Whether you’re making Pumpkin Cheesecake for Thanksgiving or another fall gathering, try baking it in the slow cooker for a reliable, fail-proof method. The slow cooker’s low temps minimize cracks and help to create a super smooth, creamy filling.
I have a bit of a cheesecake phobia. Picking the right pan, getting a water bath into the oven without spilling, cooking it just right to avoid cracks in the top #cheesecakeissues. So it was with great joy that, while researching new ways to use my slow cooker, I found many mentions of cheesecake. It turns out that the slow cooker is great for making cheesecake! This pumpkin version is inspired by Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites. Like those bite-size cheesecakes, all you need to make the crust and cheesecake filling is a food processor. Here’s how!
Why Make Cheesecake In the Slow Cooker
Low and slow is key for making a smooth, creamy cheesecake without cracks. The slow cooker provides a steady, consistently low temperature that is ideal. For this method you create a water bath and then form the cheesecake in a loaf pan. The rectangular slices are a fun change from the classic wedges.
Pumpkin Cheesecake Ingredients
- Cream Cheese – Be sure to use full fat cream cheese. Don’t use low-fat cream cheese or the whipped / spreadable type that comes in a tub.
- Sour Cream – A small amount of sour cream gives the cheesecake an extra smooth texture and a very subtle tangy flavor.
- Pumpkin Puree – Be sure to get pure pumpkin puree (nothing but pumpkin) – not pumpkin pie filling.
- Graham Crackers – Graham crackers are a classic for cheesecake crust. Gingersnap cookies also make a really good cheesecake crust!
- Egg and Egg Yolk – One whole egg and one egg yolk bind the cheesecake filling while still allowing it to be light and creamy.
- Unsalted Butter, Pumpkin Pie Spice, Light Brown Sugar – You’ll also need these basic pantry / fridge ingredients.
How to Prepare a Slow Cooker for Making Cheesecake
It’s really pretty easy to prep a slow cooker for making cheesecake. First, take a loaf pan and place it inside your slow cooker. Add water to the slow cooker until it reaches about 2 inches from the top of the loaf pan. Leave the water in the slow cooker and take the loaf pan out. Cut a piece of parchment paper so that it will fit inside the loaf pan, with a few inches of overhang. (This will make it easy to lift the finished cheesecake out of the pan.)
Ready to assemble and cook the cheesecake!
How to Make Cheesecake in the Slow Cooker
- Let cream cheese, sour cream, and pumpkin puree (if it was in the refrigerator) come to room temperature. This is important for a smooth cheesecake.
- Combine graham crackers and melted butter in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand. Press it into the prepared loaf pan.
- Wipe out the food processor and then combine cream cheese, pumpkin puree, sour cream, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and brown sugar in the empty food processor. Blend until very smooth. Scrape down the sides. Add egg and egg yolk and continue to blend just until eggs are incorporated.
- Pour cheesecake filling over crust.
- Gently lower cheesecake into the slow cooker, being sure that no water gets inside the pan.
- Finally, once the cheesecake has been assembled in the loaf pan and placed in the slow cooker, place two layers of paper towels on top of the slow cooker and cover with a lid. (The paper towels will prevent condensation from dripping onto the surface of the cheesecake.)
- Cook on low for 3 ½ hours or high for 2 ½ hours. The cheesecake will still look a little jiggly in the middle but the edges will be set.
- Remove cheesecake from the slow cooker and let it cool completely.
Other Versions of Cheesecake
- Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites – Mini cheesecakes are great for small gatherings, school parties, and weeknight treats. 😉
- Mini Lime Cheesecakes – Also bite-sized but with a completely different flavor profile. These are tart, sweet, and have a sweet glaze that is drizzled over top.
- Cuisinart Food Processor – The entire recipe (crust and filling) is made in the food processor.
- Chantal Loaf Pan – I love this sturdy loaf pan. Everything bakes nice and evenly in it.
- KitchenAid Slow Cooker (6 quart) – When I was testing slow cooker recipes for this fall season, I got a lot of questions about the “best” slow cooker. The truth is, I just followed the advice of other experts (including America’s Test Kitchen and Food and Wine). This $99 machine has been a staple in my kitchen for years and works better than any other slow cooker I’ve used. It’s a good size for baking cheesecake – most loaf pans will easily fit here.
Slow Cooker Pumpkin Cheesecake
- 6-quart Slow Cooker
- Loaf Pan
- Food Processor
- Parchment Paper
- 2 8oz blocks Cream Cheese, room temperature
- 1/4 cup Sour Cream, room temperature
- 1 cup Pumpkin Puree, room temperature
- 4 oz Graham Crackers
- 3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, melted
- 2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
- 3/4 cup Light Brown Sugar
- 1 Egg
- 1 Egg Yolk
- Important: Set the cream cheese, sour cream, and pumpkin puree out at room temperature for 1 hour before preparing the recipe. Starting with these ingredients at room temperature is the key to a smooth (not lumpy) cheesecake.
- To prepare the slow cooker, place a loaf pan inside the center of the slow cooker and pour water around the pan until it comes up to about 2 inches from the top of the pan. Leave the water in the slow cooker while you make the cake.
- Line the loaf pan with parchment paper (this will make it easy to lift the cheesecake out when it’s done cooking).
- Spray the inside of the loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray, making sure to get the ends that are not lined with parchment.
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine graham crackers and melted butter. Pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand, scraping down the sides if needed.
- Press the crust mixture into the loaf pan to form the crust.
- Wipe out the bowl of the food processor and return it to the base.
- Combine cream cheese, sour cream, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and brown sugar in the food processor.
- Blend until everything is evenly combined.
- Scrape down the sides and add eggs.
- Blend just until the eggs are fully incorporated.
- Pour cheesecake filling over crust.
- Transfer cake to slow cooker.
- Place 2 layers of paper towels over the top of the slow cooker and then place the lid snuggly on top of the paper towels. (Note: The paper towels will absorb moisture and prevent condensation from dripping down onto the top of the cake.)
- Cook on low for 3 ½ hours (or high for 2 hours), until the sides of the cheesecake are light golden brown and the center still looks a tiny bit wobbly.
- Use oven mitts to remove the cheesecake from the slow cooker. Let it cool on a wire rack for 1 hour.
- Once it has cooled, gently lift the cheesecake out of the loaf pan (using the parchment) and transfer it to the refrigerator.
- Refrigerate for up to 2 days. Slice and serve.
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