This creamy gluten free pumpkin cheesecake, with a splash of bourbon, is the best gluten free pumpkin cheesecake recipe for the holidays! This recipe has a few extra steps, but I promise it is going to be well worth it because you will get a bakery-quality cake that everyone is going to love!
This is the cheesecake recipe I couldn't wait to share with you. I have never been able to get pictures of this cheesecake before it was cut into and eaten. Every year we go to our family for Thanksgiving. This gluten free bourbon pumpkin cheesecake has been our contribution for YEARS.
I made this cheesecake last year when Mr. Fearless Dining and the kids were sick and we decided to stay home for Thanksgiving. This recipe was given to Mr. Fearless Dining from a close friend, years ago (10 years?). My husband "fearlessly" converted it to gluten free.
Mr. Fearless Dining makes this cheesecake every year with the kids. The kitchen is trashed...one year they even managed to get the pumpkin on my kitchen ceiling! It is totally insane, but it has been their tradition that has been carried on for over 10 years now.
You will love each and every creamy bite of this creamy gluten free pumpkin dessert! If you love dessert as much as we do, check out all of the gluten free cake recipes on the blog.
Why this gluten free pumpkin cheesecake is the best:
- This is an incredible bakery-quality cheesecake! It tastes like you spent a lot of money buying it! Nobody will know it is gluten free!
- There are three layers to this gluten free bourbon cheesecake. The gingersnap layer, the pumpkin layer, and a creamy sour cream layer. They all combine perfectly and make this gluten free dessert the best!
- You can vary the sweetness depending on whether you use a gluten free graham cracker crust or a gingersnap crust.
For this recipe, I used canned organic pumpkin. Canned pumpkin is usually the best for pumpkin desserts like this because it is so smooth. If you do prefer to make your own pumpkin puree, it needs to be blended super smooth.
How to roast a pumpkin:
- Preheat your oven to 375º F.
- Take a small sugar pumpkin and cut it in half. Scoop out the seeds. (I like the smaller sugar pumpkins for roasting because their flesh softens and is not as stringy as a large carving pumpkin.)
- Brush olive oil onto the inside of each pumpkin half. Place the pumpkin halves in a baking pan facing upwards.
- Place the baking pan in the oven and roast for 40-45 minutes until the pumpkin halves are soft.
- Remove the pumpkin and allow the pumpkin to cool.
- Use a spoon to scrape the roasted pumpkin out and put it into a Vitamix or blender. Add a little water (quantity depends on how thick you want the pumpkin puree to be) so that it purees smoothly. (You can also use a mixer if you prefer, but the blender will get the pumpkin puree smoother.)
- Gluten free gingersnaps or graham crackers - if you like a less sweet crust, use a combination of both! Note, I love Mi-Del brand gluten free gingersnaps, but really check the package because they also make non-gluten free and the packages are similar!
- Light brown sugar - this recipe is very specific and for some reason, we have only gone by my husband's friend's suggestion. You could use dark brown sugar...we just haven't tried it.
- Butter - you need to use unsalted butter.
- Pumpkin - either canned or follow my directions above if you use freshly roasted pumpkin.
- Heavy cream - do not substitute half and half.
- Pure vanilla extract - extract, vanilla bean, or vanilla paste are all okay but don't use imitation vanilla.
- Bourbon - there isn't enough to get drunk on this cake, unless you drink a glass while making this cheesecake :-). If you prefer no alcohol, you can leave it out.
- Sugar - you want regular granulated sugar. Don't substitute with coconut sugar, it won't come out the same.
- Cornstarch - you can use arrowroot starch if you are avoiding corn.
- Ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt - always triple check to make sure the spices are gluten free!
- Cream cheese - full-fat is best for this cheesecake. If you need to make it lower fat, use a combination of full-fat and low-fat cream cheese..
- Sour cream - again full-fat ensures your topping is creamy.
Recipe step by step directions:
Step 1: The first step is to let the cream cheese warm to room temperature. It will make blending it so much easier.
Step 2: Grind your gluten free gingersnaps or graham crackers in a food processor.
Step 3: Invert the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan (to create flat bottom, which will make it easier to remove cake from pan), then lock on side and butter (or spray coconut oil) on the pan to prevent sticking.
Step 4: Stir together crumbs, pecans, sugars, and butter in a bowl until combined well. Press crumb mixture evenly onto bottom and ½ inch up side of the pan, then chill crust, 1 hour.
Now is when you will want to put your oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350° F degrees.
Step 4: Whisk together pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, cream, vanilla, and liqueur (if using) in a bowl until combined. Stir together granulated sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in large bowl.
Step 5: Add the room temperature cream cheese and beat with an electric mixer at high speed until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, then add pumpkin mixture and beat until smooth.
HINT: I use my Vitamix to blend all of the liquid ingredients. It makes your cheesecake filling and layers super smooth! It is also a nice time saver!
Step 6: Pour filling into crust, smoothing top, then put springform pan in a shallow baking pan (in case of the springform pan leaking).
