No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
Free up oven space for Thanksgiving by making No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with a graham cracker crust and homemade praline sauce. Made in an 8×8 square pan without Cool Whip.
At the end of November, thousands of ovens will be cranked on high in full gear, baking succulent stuffed turkey breast and stuffed Cornish hen; hearty green bean casserole without canned soup and mashed potatoes for two; decadent small pecan pie, and other holiday recipes as families gather to share the company of one another (or start fights and dress up the cat).
As ovens are shoved full of food, you have no choice but to either a) make food ahead of time or b) make food on the stove top.
Personally, I don’t like to make savory food ahead of time because I want it to be fresh.
However if there’s one thing I know about holiday meals, it’s you can make dessert ahead of time like these No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars.
They’re pumpkin cream cheese bars in a graham cracker crust. Instead of using Cool Whip, you make homemade whipped cream then fold it into the pumpkin filling.
Traditionally you have small pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving dessert.
However, I wanted to do something a little different. One dessert I love more than pie is cheesecake.
Based on your feedback from my eggless pumpkin pie, having eggless recipes makes it easier to share with those who have allergies.
Plus I go through so many eggs during the holidays, it’s nice to not need them.
You can serve this easy No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars recipe after your Thanksgiving Dinner For Two because you can make it ahead of time and don’t need room in the oven.
All you need is room in the fridge for chilling.
Ingredients For No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
To make your pumpkin cheesecake bars no bake, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Graham cracker crumbs: The base of your cheesecake. You can also use gingersnaps for an extra dose of fall flavor.
- Butter: Used to bind the crust
- Granulated sugar: Used to sweeten the crust
- Salt: Used to flavor the crust
- Heavy whipping cream: Used to make stabilize the filling since you’re not baking it
- Powdered sugar: Sweetens the filling
- Cream cheese: Use a block of full-fat cream cheese as fat free and low fat cream cheeses tend to have more water in them, resulting in a cheesecake that may not set up correctly.
- Pumpkin puree: For best, consistent results use canned
- Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and clove: Collectively known as pumpkin spice, they flavor your bars to take more like autumn.
- Vanilla: Enhances the cheesecake flavor
- Praline sauce: A dessert sauce similar to caramel made from brown sugar and pecans to mimic the flavors of a praline
What if I don’t like pumpkin?
How To Make No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
To make your pumpkin cream cheese bars in an 8×8 square pan (Amazon affiliate link):
- Mix together graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar, and salt then pat into the bottom of your pan. Chill for 30 minutes so it doesn’t get torn up when adding the filling.
- Beat heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a bowl and keep cold.
- Beat together cream cheese and sugar until smooth.
- Add pumpkin, spices, and vanilla, scraping down the bowl as needed.
- Fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture until full incorporated.
- Spread filling on top of the crust.
- Chill for 4 hours or until firm enough to cut.
How To Store No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
Store your no bake bars directly in the pan in the refrigerator with either a lid or wrapped in foil, being careful to not touch and rip up the top.
Chill for at least 4-8 hours before serving. Not only does this help set up the filling before cutting, the flavors will continue to develop.
Refrigerate leftovers for up to 5 days.
What To Serve With No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
Although pumpkin cream cheese bars taste great on their own, I wanted to serve it with sauce. What goes better with pumpkin than pralines?
If you’re not familiar with pralines, they are pretty much candied pecans. I remember having my first praline down in Savannah, GA. So sweet but so good.
As I was researching recipes, I noticed most called for evaporated milk. Some used corn syrup
I wanted something with ingredients most people have on hand, so I took my homemade caramel sauce, substituted brown sugar for the white, and stirred in pecans at the end.
The entire apartment smelled like caramel (or is it now butterscotch?).
The caramel pecan sauce only takes a few minutes, but you can make it ahead of time since Thanksgiving is a busy day in the kitchen.
Store it in the refrigerator then heat it up in a small saucepan before serving.
You can also garnish them with whipped cream for a less sweet option.
Tips For A Lump Free Cheesecake
- Use room temperature cream cheese. It should be softened and not cold to the touch. If it’s been sitting out and still a little cold, you can carefully microwave it in 5-10 second increments (without the foil wrapper! Do not microwave the foil wrapper).
- Use a cream cheese brand you trust. I’m not going to endorse any brands here, but I will say I usually have better luck with Philadelphia cream cheese than store brand cream cheese. Feel free to try out different brands until you find one you like.
- Use room temperature eggs. Nothing will ruin your cheesecake batter more than adding cold eggs to room temperature cream cheese. If needed, you can warm them up in some water while they sit on the counter.
No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars FAQ
I prefer canned simply because it’s consistent. You can certainly use fresh, but make sure it’s not too watery or your bars won’t set.
Yes, you can make crustless cheesecake bars. Serve as is from the pan or serve the filling in a glass like my no bake caramel apple cheesecake.
Yes, use 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice instead of the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and clove.
What To Do With Leftover Canned Pumpkin
You won’t use a whole can of pumpkin for cheesecake, so here are more recipes to use up leftover pumpkin:
- 1 + 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/4 cup (2 ounces or 4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Pinch of salt (omit if using salted butter)
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
- 16 ounces cream cheese (2 blocks or 16 tablespoons) full-fat cream cheese, room temperature and not cold to the touch (do not sub fat free)
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon*
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg*
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger*
- 1/4 teaspoon ground clove*
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream, room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- In a large bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, granulated sugar, and salt. Press into the bottom of an 8x8 pan. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- In a large mixing bowl (with whisk attachment if using stand mixer), beat the heavy cream until it thickens and stiff peaks form, roughly 3-4 minutes (when you pull the beaters up, peaks will form and not fall over). Transfer to another bowl and keep cold in the refrigerator.
- In the same mixing bowl (no need to clean bowl - switch to paddle if using stand mixer), beat together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy, about 1-2 minutes.
- Scrape down the bowl then beat in pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and clove.
- Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until fully incorporated.
- Carefully spread the filling on top of the crust. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight before serving.
Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- For the praline sauce: In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat brown sugar. As the sugar melts, start whisking. Once completely melted, carefully add the butter and whisk until smooth.
- Remove from the heat and slowly add the cream (careful as it'll bubble up). Once it settles down, whisk until smooth then whisk in the vanilla and salt. Stir in pecans. Serve over cheesecake.
- Instead of individual spices, substitute 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and ginger.
- Make the praline sauce ahead of time by cooling to room temperature before storing in the fridge. Reheat until pourable.
- Want to bake a traditional cheesecake? Check out my Pumpkin Cheesecake.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
First published November 15, 2012