Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars: Autumn in a Bite

I’ve always liked pumpkin. I like the way it tastes.

An image of a pumpkin cheesecake bar on a white plate.

I like the way it looks. Mostly, I like the season it comes in, fall.

The world just looks better this time of year, you know? The colors, the weather, the way you can see your breath in the morning but take your sweater off in the afternoon.

An image of trees lined along the road, with changing colors of autumn.

This October, I’ve seen leaves fall in Seattle and Ohio and then back again in Illinois; I’ve sipped hot apple cider and walked on piles of crunchy leaves; I’ve felt crisp air and slept with the windows open. It’s been beautiful.

A cemented pavement with scattered autumn leaves.

And even though the days are darker as we edge closer to winter, I have to tell you: I love fall. All that autumnal affection has to get channeled somewhere, and I’m happy to tell you I’ve found the place: pumpkin.

Ground filled with autumn leaves.

Because listen, pumpkin is to recipes what fall is to the calendar. When I make something with pumpkin, it’s like I’m eating pure fall, and I like that.

And these pumpkin cheesecake bars are like autumn on the tounge.


Velvety and creamy, these bars start with a thick graham cracker crust and finish with a pumpkin filling as rich as cheesecake. You’re supposed to let them chill before slicing, but between us, I had a piece right out of the oven, warm and golden, and it was quite nice. The next day, I ate another piece, chilled, for breakfast — because it’s October after all, and I might as well eat the most of it.

An image sowing the corner of a glass baking dish filled with pumpkin cheesecake bars.

And if you too find yourself indoors one of these beautiful evenings, away from the colors and the leaves and the chill in the air, I sincerely hope it’s because you’re making this or something like it, with pumpkin, in the season I wish wouldn’t end.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Makes nine bars (although it depends on how you cut them)

1 package (1/3 pound) graham crackers
1/3 cup Sucanat (or packed brown sugar)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup Sucanat (or packed brown sugar)
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon white spelt (or regular) flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1.5 cups fresh pureed pumpkin (or 3/4 cup from a can)
1/3 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch square pan.

For crust: Break the crackers into a food processor. Add the Sucanat and cinnamon, and process into a fine meal.

Add the melted butter and process again. Press the crust into the bottom of the buttered pan and slightly up the sides.

Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Reduce oven temp to 325 degrees (although, full disclosure, I completely forgot to do this).

For filling: In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, Sucanat, egg, and egg yolk with an electric mixer. Add vanilla and stir.

Add remaining ingredients and stir until smooth. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Refrigerate for at least four hours before slicing.

*I thought this was super confusing. My box of organic graham crackers was 14.4 ounces, so a little under a pound, and it had three wrapped packages of crackers inside.

I used one of those packages, plus a couple crackers from another.

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About Shanna Mallon

Shanna holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography, and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn, MSN.com, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Houzz.com, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World, Mom.me, Babble, Delish.com, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.

26 thoughts on “Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars: Autumn in a Bite

  1. funny you should mention pumpkin and autumn and how beautiful it outside… pumpkin seriously is the personification of autumn: warm orange hue and just pretty much EVERYWHERE during the month of october and november. i can’t say i LOVE me some pumpkin (as it is, i am a lukewarm fan of Fall) but pair it with chocolate and it makes it all bearable for me.

  2. Yay to pumpkin! I’ve already cooked 3 pie pumpkins this year, which made a massive bowl of fresh pumpkin puree, which then made pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, chocolate chip pumpkin muffins, pumpkin butter and… I’m forgetting something. BUT I still have two pie pumpkins waiting for me to saw them open, so looks like I’ll get to make these bars, which sound amazing!! And I LOVE that picture you took from the bottom of the hill of leaves. I have 100+ pictures that I’ve taken of fall. (Can you tell I’m WAY too excited about your love for pumpkins and fall?) I just love fall so much too.

  3. You’re so right that the world just looks better during autumn. There’s no other season in which I pick out “favorite trees” (or favorite anythings) and stop to stare every time I pass by them.

    And yes, the fact that pumpkin is put on a pedestal in fall doesn’t hurt, either. These look revelatory!

  4. I love the autumn, too. I have to try really hard to be in the moment & not dread the winter, though 🙂
    This looks tremendously yummy…I have two pie pumpkins in my kitchen right now that my husband wants to carve into little kid pumpkins. Cute idea, but I hope I can talk him out of it so that I can cook them up & make this recipe & a host of other yummy things!
    Have a great weekend!

  5. I wish the season wouldn’t end, too! We’ve gotten a little rain the past few days, and I’m even happy to see that…is the Farmer’s Almanac Cookbook new? I wasn’t aware they did one–maybe I’m out of the loop on this one. But it looks like fun, as do these bars. Happy Friday, my friend.

  6. I fear I’m one of those strange people who only like the plainest of cheesecakes: tall, sturdy and naked.

    But I do love pumpkins, and exactly as you said – like eating fall. I think my favourite way is stirring it into oatmeal with maple syrup. This breakfast is my sign of soon-to-fall leaves and carries me through to snow.

  7. Jacqui, Ha, thanks!

    Lan, Hmm pumpkin and chocolate? Would you believe I’m not sure if I’ve had that ever?

    Tim, Is it?

    Alicia, WOAH! A girl after my own heart.

    Novelista, Great!

    Jenny, Great point about how easy this could be gluten-free!

    Maddie, Would love to talk about favorite trees sometime. I think I like Nashville’s magnolias and the Midwest’s maples and oaks best. : )

    MaryAnn, Ha, baby carved pumpkins vs. pumpkin pie…. I think I’d take your side, too! Although they would be very cute!

    Megan, You know, I’d never heard of the Farmer’s Almanac until a few weeks ago, so I’m not sure. But the Everyday Recipes edition is really nice, complete with prize-winning entries and stuff.

    Maria, I understand that. In the same way, I don’t especially love cheesecake. At all. However… these bars were to me what the tall, sturdy, plain kind is to you. : )

    Anne, You are so welcome!

    Alicia, Mmmmm!

  8. That last photo sold me — so dense and characteristic of a perfect cheesecake. We love pumpkin in Autumn, too. If were year-round, we’d have it from January to December. This would be dangerous around us, though I’m tempted to try it and replace some of the sugar with maple syrup.



  9. Heather, Do it! I’d love to see a version of this with some of the sugar swapped, and maple syrup would complement the flavors so nicely!

  10. … and pumpkin pancakes. But now I have a whole new giant bowl of pumpkin puree, so I’ll stop documenting all my pumpkin baking now. 🙂

  11. Delicious! I made a sweet potato cheesecake earlier this month, but now I’m pretty sure I need to make a pumpkin one, too 🙂

  12. yes, i will be making these this week for bake good friday!! i think that i am going to make the crust a chocolate crust!! i will let you know what everyone thinks!!! thanks for an amazing recipe!!

  13. Just found this via google. The recipe looks fantastic–my mom and I are making it tonight to take to our family Thanksgiving. Thanks!

  14. What an awesome recipie. I doubled it for my boyfriends company potluck, but kept enough for us to have a few as well! Thank you so much for sharing this Thanksgiving delight!

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