Step 7: Bake until the center is just set, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool for 5 minutes. Do not remove it from the springform pan.
Step 8: Whisk together sour cream, sugar, and liqueur (if using) in a bowl, then spread on top of the cheesecake and bake for 5 minutes. You will need to use a spoon to spread out this layer as flat as you can!
Cool cheesecake completely in pan on the rack, about 3 hours. Chill, covered, until cold, at least 4 hours.
Step 9: Remove the side of the springform pan and bring it to room temperature before serving. Add pecan halves as a garnish.
Gluten free cheesecake crust ideas:
If you don't like gluten free gingersnaps, there are lots of other great cookies you can use instead of gingersnaps:
- Crushed gluten free oreo type cookies. Several companies make these including Trader Joe's.
- Gluten free vanilla wafers.
- Gluten free graham crackers
- Try using French toast like in this yummy Gluten Free French Toast Cheesecake recipe!
- Gluten free oreo style cookies. The chocolate cookies and cream would taste great with pumpkin.
Tips and Recipe FAQ:
I personally have not used dairy-free cream cheese in this recipe, but that doesn't mean it can't be attempted. I would recommend a firm dairy-free brand like Tofutti or Kite Hill. If you try it, please post a comment and let me know how it turned out! (*Note you would also want to use a dairy-free sour cream for the top layer.)
I always recommend using a full-fat cream cheese when making cheesecake. I have used low-fat cream cheeses, like in this Gluten Free Eggnog Cheesecake recipe. I find the cream cheese doesn't blend in as well and it doesn't get as smooth when blended.
This cheesecake will keep fresh for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Store in an air-tight container.
Yes, you can freeze the cheesecake. I encourage you to freeze it in the springform pan if you are eating it in a few days. Then thaw in the pan. This will help the cheesecake keep its shape better.
Yes, it is easy to make this recipe nut-free by garnishing it with something besides pecans.
More gluten free pumpkin dessert recipes to try:
If you love pumpkin, you will want to try this thick and creamy gluten free pumpkin mousse recipe too!
- Gluten Free Pumpkin 7 Layer Bars
- Gluten Free Pumpkin Bundt Cake
- Gluten Free Pumpkin Madeleine Cookies
- The Best Gluten Free Pumpkin Recipes
"Made this for Thanksgiving and my family loved it! Definitely need to make it the day before. The steps take time but it’s worth the effort. Halved the sugar in the pumpkin layer and it was great, not too sweet."Victoria T.
Gluten Free Pumpkin Cheesecake
- For the Crust:
- ¾ cup gluten free gingersnaps or Graham crackers (*see note)
- ½ cup pecans
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- ¼ cup butter
- For the Pumpkin Layer:
- 1 ½ cups pumpkin (*see note)
- 3 eggs large
- ½ cup light brown sugar (*see note)
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream (*see note)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon bourbon
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch (*see note)
- 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 24 ounces cream cheese (*see note)
- For the Sour Cream Layer:
- 2 cups sour cream
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon bourbon
For the Crust:
- Invert bottom of a 9-inch springform pan (to create flat bottom, which will make it easier to remove cake from pan), then lock on side and butter pan.
- In a food processor, grind the gluten free gingersnaps or graham crackers.
- Stir together crumbs, pecans, sugars, and butter in a bowl until combined well. Press crumb mixture evenly onto bottom and ½ inch up side of the pan, then chill crust, 1 hour.
- Put oven rack in middle position and Preheat oven to 350° F
For the Cheesecake:
- Whisk together pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, cream, vanilla, and liqueur (if using) in a bowl until combined. (You can also mix in a Vitamix.)
- Stir together granulated sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in a large bowl.
- Add cream cheese and beat with an electric mixer at high speed until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, then add pumpkin mixture and beat until smooth.
- Pour filling into crust, smoothing top, then put springform pan in a shallow baking pan (in case springform leaks).
- Bake until center is just set, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool 5 minutes. (Leave oven on.)
For the Sour Cream Layer:
- Whisk together sour cream, sugar, and liqueur (if using) in a bowl, then spread on top of cheesecake and bake 5 minutes.
- Cool cheesecake completely in pan on the rack, about 3 hours. Chill, covered, until cold, at least 4 hours. Remove side of the pan and bring to room temperature before serving.
- Garnish with pecans around the edge of the cheesecake.
- You can use gluten free gingersnaps, or graham crackers to make this crust. We tend to use a combination of both so the crust is a little less sweet. Other options are gluten free oreo style cookies, or combine ½ cookies and ½ almond meal if you would like to add a little protein.
- I prefer to use canned pumpkin. If you would like to roast your own pumpkin, I include directions in the post.
- The recipe calls for light brown sugar but you can also use dark brown sugar. I don't recommend substituting coconut sugar because it has a different melting point.
- If you are unable to eat corn, you can substitute arrowroot starch for the corn starch.
- I recommend using full-fat cream cheese and sour cream to keep the delicious level of creaminess.
Nutritional information is an estimate provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the actual nutritional information with the products and brands you are using with your preferred nutritional calculator.
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