This brown butter pumpkin cheesecake is rich and creamy with a crunchy brown butter graham cracker crust. It's the most delicious, decadent Fall dessert and is sure to impress your Thanksgiving guests!
Fall has arrived, and I'm embracing all the Fall flavors like apple, chai, and of course, pumpkin. This brown butter pumpkin cheesecake is a delicious alternative to traditional pumpkin pie or pumpkin cake. It's rich, creamy, and a perfect addition to your Thanksgiving dessert table.
The ultra creamy pumpkin filling is flavored with pure pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice, which includes cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. It sits on top of a brown butter graham cracker crust. The brown butter takes the traditional graham cracker crust to the next level with its nutty flavor!
This is a decadent dessert perfect for Thanksgiving, parties, and other Autumn get-togethers. Baking cheesecake can be a little intimidating, but I've packed this post with tons of helpful tips so you can make a perfect, creamy cheesecake with no cracks!
If you love cheesecake, check out this raspberry brownie cheesecake, Oreo white chocolate cheesecake, apple pie stuffed cheesecake, and matcha cheesecake. For more pumpkin recipes, make Halloween pumpkin biscotti, sour cream pumpkin bread, pumpkin protein balls, or pumpkin cream cheese muffins.
Here are some notes about the ingredients used. For the full list of ingredients and quantities, see the recipe card below.
Ingredients for the crust.
Ingredients for the filling.
- Unsalted butter- Use unsalted butter in the crust to control the amount of salt in it. We'll brown the butter by melting it and toasting the milk solids to add depth and a nutty flavor
- Graham cracker crumbs- Any brand of graham crackers works. You can buy graham cracker crumbs, pulse whole graham crackers in a blender or food processor, or crush them up in a strong plastic bag with a rolling pin.
- Cream cheese- Use room temperature full fat cream cheese for the best thick, creamy texture. Your cream cheese should come in a block, not in a tub. Don't use cream cheese spread because it'll be too runny.
- Sour cream- Sour cream helps to slightly soften the dense, rich texture of the cream cheese. It also adds a tangy flavor and more moisture.
- Cornstarch- A little cornstarch helps the filling set up as it bakes. It also prevents cracks and makes the cheesecake easier to cut.
- Spices- The filling is flavored with pumpkin pie spices, including ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. Use individual spices rather than jarred pumpkin spice for the best flavor.
- Eggs- 3 large eggs hold the filling ingredients together and add richness. Make sure the eggs, cream cheese, and sour cream are all room temperature so they're easy to mix. Take them out of the refrigerator 1-2 hours before baking.
- Pumpkin puree- Use canned pure pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling. The only ingredient should be steamed pumpkin! Make sure it doesn't have any spices or sweeteners.
Substitutions & Variations
- You can use a different kind of biscuit or cookie instead of graham crackers, like Nilla wafers, gingersnaps, or Biscoff cookies.
- Plain full-fat Greek yogurt is a good substitute for the sour cream.
- Sprinkle chopped pecans or walnuts in the batter or on top for more nutty flavor and some crunch.
- Top the cheesecake with whipped cream, salted caramel sauce, whipped chocolate ganache, or toasted meringue to make it more decadent and impressive.
Helpful Equipment & Tools
Bake the cheesecake in a 9-inch springform pan. This type of pan has latched sides that separate from the bottom. They're commonly used for baking cheesecakes, quiches, and more.
Step by Step Instructions
Before you start, preheat a conventional oven to 350°F/180°C. Line a 9" springform pan with parchment paper and set aside.
STEP 1: First, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat stirring constantly. The butter will foam and sizzle. Don't step away since the butter can burn quickly!
STEP 2: After 5-8 minutes, the foam will disappear, and white milk solids will sink to the bottom of the pan and toast, turning golden brown. When the butter is brown with an intense nutty aroma, remove from the heat.
Pour the browned butter into a heat-proof bowl to stop it from cooking. Let it cool slightly.
STEP 3: In a large bowl, stir the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and salt together. Pour in the cooled brown butter and stir to coat the crumbs.
STEP 4: Firmly press the graham cracker mixture into the lined springform pan using the bottom of a measuring cup. Press the crust up the sides of the pan so the filling doesn't stick. Bake for 10 minutes while you make the filling.
After you take the crust out of the oven, fill a cast iron skillet or casserole dish with hot water and place it on the bottom rack of the oven. This is our "water bath". The stream from the water creates a humid environment that prevents the cheesecake from getting dry and cracking.
STEP 5: In a large bowl using a hand or stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, white sugar, and brown sugar together on low speed until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to get any clumps at the bottom.
STEP 6: Next, mix in the vanilla, cornstarch, spices, and salt on low until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again and mix in the sour cream.
