These pumpkin cheesecake bars have two layers of the yummiest cheesecake filling and a pumpkin-pie-spiced crumble topping. The filling is ultra-creamy and contrasts beautifully with the crunchy cookie crust. You can make them ahead of time and freeze for later.
You Will Love These Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars
You’ll love how many textures these bars have in just one bite. Four distinct layers all add a unique flavor and texture that when combined, produce a show stopper dessert. They would never guess how easy they are to make.
Pumpkin cream cheese bars are actually simple to create even though there are a few steps. You’ll need a mixer but no fancy water baths or even a springform pan are needed. The ingredients are easy to find, and there are only a few dirty dishes involved.
You can take these along to a friend’s house for dinner or offer them as an alternative to praline pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. Cut pumpkin cheesecake bars into bite size pieces for a dessert bar. Keep some in your freezer for a treat, they don’t take long to thaw. They make a beautiful fall dessert that’s a bit different than a traditional pumpkin pie
These do require a fork, if you want a pumpkin flavored finger food, try pumpkin snickerdoodles.
Pumpkin cream cheese bars are a great way to end a cozy meal. Need an idea for an Southern dinner? Start out with an appetizer of cold corn dip. For dinner, serve up Southern chicken and biscuits with a side of cooked apples. Finish the meal with pumpkin cheesecake bars for the perfect fall menu for your family or special guests.
Reasons to Try this Pumpkin Cheesecake Bar Recipe
- They’re easy to make. Though pumpkin bars with cream cheese have four layers in total, these bars are not hard to make. Each layer is refrigerated, frozen, or baked while you make the next layer. Don’t worry – you won’t need to juggle more than one step at a time.
- They have classic fall flavors. When I think of fall, I think of pumpkin, spices, brown sugar, and vanilla, and these bars check every box.
- They’re great for making ahead of time. You can make these bars hours or even a day in advance. Take them to a Halloween party, Thanksgiving dinner, to a friend’s house for a casual get-together, or enjoy them yourself with a cup of coffee or Tea.
Why should I use room-temperature cream cheese in the filling?
Using room-temperature cream cheese ensures a smooth and creamy cheesecake layer. When cream cheese is at room temperature, it blends easily with the other ingredients, resulting in a velvety consistency.
Cold cream cheese can lead to an uneven mixture and potentially cause lumps of cream cheese that didn’t get mixed with the sugar and eggs in your cheesecake.
Pro Tip: For those occasions when you have forgotten to take out cream cheese, try this easy method for softening cream cheese in no time.
Why You Need to Refrigerate the Crust
Chilling the crust before adding the filling is an important step for making this dessert. It allows the melted butter in the crust to solidify so the cheesecake filling doesn’t leak to the bottom of the pan.
This step also keeps the crust from getting soggy since the butter coats the cookie crumbs. It forms a barrier between the cookies and the cream cheese filling. Don’t skip this step – it’s important!
What type of pumpkin do you need for Pumpkin Bars
Grocery stores typically have two distinct pumpkin products in the baking aisle. Pumpkin puree is just that – it’s 100% pumpkin that is cooked (often by steaming) and packed into the can.
Pumpkin pie filling has other ingredients like sugar, spices, and preservatives and is meant to be poured directly into a pie crust for a super quick pumpkin pie. For pumpkin bars with cream cheese, you’ll want to make sure you buy 100% pumpkin so you can add your own sugar and spices.
Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Ingredients
- Vanilla wafers: Vanilla wafers make a sweet, crispy crust for these cheesecake bars. You can also use shortbread cookies or gingersnap cookies for a different flavor.
- Cream cheese: Softened cream cheese blends easily with the other ingredients and makes a smooth and creamy filling.
- Canned pumpkin: Make sure to buy 100% pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling.
- Pantry items: Buter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, flour, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, vanilla extract
How to make Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Bars
Step 1: Make the cookie crust.
Crush the vanilla wafers. Add melted butter and spread the mixture on the bottom of a pan. Refrigerate the crust while you make the filling.
