, so make sure to mix the ingredients low and slow. Mixing at higher speed incorporates air into the batter which leads to cracking. Also, scrape the sides of the bowl in between each step to make sure the ingredients are fully incorporated.
- How you cool the cheesecake also helps avoid cracking. Cool partially in the oven, then at room temperature, and then move to the fridge. Slow cooling helps ensure no sinking or cracking.
- Cook the apples before adding them to the cheesecake to remove some of their moisture and create a classic apple pie filling.
- Pack the crust ⅔ to ¾ way up the sides of the pan.
- The parchment strips on the sides of the pan should come up at least 1 inch over the sides of the pan because they help hold in all of the layers which will come up over the top edge of the pan.
- To cut the cheesecake cleanly, use a gentle sawing motion with a serrated knife to cut through the crumble topping, then cut straight through to the bottom through the crust.
- Clean the knife off in between each cut for the cleanest slices.
Crumble topping is made with a mix of fat, sugar, flour, and sometimes oats. They get combined until a crumbly mixture forms, then baked into a chewy and slightly crisp topping.
This either means the cheesecake was not fully baked or it was not fully cooled and chilled before slicing since the cheesecake sets up as it chills.
It can be made several days in advance. The quality starts to diminish after 2-3 days.
Cheesecake is done when the edges are set and slightly puffy but the center still has a slight jiggle but not sloshy - similar to jello. The cheesecake will finish cooking and setting during the cooling and chilling process.
A water bath helps the cheesecake remain moist, bake evenly, and prevent cracking. But this recipe doesn't use a traditional water bath and still gets perfect results - and no water seeping into your cheesecake!
Store the apple crisp cheesecake covered in the fridge for one week.
To freeze, wrap the remaining cheesecake (or slices of cheesecake) tightly in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil, and place into a zip top bag.
Freeze for up to three months. Unwrap completely and thaw uncovered in the fridge.
Apple Crumble Cheesecake
- Food processor
- Stand mixer with paddle attachment, or handheld mixer
- Rubber spatula
- 9x13 inch casserole dish
- 5 cups baking apples peeled, cored, and very thinly sliced (⅛” thick), about 3-4 large apples
- ¼ cup light brown sugar packed
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Graham Cracker Crust
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs about 2 sleeves
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter melted
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- ⅔ cup light brown sugar packed
- ½ cup rolled oats
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 32 oz full fat cream cheese very soft room temperature (four 8oz blocks)
- 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 4 large eggs room temperature (whisked)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup full fat sour cream room temperature
- Add the prepared apples, brown sugar, and cinnamon to a large pan and cook over medium heat (stirring occasionally) until the apples start releasing juices and getting slightly soft, about 5 minutes.5 cups baking apples, ¼ cup light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Mix together the cornstarch and water, then add to the apples and mix to combine. Allow it to cook (while stirring) until the juices thicken. Stir in the vanilla. Transfer the apples to a plate and place uncovered in the refrigerator.½ tablespoon cornstarch, 2 tablespoons water, 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 350℉ and spray the inside of a 9” springform pan with cooking spray. Add a round of parchment paper to the bottom, and 2-3 strips of parchment to the sides, so they slightly stick up over the edges.
Graham Cracker Crust
- Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and melted butter in either the food processor or in a bowl with a fork and mix until completely combined and the crumbs are completely moistened.2 cups graham cracker crumbs, ⅓ cup granulated sugar, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, ½ cup unsalted butter
- Add the crumbs to a 9” springform pan and press the crust into the bottom and the whole way up the sides of the pan. Be sure it’s very compact.
- Note: a ⅓ cup dry measuring cup with straight sides is great for this job.
- Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Reduce the oven temperature to 315℉. Place a 9x13" pan on the very bottom rack of the oven.
- Mix together the melted butter, flour, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon, and salt with a fork until crumbles form. Set aside.6 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 cup all purpose flour, ⅔ cup light brown sugar, ½ cup rolled oats, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Set a pot of water to boil (about 6-8 cups). This will get poured into the 9x13" pan in the oven prior to baking.
- To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer on the very lowest setting), add the cream cheese and mix on low speed until broken down. Scrape down the sides.32 oz full fat cream cheese
- Add the sugar and cornstarch and mix on low speed until combined and smooth. Scrape down the sides again.1 ¼ cups granulated sugar, 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- With the mixer running on low speed, slowly pour in the whisked eggs. Continue mixing until you can no longer see streaks of eggs. Scrape down the sides.4 large eggs
- Add the vanilla and sour cream and use a rubber spatula to fold it into the cheesecake batter until fully incorporated, being sure to get to the very bottom of the bowl.1 tablespoon vanilla extract, 1 cup full fat sour cream
- Add half of the cheesecake batter to the cooled graham cracker crust and spread to meet the edges.
- Using a fork or your fingers, gently place half of the sliced apples on top of the cheesecake batter in an even layer going out to the edges.
- Add the remaining batter and spread evenly. Gently tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles.
- Repeat the apple layer on top, then sprinkle over the streusel in an even layer.
- Pull out the bottom oven rack and fill the casserole dish with the boiling water. Carefully push the rack back in, taking care not to slosh water over the sides.
- Close the door and allow the oven to come back to temperature for a few minutes.
- Add the cheesecake to the center rack of the oven and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes. The cheesecake is done when the edges are set and the center still has a slight jiggle (but should not be sloshy). Tap the side of the pan to test this. If it’s still sloshy, bake for another 10-15 minutes.
- Once done, turn off the oven and crack the oven door. Allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven for 1 hour. Then, transfer to the counter to cool for another 30 minutes to one hour.
- Transfer to the refrigerator (uncovered) and chill for at least 6 hours, but overnight is best.
- Once fully chilled, slice and serve.