Creamy, dense New York style cheesecake is swirled with a spiced pumpkin mixture and baked on a gingersnap base. Quicker and easier than normal cheesecake, these Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bars are the perfect fall treat.
Posted: 9/15/20; Updated: 10/28/21
Sometimes you want cheesecake, but you don’t want the hassle of the springform pan and long bake time. That’s why I love a real simple cheesecake bar! This is a fall version with pure pumpkin puree and warm spices swirled into the cheesecake batter. They’re SO creamy and tangy.
For extra punch, these easy Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bars have a gingersnap crust. They get slightly caramelized when baked from the sugar already in cookies and is slightly crunchier than a graham cracker crust.
If you want other pumpkin items, try my Pumpkin Chai Tiramisu, Pumpkin Pie Crumble Bars, or Pumpkin Spice Soft Pretzels! They’re all pretty different depending on what you’re looking for, but equally as delicious.
Ingredient & Equipment Notes
Here are some of the key ingredients – note, these are not all ingredients (the rest are considered staple items).
- Gingersnaps. I’ve made these with a few different brands and all turned out the same, though I find Sweetzels to be the spiciest (which I love). Just be sure that they are ground super fine.
- Pumpkin puree. Canned pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling!
- Cream cheese. Full fat and Philadelphia brand. It’s far superior to all brands. It just is. I’ve tried with others and it doesn’t taste the same!
- Ground spices. Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.
- Sour cream. Full fat. This goes in the cheesecake batter and helps make it extra tangy (which we love in a cheesecake).
You will need a food processor of high speed blender, in addition to a stand mixer. You can do this with a handheld mixer if that’s all you have, but be very careful not to whip for too long, as a hand mixer‘s low speed is much higher than a stand mixer‘s low speed. Whipping too much air into a cheesecake batter can cause it to crack and bake unevenly.
How to make the Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bars
Add in the sugar, salt and melted butter and pulse a few times to combine and until all crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs in the bottom of a parchment lined 8×8″ pan. Watch this quick video to see how to easily line your pan. Hot tip: the best tools for this job are a 1/3 cup measuring cup and an offset spatula.
Bake at 350℉/177℃ for 10 minutes. Remove the pan to a wire rack to cool.
STEP 2: Combine the pumpkin, sugar, and spices in a bowl until mixed. I will acknowledge that the pumpkin is slightly chunky so it makes it more difficult to swirl into the cheesecake, but I like the maximum pumpkin flavor. If you’d like to make this step easier/more visually appealing, you can add 1-2 tablespoons of heavy cream to loosen it up. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag or tip top bag and set aside.
STEP 3: Add the softened cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low to cream. Add the sugar and mix on low again, then scrape down the sides.
With the mixer running on low, add one egg until fully incorporated, then the other. Scrape the sides once more, then add the sour cream and vanilla and mix until combined.
Pour the batter on top of the crust, spread it out, and gently tap on the counter to remove any air bubbles.
How to swirl pumpkin cheesecake
STEP 4: Snip a small corner off of the piping bag and swirl around the top of the cheesecake. Then, use a butter knife to swirl it in and throughout the cheesecake.
Pull the knife up and down slightly as you swirl. This helps to incorporate the batters together.
STEP 5: Bake the Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bars for 35-40 minutes or until set and there is a still a slight jiggle in the center (not sloshy, though). Some areas may be puffed up and cracked around the pumpkin, but it will fall and settle as it cools. Remove the bars to a wire rack to cool for one hour, then into the fridge uncovered for at least 3 hours.
To get perfectly clean slices, Press down the knife to the bottom and pull towards yourself to remove (don’t lift). Also, clean the knife off under hot water and wipe off in between each cut.
Storing and Freezing
Store the bars in the fridge for up to 5 days, uncovered.
To freeze, wrap either the whole slab of bars or individual squares tightly in plastic wrap and place in a ziptop bag or Tupperware. Freeze for up to two months. To thaw, unwrap, place on a plate, and thaw in the fridge, then enjoy!
FAQs & Tips
Yes! Your cream cheese, eggs and sour cream all need to be at room temperature (if not even further along). Any touch of cold in a cream cheese batter can create lumps, which is never a good thing.
No problem, you can use the same amount in of graham crackers. Add a 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger if you want to slightly replicate the ginger flavor.
Other recipes to try
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Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bars
- Food processor or high speed blender
- Parchment paper
- 8×8 inch pan
- Stand mixer with paddle attachment, or handheld mixer
- 2 cup ginger snaps finely ground (230g)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 25g
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted (85g)
- ⅛ tsp kosher salt
- ½ cup canned pumpkin 113g
- 1 tablespoons light brown sugar 13g
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- 16 oz cream cheese (full fat) room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar 150g
- ¼ cup sour cream (full fat) room temperature (60g)
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- Preheat the oven to 350℉/177℃ and line an 8×8" baking pan with parchment paper overhangs so you can easily remove the bars after baking. It helps to lightly grease the pan first so the parchment sticks.
- Using a food processor, pulverize the gingersnaps until finely ground. Add the granulated sugar, salt, and melted butter and pulse until combined and moistened.
- Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan, taking care to press it into the sides and corners.
- Bake the crust for 8 minutes and allow to cool on a wire rack.
- While the crust is cooling, mix the pumpkin and spices in a bowl and transfer to a piping bag or ziptop bag.
- In a stand mixer fixed with the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese on low speed to break it down then scrape down the sides.
- Add the sugar and mix on low speed until creamy, then scrape down the sides again.
- Add one egg and mix on low until incorporated, then add the second egg and mix. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again, then add in the sour cream and vanilla and mix on low until it's just incorporated.
- Pour the cream cheese mixture onto the cooled crust and spread evenly, then drizzle the pumpkin mixture over the top of the cheesecake layer. Using a butter knife, swirl the pumpkin through the cheesecake mixture to create a marbling effect.
- Bake the bars for 35-40 minutes, or until the cheesecake is set but still jiggles in the center. If the center looks sloshy in any way, continue baking.
- Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour, then transfer to the fridge to cool for at least 3 hours, uncovered. Remove the bars from the pan using the parchment paper slings, cut into 9 slices, and serve!