Step 2: Make the cheesecake filling.
Beat the softened cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add in the sugar and mix together. Then, add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Finally, mix in the vanilla extract.
Step 3: Make the first layer.
Spread half of the filling mixture on top of the crust and place in the freezer for 30 minutes until it thickens. It doesn’t need to be frozen solid, but it should not jiggle too much when you tap the pan.
Step 4: Make the second layer.
Add pumpkin to the remaining filling. Pour the pumpkin mixture over the cold layer of cheesecake, and spread it evenly with an offset spatula.
Step 5: Bake the bars.
Bake the bars for 30 minutes. Use this time to make the crumble topping.
Step 6: Make the crumb topping.
Combine the flour, brown sugar, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Add in cold butter and combine with a pastry cutter (or your fingers) until the butter is in tiny pieces.
Step 7: Finish the bars.
After 30 minutes in the oven, remove the cheesecake and top with the crumble. Place the bars back into the oven and bake an additional 30 minutes until a knife comes out clean in the center. Allow the bars to cool completely before slicing and serving.
Tips for Making Perfect Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Bars
- Make sure the cream cheese is at room temperature for a smooth filling that’s easy to mix.
- When making the crumble topping, the butter should be very cold to achieve a perfect crumbly texture.
- Allow the bars to cool completely before slicing.
Do I really need to freeze the plain cheesecake layer?
Placing the pan in the freezer for about 30 minutes after layering half of the filling is a necessary step. Freezing the bars makes that first layer of cheesecake filling firm enough to keep it from mixing with the pumpkin layer when it bakes. This separation allows for distinct layers when the bars are baked. Don’t recommend skipping this step – it really makes the pumpkin cheesecake bars recipe special to have clean layers.
How long do pumpkin cheesecake bars last in the fridge?
Got leftovers? Luckily, these pumpkin cream cheese bars last for a few days in the fridge, and even longer in the freezer.
In the fridge: Store any leftover bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
In the freezer: To freeze, place them in an airtight container. They can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars FAQs
Can I use a different type of cookie instead of vanilla wafers?
Yes, you can use graham crackers or gingersnap cookies or shortbread cookies instead of the wafers. You will still need 1 ½ cups of crumbs.
Can I use pumpkin pie spice instead of individual spices?
Yes, you can substitute 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice for the nutmeg, and ginger, keep the cinnamon.
Can I use low-fat cream cheese for this recipe?
You can use low-fat cream cheese for this recipe. It will not affect the baking time or the flavor.
More Pumpkin Recipes to Try This Fall
If you loved this recipe, give it a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating! Also, snap a picture of your finished dish and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #butterandbaggage and tagging me @butterandbaggage.
Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Bars with Two Layers of Cheesecake
- 1 ½ cups vanilla wafers crushed, about 2 cups of whole wafers
- 6 tablespoons butter melted
- 32 ounce cream cheese 4x8oz packages, room temperature
- 1 ½ cup sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 15 ounce pumpkin puree
- 1 cup flour
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ cup butter cold, cut into cubes
- Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan and line with parchment paper.
- Crush the vanilla wafers in a resealable bag using a rolling pin, or process in a food processor. Add melted butter and stir to combine.Spread on the bottom of the prepared pan tapping it down with a flat surface. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add sugar and mix. Then add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla. Spread ½ of the filling on top of the crust and place in the freezer for 30 minutes until it has started to thicken.
- Preheat oven to 325º.
- To the rest of the filling add pumpkin and mix to combine. Pour over the cold layer of cheesecake, spreading it evenly with an offset spatula.
- Bake for 30 minutes. While it is baking, make the topping.
- Combine flour, brown sugar, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. Add cold butter and combine with a pastry cutter until the butter is in very small pieces.
- After 30 minutes remove the cheesecake from the oven and add the topping. Bake for an additional 25-30 minutes until a knife comes out clean in the center.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- Make sure the cream cheese is at room temperature for a smooth filling.
- When making the topping, the butter should be very cold.
- Allow the bars to cool completely then refrigerate before slicing.