STEP 7: Next, mix in the eggs one at a time on low. Scrape the sides of the bowl after egg 2 and 3.
STEP 8: Beat in the pumpkin puree on low until combined. Then switch to your rubber spatula and mix the batter by hand to eliminate air bubbles.
STEP 9: Carefully pour the filling into the crust and smooth out the top. Quickly place it in the oven on the rack directly above the water bath and close the door. Bake for 55-65 minutes. When it's done, the edges will be set and the center will be puffed up and jiggle like Jell-O. If it's wobbly like a glass of water, it's not done just yet.
STEP 10: Turn off the oven and crack the door open. Let the cheesecake cool in the warm oven for 1 hour. Then take it out and let cool on top of the oven for another hour.
Once the cheesecake reaches room temperature, cover the pan in cling wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight. Once it's set, release the sides of the pan, slice, and enjoy!
Expert Baking Tips
- Use room temperature ingredients. Using room temperature cream cheese, sour cream, and eggs is super important for making a cheesecake with a creamy, uniform texture.
- Mix the cream cheese well. Beat the cream cheese until it's completely smooth so you don't end up with lumps in your cheesecake! We want the mixer to always be on low speed so air bubbles don't form, so the mixing process will take a little bit longer.
- Don't skip the water bath. The steam and moisture from the water bath keeps the cheesecake from drying out and cracking. Without a water bath, the filling can get rubbery too.
- Cool gradually. Don't open the oven while the cheesecake is baking! The blast of cold air could shock the cheesecake and make it crack down the middle. Cool it gradually for the same reason, moving from inside the oven, to on top of it, to the refrigerator. Cheesecake shrinks as it cools, and if it shrinks too quickly, a crack will form.
Storage & Freezing
Store brown butter pumpkin cheesecake in the refrigerator in a large airtight container like a cake carrier. It will stay fresh for up to 5 days.
I recommend freezing individual slices of cheesecake rather than the whole thing. Slice it up and place the pieces in an airtight container or freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.
To thaw, let the slices warm slightly in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours before eating.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! The only ingredient you need to substitute is the graham crackers. It's easy to find gluten free graham crackers these days. My favorite is Simple Mills Honey Cinnamon Sweet Thins.
Yes! Press the crust into a muffin tin and then add the cheesecake filling. Bake at 325°F for 18-20 minutes.
Cut the recipe in half to make cheesecake bars using an 8x8" or 9x9" square pan. You can also use a 8" springform pan.
More Fall Recipes to Try
Brown Butter Pumpkin Cheesecake
Graham Cracker Crust
- 113 grams unsalted butter
- 240 grams graham cracker crumbs
- 70 grams brown sugar light or dark
- ½ teaspoon salt
Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling
- 680 grams softened cream cheese full-fat, 3 bricks
- 55 grams granulated sugar
- 110 grams brown sugar light or dark
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 115 grams sour cream room temperature
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- 318 grams pumpkin puree
Graham Cracker Crust
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Line a 9" springform pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat stirring constantly. The butter will foam and sizzle. After 5-8 minutes the foam will subside and the white milk solids will brown. Once golden brown with a nutty smell, remove from the heat and pour into a heat-proof bowl.113 grams unsalted butter
- In a large bowl, stir the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and salt together. Pour in the cooled brown butter and stir to coat the crumbs.240 grams graham cracker crumbs, 70 grams brown sugar, ½ teaspoon salt
- Firmly press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan using the bottom of a measuring cup. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 10 minutes while you make the cheesecake filling.
- Take the crust out of the oven. Fill a cast iron skillet or casserole dish with hot water and place it on the bottom rack of the oven. This is our "water bath" that will steam and prevent the cheesecake from cracking.
Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling
- In a large bowl with a hand or stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, white sugar, and brown sugar together until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.680 grams softened cream cheese, 55 grams granulated sugar, 110 grams brown sugar
- Mix in vanilla, cornstarch, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and salt on low until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again. Beat in the sour cream.2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon ground cloves, ¼ teaspoon allspice, ½ teaspoon salt, 115 grams sour cream
- Mix in the eggs one at a time on low speed. Scrape the sides of the bowl after the second and third egg.3 large eggs
- Beat in the pumpkin puree on low until combined. Switch to the rubber spatula and mix by hand to remove air bubbles.318 grams pumpkin puree
- Pour the filling into the crust and smooth out the top. Place it in the oven on the rack directly above the water bath. Bake for 55-65 minutes until the edges are set and slightly golden. The center should be puffed up and jiggly.
- Turn off the oven and crack the door open. Let the cheesecake cool in the warm oven for 1 hour. Take it out of the oven and let it cool on top for another hour.
- Cover the pan in cling wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight. Once it's set, release the springform pan, slice, and enjoy!